Labour supporting competition – good

November 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford has raised concerns about anti-competitive building industry practices after the world’s second biggest wallboard maker said it was reviewing its structure in New Zealand. …

Twyford said building materials competition was essential to lowering costs and he urged the Commerce Commission to release the findings of its investigation into the wallboard market, first announced in August last year.

But Nick Smith, Building and Construction Minister, said while wallboard market dominance was being investigated, politicians needed to stay out of it.

“It’s well-established that ministers or MPs shouldn’t be interfering in the independence of the commission,” Smith said.

But good to see a Labour MP talking up the merits of competition to lower costs.


Violent Crime

June 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The latest desperate go by Labour is to blame National for the recent killings in West Auckland.

David Cunliffe’s chief setter upper of secret trusts blogs at The Standard:

Lately West Auckland has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.  Four alleged homicides in less than a month, two domestic, one from a neighbourhood dispute and the latest allegedly involving a 12 year old and a 13 year old and the robbery of a local dairy owner have put West Auckland in the media for all of the wrong reasons.

The deaths have created a deep sense of unease.  What is going wrong?

Local MP Phil Twyford has expressed his deep misgivings:

What kind of country have we become when a dairy owner is killed in his shop at 7 o’clock in the morning allegedly by a child with a knife?

“The young accused were well known to local shopkeepers in a retail centre where begging, intimidation and anti-social behaviour have unfortunately been all too common.

“The community is asking why there has not been a more visible police presence, with regular foot patrols to discourage law-breaking. There is a community constable delegated to cover Henderson but the officer is based in Massey. We’d like to see a community constable based in the town centre, with a shop front on the main street.

The right have responded predictably.  Cameron Slater claimed that Twyford was politicising murder.  Obviously as far as he is concerned it is better for the causes not to be debated.

This claim is deeply hypocritical.  David Farrar during 2008 posted a series of posts suggesting that violent crime was worsening and implying that the fifth Labour Government was responsible.

Firstly I blogged on official crime stats, I never went blaming the Government the day after a (alleged) murder. That is sad and desperate.

As for the “suggestion” that violent crime was worsening, well here are the stats from Stats NZ:


Doesn’t that tell a dramatic story.

The Government doesn’t control all, or even most, of the factors that cause crime. But it does control policy on sentencing, parole and bail, and also funding for Police and for rehabilitation.

Presland continues:

As far as I am concerned there is a political element to what is happening out west and this is why this Government’s policies should be put under the microscope.  Potential causes include the following:

  1. Poverty.  Three of the deaths occurred in one of the poorest parts of West Auckland and the alleged killer in the fourth was apparently begging.  Trickle down is not working.

  2. Policing.  I have heard that the Waitakere Criminal Investigation Unit is severely understaffed, with up to a third of positions not currently filled.  There are many dedicated police officers working in the area but if the Police does not have sufficient resources they will not be able to do their job properly.

  3. Education.  It is astounding that the Government can find $360 million to attempt to bribe teachers with promises of more pay but cannot increase funding for alternative education.  Imagine what a difference this sum could make if applied to kids who are clearly at risk.

  4. Working conditions.  The right are already saying “what about the parents”.   Sure there are bad parents around.  There are also good parents working inhumane hours just to make ends meet.

I think my favourite is that National offering $360 million to pay the best teachers more, so they can share their skills with colleagues, is somehow linked to the murder in West Auckland. And this isn’t some deranged anonymous blogger – but one of the closest advisors to the Labour Leader.

Incidentially see Mr Presland wants to play this game, there were 234 homicides (and related offences) in the last three years (2011 to 2013). In 2006 to 2008 there were 291. So does that mean Labour in its third term had failed to do anythng about poverty, policing, education and working conditions? And doesn’t the 20% drop in homicides then mean that those factors have all improved?

Of and finally, as Mr Presland is talking about West Auckland, I had a look at the violent crime stats for Waitemata Police District.

In 2008 there were 3,952 violent crimes in Waitemata. In 2013 there were 3,134. That’s a huge 26% drop.

So I say bring it on, if Labour wants to start talking violent crime in West Auckland. It will be a great way to get them ever lower in the 20s in the polls.

UPDATE: Rachel Smalley also calls out Labour for politising a tragedy. Smalley notes:

However Mr Twyford suggests that questions should be asked about why there hasn’t been a more visible police presence in Henderson with regular foot patrols to discourage law-breaking. There is a suggestion that a more visible police presence would have prevented this crime.

I don’t think you can say that a lack of police resources contributed, on some level, to Mr Kumar’s death. I don’t think that police officers walking the streets would have stopped such a senseless crime. Whoever killed Mr Kumar had no compassion or respect for humanity, and I don’t believe that you could have prevented what happened by instructing a policeman to walk down the street from time to time.

Tragedies like the murder of Arun Kumar should not be politicised. We’ve seen politicians out in Henderson. Len Brown’s been there, the Auckland mayor. Labour MPs have paid their respects. But I think the Kumar family’s greatest support right now will come from the police, not from politicians.

I don’t want to see more police on the streets. I want to see better parenting in our homes. That’s where the issue of accountability lies. Children who are loved and nurtured don’t grow up to be killers.

Labour, I think, has picked the wrong fight on this.

I think it is just a sign of Labour’s desperation.

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Alabama in Auckland?

October 15th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford is crying foul over proposed public transport zones making it cheaper to travel to downtown Auckland from the North Shore than from other areas an equal distance away.

He claims the scheme discriminates against residents of lower-income western and southern suburbs, making it reminiscent of racially segregated “Alabama, 1955″.

I have no view on what the zone charges should be, but really I think the hyperbole is a but hysterical.

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Labour on road charges

June 14th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Phil Twyford says:

The Government’s decision to  increase petrol tax and road user charges are outrageous examples of tax and spend at a time when the country is being asked to tighten its belt, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford.

