Four more valedictories

July 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

First is Rajen Prasad:

 I have been entrusted with the roles like New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner, adjudicator in immigration cases, and * Chief Families Commissioner. But nothing prepares you for your life as a politician. In the eyes of many, I became useless, self-interested, untrustworthy, and just a bloody politician overnight. Such is the contempt in which we are held, but that reputation is neither accurate nor deserved. I have the utmost respect for all my parliamentary colleagues across the House. I have never worked with a more hard-working group of individuals dedicated to providing 24/7 for the nation and for their constituents.

A nice reminder that most MPs are very hard working and dedicated people. Yes there are some bad eggs, but they are the minority.

I have been asked to speak directly to Mrs Macindoe of Hamilton, Tim’s mother, who wants to know why I am always mean towards her son when debating in the House. Tim has been unable to convince her otherwise. Mrs Macindoe, I am speaking to you. I count your son as a friend, and we have travelled together through China and Mongolia with our partners. Tim is a perfect gentleman and on every occasion outside this House we act as friends and we always inquire about each other’s health. It is the nature of life in this Chamber to debate vigorously when our values lead to different policy prescriptions, but we remain civil, we remain supportive, we remain friends, and I count you as one of them and, through you, everybody else. 

Nicely said.

I want to make a few comments about ethnic affairs and immigration. But first I want to acknowledge the current ethnic members of this Parliament: Raymond Huo, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, and Jian Yang. Although we come from different sides of the House, we collectively understand ethnic issues and the demands of our communities. However, I wonder whether the nature of these demands is fully understood in the various courts of this Parliament. There are 500,000 members of ethnic communities in New Zealand, and this is our constituency. These communities have come to see ethnic MPs as their link to our formal systems. In addition, they have a not unreasonable expectation that we will be their advocates, their advisers, and their champions. We are required to be present at all their major events and functions, to speak at all of them, to act like their electorate MPs. So for ethnic MPs the country becomes our electorate and there is no end to the constituency matters that we have to deal with.

Sadly Labour may end up with no Asian MPs after the election. Hell they may end up with no List MPs at all!

I have seen a suggestion that all MPs should prepare an individual annual report on what work we have done as a way of informing our people. This is a sensible idea and could be useful in reaching over the media to inform people more widely. Instead, what is reported is how many press statements we put out, how many Official Information Act requests we lodge, or how many questions for written answer we ask. These have become the measuring stick, never mind the fact that most of them are never published, and that many are binned immediately after they have been received. 

Hmmn, I think he is referring my league tables. The trick is to get them published, and if you never put any out – well …

DARIEN FENTON (Labour): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker, ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I want to first of all acknowledge my buddy Rajen Prasad, and tell him that I have still got the photos from our trip to Taiwan and that I am planning to divulge them before I leave. I also want to acknowledge you, Mr Assistant Speaker, because you will make your valedictory next week, and I am also looking forward to that, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I want to acknowledge all members of Parliament whom I have served with, and I do so without rancour or criticism, because much to my surprise, over nearly 9 years in Parliament, I have found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent. 

It’s a pity we only get reminded of this as valedictories.

I know that some people think I was born a devil beast trade unionist, but my apprenticeship to the labour movement in this Parliament was forged in many different experiences and some very tough jobs. I grew up in a family where war and politics cast a long shadow. My grandfather Frederick Frost fought and was injured in Somme* in the First World War*. . That man started his first job at the age of 12 as a pit boy in a Northumberland mine. So if I am a bit rough around the edges, I think you probably get it now. He was elected the Labour MP for New Plymouth in the wartime Labour Government led by Michael Joseph Savage* and then Peter Fraser*. . My father Verdun Frost was a navigator in World War II* and patrolled the Pacific. Like his father he was a declared socialist. My mother, the very staunch and Catholic Patricia Mary Te Rata Mahuta Kerr, came from an ancestry of Irish rebels. She was very stroppy. I was scared of her. Tau Henare descends from that line, so you kind of know what I mean. You cannot help your relatives. My parents instilled in their two sons and two daughters the hope of a better and fairer life for all in New Zealand. My generation profited from their sacrifice and hard work. Early Labour Governments meant that I, along with John Key, grew up in a State house and benefited from State-funded health and education. That gave me choices that younger people do not have today. I had the freedom and security to be different and to challenge. With my troublemaking heritage, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the anti-war nuclear movements and the remote hippy generation of the 1970s. It led me on a journey that was both good and bad. I dropped out of education. I had a range of interesting and boring jobs. I travelled through dangerous countries, and I did some silly things. Some will have read the story of my drug addiction, when I was a younger person in the 1970s. Despite treatment and recovery years ago, I reluctantly agreed for my story to be published this year. It is still such a taboo topic, so hard to talk about. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I blame no one but myself for my mistakes, and I have made plenty. Drug-taking was a means of defiance against the establishment and seemed cool at the time. I know that the threat of law-breaking or addiction did not stop me, and the opprobrium of society made no difference. I want to say that smoking a joint did not lead me to other drugs; criminals selling drugs did. That is why I believe that the war on drugs has been a total failure. That is why I think it is time for this Parliament to treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal offence—that means properly funded addiction treatment. I also believe it is time for politicians in this House to decriminalise personal marijuana use and take the crooks out of the business. 

A very interesting background, and I agree with her on drugs.

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote. If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system. I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones. Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works. So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people?

If you’re not at the table, then you’re just a series of press releases.

Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour.

Very strange :-)

I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now. E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country. In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”. That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.

A vision for NZ for his grandchildren.

