A Chorus of one

November 28th, 2013 at 3:38 pm by Jadis

New Zealand First, United Future and the Maori Party have all stated their position that the Government should listen to the Commerce Commission on the Chorus and Copper tax issue. It appears to have been a highly coordinated campaign where each Party stated their position in quick succession.

What does this mean for the Government? Well, the silver lining is that they can ditch a proposal that was fairly unpopular and work on alternative arrangements for assisting Chorus that doesn’t involve internet users paying more and undermining the Commerce Commission.


Update: ACT and Mana Party have also added their support. I understand Greens and Labour Party will follow in the next hour.

NZ First youth wing head under investigation

October 17th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First has shut down some of its social media pages following a complaint about the leader of the party’s youth wing.

NZ First Youth leader Curwen Rolinson posted on Facebook that the party’s board of directors had tabled and accepted a complaint against his ongoing membership.

The board tabled the complaint on Monday night. It will be heard after the party’s convention this weekend.

Rolinson has been a member of NZ First since 2009, and was elected to the board in 2012 for a two-year term.

His post also said he had shut down the NZ First and NZ First Youth Facebook pages on instruction from party leader, Winston Peters.

“Accordingly, Winston has ordered ALL NZF social media pages to 

be shut down till this complaint has been heard next Monday.”

The NZ First constitution provides the board will consider a member’s continuing membership of the party if the conduct of that person is “offensive, undesirable, inconsistent with the welfare and interest of the party, or contrary to the constitution”.

The board has the power to censure or fine, order compensation, suspend the member from some or all rights or privileges, or expel from the party.

Rolinson declined to discuss the nature of the complaint against him, but acknowledged there were screenshots of his comments circulating that indicated a complaint had been laid.

“But I would be rather remiss to comment on the accuracy of my own comments which have been screenshotted.”

He also said he would be rather remiss to comment on the screenshots, “but I am not actually criticising their validity.”

It is not the first time Rolinson has gone rogue on social media – he has previously commented offensively about a photo of Labour MP Jacinda Ardern pictured with a Young National member and also remarked on a post from NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor which called the National Government’s reforms at the start of 2012 “[Social Development Minister Paula] Bennett’s Nazi welfare reform”.

Rolinson said he was not sure it was fair to compare National’s welfare reforms to the Nazis, because “Hitler, after all, had a stronger emphasis on job creation.”

Curwen does have a history of saying offensive stuff online, and it is not a total surprise that he has finally ended up in trouble over it. If he survives, it will be a lesson for him. I’m not aware of what has led to this specific complaint.

UPDATE: I understand the disciplinary proceedings may not just be about online behaviour.

UPDATE2: Been sent some screen shots from Facebook:




UPDATE2:: It seems part of this is over a complaint Curwen laid over another NZ First member, and the Director of Operations in the NZ First Leader’s Office. I’ve been forwarded an e-mail which was sent to the Parliamentary Service:

Sent: Thursday, 19 September 2013 2:30 p.m.
To: PS Customer Service; David Stevenson
Subject: C.V. falsification

 To whom it may concern,

I believe that an employee of the Parliamentary Service might have provided false or misleading information to the Service about his educational achievements.

Apirana Dawson tells people that he has a B.A. from Victoria University, yet his name does not appear on the Roll of Graduates. http://www.victoria.ac.nz/students/graduation/roll-of-graduates?firstname=&lastname=dawson

You may wish to check it out.

In confidence,


I have no knowledge of whether or not Api has claimed to be a graduate, or whether he is a graduate. But I am informed this was the basis of the complaint by Curwen to the NZ First Board against Api. The complaint was thrown out but I understand Api has resigned as a member of NZ First, yet remains Director of Operations in Winston’s office. 

One good stunt deserves another

October 12th, 2012 at 2:05 pm by David Farrar

Today’s “jobs” conference organised by Labour Party affiliate member EPMU was of course a media stunt. I did however expect they would have pre-arranged something of substance to merge from it, but instead it is just another stunt – an inquiry by Labour, Greens and NZ First into the manufacturing sector. This inquiry will of course shock horror conclude that their policies to increase prices and inflation are what NZ needs.

I’m glad Labour, Greens and NZ First are all working together to support a policy of printing more money.

The cost of the alternative

November 23rd, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged on Monday how if there is a Labour-led Government, it will be unlike any previous MMP Government as the major party will be only 50% to 55% of the Government, not 80% to 90%.

