Jones admits he was not sure of Liu true identity

May 23rd, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

First an easy rebuttal of Jones claim that he was told Liu would be executed if he went to China. The ODT reported:

The department’s case officer, Johannes Gambo, told the court Yan boasted that he had politician friends who would ensure he was granted citizenship.

When told he would not receive citizenship, Yan said he was 99 per cent sure he would, according to Mr Gambo.

“He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament … he was going to take them to China.”

Do you really think he would be planning to take his MP mates to China, if he was at risk of being executed and organ harvested?

Also an amazing concession by Shane Jones, as reported by Stuff:

Labour MP Shane Jones knew there were serious questions over the true identity of Chinese millionaire Yong Ming Yan when he gave him a New Zealand passport. …

Mr Jones admitted he knew there were questions about Yan’s identity. “I certainly know that there was a live issue as to whether or not this man is who he says he was … there was always a mystery … Those were allegations.”

So Jones has said that he was not sure that Liu or Yan was who he claimed he was, yet he still gave him citizenship!!

I can’t think of another non third world country where the Minister grants citizenship to someone on the urging of his mates, despite not even knowing if that is the person’s real identity.

The papers about this case are on the Investigate site and worth a read. Some salient points:

  • Nowhere at all in the papers is there any mention at all of fearing of going back to China. It is all about how much he has invested in NZ. So the reasons Jones says he made his decision on are not even in the official papers. It is all this mystery official’s verbal briefing!
  • The fraud charges in China are for NZ$2.7m
  • The papers clearly state he is entitled to reside indefinitely in NZ in terms of the Immigration Act, so this was NOT an issue about whether or not he might be deported to China. That is a total red herring.
  • According to the Chinese Government he stole another person’s identity in 1999 by falsely registering their birth, and used this to obtain two false passports. He stole the identity of Yang Liu.
  • The papers refer to Liu claiming he has worked to develop trade and good relations between China and NZ, including involvement in formalising agricultural agreements. Does this sound like someone terrified of China, and who fled because he was facing persecution?
  • The papers also refer specifically to humanitarian considerations and does not detail any applicable in this case.
  • The letter from Dover Samuels fails to disclose Liu donated to him.
  • Strangely the Samuels letter says Liu deeply respects NZ’s anti nuclear policy. God knows what that has to do with anything, unless it is code for being a Labour Party donor.
  • The papers make it clear that Rick Barker was the Minister initially dealing with this issue.  He must have recused himself only after a very late stage. Recall that Labour fundraiser Shane Te Pou took Liu down to meet Barker.
  • A follow up letter from Samuels borders on the hysterical and accuses the officials of subjecting Liu to “mental torture”, and that his treatment is not the mark of a civilised country. Samuels seems to think citizenship for migrants is a right, not a privilege.
  • Pansy Wong’s letter of support refers to the Immigration Minister not revoking Liu’s residency, and citing this as grounds for citizenship. So Cunliffe’s decision not to follow the advice of his officials, is then used to advocate for Liu to get special treatment from Jones, against official advice again.
  • Wong’s letter was just addressed to DIA, and did not in fact advocate what the decision should be, just that they should commence consideration and take account of his community contributions. I find that quite different to Samuels who directly advocated the outcome to the Minister in the strongest possible terms.
  • Chris Carter’s letter, like Pansy Wong’s, cites Liu’s contributions but does not call for a particular decision and is a general reference, not an advocacy letter direct to the Minister. I find no fault with Carter or Wong, except that they would both have been wise to have declared Liu had donated to them campaigns.

I suggest people read the full file. There are parts redacted but hopefully after the court case they will become public also.

A great cartoon by Hubbard Emmerson.

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Labour’s minor reshuffle

April 5th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the NZ Herald reports:

Sue Moroney has been awarded the front bench slot left empty by the resignation of Darren Hughes and has taken on his education portfolio.

Labour leader Phil Goff announced the mini-shuffle this morning, giving Sue Moroney responsibility for the primary and secondary schooling areas as well as the early childhood portofilio she already held.