Phil Twyford said Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee today confirmed increases in petrol excise duty of two cents a litre and an equivalent increase in road user charges of an average of 4.1 per cent. The increases are expected to bring in an extra $90 million in 2012-13 and $100 million a year after that.

“The increases will hit motorists at a time when Kiwi families are struggling to make ends meet. Businesses are working overtime to keep afloat and the last thing they need is an increase in transport costs.

Roads should be funded on a user pays basis, and petrol tax and RUCs are the way this is done. I’d like to see us over time move to actual usage charging and congestion charging but there are some privacy issues around that.

It is worth recalling that Labour increased the petrol excise tax by 11.2c when in office – and off memory this was not all spent on transport, but some went to the consolidated fund.

Likewise Light RUC charges went up 66% under Labour, so the crocodile tears over a 4% increase are quite amusing.

I’ve said for some time that I think petrol tax and road user charges should in fact be automatically set to fund all transport projects which meet a certain minimum benefit to cost ratio.

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Twyford attacks Brown over POAL

February 29th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Phil Twyford blogs:

Len Brown was elected the people’s mayor on a wave of support across west and south Auckland. People opted decisively for his plan for public transport, and a modern inclusive vision for the city that embraced the young, the brown and working people.

Which makes it puzzling that he is choosing to stand by and watch while his port subsidiary tries to contract out 300 jobs. …

It is all the more puzzling given the Mayor’s commitment to reducing social inequality, reflected in the excellent Auckland Plan. It is hard to see how we are going to build a more prosperous and inclusive city by stripping the city’s employees of their work rights and job security. …

It is time for Len Brown and his Council to rethink their demand for a 12% return, and replace it with something reasonable and not excessive. He should tell the port company casualisation is not an acceptable approach to employment relations in a port owned by the people of Auckland.

This is the same Phil Twyford who spent years saying that Wellington should not dictate to Auckland, yet is now trying to bully Len Brown into putting the interests of the Labour Party (for the Maritime Union is part of the Labour Party) ahead of the interests of Auckland.

Len knows he would be toast if he kneecapped a Council subsidiary, just to please the Labour caucus in Wellington.

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Nasty party attacks Stats NZ

November 9th, 2011 at 4:38 pm by David Farrar

Labour MP Phil Twyford doesn’t know the difference between a trend series and a seasonally adjusted series. So what did he do when a data series from Stats NZ showed a positive trend in the trend series? He attacks Stats NZ and accuses them of political bias.

Stats NZ is probably the most neutral agency in the public service after the Auditor-General. Attacking their integrity is very stupid and desperate.

Stuff reports:

Labour’s candidate for the Auckland electorate of Te Atatu yesterday suggested Statistics New Zealand had “massaged” the latest figures on building consents to paint a rosier picture than was correct.

Statistics New Zealand had released building consents for September which found a 17 per cent seasonally-adjusted fall and a 14 per cent fall when apartments were excluded.

“But the headline on the Statistics New Zealand press release read: Trends for new home approvals continue to rise,” Tywford said.

“Talk about spin!”

Statistics New Zealand’s “enthusiasm” could be excused in less partisan times, he said.

“But during an election period when National is patting itself on the back for doing as good a job as anyone could in terms of keeping the economy ticking over, it is impossible not to see a lack of neutrality in the department’s media release.”

Trying to make a 17 per cent decline look like an increase was the “sort of behaviour” expected of Prime Minister John Key or National’s campaign manager Steven Joyce, Twyford said.

“It’s not what you expect of an organisation that has always – until now – prided itself on being fiercely independent of political bias.

“It is inexcusable for Statistics New Zealand to give even the appearance of bias during an election campaign.”

However, Statistics New Zealand chief executive Geoff Bascand said the government agency took seriously its responsibility to explain and present statistics in a meaningful and accurate way.

“As Government Statistician, I am fiercely protective of my statutory independence in the production and release of statistics.”

Volatility in building consents over past months had caused Statistics New Zealand to judge its trend series of figures as the most useful indicator of movement in building activity, he said.

It had also reported the seasonally-adjusted figures within the first paragraph of its statement and more detailed information had been included.

Maybe someone with a stats degree could explain to Twyford what a trend series is.

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Is Twyford in trouble?

August 17th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton blogs at

As Ian Llewellyn has pointed out already, Mr Twyford has been at some risk in Te Atatu.  Since Ian wrote his piece a few weeks ago, things have got worse for Mr Twyford, with today’s trading having the probability of him winning now down to 72% from over 80% on 1 August.

To put that in context, iPredict is now saying that Te Atatu is the fourth most marginal seat in the country, after West Coast-Tasman, Tamaki Makarau and New Plymouth.

To put it even more in context, iPredict is saying that Mr Twyford has less chance of winning Te Atatu for Labour than Nathan Guy, Ms Kaye and Sam Lotu-Iiga have of winning the previously safe Labour seats of Otaki, Auckland Central and Maungakiekie for National.

This is disastrous for Labour, especially with Paula Bennett looking stronger than ever in Waitakere, and given the political importance of West Auckland.

Worse for Mr Twyford personally, party bosses have given him the insulting low ranking of 33 on Labour’s disgraceful, protect-all-the-losers listAs I discussed recently, this means that, if Mr Twyford loses to Mr Henare, he’s toast (while Mr Henare could expect to be rewarded with a return to Cabinet for such an historic win).

Keep in mind, of course, that Mr Twyford is still most likely to win Te Atatu.  But how extraordinary that a previously safe Labour seat is now grouped with the most marginal in the country.  It suggests Labour has terrible problems in West Auckland and perhaps suggest why John Key to remain prime minister is trading so incredibly high.

As Matthew says, Twyford remains the favourite to win in Te Atatu. But a market probability of 72% is significantly below most safe seats, and indicates that one or more people are willing to spend money on the basis Twyford may not win.

If people think Twyford is a sure bet, then they should buy up his stock and make some money. If you buy at 72% and he wins, you make a 39% return on investment in just four months, which is an annualised return of 119%. So is Twyford a safer bet than a finance company?

