Goff apologises

December 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“All witnesses, including Mr Goff, were subject to a confidentiality order of the Inspector-General. The order was made to ensure fairness and the integrity of the inquiry. The disclosure of the report by Mr Goff was in breach of the order,” IGIS said in a statement.

Today’s release said no classified information was disclosed, but it led to “premature media reporting on the content of the report, to the detriment of other witnesses to the inquiry, particularly those adversely affected by the report”.

Gwyn said she would be taking steps to ensure there was greater clarity around release protocols and legal obligations for future reports.

“I have met with Mr Goff and received a full and unreserved apology, in person and in writing. I have accepted that apology, and do not intend to take this matter further.”

I joked on Twitter that now Goff is writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, will he leak his own column the day before publication to try and spin it! :-)

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Mayor Goff?

December 15th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Background noise about a mayoral bid has become something of a drum roll in recent weeks. And while he claims to be surprised, the 61-year-old former Labour leader is also flattered.

“I’m genuinely surprised that so many people from such a broad cross section have approached me,” Goff says in his office at Parliament this week. …

“Frankly, it’s not particularly the lifestyle that I want to choose and that’s why I’ve said no, at this point, to it. When pushed I’ll say I’ll consider it, but I’ve got to say that’s not my preference.”

Later, he says he will look at the candidates that are emerging then make a decision. The implication? That if nobody else from the Left emerges to depose Len Brown, then Goff may step up.

Penny Hulse is known to be interested but won’t stand if Brown insists on standing again.

What kind of mayor does Goff want?

One who is “fiscally responsible”, he says, who “doesn’t rate people to death”, tries to do more with less, while creating a “socially inclusive city”.

Sounds good to me.

Brown “will look at what the polling is telling him and make a decision on that basis”, Goff says.

Brown has been embroiled in controversy since the revelation he conducted an extramarital affair in the chambers of the town hall, but Goff says recent criticisms of the hidden wardrobe and bathroom in the mayor’s new office were “unwarranted attacks”.

Brown “works really hard as mayor”, Goff adds, and “right now people should just let him get on and do the job he’s been elected to do”.

Sounds to me like Goff will challenge Brown, but not right now.


Goff joins Collins at Sunday Star-Times

December 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jono Milne writes at the SST:

When we announced last week that Judith Collins would be writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, it excited comment across the broadcast and digital media. …

Would we also be running a column from an MP in one of the other parties, asked a Green Party PR person, for balance? “Wait and see,” we replied, coyly.

Quick as a flash, the PR person moved the goalposts: “Cool, you got a Labour and Green MP signed up too? News to me,” she said, just a tad sardonically. Apparently it would now take two columnists from the left to take on just one Judith Collins.

The outrage on Twitter was hilarious.

A few Twitter users demanded our readers cancel their subscriptions. Three of them actually went through with their threats by emailing me their cancellations – though one refused to identify himself or herself in the email because, this correspondent said, the right wing had so corrupted journalism that the writer could not risk me knowing his or her identity. Without knowing the person’s name and address, it was rather difficult to cancel his or her subcription!

Paranoia at its best.

Indeed, there is plenty of healthy precedent for senior MPs writing columns for the country’s big papers – among them, David Lange, Simon Upton, Deborah Coddington, John Tamihere, Jim Anderton and George Hawkins.

So who has the SST got to balance Collins?

Finally, for those who believe commissioning Judith Collins was an outrage, I have more bad news … as foreshadowed, I’ve taken on a second MP, too. Phil Goff will go toe-to-toe with Collins in the Sunday Star-Times every week. Goff, once the leader of the Labour Party, has now been moved off new leader Andrew Little’s front benches. Like Judith Collins, he is freed of the constraints of collective responsibility – both of them can call it like they see it. If that means they sometimes criticise their own leaders, so be it. This weekend, the former foreign affairs minister will examine whether Kiwis should be allowed to go take up arms in foreign wars like those in Syria and Iraq.

This is hilarious as many on the left regard Goff as a right wing sell out. I look forward to more howls of outrage.

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The benefits of fighting protectionism

November 5th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour has fallen in behind the Government’s decision to join a trade pact that gives Kiwi firms the right to bid for more than $2 trillion of overseas government contracts.