That’s a big promotion for Moroney. She’s been fairly low profile since she entered in 2005, so this is her oportunity to make her name. She’s only 46, so if she does well, could be a front bench Minister in a future Labour Government.

Old hand Rick Barker was elected uncontested by caucus to the position of senior whip, a nod to his experience in the role and the desire for stability in the eight months before the election. He was previously a senior Government whip. He will stand down from his role as assistant Speaker to fulfil the whip’s role.

This is quite significant. Barker is turning 60 this year and has been an MP for 18 years. I would have judged him at risk of not having a winnable list place. But now he is their chief whip, they have to give him a winnable spot on the list. So it means one less spot for new candidates.

Barker is a former senior whip, so will beable to do the role easily. But not the best sign for Labour that they had to appoint an MP whom many considered was due to retire, as he lost his Tukituki seat in 2005.

Mr Goff said he would nominate Ross Robertson to take on the Speaker position in his lieu.

Which Ross is very good at. When Labour nominated Barker for the role, instead of Robertson, in late 2008 it was taken as a hint that he should retire. But he is also again standing in 2011, which again makes rejuvenation that much harder. Robertson is 62 and been an MP for 24 years.

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Labour’s nominations

September 8th, 2010 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

Labour have announced:

Labour Party organisations in these electorates will hold their confirmation meetings shortly:

• Bay of Plenty Carol Devoy-Heena

Lost in 2008 by 17,604 votes. Ranked 76th (2nd bottom). I think Tony Ryall can relax.

• Botany Koro Tawa

Ranked No 65. Lost by 10,872 in 2008. Not a lot of new blood coming through is there!

• Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel

An MP since 1990.

• Coromandel Hugh Kininmonth

Lost by 14,560 in 2008. Ranked 75th (third bottom)

• East Coast Moana Mackey

Lost by 6,413 to Anne Tolley. List MP since 2003.

• East Coast Bays Vivienne Goldsmith

Lost by 13,794 to Prince of Darkness. Ranked No 67 in 2008.

• Hamilton East Sehai Orgad

2007 President of compulsory Waikato Student’s Union. Stood for East ward of Hamilton City Council in 2007 and came 10th.

• Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta

MP since 1996

• Helensville Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

Very appropriate Jeremy stands against John Key as he writes so many letters to the editor complaining about the Government.  2005 President of the compulsory VUWSA. Is standing for Henderson-Massey Local Board in 2010 elections.

A little known trivia fact is that a few years ago Jeremy and I co-authored a petition to Subway asking them to reverse their sacking of an employee for sharing a free $2 staff coke with a friend.

• Manukau East Ross Robertson

MP since 1987.

• New Plymouth Andrew Little

Former President of compulsory VUWSA, and NZUSA. Labour Party President.

• Rotorua Steve Chadwick

Lost her seat in 2008 by 5,065 votes. MP since 1999.

• Selwyn David Coates

Lost in 2008 by 11,075 votes.Ranked No 74 (fourth bottom) on list.

• Taranaki-King Country Rick Barker

Now this is weird. Barker presumably can’t get nominated again in Tukituki, so desperate to carry on has headed to the west coast. Has been an MP since 1993.

• Waimakariri Clayton Cosgrove

MP since 1999. Holding on with a 390 vote majority.

• Wellington Central Grant Robertson

Former President of compulsory OUSA and then NZUSA.

• Wigram Megan Woods

2007 Mayoral candidate against Bob Parker.

If the list above, is Labour rejuvenating, then someone has a sick sense of humour. Their only new candidates are from compulsory student associations.

Of their 2008 candidates, the ones standing again were all ranked in the bottom dozen, and lost by huge majorities.  Where are the Kate Suttons, Michael Woods, Conor Roberts, and Louisa Walls  who all actually have some talent?

