Hide’s winners and losers

September 14th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

There’s also every likelihood that voters won’t decide the Government. That could be up to Winston Peters. It’s deplorable but that’s MMP and that’s Peters’ cunning. To vote New Zealand First you must not care whether Cunliffe or Key is Prime Minister and whether the Greens are in Government. A vote for Peters is for any of the above. Peters will go with who is best for him. You have been warned.

That’s a good way of putting it.

Cunliffe has been the campaign loser. He may well end up Prime Minister but he has Labour polling in the 20s. He would start his Prime Ministership on the back foot without popular support and with the Greens and others in the box seat pushing him around.

In January Labour averaged 33.5% in the public polls. This has been their average every month this year:

  • Jan 33.5%
  • Feb 32.2%
  • Mar 30.7%
  • Apr 30.5%
  • May 29.9%
  • Jun 27.9%
  • Jul 26.6%
  • Aug 26.1%
  • Sep 24.8%

In eight months they have lost 8.7% – not in one big hit, bit a long slow gradual decline.

The other loser is Hone Harawira. He sold out himself, his party, his electorate. The best to be said is that he wasn’t cheap. Kim Dotcom kicked in $4.5 million.

Harawira may do well with Dotcom’s bankroll but his integrity is gone. It’s not something he can buy back.

Hone got 1.1% last time without selling out. He was 0.1% off getting a 2nd MP. On the average of the polls taking Dotcom’s money is only going to get him that 2nd MP.

The big winners this election are the Greens. They are the third party of New Zealand politics. Labour must now figure out how to work with them.

The Greens are looking like their caucus may be over half the size of Labour’s.

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Hide on the election

August 31st, 2014 at 7:46 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

This election has been like watching the Bledisloe Cup. Just as the ball’s kicked off, the ball boys start a verbal. The cameras zoom in. The argument looks hot and bothered but it’s not the test.

The cameras stay fixed on the boys. Aargh.

We want the real game. That’s what we sat down for. Nicky Hager, Cameron Slater and Kim Dotcom are the ball boys in this election. They aren’t the game.

The real test is John Key versus David Cunliffe. At stake is who gets to run the government for three years.

We must decide whose judgment we want applied to the likes of the global financial crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, the threat of international terrorism. It’s a big deal.

I wonder if even 10% of NZers could name a single policy released in the last two weeks?

Following September 20 either John Key or David Cunliffe will be Prime Minister. One will win and be running the country. The other will lose and be out on his ear.

It matters big time for the both of them. It matters big time for the country.

But whatever the result Kim Dotcom will still be facing extradition, Nicky Hager will be off writing his 2017 election bombshell and Cameron Slater will still be blogging.

The result doesn’t matter to them. They don’t run the country. We have had the sideshow. Let’s get back to the match that matters. Can we have our election back?

20 days to go.

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Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to interview people before publishing?

August 15th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former ACT party leader Rodney Hide says he ‘laughed out loud’ over allegations he was blackmailed into standing down as leader of the ACT Party.

Jordan Williams, the Wellington lobbyist who features heavily in Nicky Hager’s latest book, also says the suggestion is “utterly false”.

In his book Dirty Politics, Hager claims that Williams was part of a campaign to pressure Hide to stand down, including claims that he was blackmailed into resigning over him sending “inappropriate text messages to a young woman”.

The book published an exchange between Simon Lusk, a political strategist previously aligned with the National Party, and WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater.

Lusk to Slater: “Cam we an f… up rodney. …Jordan is talking to a girl that Rodney has been sending dodgy texts to.”

Slater: “Get the texts….I can get them to Jonathan Jarshall. Just the sort of grubby shit he would be into.”

“Trying. Problem is that Jordan needs to get them first, probably Wednesday night, but at the same time we can use this to our advantage.”

Slater: “Drop them hard this Fri. No coming back from that.”

Hide said he “laughed out loud” when he read the allegations and referred to Lusk and Slater’s conversations as “two guys who email each other sort of like they’re standing around in the pub talking bullshit…”

Rodney is right. I would have thought an investigative journalist, would follow up the e-mails, and ask if any of the stuff talked about actually happened. People often get boastful or hyped up on e-mails. The entire book is based on e-mails to or from Cameron (plus some material stolen from me), and they take as the literal truth everything said on e-mail.  Just because someone boasts that they will try and get the Minister to move a prisoner for them, doesn’t mean it ever happened – and in fact it can’t happen.

I doubt there are many people who can say they have exaggerated or boasted a bit on e-mail. The blackmail of Rodney never happened. If it had been attempted, he would have gone to the Police.

The book would have been far less sensational if there had been some actual investigating. Instead it is just a book of e-mails, and a theory wrapped around it. No actual interviews with anyone, or substantiation beyond the e-mails.

Ian Wishart points out the hypocrisy:

In his new book Dirty Politics, Nicky Hager reprints allegations contained in stolen private emails – theories about a wide range of people. Among the allegations he has printed are that former Act leader Rodney Hide was blackmailed into quitting because he had been caught sending inappropriate text messages to a woman.

Additionally, Hager reprinted emails alleging Auckland mayor Len Brown was having sex with prostitutes.

Neither Brown nor Hide appear to have been asked to comment on the truth of the allegations. In fact, Hide has definitely confirmed he was not approached, and that the allegations are false and without substance.

Yet here is what Nicky Hager testified to the Wellington High Court in a defamation case last year:

“I believe the more serious the allegations we write, the more care that is required to ensure we have got things correct. I say to myself that no one can ever criticise me for things I haven’t written, so that if I am not absolutely sure of something, I don’t publish.