New Zealand has joined 43 other countries, including the United States, Japan and all European Union countries, in becoming a party to the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).

Exporters including Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Hamilton’s Gallagher Security are celebrating the agreement, which is designed to ensure companies are treated equally when competing for government tenders in any of the signatory states.

However, the reciprocal deal could have a flipside for some local businesses which may now face more competition from overseas firms when bidding for work with the New Zealand public sector.

So why is Labour supporting this, when they have spent years complaining that companies like Dunedin’s Hillside should have been protected from foreign competitors? In fact wasn’t their policy to tilt the field towards local companies?

Labour foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff supported the agreement. “I am prepared to accept the balance of advantage lies in opening up new opportunities for the best of our exporters to sell goods and services into those markets,” he said.

Although it does not cover all government procurement in all those countries, Joyce said the deal would ensure New Zealand firms were able to bid for work worth more than US$1.7 trillion ($2.16t) annually.

Good to see Goff ignoring the rhetoric of his colleagues, and signing Labour up to support this agreement. If you have confidence in NZ firms, we stand to win more than we lose by having equal access to government procurement tenders across the developed world. Plus it is better for taxpayers to more competition for tenders.

But I wonder why the left blogs who daily denounce neo-liberalism have been so silent on Labour’s support of the GPA? Shouldn’t they be demanding that the four leadership candidates denounce it as neo-liberal trickle down policies?

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Goff interfered with OIA request

September 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn blogs:

Phil Goff was interviewed by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security today, and in the process admitted on oath to unlawfully delaying an OIA request:

When I spoke to the Director of the SIS who phoned me suggesting he intended to release the documents immediately, he was coy about whether he knew of the identity of the Mr Slater who had requested the documents sought under the OIA. He then acknowledged that he did know who Cameron Slater was. The documents were to be released immediately until I challenged why the SIS was acting in the way he proposed. He at that point suggested he would delay the release for a number of days.
So, just to be clear, Goff didn’t like the identity of the requester, so he demanded a delay. And Tucker gave it to him. That is unlawful. The OIA is clear: a response must be made“as soon as reasonably practicable”. The information clearly could have been released immediately, so it should have been. Goff (and Tucker) has behaved unlawfully by having it delayed.

Still, Goff’s frankness is illuminating: he believes, contrary to law, that not liking the identity of the requester is a reason for delaying a response. Which shows perfectly why he is unfit to hold office and should never be allowed to control an OIA process ever again.

Goff stated he had not been briefed on the Israeli tourists, when he clearly had been. He then tried to suppress the evidence he had been briefed. And now he claims it was wrong for the Government to release information which contradicts him. And this is the man who got up in Parliament and read out extracts from a highly confidential note take by an MFAT staffer at a meeting with National MPs and US Senators. Goff is many things, but consistent is not one of them.

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Goff tried to suppress the fact he was briefed

August 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

He said Dr Tucker told him about Slater’s request for the documents on July 26, the day he received it.

Mr Goff said Dr Tucker said he intended to release that day, “and I hit the roof”.

He had told Dr Tucker it was “unbelievable that you would contemplate doing anything like that – that draws you right into the political arena”.

He said Dr Tucker then agreed to delay the release for a week.

Now think about this.

Phil Goff told the media and the public he had not been briefed on a security issue.

He had been.

The SIS told him that they planned to release the briefing note, after redactions, as it had been requested under the Official Information Act, and there were no legal grounds to refuse it.

Goff hit the roof and heavied the SIS into delaying the release. He thinks that documents showing he was briefed when he claimed not to have been, should not be released to protect him.

And Labour are trying to claim some sort of moral high ground!!


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Goff says halving the harassment rate is going backwards

February 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Military Women in the New Zealand Defence Force report said one in 10 women (10.4 per cent) reported they had been harassed, down from 19 per cent four years ago.

“However, women in all services also report higher rates of bullying than men (13.4 per cent v 6.6 per cent), and there has been no improvement over the past six years.”

It’s good the harassment rate has halved, but still of course too high.

