Labour’s dodgy numbers

July 7th, 2014 at 2:50 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce points out:

“David Cunliffe, David Parker and Chris Hipkins had a ‘hey Clint’ moment on TV last night, when all three of them failed to answer a simple question about the total cost of their grab-bag of education announcements,” Mr Joyce says.

“Labour has rejected having a Treasury analyst in its office, and it really is showing.”

Talking to media yesterday after announcing it would spend $403 million over four years to employ more teachers, neither David Cunliffe, nor David Parker nor Chris Hipkins could do the simple maths on how much their other promises would cost.

“That’s because their numbers don’t add up and their claims are misleading,” Mr Joyce says.

“For a start, the Government currently funds secondary schools for an average 20 students per classroom, well below Labour’s ‘new’ target of 23 students per classroom.

I understand the funding rations are 1:23.5 in Year 9, 1:23.5 in Year 10, 1:23 in Year 11, 1:18 in Year 12 and 1:17 in Year 13.

“When it comes to their costings, Labour’s figures include only the cost of the extra teachers’ salaries. They need to come clean on what the total costs would be including ACC, training, support  superannuation, and all the other overheads involved in supporting more teachers.”

And as they will make KiwiSaver compuslory and at a higher contribution rate – all ads up.

But the general rule of thumb is that you double the direct salary costs to calculate the overall impact of a new staffer.

“And on Saturday they claimed they would provide every student between years five and 13 with a digital device worth $600 by providing a $100 subsidy and having parents pay $3.50 a week for 18 months. This will be news to Labour, but this adds up to only $373 per device.

They really need that Treasury secondee!


Experts say class size has little impact

July 7th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour’s proposal to reduce class sizes at schools has failed to win a universal gold star, with experts saying the small cuts without improving teaching would do little to raise the bar of student achievement.

Associate Professor John O’Neill, of Massey University’s Institute of Education, said the Labour Party’s proposal to cut school class sizes if elected in September would not achieve much without changes to teaching itself.

At the Labour election-year congress yesterday, leader David Cunliffe announced the party would fund an extra 2000 teachers, which would see primary and secondary school classes shrink by an average of three students by 2018.

But O’Neill said recent research suggested making classes slightly larger or smaller did not greatly alter the achievement levels for average students.

Indeed. Here’s a list of the 105 things which have been found to have a larger impact on student achievement than class size.

  1. Self-reported grades
  2. Piagetian programs
  3. Providing formative evaluation
  4. Micro teaching
  5. Acceleration
  6. Classroom behavioral
  7. Comprehensive interventions for learning disabled students
  8. Teacher clarity
  9. Reciprocal teaching
  10. Feedback
  11. Teacher-Student relationships
  12. Spaced vs. Mass Practice
  13. Meta-cognitive strategies
  14. Prior achievement
  15. Vocabulary programs
  16. Repeated Reading programs
  17. Creativity Programs
  18. Self-verbalization & Self-questioning
  19. Professional development
  20. Problem solving teaching
  21. Not labeling students
  22. Teaching strategies
  23. Cooperative vs. individualistic learning
  24. Study skills
  25. Direct Instruction
  26. Tactile stimulation programs
  27. Phonics instruction
  28. Comprehension programs
  29. Mastery learning
  30. Worked examples
  31. Home environment
  32. Socioeconomic status
  33. Concept mapping
  34. Challenging Goals
  35. Visual-Perception programs
  36. Peer tutoring
  37. Cooperative vs. competitive learning
  38. Pre-term birth weight
  39. Classroom cohesion
  40. Keller’s PIS
  41. Peer influences
  42. Classroom management
  43. Outdoor/Adventure Programs
  44. Interactive video method
  45. Parental Involvement
  46. Play Programs
  47. Second/Third chance programs
  48. Small group learning
  49. Concentration/Persistence/Engagement
  50. missing
  51. Motivation
  52. Early Intervention
  53. Questioning
  54. Pre school programs
  55. Quality of Teaching
  56. Writing Programs
  57. Expectations
  58. School size
  59. Self-concept
  60. Mathematics programs
  61. Behavioral organizers/Adjunct questions
  62. missing
  63. Cooperative learning
  64. Science
  65. Social skills programs
  66. Reducing anxiety
  67. Integrated Curricula Programs
  68. Enrichment
  69. Career Interventions
  70. Time on Task
  71. Computer assisted instruction
  72. Adjunct aids
  73. Bilingual Programs
  74. Principals/School leaders
  75. Attitude to Mathematics/Science
  76. Exposure to Reading
  77. Drama/Arts Programs
  78. Creativity
  79. Frequent/Effects of testing
  80. Decreasing disruptive behavior
  81. Drugs
  82. Simulations
  83. Inductive teaching
  84. Ethnicity
  85. Teacher effects
  86. Inquiry based teaching
  87. Ability grouping for gifted students
  88. Homework
  89. Home visiting
  90. Exercise/Relaxation programs
  91. Desegregation
  92. Mainstreaming
  93. Teaching test taking & coaching
  94. Use of calculators
  95. Values/Moral Education Programs
  96. Competitive vs. individualistic learning
  97. Special College Programs
  98. Programmed instruction
  99. Summer school
  100. Finances
  101. Illness (Lack of)
  102. Religious Schools
  103. Individualised instruction
  104. Visual/Audio-visual methods
  105. Comprehensive Teaching Reforms
  106. Class size

Now remember this doesn’t come from one study. This is a from a meta-analysis of 50,000 different studies. There have been 96 studies just on class size, and they have found the impact on learning is quite minor.