Hon TARIANA TURIA:

There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea. Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. 

Like Sharples, a focus on the future.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

Oh, that is so nice.

 And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

If Darren was still an MP, I suspect he would be Deputy Leader by now.

 I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. . I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do. You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House.

And the results for young Maori doing NCEA are improving significantly.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

If National gets a third term, we may see the last historical settlement completed!

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Maori Party leadership stand off resolved

April 1st, 2013 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

The Maori Party have announced:

New co-leader, Te Ururoa Flavell, has announced a solution has been implemented to the leadership and succession challenge that the Maori Party have been facing.

Upon reflection we have all agreed that with Tariana retiring at the 2014 election, it will not benefit the Maori Party to have both co-leaders retire at or before the next election. Therefore it has been decided that Pita will remain co-leader for the foreseeable, future and will remain a Minister while the Maori Party is in Government.

Maori Party President Pem Bird has thanked Pita Sharples for his agreement to remain one of the helmsmen of the Maori Party waka, and also thanked Tariana Turia for her service to the party.

Tariana has agreed for her retirement to take effect immediately as a co-leader, and the National Council has resolved to elect Te Uroroa Flavell as her successor  This means that we will have clear leadership going into the 2014 election with Pita Sharples and Te Uroroa Flavell as co-leaders. Tariana will remain a Minister up until the election, and it is our expectation that Te Ururoa will become a Minister after the election if the Maori Party is in Government again.

 

 

(more…)

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Turia says Sharples should stand aside for Flavell

December 21st, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

This is a very significant story. Claire Trevett reports:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has called on her fellow co-leader, Pita Sharples, to step down and hand over the reins to MP Te Ururoa Flavell, despite Dr Sharples’ plans to stand again in 2014.

And Mr Flavell is considering not standing again in 2014 if Dr Sharples does not give up the leadership, saying he is not sure whether he wants to wait around until 2017.

I think the writing is on the wall. Of course Sharples will be 73 at the next election.

Mrs Turia will stay on as a minister but is open to handing over the co-leadership earlier. This week she told Waatea News Dr Sharples should follow suit to make way for Mr Flavell – the natural successor for the leadership, who had been expected to take over by 2014 until Dr Sharples decided to stay on.

“The leadership role is not about being a minister,” Mrs Turia said. “Being the leader of a political movement is something quite different. There is absolutely nothing stopping Pita from continuing to be the minister.”

Here’s what I would do if I was the Maori Party.

  1. Have Flavell take over as co-leader from Sharples at some stage before the election
  2. Have Sharples continue as a Minister
  3. Line up the desired new co-leader to replace Turia to stand in Te Tai Hauauru.
  4. After the 2014 election, if Maori Party in position to be Ministers have Sharples and Flavell as Ministers.
  5. Have new female co-leader focus on party leadership, rather than being a Minister
  6. Line someone up to succeed Sharples in Tamaki Makauru in 2017.
  7. Have Sharples stand down as a Minister in 2016, allowing female co-leader to step up as a Minister

I regard Flavell as a smart parliamentary operator, and think he would be a very competent Minister.

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Turia to retire

December 14th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says she will step down at the next election.

Turia, who has signalled her intention to retire previously before changing her mind, said she would have spent 18 years in Parliament by the time she leaves in 2014.

The Maori Party said Turia had signalled her intention to leave early so it could prepare for her departure and put a succession plan in place.

“I have given it serious thought and have made the decision with my family not to seek re-election in 2014,” Turia said.

Her co-leader Pita Sharples said it would be a “huge change to lose my mate”.

Turia would not give up her roles as minister and co-leader in the interim.

Tariana is 68, so this is no surprise. She has had a remarkable transformation from the scary radical activist who helped occupy Moutoa Gardens, to an effective Minister of the Crown.

This poses three challenges for the Maori Party.

  1. They need to elect a female co-leader and get her into Parliament
  2. They need to ensure they have politically agile parliamentary leadership. Everyone loves Pita Sharples, but it is known that Tariana is the one who makes things happen. This probably puts some pressure on Flavell to become male co-leader at some stage. However changing both co-leaders at the same time is also a risk.
  3. They need to retain Te Tai Hauauru

I think Turia’s endorsement should be enough for them to retain Te Tai Hauauru in 2014, if they select a competent enough candidate. However by 2017 they’ll need to be able to retain it on their own.

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Should Ministers get NGO staff to deliver speeches for them?

November 15th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A reader has pointed out this speech on behalf of Tariana Turia:

2012 Tobacco-free Aotearoa Conference

Friday, 9 November 2012, 10:13 am

Speech: New Zealand Government

Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister of Health

Thursday 8 November 2012; 6.45pm

SPEECH

2012 Tobacco-free Aotearoa Conference

Banquet Hall; Parliament, Wellington,

[delivered on her behalf by Skye Kimura]

Skye Kimura is the National Tobacco Control Advisor for the Cancer Society, a partly taxpayer funded NGO.

Now I think the Cancer Society does excellent work, and I donate to them. I have no criticism of them for delivering a speech on behalf of a Minister.

But I do wonder about the appropriateness of a Minister of the Crown having an NGO deliver a speech on their behalf. I think it sets a bad precedent. Would you think it appropriate for Phil O’Reilly from Business NZ to deliver a speech on behalf of the Minister of Economic Development?

If Ministers can not deliver a speech in person, then it is normal for a backbench MP to deliver it, or even an official from their department. I don’t think NGOs should have any role in speaking for Ministers.