Labour defence spokesman Phil Goff said the report confirmed women were “going backwards” in the NZDF

Sigh! A halving of the harrassment rate from what it was when Labour was Government is described by Labour as going backwards.

Of course the opposition should criticise and scrutinise, but there is such a pattern of factual inaccuracy that they just continue to lose credibility.

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Does Labour think RNZAF should stick with analog planes?

January 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour has hit out at a Defence Force decision to ditch its New Zealand training aircraft manufacturer and risk jobs by handing a $154 million contract to a United States competitor.

The Government on Monday announced it had selected Beechcraft to provide a new fleet of 11 high-performance training aircraft and simulators.

The T-6C single-engine turboprop aircraft would replace the New Zealand-built Pacific Aerospace CT-4E Airtrainers and the twin-engined turboprop Beechcraft King Air B200s.

The CT-4Es were due to reach the end of their service life in 2018 and the King Air B200s’ lease also expired that year.

But Labour’s defence spokesman Phil Goff said the Government should save taxpayer money and Kiwi jobs by sticking with Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace, which supplies and maintains the current single engine CT-4E.

As it happens I was talking to a former RNZAF person about this yesterday and the answer is very simple.

The RNZAF wants the new planes to be digital rather than analog. All their other new planes are digital, and I don’t think anyone would argue that in 2014 one should be buying analog planes.

Sadly for Pacific Aerospace, they have to date only built analog planes. They have no experience or track record with digital planes.

So even putting aside what the respective costs may have been with Pacific Aerospace, the reality was the planes they have experience in making are not what are needed anymore.

And even if you get past any issues of price and experience, you then have the problems of parts if you go with the NZ company. Even if they could produce digital planes for RNZAF, it would be the only digital planes they have. This means they would not have the same capacity for spare parts and maintenance as another company that has produced hundreds of digital planes for other customers. So RNZAF decided the risks are too great to go Pacific Aerospace.

Note that this info doesn’t come from anyone political, but a former RNZAF officer.

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Will Singh keep his JP?

December 13th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Daljit Singh was convicted on two charges of forgery in the High Court in Auckland on Thursday over the registering of 116 voters in the Otara-Papatoetoe area, where he was standing for the local board in 2010.

The Royal Federation of Justices Associations says the integrity of its members is paramount and it has asked the Auckland association to seek Singh’s immediate resignation.

Singh was made a JP in 2005 by then Justice Minister Phil Goff. You have to be nominated or supported by an MP and I understand that his application was supported by Taito Phillip Field.

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Goff on TPP

December 11th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand would benefit more than most countries from a concluded Trans Pacific Partnership deal, former Labour trade minister Phil Goff told the Herald last night.

“We have the least barriers and therefore we have the least we have to give away,” he said. “Other countries have to give away much more.

“While there are all sorts of problems involved in this negotiation, you have to look at the wider picture and the wider picture is that each country will benefit from a successful conclusion to it but New Zealand will benefit more than most.”

It’s great to have Phil Goff say this, but once again Labour is the yeah, nah party.

On union demands they say yeah to the unions and then tell employers nah, don’t worry.

On oil Shane Jones says yeah all for it, and Moana Mackey says Labour is against off shore drilling.

On TPP Phil Goff says it will be beneficial for NZ, while other MPs such as Twyford organise protests against it.

This is Labour standing for nothing, and trying to be all things to all people.

Mr Goff made his comments just before Trade Ministers from the 12 countries negotiating the TPP ended four days of intense talks in Singapore in a bid to resolve the toughest issues.

New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser is thought to have played a central role in the talks, having been a professional trade negotiator and diplomat before entering politics.

Groser is excellent in these forums.

Mr Goff said opponents of the TPP were seeing the talks through their particular lens “and they are highlighting worst-case scenarios” and he was not criticising them.

“It’s unlikely we will get to a worst- case scenario and if it was a worst- case scenario, it is unlikely that we would agree to it.”

Exactly. I don’t like a lot of the stuff the US is proposing – but it is only a proposal. The leaked documents have shown that in fact the NZ Government is doing a great job in resisting any provisions that are bad for NZ.

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Goff vs Cunliffe on trade

October 8th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

Labour’s trade spokesman and a former Trade Minister Phil Goff says he understands why the Government is not releasing text of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement but says it could be doing more to communicate with New Zealanders.

