Red Alert euthanised

March 8th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

After years as an internet wasteland, the Labour Party’s “Red Alert” blog site looks to have been quietly put out of its misery. Once lauded as the new way for MPs to interact with the public, it soon became a bit of an embarrassment, before being ignored. Now, it appears to be no more.

It started off very well, and I lauded it often. But it lost its way and started to score too many own goals. A pity it wasn’t done better as I like the idea of MPs blogging.

RIP Red Alert?

February 20th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Insider reports:

The Red Alert blog site was once touted by Labour as the place where its MPs would re-engage with the public and members, to debate policy and excite voters. Now it resembles a ghost town, with digital tumbleweed blowing through its pages. The most recent post is from Darien Fenton, talking about her valedictory speech – last July.

Even before that is was dying. I do more posts in one day than they’ve done in the last 12 months.

Maybe the time has come for them to euthanise it.

The Standard and Red Alert

December 26th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Smith blogs at The Standard:

I thought back to when we started the Standard. I was in the room too; our aim was to set up a labour movement blog and offer a counter to Kiwiblog’s pro-National line; not to join Farrar in making the prospect of Labour government the principal target for attack.

A fascinating statement, somewhat at odds with the traditional line that The Standard had nothing to do with Labour, and is just a bunch of individuals. Mike was of course the Labour Party General Secretary at the time, so his revelation that he was part of the group which established The Standard is significant. I blogged some time ago that it was an initiative started by Helen Clark’s office, and this confirms it.

On the subject of left blogs, Grant Robertson blogs at Red Alert:

In terms of Red Alert, watch out in the new year for a re-launch with a different approach and way of doing things. Exciting times ahead.

I guess that means fewer SMOGs. Will some MPs have their keys taken away from them?

The Red Alert privacy accusations

December 10th, 2012 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

There’s been a great volume of posts and comments on the left blogs about one or more people in Labour, including an MP, allegedly targeting Labour party members for comments they have made on blogs under a pseudonym. The best summary comes from Danyl at the Dim Post:

My understanding of what’s happened here is that most authors on The Standard comment under pseudonyms. And they’ve commented on the Labour blog Red Alert using those same pseudonyms. Now, when you comment on Red Alert you have to provide your real email address. So these have been matched to Labour’s membership and the dissenting members have been contacted by party officials. All pretty creepy.

It is creepy and authoritarian, and worse.  If correct, I think the actions may breach the Privacy Act.

Lynn Prentice has commented:

I’d advise anyone who has used a pseudonym on Red Alert that could compromise them in real life to expect problems. The system operators over there are quite compromised, don’t act responsibly, and have been that way for some time. Quite simply they are not operating in a way that makes it safe to leave comments there unless you have cast-iron anonymity. …

Which incidentally, is why you don’t see Red Alert on our feed

That is a hugely damning statement. The person in charge of the most read left blog in New Zealand (and a long term Labour party member) says he won’t even link to the Labour caucus blog because of their ethical standards in using private registration details to target people.

If I was a journalist, I’d be asking whoever is in charge of Red Alert to confirm or deny the allegations from their own party members.

It seems that once the identity of certain people commenting at The Standard was known (by cross-matching the e-mail address they used on Red Alert to their membership database) they were heavied, as were their friends. The Sprout has said:

My friends were heavied in an attempt to intimidate me to stop posting during the leadership contest between Shearer and Cunliffe. Clearly someone in Wellington didn’t like me saying their pony was a rightwing puppet who couldn’t lead a party to save himself. Despite me only stating the obvious, it spurred a pretty awful and nasty intimidation campaign. They knew the people being threatened weren’t me, but they knew too that doing that to my friends would quieten me. How shitty North-Korean is that?

So far it’s been CV, millsy, Peter Wilson, and me – that I know of – but who knows who else has been leaned on to shut up?

Eddie confirms this in a post:

Now, a senior Labour MP has written a letter to the New Zealand Council trying to stamp on debate by party members online. The MP has singled one individual commentator in particular for attack in the letter (don’t worry, you know already if it’s you) after using back-end data from Red Alert to identify them.

To be clear, a senior MP is attempting to change the membership rules of the party to punish a member for writing somethings that the MP doesn’t agree with in the comments section of blogs (which everyone knows Labour MPs don’t read anyway). Talk about breaking a butterfly upon a wheel. Talk about abusing your institutional power in an attempt to insulate yourself from criticism, no matter the cost to the party itself.

And this comes from the party that says it is from open government and protecting people’s right of free speech on the Internet. Can you imagine what they might do if they were actually in Government?

One of those allegedly targeted was Colonial Viper. To make it harder for Labour MPs to work out who to target, many of the commenters as The Standard have adopted similar pseudonyms in a Spartacus strategy! Nice solidarity.

Pete George has a comprehensive set of links on this issue.

An idea for Red Alert

February 9th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Former ACT MP Heather Roy used to include in her weekly newsletter a list of upcoming bills likely to be voted on.

Each bill would have a large tick or a cross next to it, to indicate how ACT planned to vote on it, along with a sentence or two explaining why.

It strikes me that this would be a good feature on Red Alert. The Whips could do it after caucus every Tuesday, and it would let people know which bills are non-controversial and which ones are contentious. It would also let Labour indicate briefly why they are voting for or against, and maybe even highlight the aspects they want changed (if appropriate).

Ideally all parties in Parliament should do this – to be open and transparent on which bills they plan to support or oppose, and why. Maybe Frog Blog could do it also?

Responding to Raymond

February 1st, 2012 at 2:03 pm by David Farrar

Labour MP Raymond Huo has blogged:

Now that David Farrar is holidaying in South Africa and sending us pictures showing how big the turtles are there and how Hyenas are eating dead baby elephants. I wish to take his holiday spirit and send him this letter as my Christmas present.

His Kiwiblog is powerful and I hope this letter plays a small role in helping make his blog a bit fairer on some issues.

While on a roller-coaster over the past three weeks of being in and out of Parliament, I was told that Mr Farrar, rather indirectly, blogged on me by saying more than once that to the effect that: “It will hurt Labour. While not a huge contributor to Labour within Parliament, I understand he is a relatively large fundraiser for Labour”.

It is unfortunate that David Farrar made this sweeping comment without delving deeper into the subject.

The comments Raymond is talking about are here:

For Carmel, she is out of Parliament entirely, and Raymond Huo is once again a Labour List MP. A bit of a blow to the rejuvenation efforts for Labour, but at least a boost to their fund-raising efforts.

That was meant to be more a compliment to Carmel, that she was one of the younger new MPs who had helped rejuvenate their lineup.

I also said earlier:

The bigger loser is Raymond Huo, who loses his list place, as Sepuloni makes it back. While not a huge contributor to Labour within Parliament, I understand he is a relatively large fund-raiser for Labour.

Raymond thinks that these comments don’t reflect the contribution he makes as an MP, saying:

The Chinese community, along with wider communities, is a rather large constituency. They come to MPs for help or for an answer with all sorts of different issues: immigration, corrections, law and order, resource consent, leaky building remediation work, national standards and constantly, how to grow the economy.

To be an MP serving such a large constituency with many members virtually being unable to communicate effectively (both in a linguistic and political sense) is a difficult task. Therefore the selection criteria must be harsh – if not harsher – than the process to select a ‘mainstream’ candidate. It requires skills, knowledge about both NZ and the migrant’s country of origin, and above all, integrity to provide service that reflects the quality and name of our House of Representatives.