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Major party leaders all support same sex marriage

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

Claire Trevett at the NZ Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has followed US President Barack Obama and said he is not opposed to gay marriage – an apparent change in his stance. …

But yesterday, in a response to the AP news service after President Obama said gays should be allowed to wed, Mr Key said he was “not personally opposed to gay marriage” and it was possible Parliament would consider a member’s bill at some stage. …

Labour Party leader David Shearer said he fully supported marriage equality in principle but would like to see the detail of any legislation before giving it formal support. …

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she would support same-sex marriage, as individuals and whanau had the right to choose for themselves whether to marry. …

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said she was pleased President Obama had taken a stand on what was a very difficult moral issue in America. …

She said the Green Party supported same-sex marriage in New Zealand and had argued for it when the Civil Union Bill was being passed.

I have to say I’m very proud to be a member of the National Party today, and also proud to be a New Zealander.

Leaders of four of the five largest parties in Parliament have all said they are not opposed to gay marriage. This is a good reflection on New Zealand. It also reflects our leaders being in touch with younger New Zealanders. On issues such as gay marriage, there is overwhelming support amongst younger people. Today we consider it incredible that 30 years ago people could be jailed for consensual sex among adults of the same sex. Likewise in 30 years time people will find it strange that there was once a time when a same sex couple couldn’t get married.

The National Party is a mixture of liberalism and conservatism, and overall is more conservative than liberal. Hence it is no small thing to have its leader, and the country’s prime minister, say he is not opposed to gay marriage.

Labour MP Louisa Wall, in a guest post at Whale Oil, says she is working on a bill to amend the Marriage Act. Once submitted to the ballot, it might not be drawn for years, but on the other hand it might get drawn the first time there is a ballot. So anyone’s guess when Parliament might consider this issue.

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A fair point

March 8th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Iain Lees-Galloway blogs:

Tariana Turia has accused Fonterra of dumping milk into the Manawatu River.

I was concerned when I read her press release so I contacted Fonterra to see what was going on. The odd thing is, the idea of calling Fonterra hadn’t occurred to Tariana. Nor does it seem she had spoken to Horizons Regional Council. In fact, as best as I can tell, she hadn’t done a thing to substantiate her claims before she issued her press release.

This is totally irresponsible from a Government Minister. …

If the claims are true, Fonterra absolutely should be held to account. But where are the facts and why on earth was her first action to issue a press release?

Iain is quite correct. No MP should make an unsubstantiated allegation such as this, let alone a Minister.

At least though Mrs Turia didn’t do it in the House, cowering under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

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Maori MPs on Shane Jones

October 5th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This transcript is from Marae Investigates after they reveal that 47% of Maori said Shane Jones should replace Phil Goff as Labour Leader, with only 31% disagreeing:

Shane Taurima: Shane Jones, do you like that question?

Shane Jones: I’m reminded of what they used to say about J.T and Winston so every time you talk about leadership ambitions you can rest assured there’s a chain saw behind you cutting you as you speak, so I’ll just Taihoa.

Not exactly the normal “I am loyal to our leader and he is doing a good job” line.

Shane T: OK Tariana Turia, outgoing MP Miti Ririnui said this week that Phil Goff couldn’t relate to Maori and our polls have shown that and Labour needed a new leader.

Tariana: First of all I think they need a remarkable leader that can bind them together in their caucus because that is not happening so they need to consider that.  Whether it should be before the election or preparing for the next election and going for the long Term I think that would be their best bet, 7 weeks out from an election not a good idea to replace the leader, it’s happened in the past with them, they had Palmer, then Moore, then Helen in a short space of time. It’s not a good time for them to be imploding so they do need a remarkable leader (Shane – is that Shane Jones?) I think Shane Jones would make a remarkable leader, he’s intelligent, he’s got all the ability that a Labour caucus would need, he’d do far better if he was in a maori Party (Shane – is that an open invitation … much laughter all round)

Shane J

Thank you Tari but I’m in my waka and it’s called Te Roopu Labour.

High praise for Jones from Tariana.

Shane T: Hone, could you work in a Labour Party led by Shane Jones?

Hone: First of all in respect of Shane, I think he’s the most capable politician there in both Maori and in English, sadly I don’t think that they will want to make him the leader because I know a lot of the gays don’t like him, the women are pissed off with him because of the incident that he got involved with not so long ago and also because I suspect that Labour is still inherently racist and don’t particularly want to have a maori as a leader, however when the day comes, in about 2097, I’d be more than happy to work alongside him. 

And high praise from Hone also.

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Tariana on Hone

February 9th, 2011 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

A lengthy video interview at 3 News by Patrick Gower with Tariana Turia talking about Hone Harawria. A key line:

“He has no respect for our authority. He has no respect for this environment. He doesn’t have any respect for the coalition agreement that we all signed up to and that we all agreed to. And he has no respect for the party itself,”

If Hone wants to survive in the party, then he is going to have to convince his colleagues that he is capable of respecting them, and not just doing what is best for Hone.

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Colin James gives Turia Politician of the Year

December 21st, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin James writes:

The Maori Party’s Mr Harawira also spent taxpayers’ money on personal fun, in Paris. Confronted, he reverted to Hone, the abusive teenage protester. For that he earned a grandmother’s fierce disapproval.

That gutsy, determined kuia five years ago held off Labour’s heavy hitters and earned their fury for what they saw – and see in exchanges as late as last week – as duplicity. She went solo and now has four MPs alongside her. The party’s future is far from secure and many National policies are anathema to its voters. But it is in the game and winning points.