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HoS on Labour

November 1st, 2009 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

The HoS discloses another Labour MP, Iain Galloway-Lees, was involved in their internal polling operations. No suggestion he did anything wrong – just that he helped recruit volunteers and was in attendance.

More damning is the editorial, titled Labour loses moral compass.

This is a time, not for elegant mendacity, but for simple truths.

Senior Labour MP Rick Barker ran a publicly-funded political poll from his Parliamentary office last month.

And, when confronted last week by a Herald on Sunday journalist, he initially denied knowledge of any polling.

To me, the poll itself is not that significant a story – but the denial and attempted coverup is what has pissed off the media.

This was dishonesty.

It was dishonesty of the sort that former Labour Cabinet minister Lianne Dalziel displayed, when she denied knowledge of a leaked immigration report in 2004. Yet that was a foolish deceit, made by an impassioned minister in the heat of the moment. Dalziel, at least, had the grace and integrity to resign from Cabinet.

No such integrity is shown by the Labour Party under Phil Goff.

Ouch.

Rick Barker refuses to admit his intent to deceive. And worse, his party’s parliamentary leadership has largely backed him.

Labour, it seems, has lost its moral compass.

Labour has focused on defending the poll, but has failed to address the more serious issue of Barker lying to the media.

They conclude:

Goff has just cowered and, when confronted by political reporters outside the Labour Caucus room with nowhere to hide, obfuscated.

Labour’s leader must now stand up and take responsibility for the deception that was conducted with funds entrusted to him by Parliament.

Barker should be sacked from all his Caucus responsibilities. Hughes, too, must be left in no doubt about how repugnant his rationalisations are.

These, then, are the simple truths that are demanded of Labour’s tarnished leadership.

And these are the truths Labour has forgotten.

I actually feel a bit sorry for Labour over this. Normally this would be a one day story. But there is a bit of a political news vacuum, so it has ended up in the media most of the week. Part of this is because of their inept response to the story, but part of it is just bad timing.

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Dom Post on Labour

October 28th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom-Post has a scathing article on Labour, mainly arising from the internal polling story in the Herald on Sunday.

I was chatting to a journalist about this last night, and we were both surprised the story has gone on for so long, as one could mount a defence for different aspects of what happened.

I think the reason this story got resonance is the combination of issues. It wasn’t just doing polling under the name of a non registered company (which other parties have done in the past), but the fact they also told pollsters to use fake names, were doing it from Parliament, that Rick Barker lied about it, that the Labour President knew nothing about it, and the the Whip defended it and the Leader condemned it.

Again you can reasonably debate about whether or not it was legitimate to do from Parliament (and could well be so, depending on the questions), and whether the fake names of pollsters really matters. But it is having all the issues combined together which makes it really messy for Labour – and Rick Barker lying about it, which is what has really hurt them, and may explain why the story keeps going.

The other factor might just be a lack of much other political news, and nature abhors a vacuum.

The editorial says:

Some things are just plain wrong.

It is wrong for political pollsters to lie about who they represent and wrong for a politician to pretend no knowledge of activities he is orchestrating from his parliamentary office.

A politician who cannot see that he has outlasted his use-by date. The politician concerned is former Labour Cabinet minister Rick Barker. …

He suggested the volunteers use false names when making the calls, and, when questioned by a reporter about the operation, he said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

It was only when the reporter revealed a thorough knowledge of the subterfuge that Mr Barker admitted its existence and his role in it.

That is not acceptable. Truth is not a negotiable commodity.

There is a golden rule amongst MPs. You may be evasive to journalists, even a bit deceptive. You can be unhelpful. You can stonewall. But you should never ever tell a blatant lie – as in something you know to be totally false.

To the credit of Labour Party president Andrew Little, he dissociated himself from the phoney operation and is seeking a meeting with party leader Phil Goff to discuss it.

The same cannot be said for senior Labour whip Darren Hughes, who is fast building an unwanted reputation for himself as an apologist for indefensible behaviour on the part of his colleagues.

Ouch.

