The 2014 Trans-Tasman Ratings

December 4th, 2014 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for the 120 (currently) MPs. As usual, I do some analysis.

The overall average rating is 5.3 (+0.6 from 2013, which is a big increase, probably influenced by retiring MPs)

Average Ratings per Party

  1. Maori 6.5 (+1.3)
  2. National 5.8 (+0.7)
  3. Labour 5.1 (+0.5)
  4. United Future 5.0 (+1.0)
  5. Green 4.3 (-0.1)
  6. NZ First 4.1 (+0.8)

Of the four main parties, their average rankings in order are National, Labour, Greens, NZ First

Top MPs

  1. John Key 9.5 (+0.5)
  2. Bill English 9.0 (nc)
  3. Steven Joyce 8.0 (+0.5)
    Chris Finlayson 8.0 (+0.5)

Bottom MPs

  1. Catherine Delahunty 2.0 (-1.0)
    Richard Prosser 2.0 (+0.5)
  2. Steffan Browning 2.5 (-0.5)
    Rino Tirikatene 2.5 (-0.5)

Top Labour MPs

  1. Annette King 7.5 (+0.5)
  2. Andrew Little 7.0 (+2.5)
  3. Grant Robertson 6.5 (+0.5)

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Winston Peters 7.5 (+0.5)
  2. Russel Norman 7.0 (nc)
  3. Te Ururoa Flavell 6.5 (+0.5)
    Kevin Hague 6.5 (+0.5)

Biggest Increases

  1. Andrew Little +2.5
    Maggie Barry +2.5
  2. Hekia Parata +2.0
    Alfred Ngaro +2.0
    Megan Woods +2.0
    David Shearer +2.0
    Scott Simpson +2.0

Biggest Decreases

  1. Judith Collins -2.5
  2. David Cunliffe -1.5

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.3 (nc)
  2. Cabinet 6.9 (+0.2)
  3. National frontbench 7.7 (+0.3)
  4. Labour frontbench 6.0 (+0.2)
  5. National backbench 4.7 (+0.7)

All groups improved their ratings this year except Ministers (but Cabinet went up). The biggest improvement was the National backbench, due to rejuvenation. New MPs will be rated next year.

Worth noting that as always, I of course disagree with some of the ratings. They are the opinions of the three authors at Trans-Tasman.

Tags: ,

Transtasman on Labour media management

August 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The latest Transtasman notes:

The tawdry cry of media bias, marinated in bitterness and misanthropy, has been held aloft by Labour activitists. They have a point, but not the one they think they are making. How journalists’ view political parties is affected by many factors, and individual political biases and prejudgements is only one of them – and seldom the most important. Almost every journalist in the press gallery has tales of slow or non-existent response from Labour to requests for information, or of interviews/appearances agreed to and  then “pulled” at the last minute.

It isn’t a matter of incompetent staff: the almost total turnover in the past three years is only one indication something deeper is the problem.

No one knows what is going on because people who should be told are not told, and the big reason for this is internal levels of mistrust are so toxic.

It adds up to an organisation – and we use the word ‘organisation’ with some degree of over-stretch here – which cannot do the political equivalent of walk from Mum’s car to the kindergarten gate with out having a trouser incident. 

And of course this affects coverage.

Journalists experience this level of cluster-fornication every day and it has a deep impact. And this is before we get to the public snafus, the destructive and bitter factionalism and the way many electorate candidates are distancing themselves from the current, official election strategy. Almost everything Labour does at the moment sends the message it is in no position to run anything.

If there is a tone of disrespect in how journalists cover Labour – and there very definitely is – it is because Labour is not behaving in a way which earns respect.

The scary thing is that despite this level of toxicity, they could end up in Government in 51 days. It only needs a 4% swing or so and Labour could form a Government with the Greens, NZ First, Mana and Dotcom parties.

Tags: , ,

Trans-Tasman has the draft manifestos

June 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman has been leaked copies of the draft 2014 manifestos.

TransTasman has obtained draft manifestos of most of the country’s political parties for Election 2014

National’s is all glossy photos o f John Key, with his most common comment at media briefings, “I wouldn’t want to go into details” emblazoned in Royal Blue.

Labour’s is much larger: “All Our Yesterdays” is a reproduction of Norman Kirk’s much thumbed “little red book” and an even more frequently thumbed copy of Nicky Hager’s “The Hollow Men,” with an inspirational photo of David Cunliffe wearing a miner’s helmet and a sugarbag, gazing into the future and holding a glass of pinot noir.

The Greens have some very serious stuff about eradicating child poverty for Maui dolphins and an intergalactic committee of experts for the eradication of climate change. The Greens have decided the way to stop people thinking they are wacky is to be very boring. They may have over corrected a bit.

We haven’t got anything yet on Peter Dunne, but early intelligence suggests a sort of reverse version of the Greens’ strategy.

Hailing a return to the days of Dick Seddon, NZ First leader Winston Peters is to announce a poll tax for Chinese immigrants.

ACT’s is Jamie Whyte’s written sequel to John Locke’s ‘Two Treatises on Government.’ In keeping with ACT’s philosophy, it is called Half a Treatise on Government.