“Research is something that can take months or years. In this case the allegations were serious and personal. I would not include allegations like those in my work if there was so little time for proving the facts…

“I was struck by the fact that the sexual allegations appeared to rely entirely upon the words of the plaintiff’s ex-wife. As a journalist, I would feel very uneasy about publishing, let alone putting my name to, sexual allegations from an ex-spouse unless I had done a lot of work and found very strong corroborating evidence.”

In Nicky Hager’s new book, he has no witnesses at all; no prostitutes admitting to sleeping with Len Brown, no ex-spouse, no woman saying she was sent inappropriate texts by Rodney Hide. Hager’s entire ream of “evidence” is actually hearsay gossip, which is usually inadmissible in court.

“There are issues of logic in investigative journalism,” Hager told the High Court. “In particular we have to be careful that our evidence actually supports our conclusions…

You might not like Wishart, but he is quoting Hager’s own words.

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Hide on Seymour

August 10th, 2014 at 8:04 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

Politicians seldom get to anoint a successor. That was especially so for me. Readers may recall I left with a bit of a hiss and a roar at a time I least expected it.

But if I were to appoint a successor it would be David Seymour. As it happens, the Act Party has chosen Seymour as their candidate for Epsom. I met Seymour more than 10 years ago. He impressed me by having built his own car as a high school student. He built a Lotus 7 replica, beginning with a piece of steel and a book. It still runs and is registered. It’s fast.

Now that’s cool.

We often say young people have no discipline or dedication. But how many of us have built a car from scratch? We say, too, that young people only look out for themselves. But Seymour was also a Lifeline volunteer and coached rugby. He seemed a little too good to be true.

And in a way he was. He was a nuisance. He was always pestering me with questions about economics, political theory and philosophy. I wanted him delivering pamphlets but had to humour him by answering him as best I could.

I gave him a reading list. He read the lot then pestered me with questions about them.

Seymour has an engineering degree, has worked as a policy wonk in North America, and has returned to New Zealand to rescue Act and ensure John Key gets a third term.

He has a lot on his shoulders. Act has had to win Epsom these past two elections to ensure Key is prime minister. That’s the nature of MMP. Epsom matters to our future.

Seymour is 31. That’s a plus. We need young people in Parliament. They have an immediate contribution to make and we need them to learn the ropes to become tomorrow’s leaders. His job is to convince Epsom voters to vote for him to be their MP. It’s a tough job. I know. I also know the toughness of earning that vote makes for a good MP. The tremendous effort required makes you appreciate the privilege. And you know you must work hard to keep it. Every constituent counts.

And Seymour has been doing it the old fashioned way – trying to knock on every door in the electorate.

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Hide on Harre’s hypocrisy

July 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide wrote at NBR:

I am worried about Laila Harré: having dropped any pretence of principle she now finds hypocrisy addictive. There’s no other explanation. She should have OD’d by now, but no, she just keeps loading it up.

Her latest dose is to assert property rights in Green Party policy.

That’s right. That’s her response to criticism of her announcing Green Party policy as hers just hours ahead of the Green’s release. Ms Harré was working for the Greens. She then decamped to lead the Internet Party taking Green Party policy with her. No wonder the Greens are little annoyed in their touchy-feely, caring way.

But as she explains it, “Look, I contributed huge intellectual property to the Green Party in the 15 months that I spent working for them.” So what’s theirs is also hers.

That’s a bellyful of hypocrisy. Remember this is the Internet Party. Her party’s founder, funder, paymaster and visionary is fighting to avoid facing copyright infringement charges. Intellectual property doesn’t mean that much to Mr Dotcom.

For his proxy leader to be defending herself by spuriously claiming intellectual property is breathtaking hypocrisy. Intellectual property matters to Ms Harré – but only when she’s claiming it as hers. No one else’s appears to matter. …

Mr Dotcom is not the top 1% that Ms Harré complains about. He’s more like the top 0.0001%. But he’s okay because his money is useful to her.

Oh and here she is the hard-core, all-controlling, lefty pushing for the internet. It’s not the central committee that produced the internet: it’s capitalism. Internet commerce is a fine example of anarchy. We don’t need or want central control. The hypocrisy of the Left pushing for internet freedom is gobsmacking.

The Left oppose freedom and their system of economic control is the internet’s antithesis.

I think it is fair to conclude that Rodney will not be voting for the Mana-Internet Party.

It got me thinking that if we had a true Internet Party, Rodney would be a very good leader of it – someone who is passionate about fighting state control.

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Hide on unions and Labour

July 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

The true donations scandal in New Zealand politics was reported this week without comment. It’s the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union’s $60,000 donation to Labour.

The EPMU is one of the six unions affiliated to Labour. The affiliated unions pay fees and fund the Party through donations. The donations and fees total hundreds of thousands of dollars.

More significantly, union staff campaign for Labour and the unions run parallel campaigns. For example, Labour is campaigning for the “living wage”. In a parallel campaign the Services and Food Workers Union spent more than half a million dollars last year promoting that exact policy.

It would be interesting to add up the total amount spent by unions on political campaigns. It would be well into the millions.

The union funding of Labour totals in the millions. And what does Labour provide in return? In effect the entire party. The unions get to determine the party’s leader. Their say counts for 20 per cent of the vote. That’s the difference between winning and losing by a wide margin.

Affiliation also buys a seat at the table. The affiliated unions have a guaranteed vice-president position on Labour’s all-powerful New Zealand Council.

They also get their people as MPs. The Labour Party enables the unions to parachute members into Parliament. Labour list MP Andrew Little headed the EPMU for 11 years before entering Parliament.

