Transtasman on Cunliffe’s deputy choice

October 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman notes:

Labour provided a continuation of a bizarre election year this week, while National made itself as small a target as possible. Former leader David Cunliffe went on Campbell Live and told its genial host he thought having the Wellington Central MP and leadership aspirant Grant Robertson as his deputy was kind of a neat idea

He might want to check with David Shearer about just how good a deputy Robertson can be. But of course it would not be just Robertson as deputy: an hour after telling John Campbell’s adoring viewers of this, Cunliffe told Native Affairs’ Mihirangi Forbeshe also kind of liked the idea of having a Maori deputy leader. If the Cunliffe Family visits Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World this weekend, don’t rule out an announcement next week Cunliffe’s running mates are a brace of stingray and a handful of krill.

Heh, very good.

Transtasman on Winston

May 22nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman notes in their latest newsletter:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is known for his expensive suits but he triggered a Savile row of a different nature when he turned on ex-NZ First MP Brendan Horan this week. To say there is bad blood between the two is an insult to leukemia. The loathing runs deeper than the Marianas Trench, as wide as the mouth of the Amazon.

But to do as Peters did, and to describe Horan as “the Jimmy Savile of NZ politics” – and to do so not once but twice in what was clearly a calculated insult – takes it to a whole new level. Savile, the deceased British “celebrity” who sexually preyed on young, often handicapped, girls, is the nuclear option of insults. It all looked a bit desperate. You cannot make such a comment without backing it up with some evidence.

I really hope the media don’t let this drop and they ask Peters when is next turns up to Parliament what he meant by his comments. Was he alleging Horan is a paedophile, and if so what is his proof. If he wasn’t implying that about Horan, then why did he twice refer to him as a Jimmy Saville.

Yet Peters not only failed to front in Parliament the following day, when Horan signalled he would reveal his own deep scandal about NZ First.

It left the rest of the NZ First MPs – who tend to resemble a bunch of ageing Social Creditors with anger management issues at the best of times – making a shambles of trying to use Parliament’s standing orders to block their former colleague.

That bit in bold is gold.

In the end Horan’s revelations Peters was using the leader’s budget for electioneering and campaigning expenses, namely software and staff, proved something of a damp squib. It is still far from clear NZ First is doing anything wrong with its parliamentary funding, although no doubt the party does – like all the others – push it right up to the edge of the rules.

I have to say I don’t see any proof of wrongdoing either, at this stage.

Party leaders on the wintry blast

May 30th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Some nice humour from Trans-Tasman on how party leaders would respond to the recent wintry blast:

John Key

Points out NZ experienced similar bouts of cold weather “pretty much every year, actually, under nine years of Labour. And they did NOTHING!” And then confuses winter with autumn.

David Shearer

“This hardworking bloke came up to me in a pub and told me he and his hard working family have done everything they can but they just can’t cope with these hard working winters any more hardworking.”

Russel Norman

Calls on the Reserve Bank to get one of those neat “smart, green” new 3-D printers so it can print out some more summer. 

Winston Peters

“Everyone knows where this weather came from, though few have the courage to say it. This weather comes from China.”

Peter Dunne

Issues discussion document on obscure tax rule which allows deductibility of small weather related expenses: says it is not actually Government policy yet because there might be some fishhooks IRD haven’t told him about.

John Banks

Can’t remember any weather, but says if there was any it was donated anonymously.

Tariana Turia

“Whanau Ora means we can draw on our histories as hunters, gatherers, growers to withstand the winter, and ….hmm. Can we put in a Waitangi claim for some decent thermals?”

Heh, not bad.

Media on Shearer

November 15th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman this week said:

Having demonstrated how not to have a leader of the opposition, the Labour Party is now demonstrating how not to have a coup to get rid of him. Watch and learn.

