The 2015 (minor) reshuffle

December 7th, 2015 at 4:41 pm by David Farrar

The changes are here. In summary:

  • Tim Groser to become Ambassador to Washington
  • Maureen Pugh will replace him as a List MP
  • Judith Collins returns to the Ministry and to Cabinet as Corrections (off Lotu-Iiga) and Police (off Woodhouse) Minister
  • Climate Change goes from Groser to Paula Bennett
  • Trade goes from Groser to Todd McClay
  • Revenue goes from McClay to Woodhouse
  • Local Government goes from Bennett to Lotu-Iiga
  • Seymour was offered Minister of Regulatory Reform and Associate Education but declined so he could focus on rebuilding ACT, Epsom and his members’ bill

There will be high expectations that Judith will “settle down” Corrections and to a degree Police. When she was Minister of them previously she did a very good job in making effective change. I’m pleased to see she her skills will be put to good use with significant portfolios.

The other changes look sensible, if unexciting. McClay gains the most and if he does well, could even eventually end up as Foreign Minister one day.

A difficult but smart call by David Seymour to turn down a ministerial portfolio. I’ve blogged several times that too often a mainor party leader becomes a minister and then all their energy goes into their ministerial portfolios, rather than leading their party and promoting the party values. I told a couple of minor party leaders previously that if they won, they should make their deputy a minister and keep themselves fresh for the leadership.

As Seymour is a sole MP, I imagine at some stage he will accept a ministerial position, as you can impact policy better there. But a good call to wait probably another year to do so.

Tim Groser will be missed, but having concluded the TPP is a good swansong to go out on, and the hard work may be getting it through the US Congress, so as Ambassador he’ll still be fighting the good fight.

Also pleased to see Maureen Pugh make it in – she was provisionally an MP on election night, and will be a good representative from the West Coast.

McClay appointed Minister of Revenue

June 10th, 2013 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

The PM has announced:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced Rotorua MP Todd McClay will be appointed as a new Minister outside Cabinet, following the resignation of Peter Dunne.

Mr McClay was elected into Parliament in 2008 and was made the Chair of the Finance and Expenditure Committee last year.

“Mr McClay will be the new Revenue Minister and Associate Health Minister,” Mr Key says.

“The role of Associate Conservation Minister will be discontinued and those responsibilities will be assumed by the lead Minister – Dr Nick Smith.”

Congrats to Todd McClay. Well deserved.

The deputy chair of the Finance and Expenditure select committee is Paul Goldsmith, so presumably he will become the new Chair.

Young on McClay

January 14th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young interviews Rotorua MP Todd McClay:

What highlights have you had in the past year?

The first was being asked to chair the finance and expenditure committee. It’s a big step up and quite an honour if I look at other members in Parliament who have been offered the opportunity over the years to choose FEC. The other, and I wouldn’t put one before the other, being able to negotiate support for my member’s bill once it came out of the ballot with Act, United Future and New Zealand First to get my gang patch bill over the line [banning gang patches in Government- and local government-owned buildings]. I’ve received support from those parties to see it all the way into law.

On other MPs:

What other MP makes people’s lives better and does their party impress you and why?

There’s a number of them … Probably the one that I respect the most of other parties would be Te Ururoa Flavell. I find him to be a man of great dignity and respect and a lot of integrity and honesty. His electorate of Waiariki and Rotorua overlap. We work quite closely together on a number of local issues. I have a lot of respect for him because of the gravitas and dignity he brings to the job in Wellington, but the human side to his politics I see on a pretty regular basis around our electorate.

I also think Flavell is a very good MP.

How are you unwinding over summer?

My wife’s a Kiwi too but all my kids were born overseas so when we chose to come home it was so my children could do the stuff I did when I was growing up. Our holiday this year is going to be around camping and beaches. I want them to be able to enjoy for the whole of the school holiday all of the pursuits you can have around water in New Zealand which, by the way, nobody owns. We are going to be camping in and around beaches in the Gisborne area, a bit in the Bay of Plenty and for a week we are heading off into the bush to do a little bit of hunting and walking and staying in a hut away from everybody else.

Sounds like a great family summer.

Do you mean you want Tim Groser’s job [Trade Negotiations Minister]?

