Final boundaries – winners and losers

April 17th, 2014 at 12:52 pm by Jadis

Well the final boundaries are out.  There are some changes (as there always are) and a couple are quite significant.


Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert.  Grey Lynn was Jacinda’s territory and I am pretty sure she owns a house there so she will now be living outside of the electorate that she says she will contest in this year’s election.  Nikki is probably sitting on a conservative majority of 2000 but it is useful to remember that with strategic voting and the like locally, and the high profile of the seat, that it will still be a hard race.

Nicky Wagner, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. There must have been some fascinating discussion at the Commission table because it is a crazy shaped seat – how many legs does it have?  Nicky only won the seat by 47 votes so holding Christchurch Central was always going to be extremely tough.  Big chunks of red vote have been cut out of the electorate so Christchurch Central is back in play for both parties.  Still too close to call but certainly gone in Nats favour compared to the provisionals.

Tim MacIndoe, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  This seat should get stronger as more development occurs.  Tim’s majority may get as high as 5000-6000 this year.

Matt Doocey, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country.  The electorate already had a big party vote in Nats favour but Clayton Cosgrove has been pretty popular there.  With Kate Wilkinson retiring Cosgrove would have been hoping to regain his seat but the boundaries haven’t been so helpful for him.  Wilkinson’s very thin majority is expected to climb just into four figures – not a big jump but it matters when a race is as tight as this one.


Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central.  Dyson will have a real battle to hold this, even with the Nats putting in a new candidate.  How winnable the seat is very much depends on the strength of the Nat candidate, but a good candidate could take the seat with a 2000 majority.  I’d be gutted if I was Dyson as Pete Hodgson (who did the boundaries for Labour) is a good mate of hers.  Perhaps this is Labour’s new (poor) strategy of retiring MPs.

Trevor Mallard, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat.  Why didn’t Hodgson fight hard for Mallard?  Was it a directive from on high?  Realistically, Mallard should hold the seat but he’ll be working hard for it and never should have been put in this position. I expect Mallard’s majority to be pegged down a few.

Sam Lotu-iiga, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

Cunliffe and Labour – Labour have racked up few gains, and have taken significant hits in Christchurch, the Hutt Valley, Hamilton and Auckland.  In Maungakiekie where Labour locals organised a large number of submissions they’ve made headway but they could have been similarly organised elsewhere and chose not to be. That poor organisation has put a number of Labour MPs at serious risk.  At this rate, Labour will have no provincial seats (Tamati, you are dreaming in Rotorua with another Nat stronghold (Te Puke) going into Rotorua) and are fighting from behind in the marginal seats. Where was the leadership from Cunliffe, Coatsworth, Barnett and the hierarchy to stop this happening?  Overall, a fail for Labour.




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What business is it of the airport?

February 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard had to pass off a packed-up bicycle as a briefcase to be allowed to carry it in a taxi from Auckland Airport.

He is furious an airport security official tried to stop his taxi driver from allowing the bike – which he strips down and packs into a hard case when flying – into the back seat of the cab.

He told the Weekend Herald the bike was too large to fit into the boots of most cabs, so he had carried it in back seats without being challenged at least 10 other times when catching taxis from the airport. But on Thursday, as he was trying to load in his bike, an airport official told him and the cabbie “that their rules didn’t allow luggage to go in the same compartment as passengers”.

What a stupid rule.

Airport spokesman Simon Lambourne said, after taking advice from other officials, that his company was simply monitoring a Transport Agency rule “in the interests of passenger safety”.

“There’s an NZTA [agency] rule that says taxis can’t have unusual, oversized or heavy items in the passenger cabin,” he said. But an agency official indicated that the rule simply gave taxi drivers the right to refuse to carry in or on their vehicles luggage that would endanger safe driving, could not be reasonably carried without causing damage, or was dirty or objectionable.

Even if there is such a rule (and it seems there is not), it is no business of Auckland Airport. The airport is merely the location where a passenger gets picked up. It is not their job to act as NZTA officials.

“Auckland Airport wants every passenger to have a safe taxi journey to and from the airport and we support the traffic marshals raising luggage safety concerns they have with the drivers.”

I’d say they could do with fewer traffic marshalls.