For the not having a leader of the opposition bit, the party has pretty much covered all the options this year, with only one exception: party leader David Shearer has never rounded on his party critics and told them to go and do something very difficult to themselves. His response has been more a hurt and injured look. This is novel, but it hasn’t worked. So now Labour, or some elements anyway, are endeavouring to get him to go quietly by using a Labour-aligned, anonymously written blog.

For those who have lives, it’s called The Standard, and it is written by Labour Party members who are also public servants, hence the anonymity. It’s mostly a poisonous waste of time, although if you want an insight into the thought processes of Labour-supporting public servants, it is quite an education.

All this meant was would be challengers David Cunliffe and Grant Robertson had to endorse their leader in public. It was a
highly qualified level of support.

Claiming they have “no immediate plans to challenge the leader” about as lukewarm as you can get.

I think some of the authors also work for unions!

Also worth listening to former Herald Editor Gavin Ellis on Radio NZ Nine to Noon. He says that The Standard authors were obviously used by factions in the Labour Party who want to see a change in the leadership.

And finally The Press editorial:

The loudest muttering against Shearer is being led by bloggers and columnists from the liberal Left. For the moment the caucus appears loyal, all possible contenders insisting they are 100 per cent behind him. That, however, should be regarded with considerable scepticism.

For a start, when Shearer got himself into a horrendous tangle with unsubstantiated allegations against Key over the Government Communications Security Bureau fuss, his colleagues took an awful long time to come to his defence. Further, if any plot to unseat him were going on, the plotters would obviously stay clandestine for as long as they could.

A factor inhibiting a coup is the lack of an alternative with predominating support. Of two possible contenders, David Cunliffe lost against Shearer last time and is widely regarded as too satisfied with himself by half and Grant Robertson is, for now at least, a Shearer loyalist.

It was lack of an obvious successor that kept Phil Goff in the leadership until the last election, but not many in Labour would regard that as an entirely happy precedent.

What surprises me is they gave Goff three years, yet some appear unwilling to give Shearer even 18 months.

Someone is telling lies

August 20th, 2011 at 12:39 pm by David Farrar

The latest story on the Labour leadership makes it quite clear someone is telling lies.

Now I think most would agree that a blog post from Matthew Hooton on the Labour leadership should not be taken as automatically accurate. Of course neither does it mean it is automatically wrong either.

But Trans-tasman reported on Thursday :

Meanwhile Goff questioned his front bench colleagues last week as to whether he should resign as leader. The questioning took place at a pre-caucus meeting of the front bench group. It followed publication of at least three opinion polls showing Labour slipping heavily in electoral popularity.

Caucus sources says the response to the question was muted, with one senior MP saying

“it’s up to you Phil.” There was no disagreement. The catalyst for a leadership discussion is the realisation if Labour slips further respected list MPs like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash may lose their places.

This has greater credibility. It references to a specific meeting on a specific date, involving a specific group of people. It refers to multiple sources and uses a quote from one of the sources, who by definition must be a frontbench MP or a senior Labour staffer.

Then we have today’s Dom Post:

An increasingly angry Labour leader Phil Goff is again facing leadership speculation after conflicting accounts over a meeting with some of his closest and most senior colleagues.

He furiously denied reports in political newsletter Trans-Tasman that he asked his frontbench MPs whether he should quit.

Several frontbench MPs backed Mr Goff, either describing the report as “bollocks” or insisting the discussion never took place. Others refused to comment.

But one senior Labour MP said the conversation did happen. “[Phil] did consult the front bench over whether he should go.”

Now I don’t think anyone really thinks that both Trans-tasman and Tracy Watkins are simply inventing stories and specific quotes.

This leaves two possibilities:

  1. Goff did consult the front-bench on whether he should go, and is now lying about it
  2. A member of the Labour front-bench has invented this story and fed it to the media in order to destabilise Goff

It goes without saying that neither scenario is particularly good for Goff and Labour.