This means that the parties they need to negotiate with to form a Government will have massive power, much more power than any other minority partner under MMP. Because the larger your proportion of the votes the Government needs, the more say you get. This is an issue that as far as I know, no media has seriously looked at – what would be the policy mix of a Government that had Labour on 25%, Greens on 15%, NZ First on 5% and the Maori and Mana parties on say 5% between them.

I estimated NZ First’s spending and tax manifesto would add up to around $40b over four years. If you doubt that go and look at their list of spending policies which is massive.

Trying to cost the Greens almost as massively long list was beyond me, but thankfully the good Mr Joyce has done it for me. he has it at $25b over four years. The Greens claim they have fiscal costings, but the link they publish comes up as page not found. Probably a reason for that.

Now the Greens would be 30% of a Labour-Led Government and NZ First (if they make it) 10%, so assume they respectively get 30% and 10% of their policies.

Take the $12b extra borrowing I make it under Labour and add on 10% of $40b and 30% of $25b and that is conservatively a total of $24 billion extra borrowing.

At 6% interest, the increase in interest on the debt would be around $1.44b a year by year four. And that doesn’t even include working out the compounding  nature of debt.

The one thing which would be very clear is that there is no way a Labour-led Government could actually get the books back into surplus. You simply can not add on around $6b a year of extra spending, and get back into surplus. You will have a permanent structural deficit where debt only increases – the exact situation National inherited in 2008 (PREFU had a decade of deficits, DEFU had a permament structural deficit). All the gains and hard work of the last three years to restraing spending growth (including nil growth in an election year) will be wasted.

And imagine if Europe does plunge, and our revenue forecasts plunge also. Can you imagine Winston, Hone and the Greens agreeing to spending cuts to match? It would never ever happen. Don’t take my word for it – ask them.

Debt under a Labour-led Government

November 21st, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

As readers will know there has been a lot of scrutiny about how much extra debt there would be under a Labour Goverment over the next four years. Labour says it would be around $4b, National says around $16b and my calculation has it at around $12b (of which half is the Goofynomics borrow to save strategy for the Super Fund).

Let’s go with my figure of $12b for now (which is in fact only $2b different from Labour’s $4b as they acknowledge that excludes borrowing for the Super Fund). Now that is what the extra debt would be for a Labour majority Government. If Labour got 50%, then they could implement their policies without compromise.

But if Labour does manage to put together a government, they will comprise (based on current polls) only around 55% of the Government. On the Roy Morgan poll they would in fact be just 50%.

This means that the parties they need to negotiate with to form a Government will have massive power, much more power than any other minority partner under MMP. Because the larger your proportion of the votes the Government needs, the more say you get. This is an issue that as far as I know, no media has seriously looked at – what would be the policy mix of a Government that had Labour on 25%, Greens on 15%, NZ First on 5% and the Maori and Mana parties on say 5% between them.

That $12b of debt would be just a start. Let us look at the policies NZ First will want included in a budget:

  • universal student allowances
  • match student loan repayments $1 for $1
  • Cut tax rate for new exporters to 20%
  • lower company tax rate to 27%
  • lower GST to 12.5%
  • tax free threshold of $100/week
  • turn TV One non-commercial
  • Increase Govt R&D spending from 0.3% of GDP to 2% – a 600% increase
  • Accelerated depreciation for specified industries
  • 10% off power prices for pensioners
  • Increased funding to decile 3- 10 schools
  • reduce class sizes for lower decile schools
  • increase health expenditure to 10% of GDP
  • Increase defence spending to 2% of GDP
  • abolish GST on rates
  • abolish income tax on secondary jobs
  • abolish tax on savings
  • cap tuition fees, eventually reducing them to zero

There’s probably even more than this but I can spend only so long reading their manifesto. I can’t even begin to add them up but I’d say we are talking ten billions dollars a year in lost revenue and extra spending. Now let’s say he even gets 20% of his wishlist, and that is probably an extra $8 of borrowing over four years.

And bear in mind also that Winston is saying he would refuse any agreement in advance for how much extra spending will be needed to have him vote for the Government for three years. So every year Labour would have to feed him as much money as he can get, to keep their Government in office. This is not scare-mongering – this is exactly what Winston is promising to do, and there is no way Labour could govern without him.