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Hide on unions and Labour

July 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

The true donations scandal in New Zealand politics was reported this week without comment. It’s the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union’s $60,000 donation to Labour.

The EPMU is one of the six unions affiliated to Labour. The affiliated unions pay fees and fund the Party through donations. The donations and fees total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More significantly, union staff campaign for Labour and the unions run parallel campaigns. For example, Labour is campaigning for the “living wage”. In a parallel campaign the Services and Food Workers Union spent more than half a million dollars last year promoting that exact policy.

It would be interesting to add up the total amount spent by unions on political campaigns. It would be well into the millions.

The union funding of Labour totals in the millions. And what does Labour provide in return? In effect the entire party. The unions get to determine the party’s leader. Their say counts for 20 per cent of the vote. That’s the difference between winning and losing by a wide margin.

Affiliation also buys a seat at the table. The affiliated unions have a guaranteed vice-president position on Labour’s all-powerful New Zealand Council.

They also get their people as MPs. The Labour Party enables the unions to parachute members into Parliament. Labour list MP Andrew Little headed the EPMU for 11 years before entering Parliament.

Imagine the outcry if business lobby groups got to vote on the leadership of the national party, could bus people in to their selection meetings, got a vice-president of the party and get a vote on the list ranking.

And the unions get policy, lots of policy. In 1999 the EPMU gave $100,000 to Labour. The following year the Labour Government passed the Employment Relations Act. This act gives the unions incredible power over Kiwi workplaces as well as easy access to workers’ pay packets.

The Employment Relations Act nicely closes the loop. The act was provided by the Labour Party. It gave the unions access to workers’ pockets, and that’s the money the unions now tip into Labour’s coffers.

Indeed, in the state sector it’s policy for Government to give union members a bonus to cover their union fees. You and I pay their union fees.

This is sadly true. Taxpayers bribe people to join the union.

Unions and Labour are guilty of “cash for policy”, “cash to sit at the table”, “cash to decide the leader” and “cash to parachute members into Parliament”.

The rort serves to bolster Labour and entrench the power of union bosses.

Unions are highly politicised organisations that only exist now because of the legal privileges bestowed by Labour governments.

The rorting of our democracy by the unions and Labour would make a great expose.

But don’t expect anything soon: it’s the EPMU that represents journalists in this country.

That’s right, our journalists – through their union – help fund the Labour Party.

To be fair the journalist fees don’t get paid directly to Labour. But they help fund the EPMU overall, which allows them to campaign more for Labour.

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Labour schools policy

July 6th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s 21st century schools policy is here. The summary:

  • put in place a programme that provides an affordable option, available to all schools, for Year 5-13 students to have access to a portable digital device, in the classroom and at home.
  • commit $25 million to provide teachers with professional development during the 2016 and 2017 school years to assist them to make the most effective use of digital devices in the classroom.
  • partner with schools, local government and communities to put in place infrastructure that will allow students, particularly those from low-decile schools, who do not currently have internet connections to use their portable devices to access the internet at home.
  • develop a comprehensive plan for rebuilding out-dated and worn-out school buildings, so that every school has access to modern learning environments by 2030.

This looks a very sound policy. It is very much in line with the unanimous recommendations of the Education and Science Select Committee inquiry into 21st century schools, that was chaired by Nikki Kaye a couple of years ago.

Nikki points out that most of this policy is already underway:

Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye says Labour has clearly not done its homework in the education area and is promoting “new ideas” that have already been put in place by National.

“Most of what Labour has announced today is already being delivered by the Government through its 21st century schools programme. We have a massive build plan underway to modernise school facilities, upgrade school broadband networks and partner with communities to provide digital hubs through those networks. Our Ultrafast broadband and rural broadband initiatives are delivering fibre broadband with uncapped data to nearly every school in New Zealand.

“Labour’s announcements today prove they have no idea what is already going on.”

Labour want to put money into professional learning development for ICT over the next few years. National has already invested $35 million in Professional Learning and Development, specifically targeted at learning with digital technologies.

Labour want to build an unspecified number of new schools and classrooms by 2030. Under the National government, hundreds of millions of dollars has been spent building new classrooms and upgrading older schools with the help of the Future Investment Fund, which Labour opposes. National has opened 12 new schools in the past three years in areas of growth.

And Labour wants to enable students to access the internet at home. Last year, National announced a change in policy to enable schools to extend their school internet to the surrounding area so students and families can access the internet from home.

It’s not a bad thing that National and Labour are broadly in agreement on steps to modernise our schools to take best account of the opportunities for  learning.

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We need better teachers, not more teachers

July 6th, 2014 at 2:43 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour will fund an extra 2000 teachers under its policy to reduce primary class sizes to 26 students by 2016 and secondary schools to an average of 23 by 2018 – a step expected to cost $350 million over the next three years.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has announced the policy at Labour’s Congress alongside a suite of associated education policies.