“I’m sure that half the people who try to sell us things on telemarketing aren’t giving us their real names,” he said by way of justification.

He could have added that noms de guerre are commonly employed in several other professions – prostitution and pole dancing being just two – but he and Mr Goff would be advised to consider what sort of company they and their colleagues wish to keep.

Defending the advice to use fake names for callers was a mistake. There is no need to not use people’s real christian names.

As I said on Sunday, there are legitimate reasons a political party wanting to conduct a poll itself (rather than pay an external company to do one) doesn’t want to use its own name – it does skew the responses and the results.  However it would have been smarter for Labour to have kept the company whose name they were using registered.

The subterfuge raises obvious questions about Mr Barker’s moral compass, but his conduct also hints at a deeper malaise within the Labour Party. It is a malaise composed, in equal parts, of arrogance, bitterness and sloth.

Wow, this is a tough editorial. I’m not sure “sloth” is an apt description, but won’t argue against arrogance or bitterness.

Labour’s MPs resemble grumpy, disinherited members of the landed gentry who have been turfed out of their comfy gentlemen’s club for not paying their subscriptions and are trying to fast talk their way back in past the doorman.

It is what they called in Canada, the “culture of entitlement” that the Canadian Liberal Party had.

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Split within Labour on internal polling operation

October 25th, 2009 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

The Labour leadership is embroiled in a murky polling operation run by a senior MP who has instructed volunteers to deliberately deceive people about their identities and the reason for their calls.

The polls were being run from Parliamentary offices by former Cabinet minister Rick Barker, who has admitted instructing staff to use false names and claim they were calling from a company that no longer exists. …

Details of the polling emerged after a volunteer involved approached the Herald on Sunday claiming the practice was “unethical”.

The volunteer, who is a Green Party member, said it was run by Barker and, when the volunteer participated, took place in Barker’s office at Parliament on October 14.

The volunteer said Barker instructed all the helpers, including a Parliamentary staffer, to say they worked for a non-existent company called “Data Research”, and to not disclose that they were really working for the Labour Party.

A search at the companies office for the former Data Research finds the company, when registered, had two directors – a Robert Bateman Allen and a Trevor Colin Mallard. Now nothing wrong with that – in fact the problem arguably is that they did not keep the company registered, while using its name.

Labour Party president Andrew Little last night said all polling was out of Phil Goff’s Leader’s Budget. Little said he knew nothing about the operation. “It would concern me very deeply,” he said.

This surprises me. In no way doubting Andrew’s word that he knew nothing – just surprised that the parliamentary wing would keep their polling operation secret from the President.

Barker, when questioned, initially said: “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. When provided with details, including dates, Barker said he would call back.

Two hours later, Barker rang and admitted he had encouraged the use of false names by callers.

Wow, Barker lied to the media. That gives him a real credibility problem. I doubt it was a memory problem, as the phoning took place just ten days ago.

Labour whip Darren Hughes, who sits on the party’s leadership council, said he was aware of the polling. He said Barker had spearheaded three polls.

But Hughes defended the use of false names and for callers to not identify that they were representing the Labour Party.

“The name of Data Research was used to get as close to a scientific result as you could, to not influence results because of the way that people feel about a particular party.”

What a mess. The party president says he knows nothing about is, and is deeply concerned. Rick Barker lies, saying he knows nothing about it, until flushed out. And Darren says it is all okay.

Now I will back Darren up on one point. If a party is conducting a poll themselves, they don’t want to use their own party’s name because it does influence the responses, and you do want it scientific.

However as I said, the preferable way to deal with this is to have an actual company registered like Data Access, so you can legally say you are polling on behalf of that company.

He said the use of false names in polling was common: “I’m sure that half the people try to sell us things on telemarketing aren’t giving us their real names.”

Here I disagree. Of course callers should use their real names. They don’t have to give out their surname and home address, but why wouldn’t they use their real first names?

A spokesman for Goff said the leader of the opposition was not available to answer questions, but he had consulted members of the leadership council and been told the method of polling carried out by Barker was a mistake. “It won’t happen again.”