But Winston is only the entree. Let us look at what the Greens want. At 15% they would have over half of Labour’s support, and be around one third of the Government. So they may get up to one third of their wishlist. That includes:

  • tax-free income threshold of $10,000/year
  • Write off all student debt, even for those not in paid employment
  • tax-deductible study costs for those with no allowance
  • A full universal student allowance for those aged 16+
  • Increased accommodation allowance for students
  • Reduce then abolish tertiary fees
  • Increase school operations grant by 10%
  • Maximum class size of 20 for schools
  • Increase benefit levels to “sufficient for all basic needs”
  • Increase public health spending to 10% of total health budget

There are again many more beyond that. And again the bill will run into the billions, and even the Greens can only come up with so many extra eco-taxes to plug the hole.

The two major parties are normally the ones who get the most intense scrutiny over the costings of their policies, and that is because they form the bulk of the Government. For example even if National reaches out again to ACT, United Future and Maori parties, National will be probably 90% of the Government. Hence, highly likely their debt track will hold up (especially as ACT ask for less spending not more).

But Labour is looking to be 50% to 55% of a Labour-led Government. This is vastly different to when they were last in power and they were over 80% of the Government. At 50% to 55% they will be comparatively weak, and the parties they will need to vote for their budget will have much more power and say than in the past – hence why it is important to also scrutinise their tax and spending plans.

I haven’t even looked at what spending one might have to agree to for the Mana and Maori parties, but it will not be nothing, and a Labour-led Government is only possible if Labour, Greens, Maori NZ First and Mana parties all vote for their budget.

So forget about $12b of extra debt. That is just the starting position. It is inevitable it would be significantly more than that.

Roy Morgan and NZ First

November 12th, 2011 at 11:39 am by David Farrar

There is no doubt NZ First has increased its support. It usually does when they get in the news, and ironically as much as Winston loves to pretend there is a media conspiracy against him, they in fact give him and NZ First far more publicity (but not scrutiny) than other parties polling at his level.

So they are up in the polls, but are they on the verge of 5% as Roy Morgan had them? No, or not yet, in my opinion.

Roy Morgan often has had NZ First higher than the other polls. They had them at 4.5% in May 2011, 5% in April 2011, 5.5% in Jan 2011, 4.5% in Sep 2010, 4.5% in Aug 2010, and prior to the last election had them twice at 6.5% in July and Aug 2008.

As always, I recommend looking at the average of the polls. This had them at 2.2% in October and rising to 3.1% in November. So as I said an increase, but still around 50,000 votes short of 5%.

Goff and Winston

August 16th, 2010 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports:

Labour could work with New Zealand First if it needed the numbers to form a government, leader Phil Goff says.

Recently, Prime Minister John Key wouldn’t rule out working with NZ First – which failed to win a seat in Parliament at the 2008 election – but said it was a decision for closer to the election.

Speaking on TV3 political show The Nation this morning, Mr Goff said Labour had worked with New Zealand First leader Winston Peters in the past and could again. Mr Peters was Foreign Minister in the last years of the Helen Clark-led government.

“I think if you’ve got an MMP Parliament and you need to get a majority, you’ve got to consider all options.”

Mr Goff said Mr Peters had good support among elderly people.

“I wouldn’t rule Winston out…I think if he ramps up his campaign there’s every chance he’ll be back in Parliament.”

Sounds almost like a plea for people to vote NZ First. That is because Labour has pretty much no hope of forming a Government without NZ First.

Mr Goff was also open to the Maori Party; “…look I’ll work with any party in Parliament if it’s for what I see as being the good of New Zealanders and for the values that we believe in”.

But his MPs (Mallard, Jones etc) have done everything possible to make it impossible for the Maori Party to go with Labour. That means Labour needs to grow its vote by almost 10% to be able to form a Government – that would be a seismic shift.

So they need Winston, to be able to govern. I fully expect these “almost” endorsements of Winston to continue, and in fact for Labour to actively assist NZ First closer to the election.

I note the PM has not yet ruled out NZ First, or more specifically Winston, saying those decisions are made closer to the election. I certainly hope his 2011 policy will be the same as 2008. No Government with Winston as a Minister in it, has ever ended well. Three times it has ended in disaster.

A NZ First without Winston as Leader would be a different issue. But I do not believe Winston is pathologically capable of being trusted.

SFO Powers

April 3rd, 2008 at 8:24 am by David Farrar

NZ First has said it has concerns over the plans by the Government to reduce the powers of the SFO’s successor to investigate serious fraud.

The NZ Herald editorial says axing the SFO is a serious mistake.