It will pay by scrapping National’s $359 million ‘Investing in Educational Success’ scheme, under which the best teachers and principals are paid more and used to help work with other teachers and schools.

This is a bad and disapponting policy, that flies in the face of reams and reams of international and national evidence.

Hundreds of studies have concluded that the quality of a teacher is the biggest influence on a child’s learning. The same studies have also concluded that the impact of class size is quite minor in comparison.

Labour’s policy is about politics, not education. Again there are hundreds of studies that confirm teacher quality is far more important than class size. There are meta-studies of meta-studies. This is not an issue there is serious dispute over.

Basically Labour has gone for quantity over quality, It’s one of their worst policies. Some of their stuff on 21st century schools is very good, but this aspect is basically appalling. Not the reducing class sizes in itself – but choosing to do that rather than fund an initiative to have great teachers share their success with other teachers.

Here’s what global expert John Hattie said on Q+A on this issue in 2012:

Well, we’ve certainly done many many studies looking at the effects when we reduce class sizes, certainly by the one or two that were suggested in New Zealand, and it’s very very hard to find that they make that much of a difference. The major question is why is it that a seemingly obvious thing that should make a difference doesn’t make a difference, and that’s what’s beguiled a lot of people over the last many decades. I think we have some good answers for that, but the bottom line is it hardly makes a difference.

SHANE Why is that?

PROF HATTIE Well, I think the major argument seems to be when you have teachers in class sizes, like, of 26, 27, 30 and you put them in the class sizes of, say, 18 to 23, and they don’t change what they do, that seems to be the reason why it doesn’t make a difference. So could it make a difference? Yeah, it probably could if we changed how we went about our teaching. But that doesn’t seem to happen. When the many many thousands, tens of thousands of teachers have gone from one size to another, they don’t change how they teach. So, no, that’s why it doesn’t make much of a difference.

A presentation by Professor Hattie here, find’s class size is ranked only the 106th most powerful influence on learning.  That’s 106th out of 130. Labour are putting  Now this is not his personal view. This is a summary of 50,000 individual studies and 800+ meta-studies.

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Hosking and Watkins on Labour

July 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Mike Hosking writes:

I bet Labour wishes it wasn’t election year.

Or if it has to be election year, I bet Labour wishes it was January again and they could start all over.

Labour’s in a mess.

They look in no shape at all to compete, far less win an election.

Up until about now I’ve been running the line that’s generally run in election year when it comes to polls and predictions.

The line is that, “there’s still a lot of water to go under the bridge”, the line is, “a week is a long time in politics”, the line is, “the polls will tighten”.

Well as we sit here now this morning I feel less and less of that is true.

It looks increasingly possible that a lot of what appears might happen, actually will happen, even though it’s July and the vote’s in September.

One of the things I think will happen is that Labour won’t break 30 per cent and quite possibly will do worse than that.

And Hosking says they are mainly responsible:

But as much as they will hate hearing this, much of their problem is of their own making. The trick at least in part to political success is giving people what they want. And quotas on lists, more tax, stopping people cutting up trees that are blown over, isn’t it.

And that’s before we get to Trevor Mallard and his moa. How inexplicable is that? No one of that experience raises something that nutty, this close to a poll, in a party with this much trouble, without knowing what they’re doing. And what he’s doing is taking the piss. I could’ve seen past it if Trevor closed it down, said nothing, apologised, put it down to a mad moment.

But he took my Seven Sharp colleague Jehan Casinader into the bush, and talked about what sized moa he would like to see, and what sort of noise they’d make. He looked like someone who’d been let out on day release.

Tracy Watkins also touches on the moa:

Labour needed Trevor Mallard this week like it needed a hole in the head.

Mallard’s blurt about bringing Moa back from the dead was a gift to National who gloried in the treasure trove of one-liners about dinosaurs and extinction.

Ironically, Mallard’s grand Moa plan coincided with a morning tea shout to mark him and Annette King celebrating three decades in Parliament.

Even Mallard’s Labour colleagues couldn’t resist the Jurassic Park comparisons.

Bizarrely, there was also a school of thought that Mallard might actually be a genius because people were finally talking about Labour.

That must surely be the definition of clutching at straws, but it is symptomatic of the trough Labour has found itself in that generating any sort of chatter round the water cooler – even when it invites ridicule – is an improvement.

I encourage Trevor to keep it up!

Labour certainly can’t be blamed for going into the election without a plan to put to voters.

Its economic strategy is far-reaching, including a capital gains tax to smooth out the peaks and troughs in housing, monetary policy reform to address currency pressures, raising the pension age to address the long-term sustainability of government finances, and compulsory KiwiSaver to mimic Australia’s hugely successful scheme.

The policy has been deliberately crafted to show that Labour is capable of making some tough choices and to underscore its fiscal credentials.

But National has done such a number on Labour’s economic credibility that many voters still don’t trust it with taxpayer money.

Labour doesn’t help itself when it tries to attack National as spendthrift for running up debt and deficits.

Given that the global financial crisis and Canterbury earthquakes are still fresh in everyone’s minds Labour ‘s attack lines just come across as sly and dishonest.

Their attacks on National for having six years of deficits are bizarre. Every single decision to restrain spending by National, was vigorously attacked by Labour – and then six years later they claim they would have got out of deficit faster. That’s why they have no credibility – they treat the public as idiots.