So the President knew nothing, the MP whose office was used lied about it, the whip defended it and the leader said it was a mistake and won’t happen again!

I think Labour need to work on their internal communications and messaging!

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said the details of Barker’s polling operation raised serious questions and could breach the Privacy Act.

I imagine Commissioner Shroff’s concerns would be over what happens to the individual responses. Does Labour destroy the individual responses once they have summarised the results, or do they enter in the responses against their electoral roll database to assist with voter targeting? If they do undertake the latter, that would be a very serious breach of the Privacy Act.

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Setting up Parliament

December 9th, 2008 at 12:26 pm by David Farrar

The order paper reveals some useful things:

  • Lindsay Tisch is to be Deputy Speaker
  • Assistant Speakers will be Eric Roy and Rick Barker. A pity Ross Robertson is not carrying on, as he was good in that role.

The full list of Select Committee memberships has not yet been revealed, but they do propose the Committee to review the ETS, and it is:

  • National – Craig Foss, Nicky Wagner, Paul Hitchison, Hekia Parata (4)
  • Labour – David Parker, Moana Mackey, Charles Chauvel (3)
  • ACT – Rodney Hide (1)
  • Greens – Jeanette Fitzsimons (1)
  • United Future – Peter Dunne (1)
  • Maori Party – yet to be named (1)

It will be nice to hope there will be a some broad agreements on the best way forward, but I do note that National has a majority with any two of its three support partners.

The proposed terms of reference for the committee do not include an explicit review of the science, however as they look at issues such as mitigation vs adaptation, demerits of the science will no doubt be considered as the robustness of the scientific scenarios will influence decision making.

The House is underway now. Michael Cullen tripped Gerry Brownlee up on some procedural issue. While I am sure Labour liked tripping Gerry up, I have to say the absolutely patronising and condescending tone from Cullen was him at his worst, and would probably knock Labour down 5% in the polls if more people saw it. Cullen can be the funniest wittiest MP in the House, but he can also be the most offputting.

In response Gerry made the point that he did stuff up, but he can admit his mistakes, and the reason Labour is now on the Opposition benches is because they never could admit their mistakes. So true.

The House is adjourned until 2 pm when the address in reply will start.

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Goff on Speakers

November 21st, 2008 at 1:07 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Mr Goff today repeated criticism of National leader John Key’s decision to nominate as Speaker Lockwood Smith, whom he believes is too partisan to be fair.

This is nonsense, especially coming from the party that appointed Jonathan Hunt and Margaret Wilson to the Speakership. Someone should challenge Goff to explain how Smith would be more partisan than Hunt or Wilson?

He also said National intended to appoint Lindsay Tisch as deputy speaker.

He must read my blog, as that fact went unreported until I highlighted it from the video of the press conference :-)

Both Dr Smith and Mr Tisch missed out on Cabinet roles and Mr Goff said the appointments were to placate the long-serving MPs rather than choosing the right person for the job.

Now here Goff is on stronger ground than the nonsense about Lockwood being too partisan. It is a political reality that there not being room for them in Cabinet is a strong factor in why they are the nominees for Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

But this does not mean they will not prove to be sound choices. Doug Kidd was made Speaker in 1996, basically because they needed room in Cabinet for new Ministers. But Kidd went on to be an excellent Speaker.

And let us remember Labour made Ann Hartley Deputy Speaker, and she was a disaster.

He said the roles were being treated as “a dumping ground for those that can’t get into Cabinet” and thought MPs like Eric Roy and John Carter were better choices.

Eric and John would be very sound choices, and there are factors such as Cabinet inclusion at work. But those in glasshouses should not throw stones. Here is who Labour is putting up for Assistant Speaker:

Labour would have nominated Rick Barker for the role.

Asked why Mr Robertson was not considered, Mr Goff said while he was fond of the role he had other talents, had been appointed as spokesman in several areas and was a useful local MP.