I suspect the conversation did happen. I don’t judge Goff harshly for lying and denying it, because it is a reality of politics that you have to deny stuff like this, otherwise you are fatally wounded. Goff probably never imagined that one of his front bench colleagues would leak that he asked his senior colleagues if he should quit.

One Labour source has described the polls as “OK Corral” territory for Mr Goff, with a number of well-respected MPs set to lose their seats should Labour’s support drop any further.

But another MP said Mr Goff’s leadership should be safe – even though there were probably the numbers to roll him should any of the contenders put their hands up.No one wanted the leadership because it was such a “a poisoned chalice” this close to the election.

This sounds like at a minimum three different Labour MPs are talking to the media about Goff’s leadership, so I don’t think one can blame all of this on Matthew Hooton. What is interesting is the assertion that if someone stood, they would have the numbers to roll Goff.

Transtasman on Goff

August 19th, 2011 at 12:18 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman reported yesterday:

Meanwhile Goff questioned his front bench colleagues last week as to whether he should resign as leader. The questioning took place at a pre-caucus meeting of the front bench group. It followed publication of at least three opinion polls showing Labour slipping heavily in electoral popularity.

Caucus sources says the response to the question was muted, with one senior MP saying

“it’s up to you Phil.” There was no disagreement. The catalyst for a leadership discussion is the realisation if Labour slips further respected list MPs like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash may lose their places.

They’re just all waiting for Goff to lose, so they can axe him after the election instead and let him take the blame for the loss.

UPDATE: Stuff reports Goff denies he offered to quit. But of course you have to deny such stuff.

CGT will apply to KiwiSaver

August 12th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman reports:

In a press statement issued August 3, Labour’s finance spokesman David Cunliffe stated categorically “KiwiSaver funds will not incur capital gains tax on their share investments under Labour’s policy proposals. KiwiSaver funds which invest in shares are already taxed as portfolio investments entities (PIEs) at the PIE rate of 28%, or as widely-held superannuation funds taxed at 30%.”

So a categorical statement that CGT will not apply to share investments in KiwiSaver funds.

Revenue spokesman Stuart Nash added “in neither case would the KiwiSaver fund attract additional capital gains tax, as tax is already paid on a trading basis.” This is not correct. One of the big attractions of KiwiSaver funds is they do NOT pay tax on share trading gains.

So they got the current law wrong.

Based on a written response from Cunliffe to the Shareholders’ Association on July 20, in circumstances where currently no tax is payable on capital gains, the 15% CGT would apply under Labour’s proposal. So KiwiSaver funds would suffer CGT on share trading gains, which are currently exempt from CGT, at the rate of 15%.

And they got their own policy wrong. KiwiSaver funds will be subject to CGT on currently exempt share trading gains.

And where Labour says PIEs are taxed at 28%, the maximum rate, they are actually taxed at the rate of the investor, which could be lower than 28%, ie at 10.5%, or 17.5%.

So got that wrong also.

Widely-held superannuation funds are taxed at 28%, not the 30% rate, as Cunliffe contended.

This is surely a serious blow to Labour’s credibility, if Trans-Tasman are correct.

The 2010 Transtasman Ratings

November 30th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for our 122 MPs. As usual, I do some analysis. The overall average rating is 4.5

Average Ratings per Party

  1. Maori 5.7 ((+0.5 from 2009)
  2. United Future 5.5 (+1.5)
  3. National 5.2 (+0.1)
  4. ACT 4.4 (-0.2)
  5. Labour 4.3 (+0.4)
  6. Green 4.1 (+0.6)
  7. Progressive 2.0 (-1.0)

The overall average rating increased from 4.5 to 4.7.