Not a lot from the Mana-Internet Party yet: policy work thus far consists of a hurried email suggesting grabbing Kim Dotcom’s copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf; getting hold of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, and “stick the best bits together.”

Heh, not bad,


Laila in Wonderland

June 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Trans-tasman hit the nail with their piece on Laila in Wonderland:

But we kind of crashed through the looking glass last week with the anointment of Laila Harre as leader of Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party. It is possible, back when she was an ardent campaigner for feminism and against capitalism, racism and corporatism, Harre foresaw the day she would sign up to front a party funded by a convicted German fraudster who made much of his money from pornography and who also has a fetish for racist, not to say out- right Nazi, humour. Harre wasn’t even elected: she was anointed by the aforementioned convicted German fraudster who has trafficked in pornography and who thinks n-word jokes are hilarious. 

There are many terms for this sort of thing, none of them complimentary. We will avoid the ‘h’ word – not just because MPs are not allowed to use the term hypocrisy in the House, but mostly because hypocrisy is part of the human condition. All of us fall short of our ideals. But this is not mere hypocrisy, not a minor falling short. This is moral bankruptcy of a particularly shameless kind.

Sold out for 150,000 pieces of silver.

Tags: ,

Wheeler named public sector chief executive of the year

June 3rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

A former top international banker, who stared down the Beehive with lending restrictions and official cash rates rises months from the election, is this year’s public sector chief executive of the year.

Graeme Wheeler, who became Reserve Bank governor in late 2012, was today named as the top public sector boss in political newsletter Trans Tasman’s fifth Annual Briefing Report.

Since replacing Alan Bollard, Wheeler has introduced controversial loan to value ratio limits on mortgages in an attempt to cool the housing market and raised the OCR  twice this year.

Both moves were politically unpopular, but Trans Tasman said the ‘‘fresh ideas’’ made him chief executive of the year and the Reserve Bank’s best governor since Don Brash – a dig at Bollard, whose decade in charge was bookended by Brash and Wheeler.

‘‘He’s made some gutsy calls and stood up to the political pressure not to interfere in the iconic quarter acre dream,’’ the report said of Wheeler.

‘‘A courageous governor – and we will find out over the next year or so whether he made the right calls.’’

The awards were chosen by a 16-strong independent board of advisers.

Inland Revenue was named department of the year because of a ‘‘clear improvement in customer engagement’’ over the past 12 months.

‘‘One of the only departments leading the charge online for better customer and business interactions,’’ Trans Tasman said.

‘‘It is no longer just a compliance agency. It is also being seen by the public as a crusader which goes after people who try to avoid their tax obligations.’’

As with previous years, I’m one of the 16 advisors. The release from Trans-Tasman is here.

As an employer, I have to say dealing with the IRD is so much easier than years ago. No more waiting on hold – just send secure mail. Can check my account balances instantly, and lots of useful calculators.

The Reserve Bank Governor should be fiercely independent. It is a tribute to Wheeler that he listened politely to the Government wanting to exempt first home buyers from the LVRs, but then decided it wouldn’t work with that exemption and proceeded. It is unfortunate that Labour has vowed to over-turn that independent decision should they win Government.

Tags: , ,

The 2013 Trans-Tasman Ratings

December 2nd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for the 120 (currently) MPs. As usual, I do some analysis.

The overall average rating is 4.7 (+0.3 from 2012, which is a reasonable increase)

Average Ratings per Party

  1. Maori 5.2 (-0.5)
  2. National 5.1 (+0.2)
  3. Labour 4.6 (+0.6)
  4. Green 4.4 (+0.4)
  5. United Future 4.0 (-2.5)
  6. NZ First 3.3 (-0.1)
  7. Mana 2.5 (-2.0)
  8. ACT 1.0 (+1.0)

The small parties all get pretty hammered. NZ First says much the same, and National, Greens and Labour all go up. Labour’s average rating has increased the most.

Top MPs

  1. Bill English 9.0 (+1.5)
  2. John Key 8.5 (+0.5)
  3. David Cunliffe 7,5 (+3.0)
    Steven Joyce 7.5 (+0.5)
    Tim Groser 7.5 (nc)
    Chris Finlayson 7.5 (-0.5)
    Judith Collins 7.5 (nc)
    Paula Bennett 7.5 (+0.5)

Bottom MPs

  1. John Banks 1 (+1.0)
    Rajan Prasad 1.0 (nc)
    Brendan Horan 1.0 (-1.0)

Top Labour MPs

  1. David Cunliffe 7.5 (+3.0)
  2. David Parker 7.0 (+0.5)
    Phil Goff 7.0 (+0.5)
    Annette King 7.0 (+1.0)
    Chris Hipkins 7.0 (+1.5)

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Russel Norman 7.0 (-1.0)
    Winston Peters 7.0 (nc)
  2. Tariana Turia 6.5 (+0.5)
  3. Metiria Turei 6.0 (nc)
    Te Ururoa Flavell 6.0 (nc)
    Kevin Hague 6.0 (+1.0)

Biggest Increases

  1. David Cunliffe +3.0
    Hekia Parata +3.0
  2. Paul Goldsmith +2.5

Biggest Decreases

  1. Peter Dunne -2.5
  2. Phil Heatley -2.0
    Hone Harawira -2.0
    Pita Sharples -2.0

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.3 (+0.3)
  2. Cabinet 6.7 (+0.6)
  3. National frontbench 7.4 (+0.6)
  4. Labour frontbench 5.8 (+1.7)
  5. National backbench 4.0 (nc)

The Cabinet have improved their rankings this year and the National front bench are scoring very highly. However a significant increase for Labour’s front bench which finally has most of their strongest MPs on it.

