Hauiti quits

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

The Herald reports:

National list MP Claudette Hauiti has decided to withdraw from the election and politics altogether.

She has already been selected as National’s candidate in the Kelston electorate, which is thought to be a safe Labour seat.

She told National MPs at their caucus meeting this morning.

Her decision comes a few days before National releases its list ranking and Ms Hauiti may have been warned she would get a low list ranking.

A tough decision, not but I think the right one. When you come in mid-term it is hard to make an impact in terms of achievements, and her lapses of judgement will have been a factor. I wish Claudette well.

It is worth noting that when the credit card receipts came out for the last Labour Government, Ministers had charged up all sorts of personal expenses ranging from mountain bikes to golf clubs – with no repercussions. However we are now in an era where (rightfully) there is greater scrutiny and less tolerance of such occurrences – even if repaid.

This is not the first time National has had to do a second selection. They also did one for Tamaki in 2011 when the selected candidate and MP (Allan Peachey) stood down very late (due to ill health).

UPDATE: Typo above corrected.

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500 Pasifika in South Auckland turn up to hear John Key

July 9th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key spoke to more than 500 members of South Auckland’s Pasifika community today in an attempt to sway votes from the Labour stronghold.

That’s a massive turnout, in an area which normally is the strongest in NZ for Labour.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said he grew up in the Mangere community and was once too a Labour voter, but he had been seeing a shift in support towards National. “Things are changing around here.”

Also at the meeting was Manukau city church group member Del Kumandan, who said he too had seen National’s support grow in the area.

“The tide’s definitely turning?the people are identifying with what National is doing for them.”

National is never going to win South Auckland or even come close. But an extra party vote in South Auckland is just as good as an extra vote in Clutha-Southland.

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Can National pick up electorate seats?

June 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Normally when a Government is seeking a third term, they’re not looking to pick up any seats, just defend them. For example Labour in 2005 lost 10 electorates to National.

But Stuff reports it may be different this time:

National is gunning for vulnerable Labour MPs in four seats in a move that could further rattle its opponent.

Hundreds of National Party faithful are gathered in Wellington this weekend for the party’s annual conference, where Prime Minister John Key will attempt to talk them down from a buoyant mood by warning that complacency could see National turfed from power.

With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.

‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’ 

In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.

The first two seats have big boundary changes, and the latter two have Mayors or former Mayors standing for National.

National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat.

Dyson and Mallard are not on the list, so if they lose they’re gone.

O’Connor is 22 and Lees-Galloway 24 on Labour’s list. If they lost their seats then they’d only make it back if Labour gets around 29% to 30% party vote.

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Small tax cuts are better than no tax cuts

June 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National is downplaying the promise of tax cuts, signalling that other policy pledges will take priority.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said no decision has been made on whether the party would campaign on income tax cuts.

The Government returned the books to black in last month’s Budget, leading Key to dangle the prospect of some relief for middle New Zealand.

But as National wrapped up its annual conference in Wellington, he softened his stance.

“In reality we don’t have a lot of money to move on tax,” he said.

“I’m not saying we couldn’t put together a tax package but everyone needs to be realistic about how small that is.

I think it would be very regrettable if National does not offer some tax cuts. They should be the party of low tax.

Of course they would be modest, and not able to occur until 2015/16 at the earliest. But small tax cuts are better than no tax  cuts.

Tax cuts are the only guaranteed way to boost the after tax income of every working New Zealander.

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Demographic changes with National electorate candidates

June 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged a few days ago on the profiles of the 10 new National candidates for seats currently held by National.

A reader e-mailed to say:

It would have been useful to include the background of the people they are replacing so we could judge the extent to which each party is diversifying or consolidating. 

So here’s the changes:

  • 9 of the retiring MPs are male, and one female. Their replacements are 8 men and 2 women.
  • By age – those retiring are 40s – 3 50s – 3 60s - 4. The new candidates are 20s  - 1, 30s –  1, 40s – 6, 50s -2
  • By ethnicity, all retiring are European, and of the new candidates eight are European and two are Maori
  • By occupation, those retiring are four farmers, an accountant, a doctor, a real estate agent, a lawyer, a diplomat and an engineer. The backgrounds of the new candidates are on the other blog post.

So overall, a marginal increase in women, a significant increase in Maori, a drop in age (as expected) and fewer farmers but more people with a business background.

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National’s potential electoral deals

June 12th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

 In the very strange case of Colin Craig and the Conservative Party, there is little doubt that John Key and his campaign maestro Steven Joyce are reluctant suitors.

Deal or no deal?