Now could anyone claim Barker would be better than Robertson who is widely respected? Of course not. So Goff is guilty of exactly what he accuses National of.

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Yang Liu’s private VIP citizenship ceremony in Parliament

October 25th, 2008 at 9:36 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

A Chinese man granted citizenship against the advice of officials and wanted in his homeland for “large-scale misappropriation and embezzlement” was given a VIP citizenship ceremony at Parliament.

Yang Liu, also known as Bill Liu, was granted his citizenship in August by ministerial prerogative.

He became a New Zealander at a private citizenship ceremony in the Maori Affairs select committee room, officiated over by Labour MP and former Cabinet minister Dover Samuels.

And who is Yang Liu?. The latest TGIF from Ian Wishart reveals:

His real name, confirmed for the first time in this country by TGIF Edition, is indeed Yongming Yan

Even worse, an informant resource report to the Immigration Service last year, but apparently ignored by Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones, provides detailed information on Yan’s involvement at the head of an Asian organised crime syndicate, which “paid large cash sums to various ministers and delegates indirectly through secret anonymous accounts

Now whether this is correct or not is one issue. But what is not in dispute (it seems) is that Shane Jones knew of these allegations, as the were part of the file officials had who fought against citizenship. So why did Jones ignore this?

Tonight, TGIF Edition can also reveal that one of Yongming’s former associates in this country – Shane Phillips – was a Labour Party campaign manager, and his brother Daniel Phillips works in the office of Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones – the man who gave ‘Bill Liu’ citizenship against the recommendations of officials who’d investigated his background.

Shane Phillips is also known as Shane Te Pou, and in 2000 Helen Clark vetoed his appointment to a ministerial job. Also:

There are fresh allegations this week, including that ‘Liu’ (in reality, Yan Yongming) may have donated cash to the campaigns of Rick Barker and Dover Samuels.

And Wishart has unearthed some interesting aspects of donations to Dover Samuels:

A further $5,000 was given to Dover Samuels by the oddly-named ‘Tamaki ki te Paki Wu’, apparently residing at a house in Derrimore Heights in Manukau City.

So, according to the official documents, two separate Wu’s slipped a total of eight grand between them into the Dover Samuels campaign fund. But who was this mysterious Mr Tamaki Wu? A check of the Manukau address Dover had given for him provides an added twist to this story: it was registered not to Mr Wu but to Daniel Phillips – Dover’s former private secretary now working for Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones. So $5,000 had come to Dover from the address of a man whose brother was involved with Chinese
businessman ‘Yang Liu’ (real name Yan Yongming), yet the money was not in Daniel Phillips’ name, but a person or entity named Tamaki Wu.

There is also a suggestion that an anonymous $5,000 donation to Rick Barker was from Yan.

The issues raised here can not be dealt with by a departmental inquiry. Departments can not investigate their own Ministers. A fully empowered commission of inquiry should be set up to investigate this. The key tasks should be

  1. To verify the real identity of the man granted citizenship by Labour Ministers over the protests of officials
  2. Does he have a criminal record, and what is the nature of that
  3. Determine the full extent of his donations to all parties and candidates
  4. Why Ministers both refused to revoke his residency and further granted him citizenship against the strong advice of officials
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Peter Ellis

March 28th, 2008 at 7:32 pm by David Farrar

Poneke blogged earlier this week that Rick Barker has turned down the petition for a royal Commission into Christchurch Creche and Peter Ellis.

This is a great shame.  You see for me it isn’t even so much about whether Ellis was guilty or not. I think most of New Zealand have decided he wasn’t, and he is out now. Just as important to me is having a proper inquiry into how the whole affair was handled, so we can learn from our mistakes. There were simply dozens of issues with the Ellis case that cause concern.

I had been hopeful that if National becomes Government, we might finally get a royal commission. But both Don Brash and Katherine Rich have or are retiring and won’t be in the next Parliament to advocate for it. So we may never get a satisfactory resolution.

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