More Labour plagiarism

August 6th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Phil Quin blogs:

Soon after I posted four examples (here and here) of how Labour plagiarised news articles in its Future of Work discussion document, the party reacted in three steps:

  1. They pushed Clare Curran under a bus;
  2. They copped to plagiarism while dismissing it as a case of omitted footnotes;
  3. They appended footnotes to address the four instances I had highlighted. 

This was a profoundly inadequate response in many respects, but it worked wonders as an exercise in media management. Credit where it’s due. To be honest, it probably helped Labour that it was me who revealed the plagiarism since I am easily dismissed as embittered and angry – over the Chinese surnames affair that led to my resignation, but also the more general perception in sections of the political Twittersphere that I am a full-time malcontent. While I would dispute those characterisations, I can’t deny they diluted the impact of the revelations.  It may also be that plagiarism is just not that big a deal in New Zealand. Fair enough, I guess. 

Anyway, in Labour’s haste to cover tracks, they failed to do the most obvious imaginable thing: rule out the presence of more examples of plagiarism.

Surely Labour is not so incompetent that they didn’t have someone review the entire document for further instances?

It turns out they are exactly that incompetent.

Not only has Quin found more examples of plagiarism, an analysis tool has found one section is 47% plagiarised.

Maybe the time has come for Labour to withdraw the document, and issue a new one – one actually representing their own thoughts and words, not those of others?

The future of work for Labour is plagiarism

July 31st, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Phil Quin has taken a look at Grant Robertson’s Future of Work discussion paper and found multiple paragraphs that were copied and pasted from other sources, without attribution.

The section in question is titled “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities”.  In total, the section comprises just over 1,200 words.  Among them, a straightforward Google search uncovered three occasions where the drafters of the report directly lifted whole sentences and paragraphs from articles in the Economist and Business Insider.  None of them were attributed, but presented in the body of the text as if it were the drafter’s original work. Straightforward plagiarism, in other words. 

Grant will no doubt blame his staff.

UPDATE: Quin has found even the introduction was plagiarised!

UPDATE2: Labour is blaming Clare Curran for the plagiarism.

Did Cunliffe plagiarise Robertson?

August 26th, 2013 at 10:25 pm by David Farrar



A reader sent this image in. The post doesn’t appear to still be there, but I assume was genuine.

Now compare it to the speech from Grant Robertson which is at this link.

Every word in the post on Facebook is identical to paragraphs in the speech from Grant Robertson.

UPDATE: Is being explained away as a “technical glitch“. That’s some technical glitch to take someone else’s speech, edit it down, and post it to your own site.

UPDATE2: Another interesting issue from Cunliffe’s campaign speech as reported at TV3 on why he lives in Herne Bay, not New Lynn:

When we were approaching having a young family and my wife was a Queen Street environmental lawyer we moved in closer so she could breast feed the children. That’s the answer.

I don’t care too much where someone lives, but I do find the rationale interesting. It would be interesting to check when they moved to Herne Bay, and the ages of the children. I’ve had someone suggest there is a considerable gap between the two events – but have no first hand knowledge myself.

UPDATE3: Bryce Edwards has some tweets about the campaign launch. They include:

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc

Cunliffe warns media not to get ahead of themselves, immediately after delivering speech fit for a third consecutive term victory.

Tim Murphy ‏@tmurphyNZH

Why does David Cunliffe’s picture on the wall dominate Savage and all the Labour PMs so grandly?

Giovanni Tiso ‏@gtiso

Do you enjoy seeing the spark of hope die in the eyes of the young? Then vote for someone else. Glad that is settled.

Jordan McCluskey ‏@JordanMcCluskey

The Cat hasn’t got the cream yet, Cunners. Easy Cunners. Easy.

Dan Satherley / ROM ‏@radioovermoscow

Did Cunliffe win already?

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc

Crowd at David Cunliffe’s electorate office expected to stand on desks any moment. “Captain, my Captain”.

Tova O’Brien ‏@TovaOBrien

Did anyone tell Cunliffe this is his leadership bid not the win?

Claire Trevett ‏@CTrevettNZH

Cunliffe’s announcement so far is more like a victory speech than the launch of a bid.

James Macbeth Dann ‏@edmuzik

Cunliffe says he’s been “very humbled”, but I think scientists have proven that that is not medically possible



May 30th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil quotes The Standard quoting David Cunliffe:

It’s a budget that picks pennies out of the pockets of children with after-school jobs, raids the piggy banks of the elderly with prescriptions to fill, crushes the dreams of many university hopefuls and attacks those with the least power to defend themselves. Not only is the budget not brave, it is possibly the most cowardly thing I’ve seen in my life.

Whale highlights a letter to the editor which said:

A budget which has the worst growth in 50 years, sees 50,000 people moving to Australia and has 50,000 more people on benefits. It’s a budget that picks pennies out of the pockets of children with after-school jobs, raids the piggy banks of the elderly with prescriptions to fill, crushes the dreams of many university hopefuls and attacks those with the least power to defend themselves. Not only is the budget not brave, it is possibly the most cowardly thing I’ve seen in my life.

So who is the original author and who is the plagiarist? Worth finding out.