This provides a good opportunity to elaborate more fully on the different aspects of being an MP, as I see them. Some people have suggested that Raymond shouldn’t worry about what I have blogged, as I support National. That is a legitimate view, but I would state that I do try to be reasonable fair to individual MPs. While I’m never going to say “Vote Labour”, I do often highlight Labour MPs whom I think are high flyers, will make good Ministers etc. and this is based on my honest opinion.

The different aspects of an MPs job are:

  • Working on behalf of your electorate or community
  • Participating in select committees
  • House work
  • Policy formulation
  • Being a Minister
  • Assisting your party

Now in terms of work within his community, I have no problems saying that I’ve only heard good things about Raymond from the Chinese community. he is well respected and i like the fact he and Dr Jian Yang (new National MP) have talked about working together in some areas to improve ties with China and the like.

It is important to have a Parliament that is broadly representative of New Zealand, I think a strength of MMP is that MPs like Raymond can work with non geographically based communities.

But there is more to being an highly regarded MP than your elecotrate and community work. The parliamentary side of the job is also important. Parties need MPs who can lead their team’s effort on a select committee on a bill, who can analyse bills and points out weaknesses in them, who can hold the Government to account, who can drive policy in a portfolio area etc etc.

In 2010 I blogged an analysis of the output of various Labour MPs. A crude, but still interesting tool. Raymond was near the bottom with just 12 press releases in a year, 3 news stories and 116 written questions.

The analysis had Prasad and Choudary also down at the bottom. It may be unfair to them a bit, as they are encouraged to spend a lot of time building support in their communities, but I suggest none of them have the balance quite right. You won’t be regarded as highly by your party, if you are not making more of an impact in Parliament. You don’t have to become a Trevor Mallard, but you don’t want to be a Larry Sutherland.

Raymond also said:

I did organise public meetings and fundraising dinners quite successfully over the past few years, as acknowledged by David Farrar. For an opposition back-bencher I don’t have an ever-popular Prime Minister to offer smiles and photo opportunities which must have enriched National’s support as reported in the NZ Herald. This only proves the point that I am popular and have done a good job.

When the time was not with us and the trend was against us, this kind of response is regarded as a form of approval and endorsement by the constituency.

It is unfortunate that he seemed to imply that we Asian MPs are ATM machines for political parties and are token inclusions in Parliament. I hope the National Party does not have this same expectation of its Asian MPs. It is certainly not the case in Labour, where the vision of inclusive and strong communities has inspired many, including myself, to enter into politics.

I would not use the phrase ATM machines for parties, but I would say that in my experience both National and Labour value MPs who are able to help the party fund-raise. This comes under the category I listed of helping your party. Different Mps do it in different ways (some do campaign strategy, some teach candidates how to campaign better etc). There is nothing wrong with being a good fund-raiser for your party.

Labour especially will, I suspect, value effective fund-raising. I understand that their head office fund-raising was so dismal this cycle, they they had to be rescued by Jim Anderton who stepped in as their corporate fund-raiser, hitting up businesses.

In my experience Asian MPs do do far better than most other MPs at fund-raising for their parties. This is party a reflection of the fact they have strong links to their communities, and in return their communities are keen to back them by attending fund-raising dinners and the like.

Many years ago I was a Deputy Regional Chair for National, and as part of that role attended the Wellington Asian Committee meetings. I recall at one event they were arranging a Yum Char fundraising lunch. I was atsonished as they went around the room asking the committee how many $40 tickets they think they can sell. Most of the committee members said they will sell 40 – 50 each. When it came to me, I blushed and said I think I could handle two tickets 🙂

The point Raymond was making I think, is that Asian MPs should not just be seen as MPs just there for their fund-raising ability. I agree. Pansy Wong was certainly well regarded for her fund-raising ability, but I (like many others) also highly regarded her for many other things.

So, going back to the beginning, I do place a high premium of MPs serving their community. I think it is a vital part of being an MP, and think it is great when MPs who have done a great job serving their communities retain their seats (such as in Auckland Central).

But my point is that just being a great local or community MP is not enough. One also needs to have profile in Parliament, if you want to enhance your chances of remaining an MP and/or becoming a Minister.

So I hope that has clarified my views. I’m always happy to acknowledge the work done by communities of MPs from any party. At the end of the day I actually regard around 90% of MPs as quite decent hard working people just wanting to make New Zealand better.

In bloggin this though I can’t resist a link to firstly the Dim-Post who finds that I have been mentioned on Red Alert almost as often as the Prime Minister and ten times more than Bill English.

Even funnier is Imperator Fish who blogged:

Labour Party MPs are said to be red-faced, after discovering that prominent blogger David Farrar is not the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Mr Farrar has been the target of numerous attacks by Labour Party MPs over the last couple of years.

A source inside Labour has confirmed that party officials identified Farrar as the leader of the country shortly after the 2008 election, despite being given evidence to the contrary. Rumours that John Key was the actual leader of the National Party as well as the Prime Minister of New Zealand were dismissed at the time as mere speculation.

But this morning, in a shock announcement, Mr Key revealed that he is in fact the Prime Minister, and that David Farrar is merely an enthusiastic National Party member with a popular blog, a couple of newspaper columns, and only moderate political influence. …

Mr Mallard also vowed to keep piling the pressure onto Mr Farrar.

“He’s not fit to hold office. He’s certainly not fit to be in Cabinet,” said Mr Mallard.

“When Parliament reopens we’ll be piling the heat on David Farrar, and holding him to account. This Farrar-led government has been a disaster for New Zealand.”

I think disaster is too strong a word 🙂


January 20th, 2012 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

Imperator Fish blogs:

The Labour Party has admitted receiving a donation to its coffers from the National Party.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow confirmed the donation yesterday. He said it was a contribution towards the costs of running Labour’s blogsite Red Alert.

“They are doing great work, and we want that to continue,” said Mr Goodfellow.


Mr Mallard said he was looking forward to getting heavily into blogging this year.

“We’ve all had some time off and are refreshed, and we’re ready to take the battle to David Farrar.

“We want to focus on the issues that are important to ordinary New Zealanders. Jobs, the economy, and David Farrar.”

I’ve never been an issue before! I have to say I did almost piss myself laughing at it. The irony is that by falsely claiming I was one of those trying to “censor” Red Alert, the end result has been more fuel for those who claim it should be shut down.

Red Alert

January 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

I highlighted Clare Curran saying “Farrar … is part of a group which is intent on censoring a prominent communication vehicle for the Labour Party” in a thread about NZ on Air. It seemed an obvious reference to NZ on Air being a communication vehicle for the Labour Party.

Now Clare has said she was referring to Red Alert:

Apologies for not being clearer. Labour’s Red Alert blog has been attacked by a number of anti Labour bloggers and commenters for a while. I was referring to this.

Farrar is part of this group.

Once again Clare is sadly wrong. She is infamous for having invented the Vast Right Wing and Non Labour Left Wing Conspiracy (VRWNLLWC), but now the conspiracy has expanded to include Labour activists!

Let’s look at who has publicly expressed doubts about Red Alert:


Painting this criticism as an organised conspiracy or group intent on depriving or “censoring” Labour of a communications channel, sums up all the problems Labour has. Rather than accept any of the criticism as valid, they see it as being done by enemies of Labour wanting to punish them.

And now here is the irony. I am not one of those who has been advocating Labour should close down Red Alert. In fact, quite the opposite.

For some reasons I get invited to talk on the Internet and politics on a regular basis. I’ve talked to classes at Victoria, Canterbury, Auckland and Massey universities. I’ve talked to rotary clubs, to legal publishers, to chambers of commerce and even the Business Roundtable on this area.