Worth noting that as always, I of course disagree with some of the ratings. Some of the National backbench ratings are seriously astray for example.

Tags: ,

Campbell v Brown

October 17th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I agree with this column by Trans-tasman:

Whatever one feels about the particulars of the show – and we’ll get to this shortly – let us be grateful for one thing: it has been a long time since regular interviews with senior politicians had an impact on political discourse. Certainly Campbell’s 7pm opposition on the state owned television channel is so fluffy and light it makes the Beatrix Potter stories look like Dostoyevsky.

But Campbell did rather let him- self down. Advocacy journalism has its place but when you invite the other side on to put their side, they need to be given space to do so. Campbell’s questions all started from the premise oil exploration is intrinsically the devil’s work and will always produce a Gulf of Mexico spill. He also let it get very personal – but then so did Bridges – even more so.

Unfortunately Campbell followed it up the next night with a cringingly sympathetic interview with disgraced Auckland Mayor Len Brown. While Bridges, who was there to defend a policy decision, was treated like a Mr Big of drug dealing; Brown, whose moral choices have caused huge hurt to people who love him, was treated like an innocent victim of some unfortunate accident.

Advocacy journalism can be done in a professional and dis- passionate way: indeed, to work, it has to be. When it becomes personal, it loses not only integrity but effectiveness.

I think this piece is fair. Simon Bridges did let it get personal and got too heated, but so did John Campbell. And Campbell was incredibly unbalanced who as Trans-tasman says treats oil companies as evil criminal syndicates. I have no problems with advocacy journalism, but don’t be surprised if people won’t go on their show if they think you’re not interested a balanced debate – just pilloring one side of the issue.

And the Len brown interview was disgracefully light. He avoided anything resembling a hard question, such as did Len Brown know who sent the threatening text to Chuang. It was like a NZ version of Oprah.

In a similar vein, Russell Brown has devoted an entire column to the Len Brown issue. Except in his 1,32 words on the issue he spends 1,181 words on the the so called centre-right people involved and just 51 words on the role of Len Brown. That is almost hysterically comical. The most Russell could muster was to say it was poor judgement to bonk at work and he can no longer play the family-man card!


Tags: , , ,

Transtasman on earthquake responses

July 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman on how the parties may have responded to the Seddon earthquakes:

How did our political parties first react to the earthquake swarm which hit Wellington on the weekend?

National: John Key says he’s relaxed about it, while Stephen Joyce drafts law forbidding Geonet to broadcast anything about earthquakes which could hurt NZ’s international reputation. Float of shares in 49% of southern alpine fault planned. Cut to EQC funding because “it sends the wrong message.”

Peter Dunne: After weeks of tough bare knuckle negotiations, agrees to support National’s ban on Geonet broadcasting, so long as people write a couple of reports.

Labour: In a sulky huddle debating whether the fault line should have a boy’s name or a girl’s name. In the meantime, David Shearer to issue press release saying the fault line should give him a fair go and stop being so mean.

Greens: Blaming earthquake on John Key, fracking, John Key, gambling, John Key, the Reserve Bank, John Key, John Key and John Key. Oh, also blaming it on negative politics and nasty personal attacks.

ACT: Didn’t see any earthquake. Can’t remember. Denies any earthquakes exist, anywhere, and says anyone who thinks such a bizarre thing could happen came in on a cabbage boat.

NZ First:Winston Peters hints at documents revealing true extent of Govt involvement in earthquakes, suggests he has them: then he hasn’t, but knows they exist; then denies all and blames media. Goes away for a few weeks till media forget and start writing “At least Winston isn’t boring” columns. Rinse and repeat cycle again.

Very good.

Tags: ,

The 2013 Trans-Tasman Departments Report

June 4th, 2013 at 6:35 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman have published their 2013 report on Government Departments. A panel of 18 people (note I am one of them) rate the various agencies on different criteria, plus there is lengthy commentary on the challenges, budgets and work plans for each agency.

The five agencies who scored top overall marks were:

  1. Reserve Bank 5.07 (on a 1 to 7 scale)
  2. Inland Revenue 5.00
  3. Stats NZ 4.88
  4. Dept of Corrections 4.87
  5. Dept of Conservation 4.81

The overall pick as agency of the year was the Department of Corrections. It’s gone from always being in the news for the wrong reasons, to making significant progress on reducing re-offending rates,

There was a new category this year on the ability to implement the Minister’s policy agenda. The top five there are:

  1. Reserve Bank (English)
  2. Treasury (English)
  3. Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (Joyce)
  4. Ministry of Health (Ryall)
  5. NZ Police (Tolley)

The top five ranked CEOs were:

  1. Dept of Conservation (Al Morrison)
  2. Dept of Corrections (Ray Smith)
  3. Reserve Bank (Graeme Wheeler)
  4. Stats NZ (Geoff Bascand)
  5. Ministry of Business, Innovation, Employment (David Smol)

The overall pick for CEO of the Year was David Smol for overseeing the merger of several ministries into the new super-ministry with few problems.