Imagine the outcry if business lobby groups got to vote on the leadership of the national party, could bus people in to their selection meetings, got a vice-president of the party and get a vote on the list ranking.

And the unions get policy, lots of policy. In 1999 the EPMU gave $100,000 to Labour. The following year the Labour Government passed the Employment Relations Act. This act gives the unions incredible power over Kiwi workplaces as well as easy access to workers’ pay packets.

The Employment Relations Act nicely closes the loop. The act was provided by the Labour Party. It gave the unions access to workers’ pockets, and that’s the money the unions now tip into Labour’s coffers.

Indeed, in the state sector it’s policy for Government to give union members a bonus to cover their union fees. You and I pay their union fees.

This is sadly true. Taxpayers bribe people to join the union.

Unions and Labour are guilty of “cash for policy”, “cash to sit at the table”, “cash to decide the leader” and “cash to parachute members into Parliament”.

The rort serves to bolster Labour and entrench the power of union bosses.

Unions are highly politicised organisations that only exist now because of the legal privileges bestowed by Labour governments.

The rorting of our democracy by the unions and Labour would make a great expose.

But don’t expect anything soon: it’s the EPMU that represents journalists in this country.

That’s right, our journalists – through their union – help fund the Labour Party.

To be fair the journalist fees don’t get paid directly to Labour. But they help fund the EPMU overall, which allows them to campaign more for Labour.

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Hide on Labour and Liu

June 30th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

Deny, deny, deny. Attack, attack, attack. That’s been Labour’s response to businessman Donghua Liu claiming he donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Party.

Labour’s strategy is risky. It is challenging Liu’s honesty and integrity. He’s no doubt feeling aggrieved. The danger for Labour is that Liu produces documents, witnesses and photographs confirming his substantial donations.

That’s what did it for Winston Peters in 2008. Sir Owen Glenn was able to prove the donations that Peters denied.

It is a very high risk strategy.

So where are we now? Confused. Liu said he gave substantial money to the Labour Party. The Labour Party says it has no record of it, and hasn’t reported any donations from Liu.

But it’s quite possible that everyone is telling the truth. The money could have been stolen. That would mean Liu gave the money but Labour never received it. Charity auctions and the like are often chaotic and it is too easy to have no one properly in charge of recording and receipting all payments and donations. This is especially so in political events. Volunteers are enthusiastic but not necessarily experienced and politicians are anxious to stay well away from money changing hands.

Indeed, a big part of Cunliffe’s problem – and Banks’ and Williamson’s – is that politicians shy away from fundraising details precisely to avoid the perception that cash influences decision-making.

The safer course of action for the Labour Party would be to say it was treating the matter seriously. That would mean thanking Liu for coming forward with his information and inviting the police to investigate. The police could try to trace the money, letting Cunliffe off the hook. He would have done everything by the book. He would be open and upfront. It would also kill the story. He couldn’t comment while police were investigating.

But Labour didn’t do that. It denied and attacked.

There’s a reason politicians do the things they do. Cunliffe couldn’t be sure what the police would find. Calling in the police runs the risk of finding out more than Cunliffe wants to know.

Or they could have asked if their general secretary could meet with Liu, get details off him, and then try to work out what happened. But instead they have all but called him a liar, and I am unsure if that will end well.

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Hide on Internet Mana

June 15th, 2014 at 7:42 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

I used to think politics was all about achieving good government. That proved invariably disappointing. These days, politics is no longer my responsibility. I’m happy if it just proves interesting.

That’s why I am for the Internet-Mana Party. They’re the best entertainment in years. If they were a parody they would be too improbable to be believed.

Maori nationalist Hone Harawira calls Pakeha the rudest of names and the wrong colour to date his daughter. But he’s jumped into bed with whiter-than-white Kim Dotcom.

Harawira trumpets Mana and His People but that’s not stopping him using his electorate to coat-tail Dotcom’s party into Parliament. His price? $3 million.

It’s easy to accuse Harawira of hypocrisy but he has a ready reply: it’s a lot of money. At $3m his double standard is good and high.

Laila Harre wasn’t elected leader of the Internet Party. She was hired. She’s been selected and paid for by Dotcom. The former coffee picker for the Sandinistas is New Zealand’s first corporate-hire political leader.

That’s a nice line. If you pay her enough, she’ll lead your political party for you.

She also believes Dotcom is funding her to help the poor and downtrodden with 1970s socialism. It’s nothing to do with his extradition to face criminal charges. The left don’t talk about truth. Rather, it’s the narrative. Harre is the only person buying her narrative.

I wonder if deep down they really believe their bullshit and think Dotcom’s $4 million donation is nothing to do with his extradition case.

She also believes Dotcom is funding her to help the poor and downtrodden with 1970s socialism. It’s nothing to do with his extradition to face criminal charges. The left don’t talk about truth. Rather, it’s the narrative. Harre is the only person buying her narrative.

Can you imagine the chaos. A Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana/Internet Government who only got there because of Dotcom’s money.  The Judge decides he should be extradited. He’ll be calling everyone from the PM to the Minister of Justice demanding they not extradite him or else.

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Hide on Cunliffe

June 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The David Cunliffe experiment has failed. Eight months into his leadership Labour is polling below what it was under Phil Goff and David Shearer.

The election is less than four months away.

The danger for Labour is that its poor polling will collapse its vote, as happened to National in 2002. Its low polling became a self-fulfilling and accelerating prophecy. Polls matter.

Labour’s unimpressive showing may well cause even more votes to drain across to the Greens and New Zealand First. …

Cunliffe has an added burden. His caucus didn’t want him. He was thrust on it by party members and the unions. That wouldn’t matter if he were succeeding. But he isn’t. There will be a lot of “I told you so” going on. The lack of caucus support makes a lonely job even lonelier.