Welcome to John Key’s nightmare – or the closest you get to a nightmare when your party’s on 50 per cent and your opposition is fractured into five parts.

The prime minister has said he will announce a job-lot of deals with potential support parties in coming weeks.

On the face of it “arrangements” with all three make sense. In a tight race why throw away a chunk of Centre-Right support on your side of the fence, especially if Internet-Mana is going to vacuum up two or three seats on the other side?

Indeed.

Tactical voting is nothing new. In 1999 Helen Clark told Labour voters to vote for the Jeanette Fitzsimons in Coromandel. And last election the Greens told their supporters to vote for the Labour candidates in Auckland Central and Ohariu.

In the case of UnitedFuture, it is an easy equation.

Peter Dunne is a dream ally. He won’t go with the other side, causes only the occasional headache on principle each term, and has ministerial experience.

Even if you dump him he doesn’t go feral. And the chances are his party will poll so low that he will create an overhang seat – a net gain for the Right.

If a party gets below 0.4% then it is an overhang seat.

ACT and David Seymour in Epsom are slightly more problematic.

Seymour is earnest lobby fodder for National, his party is on the spectrum – as in the Right-wing one – and if he gets over the line there is a serious chance he will bring in another MP. However, the whiff of John Banks’ exit lingers in the air and there is an outside chance that Epsom voters will return the reluctant candidate Paul Goldsmith anyway.

And they have every right to do so.

I think Epsom voters will vote tactically, as they did previously. But the choice is up to them. National may say we are only seeking the party vote in an electorate – but they still stand a candidate, giving voters the choice. Epsom voters are not controlled by National. If they don’t want to tactically vote, then they won’t. All National will be doing is saying we’re happy for people to vote for the ACT candidate, as having ACT in Parliament means you get a National-led Government.

Which brings us to the third option, and the very strange case of Colin Craig and the Conservative Party.

There is little doubt that Key and his campaign maestro Steven Joyce are reluctant suitors.

But on the experience of 2011, Craig is likely to attract more votes than the other two combined.

So will National hold its nose and cut him a deal?

Well, the Conservatives have said they don’t want a deal.

Back in the here and now, Key is playing a much more equivocal game with the Conservatives than the other two parties.

Maybe there was an element of game-playing on Key’s part, but on Tuesday he noted Craig’s enthusiasm for a deal with surprise as he harked back to earlier comments from Craig that he was not seeking an accommodation and was confident of clearing the 5 per cent hurdle.

Another Stuff story reports:

National backbencher Mark Mitchell says Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is “dreaming” if he thinks he will be gifted his seat.

Craig, who was defeated by Mitchell in Rodney by 12,222 votes in 2011, said this week he expected to be offered a deal handing him one of the Rodney, Upper Harbour or East Coast Bays seats in the September election.

Based on current polls, if Craig wins an electorate seat, he would take one or two MPs with him into Parliament, helping National gain a majority.

They could get 4 MPs. They got 2.7% last time and 2.8% gets you four MPs.

I’d be amazed if there was any deal in Rodney or North Shore. It simply would never happen.

Ultimately I imagine the decision will come down to necessity. If the polls show National, ACT and United Future likely to be able to form a Government, then why deal with the Conservatives and risk electoral damage from a deal.

But if it looks like NZ First would hold the balance of power, then I’d say Colin Craig is a far more attractive option than Winston. You can trust Craig, but not Peters.

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Grassroots democracy

June 4th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Was in Mount Maunganui last night for National’s selection of a candidate to replace Tony Ryall in the Bay of Plenty. Tony’s majority in 2011 was a staggering 17,760 votes.

There were 101 voting delegates there. Every single one of them selected by a grassroots branch. Not a single vote held by anyone from head office, let alone a van load of unionists who get bused in to vote. The 101 party members were almost all very long-standing party activists who have spent years or decades door knocking, putting up hoardings, raising funds etc. It’s a great system where they get to decide who will be their local candidate, and is one of the reasons why National has the largest party membership in New Zealand.

The selection was won by Todd Muller (whom I previously blogged on here). Congratulations to Todd who will be an excellent MP and representative for the Bay of Plenty.

Amusingly this means the next National caucus will have three Todds – McClay, Muller, and Barclay. I’m suggesting they be called Senior Todd, Intermediate Todd and Baby Todd :-)

Congrats also to Alfred Ngaro, selected for Te Atatu yesterday also. Boundary changes have made that seat more interesting that in the past.

This concludes the selections for the seats National currently holds. Still Port Hills and a couple of others to go with the Labour held seats. Port Hills could also be interesting.