Mr Mallard said it was nonsense for the company to suggest the official was looking after his safety, as his bike was wedged in behind the front seats, making it more secure than if a seatbelt was used. “Of course drivers should be able to refuse unsafe or dirty stuff, but it’s totally lacking in logic and sounds like someone who’s got nothing better to do, trying to rationalise a stupid decision.”

It is up to the driver and the passenger. On this issue my sympathy is with Trevor, not the airport company. They should tell their traffic marshalls to be less zealous.

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Cunliffe v Mallard

October 15th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s caucus meeting today will be the first MP Trevor Mallard has attended since he was demoted by new leader David Cunliffe – and Mr Mallard said fears he will go rogue are unfounded, but nor will he disappear in 2014 and he still hopes to be made the Speaker if Labour wins the next election.

He still wanted to be Speaker and and Mr Cunliffe was open to that. “Absolutely. There’s no problem in that area.”

Really? Cunliffe is open to that? Luckily the Herald didn’t take Trevor’s word for it but asked Cunliffe:

Mr Cunliffe said he had not told Mr Mallard he could still be Speaker under a future Labour Government.

Doesn’t sound good for Trevor.

“No decisions have been made about that, but I’m well aware of his strong interest in it.” Asked if it was a sign he expected Mr Mallard to step down in 2014, he said he was not yet going through the process of holding retirement conversations with MPs.

The key words are “Not yet”

My expectation is that if Labour wins, they will put Annette King up to be Speaker.

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Garner prescribe dead rats

September 17th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

Cunliffe will need to tread carefully with his reshuffle and the ABC club – except for Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins.

Mallard’s time is up. The public tired of him years ago. He has been one of the main protagonists in the fight against Cunliffe. He should be dealt to. He has done his time in NZ politics.

He’s currently on the taxpayers tit living it up in San Fran – it should be his last trip. He’s done well out of NZ politics and it’s time he was moved on. I don’t see what he offers anymore.

He’s on a junket and taxpayers should be appalled. Cunliffe should shoulder tap him and tell him to start looking for relief teaching job in Hutt South after the next election. Labour needs to signal a fresh start under Cunliffe and getting rid of Mallard would do that.

And whip Chris Hipkins will have to go too. Cunliffe needs a whip he can trust. He can’t trust Hipkins, it’s as simple as that.

Pretty blunt advice.

He will need to tread carefully with the other ABC members. Annette King, Phil Goff, Jacinda Ardern, Phil Twyford and, dare I say it, ABC Club President and life member, Clayton Cosgrove are all pretty good performers that can’t be ditched that easily. Cunliffe would be wise to keep them. And he needs to keep them to get this caucus firing.

If you excluded the ABCs from the Shadow Cabinet, there wouldn’t be enough MPs remaining to make up the Shadow Cabinet!

I expect Labour to get a bounce in the polls and Cunliffe to get a honeymoon. But he will want to eat into John Key’s support, not just the Greens. Taking from the Greens will mean nothing. He must rip into the centre.

I worry about the expectations Cunliffe has raised amongst his supporters. He has signalled a strong left-wing agenda which I’m not sure even he believes in.

I think DC believes in getting elected!

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Own goal by Mallard

August 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Barry Soper reports at NewstalkZB:

Over the next three weeks the spotlight will be on Labour and in particular the three wannabes. 

But it’s a party that can’t help tripping over itself as it did yesterday when Trevor Mallard flew into the bear pit, accusing the pedantic Nick Smith of bludging off the taxpayer after he tearfully relieved himself of his ministry last year when his Bronwyn Pullar conflict of interest became an embarrassment. 

Of course he’s repented and is now back in the fold. Mallard claimed he’d stayed on in his taxpayer supplied ministerial home when he wasn’t entitled to. 

Smith tells us he stayed on for a couple of weeks so that his kids could finish their school term which would seem reasonable in the circumstances. 

But big Gezza Brownlee wasn’t going to let them get away with that. He ruffled Mallard’s feathers, saying what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. 

If he expected Smith to cough up some cash then what about Dithering David doing the decent thing? 

Since making the dramatic announcement last Thursday, and then refusing to take any questions about it, Shearer got on the next plane out of the capital and will be lying low for the next three weeks. 

He’s still picking up his leader’s salary and the perks that go with the job, which Gezza says is a bit rich given Labour’s view of Smith’s indiscretion. 