The Dom Post has an article on the report also.

Tags: ,

The 2012 Trans-Tasman Ratings

December 3rd, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman has published (not yet online) its annual ratings for the 121 MPs. As usual, I do some analysis.

The overall average rating is 4.4 (-0.6 from 2011, which is a significant drop)

Average Ratings per Party

  1. United Future 6.5 (+1.5)
  2. Maori 5.7 (-0.1)
  3. National 4.9 (-0.3)
  4. Mana 4.5 (-0.5)
  5. Green 4.0 (-0.7)
  6. Labour 4.0 (-0.1)
  7. NZ First 3.4

I actually thought the Greens were a bit hard done by. I thought Hague, Hughes and Genter who scored 5, 3 and 3.5 all should have got higher marks.

Top MPs

  1. Chris Finlayson 8.0 (+1.0)
  2. Russel Norman 8.0 (nc)
  3. John Key 9.0 (-1.0)

The next five MPs on 7.5 are Tony Ryall, Tim Groser, Bill English, Judith Collins and Gerry Brownlee.

Bottom MPs

  1. John Banks 0
  2. Rajan Prasad 1.0 (nc)
    Kanwalkit Bakshi 1.0 (-2.0)

14 MPs were rated just 2/10.

Top Labour MPs

  1. David Parker 6.5 (+0.5)
    Phil Goff 6.5 (+0.5)
  2. Grant Robertson 6.0 (nc)
    Annette King 6.0 (nc)

David Shearer was rated 15th equal in Labour, along with Kris Faafoi, Shane Jones and Megan Woods!

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Russel Norman 8.0 (nc)
  2. Winston Peters 7.0
  3. Peter Dunne 6.5 (+1.5)
  4. Tariana Turia 6.0 (-0.5)
    Metiria Turei 6.0 (nc)
    Te Ururoa Flavell 6.0 (+1.0)

Biggest Increases

  1. Louisa Wall +2.0
    Colin King +2.0
  2. Peter Dunne +1.5
    Jonathan Coleman +1.5
    Chris Hipkins +1.5
    Paul Hutchison +1.5
    Ross Robertson +1.5
    Clare Curran +1.5

Biggest Decreases

  1. Hekia Parata -4.5
  2. Kanwlakit Bakshi -.2.0
    Nanaia Mahuta -2.0
    Phil Heatley -2.0

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.0 (-0.3)
  2. Cabinet 6.1 (-0.3)
  3. National frontbench 6.8 (-0.4)
  4. Labour frontbench 4.1 (-0.7)
  5. National backbench 4.0

Both front benches have dropped compared to 2011. However National’s frontbench still rates an average 1.9 higher than National as a whole. Labour’s frontbench ranks just 0.1 higher than the caucus as a whole, which cements the perception that a reshuffle is definitely needed. Five of Labour’s eight frontbenchers got a score of under 5/10.

Tags: ,

Finlayson gets Transtasman MP of the Year

December 3rd, 2012 at 7:49 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson has been named politician of the year by Trans-Tasman, beating off challenges from Prime Minister John Key and Green co-leader Russel Norman.

The judges in the political newsletter’s annual “roll-call” said Mr Finlayson, who is also Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister, had “given away a national park to Maori, and no-one seems to mind much. That’s pretty good going”.

They gave him eight out of 10 for his performance this year – the same as Mr Key and Dr Norman – noting “his disdain for his political opponents is palpable – one of the sharpest debaters in Parliament”.

His increasing stature as a politician and member of the inner circle was evident when Mr Key gave him responsibility for the Labour portfolio when Kate Wilkinson stepped down after the Pike River royal commission.

The Herald also gave Finlayson top marks, so a bit of a consensus there.

Tags: ,

Transtasman on house price logic

November 2nd, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman report:

OK, so the Govt wants us to smoke more, which is why it has hiked the tax on tobacco, right? And the whole Kyoto, putting a price on emissions thing: it’s to encourage people to put out more greenhouse gases, isn’t it?


Well consider the position of Labour and the Greens and – as of this week – whoever writes NZ Herald editorials. Apparently, according to this logic, the way to get more houses is to tax them more.

Thanks TT for pointing out the stupidity of their arguments. They want to tax houses more, so they cost less. Yeah, right.

At the moment the issue is supply of houses. There isn’t enough of them, in Auckland or – for obviously different reasons – Christchurch.

In Auckland the question is simply because it’s the only part of the country with net inward migration and a growing population. In short, both Auckland and Christchurch need more houses.

You don’t – unless your grasp of economic incentives is really skew-whiff – increase the tax on something you want more of.

Labour and Greens are against freeing up more land, and want to tax houses more – imagine house prices then!