And yet it remains a tight race. Labour could poll badly but still put a government together, with considerable concessions.

The Green’s Metiria Turei and Russel Norman would be deputy prime ministers and would dominate policy-making.

Winston Peters would be kingmaker and would demand his pound of flesh.

Hone Harawira would be Minister of Maori Affairs. The Internet Party would be in government being dictated to by Kim Dotcom.

A Labour-led Government with Labour on just 30% of the vote would be a very weak unstable Government. They would be just 60% or so of the entire Government.

It comes back to the polls. They put Cunliffe on the back foot and Key on the front. Cunliffe is now desperate. He needs a lift.

“I just need to push the polls up a bit. I need to change the story … hmmm. Immigration. That always works for Winston. I’ll give that a shot. I will dress it up as housing policy. The party’s woolly woofters will be upset. But what the hell? I’ve got nothing to lose.” It’s called dog-whistle politics. Sadly for Cunliffe, the only ones who heard it were Labour activists.

Getting desperate indeed.

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Rodney has a point

May 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

There’s much about politics that’s stupid but nothing beats Budget Day. It’s a day when ordinarily sane people spout nonsense.

Ministers hoot and holler that they are spending more money than ever before. Opposition MPs scream and shout it’s not enough.

We don’t do that at home. We don’t do that at work. To do so would be to be labelled insane and end up poverty-stricken.

Imagine it. “How was your day, dear?” “Great. I spent more on fishing gear than ever before!” “Well done, honey. I bought a dress that cost even more than last year’s.”

In the real world we must economise and judge our spending by what we get not by how much we spend.

Rodney has a good point. Judge on results, not spending.

If you spent what you didn’t have at home and bragged about it, your wife would dump you. If you did it at work, you would be sacked. Do it in politics and we vote for you. It’s nuts.

Spending other people’s money!

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Hide on Key

January 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

One of the more common and basic mistakes to make in politics is to underestimate your opponent. It’s an easy thing to do. Your opponents are doing it all wrong and so must be either stupid or crooked and perhaps both.

Your team readily agrees and the trap is easy to fall into. And so it is with Labour and John Key.

Labour continues to dismiss Key as a political lightweight who would sell his own mother, in Labour leader David Cunliffe’s words.

They overlook that Key toppled Labour’s best and strongest leader, has seen off Phil Goff and David Shearer, and who Cunliffe has yet to dent. That’s no political lightweight.

Indeed.

Labour pooh-poohed Key’s credentials in foreign policy. He now has David Cameron’s number on speed dial.

Previous New Zealand prime ministers were ecstatic for our future trade prospects with a two-minute “pull aside” at a formal meeting. Key plays golf with the President of the United States on his holidays.

Key, with no fuss, has turned over 13 of his own MPs in just two years to refresh the party. That’s rare political power and skill.

Cunliffe, meanwhile, is stuck with the team that didn’t want him and which includes ministers from the 1980s plus the party’s two previous leaders.

Over a quarter of Labour’s caucus entered Parliament in the 1980s or 1990s.

Clark was a very popular prime minister. Her average in the preferred prime minister stakes was almost 2 times her predecessor Jim Bolger’s. That’s an extraordinary achievement. But Key’s is even more extraordinary. His average is fully 10 percentage points above Clark’s.

That’s a 25 per cent advantage.

Labour has taken to calling Key lucky. They persist in underestimating him. It’s like they just have to wait until his luck runs out.

I got to work with Key. It’s not luck. This is a man who is smart, who works hard and who understands people.

National needs to poll mid 40s or high 40s to win a third term. This would be unprecedented as under MMP no other party has ever got higher than low 40s – even for their first term. But if anyone can do it, Key will.

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Hide rules out Epsom

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

Rodney Hide writes in the Hos:

Good and loyal friends have suggested that I put my name forward to be Act’s candidate in Epsom.

They have supported me over many years and therefore I have given their advice serious consideration.

It’s a crucial role. But for Act’s success in Epsom in 2008, Helen Clark would have remained Prime Minister. And its success in 2011 also kept Labour out of power.

That’s why the attacks on John Banks are so intense and sustained. Act’s success has proved the difference between a National-led Government and a Labour-Green one.

Very true. Without ACT both times, the Maori Party would have held the balance of power and may well have gone with Labour and the Greens.

Act provides a much-needed political counterweight to the other parties calling always for more government spending and ever-more regulation.

We need a champion for individual freedom and personal responsibility. Act is that champion.

Sadly, much bruised.

And now the position of Act candidate for Epsom is open again. I am very pleased Act has excellent candidates in prospect. I have concluded it can’t be me.

I now don’t have the necessary passion and enthusiasm to do the job well. Yes, I loved it and I gave it everything I had. And then some. But it’s gone now. I am not sure why that is. It just is.

There was a time when Winston Peters could rattle an entire government, bringing ministers to their knees. Now, even junior ministers get the better of him.

I think it’s sad. Peters appears like some aged rock star who has partied way too hard and is now up on stage trying to relive the glory days. Or perhaps a champion boxer who has stayed too long in the ring. I wouldn’t want that.

I thought the worst thing for Peters was getting dumped in 2008. No. The worst thing for Peters was getting back in 2011.

New MPs snigger at him. There was a time he would have swatted them down like flies.

Knowing when to go is important in politics.

I have a project under way in Christchurch. We have a third baby due in July. I have new and different challenges ahead.

Plus if Rodney stood again for Epsom, we’d lost him as a great columnist!