More points on the Tory board then as Labour again scores an own goal!

As far as I can tell Trevor Mallard seems to be claiming that if you lose a job which has accomodation as part of it, you should be evicted from that house the same day.

Presumably he thinks if a Police officer resigns, they should be evicted from their Police accomodation immediately. Likewise Railways use to have many homes for staff. Again Labour now seems to say there should be no grace period at all – you should have your furniture thrown out that afternoon.

Presumably Trevor has written a refund cheque for staying on in his ministerial house after the 2008 election, rather than moving out that night.

As this Herald story pointed out, outgoing Ministers were given a dignified time:

Prime Minister John Key pointed out that when National entered Government he encouraged outgoing Prime Minister Helen Clark to remain in Premier House in Wellington as long as she wanted, at no cost.

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee suggested that outgoing Labour leader David Shearer should have his privileges stripped because he had stepped down and was absent from Parliament.

This is the all too common problem in Labour – go for the easy hit, and not worry about consistency.

UPDATE: Trevor would not have had a Ministerial house as he is a Wellington MP. But his colleagues of course did, and I am sure did not pay rent for staying on for a few weeks after they lost in 2008. Unless they had already packed up before the election!

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12 questions with Mallard

June 27th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard answers 12 questions in the NZ Herald.

3. Do you believe yesterday’s polls, which had Labour and David Shearer losing points against National?

Umm, well, polls are polls. They go up and down all over the place and they have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 or 4 per cent. On the basis of one individual poll I accept the volatility that moves them around. Having said that, I have been door-knocking in the Ikaroa- Rawhiti electorate for much of the past week and I’d be surprised if our candidate doesn’t get double the votes of the next person behind her.

That’s a ballsy prediction. Having said that, I don’t know anyone who thinks the Labour candidate won’t win. Mana are pushing a rumour that Labour polling has then only 5% behind but I doubt Labour shares its polling with Mana!

7. What’s your best door-knocking story?

During the Mana byelection a mother took me into her son’s room to enrol him and we found him playing some interactive porn game – with a joystick in each hand.

LOL, now that is funny. Poor bastard.



F for consistency

June 19th, 2013 at 3:07 pm by David Farrar

Kate Shuttleworth at NZ Herald reports:

A privileges complaint has been laid with the Speaker of Parliament over the behaviour of two veteran Labour MPs at last week’s Law and Order Select Committee.

Committee chairwoman Jacqui Dean is unhappy with the way Trevor Mallard and Phil Goff behaved during the appearance of Police Commissioner Peter Marshall and Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush.

Labour MP Trevor Mallard stormed out of the committee during a fiery exchange about the eulogy given by Mr Bush at the funeral of former detective inspector Bruce Hutton in April. …

Mr Goff argued with Ms Dean and swore after his questions about police redundancies and station closures were stifled.

Mrs Dean said both outbursts were unacceptable.

I understand Goff used the F word, which is definitely not allowed in Parliament.

Mr Mallard said: “The only comment I will make is the fact that Jacqui Dean has been public [about the complaint] is an indication that she’s not taking it seriously.

“You either let the Speaker decide if you’ve got a case or you make a fuss about it publicly, you don’t do both,” he said.

Does no one in Labour think about their record before they open their mouth? So according to Trevor you shouldn’t make a fuss about privilege complaints if you are serious about them. Well let’s look at some recent cases:

Here’s his own leader David Shearer just a few days ago:

New Zealanders are still none the wiser as to who leaked the Kitteridge Report. All we have is an MP who has resigned as minister but refuses to cooperate with the inquiry. The matter cannot lie here. This is why we have taken the matter to the Privileges Committee to get to the bottom of who leaked the report.

So according to Trevor’s own words, David Shearer is not serious about his privileges complaint as he went public about it!!

And if we go further back we have:

  • 10 Oct 2011 – Press Release by Phil Goff about how Labour is laying a privileges complaint against the PM over comments in the House
  • 1o July 2011 – Press Release by Trevor Mallard about how Labour is laying a privileges complaint against Bill English over comments in the House about asset sales 
  • 30 July 2009 – Press Release by Clayton Cosgrove about how Labour is laying a privileges complaint against ACT MP David Garrett over comments in a select committee 
  • 7 July 2009 – Press Release by Grant Robertson about how labour is laying a privileges complaint against Nick Smith over comments in Parliament relating to ACC redundancies

Trevor gets an F for consistency!