I don’t think anybody could do Tim Groser’s job but I would love an opportunity to do more in an area I have done a bit of work in before.

The translation is “Hell, yes” 🙂

Harawira v McClay

August 19th, 2012 at 9:54 am by David Farrar

Neil Reid at SST reports:

A war of words has erupted over National MP Todd McClay’s proposed gang patch ban, with Mana Party leader Hone Harawira labelling him a “foolish dickhead” promoting a “deeply racist” bill.

Harawira has threatened to wear a gang patch into Parliament if the bill becomes law, a move McClay says casts doubts on Harawira’s suitability to be an MP.

“The guy is such an idiot,” Harawira said. “I’m not going to stand by and watch a blonde, blue-eyed redneck kick around poor people who, out of desperation, bond together because they see nothing in the blonde, blue-eyed society to give them a sense of hope for their own or their children’s futures.”

I don’t know what Todd McClay’s hair colour or eye colour has to do with anything. And I also don’t think wanting to ban gang patches inside government buildings is a redneck move. I think it is an anti-gang move.

Harawira said he understood why some people from lower socio-economic backgrounds joined gangs, adding that 90 per cent of those targeted by the bill would be Maori, making it a “deeply racist piece of legislation”.

Does that mean the DPB is racist?

The four members’ bills

June 29th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

My column in the Herald (now published Thursdays) was on the members’ bill ballot. This was timed with four bills being drawn from the ballot. They are:

50 Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill Dr Russel Norman
24 Habeas Corpus Amendment Bill Chris Auchinvole
35 Local Government (Salary Moderation) Amendment Bill Hon Annette King
52 Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill Todd McClay

Dr Norman’s bill would ban foreign ownership of “sensitive land”. This is any non-urban land greater than 0.05 square kilometers!

Chris Auchinvole’s bill implements some recommendations from the Law Commission on  habeas corpus applications. Mainly seems to be giving Judges slightly more discretion in dealing with them.

Annette King’s would require the State Services Commissioner to approve local authority CEO remuneration packages, as they do for government departments. Technically a bit of a breach of the independence of local bodies, but worth supporting at least for first reading as may be a useful tool for keeping relativity between central and local government.

Todd McClay’s would ban gang insignia being displayed within government (central and local) premises.

McClay not Mathers

February 20th, 2012 at 1:18 pm by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday a report from Select Committee News that Mojo Mathers suggested to  Radio NZ at the Commerce Select Committee that they consider charging international internet users of the Radio NZ website. I commented:

This is a very bad idea. The Internet is global and any attempts to charge people based on their location is flawed. It means New Zealanders who are travelling overseas would not be able to access Radio NZ for free. It means expats would be locked off from it. It also would encourage spoofing of IP addresses.

Mojo Mathers has said that she did not suggest that, in fact she asked no questions to Radio NZ. Select Committee News has confirmed they made an error, and the question came from Committee Chair Todd McClay.

Just so people understand, Select Committee News is not published by the Office of the Clerk. It is a private publication that summarises select committee hearings, and puts out a newsletter you can subscribe to. They also provide a subject matter search, so you can get alerts just for your area of interest.

I’ve found SCN to be a hugely valuable resource, and normally highly accurate. The error in this case was seemingly caused by name plates being in front of the wrong MPs, and of course with 35 new MPs, it takes a while for reporters to recognise them all.

I have updated the original post.

UPDATE: Todd McClay has texted:

My question was in relation to possible charges for online content not their normal broadcasters. Ie they have some great series, programmes etc that whilst they should remain free to NZers, as with BBC, could be on a fee paying basis for foreigners. Just as you can buy BBC dvds, or programmes from overseas radio and news services. They have huge amounts of content which is not even digitized yet. 

Good to have the clarification.

London Talk and Drinks

June 25th, 2011 at 5:22 am by David Farrar

I’m back in London for two days. About to head off to a black tie stag party tonight, and tomorrow night am hosting with Rotorua MP Todd McClay, a pub talk on the latest in NZ Politics.

The event is on Facebook.

If you are in London and free early Saturday evening, come along to the The Old Star pub next to the St James Tube. It’s address is 66 Broadway, Westminster, London SW1H 1DB. We’ll be there from 5.30 pm in the Upper Function Room and probably wrap up around 7.00 pm. I suspect a few of us will head out to dinner afterwards.