And you can ask anyone who was at any of those talks, what I said about Labour and Red Alert. They will tell you that I have consistently praised Labour for Red Alert, and think I think it is laudable that they are communicating in such a direct way.

Sure in the last year I have pointed out some of the SMOGs or Social Media Own Goals that have happened on Red Alert, but I always make the point that a political party has to accept there will be occasional own goals if you use this medium, and be tolerant of them – so long as people learn from their mistakes. I specifically say that overall I think Red Alert has overall been beneficial to Labour.

As I said, there have been hundreds of people at these talks, who can all back up that I have always spoken well of Labour for Red Alert, despite the occasional SMOG.

Those same attendees will also confirm that I regularly describe the National blog at as the greatest cure for insomnia ever invented. They are so mind numbingly boring, that I only subject my eyeballs to them around twice a year, as they start bleeding as I read about some organic carrot farm they have opened.

Of course to some degree this is a deliberate strategy by National. When in Government they want boredom, not excitement and controversy. What will be interesting is to see what National and Labour both do in the blogosphere, when they are in opposition and government respectively.

So if Clare really was referring to Red Alert, not NZ on Air, she got it absolutely wrong. The vast majority of the criticism of Red Alert is coming from the left, and I am one of the few people who has praised it in dozens of forums up and down New Zealand.

My view on Red Alert is that Labour should of course continue with it. I’d like all parties and MPs blogging. I do think for their sake they should look at how to reduce the number of own goals, but note you will never eliminate them entirely as blogging is not a medium you can control. My suggestion would be to have perhaps a couple of the less excitable MPs act as a sounding board and have them just eyeball posts before they get published, so they can point out that the way something is worded may lead to misinterpretation etc.

At the end a blog is just a tool. You don’t stop using a tool because you have some troubles with it. You just get better at using it.

How to win friends and influence people

August 23rd, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

What a train wreck. I hardly know where to start.

Labour MP Clare Curran first blogged:

Have had a gutsful of the white-anting of Labour from both the right and the left of politics.

Then a second blog post:

And on another note, re white-anting; the attempts by the Greens to encroach on Labour territory is also happening in Australia.

The comments flowed quick and fast. Gregor said:

Greens white-anting Labour?

Surely you mean, contesting the same constituency rather than ‘encroaching’, right?

You seriously think you have the unquestioning allegiance of my vote as a worker?

And Sacha:

Is it seriously Labour policy to attack the party’s MMP allies now?

Followed by Curious:

Go look up the definition of democracy Clare, political parties put forward policy to convince voters to vote for them. This isn’t white-anting.

And Me Too:

As a Green Party voter and life-long unionist I am staggered by the suggestion that Labour ‘owns’ the area of labour rights.

Waiting for the justified mocking in the Dim Post blog… Despairing of there ever being a Labour-led government in this country ever again…

Dim-Post has obliged. I’ll come to him later.

Then Idiot/Savant from No Right Turn:

The concept that some votes are Labour’s exclusive “territory” is a perfect example of what is wrong with Labour ATM.

Wake up. There is no Divine Right in democracy. Votes don’t “belong” to your party – you have to earn them. And if you can’t, if other people are doing a better ob of appealing to your traditional constituencies, then you have no-one to blame but yourself.

Chris M:

I’m voting for Greens this year because Labour has failed dismally at representing itself as a viable alternative to National. You’ve broken election advertising/campaigning laws repeatedly, put up what was apparently only the barest resistance to National passing ludicrously bad laws, and to put it simply Phil Goff is a non-entity in the realm of potential leadership.

Then Regan:

I’m just as peeved as the next person that we’re losing votes to the Greens,but I know that politics is a competition and as such Labour has to earn its votes. As a Labour Party member, to make such a blatantly uninformed comment is exactly the reason why we’re doing so poorly in the polls, because Labour MPs are arrogant enough to assume they “own” votes

And Chris Trotter weighs in:

Well, Clare, if Labour really wanted to test the Greens commitment to building (or should that be re-building?) a strong trade union movement, it could simply ask for the Green Party’s support in re-introducing an industrial relations system in which every worker was guaranteed the protection of union membership, including automatic inclusion, at the time of hiring, in an industry-wide agreement setting forth minimum wage-rates and conditions.

Try that one on them. Hell! Try it on your caucus colleagues!

Matthew Dentith:

Really? So the Greens are stealing your rightful votes, are they? I didn’t realise that when I switched away from voting Labour to voting Green that I was being stolen.

Now after this barrage of criticism, from Labour and Green party members and supporters, you might think a conciliatory note would be struck. Instead Curran rips into them:

Listen to you all. Go and knock on some bloody doors will you and stop pontificating. Get down to South Dunedin and see what it’s really like. Foodbanks are empty.
People are desperate.

Yes I am angry and it shows.

Idiot/Savant responds:

Yes, and its terrible. But if you want to do anything about it, you actually need to persuade people to vote for you. Instead, you’re just arrogantly demanding we do, like some medieval king ordering his peasants.

Aaron adds in:

I’ve been fence-sitting between Labour and the Greens for a number of years now and recently took the plunge to become a full member of the Green party. Posts like this show this was the right thing to do.

The Green Party should send Clare some chocolates to thank her for recruiting on their behalf. David comments:

Clare: I am a trustee of a charitable trust that has, this month, raised over $10,000 for those in extreme poverty. I also volunteer for my local Green candidate’s election campaign. So, how about instead of pulling out childish attacks on people who could well be your supporters, you rethink your silly and sanctimonious attack on an ally?

Debbie jumps in:

Way to go Clare, You were the last labour MP I still had any respect for & you write this!? You own me? I’m poor & have always voted Labour so I ‘must’ vote for you now? I can’t make up my own mind? Maybe my mind just isn’t up to the job.

Danyl at the Dim-Post has a post well reading, including screen shots from Twitter. He says:

So I’ll be voting for the Greens this election, as previously stated. I’d like to vote Labour again in 2014 – but it simply wouldn’t be ethical to cast a vote for a party this dysfunctional, so there will have to be a lot of changes before I can switch back.

And getting rid of MPs like Claire Curran will be a big part of that. I’ll be casting my electorate vote for Grant Robertson, because he’s a good MP – but if you live in an electorate like, oh say, Dunedin South I think the best thing you can do for the left is cast your party vote for Labour or the Greens, or whoever, but cast your electorate vote for the National candidate. It won’t impact on the outcome of the election (unless you live in Ohariu) but it will send a message to Labour that if they force poor quality MPs on us in safe seats then they face the risk of losing that seat.

For my 2c worth I’m not that surprised by the blog post. I’ve often observed that most in National think Labour are wrong, but do not think those on the left are evil. However many in Labour believe that those on the right are evil people motivated purely by self interest. The consequence of this, is that they believe that it is treasonous for anyone not to support them in their mission to get rid of the evil right wingers. So if someone from the left criticises Labour, they are seen as traitors.

UPDATE: Also some comments made at Dim Post worth highlighting:

Me Too:

Really, she used to work in PR? Who for – Adidas? Telecom?

Russell Brown:

This is a disastrous blurt from Curran, not so much with the voters at large but with the kind of people who actually might be inclined to put a shoulder to the wheel as she would wish. Gawd.


I have worked for (in a parliamentary capacity) and door knocked for Labour in the past. But this just makes me mad, and the reason why I will also most likely vote Green.

Newtown News:

This sort of shit makes me yearn for the good old days of David Benson-Pope MP

Danyl again:

What gets me is that Curran thinks that door-knocking in her own electorate is some selfless act of charity that she does out of the goodness of her heart, and makes her a worthy person. Door-knocking is public relations! She does it because she’s the MP for that electorate and she wants to get re-elected to her extremely well paid job! So using it as a pretext to claim the moral high-ground is really repulsive.