Top MPs

  1. Simon Power 9.0 (+0.5)
  2. John Key 9.0 (nc)
  3. Tony Ryall 8.5 (+0.5)
  4. Bill English 8.5 (+0.5)

Bottom MPs

  1. Chris Carter 1.0 (-2.5)
  2. Paul Quinn 1.0 (-1.0)
  3. Ashraf Choudary 1.5 (+0.5)

Top Labour MPs

  1. Annette King 6.5 (nc)
  2. David Parker 6.5 (+0.5)
  3. Darren Hughes 6.5 (+0.5)

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Tariana Turia – 7.5 (+0.5)
  2. Peter Dunne – 5.5 (+1.5)
  3. Sue Kedgley – 5.5 (+1.5)
  4. John Boscawen – 5.0 (+0.5)
  5. Jim Anderton – 2.0 (-1.0)

Top 2008 intake MPs

  1. Steven Joyce 7.5 (nc)
  2. Rahui Katene 6.0 (nc)
  3. Simon Bridges 6.0 (+2.0)

Biggest Increases

  1. Lindsay Tisch, Simon Bridges, Sue Moroney and Hone Harawira all +2 from 2009

Biggest Decreases

  1. Pansy Wong -3.0
  2. Chris Carter -2.5

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.6 (+0.4)
  2. Cabinet 7.1 (+0.4)
  3. National frontbench 7.9 (+0.2)
  4. Labour frontbench 5.0 (+0.5)
  5. National 2008 intake 4.2 (nc)
  6. Labour 2008 intake 4.1 (+0.4)

Transtasman Predictions

December 10th, 2009 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman puts its tongue in its cheek for its 2010 projections. Extracts:

Despite the recession, Phil Goff ’s poll ratings decline further. He has a long lunch with Ian Wishart and criticises the dominance of scheming, childless “front bums” in the Labour Party.

After two weeks of internal muttering Labour MPs say they are right behind Goff and anyone interpreting his criticisms of “front bums” as anti-women don’t know what they are talking about.

Ouch – so cutting.

Jim Anderton retires. It is nearly a month before anyone notices.

He’s a party leader you know.

The 2009 Transtasman Ratings

December 7th, 2009 at 4:10 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for our 122 MPs. As usual, I do some analysis. The overall average rating is 4.5

Average Ratings per Party

  1. Maori 5.2
  2. National 5.1
  3. ACT 4.5
  4. United Future 4.0
  5. Labour 3.9
  6. Green 3.7
  7. Progressive 3.0

The influx of new MPs saw the overall average rating drop from 4.8 to 4.5. All parties except National had their average drop. National went up 0.3.

Top MPs

  1. Lockwood Smith 9.25
  2. John Key 9.0
  3. Simon Power 8.5

Bottom MPs

  1. Hone Harawira 0.0
  2. Ashrad Choudary 1.0

Top Labour MPs

  1. Annette King 6.5
  2. David Parker 6.0
  3. Darren Hughes 6.0

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Pita Sharples & Tariana Turia – 7.0
  2. Jeanette Fitzsimons – 6.0
  3. Roger Douglas & Heather Roy – 5.0
  4. Peter Dunne – 4.0
  5. Jim Anderton – 3.0

Top New MPs

  1. Steven Joyce 7.5
  2. Rahui Katene 6.0
  3. Amy Adams 5.0

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.2
  2. Cabinet 6.7
  3. National frontbench 7.7
  4. Labour frontbench 4.5
  5. National 2008 intake 4.2
  6. Labour 2008 intake 3.7

It will be interesting to see in a year how the ratings have changed. Hopefully by then the Labour frontbench has had a reshuffle. That is a huge disparity between the frontbenches.

Trans-Tasman on Economic Future

October 2nd, 2009 at 9:52 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman has published a road map for improving New Zealand’s economic performance. They say:

No Government can ever get policy initiatives and responses 100% right. History shows too many imponderables from oil shocks to war, from disease to depression and simple lack of aspiration, to ensure perfection. They can only aim at good, not perfect, results.

What Governments are indeed sworn to is the search for profitable directions and good results, say well above the 50% and hopefully towards the 80% mark.

That’s a reasonable goal.