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I agree with Twyford

January 21st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Bernard Orsman reports:

It is undemocratic and untenable for unelected members of the Auckland Council’s Maori statutory board to have voting rights on council committees, says Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

I agree with Phil Twyford on this point.

It is worth noting that the Royal Commission actually recommended having an unelected (appointed by Iwi) Councillor sit on the main Auckland Council itself. Labour criticised National for not following the Commission’s recommendations.

Two Maori representatives from the nine-member Maori statutory body will join up to 20 council committees with full voting powers under a Super City bill passed last year in the name of Local Government Minister and Act leader Rodney Hide.

If the council committees are actually making decisions, not just recommendations, this is a quite serious issue. Non-voting representation would be more appropriate.

It is worth remembering that three of the 20 Councillors are of Maori descent – and elected through wards.

Mr Twyford said hand-picked representatives exercising a full vote alongside elected representatives on council committees went against a fundamental principle of democracy and the Government should amend the law to make the positions advisory only.

I agree. But is Twyford representing what Labour said at the time. Here is a press release on 14 May 2009:

“Labour believes the Government should have adopted the Royal Commission’s proposals to include Maori seats on the council, but it hasn’t.

One of those Maori seats as an un-elected one, appointed by Iwi. So in 2009 Labour seemed to argue for un-elected Maori representation, but now they argue againgst it.

Mr Horomia said the relationship between the Auckland Council and mana whenua is important and it is essential they have a voice in local government decision-making.

“Just how that is reflected and how potential mana whenua seats might complement elected Maori seats is an issue which the select committee will hear submissions on and we will pay attention to this.

Again, Labour were not saying they were against appointed Maori representation back then.

“Imagine how people will feel in a really heated debate on some important issue, a committee is evenly split, and these non-elected, hand-picked advisers have the casting vote. People will be furious,” Mr Twyford said.

Again I agree.

Last night, Mr Hide, who is overseas, on his honeymoon, issued a statement saying the decision for Maori to be members of committees was made at the select committee state.

Labour was on that select committee. In their minority report they said:

This bill introduces a Māori Advisory Board. While we have worked hard to ensure this board is more effective, we have not altered our position. Labour believes there should be Māori seats on the new Auckland Council.

Working hard to make it more effective doesn’t sound like arguing they should not have representation on council committees.

He did say he was surprised the board would appoint people to sit on all council committees when the legislation required it to appoint people only to committees that dealt with the management and stewardship of natural and physical resources.

This is correct. So it is a decision of the Auckland Council itself that gave voting rights to the non-Councillors on all the other Committees. So will Phil Twyford call on Len Brown to restrict these appointments to those few committees dealing with natural and physical resources.

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4th time lucky for Twyford

December 18th, 2010 at 3:32 pm by David Farrar

As widely expected Phil Twyford won the Labour nomination for Te Atatu, which should eventually kill off his nickname as “Shadow Minister for the Homeless”.

Now the focus will be on whether Chris Carter finds a job in the next few months. His book is due to be completed in March and published in May.

Anyway congrats to Phil Twyford – better late than never!

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The Te Atatu selection

December 18th, 2010 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Labour Party president Andrew Little says its next candidate in Te Atatu will have to repair damage done to it by ousted MP Chris Carter to stop the seat slipping into National’s hands.

The party will select its candidate today. After a threat from Mr Carter to stand against the party as an independent if his preferred candidate, Phil Twyford, does not win that selection, Mr Little said Mr Carter was now irrelevant and any remaining local support was “dwindling rapidly”.

How does Andrew than explain the letter from the Te Atatu LEC which said that they supported Chris Carter unamiously?

Mr Carter said he believed Mr Twyford had the best chance of keeping the seat out of National Party hands. Although not a local, Kingsland resident Mr Twyford had a profile from his work opposing the Super City. Mr Carter said if Mr Twyford was not chosen, he himself would consider standing again to keep the seat in centre-left hands.

Mr Twyford has the support of at least three unions with voting rights – the Service and Food Workers’ Union, the Maritime Union and the Amalgamated Workers Union.

Mr Little is standing aside from the selection panel because Mr McCracken was an EPMU organisere about five years ago. However, Mr Little said yesterday that the union had not endorsed any candidate.

With Chris Carter threatening to split the vote as an independent candidate if anyone but Twyford is selected, and with three unions behind him, and the EPMU neutral, even Phil should be able to clinch the nomination.

Mr Carter said he did not know what his political future held and he might leave politics before the election if a good job came along – forcing an unwelcome byelection for Labour.

And this is what will be his ultimate revenge. Twyford gets the nomination, then Carter suddenly picks up a job (maybe with the UN) and we have a by-election. And if Twyford wins the by-election, it brings Judith Tizard back into the Labour Caucus for seven months or so.

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More turmoil in Labour

December 9th, 2010 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports:

Turmoil is continuing within the Labour Party as it heads toward Sunday’s contentious candidate selection in Manurewa with current MP George Hawkins threatening to resign and force a byelection if the party selects a candidate he dislikes.

The party will select its new candidate to replace the retiring George Hawkins on Sunday and Mr Hawkins is understood to have told Labour leader Phil Goff he would force a byelection or publicly criticise the party if candidate Jerome Mika was selected.

George should not rule out both!

While the EPMU supports Mr Mika, the Service Workers Union, the Maritime Union and Amalgamated Workers Union support Louisa Wall. If the two sides can not agree on either candidate, they could choose a third person as a compromise rather than take a majority vote.

This is Labour Party democracy in action.

The three unions are also supporting List MP Phil Twyford in Te Atatu, which will have its selection a week later. Mr Twyford’s chances could be hurt if Mr Mika is selected for Manurewa because of calls for more female candidates in Auckland.

I suspect it will be fourth time lucky.

Things must be quite fragile in Labour at the moment, as Phil Goff has yet to announce the further rejuvenation reshuffle that was expected. When he did reshuffle due to perks abuse, the Herald reported:

Labour leader Phil Goff said there would be further changes ahead of next year’s general election.