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Mayor Naylor for Palmerston North

May 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor is the sole nominee for the National Party candidacy for the Palmerston North electorate.

Naylor has just announced he will run against sitting Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway in September’s election, subject to confirmation by local party members.

He said after 13 years in local government, he felt he had more to offer the city and could be more effective as a member of parliament than as mayor.

The timing was right for his family, he said, and while he had not been a member of a political party until recently, he believed National’s values around personal responsibility, strong families and community aligned best with his own.

If successful, he would resign from the mayoralty, triggering a by-election.

He plans to continue as mayor during the campaign.

Naylor was first elected mayor in 2007, after serving six years as a city councillor.

He was re-elected last year, in the city’s first election under STV, when he received 51.7 per cent of voters’ first choices.

This makes Palmerston North very interesting. Iain Lees-Galloway holds it for Labour by 3,285 votes.

Naylor has been elected Mayor three times. In 2013 he got more than twice as many votes as the second placed candidate. He got 52% to their 23%. National must have a very reasonable chance of winning the seat.

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National reaffirms pro-immigration stance

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

Labour joining NZ First as anti-immigration may not go down well with, well, immigrants.

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key laid out the welcome mat for foreigners yesterday and said it was a point of contrast between National and other parties.

“We don’t put up the fear factor you see from other political parties about the multicultural society that is emerging in New Zealand,” he told more than 300 delegates to National’s northern conference at Waipuna Hotel yesterday.

“We welcome tourists that come from overseas; we welcome people that are going to come and study at our schools and universities; we welcome people who want to invest in New Zealand and we welcome people who want to make their home in New Zealand,” he said. “And yes, we welcome people who want to buy a home here and raise a family. That’s what a multicultural, confident society is about.”

New Zealand’s future lay in selling things to the rest of the world and the future of the world was about being more connected, he said.

Indeed. Barriers are reducing.

There was a larger than usual representation of Pacific Island delegates from South Auckland seats and Mr Key made special mention of it.

He referred to the imminent departure of former economic development spokesman Shane Jones from Labour – to take up a position as a Pacific fisheries ambassador for the Government.

“If you look at Labour, they have lost the only guy in their caucus who vaguely even cares about economic growth or prosperity or people getting ahead under their own steam.”

He said it was critical in the campaign to demonstrate contrast on offer by political parties and opposition by Labour and the Greens to jobs and growth. “You don’t need to take my word for it – take Shane Jones’ word for it, because that is exactly what he is saying, that there is no point being economic development minister in a Labour-Greens Government that doesn’t believe in economic development.”

That’s not much of a paraphrase. Jones has said he wishes he had realised earlier how much Labour has changed.

His valedictory speech will be very interesting.

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English says Labour can win

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

The Herald reports:

Labour could still win power at the next election, National deputy leader and Finance Minister Bill English said in a speech warning against complacency.

“The Opposition can be divided, it can have many leaders and co-leaders, it can have no vision, very little policy, be disorganised but under MMP it can win and we need to remember that every single day.”

Labour and Greens and NZ First and Mana and Dotcom. Your alternative Government.

He said National would need to win the highest vote any incumbent Government had ever won – it was re-elected for a second term in 2011 with 47.31 per cent of the vote.

47% may not be enough is what he is saying.

He also told delegates to make no assumptions about who was a potential voter, pointing to a large representation at the conference from south Auckland.

Good to see.

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The new Hunua candidate

April 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Hunua selection occurred when I was overseas. The winner from a large field was Andrew Bayly who has an interesting and varied background. Some extracts:

  • managed the listing of approximately 25 companies on the London and New Zealand stock exchanges
  • Chair of a number of private companies
  •  Fellow of the NZ Chartered Institute of Company Management, Fellow of the UK Chartered Association of Certified Accountants; and Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Management
  •  recently returned from Antarctica, where he climbed a number of mountains and dragged a sled for 111 kilometres to the South Pole

Hunua was won in 2011 by Paul Hutchison with a 16,797 majority so again it is highly likely Andrew will be an MP after the election.

 

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Another young Diptonite for Clutha-Southland

April 28th, 2014 at 1:03 pm by David Farrar

National has announced:

Todd Barclay has been selected as the National Party candidate for Clutha-Southland at the September 20 General Election.

 Regional Chair Ele Ludemann congratulated Mr Barclay on his selection.

“Todd is an outstanding choice for Clutha-Southland,” said Mrs Ludemann. …

Todd Barclay was raised in Dipton and Gore, and at just 24 years old has established a strong mix of public and private sector experience in the public relations industry.

Working in Wellington and then Auckland, Todd worked for Bill English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee. He left Parliament to work for one of New Zealand’s leading public relations consultancies, before taking on a role as Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris.