In that game it is Tariana Turia who anchors the party. Whacking Mr Harawira quarantined a threat to its important third constituency (after two sorts of Maori): an intrigued and respectful white middle-class that ungrudgingly (so far) concedes the points the party wins.

Mrs Turia is my politician of the year.

Kiwiblog readers also voted Tariana the Minor Party MP of the Year. I can recall the days when she was seen as electoral poison. She has achieved something quite remarkable with her establishment of the Maori Party, as I suspect it will be one of the four parties still existing in 2030.

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Herald on Govt’s first year

October 31st, 2009 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

This weekend it is the Herald’s turn to do a big feature on the Government’s first year in office. Multiple article to quote.

John Armstrong starts with what I think is the most important aspect:

The first Herald-DigiPoll survey since last year’s election shows close to 80 per cent of respondents rated the Government’s performance in dealing with the effect of the global recession on New Zealand as good, very good or excellent.

Barely 20 per cent rated the Government’s response to the recession as not good or poor.

And this is the major issue voters have focused on. Not use of urgency, not the Super City, not RWC broadcasting, not any of the numerous beltway issues. Not to say handling of those issues is not worthy of focus, but they are not critical to the average voter.

In another article, Armstrong reviews Key himself:

Key’s sheer ordinariness has fooled opponents into making first impression assumptions that there is little substance behind the confident, smiley face he presents to the world.

Key would not claim to be an intellectual. But he is very bright. Those who have worked closely with him speak of a capacity to absorb mountains of information and a laser-like capacity to focus on what needs to be done.

I would almost call Key a data sponge. He loves soaking up information from numerous sources, and reflecting on it. He is constantly thinking, and analysing.

He is anything but ordinary. The chief executive of New Zealand Incorporated is nothing short of a political phenomenon.

As one Beehive operative of long experience puts it, Key is rewriting the rules of New Zealand politics. That is a sweeping statement. But it goes some way to explaining why public support for National – confirmed in today’s Herald-DigiPoll survey – has climbed to unprecedented highs for a ruling party in its first year of government and, just as crucially, continues to remain at that level.

The challenge for the Government is to build its own brand to complement Key’s strong brand.

Key cites his Government’s fulfillment of manifesto commitments and steering the country through and (he hopes) out of economic recession as crucial in consolidating support for his party. Cabinet ministers readily acknowledge, however, that National’s post-election dream run is overwhelmingly down to Key’s strong rapport with voters – especially females who shunned National in the past.

It is rare for a centre-right party to do well with female voters.

Labour Party insiders grudgingly agree, but with a subtle twist in the language: National’s popularity rests on Key’s popularity. When the latter starts to fade, the former will quickly evaporate.

As I said above, I agree with them that the popularity is largely Key. But that may change over time, as other Ministers become better known. Also the other Ministers have generally been doing quite well in their portfolios – what is lacking is more a coherent all of Government brand.

Or so Labour prays. Labour, however, has made a bad habit of underestimating Key.

And they still are.

One of the principal ways he is seen to be rewriting the rules is by applying a “will it work” test to policy proposals rather than first asking whether they sit comfortably with National Party ideology. Key’s willingness to search for ideas outside conventional boundaries is in tune with an electorate less hung-up about ideology than in the 1980s and 1990s.

Key has centre-right values and instincts, but he sees them as a guide not a straitjacket.

This may irk some colleagues who see the vast gap between National and Labour in the polls as a rare chance for National to adopt a more radical and right-leaning prescription. …

Key seems to have no difficulty with either proposition. However, he is extremely wary of breaching National’s 2008 manifesto. He believes it is vital that voters feel confident they can trust National in government.

I’m one of those who want to see the Government be more bold, and indeed use that vast poll gap while we have it. But it isn’t about being more “right”, it is about fighting battles that are important to our future such as tax reform, the union stranglehold in education, state sector reform etc. But I agree any reform has to be consistent with the election manifesto. But there are plenty of areas where initiatives were not ruled in or out.

Dunne also noted that “references to what happened in the 1990s, let alone what side one was on during the Springbok Tour or, heaven forbid, the Vietnam War are utterly irrelevant to the values of this new generation, as Helen Clark found out dramatically last year, and Phil Goff is continuing to find out”.

The battles of yesterday.

Though Goff is an effective communicator, Key operates on another level. Unlike some politicians, he never talks down to people. He instead likes to disarm his audiences – no matter how big or small – by kicking off proceedings with a witty anecdote. More often than not, the joke is at his own expense. And deliberately so. The self-deprecation helps to break the ice.

A typical example was a recent meeting with youngsters at a riding school. Praising their ambition to represent New Zealand in show-jumping at the 2016 Olympics. Key turned to their proud parents, telling them “and you’ll be able to watch it all on Maori television”.

Heh. More seriously I recommend anyone who has not seen Key do a Q&A, should attend one of his meetings. He really engages with the audience, and as John A says, never talking down.

Yet, a year on from the election, it is still difficult to discern the direction in which the Government is going. Presumably it knows, because it is a very busy Government. It would be useful if it told the rest of us.

If Key has a major flaw, it is in not drawing the big picture often enough.

I agree. I don’t think it has mattered much this year, for it has been a crisis year – fighting the recession. But as that fades as an issue, people are going to want to hear more about closing (or at least slowing) the gao with Australia.

Key’s power is at its zenith. But how does he intend to use it? What legacy does he want to leave? The next 12 months will be true measure of his prime ministership, judged on what is done to get his promised “step change”in New Zealand’s economic growth.

I think the 2010 budget is very important, even more so that the 2011 budget.