You generally avoid reshuffles in election year. I wonder if Goff has backed off a reshuffle, as he can’t afford to upset any of his caucus at the moment?

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How Chris Carter could really do over Labour

October 28th, 2010 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

I think I have worked out the ultimate revenge scheme for Chris Carter, which would make Labour regret throwing him out.

It’s quite simple.

  1. Chris waits for Labour to do candidate selection for Te Atatu
  2. Then if they select front runner Phil Twyford, Chris resigns from Parliament
  3. Having selected Twyford as the general election candidate, they have to stand him in the by-election also
  4. Twyford wins the by-election
  5. Judith Tizard rejoins the Labour Caucus as a List MP for the next year

I think the prospect of Judith returning to Caucus would make even Phil Goff join up to the “We forgive you Chris” club :-)

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I agree with Twyford

October 25th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour wants to stop local board members sitting on more than one board in the Super City.

The party has responded to the case of pharmacist Warren Flaunty, who was elected to three Auckland Council local boards – Rodney, Henderson-Massey and Upper Harbour.

As well, he was re-elected to the Waitemata District Health Board and the Waitakere Licensing Trust. …

Yesterday, Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford, said the loophole that allowed Mr Flaunty to win five seats should be closed.

I agree. I think you should be able to stand for one board only. I would even go so far as to stop people staying for Council and DHB – people do it just to gain extra money from their name recognition.

“Power is already too concentrated in the hands of too few people running the Super City.”

A bit ironic, as Labour’s policy was to have fewer local boards.

“I will put up an amendment when Rodney Hide’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill comes back to the House in a few weeks,” Mr Twyford said.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, the author of the Super City council structure, said Mr Twyford was looking to change the wrong law.

The way to address the issue and other concerns, such as postal voting, was through the regular review of the local body elections by the justice and electoral law select committee. That could lead to changes to the Local Electoral Act, he said.

Mr Hide said that personally, he did not think it was right for anyone to sit on more than one local board – “MPs can’t represent three electorates.

“But I will be guided by Parliament and the proper place to consider it is the select committee,” he said.

I agree with Twyford’s intent but Rodney is right that you should submit to the review of the elections – I certainly intend to.

My thoughts for improvement at the moment are:

  • Ban multiple candidacies or at least multiple roles if elected
  • Encourage councils to have more one person wards – you get more informed decision making from people having to select say one preferred person from half a dozen locals, than try and select three to five people from a list of 20 – 30
  • Either stop having DHB elections on the grounds there is miniscule informed voting, or change them from STV and/or introduce smaller wards for DHBs so voters don’t face 30+ names to rank.
  • The issue of STV and FPP is challenging. FPP is much more user friendly for multiple vacancy elections (tick three people instead of rank 30 people) but STV can work quite nicely in single vacancy elections (rank from 1 to 7 these mayoral candidates). It would be good to have DIA or LGNZ or someone do some research amongst voters about how they find the different systems. I’m not worried about outcomes under either system – my interest is how do we lift turnout, and get more informed voting.
  • I will also advocate for term limits for Mayors at least. I think term limits remove some of the advantages of incumbency, especially when a lot of voting is based on name recognition alone.
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Nine seeking Te Atatu

October 9th, 2010 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

The fact nine people are seeking Labour’s nomination for Te Atatu, reflects its safeness for Labour. No as safe as Mana (National won the PV in 2008), but whoever gain the nomination probably has a long parliamentary career ahead of them.

So who are they:

Phil Twyford – his fourth attempt to gain a seat after being rebuffed or scared off in Mt Albert, Auckland Central and Waitakere. As Chris Carter is said to be backing Twyford this should help him with the local electorate votes. Will Head Office back him though, and will the often union dominated floor votes go his way? A fourth loss would be even  more humiliating.

Rajen Prasad – he had a top twelve list ranking from Labour in 2008 but has been near invisible in Parliament. My only sighting of him has been booing National MPs at Backbenchers. Given his age also, I would be surprised if he could beat Twyford. In fact I wouldn’t want to place much money on him having that high a list ranking next time either.

Nick Bakulich – A PI funeral director standing in the local body elections. Former public servant, and a church elder.

Jim Bradshaw – law student.

Dr Michael Kidd – barrister, stood for Waitakere Council in 2007. Appears to be past middle age, which may count against him. In safer seats you tend to look for someone who can do 15 years or so.

Hamish McCracken – I’ve lost counts of how many elections and nominations Hamish has lost. He does get union support though, and maybe people will feel sorry for him.

Anne Pala – a community advocate who also sought Waitakere nomination off memory. My spies say she was highly regarded in terms of political skills.

Greg Presland – could be a substantial candidate. Has been very involved behind the scenes with Labour, and when he is not commenting on blogs is a lawyer. A previous City Councillor and Labour appointed him to various boards.

Kate Sutton – Last time I checked Kate has the Woman Vice-President of Labour, and gained the job at a very young age. She has strong support from the younger activists and is pretty feisty  would run a hard campaign. I’m not sure, but don’t think she is from the West which could count against.

So who are the front runners – I would say it is a choice between Twyford, Presland and Sutton, but reserve the right to change my opinions as the contest moves on.

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Lining up for Te Atatu

October 7th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The race for Chris Carter’s plum Te Atatu seat is suddenly wide open after a rush of nominations.

Apart from Mr Carter, who is still seeking the nomination despite being expelled from the Labour caucus, it is believed six people are vying to stand in the seat for Labour at the next election.

Among those believed to have thrown their hats into the ring are list MPs Phil Twyford and Darien Fenton and former Epsom candidate Kate Sutton. Another of Labour’s 2008 candidates, Hamish McCracken, could also be in the mix.

Twyford v Fenton could be interesting as there is a bit of history of tension there. After Twyford missed out on Waitakere, someone suggested on his Facebook page he could consider Northcote. Darien jumped in and basically said naff off, she’s been working hard there.