Todd went to Gore High School, and studied at Victoria University of Wellington. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Commercial Law.

It was a strongly contested field, and says much about Todd that he managed to win the selection despite his relative youth. Todd was also a very young basketball referee in 2008.

Clutha-Southland was won by Bill English in 2011 with a majority of 16,188, so it is fair to say that Todd is likely to be an MP after the election.

This leaves Bay of Plenty as the sole remaining contested selection for a National held seat.

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Scott wins Wairarapa

April 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The National Party has selected Alastair Scott as its candidate for the Wairarapa electorate.

Mr Scott, 48, is a former investment banker and the owner of Wairarapa’s Matahiwi Estate winery.

He was selected at a meeting of local party members in Masterton yesterday.

“We’ll be taking nothing for granted in Wairarapa,” regional chair Malcolm Plimmer said.

“Alastair is an outstanding candidate who will be a strong advocate for Wairarapa.”

Mr Scott said he was proud to earn the nomination and was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“National is making real progress for regions likes ours,” he said.

“I’ll be getting out and about to engage with communities about National’s plan to keep working for New Zealand.”

The father-of-three is also chairman of Henergy Cage Free Eggs, a Transpower director, Massey University councillor, and trustee of Wairarapa Region Irrigation Trust and NZ Scout Youth Foundation.

Congratulations to Alastair. Wairarapa was won by John Hayes in 2011 by 7,135 votes. It has been held by Labour in the past, so I am sure will be vigorously contested by Alastair and the Labour candidate, Kieran McAnulty.

National has so far selected new candidates in the National held seats of Hunua, Invercargill, Kaikoura, Napier, Taranaki-King Country, Waimakariri, Wairarapa and Whangarei.

Selections are still to be made for they very safe seats of Bay of Plenty and Clutha-Southland.

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And Tau makes 15

April 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National MP Tau Henare has announced his retirement from politics on Twitter.

The veteran MP announced he will retire at the election.

The 53-year-old former Maori Affairs Minister made the announcement via Twitter this morning, saying: “Well, I’m on my way to caucus to inform my colleagues of the @NZNationalParty that I intend to retire at the upcoming General Election.”

Henare was first elected to Parliament in 1993 elections for New Zealand First in the former Northern Maori electorate.

He is currently chair of the Maori Affairs select committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee.

I knew Tau when he was the NZ First Maori Affairs Minister. Not too many Ministers would be sitting in their office with some of their staff having a sing-along with a guitar. Tau was actually an effective Minister, and I’ve always been a bit disappointed he never got a chance to be a Minister again.

“I could have put my name in to be nominated but at the end of the day [15 years] is a good haul for a fella like me.

15 years is a good spell. Some in other parties seem to think 33 years isn’t enough! I’ll miss not having Tau around – lots of fun, and he was also a key MP in getting votes for Louisa Wall’s marriage bill from the Nats.

He would be the 15th National MP to retire at or before the election, with the most high profile among those resignations being Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Hopefully lots of new faces in caucus after the election. So far the quality of candidates selected has been good, but many more to go.

Matthew Beveridge has a collection of tweets from colleagues across the House wishing Tau well.

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Providing a legal and sought after service

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

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

A fiercely anti-abortion lobby group is putting pressure on the National Party not to select an experienced doctor whose job has involved authorising and performing abortions.

Right to Life said the potential selection of medical practitioner Rosemary Fenwicke as a candidate in Wellington Central “would have serious consequences for the National Party at the forthcoming election”.

Abortion is legal in this country, and regardless of one’s personal views on it, I don’t see any issue with a candidate being a doctor who has performed a legal service that women have requested.

Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr said: “The National Party would be most unwise to nominate Dr Fenwicke for the Wellington Central electorate or any other electorate, or even for a place on the National Party list.

“Those in our community who defend a culture of life would be deeply concerned should Dr Fenwicke be nominated as a candidate for Parliament.”

He claimed that she supported abortions at any time during pregnancy “for any reason, or for no reason”.

I don’t believe that to be true. Can Orr provide a quote?

Dr Fenwicke has previously been the target of conservative MPs who unsuccessfully tried to prevent her from being elected to the Abortion Supervisory Committee in 2007.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland argued at the time that her appointment was a conflict of interest because in her roles as a consultant and surgeon she had power to both authorise and perform abortions.

The committee’s latest report in December showed abortion rates were at their lowest in 20 years.

The Wellington Central seat has been held by Labour since 1999. Labour MP Grant Robertson won it in 2011 with a 6376-vote majority over National’s candidate Paul Foster-Bell.