Dissent will not be tolerated

August 9th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert:

The trolls who inhabit this site are on notice.

You have been tolerated for long enough. Your tactics are increasingly obvious. Real debate is encouraged on Red Alert, but not trolling.

You will be banned without notice.

Banned for life without notice. Sounds a great way to get rid of dissenting voices. Will they rename Red Alert, Pravda?

I was going to put this post up a few days ago. Instead I ran a poll. As a litmus test. The results are pretty clear. Of the people who comment, most are put off by the tone of many commenters.

The poll was hilarious. There was no option to say that there was already too much censorship of the blog. The only options were to agree with Clare that something must be done or a couple of neutral options, in the best traditions of the Ministry of Truth.

Even then, only 26% of readers said they think the comments are dominated by trolling right-wingers. That means 74% do not. Yet that is taken as an endorsement to ban dissenting opinions – now known as trolling.

I have sympathy when it comes to genuine trolls. But I have a very transparent system for dealing with them.

In the last couple of weeks the intensity of trolling by anonymous commenters on Red Alert has increased.

I’d say that is directly related to the increasing stupidity of the posts. If you don’t want to be drowned in critical comments, then stop Trevor doing his texts from John Key and stop trying to link John Key to the Iraq War through a PR firm. Even your own supporters groan at such puerile stuff.


Great minds think alike

August 8th, 2011 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

I was just about to sit down and blog about Labour’s pitiful rip-off of Whale Oil’s Texts from Helen, where Trevor did Txts from JK. I wasn’t sure what was worse – that it was unoriginal, or that it wasn’t funny, or that a man near 60 is doing teenage text speak or that it doesn’t even “fit”. It is well known Helen is an inveterate texter and keeps in touch with many of her former colleagues. While John Key and Jenny Shipley were never even in Parliament together.

But I don’t have to blog all that, as John Hartevelt has done it for me at Stuff:

Sigh. Another day and the Labour Party takes yet another turn for the cringe-makingly desperate.

The party’s chief strategist, their sharpest political mind and the chap responsible for winning the election campaign has this morning come up with this rather lame attempt at humour.

Trevor Mallard’s theft of an overused and not terribly funny concept from a right-wing blogger is just a bit sad.

If it was an isolated example of an odd attack on the PM, it wouldn’t rate a mention.

But ever since the intellectual excitement and esprit de corps that accompanied Labour’s tax policy announcement died down a fortnight ago, a steady drip feed of rather juvenile stunts – many of them played out unthinkingly online – has been issued from a few in the Labour caucus.

Mallard and the Dunedin South MP Clare Curran are the chief mischief makers. A missive from Curran last week seemed to subtly encourage readers to make some sort of a link between John Key and the 1991 US invasion of Iraq, on the grounds that a PR company hired by Tourism NZ to secure a spot for Key on the Letterman show was the same firm that had been criticised for its role “as mastermind for the Kuwaiti campaign”. Good grief.

These have got so bad, that even on Red Alert Labour MPs are getting a pasting for such idiocy. The response is for Clare Curran to do a poll asking people if they agree that Red Alert should be moderated more tightly, with no option for people to say that the censorship there is already way over the top.

Normally you would count on the campaign manager, being the one to tell MPs who are making the party look like idiots, to pull their heads in. But when it is the campaign manager himself leading the charge, well you really do have problems.

Use of Urgency

April 12th, 2011 at 8:00 pm by David Farrar

In a first for the blogosphere, Kiwblog and Red Alert have teamed up to do co-ordinated posts on the use of urgency.

Both the current and former Governments have been criticised for their use or over-use of urgency – which is the provision that allows the House to sit for extended hours, and sometimes bypass the select committee process.

I wanted to do a proper study of the use of urgency since 1999, and Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson kindly agreed to help supply the information (which comes from the Parliamentary Library). We agreed that it would be good to do co-ordinated posts on this issue as we think that both parties should commit to less use of urgency.

It’s important to note that not all urgency is the same. Some uses of urgency (to sit on a Wednesday morning for example) are relatively benign, while other uses (by-passing select committees) are bad and should be done only when strictly necessary.

Hence, this analysis goes well beyond just the headline figures, and examines the use of urgency in depth.

There are effectively four parts to the parliamentary cycle. Year 0 is the brief period after an election and before the calendar year ends. Year 1 is the first full year of Government. Year 2 is the mid year and Year 3 is the portion of the third year that falls before an election. Generally we have compared Year 1s with Year 1s as they have different profiles. The year after an election is often very busy implementing election promises. Year 3 is often not so busy.

  Year 1s   Year 2s
  2000 2003 2006 2009   2001 2004 2007 2010
Sitting Hours 624 594 482 576   591 583 529 600
Urgency 70 89 19 155   79 117 32 134
Ordinary 554 505 463 421   512 466 497 466
Sitting Weeks 34 33 29 30   32 31 31 31
Av Hours/Week 18.4 18.0 16.6 19.2   18.5 18.8 17.1 19.4
Week x 17 hrs 578 561 493 510   544 527 527 527
Extra hours 48 33 -11 66   47 56 2 73

 The total number of hours the House sat was a record 624 in 2000 – the first year of a new Government. National’s total number of hours in 2009 was below the average for the former Government. However in 2010 the House sat for 600 hours – a record for Year 2, but only nine hours more than in 2001.

Where there is a difference is the number of hours spent in urgency. National had the most hours in urgency in both 2009 and 2010. However be aware that this includes time which would normally be ordinary sitting hours. For example the House normally sits for 6.5 hours on a Wednesday. Under urgency it sits for 13 hours. All of those 13 hours count as time under urgency, even though 6.5 of them were normally scheduled anyway.

As the sitting week is normally 17 hours, I’ve tried to estimate how many “extra” hours occurred each year due to urgency. They do clearly show that National has been using urgency the most to gain additional hours – 73 hours in 2010 and 66 hours in 2009. That is equal to almost eight additional weeks of sitting time over two years.

The House used to meet for 34 weeks a year, and in recent years has been 29 to 31 weeks. One solution to reducing urgency could be to schedule more sitting weeks.

Now let us look at what was done legislatively during these sessions

  Year 1s   Year 2s
  2000 2003 2006 2009   2001 2004 2007 2010
Bills passed 93 127 91 70   102 111 113 127
Bills passed not referred to select cmte 2 3 1 3   0 1 1 7

 The number of bills passed is not necessarily a good or a bad thing. If you like the bills it may be good, if you do not like the bills it may be bad. In terms of quality of law making, it is also subjective. If you pass very few laws it may indicate a Government not able to deliver policies, but if you pass too many laws they may not be getting the attention they deserve.

The total number of bills passed averaged 95 for Year 1s, and 113 for Year 2. Not a big difference between Labour and National Governments.

But it is in the area of bills passed without going through a select committee, that National should attract the most criticism. In 2009 and 2010 it passed 10 bills without giving the public the chance to submit on the bills at select committee stage. Sometimes there may be a good reasons to do so (Canterbury Earthquake etc), but the total level is far too high. The power to bypass select committees should happen very very rarely – it was only 1 – 2 times a year under Labour.

People unhappy with the level of bypassing select committees, should let their local National MPs know. Note that in 2008 National also passed seven bills into law without select committee – now again some of these could be justified as implementing clear election promises or a simple repeal – but 17 bills bypassing select committee in just over two years is frankly an outrageous level. National needs to not just look at these bills in isolation, but about the collective total and the message it sends. 