In a related story, Cameron Brewer (again) rules himself out for Epsom, but Matthew Hooton is listed as considering throwing his name in the ring saying ACT needs a generational change.

 

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Hide on Labour’s gender quota

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

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

The party’s drive to get a precise balance of female and male MPs reinforces the view that Labour is more concerned with itself than with voters. That’s the last thing Cunliffe needs. He needs the party trumpeting what he’s doing for working people, not what the party is doing to itself. …

Labour’s gender balance rule is correctly seen as extreme tokenism.

Hide points out what the quota will mean:

 In 1999, Labour had 37 MPs. In 2002 it had 52. The number of MPs goes up and it goes down. The balance of list to electorate MPs swings even more wildly. In 2002, 45 MPs were electorate and only seven were list. Two elections later, Labour had only 21 electorate MPs but 22 list. More than half of its electorate seats had been lost and its number of list MPs had more than tripled. The party must now factor in every possible combination of outcome and then some to ensure every electoral contingency delivers first a 45/55 female/male split and then ever-after a 50/50 split. That’s not going to be easy. The headache is made all the bigger by 14 of Labour’s 22 electorate seats being held by men.

Achieving the correct male-female balance across all conceivable electoral outcomes means an effective man-ban in all new electorate selections.

If male candidates for Labour win seats, then it means male candidates must be dropped from the list effectively. The only way to stop that will be to stop selecting male candidates for winnable seats until 50% of electorates are male also.

Labour’s future is also for a less talented caucus. That’s because the gender balance rule constrains selection choices. Heck, in 1999, the rule would have cost David Cunliffe his selection.

The real pain may not occur in 2014 or even 2017. It will be when they are in Government and they have to tell male Cabinet Ministers they are being ranked behind some brand new female candidate in order to have perfect gender equality.

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Is there a parallel?

September 18th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

An ACT member writes in:

There is a distinct parallel with what happened when Rodney took over the ACT leadership.  Caucus did not back him because they knew him, but he was able to woo the party membership.   In the end it unraveled because a leopard does not change his spots, and the flaws of which caucus members were only too well aware eventually led to his and the party’s demise.

If Cunliffe can pull this off then he is a genius.  I suspect that large numbers of caucus members will be full of foreboding for what the future holds.

I think a comparison of Hide to Cunliffe is somewhat unfair, but the reader is correct that there is a precedent in NZ of a leader being elected without the support of his caucus.

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Some facts from Rodney

September 8th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

Let’s start with the numbers. They aren’t mine. They come from a recently published Ministry of Social Development “factsheet”.

A total of 76,000 New Zealanders were born in 1993. About 6000 were subsequently abused or neglected; 3000 became known to the Youth Justice system by the age of 17; and 41,000 – more than half – spent time in a household dependent on a main benefit such as the dole or DPB.

The benefit-supported children were six times more likely to be abused than those who were not benefit-supported. And they were 14 times more likely to be known to Youth Justice.

Those in households benefit-dependent for nine or more years were 13 times more likely to be abused and 29 times more likely to be known to Youth Justice.

Staggering.

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Hide on Shearer

July 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in HoS:

Those of us following politics are witnessing the destruction of a party leader. The destruction is all the more remarkable because it’s coming entirely from within. It’s especially remarkable because the parties combined in opposition are consistently polling within a whisker of government. They could easily win.

National is polling extremely well but its necessary support parties are not. Next year’s election is looking a close-run thing. MMP is like that. It’s not how well one party does but how well the parties who can work together in government do in total.

The Labour Party should now be attempting to show themselves, the Greens and New Zealand First united in heading into government. Instead, Labour is failing to unite behind its own leader. It’s a political mess. The plotters within the Labour caucus don’t have the numbers to dump David Shearer. If they did, he would be gone. Minus the numbers, they aren’t quietly getting on with their job. They are, instead, engaged in a guerrilla campaign to destroy their democratically elected leader.

I think they may have the numbers. They just don’t have the certainty of who would win the replacement election.

The plotters’ attacks are deathly corrosive. That’s their purpose. If the plotters can keep up their attacks from the shadows they will inflict sufficient damage. At that point either Shearer or his colleagues and supporters will accept he is damaged beyond political repair. Then the plotters will have succeeded.

Meanwhile, when we are especially in need of an effective opposition, our major opposition party is entirely focused on itself. When we need more than ever to be debating the country’s direction, the Labour Party is busy debating with itself.

The true difference between National and Labour is not philosophy or policy. It’s cultural. It manifests in many ways. The Nats dispatch leaders with the minimum of fuss. They put winning elections and being in government above all other considerations. They don’t do untidy. Labour revel in it.

The tough part for Labour’s plotters is not the damaging of Shearer. That’s easy. Their tough part will be putting the party together once they have succeeded. That’s hard.

They need a unity ticket.

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Hide on leaking

June 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

It was Dunne’s basic goodness that did for him. Politicians leak all the time. Helen Clark was masterful. But they don’t get caught. That’s because they know what they’re doing.

You certainly don’t use your Parliamentary email. You don’t discuss with a journalist the possibility of leaking. That gives them the power, either through error or design, to get you sacked.

If you’re going to leak, leak; don’t leave your fingerprints all over it.

The leaking, too, has to have a point: it advances your cause, knocks an enemy off course, distracts the media from your own problems, or helps set the agenda. The leak was of no political benefit to Dunne whatsoever.

Most leaks are to disadvantage the other side. This leak disadvantaged the Government he is part of, and didn’t help Dunne at all. A few people think that maybe Dunne wasn’t the leaker – that he just helped Vance confirm the story and she had a second source. But personally I go with Occam’s razor.