Mr Foster-Bell – who entered Parliament on the list in April – is seeking the nomination to represent National in Whangarei.

I can’t comment on who may seek that National nomination for Wellington Central as it is during the period when names can’t be revealed. But what I will say is that I don’t think someone’s day job should be a reason for people not to vote for them. Their views on political issues is a quite valid consideration, but I don’t think their job is.

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Pacific church ministers switching to National

April 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Labour’s master strategy is to get 250,000 extra voters in South Auckland and elsewhere voting for them. I’m not sure how their strategy will fare in light of this story at Stuff:

A small group of influential Pacific Island clergy have sparked fierce debate in South Auckland after they declared they would switch their support from the traditional Labour Party to the National Party.

That is basically unheard of.

The action, taken at the Manurewa flea market on Sunday, is under fire on Pacific Island social media.

The ministers involved have been criticised for not consulting their parishes.

The move has also sparked another meeting next Sunday when, under the auspices of a Samoan Catholic Church, 23 churches will meet to discuss political parties and Christian values.

It’s not an issue for me, or most people, but they may have noticed that not only is Labour’s caucus already over-represented with LGBT MPs, they’ve selected a further four LGBT candidates and inevitably Taurima also. There has always been a tension between their socially liberal activists and some of their more conservative supporters.

A Seventh Day Adventist minister, Teleiai Edwin Puni, said he and five other Seventh Day Adventist ministers – all recognised in the Pacific community – met National MP Cam Calder on Sunday.

“If we are to defend our Christian values and build a brighter future for New Zealand families, we need to engage our Pacific people and vote National,” Puni said.

Cam Calder converts South Auckland to National – well done Cam! :-)

Fundamentalist pastor Sooalo Setu Mu’a said they had been supporting Labour.

“To change from wearing red to blue is not an easy thing for our Pacific communities who have been voting Labour over the years.”

No party can take any group of supporters for granted.

National has two excellent Pacific Island MPs – Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Alfred Ngaro. I suspect their hard work may also be a factor in some Pacific voters reconsidering their traditional allegiances.

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Another National candidate who has achieved stuff in the private sector

March 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

National announced:

The National Party has announced Lewis Holden will be its candidate for the Rimutaka electorate at the 2014 general election. 

“We’re extremely fortunate to have a candidate of Lewis’s calibre standing for the Rimutaka seat”, says Lower North Island Regional Chair Malcolm Plimmer. 

“Lewis has proven himself a strong advocate with exceptional promise, and I look forward to working with him to run a strong campaign for Rimutaka

I know Lewis very well, and he’ll be a great candidate and hopefully MP.

Lewis is only 29, but he’s already spent eight years working in the private sector for a variety of technology companies. He’s been an account executive for IBM, Spectrum Consulting, Ingram Micro and currently Oracle. He’s also run his own web development company for four years.

Still a lot of selections to go. Labour still has 32 selections to complete and National has 28 to go.

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Muller declares for Bay of Plenty

March 14th, 2014 at 9:44 am by David Farrar

Todd Muller has announced:

Muller to run for National Party BOP candidacy

Todd Muller, one of the Bay of Plenty’s most seasoned agribusiness leaders, today confirmed he is putting his name forward to contest the selection to be the next Bay of Plenty candidate for the New Zealand National Party.  Todd is currently a senior executive at Fonterra Co-operative Group.

“I am keen to return home to the Bay where I grew up, worked, married, had our family and my parents have lived for more than forty years.  With the support of local party members I know we can make a difference for all those living in the Bay of Plenty and continue the extraordinary contribution of Tony Ryall ” he says.

The Bay of Plenty offers so much, our rich natural resources, together with the talents of the people backed by the National Government’s investment in local infrastructure makes us a successful regional growth story”.

“But like all growth regions, the Bay of Plenty needs a strong and assured voice at the decision making table to meet its ongoing economic and social needs.”

Todd has a long history in the Bay of Plenty having completed his schooling there, held senior executive roles at ZESPRI and as CEO of Apata.  In the last three years, he has worked at Fonterra, most recently as Group Director, Co-operative Affairs, reporting to the Chief Executive.

Todd has been active in the National Party for over 25 years and has held positions at branch, regional and national level as well as working for Prime Minister Jim Bolger during the National Government of the 1990s.

Todd is 45, married to Michelle, and they have three children.

I’ve known Todd for around 20 years, from when he was President of the Waikato Students Union, and in the Young Nationals.

At the risk of cursing Todd, many have thought he will be Prime Minister one day. He has a great record of achievement.