Albino MP fears for his life

November 17th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Reuters headline is:

Albino MP fears for his life

I read on with great concern, wondering why someone was trying to kill Rotorua MP Todd McClay.

But it turns out Todd is safe, so long as he stays away from Tanzania:

Tanzania’s first elected albino member of parliament fears his life could be in danger in the east African country where albino hunters kill their victims and use their blood and body parts for witchcraft.

Albino hunter would be quite a cool job title to have on your CV – would be a talking point at social functions also.

At least 59 albinos have been killed since 2007 in Tanzania and their body parts sold for use in witchcraft, especially in the remote northwest regions of Mwanza and Shinyanga which are both gold mining regions where superstition is rife.

Finally found a country, where people want to be gingas 🙂

Good comments

March 31st, 2010 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

On most blogs the actual posts tend to be quite reasonable and well argued, and it is the comments that can sometimes go off the track and get hysterical.

But I’m pleased to report the opposite has happened on Red Alert. Carmel Sepuloni did a somewhat off the track post claiming:

Todd McClay says that beneficiaries are more likely to murder children

I thought this would set off a round of abuse of Todd, but in fact many of the comments were quite thoughtful, such as:

Carmel I agree it was incredibly distasteful however, in many ways, while awkwardly put, Todd is right.

The bulk of the physical child abuse, neglect and maltreatment statistics comes out of the quarters of the lower socio-economic groups, most of whom are predominantly on benefits.

Lindsay Mitchell posted a useful link to some CYFS stats which “establishes that there is a statistical association between the two factors examined: benefit receipt and CYPFS notifications”.

Todd himself pops up and posts a draft of Hansard, with what he actually said:

And Lindsay again provides a useful point:

You have to understand that ‘are more likely to’ can co-exist with ‘most don’t’. For argument’s sake;

8 out of 100 beneficiaries abuse their children.
2 out of 100 non-beneficiaries abuse their children.

Therefore beneficiaries are 4 times more likely to abuse their children BUT most don’t.

However, inasmuch as child murder usually occurs at the extreme end of abuse, it is more likely to happen when the parent or other caregiver is a beneficiary.

So stop taking offence and start asking whether there is a link between welfare and child abuse.

Of course not all comments were high quality:

Olwyn said:

Furthermore, we did not have people regularly beating kids to death before we took up neo-conservative economic policies

Blame the neo-cons!

But overall I found the comments thread quite a useful wee debate. Someone also pointed out the difference between correlation and causation.

Two Nat bills

November 20th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Good to see National MPs starting to get their private members bills in the ballot, with the result being two of them got drawn this week.

The first is the Fair Trading (Soliciting on Behalf of Charities) Amendment Bill by Selwyn MP Amy Adams. The notes explain what it will do:

The Bill requires professional third party collectors to disclose to potential donators that a portion of the donation will be retained by the collector.

This only applies if the proportion retained is more than 20 percent.

If the proportion retained is between 20 and 50 percent of the total donation then the collector must simply disclose that a portion is being withheld by them, but does not have to disclose the amount.

If the proportion retained is more than 50 percent then the collector must disclose the percentage being retained, to the nearest percentage point.

Transparency is a good thing. There have been a lot of horror stories about people donating money to what they think is a charity but finding out less than half gets to the charity. I can’t imagine anyone will vote against this bill going to select committee. WIll be interesting to hear what the charities say about it.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay had his Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 Repeal (Easter Sunday Local Choice) Amendment Bill also drawn. I can’t find a copy of it online, so this is based on reports.

This is a minor liberalisation, which will allow each local Council to decide whether or not shops are allowed to open on Easter Sunday.

This will be lots of fun because you get the unholy coalition of the union left and religious right joining forces to stop even the remotest sanity occurring over Easter Trading. Hopefully Todd’s bill will make it to select committee – the challenge will be getting it back out.

I find it hilarious that the actual public holiday is Easter Monday while the day retail shops can’t open is Easter Sunday. And that Easter Saturday has no significance at all, so people can’t even get a guaranteed long weekend off. The current law really is a dogs breakfast.