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Labour’s official policy is you must prove you are not a rapist

July 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is a major policy by Labour, that has had very little attention. It is now Labour Party policy that you have to prove your innocence if accused of rape.

Andrew Little said on the 2nd of July:

“A better measure would be to hand control of all examination of a victim to the judge with lawyers for both sides notifying the court which issues they want dealt with, along with shifting the burden of proof on the issue of consent to the defence.

This means that if two people have sex, and one person accuses the other of rape, then the accused must prove beyond reasonable doubt they had consent.

Now you might think this is just Andrew Little musing aloud. Not so.  He confirms in this tweet it is official policy.

Graeme Edgeler sums their policy up:

Andrew Little says:

“This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty – the basic facts of the case still have to be made out – but it does mean the prosecution doesn’t need to prove a negative, namely that there was no consent.

This is sophistry. If the act of sex is not disputed, just consent, then the defendant does have to prove themselves innocent.

I wonder how many hours it will take until Labour does a u-turn on their policy, once people realise its implications.

Rape is a terrible crime, and the court process is very hard on many victims, and I am sure it can be improved. But reversing the presumption of innocence and burden of proof is not the answer.

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Sounds like a good Labour policy

July 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour is planning two major education announcements, expected to include a plan to provide iPads or laptops to school students, at its three-day congress starting in Wellington today.

In 2011 Labour said it would spend $75 million over four years to put laptops into the hands of 31,000 year 7 to year 13 students in low-decile schools, but it is expected to drop the plan to target the policy and make it universal at a much higher cost.

This sounds like it could be quite a good policy. I think we should be aiming for every student to have an Internet capable device they can learn on.

Labour is also tipped to announce plans to upgrade schools and reallocate the $359m that the Government earmarked in January for specialist teachers and principals.

But I don’t want it either or. Paying out best teachers more, to share their success is also vital.

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Labour’s school fees policy

July 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s plan to help struggling parents by tackling school donations is a political ploy but at least it recognises the nonsense that donations are voluntary, says the principal of a decile one school.

Under Labour’s plan announced yesterday, state and integrated schools that agreed not to seek voluntary donations from parents would receive additional funding of $100 a student a year. The plan has an estimated cost of $50 million a year.

Labour education spokesman Chris Hipkins said it was expected to end requests for voluntary donations to the parents of about 500,000 school-age children. Most lower decile schools were expected to take up the offer. The Government says Labour is underestimating the cost of the policy and schools will pocket the cash but extract the same amount of money by bolstering so-called “activity fees”.

It’s not a bad policy – provide an incentive to schools to not charge so called voluntary donations. There is a risk that some schools will game the system though, but if it ever got implemented it would be interesting to see how many schools took it up.

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Leggett on Labour

July 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Leggett blogs at Pundit:

It seems the underlying premise of recent comments by some “outsider” activists and politicians like myself are correct: Labour isn’t
 aiming for 40% plus of the vote because they neither want – nor know how – to go about winning it. Those in charge of the party know the only way to keep the agenda and the caucus small is by keeping the vote low and encouraging the Greens and Mana-Internet to grow their support in the next Parliament. “Hopefully,” they say, “we can stitch together a rag-tag coalition of the weird and the wonderful.”

As a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter, I would rather the party win significantly more people like me and get the vote to say 38%, than appear as they do, which seems to be a preference for Hone, Laila and the Greens to be elected to the next Parliament instead of good candidates further down the Labour list.

David Cunliffe said he wanted to poll higher than National. Then it was he wanted to make 40%. Then it was make the high 30s. Then it was the mid to low 30s was the target for victory. Now it seems Labour regards anything higher than the 28% they got last time as an improvement, and as Nick says, hope Hone, Laila, Kim, Winston, Russell and Metiria an get then over the line.

A talented Wellingtonian, with proven electoral appeal told me that last year he offered himself up as a prospective Labour candidate for Ohariu. He was advised however by the senior party person he asked not to bother because he wasn’t a woman. If I revealed who he is, I’m sure most people would agree that had he been selected, Peter Dunne would now be looking down the barrel of voter-enforced retirement.

The unofficial man ban at work!

Deciding also against a well-credentialed and popular local candidate in Kapiti District Councillor, Penny Gaylor, Labour sent an unmistakable message that winning Otaki off National is not a priority. 

(Ed - Rob McCann won that nomination). These are two examples that show how far Labour has positioned itself away from communities. The party appear not to care about re-establishing bases in and amongst communities in provincial and suburban New Zealand by selecting candidates who god forbid might actually win some votes.

Labour’s highest ranked new list candidate, their Ohariu and Otaki candidates all are (or were) public servants. Now nothing wrong with being a public servant – we have many good ones. But if you want to win seats and votes, you need broad appeal.

Meanwhile there are list MPs approaching their third and fourth election this year in seats that should be winnable but somehow they have never managed to win. Some of these MPs have again been rewarded with high list placings, so where is the incentive for them to win those electorates? The bigger question is, why doesn’t the party appear to care?

Labour faces the possibility of not getting a single new List MP into Parliament.