Kate Sutton would be fairly strong contender, but I don’t know if she has Westie roots. Hamish McCracken seems to try for every seat.

Will it be 4th time lucky for Twyford? Will Carter be expelled? Will Carter stand as an Independent if he is? To find out tune back in tomorrow at the same bat time on the same bat channel!

UPDATE: Carter has announced he will not stand in 2011:

Member of Parliament for Te Atatu (Labour), Chris Carter, has announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy for the Labour Party in the electorate of Te Atatu for the 2011 General Election.

“In good conscience I cannot campaign on behalf of a leader I have criticised,” said Mr Carter. “It would not be fair to him or ethical of me.

So not standing, as he can’t honestly say he supports Goff.

“Of course there are some things I wish I had handled differently. At the same time I also regret that, during the pressures I have faced in the past year, I did not receive the support, advice or guidance I expected from my party leadership. However I want to look forward to focussing on continuing to serve the people of my electorate and it is for the Labour Caucus to resolve the Leadership Question.

I can’t imagine Phil Goff’s initial response to the Paul Henry comments would have helped his position with some of his caucus members. Goff’s response was that it was just “Paul being Paul”. Goff could have inflicted some damage on John Key if it were not for that initial response. I can only imagine how furious some Labour MPs are at Goff for the missed opportunity.

‘I look forward to seeing Labour returned to the Treasury benches in the near future.”

Chris has also said that Labour can not win under Goff. So his implication is pretty obvious.

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Who will stand for Te Atatu?

October 6th, 2010 at 9:06 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Renegade MP Chris Carter’s views on who should replace him in the safe Labour seat of Te Atatu are interesting but irrelevant, Labour president Andrew Little says.

Not really. He has the unanimous backing of his electorate committee so I imagine his views on his successor will be highly influential.

Mr Carter told the Dominion Post newspaper that he had asked Auckland lawyer Deborah Manning (known for her representation of represented Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui) to stand in the seat but she declined. His second choice was Phil Twyford.

Heh, isn’t that Phil’s problem in all the other seats also :-)

“We have a clearly set out selection process and it doesn’t involve former Labour MPs having a say over who a potential successor might be,” Mr Little said.

“They are interesting comments but they won’t help us select a candidate for Te Atatu.”

But they may. If he is still a Labour Party member, then Chris could get elected to the selection panel.

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Taxpayer funded Labour campaigning for Len

October 1st, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour MP Phil Twyford says he should not have used his parliamentary email to endorse candidates in the local body elections and he is sorry.

Mr Twyford, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesman, met Parliamentary Service officials today following an accusation from ACT leader Rodney Hide about improper use of parliamentary resources.

Mr Twyford sent emails – including one to endorse Auckland super city mayoralty candidate Len Brown.

“Parliamentary Services have told me that there is a case to answer and that it has been referred to the Speaker’s Office. This was a genuine mistake. I am now aware of the rules and I won’t be making this mistake again.

Telling people who to vote for, from a parliamentary account, is no mistake. Everyone knows the rules – you an not ask for money, members, or votes.

Even worse when it is the Spokesperson for Auckland Issues. While of course Labour back Len Brown (a Labour Party member), it is not a good look to have the Auckland spokesperson actively campaigning for and against candidates – as he will have to work with some of them after the election.

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Labour’s future leadership

July 13th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

As I blogged yesterday, the chances of there being a Labour-led Government after the 2011 election is very remote. Not just because of the gap in the polls, but also because of their failure to rejuvenate, but more importantly their failure to mend bridges with the Maori Party who might hold the balance of power after the election.

So unless there is some big event such as a second recession, or a major scandal, Phil Goff is unlikely to become Prime Minister. So who will replace him, when and why?


Turning to the when, and I still maintain that Goff is safe until the election – even if Labour stay below 30%. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Lack of enthusiasm for the alternatives
  2. The shared delusion that the public will wake up to its mistake and restore them to power once they prove that John Key really is a nasty nasty man
  3. The impact of MMP, sheltering Caucus more than FPP did

The last point is quite important. Under FPP MPs got more panicked by the polls. If the polls showed they were in trouble in their seat, then they were facing the end of their political career, so they would desperately vote to change leaders to try and hold on to their seats – as Labour did in 1990.l

But under MMP, MPs can be protected on the list, so they do not fear bad polling so much. And even though the polls may show Labour losing as many as seven List MPs, the fact is no one knows which seven MPs may be toast until Labour ranks its list, and by then it is too late.

So I am quite confident that Phil Goff will remain Leader until after the 2011 election. But if they lose, I would expect he will retire from the leadership and politics within 6 – 12 months of the 2011 election.


I believe the next leader of the Labour Party will be David Cunliffe. And yes, of course I have my money where my mouth is and am backing that stock on iPredict.


It isn’t exactly a closely guarded secret that David Cunliffe isn’t the most popular MP with his colleagues. He probably isn’t the first choice for Leader of more than a handful of MPs. But he will become Leader, because he is basically everyone’s acceptable second choice.

Being the acceptable second choice can be a better position than a faction’s first choice. Similiar politics happened in the Waitakere selection – one faction was backing Twyford strongly and one faction (union) backing McCracken. Carmel Sepuloni came through the middle as the choice acceptable to all sides who could unify the electorate – either Twyford or McCracken would have left a significant minority disgruntled.

It is also worth remembering that Helen was positioning Cunliffe as a future leader, if she got a fourth term. She wanted to keep Goff out, and after Maharey retired and Mallard imploded, Cunliffe was her favoured candidate to succeed her. The 2008 loss, meant that Cunliffe did not have enough experience to be viable at that stage, so she let the leadership temporarily transfer to the man she she had worked so hard to keep away from it.

Why Not?

Cunliffe is basically the only acceptable alternative to the caucus. One can ascertain this by going through the others known to want the job.