My annual rant on Easter trading

April 8th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I doubt there is any law as inconsistent and illogical as our current Easter shop trading laws.

Let us start with the fact this law bans employees from being able to earn extra money. We’re in a recession and times are tough. A shop assistant  could earn say an extra $450 if they were allowed to work this Friday and Sunday. That would be enough money so they could then actually afford a holiday later in the year.

Then let us look at the fact Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. We have a law that bans you from being able to work on a day which is not even a public holiday. It is simply a religious day. Easter Monday is a public holiday and you are allowed to work that day, but in most cases not on Easter Sunday.

Some may claim the law allows people the weekend off. Apart from the fact that the law removes any choice from employees, it does not. People can be forced to work on Easter Saturday. Would it not be far superior to say have a law that says no employee (except essential services) can be forced to work over the four Easter days, but that they can do so if they wish. As present they can be forced to work on at least one of those days, and have no choice about working the other two.

Then we have the anomalies. Where do you start. How about a four square can not open but a Star Mart can? How about the fact a souvenir shop can open but a gift shop can not?  And the garden centre amendment that allowed them to open on Easter Sunday, but not Good Friday?

And that is before we even deal with regional anomalies. Shops in Queenstown can open, but not Wanaka. Taupo is okay, but not Rotorua.

The law is a mess. It is anti-worker and anti-choice. We have a law that stops many workers from being able to earn extra money – some of it as holiday and penal rates. It is nothing to do with protecting workers – it is about compelling them. Workers already have protection from being forced to work on protected days under the Act:

No worker shall be required to work on a protected day or at night. No undue influence shall be applied to any worker in an attempt to induce that worker to agree to work on a protected day or at night. No action shall be taken to discriminate against or disadvantage any worker not wishing to work on a protected day or at night.

Now again Easter Sunday is not a public holiday. It is a religious day. Removing from workers the ability to choose to work that day (if their employers wish to open) does not guarantee them Easter off – they can be forced to work Easter Saturday.

Rotorua MP Todd McClay has a private members bill that is a small step forward. It allows local communities to decide whether or not shops can open on Easter Sunday. Hopefully Parliament will do the right thing and not cave into to the unholy alliance between the religious right and the union left.

Another cast auction

February 14th, 2009 at 4:29 pm by David Farrar

This arm cast won’t go for $18,000, but it is also for a good cause – Rotorua Hospice, and signed by the local MP.

Monday’s Three MPs

January 26th, 2009 at 8:20 am by David Farrar

The Herald continues its profiles of the 34 or so new MPs:

Nikki Kaye

New Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said the chance to reform Auckland’s regional governance was a “once in a generation opportunity” which if done right would be a critical legacy of the National government. …

She said the solution needed to balance a simpler structure while still ensuring community representation, and spoke about the diversity of her electorate and the different needs within it – from the apartment dwellers in the inner city to those living with the raw beauty and infrastructure needs of Great Barrier Island and the “Waihetians” – those from Waiheke Island.

Nikki is very lucky to have Waiheke and Great Barrier Island in her electorate. While they make it harder to get around the electorate, they’re both beautiful places to visit.

The second youngest MP in this term of Parliament, the 28-year-old Ms Kaye said to her generation would fall the task of coping with a new set of problems brought about by medical and technological advances.

While the information age had brought “immense power” so too had it brought challenges, such as ethical issues and privacy concerns.”Most people would applaud when they see genetics providing information that can help treat diseases such as cancer. However, our ability to obtain information about children not born yet is an example where not all of society may be on the same page. This Parliament and future Parliaments will grapple with these issues.”

Design your own child – it’s not that far away!

Todd McClay

Married with four children aged 1 to 10. Spent much of his working life overseas with the European Parliament where jobs included chief of staff to the leader of the British Conservatives and policy adviser.

Has also acted as policy adviser to the Irish Fianna Fail Political Group. In the private sector, he was founder and chief executive of the European Generic Medicines Association and a political adviser for lobby groups.

Was ambassador for Niue and the Cook Islands to the European Union from 2001 to 2007. Has honorary Cook Islands citizenship and is completing a masters degree in international public law.