It seems Labour has given up on gaining votes from aspirational workers who want to own their own home, those who strive to run a small business and the people pottered throughout every class, culture and community in New Zealand who care deeply about reforming the systems and policies that continually fail our children.

Labour has to start behaving like a force that stands for a cause again, rather than a defender of the status quo that screams madly every time the government says it wants to reform something. It must move again to become a party for the public, not just the public service. 

Better still, it would be great to see some reform ideas from my party.

Absolutely. That’s a great line – a party for the public, not just the public service.

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What a difference a year makes

July 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


This graph shows the price/probability at iPredict of there being a Labour Prime Minister after the 2014 election.

As one can see Labour’s chances were above or around 50% during 2012. In 2013 they dropped slightly but remained between 40% and 50%. Then Labour changed leaders and their chances increased to 60%. But look at what has happened in the last nine months. It has been a huge collapse, and this month they dropped below 20% probability for the first time.


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Labour has as much support as Rob Ford

July 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Toronto Star reports the latest Mayoral poll has incumbent Rob Ford on 27%, despite being a crack addict.

Out of interest 27%, is also the level the Labour Party is at in NZ.

And Rob Ford is only 7% behind his leading rival, while Labour is 23% or so behind.


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Hide on Labour and Liu

June 30th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

Deny, deny, deny. Attack, attack, attack. That’s been Labour’s response to businessman Donghua Liu claiming he donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Party.

Labour’s strategy is risky. It is challenging Liu’s honesty and integrity. He’s no doubt feeling aggrieved. The danger for Labour is that Liu produces documents, witnesses and photographs confirming his substantial donations.

That’s what did it for Winston Peters in 2008. Sir Owen Glenn was able to prove the donations that Peters denied.

It is a very high risk strategy.

So where are we now? Confused. Liu said he gave substantial money to the Labour Party. The Labour Party says it has no record of it, and hasn’t reported any donations from Liu.

But it’s quite possible that everyone is telling the truth. The money could have been stolen. That would mean Liu gave the money but Labour never received it. Charity auctions and the like are often chaotic and it is too easy to have no one properly in charge of recording and receipting all payments and donations. This is especially so in political events. Volunteers are enthusiastic but not necessarily experienced and politicians are anxious to stay well away from money changing hands.

Indeed, a big part of Cunliffe’s problem – and Banks’ and Williamson’s – is that politicians shy away from fundraising details precisely to avoid the perception that cash influences decision-making.

The safer course of action for the Labour Party would be to say it was treating the matter seriously. That would mean thanking Liu for coming forward with his information and inviting the police to investigate. The police could try to trace the money, letting Cunliffe off the hook. He would have done everything by the book. He would be open and upfront. It would also kill the story. He couldn’t comment while police were investigating.

But Labour didn’t do that. It denied and attacked.

There’s a reason politicians do the things they do. Cunliffe couldn’t be sure what the police would find. Calling in the police runs the risk of finding out more than Cunliffe wants to know.

Or they could have asked if their general secretary could meet with Liu, get details off him, and then try to work out what happened. But instead they have all but called him a liar, and I am unsure if that will end well.

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Labour and the US republicans

June 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir at the Manawatu Standard compares NZ Labour to the US Republicans on four grounds:

  1. It is in thrall to party activists
  2.  It appears to be in denial about polling
  3. It is banking on turning out the base
  4. Its weakness is temporary

I could add a 5th one on. Both parties are leaderless!

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Herald on Labour’s tax the rich pricks more plan

June 26th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Taxing the rich seems a defining policy of the Labour Party. It plays especially well to its left wing, a point underlined by the Council of Trade Unions’ hearty welcome to the announcement that Labour proposes lifting the top personal tax rate from 33c to 36c for those earning more than $150,000 a year. On other grounds, however, the policy doesn’t make a lot of sense. Not only is it unnecessary but it will surely raise far less additional revenue than anticipated.

Labour says the new top rate would raise almost $200 million in the 2015-16 year, increasing to $350 million a year by 2020-21. 

It won’t. The 2000 tax hike for those earning over $60,000 did not produce any significant extra revenue, and may in fact have reduced it. It will just drive high earning NZers to set up a company (28% tax rate) or to move their tax base overseas.

Nor is much of value likely to come from its plan to clamp down on tax avoidance by internet-based multinational corporations such as Google and Facebook. As welcome as this instinct may be, and as unwelcome as the practice of avoidance is, there is little hope that its approach will yield anything like $200 million a year. 

It won’t bring in $1.If anything, it will see them pay less tax in NZ, as they close their NZ subsidiaries, and just have people deal with say their Australian one.

The only was one can deal with global companies choosing a tax base in a low tax country, is through international agreement. Not press releases.


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Dom Post on Labour’s List

June 25th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Labour’s list is not inspiring. There are few fresh people in winnable positions, because the party has been unable to chop out dead wood. There are half a dozen sitting MPs who should have retired, but didn’t. This adds to the voters’ impression, once again, that Labour is a party not yet ready to govern.

Politicians who are past their use-by date rarely go voluntarily. And perhaps Labour leader David Cunliffe decided that a forced purge would simply be too damaging to a party that is already in trouble. Renewal can be another name for bloodbath, although National has managed to refresh its line-up without great strife. Perhaps renewal is easier in a party that is doing well.