His position is more moderate than that of new Labour leader David Cunliffe, a former diplomat, who called on the Government to release the draft text on his first day in the job. …

Asked for a response to the online campaign by some New Zealand celebrities to release draft text of the TPP, Mr Goff said that would probably not be possible.

The 12 parties would have an agreement that the text could not be revealed.

“You probably can’t breach that agreement but what you can do and what the Government hasn’t done is broadly spell out its negotiating position,” he told the Herald.

Goff is playing this straight, while Cunliffe has been talking nonsense on this (and he knows it as a former diplomat). I’m all for more openness in some of our treaty or trade negotiations, but it is simply impossible to unilaterally release a negotiating text. You’d be effectively expelled from the negotiation.

All countries need to agree to to release a text. New Zealand has no authority to release a draft text. At the beginning of negotiations, it is agreed whether drafts will be released or not, and the international default is they are not. If you do not have agreement from other countries to release a draft text, and you do it anyway, then they’ll never trust you again. You won’t be allowed into any negotiations more significant than the protection of small snails convention.

Personally it would be good if there had been agreement when the talks began (under Labour) for draft texts to be released at certain stages. But you can’t unilaterally change or ignore the rules later on.

What is a worry is that Cunliffe knows this beyond any doubt. He has been a trade negotiator (according to his CV). When he called for NZ to release the draft text, he knew absolutely that it was impossible and if NZ did so, they’d be effectively expelled from the negotiations.

I’m glad to see Phil Goff is not acting so irresponsibly.

But what will Cunliffe think of Goff contradicting him? If Goff the one MP that has yet to swear loyalty to Cunliffe and Cunliffe has pledged to expel from party membership if he doesn’t get it? It’s probably Mallard, but might not be.

Personally I think Goff should pledge to be just as loyal to Cunliffe as Cunliffe was to him. How could he complain about that as a loyalty pledge? :-)

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Goff on TPP

September 28th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes in NZ Herald:

Labour’s Phil Goff is back in business, adding his strong and rational voice to New Zealand’s advocacy for the completion of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Goff wants to see a renewed focus on the upside for New Zealand from achieving greater access to some of the Asia-Pacific’s economic powerhouses through a deal which will link 12 nations.

To Goff trade is New Zealand’s lifeblood.

He reckons the Labour Party has to become focused on economic growth, jobs and tax revenue – “You can’t legislate for revenue.”

Or wages!

The challenge for Labour is to interpret trade policy around its own core values. “There are huge advantages from being involved with TPP and even bigger disadvantages of being locked out. But there are defensive issues where we need to fight tooth and nail to protect interests.”

Such as intellectual property laws

Goff has had the shadow trade portfolio only since Monday but already he is signalling that the bilateral consensus that has sustained New Zealand’s international reputation for nearly three decades will be continued.


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The Syria options

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

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

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

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

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

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

News.com.au reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josie Pagani makes the case for intervention at Pundit.

Meanwhile Phil Goff plays silly politics:

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

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

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

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


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Labour VP calls Goff out

August 10th, 2013 at 6:30 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Labour MP Phil Goff is under fire for a “misogynistic” barb directed at Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

During a parliamentary debate on new spying laws yesterday, the pair traded insults about election defeats.

Goff mocked Finlayson for being “beaten on three occasions, each time by a woman”.

“I’ve won 11 times and I’ve lost once, but the member in the chair [Finlayson] has lost three times,” he said.

“You would think that would be a humbling experience, but the arrogance of the minister shows no sign at all that he’s learnt from being beaten on three occasion, each time by a woman member of Parliament.”

A pretty silly thing to say. Goff obviously feels that losing to a woman MP is obviously more humbling that losing to a male MP – otherwise you wouldn’t mention the gender at all.

The insult created a social media stir, with tweeters branding Goff misogynistic.

Megan Hands asked: “Why does @phil_goff have such 1950s views?”

Shaun Willis tweeted: “Neanderthal man is very much alive within the Labour party.”

Kate Sutton tweeted that the Mt Roskill MP’s remarks were “bad form”.