There should be a bravery award also for living in Brussels for so long 🙂

In his own words:
“Many years ago, New Zealand society was based on the structure of the family. Neighbours knew and liked each other. Rural communities were strong and perhaps life was simpler. When a school needed a new swimming pool or a small community needed a hall, funds were raised to buy timber and cement. Now funds are raised for resource consent and development levies and many of our children no longer know how to catch a fish or climb a tree.”

All too sadly true.

Raymond Huo

Immigrated in 1994. He was son of a doctor and nurse, who had moved to a rural town in China to help fight schistosoma. Toward the end of the Cultural Revolution, his father – an “intellectual” – was ordered to stand at the gates of the hospital for an hour, three times a day with a white board stating “counter-revolutionary medical expert”. Mr Huo – then 5 – joined him with a smaller whiteboard saying “little counter-revolutionary medical expert”.

He said he secretly believed it was his little sign that ended the Cultural Revolution soon afterward.

That’s a superb story. Very cute.

In his own words:
“In hindsight, my journey to this House stretches back to my birth in that small rural town, from that small stage I once shared with my father and from the desire for free will that I inherited from my parents. That experience was relevant. It influenced and will continue to influence my politics and world outlook. I have learned to be resilient, I have learned to be kind, caring and more philosophical when confronting difficulties. To those who asked of my ‘secret weapon’ behind successful careers in Beijing and now New Zealand, I say it is simple: Double your efforts and halve your expectations.”

He should pass that advice on to Phil Goff 🙂

Maiden Speech for Todd McClay

December 10th, 2008 at 10:49 pm by David Farrar

Todd McClay is the new MP for Rotorua. Extracts below from his maiden speech, and the entire speech is over the break.

I would like to pay tribute to Hon. Steve Chadwick, across the House. A worthy opponent, who dealt with the issues on the campaign trail and fought a clean campaign. Mrs Chadwick has great affection for Rotorua. I am grateful that she has offered to working together over the next three years to advance the interests of the people of Rotorua.

Very nice to acknowledge the former MP, and her offer to work together for Rotorua.

Mr Speaker if I had forgotten, I was certainly reminded during this year’s campaign. My family is the most important thing to me in this world. My ambitions as a member of parliament, the things that I want to do for my community, the reason that I want more violent criminals and drug dealers locked away for longer, is because of my overwhelming desire to protect and offer opportunity to my family. On issues of conscience, in this House, I will be guided by what I want for my 4 small children and whether they will grow up to be proud of their father based upon the decisions that he has made and how he has voted.

My wife Nadene and I have been blessed with 4 outstanding children. Joshua 10, Samuel 8, Caelen 6 and my daughter, the perfect one, Ana-Kiera who is four.

Nadene must be a saint to cope with four children – and Todd!

My journey to this chamber, as with many of us, was not without detours. I have spent much of my adult life outside of New Zealand. I have worked in one of the worlds largest bureaucracies, in and around the European Union Institutions in Belgium. At that time few if any other New Zealander had worked in the European Parliament politically. As a result I am no fan of bureaucracy. To quote a former President of the EC Jacques Delors I firmly believe that Governments should do less but what they do they must do better.

Bigger is not better!

I have experience of diplomacy. In 2000 I travelled to Cotonou in Benin to attend the signing of a development and trade agreement between Europe, and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands. There I met the Foreign Minister of the Cook Islands and the Premier of Niue. Over months these two countries decided to establish diplomatic representation to the EU in Brussels. I was honoured to be asked to represent these two beautiful countries as their Ambassador to Europe.

Mr Speaker, I declare an interest. In 2005 I was awarded honorary Cook Islands nationality by the government and people of the Cook Islands. I am proud to stand here today and say to the people of New Zealand that I am a Cook Islander and I send greetings to my many friends in Rarotonga. Kia Orana.

Todd’s time as an Ambassador for various Pacific countries in Europe was fascinating. I actually first dealt with him in relation to an Internet issue affecting Niue.

Mr Speaker, during my campaign I met a man in Rotorua whilst door knocking who wanted to talk with me about how to keep young people out of trouble. I was impressed by this man. He had been a gang member for much of his life. He had served time in prison, he said that he had never voted because he did not care. When he last came out of prison he decided to change. He wanted to change because of love for his family and he wanted a different life for his young children. He left the gang, got a job, and now he works with the community. His children now have a brighter future. When faced with decisions that affect New Zealanders I will think of this man.