Tags: ,

Field’s conspiracy theory

September 6th, 2012 at 1:23 pm by David Farrar

Trans-tasman reports:

To add to the gay theme came, like an echo from the past, the accusations of former Labour MP Philip Field. Now out of prison for nearly a year, Field claimed he had been the victim of a gay and lesbian group within Labour who wanted him out of the road due to his profound and deep Christian beliefs.

The existence of a conspiracy minded gay and lesbian group within Labour opposed to Christian beliefs is something we can take as a given. The ability of such a group to conspire with judge, jury and Police to put Field behind bars though is a bit of a stretch.

Maybe they’re like the Freemasons? :-)

What is a real shame is that Field still does not accept he did anything wrong. To be fair, that is also the position of the NZ Labour Party who have never said he did anything wrong – just that the acknowledged the verdict!

Tags: ,

Trans-Tasman on Key and income inequality

August 30th, 2012 at 1:16 pm by David Farrar

Trans-tasman reports:

 John Key showed his mastery of the political process when, with one verbal swipe in Parliament, he demolished what appeared to be a promising line of attack by Opposition parties on his coalition’s social policies. Armed with a report on child poverty, Green co-leader Metiria Turei was demanding Key acknowledge inequality in NZ has increased to the highest it has ever been, and institute a universal child payment. Key’s response “let us run through the logic of what the member has said. She says we are an unequal society, because the rich are getting richer, and now she’s on her feet telling me to give the rich families even more for their kids. What a dopey idea that is!” Turei was left complaining “I am not thinking straight.”

This is the great mystery. The left call for less income inequality yet fight for universal rather than targeted government support.

Tags: , , , ,

Transtasman on Robertson and Cosgrove

July 12th, 2012 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman reports:

Cosgrove’s party did not exactly leap to defend him either.

Deputy leader Grant Robertson said all Cosgrove did was help a constituent, and everyone immediately recalled the last Labour MP this defence was used for, Philip Field, went to prison.

What’s more, Robertson was in then-PM Helen Clark’s office when she used the defence. It is theoretically possible Robertson’s comments were made innocently, just as it is theoretically possible to build a perpetual motion machine.

Heh. I actually think the phrasing was incompetence, not malice, but I seem to be in a minority on this issue.

Tags: , ,

Sutton tops the CEO ranks

June 8th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Quake recovery tsar Roger Sutton has been named top public service chief executive.

The Economic Development Ministry – about to be merged into a new super- ministry – was ranked top government department of the year.

A panel of 19 high-profile business people, lobbyists and trade unionists rated 38 government departments and their bosses on performance of the chief executive, overall performance, quality of service and value for money.

The report was compiled by political newsletter Trans Tasman.

I met Roger Sutton last Friday when I was down in Christchurch for a CERA hosted tour. He is a very engaging personality. I will be blogging more fully on my observations about Christchurch early next week.

Trans Tasman editor-in- chief Max Bowden said Sutton had found himself in the “role as lightning rod for those dissatisfied about the pace of reconstruction” and praised his “calm and reasoned approach”. He added: “It seems Sutton and the authority are in for the long haul and with final decisions nearing about land zoning and the future of the central business district . . . there is still a big job to be done.”

Sutton paid tribute to his 200 staff. “It’s a very hard- working team . . . it’s a place with an amazing amount of energy and tenacity. Even when we get knockbacks we regroup and work out what we can be doing better and we get on with it.”

Rumours about his resignation were “bull….”, he said. “It’s ridiculous. I love my job. Ask my PA if I’ve ever been close to resignation. Nah.” Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said: “Trans Tasman have properly recognised that setting up a new government department and getting it up and running is no easy task. It’s fantastic.”

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall, who took up the post slightly more than a year ago, was ranked second in the report.

Marshall is proving an excellent Police Commissioner.

Tags: ,

State sector ratings

June 5th, 2012 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Dom Post reports:

ACC’S miserable run continues with its rating in an annual review of state sector performance sinking like a stone.

The third annual review co-ordinated by political newsletter Trans Tasman also had bad news for Building and Housing Department chief executive Katrina Bach, who was ranked the worst of 38 public sector bosses.

Ms Bach’s rating slumped from 3.93 last year to 2 this year, while the overall performance of her department dropped from 3.75 to 2.86.

The Trans Tasman review, released today, canvassed the views of 19 “opinion leaders” on the performance of state sector leaders, issuing scores of between 1 (bad) and 7 (excellent).

The average ranking for agency performance was 4.1 (down from 4.3 last year) and 4.4 for chief executive performance (down from 4.6).

At ACC, the chief executive’s rating dropped from 4.5 to 3.7 and the agency overall went from 4.4 down to 3.7. …

Others taking a hit in the review included embattled Foreign Affairs chief executive John Allen.

Persistent leaks to the media and Opposition MPs throughout a restructuring process at the ministry have made for a tough few months for Mr Allen.