So we are left with the current caucus dominating the winnable list, and a number of unimpressive MPs in constituency seats. These are of course more difficult to shift than list candidates who can simply be moved down the rankings. But someone should have tried harder to persuade Ruth Dyson to retire this time. The West Coast’s Damien O’Connor and Mangere’s Su’a William Sio similarly add no value to the Labour Party brand and should move on. Hutt South’s Trevor Mallard dresses up his decision not to seek a list place as a magnanimous gesture to help Kelvin Davis in the north. 

Which is nonsense. Only if Mallard loses Hutt South, would his not being on the list help Kelvin Davis.

Labour does have the virtue of taking the issue of women’s representation seriously. It aims for 45 per cent of women MPs, although it would reach this figure only if it wins more than 30 per cent of the total vote. On present polling that looks an ambitious target.

Yep. So what happens if their caucus is not 45% female? Does the President resign for breaking the constitution?

Labour’s list is not at all a “fantastic array of talented candidates”, as Cunliffe claims. But the party’s problems lie far deeper than the list. It has altogether failed to win over the voters of New Zealand. It can blame the factitious charm of Key, or the economic upturn that came at an unhelpful time in the electoral cycle, or whatever other excuse it likes. The voters, whether they are right or wrong, are still broadly happy with the country’s direction. And Cunliffe has utterly failed to sell himself as a plausible alternative prime minister. All the signs suggest that Labour will have another dismal day on September 20.

If Labour do do badly on 20 September, then their lack of new blood will make 2017 even harder for them.

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Dong Liu clarifies donations

June 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming “close to” $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations – but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.

Liu, to whom Labour gave permanent residency against official advice, says his earlier signed statement on the wine auction was “capable of two meanings” and after repeated inquiries from the Herald he says he wants to clarify what he spent the $100,000 on.

The signed statement obtained by the Herald on Sunday said that at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser, he “successfully bid on bottles of wine including one bottle signed by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Helen Clark, with a contribution of close to $100,000″.

The previous sentence in the signed statement said dinner and a boat trip on the Yangtze River in 2007 with a group including Rick Barker, the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, which Liu estimated to cost between $50,000 to $60,000.

Okay, this reduces the amount donated to Labour. Paying for Rick Barker to cruise up the Yangtze River is not a donation to Labour. It is a gift to Barker, and if his share of the cost was over $500, he should have declared that in his Register of Pecuniary Interests.

This leaves $40,000 he still claims he donated to Labour, including the $15,000 for the Helen Clark book. The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000 – so we still do not know why these were not disclosed.

“Some of these donations were made anonymously which was perfectly legal and so such donations will only ever appear in some individual donation returns as anonymous.”

This suggests that possibly the $40,000 was split up between multiple electorates or candidates.

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Labour candidate calls for licensing of recreational fishers!!!

June 25th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Marlborough Express reports:

Most controversial was Labour’s Janette Walker, who proposed a licence for recreational fishers in the Marlborough Sounds as a way of funding a public advocacy group.

Think about how hideous this is. The Labour candidate wants:

  • Recreational fishing to be an activity you need a licence for
  • An effective tax (licence fee) on recreational fishers
  • The tax to go to some sort of lobby group

What other recreational activities do Labour candidates want licensed? Cycling?

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The problems for Labour if they don’t get their party vote up

June 24th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on Labour’s list, showing who comes in at what party vote percentage. Looking at that table, it shows why Labour needs to significantly lift their party vote.

I’ve tweaked the table to use the iPredict seat predictions, as assumptions. This means:

  • If Labour got only 23%, their only List MP would be Deputy Leader David Parker
  • At 23%, only 34% of the caucus would be female
  • They need 26% to retain Andrew Little
  • They need 28% to get Kelvin Davis in. If they are polling below that, then Labour can’t sacrifice him to help Kim DotCom’s party get into Parliament
  • They need 29% to get any Asian MPs
  • They need 30% to get even a single new List MP
  • They need 34% to make their gender target of 45% female

They also have challenges in terms of having a caucus that can excite people to vote for it. The highest ranked new candidate is a policy analyst for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. I’m sure she is a very capable and talented person for her to have been ranked so high, but Chris Trotter would point out that having your highest ranked new candidate being a policy analyst, won’t really appeal to Waitakere Man.

I touched yesterday that out of a projected caucus of 34 (on average of all public polls), they would have eight Maori MPs, five Pasifika MPs and no Asian MPs. Dong Liu will want his donations back :-)

Also of interest was that five Labour MPs pulled out of list ranking, including Trevor Mallard. Trevor said that he wanted to help Kelvin Davis out, but that is a nonsense statement. Unless Trevor loses Hutt South to Chris Bishop, then whether or not Mallard is on the Labour List will have no impact on whether Kelvin Davis gets in. So either Trevor thinks he may lose to Bishop, or he withdrew from the list for a different reason to what he stated.

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Labour pledges huge subsidies for a train service no one uses

June 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Fox reports at Stuff:

The Capital Connection rail link between Wellington and Palmerston North continues to make significant losses, despite concerted efforts to make it commercially viable, and halfway through a two-year trial the link’s future looks shaky.