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In brief

June 12th, 2013 at 2:51 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A select committee hearing has descended into acrimony after Labour MP Trevor Mallard appeared to threaten the job of a senior police officer.

Mallard abruptly left a select committee after an exchange of angry words with Police Minister Anne Tolley after he questioned the decision of Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush to speak at the funeral of former police officer Bruce Hutton.

Is it newsworthy anymore when Trevor Mallard storms out of the House or a select committee? He’s done it so often, it is probably more newsworthy when he doesn’t.

After Mallard attempted to question Bush on the issue Government committee members objected that his questions were out of order.

But Mallard hit back and appeared to threaten Bush’s job.

“We’re deciding whether or not to continue his salary, that’s what we’re deciding now,” he said.

Really. A select committee can approve the salary of an individual police officer?

Also of interest is this tweet from Hamish Rutherford:

David Shearer confirms he was in SkyCity after ABs test at Eden Park on Sat for “5 to 10 minutes” to say hello. No drinks or hospo.

So against Sky City making money from dirty pokies, but will pop into their corporate box.

And a great rejoinder from Steven Joyce:

I think he’s saying he didn’t inhale

Great sledge.

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Long may it last

June 7th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is calling on Speaker David Carter to explain why he went against standing orders in Parliament today and would boycott Parliament until he did.

Excellent. Long may it last.

NZ First MPs and Labour’s Trevor Mallard have walked out of Parliament in protest after Speaker David Carter allowed United Future MP Peter Dunne to keep the extra funding and entitlements that come with being a party leader, despite the de-registration of his party.

Mr Carter announced the decision today but both Labour and NZ First objected, saying if Mr Dunne’s party was not registered then it clearly did not meet the rules required for those resources.

Maybe Winston should pay back the $158,000 he owes taxpayers before he tries to take the moral high ground.

As for whether Dunne is eligible to retain his extra funding, the Standing Orders are not clear on this. What Carter has effectively ruled is that as Dunne was the leader of a party when elected at the beginning of this term – that applies throughout.  I think it an arguable decision either way, but Peters is wrong to say the decision is against standing orders. The standing orders are unclear on what happens if a party is deregistered. Graeme Edgeler has blogged on this at Public Address.

After objecting, Mr Peters said that if Mr Carter did not produce the legal advice he based his decision on, then his party would boycott Parliament until that happened.

But as usual, he lied. They’re back already.

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Which Ministers appointed themselves to CEO recruitment panels?

May 28th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Readers will recall the fuss over John Key making a phone call to Ian Fletcher informing him of the GCSB vacancy. Labour would have had you believe this was an unprecedented ministerial involvement.

As has happened in all the recent appointments that Labour has criticised, all were recommended by a panel of neutral civil servants.

This got me thinking. Has there even been an interview panel that didn’t include just neutral civil servants but a Minister?

It’s one thing to have the Minister sign off on an appointment, but do you want Ministers actually sitting on CEO interview panels? Wouldn’t that be far worse than merely making a phone call.

So I asked the State Services Commission if any Ministers in the last 14 years have sat on interview panels for state sector chief executives. They replied that this has happened on four occasions – in 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2008.

What is disturbing about these ministerial membership of appointment panels is all the roles were ones of pivotal importance to our democratic institutions. They were:

  • 2000 – Margaret Wilson on interview panel for the Solicitor-General
  • 2004 – Trevor Mallard on interview panel for the State Services Commissioner
  • 2007 – Michael Cullen on interview panel for the Clerk of the House of Representatives
  • 2008 – David Parker on interview panel for the State Services Commissioner

So this puts it all into perspective – a phone call, vs actually sitting on the interview panel – which means you are effectively hand picking your preferred candidate.

Ministers should be consulted on recommendations and for some roles they make the final appointment. But i think it is generally undesirable for Ministers to sit on interview panels for state sector chief executives. It is rather hypocritical to complain about bad process in appointments, when they did far far worse themselves.