  Year 1s   Year 2s
  2000 2003 2006 2009   2001 2004 2007 2010
Weeks with an urgency motion 8 5 3 11   8 7 2 9
No of urgency motions 8 4 3 15   8 7 2 7
No of extraordinary urgency motions 1 1 0 0   0 0 0 1
Friday Sittings 1 1 0 2   3 3 1 1
Saturday Sittings 1 0 0 1   0 0 0 0
Question Times     81 86       87 87

 As I said earlier, not all urgency is the same. Urgency sessions which extend past Thursday into Friday and Saturday are the “worst” as they seriously disrupt MPs scheduled activities in their electorates. The number of urgency sessions in 2010 is slightly more than in 2001 and 2004, but the number of Friday and Saturday sessions is reduced.

This indicates the Government is using urgency to extend sitting hours on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but generally avoiding Friday and Saturday sessions. This puts pressure on select committee attendance and means MPs have to stay at Parliament until midnight instead of 10 pm (or 6 pm on Thursday) but apart from that isn’t too bad.

Extraordinary urgency is very rare, as it needs the permission of the Speaker.

Urgency normally takes precedence over all other business, so it has traditionally meant that question time and/or private members day is cancelled. Indeed, it has sometimes been suggested that Governments go into urgency to avoid question time. But as you can see the number of question times is as high or higher in 2009 and 2010 than it was in 2006 and 2007. This is because the Government has deliberately sought to include provision for question time in urgency sessions. This is commendable, and it would be good to have standing orders change so that question time always occurs, regardless of urgency.

So what’s the overall position in terms of the current Government and urgency:

  1. The total number of sitting hours in 2009 and 2010 are consistent with 2000 and 2001.
  2. The number of hours spent in urgency were higher in 2009 and 2010 than any other year, reflecting an increase in the average number of hours the House sits each week, but fewer sitting weeks.
  3. The total number of bills being passed is not significantly changing
  4. National has so far passed 17 bills under urgency, bypassing select committees. This is a massive increase on past practice. Labour on average only passed 4 bills per term under urgency bypassing select committees. Such a high level of select committee circumvention undermines good parliamentary practice.
  5. Thoe House has gone into urgency more often than in the past, but the number of urgency sessions extending beyond midnight Thursday have not increased.
  6. Despite the increase in the use of urgency, the number of question times has stayed constant, as the Government has generally maintained them during urgency

Some thoughts or recommendations for all parties and/or MPs and to consider for the future:

  1. That standing orders be changed so that a bill can bypass select committee stage only with approval of the Speaker (as is needed for extraordinary urgency).
  2. That standing orders be changed so that question time automatically carries on, even if the House is in urgency
  3. That the number of sitting weeks be increased, hence reducing the need for so much urgency, from 31 to 33 by reducing the number of two week recesses from five to three.
  4. That standing orders be amended to distinguish between “extended sitting hours” which would merely extend the sitting hours on Wednesday and/or Thursday and full urgency (where you specify particular bills, and the House keeps going until they are disposed of)

 I quite like the suggestion Grant has made, that you could have the House sitting as the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. This would free up House time more for first, second and third readings.

Corruption or Idiocy?

December 7th, 2010 at 6:28 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn has breathlessly labeled as corruption the Government’s announcement of the first ultra-fast broadband contracts.

Why? He blogged:

So, what does this look like by electorates? UFB will be rolled out to:

  • Whangarei, held by National’s Phil Heatley, with a majority of 14,663;
  • Hamilton East, held by National’s David Bennett with a majority of 8,820;
  • Hamilton West, held by National’s Tim Macindoe, with a majority of 1,618;
  • Taupo, held by National’s Louise Upston, with a majority of 6,445;
  • Taranaki-King Country, held by National’s Shane Ardern, with a majority of 15,618;
  • Tauranga, held by National’s Simon Bridges, with a majority of 11,742;
  • New Plymouth, held by National’s Jonathan Young, with a majority of 105;
  • Whanganui, held by National’s Chester Borrows, with a majority of 6,333.

So, the first thing to note is that only National-held electorates get broadband; those with Labour MPs need not apply (sorry, you voted for the wrong person and so must be punished). The second thing to note is the targeting of marginal seats New Plymouth and Hamilton West. It’d be interesting if someone who knew about IT policy used the OIA to delve into National’s rollout decision, but from here it looks like pure pork-barrel politics. And I don’t like it one bit.

Idiot/Savant is like the boy who cries wolf. He slanders so many people as corrupt, that it becomes a meaningless label. Basically it just all comes over as hysterical rants.

His idiocy was picked up and blogged by Clare Curran, but even Clare worked out what weak ground he and she were on, and later did updates backing away “before David Farrar at Kiwiblog has a go”.

I will indeed have a go at such gross stupidity, and even worse effectively slander. Where do I start.

  1. National holds every single seat outside the four main cities (which due to their size are more complex decisions) except for Palmerston North. So I guess the first contracts should have gone to Tasmania, to stop them including National held seats.
  2. Six of the eight seats listed are very safe seats with majorities over 5,000
  3. This is not a case of some areas getting funding, and some not getting funding. All medium to large urban areas will be getting fibre to the home. This is purely an announcement of the first two contracts. Other contracts will be announced in the near future – the difference between being announced first and second is absolutely minimal.
  4. Ever heard of MMP?

Clare initially blogged:

Steven Joyce is a crafty fellow. But even he will overplay his hand one of these days.

Then later as she realised every non metro seat bar Palmie is national held:

Oh and before David Farrar at Kiwiblog has a go and points out that Labour holds only Palmerston North of the general electorates outside the metropolitan centres, that’s true. But it would have been smart for the government to think about this. Instead it doesn’t look so good.

So Steven in the one blog post goes from the too crafty manipulator of funding to National seats to being not very smart for not thinking about the look. He can’t win can he!

Frankly I am sure Steven didn’t spend one second thinking about electorate boundaries with the contracts, and am personally very pleased with that.

Oh and here’s one for the conspiracy nutters. 25% of NZers will not be covered by the UFB initiative. And pretty much 100% of them live in National held seats. So 100% of people in Labour seats will get UFB and only around 65% of people in National sears. Yes, obviously pork barrel politics.


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

Charles Chauvel at Red Alert blogged:

I’m in Cancun, Mexico, at the 16th UN Climate Change Conference. Like last year at the 15th Conference in Copenhagen, I am representing Labour as its climate spokesperson; I paid my own way to get here; I am part of the delegation from the International Trade Union Confederation (thanks to Helen Kelly and Sharan Burrow).

I wonder what would be the reaction if a National MP turned up at an international forum as part of a business lobby group?

I’m here to support efforts to get an ambitious, binding, global deal to limit the problems that we are all likely to face as a result of human-induced climate change, and to support a just transition to the different world we are all to shortly going to find ourselves living in.

There will be no binding deal at Cancun. Cancun will make progress in a number of areas but no one expects a binding deal.

So why am I here? Well, just because the media isn’t talking about it so much doesn’t mean that the issue isn’t just as serious as it was last year. My aunts’ home in Tahiti, 6m from the high tide line, is no less likely to be washed away by rising sea levels than it was last year.

This is th part which I think is ridicolous scare-mongering – I expect it from ill informed people, but not from the official Labour Spokesperson on climate change.

The IPCC 4th report had a number of scenarios. In the most optimistic the mean sea level rise by 2100 would be 18 cm and the most pessimistic would be 59 cm.

So the IPCC have said the worst case scenario is that by 2100 the sea level may have risen 10% of the 6 metres above high tide.