Labour has promised to save the financially-stretched passenger service by pumping in millions in subsidies if it is elected in September.

But Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has dismissed the proposal, saying efforts to save the service are failing and if passengers want it to survive they need to use it.

Brownlee agreed to a 2013 proposal from councils, including Greater Wellington and Kapiti District, to maintain the service for an extra two years in a bid to see if it could be saved, after KiwiRail revealed the operation was making a loss.

But in spite of fare hikes and efforts to boost patronage, the line will make a loss of more than $600,000 this year, while the number of passengers has also declined.

Only 250 people a day use it. But Labour wants to spend taxpayers money on subdising it. Why?

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Labour List 2014

June 23rd, 2014 at 5:14 pm by David Farrar

Labour List 2014

Labour has released its 2014 Party List. The analysis above is my own.

The key assumption is that Labour holds it current electorate seats and also wins the four marginal seats where the incumbent MP from another party is standing down. I’m  not predicting that will happen, just saying that is a reasonable assumption for the list.

So this shows at what level of party vote, each candidate will get elected. At the 23% in the Fairfax poll only David Parker and Jacinda Ardern would make it in.

On the 27.7% Labour currently has on the average of all public polls they would get just seven List MPs, with Kelvin Davis just making it in. Note there have been no polls since the Cunliffe letter and alleged secret donations to Labour were revealed.  On the current average of the polls Labour would lose Raymond Huo and Carol Beaumont.  On the Fairfax 23% they would also lose Sue Moroney, Andrew Little, Maryan Street, Moana Mackey and Kelvin Davis.

Only if Labour get 30% of the vote, will they not be in breach of their rule to have at least 45% of the caucus female. Next time when the quota is 50%, this means male list candidates will be even worse off.

On the average of current polls Labour will be only 41% female, which is less than they are at the moment with no rule!

Very little new talent in a winnable place.  The top placed new candidate is Priyanca Radhakrishnan who would come in at 29%. She is a policy analyst with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

So what would Labour’s caucus look like on 27.7% (current public poll average). Their demographics would be:

  • 41% female, 59% male
  • 62% European, 24% Maori, 15% Pacific, 0% Asian
  • 24% in their 30s, 38% in 40s, 32% in 50s, 6% in 60s
  • 32% from Auckland, 12% Christchurch, 21% provincial, 15% rural, 21% Wellington
  • 76% North Island, 24% South Island
  • 88% straight, 9% lesbian, 3% gay
  • 9% entered in 1980s, 15% in 1990s, 12% in 2002 to 2005, 38% in 2008 to 2010, 15% in 2011 to 2013 and only 6% in 2014

The ethnicity is interesting. On current polls their caucus would be massively over-represented with Maori and Pasifika MPs, and under-represented with Europeans and there would be no Asian MPs at all.

Also by location, they will have twice as many Wellingtonians, as our share of the population.

Also one quarter of the caucus will have entered Parliament in the 1980s or 1990s.

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Labour candidate denies being a Nat

June 23rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Hawke’s Bay Today reports:

Tukituki Labour candidate Anna Lorck is rejecting a claim by her opponent, Craig Foss, that she was once a National supporter, despite a photograph of her with Prime Minister John Key tweeted in 2011.

Ms Lorck said yesterday that the tweet was posted from her personal Twitter account.

It included a photo of her and her daughter standing with Mr Key, but didn’t indicate she was once a National supporter.

The tweet said: “Big day for Augusta she like all the Frimley School choir just love our PM he seriously was like a rock star!” …

Asked if she was ever a National supporter, Ms Lorck said: “I’ve never been a member of the National Party.” However, the former PR consultant said she spent an hour on the phones encouraging people to vote on election day in 2011 after a member of Mr Foss’ campaign team asked her to.

She said that was not as a National Party supporter because party campaigning was not allowed on election day.

Umm, you’re volunteering for the National Party – that is supporting them. Sure you can’t advocate how people vote, but the people you are ringing are those identified as National supporters.

Ms Lorck drew criticism from the National Party, including Mr Key, earlier this year for another tweet, also posted in 2011, which called David Cunliffe, now her party’s leader, a “bully”.

So in total, Ms Lorck:

  1. Volunteered for National in 2011
  2. Tweeted favourably about John Key
  3. Called David Cunliffe a bully

I guess Labour didn’t have anyone else wanting to be the candidate in Tukituki!

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Why have Labour’s chances faded so much?

June 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar


KiwiPollGuy blogs:

You can see that the prices for National stabalised just above 70c in April and May after earlier peaking at around 76c in mid-March.  I don’t believe that any single event has caused the prices to move.  It’s more a case of running out the clock; Labour needs some sort of game-changer, and there is less and less time left before the election for them to find one.

So why has Labour gone from favoured to win, to barely having a 20% chance? I think there are multiple factors.

  1. They’ve abandoned the centre ground, and almost every policy they announce is to the left of the Clark Government
  2. Cunliffe’s multiple gaffes have accumulated to give him a very negative brand, and the public don’t want him to become Prime Minister
  3. A centre-left coalition looks way way more unstable than a centre-right coalition, especially as there is so much tension within Labour itself, let alone before you try and have the Greens and Winston in the same room
  4. New Zealanders hate the though of Kim Dotcom determining the next government. Labour’s refusal to rule him and his party out has sent many left voters over to National as they’d rather have National in, than have a convicted criminal purchase himself a change of government
  5. Their political competence is woeful

So like KPG, I don’t think it is any one factor. A combination of all of the above is responsible. Some of them they can fix, but some they can’t. I think No 4 is especially powerful, and their refusal to rule Dotcom’s pet party out will be a millstone around their neck.