Those who turn their lives about, should be given all the support we can.

Many years ago NZ society was based upon the structure of the family. Neighbours knew and liked each other. Rural communities were strong. And perhaps life was simpler. When a school needed a new swimming pool (that’s right schools once had pools), or if a small community needed a hall, funds were raised to buy timber and cement, people came together and built these things. Today, funds are raised for resource consents and development levies. Many of our children no longer know how to catch a fish or climb a tree.

Now even the tree fort needs a resource consent!

Mr Speaker, to be a member of this House is a privilege and I pledge to remember this each and every day that I am here. It is an opportunity to work hard to help others, to make New Zealand and my home Rotorua better. The day that I forget this privilege will be the day that it is time for me to leave this place.

The full speech is over the break


The Central North Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 12:15 am by David Farrar

Oh I do like that solid blue look. And in 2002 only a handful were blue.

Hunua is a new seat. The party vote is another 60:20 type solid seat. On the electorate vote Paul Hutchison narrowly beat Jordan Carter by 14,738 votes and Roger Douglas another 2,700 votes behind Jordan.

Waikato is 58% to 22% on the party vote. And Lindsay Tisch drove his majority from 7,000 to almost 12,000.

Coromandel went from 45% to 31% up to 51% to 26%. And Sandra Goudie scored a 13,400 majority for the seat she won in 2005.

The two Hamilton seats are no longer marginal weathervanes. Hamilton East went from a 9% party vote lead for National to a 19% lead. And David Bennett turned a 5,300 majority into one of over 8.000. Hamilton West saw an 11% lead in the party vote for National after being 2% behind in 2005. And Tim Macindoe turned his 1,100 loss in 2005 to a 1,500 victory in 2008.

Bay of Plenty is another 60:20 seat on the party vote. and Tony Ryall got a massive 16,500 majority up from 11,000 in 2005.

In 2005 in Tauranga, National had a 15% lead in the party vote. In 2008 the lead was 32%. Bob Clarkson beat Winston Peters by 730 votes in 2005. This time Simon Bridges beat him by 10,700. Simon will be happy to be the Member of Tauranga for some time.

Rotorua saw National lift the party vote from 43% to 51%, and Todd McClay scored a majority of almost 5,000 over a sitting Minister.

Taupo saw a party vote victory of 15% and Louise Upston beat Mark Burton by almost 6,000 votes. She ran a good campaign and for a big enough majority to make it safe for National. Burton got 2300 more votes than Labour so even harder for any future Labour candidate.  I also heard a rumour that Louise held the first meeting of her 2011 campaign committee at 8.15 am on Sunday morning 🙂

The East Coast had a 15% lead in the party vote (the graphic has it wrong) and on the electorate vote Anne Tolley turned a 2,500 majority into a 6,000 majority.

The growing seat of Napier saw National go from a 1% lead in the party vote to a 12% lead. And Chris Tremain drove his 3,300 victory over Russell Fairbrother in 2005 to a 8,400 margin. Remember this is a seat Labour held for all but three years from 1928 to 2005 and Tremain is building John Carter or Nick Smith type majorities as a brilliant local MP who owns his seat.

Over on the west coast, we have the huge Taranaki-King Country seat which is another of those lovely 60:20 seats.  And the 12,000 majority motors up to 14,500.

Finally we have New Plymouth. National was ahead on the party vote last time by 8% and this time it was 20%. And it was too much for Harry Duynhoven who lost the seat by 300 votes. In 2005 he held it by almost 5,000 votes and in 2002 his majority was a staggering 15,000. New candidate Jonathan Young will be watching the special votes though.

Labour will struggle to form a Government again, while so many seats have them getting just 1 in 5 party votes. Every seat in this region had at least an 11% gap in the party vote, with many having a 40% gap.


October 21st, 2008 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

I’m around a week behind with blogging from the blogmobile, so will be doing a series of catch up posts over the next two days.

It is lots of fun out on the road, but fitting in time for driving, work for my business, blogging the national stuff, meeting and interviewing locals and then actually blogging about them has been hard.

Anyway back to Rotorua. which was the weekend before last. Rotorua as a city tends to be Labour voting, but on the new boundaries is marginally National. It has a high Maori population and at the local markets I would have said it was 50/50 Maori and non-Maori.