In his early days, he would often get to introduce the party leader at regional conferences, and Todd would almost get a bigger standing ovation than the leader! Despite this one leader hired him, and Jim Bolger was a huge fan of Todd’s. Todd would often make the mistake of admitting he had no plans on for a particular weekend, and Mr Bolger would drag him up to the King Country for the weekend to drive around the electorate with him. Todd also had the rare ability to survive extended whisky sessions, yet still be up at 6 am!

Todd’s career post Parliament has been no less stellar.  He became a senior manager at Zespri in his early 30s and then Chief Executive of Apata, which provides post-harvest services to growers. Apata is a medium sized business with turnover around $30 million.

After Apata he went to Fonterra, and has shot up the ranks to the executive leadership team, being promoted after just 18 months to report directly to the CEO. It’s fair to say he’d be taking a massive pay drop if he becomes an MP.

Obviously Todd is not the only candidate for the Bay of Plenty nomination, but I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t win – especially as he grew up in the Bay of Plenty,got married there, and spent much of his working life there. If National can get people like Todd into their caucus, their rejuvenation while in Government programme will be very successful.

 

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Maori MPs and candidates

March 10th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

National has had two hotly contested selections this weekend for National held seats. Shane Reti won Whangarei and Wayne Walford won Napier. As it happens they are both Maori. No quotas involved. No racial equivalent of a man ban. No head office deciding. All decisions made by 60+ local members and delegates.

National already has nine Maori MPs. They may have 11 after the election. And unlike some other parties, they select Maori MPs in winnable general seats such as Waitakere, Tauranga, Northland, Botany and also now Whangarei and Napier.

Is it perhaps not time for us agree that we no longer need the Maori seats to get Maori MPs into Parliament. There are other reasons you can advocate there should be Maori seats, but in recent years there’s been a great track record of Maori candidates being selected for winnable general seats.

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Walford wins Napier

March 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Wayne Walford has won the selection to be National’s candidate for Napier, replacing Chris Tremain. The current majority is 3,701.

Walford is a former CEO of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce. He is currently a business mentor and trainer, and has an MBA from Waikato.

He was also National’s Tauranga Campaign Manager in 2005 that saw Winston Peters lose his hold on Tauranga. We thank him!

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Reti wins Whangarei

March 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Dr Shane Reti will be the National Party’s candidate in the safe Whangarei electorate at this year’s general election.

Dr Reti was selected by a meeting of local party members in Whangarei tonight.

“National is taking nothing for granted in Whangarei. Dr Reti has strong links to this electorate and I’m extremely glad the party has selected a candidate of his calibre to contest the seat,” said Northern Regional Chair Alan Towers.

Dr Reti’s candidacy follows a career in the health sector which has taken him around the world from New Zealand to the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Middle East.

Congratulations to Dr Reti. Whangarei was won in 2011 by Phil Heatley by 12,447 vote majority. Heatley got 59.2% and Labour Party principal Pat Newman got 22.4%. Dr Reti will become an MP.

A previous Herald profile states:

He worked in general practice in Whangarei for 17 years, and was a member of the Northland District Health Board for seven years, before being awarded a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard, in 2007. …

In April this year Dr Reti was called on by the NZ Embassy in Boston to visit the city’s hospitals with NZ Honorary Consul Simon Leeming, to see if any of the dead or injured from the Boston Marathon terror blast were New Zealanders or Australians.

Dr Reti said he was to the right of centre in his political leanings, believing in strong fiscal responsibility. “But I also believe in a social safety net, so that makes me egalitarian. I also believe in reward for hard work, which makes me centre right,” he said.

Dr Reti has been awarded the QSM and appears to be both a doctor and a (provisionally registered) chartered accountant. He also has a Masters in Management from Harvard.

It seems he is also a cousin to runner Alison Roe.  TV3 has a blog from him written on the day of the Boston Marathon bombngs.

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Dowie for Invercargill

March 1st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

National has announced:

The National Party has announced local legal professional Sarah Dowie will be its candidate for the Invercargill seat at the 2014 general election.

Ms Dowie was endorsed by a meeting of local party members in Invercargill tonight.

“National is taking nothing for granted in Invercargill this year, and the selection of a candidate of Sarah’s calibre reflects that,” says National’s Southern Region Chair, Ele Ludemann. 

Eric Roy won it in 2011 with a 6,263 majority so it is comfortable, but not absolutely safe. Eric got 55% of the candidate vote and National got 50% of the party vote.

Sarah Dowie is an Invercargill-based solicitor. As the daughter of two police officers, justice and law and order issues are part of her DNA.