“Its that kind of sexism the Labour Party doenst [sic] need,” she said.

Now it should be disclosed that all three commenters have political connections. Megan and Shaun are Young Nats and Kate is in Labour. What is even more newsworthy is that Kate was the Womens Vice President of the Labour Party for six years – so having her call Goff out in public as making sexist comments is remarkable.

 Goff said the storm was “utter crap” and he was only being accurate.

“It was just a statement of fact. I could have said ‘beaten by a Labour MP on three occasions’. I didn’t really think about it,” he said.

“Nobody in the House took offence at it, least of all my female colleagues. So this is a beat-up … I think it’s drawing a long bow.

“I’ve been a member of Parliament for 30 years and I’ve never been accused of being a misogynist.”

Well you have now, by your party’s own former Womens VP.

And the reality is that Goff didn’t say Labour MP. He said a woman VP, and there was no need to sa the gender unless you thought it was worse to lose to a “girl”. Think of it like this. If Finlayson had lost to a Maori MP, would Goff be saying Finlayson should be more humble because he lost to a Maori MP? Of course not.


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Fran says Bring Back Goff

July 27th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

Shearer’s fortunes were not helped by the latest TV3 poll in which Labour slid 2.1 per cent to a 31 per cent rating. The results will inevitably increase tensions with the usual suspects calculating what leadership permutations might work if Labour continues its poll slump and its leader – now on to his third chief of staff – can’t lift his game.

The permutations of different leadership combinations: Deputy leader Grant Robertson, David Cunliffe, Andrew Little and Shane Jones all in the mix together with David Parker for the top trio of roles: leader, deputy leader and finance spokesman.

They all have important attributes.

But personally, I’ve never been able to understand why Labour MPs chucked Goff out so quickly after the 2011 election. He has always been an excellent performer and would have driven hard against Key over the past 18 months and made the dents Shearer couldn’t.

It probably gets up Labour’s nose to say so but there is no reason to throw out a seasoned performer (who is clearly light years better than many of his colleagues) simply because he has been in Parliament since his 30s.

Let’s face it, John Howard – who like Goff was a Cabinet minister – before becoming Leader of the Opposition then being rejected by colleagues, rose again to take the Australian Liberals through to win the 1996 election and reigned successfully as Australia’s Prime Minister for four terms before being thrown out of his own seat.

So Fran seems to be saying Labour should go back to Goff.

I think this is unlikely, but not impossible.

They key is that the caucus is shit scared of having a membership-wide vote, in case Cunliffe wins it. So Shearer will only go when a deal is worked out (if it can be) between Robertson, Little and Cunliffe.

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The power, the power!

July 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young quotes Phil Goff in an article on David Shearer:

But Goff said that Shearer, like every Leader of the Opposition, was up against the combined resources of a Government machine with huge resources and of some powerful bloggers behind it, intent on discrediting him.


Influential one could argue, but powerful? Who exactly do we have power over?

Sure both Cam and I have had good stories that have damaged Labour. My rumbling of the Labour MPs at the Sky City box, and the leak to Cam of the Labour Party rule changes, including the man ban.

But to blame bloggers for the political incompetence that should have stopped both stories before they even gestated is making excuses. Likewise the inability to respond to the stories when they did emerge. Labour managed to drag the Sky City story out an entire week by trying to hide who actually attended. The was nothing to do with powerful bloggers, just stupidity.

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According to Labour the 2011 election was a referendum on asset sales

March 13th, 2013 at 9:53 am by David Farrar

Labour said in January 2011:

Election Will Be A Referendum On Asset Sales – Goff

Mr Goff said Prime Minister John Key had made this year’s election a referendum on whether New Zealanders wanted to see their most important strategic assets sold.

Labour and the Greens are using taxpayer funds to try and relitigate the election result. As the Labour Party Leader said, the 2011 was to be a referendum on asset sales. It was the most debated policy of the campaign with 11 months of campaigning about.

I do look forward to seeing media asking David Shearer if he agrees with his predecessor that the 2011 election was a referendum on asset sales.

Well done Inventory2 for finding this gem at Keeping Stock.