The OIA response is here - Scan-to-Me from 11-util2 ssc govt nz 2013-05-15 124921

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Mike Bush

May 15th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard asked in Parliament:

Hon Trevor Mallard: Will she rule out supporting Mike Bush as a candidate for the soon to be vacant police commissioner’s position, in light of his appalling judgment in reading those comments out in that eulogy?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: We currently have a commissioner, and it would be inappropriate for any politician, at any stage, to make any comments about the future employment of any of our outstanding police commissioners. I am amazed that that member would sully the name of the one of the top serving police officers in this country.

I am one of those who think Mike Bush made a mistake in reading out the comments from Bruce Hutton’s service record. But hell it was the man’s funeral. Of course you are going to say nice things at a funeral.

Labour seem to be saying that one error of judgement, not even directly related to policing duties, means Bush should not be eligible to be Commissioner.

Apart from the unfortunate politicising of the appointment, I think that is a woeful attitude. Bush is highly respected by rank and file officers, and had a great record as Counties-Manukau District Commander. On his watch (helped by extra police officers) crime fell significantly in Counties-Manukau.

An article on his record in the Police is here. It includes a fall in crime, busting major drug rings and 100% resolution rate for homicides. Labour would have all of that count for nothing because of a comment at a funeral!

Look at what has happened to crime in Counties-Manukau. It was once almost a no go area.

  • Total offences down from 56,041 in 2009 to 44,699 in 2012 – a 20% drop in three years
  • Violent offences down from 6,579 to 5,803 – a 12% drop
  • Robberies down 30%
  • Thefts down 22%
  • An increase in the resolution rate from 43.05 to 47.5%

As I said, I thought the funeral comments well ill-judged. But I believe you judge someone on their overall record of 30 years service, and Labour is not serving the public interest by trying to pressure him out of a job.


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Mallard says too many Ministers

April 22nd, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Max Rashbrooke blogs:

New Zealand has too many Cabinet ministers and too many government agencies – but more departmental mergers is not the solution, Labour MP Trevor Mallard said at a joint lecture for the Institute for Governance and Policy Studies and the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand.

Mallard, a former Minister of Education and State Services Minister, said New Zealand’s government was too fragmented, with “Crown entities for Africa” and agencies like Work and Income New Zealand that were “a body with no brain”.

Too many ministerial positions had also been created to tie caucus into Cabinet, he said, and most of the “talent” in a Cabinet was in the top half. Under Helen Clark, the Cabinet committee of the 10 most senior ministers “worked extremely well … Those ministers were much more likely to have read – which is a good start – and understand – which is even better – the papers they were being asked to consider.”

The “ideal” Cabinet, Mallard said, would have 10 members and 5-6 positions outside Cabinet “with training wheels attached”. However, he admitted this was not a popular view among those ranked 8-20 in his own party.

I agree with Trevor Mallard in terms of size of Cabinet and the Executive. I’d have 12 Cabinet Ministers and say eight outside Cabinet. The 12 Ministers would each be in charge of a cluster of portfolios.

Ideally you would amalgamate as many entities as possible so there was one agency per cluster, with a top class Chief Executive.

I blogged in 2011, a possible structure for a future state sector. So a Cabinet would be:

  1. Prime Minister (DPMC, SSC)
  2. Minister of Finance (Treasury)
  3. Minister of Economic Development (MAF, MOBIE, Fisheries, MORST, Transport)
  4. Minister of Social Policy (Pacific Island Affairs, MSD, CYF, Youth Development, Community Sector, Senior Citizens, Families, Women’s Affairs, TPK_
  5. Minister of Health (Health)
  6. Minister of Education (Education, ERO, TEC)
  7. Minister of Internal Security (Crown Law, Corrections, SIS, Justice, SFO, Police)
  8. Minister for the Environment (Environment, EPA, Conservation, Biosecurity)
  9. Minister of  External Relations & Security (GCSB, Defence, MFAT,  NZDF)
  10. Minister of Incomes (IRD, WINZ)
  11. Minister of Culture (Culture & Heritage, Broadcasting, Nat Lib, Archives, NZ on Air)
  12. Minister of Administrative Affairs (DIA, LINZ, Building & Housing, Customs, Stats)

Also the Speaker would be the responsible Minister for a Department of Parliament which includes the Parliamentary Service, Ministerial Services, Office of the Clerk and Parliament Counsel Office.