So it was interesting to observe the warm reception John Key got there – lots of people wanting to chat to him, even sing to him.

John was a good enough sport to give us a quick interview, above. He cited the economy as easily the biggest issue for NZers. He also endorsed parts of the NZX plan (and this was prior to him announcing the NZ Super Fund policy which was in there) except for capital gains tax. John said 2002 was his first ever election – he was a prefect at school but that was “selected by the Gods higher up”.

He was cautious on McCain vs Obama but did say McCain was a strong supporter of NZ, but sure Obama will be also. He didn’t rule out offering Sarah Palin a role in his administration if she didn’t make it to Vice-President in the US. His tax cuts did go on the legendary block of cheese and for the final question he chose Goff over Cunliffe – but did predict Goff would not be there long.

Todd “Boris” McClay is the local candidate – and also cooks up great bacon and eggs at midnight! He was born in Rotorua and returned to NZ after many years in Europe, including representing several Pacific states to the European Union.

Todd picked crime as the biggest local issue from his door knocking. I asked Todd how a non Cook Islander ended up as their Ambassador to the European Union. Todd artfully pointed out he was made an Honorary Cook Islander a few years ago in gratitude for his services, so he may be our first Cook Islands MP!

Internationally Todd is backing Obama as he is about the future. On the tax cuts he,like many candidates, is without income so gets nothing from tax cuts but if he was working would invest them in KiwiSaver. And finally he picks Michael Cullen ahead of Goff and Cunliffe for the future!

Steve Chadwick was there also. Sadly Steve wasn’t keen to take part – a pity because this is all light hearted stuff – nothing tough or nasty. Anyway Cameron got some footage of Steve refusing.

Rotorua has been held by Chadwick since 1999, winning it off Max Bradford with a 4,978 majority. In 2002 she extended that to 7.744. This got knocked back to 662 in 2005 and on the new 2008 boundaries it is marginally National by 366 votes.

This is one of those seats National would expect to win if it becomes Government. Chadwick is No 30 on Labour’s list and would come back in on 32% of the vote, so should be back regardless. McClay is 54 on National’s list and would come in on around 45%.

Rotorua Selection

March 20th, 2008 at 8:39 am by David Farrar

National also selected its Rotorua candidate last night.  Rotorua is marginally a National majority on the new boundaries, so it was vigorously contested by five candidates.

The evening stretched out to the maximum four ballots, and Todd McClay won in the final round against Don Hammond.

Todd has had a fascinating career including many years as the Cook Islands Ambassador to the European Union. He is very respected for his advocacy work on behalf of many Pacific states. He also has a strong business background.

His father, Roger McClay, is a former MP for Taupo. Roger was (and is) a hugely likeable guy who said in his valedictory speech he was probably leaving without an enemy in Parliament – a rare feat. He later served as Children’s Commissioner.

As I have said previously Steve Chadwick will be no pushover, but I think Todd has a fine parliamentary career ahead of him.

Talking of selection meetings, there was a really good question asked at another candidates meeting I attended this week (not Wellington Central).  The candidates were asked “What question do you not want to be asked, and what would be your answer to it”.

That was a very cunning question.  I’m not sure what question I would least like to be asked if I ever sought a candidacy. Probably something about why I was one found underneath a hedge in Dunedin pretending to be a hedgehog!

Five vie for Rotorua

March 4th, 2008 at 3:40 pm by David Farrar

The Rotorua Review lists the five candidates seeking the National Party candidacy for Rotorua. There were probably more than five originally, but pre-selection rules requires the selection meeting to have no more than five candidates. The five are:

  • Sandra Kai Fong – lawyer
  • Alan Hulton – property investor
  • Hamuera Mitchell – Ngati Whakaue Tribal Lands Trust chairman
  • Todd McClay – company manager (and former Cook Islands Ambassador to the EU)
  • Don Hammond – forestry consultant

The selection meeting is on 19 March. There are lots of selection meetings in March but I don’t know all the dates off hand.

On the new boundaries Rotorua has a paper majority to National of 366. Steve Chadwick is fairly well respected so will be no pushover but she will have to work hard to hold the seat against a likely big nationwide swing.