Claire Trevett reports 78% of NZers back the series of cycleways.

Patrick Gower talks to Rodney Hide about working with John Key.

John Armstrong also reviews Bill English.

Claire Trevett talks to Tariana Turia:

Do you still have that level of trust in National?

Yes. What I’ve enjoyed the most is our ability to be upfront with one another and be straightforward on issues. I have never found that they’ve said one thing to me in a meeting and done another.

I recall what John Tamihere said about how Cullen used to treat coalition partners!

Have there been difficult choices?

When you can see value in what is being proposed but there’s always downsides to it. We’ve had to think really carefully about ACC, the Emissions Trading Scheme, and adult education courses.

For example with the ETS, it’s been difficult to try to balance the interests of iwi – whose major focus is forestry, fishing and farming – when on the other hand we’ve got really poor communities who are going to have to pay and they’re not the ones causing the problems.

There are very few policies that don’t involve balancing the trade-offs.

Jon Johannsson talks leadership:

I believe we are watching an unusual prime ministership take shape. Key’s skillset is vastly different from what we’ve seen before. We’d possibly have to go all the way back to the entrepreneurial Julius Vogel in the 1870s to find an apt comparison. Vogel put in vital and much-needed infrastructure to connect New Zealanders with each other and then with the rest of the world. Vogel’s legacy is a hugely significant one in our politics. If Key could affect a 21st century equivalent – meaning nothing short of major structural transformation to better position New Zealand during its transition to an information-age economy – his future legacy would be assured.

And Key has pushed hard on infrastructure. But the structural transformation is not there – however stuff like the fibre to the home initiative may be part of that.

Key has also grasped that our politics is going through a non-ideological phase, which explains why much of the criticism of his Government’s performance has come from ideologues on either side of the spectrum. His acceptance of much of Labour’s policy inheritance reinforces this judgment. Keeping its promises, which National has largely done, thereby establishing long-term trust with the electorate, has given Key the prerequisite platform needed for greater freedom of action in the future.

Absolutely. You have to earn trust, to then have greater freedom of action.

But to return to where I began, Key’s larger context; his political vision has been quite parsimonious in my view. There is no overarching narrative that tells us where Key intends taking us or what policy mix will best maximise our future progress and choices.

Transforming education (surely the best incubator for our future economic prosperity), leading our democracy (think: the electoral referendum, the Treaty, republicanism), and how to best protect water, our most valuable strategic resource, are being managed, not led, in an entirely ad-hoc fashion.

I think this is fair criticism.

Finally John Roughan:

The most impressive member of the Cabinet is a complete newcomer, Steven Joyce.

He is doing the infrastructure projects, notably the duplicate broadband network, as well as those in his primary portfolio, transport.

He’s done the little things, like the car cellphone ban on which the previous government dithered for years, and the big things like the Waterview connection, which I thought was wrong but he put me right.

I remarked to the Dominion Post for their review that I thought John Key’s best decision was probably appointing Steven Joyce to such critical portfolios. The fibre rollout was Key’s signature initiative, and speeding up infrastructure investment also a iconic issue for Key. And Steven indeed is no ditherer.

Of course I still think he is wrong on the cellphone ban!

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Maori Party Leadership

October 17th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on the organisational leadership of the Maori Party:

Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata’s plans to retire from the post today appear to have been scuttled after several people within the party asked him to stay on.

Dr Winiata had announced his intention to stand down at today’s annual general meeting in Auckland.

He is two years through his three-year term, but had proposed resigning to allow his successor two years in the position before the next election.

Asked if he had changed his mind, he said he had been approached about it and would stay on if the membership decided it was the best option.

He would wait to hear what the meeting wanted before deciding.

The party’s co-president, retired Maori Land Court judge Heta Kenneth Kingston, was tipped to succeed him.

Dr Winiata has led the party wing of the Maori Party since it was formed in 2004 and having him stay on will help the party’s stability.

The party also has a challenge ahead with its parliamentary leadership. At the 2014 election, Turia will be 70, and Sharples 73. I would expect both will retire at that election.

That means they need to have their successors in place at the 2011 election, and they may struggle to find people of matching profile and mana nationally.

The most high profile current MP is Hone Harawira, but Hone is not seeking leadership and would be an unlikely one. Some say his wife Hilda would be an excellent Leader, but is Parliament ready for two Harawiras?

Te Ururoa Flavell is considered able to potentially step up if he lifts his profile in the next few years. But even if that happens, the Maori Party will still need a new female co-leader and unless they pick up the final two seats off Labour, no way to get them into Parliament in 2011.

Claire Trevett also has a very insightful article on the two current co-leaders and their strengths and weaknesses.

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Unimpressed

October 9th, 2009 at 5:33 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Maori Party co-leaders wrote letters of support for Taito Phillip Field, saying he was a man of integrity who had made a major contribution to his community and pleading for it to be taken into account in his sentencing.

I’m very unimpressed. I don’t mind so much pointing out his contribution to the community (as 87 other people also did) as he had done some good, outside his offending.

But to label him a man of integrity is a very bad call. He is not. He was convicted of trying to pervert the court of justice. He lied to Noel Ingram QC. He pressured others to lie to Mr Ingram, and they did. He lied to the Police and he again tried to get others to lie to the Police. He manufactured fake documents and lied about them. He is many things, but he is not a man of integrity.

The letters were on parliamentary letterhead and sent as MPs and co-leaders rather than in their capacity as ministers.