Observers are still surprised to think how, in the prosperous decade from 1999, the Clark/Cullen Government retreated from those goals. In seeking greater social justice, it chose to slice and dice the national cake.

I regard the 2000s as a missed opportunity of a generation. A massive period of economic growth and Dr Cullen spent it all.

So what does Trans-Tasman recommend?

  1. A Trans Tasman Single Economic Market – In Effect Economic Union – by 2015
  2. Energy as the Transformatory Base
  3. Greening NZ with Environmental and Industrial Forestry
  4. Innovation : Research, Science and Technology
  5. Ultra-Fast Broadband
  6. Securities Law Reform

Can’t see anything there I disagree with.

New MFAT Chief Executive

April 30th, 2009 at 12:41 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman are tipping (via e-mail) that NZ Post CEO John Allen is likely to be named Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Incidentally I tipped this back on the 8th of April.

If they are right, then this is a radical change for MFAT. Not only has an outsider never been made CEO before – they don’t have outsiders in any of their senior management team. Every Deputy Secretary(I believe) is from within MFAT.

Most Government Departments have senior managers who have come from other Departments or God forbid even the private sector. MFAT does not. What this means is the only senior managers there are those who have spent decades within MFAT. Hence why this is about Minister McCully wanting a change culture.

Diplomatic Appointments

March 11th, 2009 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman has just put out a special newsletter with some exclusive news:

The Trans-Tasman Political Letter reports Jim McLay will be NZ’s permanent representative to the UN in New York. McLay will take up the post when the present ambassador Rosemary Banks finishes her term in May.

This is a very interesting move. Normally political appointments are made as Ambassadors to countries.I would not call them a cruisy job because they do have work to do, but it is a pleasant job shall we say.

The permanent rep to the UN is a very full on busy role. None of the perks of being an Ambassador – you’re stuck in UN meetings all day.

This implies that the Government wants a rep who can display political leadership within the UN – suggesting that maybe the Government intends to get involved with efforts to reform the UN.

Hopefully this may mean the Government will withdraw NZ’s bid to be elected to the discredited Human Rights Council.

Foreign Minister McCully has indicated he wants the current professional diplomats in Washington (Roy Ferguson) and in London (Derek Leask) to serve out their terms.

So no political appointments there for now.

Interviews to find a successor for retiring MFAT CEO Simon Murdoch will begin in Wellington next week.

The name most people put forward is the DPMC CEO Maarten Weavers.

Meanwhile, Trans-Tasman says former PM Helen Clark is on the three-person short-list for the post of director of the UNDP. The Govt has been seeking international support for her appointment and is understood to have gained the support of Korea, which could be influential on the thinking of the current UN Secretary-General. Clark had a one-on-one meeting with the Korean president Lee Myung-Bak in Auckland.

The Secretary-General is from Korea, so that is significant.

Trans-Tasman on Key

March 5th, 2009 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman (an invaluable weekly newsletter) looks at the week for Key:

John Key had three striking successes in the past week. All three demonstrated his capacity to take hold of a germ of an idea, nurture it and turn a political profit on it. The Jobs Summit hammered home the theme saving jobs is a top priority of the Key Govt. But its important achievement was to get sectors previously in conflict to work together. The Govt is willing to take on more debt, the banks are willing to lend some more money, the unions are not calling for pay rises, and employers accepted plans to reduce hours rather than jobs. As union leader (and presumably politically opposed to Key) Laila Harre put it: “In term of my political experience this was the first time I have personally been engaged in a genuinely tripartite process at a NZ level. I’ve never seen anything like that in NZ.”

The other two sucesses are putting the travel to Australia as domestic passengers on the fast track, and the decision to launch a Korean FTA.

At some stage, Key will have a really bad week, and it will be interesting to see how he handles it. But he is displaying very good political instincts to date.