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Norman v Muldoon

June 9th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

Norman was safe and secure in launching a personal attack on Key. It is Key’s style and strategy not to fire back. But Muldoon would not have sat quietly by. Muldoon would have eaten him up and spat him out.

Muldoon also would never have shared his leadership as Norman does. He wasn’t a touchy-feely, let’s-sit-around-the-table-holding-hands sort of guy. He was leader and that was that. Muldoon would never have tolerated a co-leader.

And then there was Norman crying, “Give me back my flag. Give me back my flag.” That was when he was attempting to stick the Tibetan flag in the face of Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping. Muldoon would never have done that. He was polite and respectful to our guests, whatever he thought of their domestic politics.

And if Muldoon did get into a scuffle, he would not have come out second. Once a rowdy group of young protesters shouting “Heil Hitler” attacked Muldoon as he was leaving a meeting. They hit him in the face, kicked his leg and shoved him against his car.

The then Leader of the Opposition decked one and chased the others down the street shouting, “One at a time and you’re welcome”.

Heh. An iconic moment.

Norman is Australian. Muldoon was a New Zealander through and through. In comparing Key to Muldoon, Norman gave us a very sharp reminder that he’s a very recent arrival. No one who lived in New Zealand would ever think Key was in any way a Muldoon. The comparison is bizarre.

Russel has been whining that it is wrong to say he can’t write about Muldoon as he wasn’t in NZ then, saying that means no one could write about Peter Fraser who wasn’t alive in the 1940s.

He misses the point that no one who actually lived in NZ when Muldoon was PM, would compare him to John Key without bursting into a fit of laughter at the ridiculousness of the comparison.

Norman has a PhD in political science. For Muldoon there were two types of doctors: the ones who made you well, and the ones who made you sick. He would have had a very clear view of what sort of doctor Norman was.

Muldoon fought fascism and totalitarianism in World War II. Norman was for several years active in the Marxist-Leninist Democratic Socialist Party.

They are two very different men. Muldoon was popular. His majority in his electorate was unassailable. The best Norman has done is come third.

They are men of different eras. Muldoon was minister of finance the year Norman was born.

But in other ways they aren’t so different.

Muldoon’s policies were to control the economy, fix prices, set the exchange rate, invest in hare-brained schemes, and print money to pay for it all.

He all but bankrupted the country.

In this regard, Muldoon and Norman are peas in a pod.

Matthew Hooton goes down this road also in the NBR:

Sir Robert left office in 1984, roughly when Dr Norman left high school.  At that time, he tells us, he was busy opposing Australia’s “new right” Hawke/Keating government, elected in March 1983, and “peace rallies, anti-nuclear demonstrations and animal rights activism soon became a large part of extra-curricular high school life.”

It is fantastic that the adolescent Dr Norman had time left over to follow developments across the Tasman, including Sir Robert publicly issuing enemies’ lists, banning unfriendly journalists from his press conferences, personally directing monetary policy, ramming through the Clutha Development (Clyde Dam) Empowering Act 1982, abusing young backbenchers in drunken rages, lying about the country’s fiscal position, provoking a foreign exchange crisis, refusing to follow the instructions of the incoming government and having to be bullied into doing so by his outgoing cabinet.

And on the policy front:

The irony of Dr Norman’s preposterous comparison of Mr Key to Sir Robert is that the party in today’s parliament with an economic programme most similar to Muldoon’s is the Greens.

It is the Greens who advocate greater control of the currency, extra monetary tools and more aggressive interventions by the Reserve Bank.  They are the only main party comfortable with Muldoon-style import substitution and against free trade.  How green were Muldoon’s carless days, designed to reduce reliance on oil?  How stimulatory were his deficits? 

More topically, Sir Robert exercised direct state control of the electricity sector including the state directing what new electricity generation would be built and where.  What else is Labour/Green’s NZ Power?

Instead of an across-the-board GST, Sir Robert favoured lower sales taxes on things he considered good and higher taxes on things he considered bad.

With their promised new “suite of ecological taxes,” the Greens promise the same.

This could be a good question for the Greens. How many of Sir Robert’s economic policies do they disagree with today? Any?

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Rodney writing at his best

June 2nd, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney gets better week after week as a writer. Today in the HoS:

Air New Zealand’s rejection of would-be cabin crew member Claire Nathan because of the ta moko on her forearm highlights how New Zealand is developing and unfolding in new and exciting ways.

No longer must we think through the consequences of our actions. This is very liberating. For Nathan, her dream was to work serving the diverse customers who fly Air NZ. In the past she would have had to think through personal decisions that might affect her chances of a job. Like having a tattoo on her arm.

Not any more. She can have her tattoo and Air NZ is wrong to object.

The second great development is that you don’t have to suffer the consequences of your decisions in embarrassed silence. You can trumpet poor treatment in the media and instantly become the victim.

The third is that we are quick to spot any hint of racism. Nathan is Maori. Maori traditionally had tattoos. Therefore, Air NZ is discriminatory and racist. We have yet another opportunity to prove again that we are ever-vigilant in battling the scourge of racism.

As I said choices have consequences.

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Hide on Mahuta’s stunt

May 26th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

I am not sure MP Nanaia Mahuta is the ideal flag-bearer for Kiwi mums struggling to manage babies in the modern-day workplace. Her call to Speaker David Carter for a more mum-friendly Parliament presents itself as a poorly executed political stunt rather than a serious attempt to shine a light on the plight of working mothers.

Mahuta complained, saying she was “forced” to attend a late-night Budget debate with her 5-month-old daughter but had to leave before the vote because her daughter started crying.