Shane Jones – even before the hotel porn saga, Jones was not going to become leader. The women in Labour would rather slit their wrists than elect Jones, and while they are not a majority in caucus, they are a minority too powerful to ignore. Also Jones hasn’t shown the required hard work to become leader – he overly relies on his (quite considerable) natural talent. He is also too right wing economically to become Leader.

Andrew Little – Andrew has made a tactical mistake by combining the three roles of party president, union leader and aspiring MP. There is considerable resentment of this in the caucus, and he is blamed for the lacklustre fundraising to date. One Labour person commented to me that how can you expect the President one week to be getting donations from CEOs, when the next week he is delivering strike notices to them. Add onto that the resentment from List MPs that Andrew will be automatically given a high list ranking, knocking them down the order.

So Andrew will enter caucus with a degree of pre-existing hostility. While he may one day become Leader if he proves himself, he will not be given a Bob Hawke type coronation after just a year in Parliament.

Ruth Dyson – John Key would start going to church (to thank God)  if Labour elected Ruth Dyson as Leader. Nothing against Ruth’s skills, but she is a polarising figure strongly associated with the former Government.

Maryan Street – I rate Street as one of the smartest MPs, and she has the ability to be a strong Minister and maybe even Deputy Leader.  But I don’t see at all the charisma to become leader or prime minister. Maryan being elected as Leader would also see John Key, if not start attending church, at least sending his kids to Sunday School!

Grant Robertson – Grant is a very smart political operator. Too smart to try and become leader after just one term in Parliament. He has what I expect will become a fairly safe seat for him, and time is on his side. I think the bastard might even be younger than me! If Grant stood in 2012, he might do surprisingly well, but I think he knows he is better to wait his time and get more experience before he tries to ascend.

Ashraf Choudhary – just kidding :-)

Then what?

It is dangerous to look too far ahead, but my best pick at this stage is David Cunliffe become Leader in 2012, and he contests the 2014 election.

Labour will have a challenge in replacing him as Finance Spokesperson, with a so few MPs having the necessary skills or background. To my mind, the only credible option would be David Parker. So the leadership team could be Cunliffe as Leader, Street as Deputy and Parker as Finance.

Like Goff, Cunliffe will probably be a one shot leader unless he wins the election. They call this the Mike Moore slot. He doesn’t have (at this stage anyway) the loyalty of enough MPs to keep him in the job if he loses.

If National wins the 2014 election (and no predictions this far out), then Labour will have another leadership change. I believe their post 2014 leader will be their long-term leader – like Clark they will be in the job for 10 – 15 years or so, and they will become Prime Minister.

This could see a Grant Robertson vs Andrew Little battle. That would be very interesting. I’ve been pretty impressed with David Shearer also, and wouldn’t rule him out as a contender also. Kelvin Davis has potential also – but I see him more as a future Education Minister.

Of course a John Key or Don Brash type candidate may enter Parliament for Labour in 2011, and also by 2014 become a potential leader. However the fact almost all their Caucus is standing again, makes it harder for them to parachute any stars in.

Time will tell if my predictions come true.

Tomorrow, I will blog on how I would “sell” David Cunliffe once he is Leader.

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Is Phil phucked?

March 22nd, 2010 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter comments on his blog about the career prospects for Phil Twyford:

His enemies in the EPMU, combined with his possession of a penis (and, increasingly rarely for a Labour MP – a pair of balls) have reduced his chances of securing a solid political base to something approaching zero.

Those same handicaps also put his position on the 2011 Labour List in doubt.

Clearly, being an intelligent and compassionate human-being, with an impeccable background in the voluntary/humanitarian sector, counts for far less in Labour circles than having a few union mates and a vagina.

Now it is tempting to this Chris is being a but harsh, but look at this extraordinary comment on Phil Twyford’s own Facebook page. Twyford said:

My colleague Carmel Sepuloni is the new Labour candidate for Waitakere. My congratulations to her. She will be fantastic going up against Paula Bennett. Commiserations to my fellow nominees Hamish and Ann. I’m very disappointed. I was excited about the chance to take on Bennett. But it was not to be. Good though for Labour to have a robust contested selection.

Very gracious. Then Labour activist Greg Presland left a comment saying:

Commiserations Phil. We have to fine a place for you, There should be another westie seat next time. Altenatively, Northcote and Coleman is the next most marginal Auckland seat. I am sure you could do it.

A reasonable suggestion, especially as Twyford stood on the North Shore last election. But then Twyford’s colleague, Darien Fenton, comments:

Well, Greg, we should have a conversation about Northcote. Other people, including me, have been working hard there.

Good God. Now remember this is on Phil Twyford’s own Facebook page, and he is being warned off Northcote by one of his colleagues who has the two essentials Trotter refers to.

UPDATE: The Herald also asks the same question over Twyford’s future.

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Labour’s Waitakere selection

March 20th, 2010 at 4:43 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s selection meeting for Waitakere started at 10.30 am, and is still going.

It started with a contested election for the meeting’s rep on the selection panel. The panel effectively has seven members.

  • Three members appointed by Head Office
  • Two members appointed by the Waitakere electorate committee
  • One member appointed by and at the beginning of the selection meeting
  • One vote reflecting the secret ballot after the speeches

The secret ballot vote, as I understand it, is a simple first past the post vote and counts as a vote on the panel for the candidate who gets a plurality. If that candidate falls out of contention (ie it is between two other candidates), then the vote doesn’t count.

The order of speaking was Phil Twyford, Hamish McCracken, Carmel Sepuloni and Ann Pala.

Voting after the speeches concluded around three hours ago, so there is obviously some sort of deadlock on the panel, which is taking a while to resolve.

As I understand it McCracken has EPMU support, as he works for them or did work for them. So some of the head office vote may be with him. Pillay, the retiring MP, was EMPU so they probably see the seat as theirs.

Sepuloni is probably the candidate with the best chance to take the fight to Paula Bennett. I don’t think she’ll beat Paula, but she’ll do better than a white middle aged guy would, to be blunt.