Sadly I think their “loyalty” to a “cousin” has over-ridden common sense. As I said above, I don’t have a big issue with pointing out his community service but I suggest the co-leaders re-read the Ingram report before they label him a man of integrity.

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Maori Party Leadership

September 11th, 2009 at 6:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is set to reverse her decision to retire at the next election and instead stay on to advance her political agenda.

Mrs Turia confirmed yesterday that she was “seriously reconsidering” her decision and discussing it with her family.

She announced her retirement at the last election, saying she would step down at the end of this term.

This is not totally surprising, nor unwelcome. As the Herald notes:

The Herald understands Mrs Turia’s goal is to see her whanau ora policy embedded.

Whanau ora would bring together funding from various Government departments – health, education, justice, housing, social welfare – and funnel it directly to families in need of state assistance, rather than separately through different bureaucracies.

Mrs Turia is raising her 8-year-old grandchild, so the pressure of working in Parliament is a consideration.

If she stays on, it will resolve the Maori Party’s leadership dilemma, with no clear successor in its ranks.

The lack of a clear successor is a real issue for the Maori Party.

By 2014, one would expect both Sharples and Turia to retire. Turia will be 70 and Sharples 73.

The three other Maori Party MPs are all good constituent MPs, but neither Flavell or Katene (at this stage) have a national profile. Hone Harawira does, but I imagine he would agree leadership would be too stifling to him.

So how does the Maori Party get into Parliament, a couple of MPs who can take over in 2014? They are most unlikely to get any List MPs in 2011. And I don’t expect any retirements from the three other constituency MPs.

Hence they need to get their future leaders to either enter in 2011 by winning one or both of the two Maori seats they do not hold. If Derek Fox finally won Ikaroa-Rawhiti, he would be a logical contender. Mind you he will be 64 in 2011 and 67 in 2014.

The other option is that you look for the future leaders to replace Turia and Sharples in their own seats. This means however they go straight into the leadership as new MPs, which could be challenging.

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Sensible positions on Maori seats

August 20th, 2009 at 6:53 am by David Farrar

How nice to see disagreeing parties acting maturely on the issue of Maori seats on the proposed Auckland Council.

ACT are firmly against Maori seats and Rodney Hide has said:

Mr Hide said he told Mr Key: “Just to be absolutely clear, you have got our support for supply and confidence but as a minister, as the Act leader, I couldn’t be responsible for introducing to the House a bill that would have reserve seats in it.”

And that is fair enough that you can’t expect a Minister to introduce a bill if they are opposed to a major section of it. But there is no NZ First type talk of walking away from Government if they do not get their way.

And the Maori Party are being equally mature:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said last night that she was disappointed at Mr Hide’s position but her party’s support for the Government would not change. “We always knew when we went into this arrangement with National that there would be issues that would take us right to the wire and this is one of them.

“But we have no intentions of withdrawing support for the Government and we have no intention of withdrawing our ministerial roles. That’s not what we went into the relationship for.”

It is inevitable that the Maori Party and ACT are not going to agree on everything, and that whatever National decides will disappoint one of them on this issue.

I believe the solution is easy, and has always been there. Parliament should not decide for Aucklanders whether or not to have Maori seats on the Auckland Council. The Local Government and Electoral Acts allows local voters to decide this by way of referendum. If Aucklanders wants Maori seats on the Auckland Council, they should petition for them (only needs 5%) and gain a majority in the referendum. Having Wellington impose Maori seats on Auckland is a very different issues to having Auckland decide for itself whether or not it wants Maori seats.

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Peter Gibbons researches politics on Facebook

August 11th, 2009 at 7:46 am by Peter Gibbons

What if everything you knew about politics came from the internet?  What if people based their vote on which politician was the most popular on Facebook or Bebo?  It’s unlikely and a bit of a nightmare scenario really but on-line sources of information are becoming increasingly important for voters. 

To test my vague theory in New Zealand politics, I searched on Facebook for each party leader and examined the groups supporting and, in some cases opposing, them.  Here are the results:

John Key (National) – 14,388 supporters.  Interestingly the “I HEART John Key” and “Scientologists for John Key” groups have exactly the same number of members.  I’m presuming they are the same people.

Helen Clark (United Nations) – 5, 408 supporters.

Phil Goff (Labour) – 1,112 members of a group wanting him to be Prime Minister in 2011 and 3 in a quite different group who think he is a DILF.  Look up what it means at your peril.

Rodney Hide (Act) – 719 supporters.

Russel Norman (Green) – 567 supporters.  His on-line presence grew significantly when I spelled his first name correctly in the search field.

Metiria Turei (Green) – 339 supporters.

Winston Peters (Retired) – 236 supporters for Prime Minister, 11 supporters for next year’s Dancing with the Stars.  Both quite terrifying prospects really.

Jim Anderton (Progressive) – 17 supporters, much higher than expected.

Pita Sharples (Maori Party) – No Facebook groups supporting him but a couple which are worryingly opposed (and in apparent breach of Facebook policies).

Tariana Turia (Maori Party) – No Facebook groups supporting or opposing her.  There is one offering to be a support group for Mrs Turia going back to school but the tag is “just for fun – outlandish statements.”

Peter Dunne (United Future) – Mr Dunne does not have an official supporters group.  The group “I lost my phone drinking in London – numbers please!!! (Peter Dunne)” is almost certainly not him.  Peter Dunne does not strike me as the kind of man who, under any circumstances, would use three exclamation points.

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A worthy goal by Turia

April 13th, 2009 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Up to $1 billion could be moved from specific projects for Maori to a bulk fund aimed at broad goals such as improving Maori education and health.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is driving the radical proposal through her two portfolios as Associate Minister of Health and of Social Development.