She complained to Speaker Carter, declaring: “No child should be in the workplace from nine ’til midnight”. Mahuta is exactly right. Babies at night should be tucked up nice and warm in bed. They certainly shouldn’t be sitting in Parliament.

But her complaint to Speaker Carter is grandstanding and false. Mahuta’s workplace is already the most flexible on the planet. It’s not the Dickensian workhouse that she portrays. There is absolutely no need nor requirement for a mum to be with her baby in the debating chamber until midnight.

Or at any other time.

Not one of Labour’s 33 MPs was required by Parliament’s rules to be in Parliament that night. The only requirement is for a presiding officer and a Government Minister. Two MPs on their own can conduct the business of the House.

And even if you take voting numbers into account:

But even to debate and to vote requires only one Labour MP. There was no necessity under the rules of Parliament for any other Labour MP to be present.

Thirty-two of them could have been home tucked up in bed sound asleep. And still Labour’s opposition would be both duly noted and recorded.

That’s why Mahuta’s complaint is precious. There’s no other workplace where the business can carry on with a 97 per cent absenteeism. Indeed, with that many away Parliament’s business would have been conducted most expeditiously.

It’s true the sole MP would not have been able to vote the full 33 Labour votes against. To do that 75 per cent of Labour’s MPs must be present in the Parliament complex. But note: it’s only in the complex. Only one MP is required to be in the House to vote and to debate. The other 23 can be in their offices snoozing and looking after baby in her cot. Nine Labour MPs could be at home, including with baby, and still Labour would be able to vote full strength.

It was a beat up, directed at the Labour Whips.

It’s wrong for Mahuta to present herself as a mother balancing work and a new baby under such rules. It shows she’s out of touch with the reality of working mums.

It’s also wrong for her to imply that Parliament’s rules forced her with her baby into the Chamber that Friday night. They didn’t. If there was any forcing it would have been by the Labour whips. They control and dictate who among Labour’s caucus must be within the Parliamentary complex and who must attend the debating chamber. It’s not the Speaker’s nor Parliament’s rules.

Mahuta’s complaint is a political stunt. It makes a mockery of how tough it is for mums in the actual workforce.

A fair point. It is I am sure damn hard being an MP and a parent. But not because you have to had your kid with you in the debating chamber. You don’t.

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The case against sacking List MPs

May 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

Then we had the constitutional point. That no one, including the Prime Minister, could fire Gilmore forthwith was presented as a failing of our Parliamentary system. He was a list MP. He had done wrong. He should be fired.

I am not so sure those calling for the summary power to dismiss list MPs would appreciate the consequences.

I had two list MPs in my caucus forever trying to dispatch me. If I had been able to fire them, I would have. And I would still be there. But that’s hardly a satisfactory outcome for anyone.

I agree with Rodney that a party should not be able to sack a List MP. It would turn them even more into creatures of the party.

It would be a power too open to abuse by party leaders to get rid of MPs that challenge their authority.

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Hide on Greens/Labour nationalisation

May 12th, 2013 at 8:12 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide gives 10 reasons there policy is full of holes:

  1. Electricity prices are working. As they should
  2.  Electricity prices are fair and reasonable
  3. Quick! Turn up the swimming pool
  4.  The lights will go out
  5. We all lose as taxpayers
  6.  Businesses shut, jobs gone
  7. What about the planet?
  8. We have choice and competition
  9. Shearer-Norman power
  10.  It’s cheaper to hand out money

No 9 I wish to focus on:

The power market is one of the easiest to enter. Labour and the Greens claim companies are making “super-profits”. If that were the case, they could set up their own power company and fund their election campaign – and lower power prices for everyone. They won’t, of course, because they can’t. There’s no easy money to be made supplying power. The super-profits line is political rhetoric: it’s not true.

This is a very good point. There are no huge barriers to becoming an electricity generator. We have 14 companies that are generators.     If they think the profits are so excessive, why don’t they do what they did with Kiwibank and just set up one new competitor – rather than take over the entire industry?

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Hide on Auckland Transport

April 28th, 2013 at 6:31 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

My research led me to Wellingtonian Tony Randle, who spent months trying to get the analysis underpinning the 2010 Rail Business Case, succeeding only after a complaint to the Ombudsman.

Once Tony got hold of the analysis he found:

1. Basic spreadsheet errors. The spreadsheet fails to calculate the running costs of the second purchase of 26 trains. That ignores $689 million on the train option.

2. Incorrect exclusion of costs from the rail option. The study excludes the necessary funding to extend the Northern Busway into the city centre. Building this access is a necessary part of the rail option.

3. Addition of a second bus tunnel without explanation, adding hundreds of millions to the bus option.

4. Unreasonable assumptions, including a prediction that under the rail option, present bus capacity into the city centre will carry another 20,000 passengers a day without any new bus lanes or busways.

And people wonder why the Government won’t just hand over billions of dollars. I’m not sure what is worse – the massive errors in the analysis, but the fact they wouldn’t release them without the Ombudsman.

The overall impression is that the analysis was slanted to conclude trains over buses, despite the fact that buses may provide a better cheaper service.

The errors and poor assumptions total $1.5 billion. The bias is systematic; each and every mistake favours rail over buses. Correcting for the errors reverses the study’s conclusions and shows the CBD bus tunnel more cost-effective than the City Rail Link.

Tony Randle’s review is damning of Auckland Transport’s report. And it’s damning of the rail option. Auckland Transport’s response? Stony silence.

I’ve blogged on Tony’s work before. I am surprised no Councillor has followed it up. He makes available his detailed spreadsheets freely.