After graduating from Otago University and being admitted to the Bar in 1998, Sarah established a successful career practicing commercial and environmental law.

39-years-old, Sarah lives in Invercargill with husband Mark Billcliff and their two pre-school children. Mark is a former first class cricketer and Southland representative, who now gives back by coaching local youth.

Sarah is an appointee to the Otago-Southland Lotteries Board. Instinctively community-minded, she also provides free legal services to community groups.

She is a former manager for the Department of Conservation in its tourism and concession wing and is now a trustee and Deputy Chair of the Dog Island Motu Piu Conservation Trust, which is working to eradicate pests on the island and restore it as a viable habitat for tuatara.

It’s good to see candidates of Sarah’s calibre get selected. She’s had a successful professional career and is very involved in the community.

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Ryall retires completing the biggest ever rejuvenation for National

February 27th, 2014 at 9:39 am by David Farrar

Health Minister Tony Ryall has announced he will retire at the election, which makes him the 14th National MP elected in 2011 to announce their retirement (three have already left).

Tony is doing a Simon Power and getting out on top. His management of the health portfolio in both opposition and government has been legendary. MPs used to see being given health as a political death wish, and a sign their leader wanted them damaged. Tony not only asked for it, but has almost entirely removed it as a gaping wound that haunts governments.

Labour had scores and scores of well meaning goals, almost none of which were ever achieved. Ryall implemented half a dozen clear targets for the health sector, and we’ve seen real progress made towards them. Some of the targets are:

  • 95% of ED patients dealt with within 6 hours – at 94% (up from 87%)
  • An extra 4,000 election surgeries a year – at 105% of target
  • Cancer treatment to start within four weeks – - at 100% (was 65% in 2008)
  • 90% of infants immunised – at 91%

If National gets a third term, deciding who to make Health Minister will be a challenge. Every week there are a dozen issues that could become front page stories if not handled well.  Paula Bennett could be a sound choice. Jo Goodhew is a sound Associate but she is not yet in Cabinet.

So the 14 retirements since 2011 are:

  1. Lockwood Smith, List (gone)
  2. Jackie Blue, List (gone)
  3. Katrina Shanks, List (gone)
  4. Chris Tremain (Napier)
  5. Eric Roy (Invercargill)
  6. Tony Ryall (Bay of Plenty)
  7. Kate Wilkinson (Waimakariri)
  8. Phil Heatley (Whangarei)
  9. Chris Auchinvole (List)
  10. Paul Hutchison (Hunua)
  11. John Hayes (Wairarapa)
  12. Colin King (Kaikoura)
  13. Cam Calder (List)
  14. Shane Ardern (Taranaki – King Country)

I blogged in March 2011 on the importance of rejuvenation in a party’s second term if it wants a third and/or fourth. I said:

But if re-elected, some Ministers should give careful consideration (in my opinion) to retiring in 2014. Not because they are doing a bad job. Not because they are not valued. But because you don’t win if you don’t rejuvenate.

The actions of both Power and Mapp in retiring long before they were due to be pushed, should serve as an example to others.

It’s also an example some Labour MPs could follow.

This really puts the heat on Labour. I predict Cunliffe will say this is rats deserting a sinking ship, but that’s ridiculous. National is averaging in the high 40s in the polls and has real momentum at the moment. Many of the retiring MPs have safe seats. The contrast with Labour is stark where MPs who entered in the 1980s are still hanging on for dear life.

So congrats to Tony for taking the decision to get out on top, even it means I lose a Wednesday morning walking companion! I’m sure his family are looking forward to getting to spend more time with him after the election.

It also opens up the Bay of Plenty seat for a new MP. It is a very safe seat, so should attract some high calibre candidates.

As far as I know this is the last retirement to be announced. So the focus will now go on candidate selections and list ranking in the lead up to the election.

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Why drugs and column writing do not mix

January 25th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong has written a column where he speculates National would agree to Winston Peters becoming Prime Minister, after the election.

John is normally one of NZ’s best political analysts and writers.

I can only conclude that when he wrote this, his colleagues slipped him some synthetic cannabis as an experiment in what happens if you write columns while stoned.

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Absolutely brilliant!

January 23rd, 2014 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

I absolutely love the announcements made today by the Prime Minister around education. There are a lot of things that I have to fund as a taxpayer that I resent. But paying top teachers and top principals more is not one of them. The international research is crystal clear that the biggest single factor in a child’s educational sucess is the quality of their teacher. Rewarding top principals and teachers with new roles that can pay between $10,000 and $50,000 more in an excellent investment.