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The hit squad

February 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Behind them, keeping them honest, will be former leader Phil Goff and the demoted but not forgotten Trevor Mallard. They will team up as the nucleus of a new “hit-squad”, with extra research and media resources to dig and dish the dirt.

Oh, this will be fun. More H-Fee revelations anyone?

Mind you, they could be quite effective. They successfully destroyed David Cunliffe’s career through background briefings to media, so if they can manage that with one of their own colleagues they might be able to do it with other MPs!

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Goff smear fails

December 5th, 2012 at 6:48 pm by David Farrar

In Parliament today Phil Goff asked:

When he appointed Peter Kiely as director of the Pacific Forum Line in July 2009 was he aware that Mr Kiely was, from November 2008, listed under the Companies Register as a shareholder in a competing shipping company, Sofrana, and that he held those shares right through until 10 August 2012?

Was it appropriate for Mr Kiely to have been a shareholder in Sofrana and not disclose that information to his Minister or to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade when Mr Kiely was involved in giving advice to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the sale of the Pacific Forum Line and when the preferred bidder was in fact the Sofrana shipping line?

But Kiely is not a shareholder. McCully says:

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has called allegations made by Phil Goff MP against former Pacific Forum Line director Peter Kiely “reckless, cowardly and wrong”.

“By attacking Mr Kiely without checking the facts Mr Goff has impugned the reputation of a highly professional individual without any justification.

“Central to Mr Goff’s allegation is that Mr Kiely held shares in shipping company Sofrana at the time PFL, of which he was a director, was considering an offer from Sofrana.

“Mr Kiely has never owned shares in Sofrana. The shares referred to by Mr Goff were held by Mr Kiely as a non-beneficial trustee for a Sofrana employee. Practising lawyers like Mr Kiely commonly hold shares for clients as non-beneficial trustee. If Mr Goff had asked he could have been told this.

Goff could have found this out by setting down a written question. He thought he had a gotcha, but failed.
Just a big as fail was in Q5:

JACINDA ARDERN (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: When was she first aware that the Transition to Work Grant had been used to pay for flights to Australia for job seekers who had an offer of employment?

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Minister for Social Development) : It was just after 1 p.m. yesterday that I was advised there might be cases where payment had been granted for flights to Australia. I am aware that there has been the odd request for airfares to Australia via correspondence to my office. I have been clear that my expectation is that they would not be paid. Transition to Work grants were introduced in 2007 under Labour. That year there were 16 cases where airfares were granted to Australia, and I have been informed that there have been six cases this year at a combined total cost of $4,600 approximately. I will be removing any ambiguity in the programme by a direction to the chief executive that will be tabled in this House.

And just for good measure:

Rt Hon John Key: Does the Minister find it unusual that a party that set up the fund and used it 16 times in the first year now finds in Opposition that it is opposed to its very own policy that it established?

Again, this could be avoided by good planning. Seek the information under written PQs and then you know whether your attack will backfire or not.

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Goff blames lack of photos on 2011 loss!

November 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Phil Goff says newspapers’ biased coverage of last year’s election certainly didn’t help his result.

He led Labour to its worst-ever defeat, and a Massey University expert says he has grounds to feel he was unfairly treated by four of the country’s biggest newspapers.

Associate Professor Claire Robinson has assessed all the images run in those papers in the last month of the campaign, and found John Key’s picture featured 138 times while Mr Goff featured only 80 times.

“It would have substantially helped to have had favourable coverage and greater coverage, and particularly of photos,” said Mr Goff.

Yeah, you lost because there were not enough photos of you!

If Goff thinks Labour would have won if there were more photos of him – why then did his own campaign team decide not to have photos of him on their billboards and hoardings!!! Their campaign strategy was based on promoting Labour, and not promoting Goff, as they knew he was a negative for many people.

John Key launched the “Kicking the Tyres” book reviewing the 2011 election last night. He referred to the aforementioned study, and commented that he may have had more photos of him, than Phil Goff, but most of his were with John Banks and were not necessarily that helpful :-)

I’ve purchased a copy of the book and am looking forward to reading the various chapters.

UPDATE: Poneke also analyses the study:

Dr Robinson’s research looks flawed because it treats the election campaign as a two-party race between Mr Key and Mr Goff when in fact it was a multi-party contest between National, Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, ACT, the Maori Party, Peter Dunn and Mana, to name most of the main contenders.