She said it would help cut the huge compliance costs agencies faced and reduce the need for the Government to deal with many small contracts tied to specific goals such as youth work, social workers in schools and alternative education.

“We will get a better spend because people will be able to access a pool of money to deal with a range of issues,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity to build trust because the sad thing about it is that the bureaucracy doesn’t trust the non-government sector and that’s why we end up with particularly prescribed contracts and with people being over-audited. I’d like to see that change.”

She said she had asked Massey University professor Mason Durie to produce initial ideas on how to do it, and was hoping it would begin at some level by the end of June.

Look forward to details. The aim is very worthy.

Professor Durie said the scheme would almost certainly start on a trial basis in a few places to find out “under what circumstances this would work and under what circumstances it wouldn’t work”.

Agencies said they often ended up working with the same families under various contracts.

Receiving a bulk sum of money to achieve broader social outcomes such as lifting families’ health status, education and work achievements would enable them to take a “holistic” approach to each family’s needs.

The Family Start programme takes a similiar holistic approach. I’ve always wondered why we don’t fund it more.

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The Maori Seats

November 17th, 2008 at 12:32 pm by David Farrar

Labour won the party vote easily in all seven Maori seats. Their party vote ranged from 45% to 57%, and the Maori Party ranged from 21% to 34%. Waiariki was closest with an 11% gap and Ikaroa-Rawhiti had a 31% gap.

In 2005 Labour ranged from 49% to 58% and Maori Party from 18% to 31% so not much change on the party vote.

National in 2005 got from 2.7% to 7.4% in the Maori seats. In 2008 it was from 5.5% to 10.9% so a very small improvement there.

The electorate votes we start from Te Taik Tokerau in the North. Hone Harawira won it by 3,600 in 2005 over Dover Samuels. This time he has a 5,500 majority.

Pita Sharples evicted John Tamihere from Tamaki Makaurau by 2,100 in 2005 and holds it over Louisa Wall by a massve 6,300.

In Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell won by 2,900 in 2005. In 2008 he doubles that to 6,000.

Nanaia Mahuta held onto Tainui by 1,860. The boundary changes to Hauraki-Waikato did not favour her, so she did well to hold on by 1,046.

In Te Tai Hauauru, Tariana Turia won by 5,000 in 2005 and this time he rmajority is almost 7,000.

The big battle was in Ikaroa-Rawhiti. Parekura held off Atareta Poananga by 1,932 in 2005, and Poananga’s former partner, Derek Fox, challenged in 2008. But Fox fell short by 1,609.

Finally in the South, Te Tai Tonga was held by Mahara Okeroa in 2005 by 2,500. New Maori Party candidate Rahui Katene beat him by 684 votes in 2008.

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Dim-Post galore

November 11th, 2008 at 12:31 pm by David Farrar

Danyl has been busy, I do not know where to start.

We have Maori Party split over Coalition Deal

The Maori Party have been offered entrenchment of the Maori seats and a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act in exchange for fifty of their young every month for three years. …

It is understood that Sharples is deeply opposed to the proposed scheme while Tariana Turia is a strong advocate for Key’s right to hunt, kill and mount unemployed Maori youths, describing it as enhancing his rangatiratanga and sending a strong message to young Maori that if they study and work hard they will not be cut down in their prime by Key’s poison-tipped crossbow bolts or torn apart by his pack of savage dogs.

A resolution to the impasse was reached late last night, when the Maori party co-leaders met for a cup of tea to confront the problem. After a short, congenial discussion Dr Sharples drained his mug of Earl Grey and then slumped to the floor unconscious.

And Tizard dismisses ‘rogue election result’:

Outgoing Auckland Central electorate MP Judith Tizard has assured staff and family that she will not be stepping down as an MP in spite of her loss to National Party candidate Nicky Kaye in last weekends General Election.

‘I certainly never heard anything about any election,’ Tizard told the Dim-Post this morning. ‘And if there was something like that going on I like to think I’d be one of the first to know.’

Upon being informed of the results Tizard was quick to dismiss their significance.

‘I don’t think this represents the true wishes of the people of New Zealand or the people of Auckland Central,’ Tizard said. ‘This is clearly a rogue election result with no real impact that the media is beating up in order to sell more papers.’ …

Tizard has also confirmed that she will be maintaining her full contingent of staff and offices, rejecting the suggestion that she would now have to make her own dinner reservations and purchase her own plane tickets as ‘the worst kind of hate speech’.

Incoming National MP Nicky Kaye has advised she is negotiating a solution with Paliamentary Services, Tizard’s private secretary and an Armed Offenders unit.

Oh that was priceless.

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A National-led Cabinet

November 6th, 2008 at 10:33 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young looks at possible roles in a National Government:

United Future leader Peter Dunne would be the prime contender for Speaker if National formed the Government after Saturday’s election, the Herald understands.

I’ve heard of this possibility for some months. It depends I suspect on how well United Future goes. If only Peter is returned, then Speaker would make a lot of sense. If he gets one or more MPs coming back with him, a Ministerial role makes more sense. For my 2c I think Peter could be a very good Speaker, and very impartial. But he has also proven himself as a competent Minister.

Act leader Rodney Hide could be put in charge of prisons – as well as Inland Revenue.

Hell that is a good idea. Rodney could well sort out Corrections and I love the idea of him being in charge of IRD! It would also allow ACT input into tax policy which I fully support.