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Herald on Sunday on Labour

June 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday editorial:

What would John Key have done in David Cunliffe’s position this week? Labour Party members must be asking themselves that question and they probably know the answer. Facing persistent questions on something he had denied, a more cautious leader would have suspected he might be wrong. Cunliffe could have said something such as, “I don’t recall ever assisting a residency application for Donghua Liu but in view of these questions I will check my records”.

That is not Cunliffe’s style, it sounds more like … David Shearer. Less than a year after Shearer relinquished the leadership, Labour’s prospects have gone from bad to worse. This week a Herald-DigiPoll survey found the party on 30 per cent, 20 points behind National. Polls the previous week for One News and 3 Newshad almost exactly the same figures. A fourth poll, published on Thursday, was worse. Labour had dropped to just over 23 per cent.

This is abysmal for a major party just three months out from an election.

Talking of polls, The Political Scientist looks at the Fairfax poll and finds the major trend is Labour voters going undecided. He looks at the support levels if you leave the undecideds in and it is National 44%, Labour 18%, Greens 9% and NZ First 2.5% with around 22% undecided.

The Labour core support is almost half that of November 2012.

Now that they are inside the three months, Labour MPs can change their leader if necessary without reference to the wider membership and affiliated unions whose votes put Cunliffe into the leadership last year. This week, Cunliffe said the Labour movement had a word for any such move against him. The caucus would have recognised that veiled reference to “scabs” as a rallying call to the unions and left-wing members. When its leader has to resort to that sort of talk, Labour is in disarray.

They can’t even release their party list on time, because they’re in crisis.

With no alternative leader coming forward, the party’s only hope is that Cunliffe can be an effective campaigner. There were signs in the leadership contest last year that he might be. His supreme confidence and his theatrical gestures could shine in television debates. But stubborn pride could be his undoing if it prevents him admitting uncertainty or conceding he could be wrong, as it did on the Liu letter this week.

I say he should stand firm, and keep refusing to apologise!

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Labour failed to declare $150,000 from Liu

June 22nd, 2014 at 7:25 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday reports:

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

So Labour, which was campaigning on financial transparency in 2007, took $150,000 from Mr Liu (after going against official advice to give him residency) and never ever disclosed that he was a donor.  This shows how deeply hypocritical they are, let alone the strong possibility they broke the law with their 2007 donation return.

Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.

I’ve previously said the Police should investigate. The investigation should not just be under the Electoral Act. There may be theft involved. If Liu was donating to Labour, and Labour say they have no record of the donation, then what happened to the money? Did it go directly to any MPs?

If Labour had a shred of integrity, they would not wait for a Police investigation. They should ask Mr Liu directly who he gave the money to, and in what form was it.

“This is scandalous from the public’s perspective. There has to be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police one or a parliamentary one,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards. “There must be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police or parliamentary.”

Asked about a potential investigation under electoral finance laws, Liu’s lawyer Todd Simmonds indicated that Liu was comfortable with his financial support and would cooperate with any inquiry.

This is why I believe we should have an Independent Commission against Corruption – a body which can investigate issues like that – even if there are no prosecutions – we need to have someone with the ability to find out what happened.

Liu’s signed statement was dated May 3, two days after Williamson’s resignation. It said:

• Liu paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser;

• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and

This is a huge issue for Rick Barker. He was required by Parliament’s Standing Orders to disclose any gift of over $500 in value.

That Liu visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay in 2006, having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.

Yet Barker claims to barely know him.

Barker previously told the Herald that he could barely remember having dinner.

I like Rick Barker, but he has some serious questions to answers. I presume the Parliamentary Privileges Committee can investigate the adequacy of his pecuniary interests return.

Edwards said while it was not clear if Labour had broken any laws, public confidence in the party had been dented.

He said a private prosecution could be possible, and it was the responsibility of the electoral commission to investigate and to decide whether a referral to police should be made.

They may not be able to prosecute, but they could insist the returns are corrected if necessary (as they did with NZ First).

Edwards said the case highlighted the need for a regulatory body separate from the Electoral Commission “to look at questions of corruption and irregularities” around political donations. Donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared.

That may be correct for Labour, but I’m certain that is not current practice for National. Anyone who donates over the disclosure limit is disclosed.

So what do we now know about Labour and this Liu.

  1. Chris Carter and David Cunliffe wrote letters on his behalf to immigration officials, despite him not being a constituent of either MP
  2. Damien O’Connor granted him residency against official advice
  3. He gave a donation to a club Rick Barker was involved in, and spent $50,000 or so on entertaining Barker in China
  4. He donated $150,000 or so to Labour, yet they have never ever disclosed he was a donor

The entire reason we have disclosure laws is so the media can scrutinise significant donations, and the public can form views on the appropriateness of the donations. Labour’s credibility on issues of electoral finance is now zero.

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