I think that is  valid point. We are no longer in FPP where it is National v Labour. The analysis would be better looking at centre-right v centre-left.

It is also flawed because it examines the content of just four newspapers, whereas the election campaign was a cacophony of coverage by newspapers, television stations, radio stations and countless websites, blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.

I’m not sure that is a flaw, more a limitation.

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A tale of two leaders

October 4th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

We’ve seen an interesting comparison of two parliamentary leaders who have both not recalled a mention of an issue in a briefing or presentation.

In July 2011, then Opposition Leader Phil Goff said that he was “not aware of the allegations” around the Israeli hitchhikers.

More recently John Key said he was unaware of the GCSB involvement in the Kim Dotcom case until a couple of weeks ago.

It turned out in the case of Phil Goff he was briefed personally by the Director of the SIS in March 2011. A contemporaneous file note states that it was on the agenda, that Goff asked a question about it, that it was “discussed at length” and notes that Goff was shown the investigation paper and that Goff read it.

In the case of John Key, the GCSB has said that the PM was not briefed on the case until September 2012, but that at a visit to the GCSB offices in Feb 2012, he was given a powerpoint presentation where the Dotcom issues was briefly mentioned, and an image of Dotcom was one of 11 in a montage. The Director says he does not recall the reference, but his staff say it was mentioned briefly.

Now I have to say I believe both Phil Goff and John Key, in that they didn’t recall their respective issues. I would point out that SIS meeting with Goff was a one on one meeting specially to brief on intelligence issues – not a general “this is what we are up to” type presentation. But regardless both men have hundreds of meetings a month.

Where there is a stark difference, is when documents came to light that highlighted there was a briefing or mention.

Even though there is no written record of the matter being mentioned to him,, and even though the GCSB Director says he doesn’t recall it, John Key has said he accepts the recollection of the other GCSB staff – and at the first opportunity has made public that fact, and has said he will correct the record.

Now compare that to what Phil Goff did.  Phil Goff accused the SIS of lying, and inventing things, and said he would refuse to meet them in the future without witnesses. Even to this day, he refuses to admit his memory may have been faulty.

I think that speaks volume about character.

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An interesting contrast

February 7th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Good to see the media are backpedalling on the Waitangi Pub crawl in London story and giving more balance such as the Police actually praising the event and its organisers.

In the latest story at Stuff, they have comments from both John Key and Phil Goff. And if I was a lecturer in political communications, I would get my students to analyse this story. I think it is a good insight into how the way you say things can impact how you are perceived.

First what Goff said:

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said nobody minded people having a good time but vomiting and defecating in public didn’t do much for New Zealand’s reputation in Europe.

“I’ve no problem if they’re crazy enough to take their shirts off and do a haka in the middle of the snow in London in February, fine.

“But I know that when I was living in London and you saw people on the tube that were vomiting and urinating you took offence at that.”

People at home wouldn’t like it is a group of English people behaved similarly here, he said. 

“By all means go have a good time but when it comes to behaving offensively in a public place, it’s not on for people to be damaging our reputation by behaving in our way.”

Goff comes across as automatically accepting there was really bad behaviour, twice goes on about vomiting, defecating and urinating and says we wouldn’t like people doing it here. Overall comes over as a bit of a killjoy.

Prime Minister John Key said he was not surprised New Zealanders in London took part in a rowdy Waitangi Day pub crawl, saying “celebrating is part of what they do” in the British capital.

“On one level it’s great people all over the world are celebrating Waitangi Day. We would hope they would not get out of control.”

Reports of bad behaviour should not be “over-egged”, he said.

“New Zealanders are well known for having a pretty good time when they are out in London. I’d encourage them to have good behaviour where they can.

Key admitted he too celebrated Waitangi Day when he lived in London by “having a couple of beers”.

“I kept my shirt on though.”

While in one sense Key and Goff are saying the same thing (have fun but do not go overboard), Key comes over far more positive (and dare I say it relaxed) and less killjoyish.

Now you might say who cares. But how the public perceive politicians does impact how they vote. They like politicians whom they can relate to, and whom they are “normal”.