Last December, Auckland Transport released a second report. City Centre Future Access Study also concludes that the city rail link beats the two bus options considered, but now for different reasons to the first report. And, once again, Auckland Transport published the study without the underpinning analysis.

I followed Randle’s lead and requested the spreadsheets and the relevant model output reports. Auckland Transport has refused to supply them to me.

Its latest is a lawyer’s letter explaining that Auckland Transport will provide what I want but only if I pay them $3850.

Oh, and they won’t send me the spreadsheets.

Instead, they will send a printed output. That’s useless to me. It won’t allow me to check the very calculations that Randle showed were so devastatingly wrong in their first report.

I am left to conclude that Auckland Transport doesn’t trust its own analysis. So how can I trust it? And, more especially, how can you?

Very good questions. The spreadsheets should be provided free of charge to anyone asking. They already exist. There is no cost involved in e-mailing them out. The cost of $3,850 demanded is a rort.

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Hide complains National too soft on Shearer

March 24th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

The frightening part for Labour leader David Shearer forgetting to declare his $50,000-plus offshore bank account is National’s response: next to nothing. The Prime Minister said simply that Shearer’s memory lapse was “unfortunate”.

Unfortunate? That’s scary.

The usual political playbook is straightforward: 1. Make the account suspicious; 2. Keep the story alive; 3. Ensure a public inquiry; 4. Bust Shearer.

The political play is best run by an up-and-coming backbencher. Ministers must be seen as too busy running the country to be bothered.

The backbencher doesn’t allege any wrongdoing. That requires evidence. The only concern is perception.

The backbencher kicks off by asking why an MP and party leader would ever need an offshore bank account. “The political leaders who have secret offshore accounts aren’t the sort we usually have in New Zealand.”

The story is kept alive by pressing hard through the media with new questions every day. Day Two: “Mr Shearer must come clean with just how much he has in his secret account.” Of course, Shearer will refuse. Good.

Day Three: Allege it’s over a million dollars.

Journalists do the rest. They put the million-dollar figure to Shearer. If he doesn’t deny it, then a million dollars it is. If he denies it’s a million, the journalists won’t let go until he declares how much it’s below a million. The account’s dollar value is secured easily enough.

A new day, a new question. When did he last use the account? Who put the money in? When and why? Why hasn’t he closed the account? On and on it goes.

The public inquiry is achieved by making a Breach of Privilege complaint. It’s impossible for Parliament’s Speaker to refuse. If failing to declare $50,000-plus in a foreign bank account is not a breach then MPs are free to declare Mickey Mouse or whatever on their register of interests.

The resulting Privileges Committee is media gold. Shearer must front to a committee of senior MPs, most of whom are on the Government’s side. The questioning is in public, on camera. Week after week he must explain to incredulous MPs how he forgot about having tens of thousands of dollars in an offshore bank account but somehow remembered every year when he completed his tax return.

The whys and wherefores of his overseas banking would be dragged out of him. The committee would want his banking records. He would have little choice but to supply them.

I have absolutely no doubt that what Rodney describes is what would have happened if it was a National Party Leader who failed to disclose for four years in a row a foreign bank account.

Rodney has a theory about why:

But National has done none of this. That means only one thing. National want Shearer right where he is: leading the Labour Party into the next election.

Heh. I think that is reading too much into it. I think it is rather not wanting to appear to be too sanctimonious.

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Rodney says auction the unemployed on trade Me!

March 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide in NBR writes:

We have 50,000 people on the unemployment benefit and plenty of work that needs doing. The 50,000 represent 1000 years of work that doesn’t get done each and every week. The waste is horrific.

The waste follows from the failure to match the unemployed to the jobs that need doing at a price potential employers are willing to pay.

The matching part of the problem is a perfect job for the internet. And, sure enough, US techno whizz Morgan Warstler has the fix: match the jobs and the unemployed on eBay and pay them through Paypal.

In New Zealand our equivalent, Trade Me, is the perfect set-up linking Kiwis wanting to sell with those wanting to buy. It’s similarly perfect for matching those looking for work with those with jobs that need doing. Trade Me should be used to match jobseekers to jobs.

Under the Warstler scheme the unemployed would register on Trade Me to receive their benefit payment each Friday night.  At present, an unemployed 20-year-old receives a benefit payment of $190.84 gross a week.  Let’s make that $200.

Once an unemployed person is registered on Trade Me anyone wanting work done can bid for them to do it.  It’s the perfect way to match the jobs that need doing to those who can do them. 

So how would it work?

The unit of work on offer is a 40-hour week. And the bids start at $40 a week. That appears impossibly low but the government still pays the $200, so the least anyone gets paid for a week’s work is $240. 

The low starting bid ensures the market clears every week. Local retirement villages and community groups would be actively bidding to help the unemployed into work and to get work done.  Specialist contractors would move in to bid for the unemployed and to offer their work to the marketplace.

It’s hard to see the price staying at $40 a week. Especially for good workers.

The bids increase in $20 increments, with the government getting back $10 of each $20 hike. The worker gets to keep the other $10. For example, if the bid goes to $200 the worker keeps $320 and the government contributes $120 of his or her pay.

So basically the benefit abates.

Trade Me enables feedback possible both ways. Anyone familiar with the site knows how that works.

The good workers and the good employers would soon be identified. There would be no better CV than a string of positive comments on Trade Me. Those workers would get their wages bid up and would soon have a permanent job.

The impossibly lazy would also be identified. They could be followed up by government agents.

Likewise, the bad employers would be weeded out. They would be dealt to just as bad dealers are dealt to on Trade Me. The Warstler scheme provides total transparency.

You could trial this with the long-term unemployed – those who have been on the unemployment benefit for over six months.

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