If that rate kept up, Charles’ auntie’s place will get swept away in the year 3000. Now regardless of sea level change, Tahiti is also sinking or subsiding at around 25 cm every 100 years. So in fact around 2700 or so it might get hairy.

Of course by then it will be 18 generations or so on from Charles and his aunt.

I’ve often said politicians who scare-monger like Charles are in fact very damaging to their own cause. Such ridicolous statements (which strongly implied that a six metre rise could happen in his aunt’s lifetime) just provide ammunition to sceptics.

[UPDATE: Several commenters have pointed out that a more likely meaning is that the house is 6 metres along the beach from the high tide mark. If that is the case, then it all depends on the angle of the beach. If the angle is more than 9 degrees, then it still isn’t until 2100 that you get problems.

The projected rate of sea level rise is not dramatic (it is undesirable though). The increase per decade last century has been 1.8 cm/decade. From 1993 it has been 3 cm/decade and the IPCC projects the worst case scenario is 6 cm/decade up until 2100.]

The left’s view of earning

November 24th, 2010 at 4:46 pm by David Farrar

A commenter on Red Alert on Monday commented:

As for John Key in the state house; no, his getting out doesn’t prove that everyone can do it. It does prove that it’s possible, not impossible as socialists argue, to do it without the government giving you a hand out. No, not everyone can do it, some people are stupid, uneducated and lazy, and (again) that’s life. Why should I give my hard earned money to those people? They don’t deserve it, they didn’t earn it. Left wingers are very generous with other people’s money, and if statistics on who donates the most to charity, lefties or righties, are anything to go by…not very generous with their own.

Colonial Viper responded:

Its not your money. When you go to work and earn an income don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are doing that for yourself either, you are doing it on behalf of your communities and your country.

I hope that is clear to everyone. Your money, is not your money. You don’t work 40+ hours a week in a job to earn money for yourself and your family – you do it for your country.

A disgusting headline

November 19th, 2010 at 4:12 pm by David Farrar

In contrast to his useful policy focused post, a more recent blog post goes down to the depths from Trevor:

Anne Tolley doesn’t care about sex criminals looking after children

From the Shadow Education Minister, this is disgusting and a reminder as to why Labour should not be in Government – if this is their idea of debate.

The Education Amendment Bill currently before the house removes the obligation to get a Police check for people who look after babies and young children unsupervised at gyms and mall childcare services.

Labour may have over-regulated but this goes too far.

Labour massively over-regulated. They forced creches at gyms to register as early childhood education centres, have qualified teaching staff etc – including the Police check.

The reality is a creche at a gym is not a school, or part of the educational infrastructure. They are a babysitting service. They allow a mum to use the gym and have someone look after their kids for 60 minutes.

One can have a sensible debate about whether or not gym creches should be required by law to do police checks on their creche staff. But to effectively accuse the Minister of being indifferent to paedophilia is again disgusting.

Personally I’m not at all sure there is a need. Labour sounds like they want to go down the route of the UK where you can’t even be an occassional parent helper for sports or scouts without a Police check.

Have any kids ever been molested by a staff member while their mother is exercising at the gym? I mean, what is the problem to be solved here?

Do we only require police checks for babysitters at gyms? How about for all babysitters and nannys? Maybe we need a Department of Babysitters to register and monitor them?

The Scouts have a policy of getting police checks on all new leaders. This is very sensible, as sadly youth groups do attract paedophiles. But Scouts are not required to do this by law. Are gym creche staff a bigger risk than scout leaders?

If there is evidence that not having mandatory police checks on gym creche staff has led to children being molested, then I can be persuaded that it may be a sensible idea. But can’t we hold that debate without Labour MPs asserting that the Minister of Education (herself a parent) doesn’t care if sex criminals look after children.

Trevor on teachers’name supression

November 19th, 2010 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

Media – mainly on Sundays – and bloggers especially Cam Slater have been frustrated with Teachers’ Council rules that make it very hard to hear cases in public. I share their concerns. There is almost no way to have suppression orders because the maximum fine for a breach is $1k which deters no one.

The Council is understandably reluctant to risk identifying victims especially of sexual abuse but their rules don’t let them identify accused and not the victim – and won’t change with the current fine level.

This breeds rumours and false conclusions.

I’ve got two SoPs one very simple which increases the fine to $100k and would leave the Teachers’ Council to rewrite the rules. The second, below, is more comprehensive and adopts the position that Simon Power is promoting for the Courts. It has a presumption of an open hearing.

I agree with a presumption of open hearings. I also agree that if you have name supression, you need a larger maximum fine than $1,000 to be effective. However $100,000 is too much considering this is just for a professional disciplinary board – not an actual court.

You can read the proposed SOP in full at Red Alert, and comment either there or here on what you think.

It’s a good example of MPs using blogging to get feedback on proposed law changes.

Going going going going going going going going going going …

November 12th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Carmel Sepuloni on Red Alert blogged yesterday:

John Chapman is a staunch Labour supporter and is one of our good friends in Waitakere:)

Given his support for Labour and generous nature, he’s kindly put up one of his prints for sale on trademe – proceeds raised will go towards the Mana campaign.
The print is entitled ‘It’s only going to get worse’ – how appropriate given the state of our country under the current National Government.  We may have to persevere another year (or slightly less) of a National Government but that gentle reminder of how much worse it could get if we have to endure any longer than that – is a great motivator for getting Labour people and the generally ‘disillusioned with National’ ordinary kiwi, enthused about the next election!
What a great idea to raise money for Labour. And hell, if John Key’s plaster cast can go for $18,000 on Trade Me and receive hundreds of bids, this nice artwork should raise thousands.
So how did the auction go.

Whale has this graphic:

Not a single person bid. No not one. How incredibly embarrassing.

I guess Carmel was right – it was only going to get worse – for Labour.

UPDATE: A reader commented to me  that they are surprised a certain Board of Trustees Chair didn’t bid for the artwork so it could then be burnt – or does that only happen when it is part of a Police investigation involving the PM?

100 initiatives in 100 days

November 2nd, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Do you recall Len Brown saying h would announce 100 initiatives or policies in his first 100 days in office – 1 a day.

Today is Day 2. I presume Day 1 was spend lots of money getting sworn in. so what was the big policy for Day 2.

He announced it on Breakfast this morning. They’re going to clean the windows of the Town Hall.

Day 1 it turns out was doing designations for the planned rail tracks. No problems with that as early designations help, but I await with interest his policy on how much he will increase rates to pay for his rail plans.

Len may think he has a mandate for the rail – and he does if the ratepayers of Auckland who voted for him are willing to pay for it. But he does not have a mandate to demand the taxpayers of Wellington, Napier, Nelson and Christchurch pay for it. In fact the best quote I can give comes from Labour’s Stuart Nash:

All this posturing, threats and huge budget promises re Auckland from their new councillors etc makes me shake my head in disbelief.

Akld is but one of many cities in this wonderful country and if Aucklanders think they have pre-eminent rights on all of our taxes then they need to pull their heads out from their nether-regions and get real.  New Zealand does well when all New Zealanders are thriving.

Well said Mr Nash.

Trevor off again

October 26th, 2010 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

I’ve almost lost track of the fake statements made by Trevor on Red Alert. Most I ignore, but this one is worth exposing.

Trevor blogged:

John Key said he helped arrange the meeting between Julia Gillard and Phil Goff.


Arranged through Labour Party contacts. Some of us have known her since before she was a Minister.

Now one should always be careful when Trevor does supply a reference and a quote. Unlike Trevor, we will go to a reliable source – NZPA. Their report says:

Mr Key said he was relaxed about it.