UPDATE: No plagiarism at all. It seems David Cunliffe liked the quote on someone’s Facebook page, meaning it appeared on his timeline, and The Standard misattributed the quote to Cunliffe.


July 19th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald’s Sideswipe put together a few days ago this video comparing a Close Up story to a story on ABC News in the US.

It is quite common to base stories on overseas stories. But I’ve never heard of a story using basically the same script and words. Close Up have now apologised after an initial “No problems” response. Good to see they have backed down, and kudos to Sideswipe for the story.

17 cases of plagiarism and still no action from Auckland University

November 20th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The credibility of Auckland University is seeping away, with their refusal to even use a wet bust ticket against faculty member Witi Ihimaera. It has been revealed he also had at least one case of plagiarism in The Matriach:

His comments follow further claims by Professor Keith Sorrenson, a University of Auckland emeritus history professor, that Ihimaera plagiarised his work in the award-winning novel The Matriarch and later apologised to him.

Professor Sorrenson says the latest plagiarism row – in which Professor Ihimaera has admitted using unattributed material from 16 other authors in his latest book, The Trowenna Sea – showed he had “learnt nothing” from the earlier incident.

I hope someone somewhere is running all his books through a checker. The defence we keep hearing is:

He has apologised for the “errors” but said the unacknowledged work in The Trowenna Sea was only 0.4 per cent of the 528-page book.

But that stat is ir-relevant. What is more important is that in the latest book he did it on at least 16 occasions from 16 authors. That is not an error.

On top of that we have the previous plagiarism, and it has been reported The Listener is going to reveal even more plagiarism in his latest book.

And none of this is enough to warrant even a wet bus ticket from Auckland University. They keep maintaining there is no evidence it was deliberate.

I would have thought the burden of proof would be to prove any plagiarism was an “error”. Certainly that is what students would have to do.

An award for plagiarism

November 18th, 2009 at 7:47 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial says:

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand has created an embarrassment with one of its five “laureate” awards last night. Doubtless the decision to make one of the $50,000 awards to writer Witi Ihimaera was made long before his latest novel was found to include at least 16 unattributed passages that appear to be substantially the work of others.

Doubtless, too, the selection panel operates at arm’s length from the foundation set up to assist and promote cultural achievement of the highest quality in this country. But in the week since a reviewer’s concerns were reported by the New Zealand Listener, somebody at the foundation should have intervened.

It is incredible they did not. Timing is everything.

Inevitably his earlier work will be examined for similar lapses. If none comes to light, and the integrity of his future writing is beyond reproach, this episode may be regarded as aberrant. But not yet. This is not the moment for him to be hailed as a leading exponent of his art.

It strains belief that the Arts Foundation thinks it is. Ihimaera did not ask for its honour; recipients of Arts Foundation laureates are chosen by an appointed panel and notified of their good fortune. A $50,000 embarrassment would be hard to refuse.

Those who put him in this position have questions to answer. The selection panel consisted of Elizabeth Ellis, Jenny Harper, Derek Lardelli and two writers, Bill Manhire and Grant Smithies. Did they read the book? Did they miss the stylistic oddities that alerted the Listener’s Jolisa Gracewood? Do they think her revelations unimportant?

And think of the message it sends to every aspiring author – plagiarism is fine if you mix in the right circles.

Noelle McCarthy

November 26th, 2008 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

The Sunday Star-Times did a large and prominent story on Noelle McCarthy and raised issues about whether some of her verbal on air essays were too similiar to articles from various European newspapers.

I’m possibly somewhat biased on this issue as the GPS system in my car is called Noelle, but I think David Cohen’s blog on this issue is very apt:

we feel like offering a bit of solidarity towards Noelle McCarthy over the media treatment she received this past weekend, when a small number of her articles and columns were deemed of sufficiently compelling interest by the Sunday Star-Times to warrant a manifestly overlong story on their purported similarities with a number of previously published British pieces.

Despite having spent the better part of a week poring over McCarthy’s efforts, reporter Kim Knight came up with nothing more earth-shattering than the fact that McCarthy reads fairly widely when it comes to British papers, and yes, she had probably been a bit naughty in riffing a little too hard on a few of their recent reports. But did that pretty inconsequential discovery justify anything more than a small aside in a media column?

Cohen has written a lot on plagiarism:

As it happens, we’ve spent some effort in the past looking at real plagiarism scandals — you know, the ones involving entire chapters of books, existing scholarly essays and questions of wholesale academic integrity — and we’ve also ribbed McCarthy from time to time over other matters.

And David has shown, at the link he provides, that he has and will ping McCarthy when she deserves it. He also pings me often when I deserve it 🙂

Bus his conclusion here:

Involving as it does just a few words and the odd phrase here and there, this latest one simply doesn’t make the serious cut. Especially not in a country where slapping new intros on to a press release and running the lot as a news piece is standard fare among many overworked reporters.

There is a fine line between when you do and do not need to attribute, and Noelle was probably on the wrong side of that line with a couple of her on air pieces, but as Cohen says I don’t think it warranted such a big story, and you do wonder if the fact she also writes a column for the SST’s rival newspaper was a factor.