His score dropped 0.8 to a below-average score of 3.8, and Foreign Affairs as a whole dropped 0.3 to 4.3. The ministry remained well rated for ease of business at 4.6 and quality at 4.4, however. …

Mr Rennie’s score dropped from 4.06 to 3.43 and the commission fell from 3.94 to 3.31, though Mr Rennie was described as hard-working and diligent with a “methodical approach”.

Top performers in the review included Conservation Department chief executive Al Morrison, who scored the highest ranking of 5.41, and Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard who was second on 5.35.

ACC, DBH and MFAT scoring lowly is no surprise, when you consider the past 12 months for each of them.

What I think is the more major issue, is that the State Services Commission is rated so low, when you consider it is one of the three central agencies responsible for standards in the state sector.

Tags: ,

The 2011 Trans-Tasman Ratings

December 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for the 92 re-elected MPs. As usual, I do some analysis.

The overall average rating is 5.0 (+0.5 from 2010)

Average Ratings per Party

  1. Maori 5.8 (-1.0)
  2. National 5.2 (-0.2)
  3. United Future 5.0 (-0.5)
  4. Mana 5.0 (+3.0)
  5. Green 4.7 (+0.9)
  6. Labour 4.1 (-0.4)

Labour overall rated the bottom party, based on the MPs re-elected. The Greens are most improved of the parties with more than one MP.

Top MPs

  1. Gerry Brownlee 9.0 (+1.0)
  2. John Key 9.0 (nc)
  3. Bill English 8.5 (nc)

The next four MPs on 8.0 are Russel Norman, Tony Ryall, Lockwood Smith and Murray McCully. They say about Gerry:

As Minister in charge of directing recovery from the devastating earthquakes in Canterbury, and faced almost daily with hard decisions, Brownlee has shown his true mettle. He has stood four-square behind the Govt’s determination to rebuild Christchurch, and has given back hope to those whose homes and businesses were torn apart. The job is far from done and Brownlee is expected to remain in charge for at least a year as the process of rebuilding gathers pace. What may have exercised a strong influence on the outcome of the election, as National harvested majorities in onetime Labour fiefdoms in Christchurch, was the conviction the Govt totally supported the city, transmitted through the Brownlee personality, and built around the extraordinary generosity in the payouts to citizens whose homes had been destroyed.

Bottom MPs

  1. Rajan Prasad 1.0 (-3.0)
  2. David Clendon 2.0 (-1.5)
    Darien Fenton 2.0 (-2.0)
    Louisa Wall 2.0 (-2.0)
    William Sio 2.0 (-1.5)
    Parekura Horomia 2.0 (-1.0)
    Melissa Lee 2.0 (-1.5)
    Colin King 2.0 (-1.5)

And Rajen Prasad was rated higher on Labour’s List than Stuart Nash etc!

Top Labour MPs

  1. Annette King 6.0 (-0.5)
    David Parker 6.0 (-0.5)
    Phil Goff 6.0 (nc)
    David Cunliffe 6.0 (+0.5)
    Lianne Dalziel 6.0 (+0.5)
    Jacinda Ardern 6.0 (+1.0)
    Grant Robertson 6.0 (+1.0)

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Russel Norman 8.0 (+3.0)
  2. Tariana Turia – 6.5 (-.10)
  3. Metiria Turei 6.0 (+1.5)
    Pita Sharples 6.0 (-1.0)
  4. Peter Dunne – 5.0 (-0.5)
    Hone Harawira – 5.0 (+3.0)
    Te Ururoa Flavell 6.0 (-1.0)
    Gareth Hughes – 5.0 (+2.0)

Biggest Increases

  1. Hone Harawira +3.0
    Russel Norman +3.0
  2. Michael Woodhouse +2.0
    David Shearer +2.0
    Gareth Hughes +2.0

Biggest Decreases

  1. Rajan Prasad -3.0
  2. Paul Hutchison -.2.0
    Sue Moroney -2.0
    Darien Fenton -2.0
    Louisa Wall -2.0

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.3 (-0.3)
  2. Cabinet 6.4 (-0.7)
  3. National frontbench 7.2 (-0.7)
  4. Labour frontbench 4.8 (-0.2)
Tags: ,

The Trans-Tasman election summary

November 10th, 2011 at 3:57 pm by David Farrar

A humourous summary of the election campaign from Trans-Tasman:

National: “Ackschully, we’d love to have a second term, to do all sorts of good things. What good things? We’ll work out the details later. Hey, is Phil Goff a loser or what?”

Labour: “We’re not getting into personal attacks, but John Key is a lying scumbag, and anyone who likes him is a moron.”

ACT: “Catching Australia…whiirr BZZTT…2025 Task Force whirr BZZT…..Lower taxes whirr BZZT…Resource Management Act reform whirr BZZTT…Waitangi gravy train wshirr BZZT…. legalise cannabis whirr BZZTTT [EXPLOSION].”

Green Party: “The Apocalypse is Nigh!! The World is Ending! Won’t somebody please think of the children?? Please vote for us and we’ll
get a better deal on house insulation. Oh, and whatever Labour promises to spend or tax – we’ll spend and tax more.”

Mana Party: “We’re staunch. Feed our kids. White mo-fos can go home, unless they’re John Minto or Sue Bradford.”