“I mean he rang me on Sunday to tell me he was going. Normally the leader of the Opposition has to write and I certainly did that when I was the leader of the Opposition, but I also saw John Howard when I was leader of the Opposition and he was prime minister so look, at the end of the day, I’m fine with it. I’ll be seeing Julia Gillard in Vietnam in the weekend.”

Mr Key said he offered the assistance of New Zealand diplomats in Australia and would have offered further support if Mr Goff had written to him earlier.

So Key in no way claimed he he helped arrange it. He offered assistance – as one would hope he would.

“I for one don’t think Phil Goff is going to go to Australia and bag New Zealand. He’s been a long standing foreign minister, he’s a long-standing politician, so I don’t think we should be too bent out of shape about it. I’m not.”

Which is a nice change from a former PM who used to rant about treason when Opposition MPs met overseas leaders, and said things she disagreed with.

Asked if it was appropriate for the Australian administration to see the Labour leader before the Prime Minister Mr Key said it was up to them.

“I don’t care about it either way, I’ll see her at the end of the week.”

He disagreed he had been outmanouevred.

My God if Labour are trying to talk this up as some sort of tactical victory, they really are desperate. Opposition Leaders have more flexible schedules than PMs. Still, it beats talking about the latest polls.

Trevor on local body results

October 11th, 2010 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogged that Cabinet won’t be a happy place due to:

  1. Labour Party Mayor of the Supercity with a clear centre left majority. Key’s nightmare.
  2. National Mayor of Hamilton given the boot. Martin Gallagher top polling for council.
  3. Harry Duynhoven Mayor of New Plymouth
  4. Laws team routed in Whanganui with a left leaning Mayor.
  5. Act Mayor of Hutt City given the boot.
  6. Prendergast National Mayor of Wellington ahead by 40 with 1,000 specials to count. Her Wellington supermayorlty dreams in tatters.
  7. Tony Ryall’s bette noir Richard Thompson tops the poll for Dunedin City.
  8. One of Wellington’s best analysts David Choat got elected to the DHB.

Now Trevor is right that overall those on the left had far more to cheer about, and overall it was good for them. However I think he pushes things too far to suggest that this is some massive rejection of National. I thought I would do a more nuanced analysis of the results than Trevor’s shotgun blast.

Labour Party Mayor of the Supercity with a clear centre left majority. Key’s nightmare

The result in Auckland is a very good win for the left. It will eneregise their activist base, and also provide profile for some of their office holders. And the get out the vote machine in South Auckland should concern National, if they can repeat it for 2011.

However this does not mean Auckland has turned on National. Many National supporters did not vote for Banks or C&R for various reasons. This was primarily about local perthe sonalities and tickets.

And there may be a silver lining for National. A Banks and C&R controlled Super City may have kept the opposition to a super city high. If they made unpopular decisions, then people might blame the Govt in 2011 for them.

But having Brown and the left in charge, may mean that any backlash from unpopular decisions is likely to hit the incumbent Mayor and Councillors rather than the Government. Remember they have to put in place a single rating system that will produce significant winners and losers – and the losers can howl loudly.

National Mayor of Hamilton given the boot. Martin Gallagher top polling for council

Bob Simcock is a former National MP, but the person who beat him was supported by a few Nats also. Bob’s lack of campaigning is cited by most as why he lost. And the election of Gallagher to Council in top spot is no surprise – former MPs have massive name recognition, and you have to be exceptionally unpopular to be a former MP and not get elected to Council. I note Di Yates did manage it though.

Harry Duynhoven Mayor of New Plymouth

Harry has always been greatly popular in New Plymouth – far more so than the party he represented. His election is little surprise, and it is primarily about him. It does assist Labour to have one of their own as Mayor though, so the inclusion is not without some merit.

Laws team routed in Whanganui with a left leaning Mayor

Anyone who thinks Whanganui politics is about right/left rather than love or hate Laws obviously does not live there. A huge number on the right wanted the Laws team gone also.

Act Mayor of Hutt City given the boot

David Odgen was involved with ACT. But the guy who beat him was not someone from Labour, but Ray Wallace who if memory is correct was involved with National.

Prendergast National Mayor of Wellington ahead by 40 with 1,000 specials to count. Her Wellington supermayorlty dreams in tatters.

A big win for the left – especially the Greens. Agreed.

Tony Ryall’s bette noir Richard Thompson tops the poll for Dunedin City

Shock horror – a Labour Party activist does well in Dunedin. Next Trevor will be surprised that they drink Speights there also.

One of Wellington’s best analysts David Choat got elected to the DHB

And congrats to David. But with respect I don’t think the PM will be losing sleep over his election to the DHB.

Also former Labour Ministers also lost out in Taupo, Christchurch and Porirua so not all one way. And several of the victories in places like Dunedin were wins for “fiscal conservatives”.

As I said overall they were certainly happier tidings for the left, and they do provide some opportunities for Labour to capitalise on them. But it isn’t as dramatic as Trevor portrayed.

Trevor complains Hekia not ditching parliamentary duties for campaigning

October 6th, 2010 at 4:55 pm by David Farrar

If we ever wanted a priceless example of how Labour regard taxpayers and Parliament, it is this blog post from Trevor Mallard:

She is a member of the Electoral Legislation Committee. It sat from 10am to 4pm today with a 45 minute lunch break.  Anyone who was outside Room 3 Parliament House would have seen her going into the room and coming out with other members of the committee.

Asked Nats why she wasn’t working on her campaign.

” No one would replace her.”

“Slack discipline.”

Don’t think they believe they have a chance – but they didn’t  need to throw in the towel so early.

So just think about this. Hekia is paid by the taxpayers to be a Member of Parliament. Her role as a by-election candidate is supplemental to that – ie to be done when not conflicting with parliamentary duties.

But Trevor wonderfully shows us what Labour thinks of that notion – scorn and derision.

Now everyone knows that Mana is not marginal. For National to win would require two unique firsts – a Government to win a seat off the Opposition in a by-election and for Mana to vote National. But having said that, Hekia is working very hard on the campaign. But unlike Trevor I don’t think that means she should never turn up to the House and not turn up to select committees.

Cunliffe does a Winston

September 24th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

An extraordinary blog post by David Cunliffe on Red Alert. Let’s take it one step at a time:

When this country is in recession and Kiwi families are doing it bloody tough, I cannot bear to stand by and see rich and powerful private interests – whom I will not name at this point

A classic Winston tactic. Refer to dark vile secret forces.

and this post is not about SCF – rorting the rules and using their clubs and networks to finesse processes.

Thank God it is not about SCF. David seems to have become the spokesperson for a small Timaru cult. The latest cult newsletter proclaims:

In the end though, the only way Michelle, Keiran and I can help you is if you help yourself, and help us help you. If we stay out here alone, we are targets.

I have always felt like asking the Chinese Government how they intend to shoot a billion people.  …

David Cunliffe just called me and we have a thing or two planned which will help, watch this space.

David said “tell the investors to speak with one voice, and throw everything you have at John Key and Bill English and Simon Power – full force, don’t hold back……let RIP!

Anyway back to his blog post:

It makes Godzone look like “the coldest banana republic in the world”.

I thought that was when we had a foreign minister who took out ful page ads campaigning against his own Government’s great foreign policy sucess – a FTA with China. Now that was banana republic.

For goodness sake interests associated with the Natural Dairy Crafar farms bid (potentially with Nat links) reportedly gave $200,000 to the National Party while the Natural Dairy application was still before the OIO and while National has a ministerial policy review underway.