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A parliamentary question

April 18th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

From Parliament:

2532 (2013). Hon Trevor Mallard to the Minister for Economic Development (19 Mar 2013): Has he or any predecessor expressed a lack of confidence or indicated a relationship breakdown with any staff of any department, agency or ministry for which he has responsibility to the staffer’s Chief Executive or their officials since 19 November 2008; if so, on how many occasions, is he aware of or has he received any reports on what occurred, and if so, what did occur?
Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development) replied: No. With regard to any predecessor in my portfolios, the only instances I am aware of relate to comments made by Hon Trevor Mallard, describing an official as incompetent.
That old saying about throwing stones in glasshouses.
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March 28th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Speaker David Carter has ejected MPs from the House for the first time, kicking out Labour’s Trevor Mallard and Chris Hipkins this afternoon.

Mr Mallard was told to leave the debating chamber after telling Mr Carter to “sit down ’til I’m finished” during question time.

Let there be no mistake. Any MP who ever acts that arrogantly to the Speaker will be kicked out of the House – at a minimum. Actually damn lucky not to be named.


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Labour on Solid Energy

March 14th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

It seems to me that there were two major factors that led to the problems at Solid Energy. One was the fall in global coal prices, and the other was the borrowing to fund alternative energy projects which haven’t led to a return.

In terms of the first, I’d be very keen for an MP to ask John Palmer and Don Elder some questions along the lines of:

  • What global price for coal was used each year in your 2008 to 2012 business plans as the projected price?
  • For each of the following years, what was the worst case scenario that was used for global coal prices, and how did that compare to the actual price?
  • How often did you update your business plans and revise the assumed coal price?
  • Did Solid Energy undertake any hedging – why or why not, and at what level?
  • Were the decisions on alternative energy projects contingent on a certain level for the coal price? If no, why not?
  • What was the company’s risk management strategy around a coal price slump?

These are not gotcha question, which I suspect some MPs will try and do. They’re questions that would actually help us understand why the company has got into so much trouble.

It will be interesting if Labour attack John Palmer, considering what Trevor Mallard said when he appointed him Chairman:

“John Palmer is widely regarded and respected as one of New Zealand’s leading governance practitioners,” Trevor Mallard, SOE Minister, December 2006, announcing Mr Palmer’s appointment as chairman of Solid Energy

We also have Helen Clark on Don Elder:

The PM did however point out that Solid Energy’s CEO Don Elder had assisted in turning around a struggling enterprise into one that was now greatly benefiting the NZ taxpayer. – Scoop in 2007

Also of interest is what Trevor Mallard said about the influence of the Government on Solid Energy’s operations:

“If we’re doing planning going forward we’re making sure that we do have both security [of supply] and a good mix of renewables then it’s easier to influence that with ownership as well as with general regulation,” Trevor Mallard on AGENDA, TV1, June 2007, speaking about Solid Energy

And if you want a great reasons for why the Government should not be the owner:

“Well I think in some areas for example Solid Energy would do some investment in research in renewables for coal and in gasification and carbon sequestration in a way that a private sector company wouldn’t.” Trevor Mallard on AGENDA, TV1, June 2007

For example the money wasted on biofuels. Even Damien O’Connor complained about it in August 2012:

Hon Damien O’Connor: Why should miners in Huntly and on the West Coast lose jobs to save money for Solid Energy, when the company has wasted millions of dollars on a biofuels project that has failed, and now threatens to destroy the high-value vegetable oil industry in New Zealand?

It was pointed out:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I think the point that was being made was that the biofuels obligation was created by the previous Government

And in case you don’t believe Mr Joyce:

Hon Trevor Mallard: That’s right.

Maybe it should be Trevor Mallard answering questions, not just John Palmer and Don Elder. Especially considering this statement:

Trevor Mallard: I was the Minister in charge of Solid Energy when they bought land with lignite resources. This was done on purpose so that it would come under control of the SOE – so you can work that land in a way which is socially responsible. I understand that that area could be very valuable in the future; that it could provide 400 years’ worth of vehicle fuel power.

It is absolutely correct that John Palmer and Don Elder front up to the select committee. I imagine some will try and turn it into a public crucifixion. Once that pantomime antics are out of the way, I hope we get some insightful questions into what they regard as the factors that led to the company’s failure, what critical mistakes that Solid Energy made and what would they have done differently in hindsight.