Maori Party: “We have a seat at the Cabinet table. Well, a kind of wobbly stool, near the door.”

United Future: “Sensible, moderate, responsible….Hello? Anyone there? Hello……”



Government Department and CEO of the Year

June 8th, 2011 at 10:54 am by David Farrar

Trans-tasman announces:

Departing Ministry of Social Development boss Peter Hughes has been named top Government Department CEO of the year by a panel of 22 high profile opinion shapers.* The accolade comes in Trans Tasman’s  2011 New Zealand Government Department’s Briefing Report released this week.

 Hughes, who has just been named as the new head of Victoria University’s School of Government, also picked up the top honour in the inaugural report last year. The panelists were again impressed with the work Hughes has done as head of the ministry and comment he will be sorely missed. …

One of his characteristics is like his political masters he hates bad news and surprises, and does everything possible in planning and management to avoid them. It’s this sort of attention to detail while keeping an eye on the big picture which has led Hughes to win the top CEO accolade.

 Alistair Morrison of the Department Of Conservation gets the second highest score, a result which surprised even the panelists, who worked independently of each other and who didn’t know the result until this week. Morrison came nowhere in last year’s rankings, but it is a measure of his abilities that he was able to make such an impression this year.

 This is perhaps a reflection Morrison’s attempts to find a meaningful role for the department, whittling out costs and better engagement with those outside the department has not always been matched with equal relish from within.

 In the scoring Hughes was well ahead of Morrison, with Maarten Wevers of the Department Of Prime Minister And Cabinet in third place, followed by John Whitehead of Treasury and Wayne McNee of The Ministry Of Agriculture And Forestry.

 There were 37 agencies rated, so just being in the top five is pretty good for a CEO.

The panelists voted The Ministry Of Social Development as the Government Department of The Year. The Treasury, which last year took the top accolade, came in second, with the Department Of Prime Minister And Cabinet third. The Inland Revenue Department was voted fourth best. …

All four top ranking departments will be getting new leadership over the next 12 months. The new CEOs will start with good platforms to work from, but are likely to face more pressure on budgets and policy work than their predecessors ever did.

That’s interesting that all four top agencies will have new CEOs over the next year. Will make next year’s results interesting to compare.

NB – I was one of the 22 panelists.

Tags: ,

Rating the Departments

June 8th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dominion Post reports:

The education and health ministries are among the worst-performing government departments, according to a report card ranking state agencies and bosses.

The snapshot report, to be issued on Friday, finds excessive red tape, bureaucratic systems and ineffective consultation are hampering government departments.

While health and education are lagging, the Social Development Ministry is leading the way, alongside Customs and the Reserve Bank.

The Trans Tasman Media report, which is in the final draft stages, used 16 independent commentators to assess 37 departments.

The independent board rated departments in five categories: chief executive performance, ease of doing business, budget performance and value for money, service delivery, and overall performance.

I was one of the 16 commentators (as was the Dominion Post Editor), and also helped Trans Tasman with the survey design. I found the data quite fascinating.

The board of advisors included Peter Conway from the CTU, Mai Chen, Dave Henderson from the Assn of NGOs, Tina Reid from the Federation of Voluntary Welfare Orgs, Phil O’Reilly from Business NZ etc.

Each state core agency was rated from 1 to 7, so four is the mid point. and the average agency overall rating was 4.2.

The top 10 agencies for overall performance were:

  1. Customs 5.38
  2. Reserve Bank 5.08
  3. MSD 5.08
  4. LINZ 5.00
  5. Stats 5.00
  6. MFAT 4.91
  7. Treasury 4.77
  8. IRD 4.73
  9. DPMC 4.67
  10. MED 4.64

Customs received high ratings across the board. They are obviously a quiet effective performer.

The three biggest departments in terms of vote administered are Education, Health and MSD.  What I found interesting is that one of them was rated right near the top, and the other two almost at the bottom.

When you consider the past scandals and crises at MSD (which includes CYF), they really have turned their performance around. They have shown that size is not a barrier to quality.

It of some concern that the ratings for Education and Health ministries are so low.

The other area of real concern is SSC, with a low 3,55 rating. SSC is one of the three co-ordinating or central agencies alongside DPMC and Treasury. They should be one of the top ten agencies, not one of the bottom ten.How can you be in charge of assessing the performance of other agencies, when your own performance is seen externally (and internally from what I hear) as lack lustre.

From time to time people suggest that we don’t really need three central co-ordinating agencies, and SSC could be abolished with some of its functions transferred to DPMC. Unless they make themselves more relevant, and of greater value, then that may be an idea whose time has come.

Later in the week Trans-Tasman will announce the pick of the panel for Agency of the Year and CEO of the Year. This is not based simply on the ratings, but is based on more qualitative judgements.

The full report is around 100 pages long, and includes detailed critiques of each agency. It is available for sale from Trans Tasman.

Another interesting aspect of the results was, as reported here, that CEOs tnded to get higher ratings than their agencies. This suggests that having a good CEO is a necessary pre-requisite to good performance, but by itself is not a guarantee of sucess.

Some agencies seem to be so challenged, they they defy even the best CEO to turn around. On the other hand MSD is a good example of what you can do.