The details announced by the PM are:

So today I am announcing four new roles for principals and teachers in New Zealand schools, and investing an extra $359 million into teaching and school leadership over the next four years.

These are changes that will benefit kids across New Zealand, because high-quality teaching leads to better achievement at school.

The first new role is an Executive Principal.

Executive Principals will be the top principals from across the country.

They will provide leadership across communities of schools, supporting other principals to raise student achievement.

We envisage there will be around 250 Executive Principals, or about one for every 10 schools, on average.

An Executive Principal will remain in charge of their own school but be released for two days a week to work across a grouping of schools, which will include primary and secondary schools.

Executive Principals will have a proven track record in raising achievement and they will pass on their knowledge and expertise to other principals.

They will be appointed by an external panel, for up to four years. Executive Principals will be paid an annual allowance of $40,000 on top of their existing salary, and they will be judged on their results.

So that’s the first new role.

The second is a similar sort of position, again working across a group of schools, but at the teacher level.

These teachers we are calling Expert Teachers, and we intend to establish around 1,000 of these new positions.

Expert Teachers will have a proven track record in raising the performance of their students, particularly in maths, science, technology and literacy.

Expert Teachers will be based in their usual school, but will be released for two days a week to work across their school grouping, under the guidance of their Executive Principal.

They will get alongside other teachers, working with them to develop and improve classroom practice and raise student achievement.

Executive Principals will oversee the appointment of Expert Teachers and the appointment will be for up to four years. They will be paid an annual allowance of $20,000 on top of their usual salary.

Executive Principals and Expert Teachers will drive a whole new level of collaboration between schools and between teachers, with best practice becoming widespread across school communities.

The third new role we are going to introduce is for the top teachers in schools.

We want the best teachers to be recognised for improving student achievement and to act, in a formal sense, as role models for other teachers.

So we are going to introduce a new role – a Lead Teacher. There will be around 5,000 Lead Teacher positions across the country.

Lead Teachers will be high-performing teachers who can demonstrate the best classroom practice.

Their classrooms will be open to other teachers almost all the time, so teachers can observe and discuss classroom practice with a model professional.

Lead Teachers will be paid an annual allowance of $10,000 on top of their existing salary. That allowance is in recognition of their status and their new responsibility in helping other teachers to raise achievement.

These new roles of Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers means more good teachers will stay in a teaching role, because they can see a career path that keeps them in the classroom where they are so effective. And that has huge benefits for the children they teach.

We are going to give extra funding to schools so teachers can take time out of their normal classroom to work with Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

And we are also going to establish a $10 million fund for schools and teachers to develop and research effective teaching practice in areas such as writing, maths, science and digital literacy.

The final change I want to announce today is that we are also going to better match up schools that are really struggling, with really excellent principals.

To do this we are going to establish a new role of Change Principal.

Change Principals will be top principals who are paid an additional allowance of $50,000 a year to go to a struggling school and turn it around.

Around 20 Change Principals will be appointed each year, for up to five years.

At the moment, the incentive is for principals to go to larger schools, where the salary is higher, rather than to schools that are the most challenging.

We are going to change that.

So those are the four new roles we are creating – Executive Principals, Change Principals, Expert Teachers and Lead Teachers.

So that is $10,000 more for 5,000 Lead Teachers, $20,000 more for 1,000 Expert Teachers, $40,000 more for 250 Executive Principals and $50,000 more for 20 Change Principals – and most of them having a focus on not just helping their school, but helping their neighbouring schools also.

What is great is good teachers can earn more just by being good at their job, without having to move from the classroom into administration.

I’ve been waiting almost decades for a Government to do something like this, and reward top teachers with more pay. It should both lead to better recruitment and retention, but also should lead to teaching being seen as just as professional and important a vocation to go into, as medicine and law. The NZ Initiative reports on education nightlight how important it is to have teaching seen as an esteemed profession.

Some of the international research around the importance of teacher quality is:

The 2009 report by the international McKinsey agency, shows that over three years, learning with a high performing teacher rather than a low performing teacher can make a 53-percentage point difference for two students who start at the same achievement level.

There is also a quote from Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills for the OECD, January 2014 about the proposed changes.

 “Top school systems pay attention to how they select and train their staff, they watch how they improve the performance of teachers who are struggling and how to structure teachers’ pay and career. They provide intelligent pathways for teachers to grow in their careers with an environment in which teachers work together to frame good practice.

“The reforms now being introduced (in New Zealand), with real career paths, support and evaluation, and recognition including monetary rewards, hold the promise for New Zealand to join that group of countries.”

 I hope all stakeholders in the education sector will welcome this investment. They’d be mad not to.

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