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The hit squad

February 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Behind them, keeping them honest, will be former leader Phil Goff and the demoted but not forgotten Trevor Mallard. They will team up as the nucleus of a new “hit-squad”, with extra research and media resources to dig and dish the dirt.

Oh, this will be fun. More H-Fee revelations anyone?

Mind you, they could be quite effective. They successfully destroyed David Cunliffe’s career through background briefings to media, so if they can manage that with one of their own colleagues they might be able to do it with other MPs!

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Speaker Carter

February 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes at Stuff:

As new Speaker David Carter began his first full sitting day in the job, Winston Peters started as he meant to go on, too: “Pointofordah!”

This is usually the first thing out of the NZ First leader’s mouth at question time – but this was before the first question had even been asked. Mr Peters’ urgent problem with Mr Carter was “the regalia you’re wearing”. What was the background of the feathery capelet bedecking the Speaker’s shoulders?

Mr Peters’ mockingly querulous tone – “because we’re full of curiosity” – made it clear he was really asking: “What the heck have you come as?”

Mr Carter decided not to take offence, however, and explained good-humouredly that it was a Maori gift, symbolising “goodwill, honour and peace to the House”.

Mr Peters laughed delightedly as if he’d just heard the punchline to a good joke – though there was an immediate outbreak of goodwill in the form of House-wide applause for Mr Carter.

Save for a little cantankerous sniping later from the usual suspects, Mr Peters and Labour’s Trevor Mallard, and a bit of cheek from Green co-leader Russel Norman, Mr Carter had a reasonably undemanding workout.

I thought it was a good first outing for Speaker Carter. What was pleasing is that when Ministers didn’t answer a factual question, he allowed the Opposition MPs to re-ask the question (without it having to count as an additional question) until the Minister answered.

The funniest aspect was in relation to question 11 from Chris Hipkins to Hekia Parata about which, if any, particular decisions she regretted. Trevor Mallard got up before the question was even asked and started quoting several Standing Orders and Speaker’s Rulings. I, like most, was busy looking up the orders and rulings being referred to until at the end of his point of order he revealed that he was suggesting to the Speaker he be lenient if the primary answer is longer than is normally allowed. Very very funny, and a nice reasonably subtle (for Trevor) use of points of order to sledge someone.

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The future?

February 10th, 2013 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar

Green leader Russell Norman tweeted:

Lord Turner, chair UK Financial Services Authority, defends financing Govt spending by ltd printing money. radical!

Labour strategist Trevor Mallard replied:

@RusselNorman stop thrashing dead horse and work on imaginative tools appropriate for NZ

This will go down well at The Standard! Russel then responds:

@TrevorMallard you just go back to closing schools and making housing unaffordable like you did in govt

Points to Norman I say. He follows up with:

@TrevorMallard 2002-2007 house prices doubled, current account ballooned. Greens repeatedly told Labour to act, but you did nothing

This is like the Iran-Iraq war – you don’t know which side to cheer for!

UPDATE: it continues. Mallard says:

Presume this is an intern not@RusselNorman but whoever it is needs to look to future not focus on rear vision mirror

And we also have a very tetchy Labour MP in Clare Curran:

@jordantcarter @pointoforder that’s bullshit Jordan

Maybe they are all nervous about Shearer’s reshuffle?

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Why did Labour put Trevor up?

February 1st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I’m surprised Labour put Trevor Mallard up as their nominee for Speaker. While of course National would always have made sure the numbers were there for David Carter, a different choice could have put pressure on the Maori Party and United Future and ACT to vote for Labour’s nominee.

But the moment they nominated Trevor, everyone thought it was a piss take. In fact they literally laughed in the House when he was nominated. Trevor being nominated for Speaker is a bit like Brendan Horan being made Racing Minister. The mere fact you want the job, isn’t enough of a qualification to get the job. In fact I declared on Facebook and Twitter that if the new qualification for top parliamentary jobs is that you really would like it – well then I declare my candidacy for Minister of Finance!

Labour could have either nominated a Labour MP who would be seen as a serious contender, or with a bit of mischief nominated a different National MP (who would have declined but the point may have been made). No one would have laughed at the nomination of Ross Robertson or Annette King.