February 26th, 2009 at 3:45 pm by David Farrar

Today’s Trans-Tasman looks at what is happening:

Key is sharp, incisive and confident, English supplies the intellectual grunt and the political know-how. Both in their different ways inspire others to work with them as a team. The opinion polls offer dismal reading for Opposition parties, with Labour crashing to 28% and the Greens to 6%. Only about half of those sampled were aware Phil Goff is now Labour leader, and only 13% Annette King is deputy leader. With Helen Clark actively planning an early departure from Parliament, and speculation Michael Cullen will leave in the next two months likely to be confirmed, Labour is threatened with an identity crisis.

To be fait to Goff, I suspect more than half of NZers know who he is. They just don’t know he is now the Labour Leader.

Part of Goff’s problem is he became Leader so quickly – at the time Key was putting his Government together. So his ascension got sant media coverage. If Clark has held off until around now, then Goff would probably have got extensive coverage of his rise to the leadership – exclusive TV interviews, magazine profiles, newspaper stories etc.

But Goff’s problem goes beyond the initial lack of profile. His problem is his own supporters are not talking about him.

The front page of The Standard does not mention him once. In fact there is only one post in the Phil Goff category.  Niw this is not any criticism of The Standard, just a reflection of the reality that Goff is not connecting with anyone at the moment.

Personally though, if I was Goff, I wouldn’t even try to build up profile at this stage. The next few months are still Government honeymoon. He should concentrate on getting around the country talking to key groups, starting to think about the direction he wants to take Labour in, and then start selling that in the second half of the year.

More Transtasman Averages

December 9th, 2008 at 11:54 am by David Farrar

Further to Monday’s post, have had time to crunch some more numbers.

The Labour front bench (of nine) has an average rating of 5.3 with scores ranging from 4.0 to 7.0. The National front bench has an average rating of 7.6 with scores ranging from 6.5 to 9.0.

If we look at the Cabinet of 20 (excluding Joyce who is not rated as a new MP), the average rating is 6.8 with a range from 4 to 9. Only one Cabinet Minister is ranked below 5.0. Labour’s shadow cabinet has an average rating of 4.8 with a range from 1.0 to 7.0.

The overall Executive of 28 rates a bit lower with a 6.2 average, but still higher than the Labour frontbench’s 5.3.

It will be interesting to see how the scores have changed in a year’s time.

The Transtasman 2008 MP Scorecard

December 8th, 2008 at 12:47 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman has just published its ratings for MPs in 2008. Those who lost their seats are not included, while new MPs are comented on but not given a rating out of 10.

Like I did last year, I look at some of the scores.

I like to analyse data so have put all the ratings into a spreadsheet and here are the average ratings for each party (2+ MPs), with the change from last year:

ACT            5.3        +1.0
Green         4.4         +0.3
Labour       4.5         +0.5
Maori         5.9         +1.5
National    5.0          +0.3

All parties increased their average rating. This is probably due to “dead wood” leaving in the election. The four Maori MPs score highest followed by ACT then National.

Top Scores

John Key            9.0 (+1.0)
Bill English        8.5 (+0.5)
Simon Power     8.0 (+0.5)

Also on 7.5 were Gerry Brownlee, Judith Collins, Tim Groser, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia

Bottom Scores

Ashraf Choudary            0.5
Darien Fenton                1.0
Nicky Wagner                2.0
Colin King                      2.0

Largest Increases

Tariana Turia          +4.0
Rodney Hide           +2.0
Jonathan Coleman  +2.0

Largest Decreases

Shane Jones                 -2.0
Lockwood Smith         -2.0
Clayton Cosgrove       -2.0

Top Performers by Party

Act – Rodney Hide 5.5
Green – Jeanette Fitzsimons 6.0
Labour – Clark 7.0, Goff 7.0, King 7.0
Maori – Tariana Turia 7.5
National – Key 9.0, English 8.5, Power 8

I may do some more analysis later, looking at how the frontbenches compare, but off to the swearing in of MPs at 2 pm.