And new National MPs Steven Joyce and Hekia Parata could leap-frog incumbent members straight into the Cabinet.

The day they announced Steven’s list ranking, I concluded he would go straight into Cabinet. I’ve also regarded Hekia as the only other new entrant who could credibly go straight in. Not as certain as Steven but definitely a possibility.

If, however, National or Labour needed a support agreement with the Maori Party, co-leader Pita Sharples would be likely to get Maori Affairs and Associate Education.

The Maori Party co-leader, Tariana Turia, would be likely to get a portfolio within the Ministry of Social Development, and Associate Health.

Tariana in welfare would be great. And Sharples in Maori Affairs could lead a devolution of government spending in key areas to Maori providers rather than the state.

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Minor Leaders Debate

October 27th, 2008 at 11:07 pm by David Farrar

I thought it was interesting how restrained everyone was. Winston, for example, was being very constructive and making serious points. Maybe they all realised the usual squabbling would sit badly with voters in such uncertain economic times.

Not sure if there are any winners or losers from it. How did others find it?

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Kerre on Work for the Dole

October 19th, 2008 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Kerre Woodham supports Tariana Turia on abolishing the dole.

It’s an idea that could have only come from the Maori Party. If Act or National had suggested this, we’d have all been leaping up and down and accusing them of heartlessness.

But the idea of working for the dole has some merit.

I would hate to see us operate as some other countries do, where people either work or die. But when you’re working every hour God sends, it’s galling to think of healthy, able-bodied people collecting money from the taxpayer for doing nothing.

All the people I’ve spoken to on the radio who’ve been unemployed for any length of time say it’s soul-destroying. Their confidence diminishes by the day, they become lethargic and unmotivated and a sense of worthlessness pervades.

There’s never enough money – rather than being grateful for the money they get from the state, they feel aggrieved that it’s not more and they become alienated from the community.

On the other hand, work is good for the soul. I’m not sure about the make-work schemes – they’re extremely expensive and if the workers feel they’re just marking time, doing something pointless, they don’t even get the satisfaction of a job well done.

Making it easier for employers to give somebody a chance might be the way to go. Given how difficult it is to fire someone who doesn’t work out, and given the speed with which employees contact lawyers when they’re shown the door, many small business owners are justifiably wary of taking a chance on someone whose CV might be a little patchy.

So Kerre supports work for the dole and grievance free trial periods. Her conversion from a latte liberal to a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy continues.

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Family First rates the Leaders

September 20th, 2008 at 12:09 pm by David Farrar

Family First has rated every party leader for their “family friendliness” as they see it. This is a great idea, as those who agree with Family First’s values can use it as a positive guide, and those who disagree can use it as a negative guide. More lobby groups should do this sort of stuff.

The overall ratings (in order) for each Leader is:

  1. Winston Peters 77%
  2. Peter Dunne 69%
  3. Pita Sharples 57%
  4. Tariana Turia 54%
  5. John Key 54%
  6. Jim Anderton 38%
  7. Rodney Hide 31%
  8. Jeanette Fitzsimons 15%
  9. Helen Clark 8%

Winston is the poster boy for social conservatism which is why it is so hilarious that so many on the left are doing everything possible to defend him.

There were 13 issues or votes they judged the Leaders on. I list them below, along with how I would have voted on it if I was an MP.

  1. Prostitution Bill- DPF support – 0
  2. Civil Unions – DPF support – 0
  3. Relationships Bill – DPF support – 0
  4. Parental Notification for under 16 abortions – DPF support – 1 (I support notification, not approval)
  5. Euthanasia – DPF support – 0
  6. Care of Children – DPF oppose – 1
  7. Marriage Amendment (define as man/woman only) – DPF oppose – 0
  8. Anti-Smacking – DPF oppose – 1
  9. Easter Trading – DPF support – 0
  10. Easter Sunday Trading – DPF support – 0
  11. Drinking Age to 20 – DPF oppose – 0
  12. Street Prostitution (Manukau) – DPF oppose – 0
  13. Electoral Finance – DPF oppose – 1

So if I was a party leader I would be scored 4/13 or 31% – the same as Rodney Hide.

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Hooton x 3

September 10th, 2008 at 12:33 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton has taken to blogging like Madonna to sex. Lots of goodies today.

First Matthew highlights the item in Sideswipe about how a candidate’ financial agent had a brick thrown through a window at their home. The Electoral Finance Act has forced residential addresses to be used on all advertising, which is ridicolous overkill for registered political parties and their candidate.

Then Matthew calls on National to fillibuster the ETS third reading today. He think Clark will sack Peters tonight so if it is delayed until tomorrow, then there will not be the numbers for it.

He also speculated on what role Mike Williams may have played in the $250,000 offer to the Maori Party to support Labour, and calls on Tariana Turia to reveal all.

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Maori Party angry at Labour

July 10th, 2008 at 7:52 pm by David Farrar

TV3 reported tonight how angry the Maori Party was at Labour, for their role in publicising the allegations against Derek Fox. It seems a staffer for Shane Jones was circulating copies of the article in Truth to journalists before it was even published. That strongly suggests they were working with the newspaper to get the story out there.

Labour are desperate to have Parekura Horomia retain his seat, but they may win the battle but lose the war. Tariana Turia was making it pretty clear that they would find it very hard to work with Labour after the election, because of this. To quote TV3:

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says Labour has all but blown its chances of a coalition deal at the next election.

So with NZ First and United Future saying they will give first preference to the biggest party, and not even the Greens yet willing to commit to Labour that means their only friend right now is the Jim Anderton Party.

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