Twyford was proclaimed as one of the new high flyers. However if he loses tonight, it will shoot his credibility to shreds, considering it will be his third effective rejection in a row, having been scared off Mt Albert and Auckland Central. Some in Labour will not want to embarrass Twyford like that, even if they think Sepuloni has a better chance.

Eventually the panel will need to eliminate one of the three favourites and then it is a simple two way race, where one candidate needs four out of seven votes.

I’ll blog the result once I hear it.

UPDATE: And it is Carmel Sepuloni. Congratulations to her. As I said above, this is hugely embarassing to Phil Twyford whose nickname already was “Opposition Spokesperson for the Homeless”. He may have to end up Labour candidate in Helensville, or some other unwinnable seat. Or he could move to Mt Roskill and wait until after the next election!

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Labour selections

February 1st, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Labour has announced four selections, reports the Herald:

Labour has already chosen its 2011 election candidates for Auckland Central, West Coast-Tasman, Ohariu and Maungakiekie.

First-term list MP Jacinda Ardhern will contest Auckland Central and Carol Beaumont, also a list MP, will contest Maungakiekie. Both are held by National.

List MP Damien O’Connor will try to take back West Coast-Tasman, the seat he lost to National in the last election.

Senior MP Charles Chauvel, another list MP, will contest Ohariu, which is held by United Future leader Peter Dunne.

I wonder why Labour did not open nominations for NZ’s most marginal seat of New Plymouth? Is it because Andrew Little plans to parachute in there later, as that is his home town?

There were four nominations for Waitakere, the seat held by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, and a selection meeting will be held on March 20. The nominations were Ann Pala, Carmel Sepuloni, Hamish McCracken and Phil Twyford.

It will be pretty devastating to Twyford’s career if he fails to win the nomination, after having been scared out of both Mt Albert and Auckland Central.

He is a more polished politician than Sepuloni, but Labourites may not be keen to put up a “white middle aged male” against the young at heart fiesty Paula Bennett.

McCracken is a perennial candidate – his list ratings have been in 1999 he was no 60, in 2002 no 52, in 2005 no 49 and in 2005 no 50. I can’t see him beating one, let alone two, MPs to the nominaton.

Ann Pala is a Fijian immigrant who was President of the Waitakere Ethnic Board, a director of Winmac Computer Solutions, member of the Islamic Women’s Council. To her great credit she has criticised her party’s association with Winston Peters.

Less agreeably, Pala called for an “ethnic ward” for the Auckland Council, which would elect two or three Councillors. Pala seems to be the only actual West Auckland standing for the Waitakere nomination.

Meanwhile the Dominion Post reports:

United Future leader Peter Dunne faces a tough battle for his Ohariu seat after Labour kicked off its campaign and National vowed it would not stand aside to give him a free ride.

List MP Charles Chauvel will begin door knocking and leaflet drops within weeks after he was the only nomination as Labour’s candidate.

The seat is the eighth most marginal in the country. It was held by Mr Dunne by just 1006 votes at the last election – well down on his 7702 majority in 2005 and the 12,000-plus margin he racked up in 2002. …

Mr Dunne won 12,303 votes in 2008, compared to 11,297 for Mr Chauvel and 10,009 for Ms Shanks.

I expect National will vigorously contest the seat. The reality is that if both National and Dunne stand, then it is possible Chauvel could win the seat due to vote splitting. However if Peter retires from Parliament, then it would be a safe seat for National. Take a look at recent election results.

In 2008 National’s party vote was 17,670 to 12,728 for Labour. In a clear two way contest National should win the seat by 3,000 to 5,000 votes (depending on if many Greens tactically vote).

The split voting statistics tell a story in Ohariu. This is where Dunne has picked up votes in the last three elections:

  • 2002 – Dunne got 47% of Labour voters and 57% of National voters
  • 2005 – Dunne got 34% of Labour voters and 52% of National voters
  • 2008 – Dunne got 16% of Labour voters and 44% of National voters

Peter used to pick up strong support from Labour and National voters. However from 2002 to 2008, he support from Labour voters declined by two thirds. Ironically it was during this period he supported them with confidence and supply, so there is no gratitude in politics!

Now that Dunne can’t attract large number of Labour voters, the main impact is to split the electorate vote of centre-right voters between him and the National candidate. Hence why Chauvel would have a reasonable chance of winning, if Dunne stands in 2011.

But if Dunne retires, then Ohariu should become the only National held seat in Wellington.

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Labour selections

November 24th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s nominations for Auckland Central and four other seats it views as winnable opened on Friday as part of a strategy to get recognisable candidates on the ground early.

I may be wrong, but I can not recall any other time when a party has gone to candidate selection (for a seat not held) within a year of the election. Normally selections are late in the second year of a three year term. Sometimes earlier in the second year, but never heard of selection starting in the first year.

I’m speculating that Labour had a few nervous List MPs, and they didn’t want them fighting each other all year for seats, so they decided to minimise any in-fighting.

Ms Ardern has confirmed she is putting her name forward to be Labour’s candidate in 2011, meaning the high-profile race will start almost two years before the election.

Ms Kaye won the seat for National for the first time at the last election, and Labour is desperate to get it back. …

Ms Ardern, who is originally from Morrinsville, has recently moved to Auckland and said she was passionate about the city and enjoying life as an “apartment dweller”.

Jacinda was highly ranked by Labour in 2005, and is one of their more able MPs. As she said, she has just moved to Auckland, and in fact she is still officially the shadow MP for Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. I think her office is actually in Tauranga.

Ms Ardern has been able to avoid an internal party struggle for the nomination, with fellow list MP Phil Twyford deciding to go for Waitakere, currently held by National minister Paula Bennett and another of the seats Labour is holding early selection for.

You almost have to feel sorry for Twyford. He’s basically been shafted again (after the Tizard factor had him withdraw from Mt Albert). Jacinda had the numbers on the ground to win the looming selection battle, so Phil has (wisely) decided to concede. However as his office is in Auckland Central (in fact he set it up just two doors away from Nikki Kaye, the National Electorate MP) it is all going to be somewhat strange.