I blogged these donations when they were disclosed. In fact I blogged them before the media reported them. The association with Natural Dairy is rather weak – the husband of the wife who made the donation is an advisor to the Chinese Business Roundtable, and the founder of that Roundtable is involved in Natural Dairy NZ.

I suspect most Chinese businesspeople in Auckland are involved in the Chinese business roundtable. It is a fairly tight community.

National should IMMEDIATELY reject that bid – otherwise what is left to separate this from complete corruption?  Brown envelopes?

Here Mr Cunliffe jumps off the deep end. The public will judge any decision by the Government when it is made, and thanks to transparency with donations can judge whether or not they think that was a factor.

But it is bonkers to be screaming that the Government must interfere with the OIO process and destroy the ability of the Crafar recevers to recover maximum value from the assets, because of a donation from a Chinese businesswoman who is not involved in the bid.

I have a much better example of corruption for David Cunliffe.  In fact it is made in the comments section of Red Alert:

Bill Liu gave a donation of $5,000 to the labour party. His citizenship application was supported by Dover Samuels, who was at that time a Minister. His citizenship ceremony was presided over by Labour ministers, who knew that immigration were unhappy with him being in NZ. None of this is news to you, yet you have the temerity to accuse National of awarding corrupt favours to its friends.

Yes Labour ignored the strong advice from officials not to grant Liu citizenship due to his multiple fake identities, yet they did.

You want another example of corruption – your caucus colleage Taito Field – whom you associate immigration minister did so many favours for,

Or another – how about accepting $100,000 three days before the election, and not declaring it until after the election. From the same source that donated to Winston, whom Labour voted had done nothing wrong and never knew about the Owen Glenn donation despite the telephone logs.

Was it OK for the OIO-overseeing Minister of Finance to lease his (trust’s) house to the govt for a staggering ministerial rent

No, and the money was paid back. But what has that got to do with the OIO.

or accept hours of free TV for his “Plain English” ads?  Isn’t it time we Kiwis stood up and demanded that the tories do sweat the small stuff like the rest of us?  Isn’t it time John key held SOMEONE to account for SOMETHING rather than smile, wave and make excuses?

Now he is in full rant mode.

Beyond political donations, look at the ability of the rich and powerful to get their way while the poor and middle struggle: $2 billion a year of tax avoidance through LAQCs and trusts that National in government has refused to touch.

So the Government is corrupt as it did not abolish LAQCs. So does this mean the last Labour Government was also corrupt. Or that Labour’s policy is now to abolish LAQC’s?

Or it is just more part of a bizarre rant?

And he also rails against trusts. Well now we get to the hypocrisy. He suggests National is corrupt for not somehow stopping the use of trusts to avoid tax. So what does the Register of MPs Pecuniary Interests say for Cunliffe:

The Bozzie Family Trust (discretionary trust)

The hypocrisy is amazing.

Half the top 100 welathiest NZers are still not on the top tax rate!

Yes – and this happened under Labour!This is what happens when teh trust and top personal tax rates are not aligned – something that National has now fixed.

Well what is the point of getting our savings rate up (and asking hard working families to go without consumtion) if the investment vehicles we need to get the money to our struggling firms are being milked and siphoned by fees and sweet deals to the cronies in the markets?  Why would any sane Kiwi sweat 80 hours a week to build a real business here?  Where will our kids choose to live?

So no Kiwis will work 80 hour weeks because of the cronies in the markets? I’m sorry, but even I can’t follow his chain of thought any more. It seems to be just one big primal scream

It will only get worse until we have a Govt with the guts to stand up to it.   The smiling millionaire from Bankers Trust is hardly likely to do that!

Oh I see. It is all John Key’s fault.


September 22nd, 2010 at 8:40 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs:

Do you want to contribute to Labour’s policy on open and transparent government?

Following the public event on OpenLabourNZ at the end of August a draft policy on open and transparent government is now available for comment.

If you would like to have a look at the draft policy it is now up on the wiki here.

You have until the beginning of October to comment on it. Your input and thoughts are welcome and important.

Labour will then have their conference in October, where their policy will be considered at a workshop, and hopefully work their way into the manifesto.

If you have a genuine desire to improve their policy, go to the wiki and suggest enhancements.

Some of the ideas which I hope make it into policy are:

  • Open Parliament to the OIA within limits
  • An OIA website with automatic release level
  • Publish agenda of Ministerial meetings along with papers
  • Public sector data and information should be seen as a “national resource” and be released free of charge as a matter of course with exceedingly rare exceptions
  • All research done by ministries and their advice to the minister should be put on the internet in an easily searchable database
  • All payments (and receipts) of Government should be available for scrutiny
  • Create policies and guidelines to allow public servants to use social media
  • That Parliamentary proceedings such as Select Committees be broadcast over the internet and television
  • To help engage citizens, let’s run a contest. Let’s get MAF (or Landcare or both) to release four datasets and we’ll run a contest for the best mashup using the data. “Best” means “has the most value for NZ citizens.” The winner must be a Kiwi, and wins one hour of face-time with the minister of MAF.

To some degree this is the easy part. The challenge will be getting the party to formally commit to doing some of these as part of their manifesto.

For me that is a win-win. If Labour wins, then at least they will have some policies I approve of. And if they adopt some of these policies, it may encourage National in that direction also.

Reconciling the polls

September 20th, 2010 at 5:52 pm by David Farrar

Darien Fenton at Red Alert blogs:

A UMR survey released today by the CTU shows that 80 per cent of New Zealanders oppose the Government’s planned changes to dismissal law.  Previous polls had asked the question about whether respondents supported a 90 day trial and unsurprisingly, the majority said yes – because after all these were already allowed under previous law.

But Darien is wrong in claiming the UMR poll shows 80% are opposed. The question that was asked is:

“Do you think that all employees should have the right to appeal if they think they have been unfairly dismissed, even if their dismissal was during the first 90 days of their employment?

Now that question is open to a very wide interpretation. An appeal can mean anything from asking your boss to reconsider, to appealing to your boss’ boss to “appealing” to the ERA.  The question is so wide, that it of relatively little value (in my opinion) in judging whether or not people support or oppose the Govt’s law change.

Note this is not a criticism of UMR.  This is a criticism of how Labour and the CTU have portrayed the results.

As a comparison, let us look at the poll done by Colmar Brunton for One News. It asked:

Currently employment law allows a business to take on a new worker and then if it does not work out dismiss that worker within 90 days without the worker being able to take a personal grievance claim. Currently the scheme only applies to companies with fewer than twenty employees but now the government plans to extend the 90 day trial period to cover all companies and so all new workers could be subject to the scheme. Some people believe this places workers in a vulnerable position but the government claims it creates jobs because businesses will be more willing to take on a new worker.

Do you think the 90 day trial law should be extended to cover all companies every time someone starts a new job?

Now this is a far better question (for judging if someone agrees with the Government’s proposed law change) as it tells people what the current law is, tells them what the proposed change is, and summarises arguments for and against.

Colmar Brunton found 60% in favour of extending the 90 day law to all companies.

This is a good example of the importance of poll questions. And again it isn’t that one question is necessarily “good” and one is “bad”.  It is about whether one can fairly interpret the poll result as reflecting what the public think of a proposed law change.

It is quite clear that the UMR result can not be used as representing public opinion on the Government’s law change. All it can be used for is representing whether people think there should be some sort of generic appeal from dismissal decisions – no details on who the appeal should be to – which is crucial. And an appeal is not the same as the right to take a personal grievance and get compensation etc.

One has to wonder why the CTU did not ask the same question as One News? The answer is obvious.