The most powerful political image of last year, was (ironically) shown the day after the election, of John Key in bare feet outside his front door picking up the pizzas, as they wait for results. It was on the front page of one of the Sunday papers, and was an incredibly powerful image. It said four things to people:

  • The Prime Minister relaxes in shorts and bare feet at home – just like most Kiwis do. Not in a suit.
  • The Prime Minister orders pizza, just like many families do
  • The PM actually goes out and pays/signs for it himself rather than sending someone else out
  • Despite it being the day which might evict him from office, he is relaxing at home with his kids, eating pizza

Of course such stuff is not the only thing that impacts politics. Policies and performance do also. But the contrast between how Goff and Key came across, despite trying to say the same thing I thought was a good lesson in communications – how to do it, and how not to do it.

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Goff on SAS

December 23rd, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The SAS is to be withdrawn from Afghanistan on schedule in March, the Government announced yesterday – but the move was met with Opposition calls to ensure they are never deployed again.

Never ever ever ever ever again.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed the Special Air Service troops would be returning to New Zealand after two and a half years working alongside the Afghan Crisis Response Unit in the capital, Kabul.

And they have made a difference.

Mr Goff said he welcomed the decision on the SAS, but it had to be long term – not simply a break between deployments.

“That does not mean he won’t redeploy them in six months or a year’s time. That’s a question Mr Key won’t answer. What is important is to seek a commitment that they won’t be sent back there.

Of course Key won’t give guarantees for years into the future. It’s called the responsibility of being in office, as opposed to stupid opposition.

Mr Goff said the Labour Government deployed the SAS to combat al-Qaeda and international terrorism. The Afghan conflict was now more in the nature of civil war and President Hamid Karzai’s regime did not have the support of the people.

Asked what circumstances might warrant a redeployment, Mr Goff said there would have to be clear evidence Afghanistan was being used to host international terrorism.

“I don’t think there are likely to be circumstances that would warrant a redeployment of our troops there.”

Except of course Labour do support NZ troops being in Afghanistan. They support the PRT continuing its work there.

This is just like the hypocrisy Labour had over Iraq – attacking National for potentially sending troops there, while ignoring Labour did send troops to Iraq.

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Oh for God’s sake there is life outside Parliament

December 14th, 2011 at 9:59 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Mr Goff has restated his commitment to seeing out this term in Parliament and says he intends to stand again in 2014.

Oh good God. That will help the rejuvenation – not.

Who on earth would he want to stay on as a backbencher? Does he intend to outlast Ross Robertson?


Phil Goff

November 30th, 2011 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

As expected, Phil Goff resigned yesterday, effective in mid December.

Despite the result, Goff ran a reasonably strong campaign and more than one person commented to me that they are unsure that any of his likely replacements will be a better campaigner. However it is the right decision that he goes, because at the end of the day I don’t think someone who entered Parliament in 1981 would ever be able to convince New Zealanders they are the future. His longevity was the one thing he could not reinvent.

Being Leader of the Opposition is the worst job in politics. Goff struggled at it, as most MPs have. The only MP I can recall who excelled at it was Muldoon. McClay, Bolger and Clark  all struggled in the role. Bolger and Clark went on to be competent Prime Ministers, and Goff would also have been competent if he had been elected. However he achieves the unwanted record of being the only Labour Party Leader in the last 46 years, not to have made Prime Minister.

Goff’s legacy is that of a high achieving Minister. He made some good changes to the tertiary education system in the 1980s, and performed extremely well as Foreign and Trade Minister under Clark. The Free Trade Agreement with China is his greatest achievement, not made easier by the opposition of the then Foreign Minister to it.

In the fullness of time, I think it would be appropriate for the Government to offer him some sort of role. Possibilities are:

  • Ambassador to the US (once Moore term ends)
  • Ambassador to China (to build on FTA)
  • Deputy Administrator of the UNDP (okay, just kidding)
  • Ambassador to the WTO

Phil Goff spent 30 years trying to make New Zealand a better place. I disagreed with many of his policies, but respect his intentions and contribution. I hope he has a successful career outside Parliament, whether that commences in 2014, or before.