The Waitakere candidate has his office in St Marys Bays, and the Auckland Central candidate has her office in Tauranga. Aucklanders are less parochial than provincial seats, but may still find the carpet-bagging a factor.

Mr Twyford, the party’s Auckland Issues spokesman, said he believed Waitakere should be a Labour seat and its loss was a “temporary blip”.

I think Phil will do better if he doesn’t say things like that. It comes across as somewhat arrogant and a sense of entitlement to the seat. What I would have said is:

I believe that Labour’s values are the values of most Waitakere residents, and I am looking forward for the opportunity to contest and win the seat.

Talking of a temporary blip, suggests you think the voters made a horrible mistake, and that it will right itself given time.

Normally in Opposition, you hope to win seats back, and don’t expect to lose any more. But on current polling, Labour needs to worry about some of the 21 seats it still retains, as well as try and claw some back.

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Labour opposes boundaries

November 21st, 2009 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports:

Auckland Mayor John Banks says the city’s new local government structure is “an inspired piece of work” while the Labour Party is committed to opposing it and the boundaries that go with it.

Mr Banks, who is going to stand for mayor of the new super city, said the proposition was coming together well and people would not lose their representation.

Manukau Mayor Len Brown, who is going to stand against Mr Banks, said he was pleased the commission had taken account of concerns about Auckland’s assets.

So Banks and Brown both say they are good boundaries, but why is Phil Twyford complaining:

“The proposed boundaries favour rural and the conservative northern and southern areas of Auckland while disadvantaging the isthmus and West Auckland,” he said.

“For example, the changes would give Rodney residents a third more voting power than a central Auckland resident, which is clearly unjust.”

The irony is that the Government actually planned to leave much of Rodney outside the boundaries, despite the fact it would mean more “conservative” voters. Rodney only had it all go back in after an outcry from locals.

But it is interesting that Twyford’s real concern are that Labour may not be able to gain control of the new Council.

Interesting the Chairwoman of the Local Government Commissioner has an active Labour Party backgrounds. Sue Piper was a Labour Wellington City Councillor. It is good to see she has done a professional job, rather than help Mr Twyford with his aim to have Labour control the Council.

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Rudman waters down the hysteria

November 10th, 2009 at 3:21 pm by David Farrar

At times Phil Twyford reminds me of Chicken Little. He runs about a lot claiming the sky is falling in over the Auckland Super City. Absolutely everything is to do with privatisation. I think he’d call more money for Libraries as privatisation, as Libraries buy books from the private sector!

Anyway Brian Rudman has an interesting column today, which waters down some of the hysteria from Twyford. Rudman is from the left also, but isn’t a politician. Rudman writes:

Also dumped was a proposal to amend the Local Government Act to permit “divestment of council [water and wastewater] supplies to the private sector”. The Cabinet decided instead on a minor change, extending the time limit on any contract a council made with a private water supplier or operator, from the present maximum of 15 years to 35 years.

Mr Hide received another bloodied nose over his proposals on the expansion of Watercare Services into the sole provider of all drinking and wastewater services to the new Auckland Super City.

He wanted to scrap legislative requirements that Watercare pay no dividend and that it “manage its business efficiently with a view to maintaining prices for water and wastewater services at the minimum levels.”

He argued to the Cabinet that “the Auckland Council, as the sole shareholder, will be best placed to direct Watercare, through its constitution and statement of intent, in how water and wastewater services are to be priced to achieve its broader objectives.”

His “sleepy” Cabinet colleagues managed to stay awake long enough to vote both of these proposals down.

Now some of you, like me, might actually have wished Rodney got more of his proposals through.

The point of the post though is to highlight the gay between Twyford’s hysteria and the reality. Rudman continues:

The Government’s attempt to keep the money we pay in our water bills going on water services is commendable.

People more savvy on these matters than me also say the prohibition on dividends and profit-taking will be a dampener on any foreigner contemplating a bid on this $5 billion asset. That’s if it ever gets to that, and only extremists on the edges of the Act Party and water campaigners who enjoy scaring themselves to sleep each night, seem to think this is a possibility.

Scaring themselves to sleep and boring everyone else to sleep I think.

Sure, the Cabinet has endorsed Mr Hides’ proposal that come 2015, the Auckland Council should be allowed “to determine … the governance arrangements and asset ownership for the delivery of water services.” I’m relaxed about this. While I see no reason to even bring the issue up in 2015, if the UMR poll, Labour’s Auckland issues spokesman, Phil Twyford is waving about is accurate, it’s a non-issue. The poll shows 85 per cent of Aucklander oppose privatisation of their water assets.

Mr Hide’s argument is that once the new Auckland council is bedded in, it should be allowed to decide on issues such as the governance of asset holdings in Watercare.

At least Wellington is letting us have a say for once. We should treat that as a breakthrough and a precedent, not a threat.

Phil constantly advocates that Wellington should be running Auckland more.

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Lies on Auckland

October 30th, 2009 at 11:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports claims and lies re Auckland:

Labour MP Phil Twyford and the Greens’ Sue Kedgley yesterday claimed the agency designing the Super City was going to place control of most of Auckland’s assets into eight companies.

Mr Twyford said up to eight council-controlled organisations (CCOs) with their own boards and chief executives would run the services of transport, water, stadiums, land development and economic development.

“They are even planning to corporatise libraries and community houses. The mayor and council will be left like beached whales,” he said.

So is this true?

Mr Ford said there was no way that libraries and community services, “which lie at the heart of local government”, would be run by anything but the council.

Seems not. Any other lies?

He also disputed a claim by Mr Twyford that the CCOs would be overseen by a separate council-owned holding company with its own chief executive and board.

“CCOs will be controlled under the Auckland Council and it will be the council that is responsible for the governance and monitoring of performance,” Mr Ford said.


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