Tags: ,

Great News

April 12th, 2010 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman report:

The Trans Tasman Political Letter reports informed sources in
Wellington advise NZ has won a spectacular victory against
Australia in the World Trade Organisation  in the case it  took
to secure free access to the Australian market for apples.

The sources say the WTO panel, which adjudicated the long-running
dispute, comprehensively rejected the Australian defence.
Australia has blocked the import of NZ apples, despite the
existence of a free trade agreement, and scientific support for
the NZ argument there is no risk of the transmission of fire

This is a huge and long awaited victory.

NZPA provides background:

The trade row has been running since NZ apples were first banned from Australia over 80 years ago after fireblight was found on this side of the Tamsan .

Though New Zealand scientists have found fireblight in Australian ornamental plants and also showed that the bacterial disease is unlikely to be transmitted on mature, clean fruit, efforts to gain access to the potentially-lucrative Australian market in 1986, 1989, and 1995 were rejected.

Further talks over the restrictions also failed when New Zealand was given access with conditions so strict that exports would not be economically viable and so it applied to the WTO for the matter to be resolved in 2007.

If the Australian Government refuses to accept the ruling, them NZ can apply for sanctions. With Rudd, you never now what he might do. He should just accept the ruling.

Tags: , ,

Trans-Tasman’s Tortoise and the Hare

February 18th, 2010 at 2:45 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman makes an interesting observation in their newsletter today:

Readers of Trans Tasman, an educated lot, will know the Aesop Fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The two were in a race and the hare got so far in front he took a nap. The tortoise plodded on past him.

National looks like trying to transform NZ’s economic reform
progress – in the past we’ve been a bunch of hares – doing sudden bursts of reform and then taking a nap. This time, National is planning on being a tortoise. This was implicit in its initial response to the economic crisis it found on its desk in November 2008. Previous Govts, faced with similar crises, have tended to panic and push every policy button available.

They have usually been shortlived Govts, and they have tended to put NZers off the whole idea of systematic economic reform until it is forced upon them.

We got more tortoise-like behaviour last week, with John Key’s opening statement to the House. A series of headings, it initially looked underwelming, and the more superficial commentators pronounced it as excessively timid.

The implications of some of those headings, on tax as well as on things like education reform and resource development, are now sinking in. Now people have taken the time to think about them, they look more progressive than they looked at the time.

I agree with the sentiments here. Pushing through reform that merely results in a new Government at the next election that reverses that reform, is dumb.

Australia has been a pretty good example of continuous reform, rather than just in the odd spurt of activity. And the PMs statement did have a significant amount of good stuff in it.

My concern though is that pre-election commitments to not touch WFF, Student Loans etc, crown assets, Superannuation, will block significant reform. Now I don’t advocate a change to these policies in this term of Government, but I do hope for the 2011 election National will have a less restrictive manifesto.

Tags: , ,


September 11th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I am a keen recipient of the trans-tasman newsletter. You often read material in there not reported elsewhere. A great example of this is quoted in this week’s newsletter:

Excitement in the media about the Govt undertaking a review of NZ’s intelligence services scaled considerable heights this week. A Treasury official dropped a notebook in the street near Parliament, which contained some details about the review being carried out by former MFAT chief Simon Murdoch. The notebook was retrieved by a Radio NZ political journalist, and initial news reports sent competing media into a frenzy. However John Key deflated the excitement when he told journalists the review had been twice reported earlier in Trans-Tasman. The first, inthe July 2 issue, said a review was being planned of the agencies, and the second on July 16 indicated Murdoch would carry out the review.

So while still highly embarrassing for the Treasury staffer who lost the notebook, there was not actual revealing of anything not already in the public domain.

The newsletter also notes:

We have noted before Labour’s viscerally venomous attitude towards National Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley. This goes way beyond the normal tensions of political conflict. Labour MPs – especially their women MPs – appear to find the very existence of Bennett and Education Minister Tolley infuriating. You can almost see the wall of red mist descending over Labour’s front bench every time those two Ministers get up to speak. …

The attitude is actually an odd kind of snobbery. There is an unspoken “how DARE you?!” from Labour’s front bench towards Bennett and Tolley. It is a rage these women, who in Labour’s eyes should be, firstly, on a benefit themselves somewhere and, secondly, loyally supporting Labour as a consequence.

I recommend people tune into question time to see what the newsletter describes.

Tags: , , ,

Trans-Tasman on Cullen as SOE Chair

March 12th, 2009 at 4:45 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman has some good advice for the Government in discussing the ACC funding issue:

Which may be why the Nats have gone coy on making Michael Cullen the Chairman of Mighty River Power’s Board.

They also recall John Tamihere’s famous comment about Cullen’s ability to “cut a deal on a piece of legislation, he can change a single word in a piece of legislation without those other bastards [coalition partners] knowing about it, and it melts down everything they wanted.”

If it happens with coalition partners, imagine Cullen running an SOE under a National Govt.

That is a good reason, plus the angry horde of National Party members who would encircle the Beehive and try to burn it down if they appointed Cullen as an SOE Chair this year.

Tags: , ,