In fact I understand Annette’s latest thinking is that she won’t stand for Mayor of Wellington, as that would allow Little into Rongotai. Hence so long as Labour looks competitive in 2014, she plans to stand again and will be Labour’s nominee for Speaker after the election. If that is the plan, would have made sense to put her up now.

So why did Labour put Trevor up? The only reason I can think of is it was the only way they could try and get him out of caucus and ensure he has nothing to do with their next election campaign!

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The new Speaker

January 31st, 2013 at 2:21 pm by David Farrar

It is no surprise that the Rt Hon David Carter has just been elected Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Labour put up Trevor Mallard as a candidate. Not sure that was the best way to try and get the Maori Party or Tau to vote for you :-)

There were no proxy votes allowed for the election.

After the speeches of congratulation, Speaker Carter will go to Government House to present his credentials and the House adjourns until the week after next.

The vote was 62-52.

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Mallard and Little fold

November 14th, 2012 at 5:14 pm by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports;

ACC Minister Judith Collins’ defamation action against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little has been settled following a hearing in the High Court at Auckland today. …

In a statement today following their meeting, the three parliamentarians said they agreed “the leak of the email Ms Boag sent to the minister and forwarded on her instructions as the responsible minister to the chairman and chief executive of ACC raised an issue of serious public concern, and that Messrs Mallard and Little were entitled to question who was responsible for that leak”.

“The parties continue to differ over whether the comments made by Messrs Mallard and Little respectively on Radio NZ implied the minister falsely assured the House that neither she nor her office was responsible for the leak.

“Messrs Mallard and Little have confirmed to Ms Collins that was not their intention and wish to make that clear publicly that in the event such meaning was taken they regret it.”

In the statement, the three politicians said they would make no further comment.

If Mallard and Little had said that a few months ago they could have saved themselves a lot of money.

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Another SMOG from Trevor

September 4th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Deborah blogged:

 Today’s inanity and offensiveness from Trevor Mallard, on his Facebook page. …

It’s puerile, and offensive. I am completely over the focus on women’s bodies. And I would like the senior members of the Labour party to stop enabling this silly behaviour.

Update: I put this post up at about 11.15am on Friday 31 August. In what is becoming a familiar pattern, by 2.30pm the same day, the picture had disappeared from Mr Mallard’s Facebook page.

Now don’t get me wrong. Personally I’m not offended. This is no surprise as I like both puerile and offensive humour. But if I was an MP, I would not post something like that to Facebook. The fact Trevor deleted it suggests he came to that conclusion too late.

I once commented that Trevor seems to be happier as a blogger than an MP! If he ever leaves Parliament, he’ll be a very effective blogger.

HT: Keeping Stock


Banks v Mallard

August 6th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


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What happened to the claims this would never go to court?

July 18th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins begins court action against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little for defamation today.

The High Court list for Auckland yesterday named Judith Anne Collins v Trevor Colin Mallard and Another for first call before Justice Geoffrey Venning.

Collins has accused the two MPs of defaming her in relation to a leaked email from former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Boag had emailed Collins about a case involving ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar, who blew the whistle on ACC inadvertently releasing her details about thousands of ACC claimants.

Defamation cases often take some time to come to court with both sides jockeying to set the terms of the case.

Today’s hearing is a face-to-face conference for lawyers to plot out the case’s timetable and sort out how it is going to be run.

Both sides have retained senior and experienced counsel with Collins being represented by Queen’s Counsel Julian Myles and Mallard and Little represented by Wellington lawyer John Tizard.

Collins is not seeking damages – just a declaration that the statements made were untrue and defamed her, and of course her costs.

UPDATE: The application by Mallard and Little for a stay of proceedings until the report of the Privacy Commissioner is done was declined by the Judge. The settlement hearing is in November (the report is due in September anyway, but could of course be delayed) and the trial in February 2013.


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Is the taxpayer funding Mallard and Little’s legal fees

June 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Judith Collins has stated she is paying for her own expenses in the defamation suit against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little. She had the option of applying for taxpayer funding, but chose not to.

Has anyone confirmed whether or not the taxpayer is funding the legal costs for Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little? It would certainly be within the rules, for them to be funded  out of David Shearer’s parliamentary budget – but have they chosen to do so?

If they lose, and have to pay Collins’ legal expenses (she is not seeking damages, just a declaration and costs) will that also be funded by the taxpayer?

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