Collins seeks a declaration, not damages

May 30th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins is not seeking damages, but wants the court to declare she was defamed and to award her costs in her case against two Labour MPs.

This is a very smart move. It means that Mallard and Little can’t claim she is seeking to make money out of her lawsuit – she just want their (alleged) lies to be found to be false and defamatory. They had the choice of withdrawing their comments at no cost early on, or doing it at a later stage by which time there will be considerable costs (but not damages) attached to it.

Canterbury University law Professor Ursula Cheer said it was unusual not to seek damages.

“The most common remedies sought are an apology and damages.”

The provisions allowing a declaration had hardly ever been taken up, but they were a symbolic way to clear your reputation.

That was the point of including them in the law.

One could say that no one believes anything Trevor says anyway, so there was no point in taking proceedings. but it is possible there are some acolytes out there who do take his talk of anonymous e-mails proving his allegations, as literally true.

Collins has filed her claim in the High Court at Auckland despite the MPs being based in Wellington and the alleged defamatory comments being made in Wellington. As justice minister, Collins knew Auckland had the longest waiting list for civil hearings, Little said.

Umm Judith is an Auckland MP, and lives there most of the time. Where the comments were made has little bearing as they were broadcast on national radio. It seems pretty clear the ones trying to delay the case and Little and Mallard with their unsuccessful attempts to avoid being served.

Again, I look forward to their statements of defence. I hope Trevor especially refers to the anonymous e-mail he seems to be relying on, as I am sure the Judge will find that definitely constitutes proof.

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Mallard served

May 28th, 2012 at 11:51 am by David Farrar

At 9.32 am Trevor Mallard tweeted:

Naenae office clinics #inplainview

Then just 11 minutes later he tweeted:

This is the woman who gave false name and address when making an appointment at my office she served Collins papers.

Now that was efficient service!

The photo is of a fairly elderly woman, hardly the thugs we were promised.

As for using a false name and address, well that is presumably because Trevor had made very clear that he would run out the back door if someone turned up saying they are here to serve the legal papers on him. When you refuse to co-operate with having legal documents served on you – then of course they have to respond in kind.

Would have been much easier if Andrew and Trevor had just supplied an address for service, as 99% of people do in court proceedings.

Anyway we look forward to seeing their statement of defence filed within 30 days.

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Only yourself to blame

May 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Labour MP Andrew Little is critical of the way he was served papers on behalf of ACC Minister Judith Collins who is suing him and fellow MP Trevor Mallard.

Mr Little says a man emerged from the darkness on Monday night, shone a torch in his eyes and served him the papers as he got out of a taxi at his house.

Mr Little says the way the papers were served is typical of Judith Collins’ approach.

It is very hard to have sympathy for Andrew when he of course could have done what 99% of people do when a lawyer asks for an address for service – supply one. But if you’re going to go all macho and boast about how you will not co-operate, then don’t think you can take the moral high ground that you get served getting out of a taxi.

Incidentally the server rather than being a thug, had a nice sense of humour as it seems his words were “You’re served Mr Little, but no fries with that I’m afraid”.

He now has 25 days to file a statement of defence, but says he does not believe Ms Collins intends the matter to go to trial.

I’m pretty sure Andrew also said he never expects Judith to file in court.

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Southland Times on the parliamentary fugitives

May 21st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Southland Times editorial:

Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little would have us see their machinations to avoid being served court papers as indicative of their sheer scorn for the allegation that they defamed ACC Minister Judith Collins.

But they’re being unwise.

Whatever the merits of the case itself, legal process itself does require respect. And it’s not getting it from this pair.

On top of which, they don’t necessarily emerge as being on the high ground, at all.

Whatever their rhetoric, and it has been loudly and jovially dismissive, the methodology of dodging legal papers requires actions that are liable to look like skulking and hiding.

It’s hardly a good look for men proclaiming they have nothing to fear.

I don’t think they realise how bad it looks to the average member of the public.

This being the case, and given that Mr Little has plans to film any attempt to serve him and post it online, unofficial Nat advisers have already been suggesting that the best thing Ms Collins could do would be to hire the most petite and unthreatening woman available to serve the papers.

I can think of a couple of Auckland Young Nats who would be perfect!

Not that the documents really need to be thrust into the hands of the person being sued.

If the courts can be persuaded that someone is trying to avoid the process – and seldom would a more easy call be made in that regard than this case – the papers can simply be taped to their front door.

And Trevor and Andrew have guaranteed a court would agree. Another own goal.

The place to win an issue like this is in court.

They should welcome the chance to produce their proof. I mean surely they would have done a retraction, if they had no proof at all?

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Trevor goes undercover

May 19th, 2012 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

Labour’s MP Trevor Mallard says he’ll be driving an unmarked car to avoid having papers served on him, as he and fellow MP Andrew Little laugh off defamation proceedings against them by ACC Minister Judith Collins.

If they were really laughing about it, they’d be keen to have their day in court. The poor duo in fact seem very anxious not to end up in court before the election having to detail the proof for their claims.

Trevor is already reporting to unmarked cars. Will he go further and start wearing a disguise? Will he refuse to turn up to electorate clinics, in an attempt to delay his day in court? His constituents may not be too happy with an MP that might shirk his duties so he can remain in hiding.

Mallard said he hadn’t defamed Collins and he had a good understanding of defamation law.

He has faced several legal threats but has only been sued for defamation once, by former NZ First MP Tuku Morgan.

This is what you call a partial truth. Someone should ask how often has he had to settle out of court or do an apology? I think he had to do three just to Rosemary Bradford.

Prime Minister John Key said the Labour MPs ”could run but can’t hide”.

Heh.

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Mallard and Little defamation suit filed in court

May 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has initiated High Court defamation action against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little but the two Labour MPs remain defiant, saying the case is unlikely to make it into the courthouse.

They also said they didn’t think she would file in court, so their track record on this is not good. I thought Trevor and Andrew would welcome the chance to prove in court that what they said is true.

Mr Mallard late yesterday confirmed he’d received a letter from Ms Collins’ lawyers Morrison Kent informing him proceedings had been filed and asking him to co-operate in allowing papers to be served on him.

“I see no reason to co-operate in what is clearly a vexatious action.”

Oh dear, this means that Trevor is going to play hide from the lawyers, rather than man up. Expect several weeks of Trevor cowering in Parliament where he can’t be served.

UPDATE: Little is also refusing to accept service. I think both men are idiots. The average Joe Public think the sort of people who avoid court documents being served on them are gang members and criminals. Little rather hysterically says:

Labour MP Andrew Little says ACC Minister Judith Collins will have to hire ”thuggish characters” to serve defamation proceedings against him and fellow Labour MP Trevor Mallard after the pair refused to cooperate with demands from her lawyer.

I’ve got the perfect person for the job. He has had to collect debts off gang members and the like, so this should be easy fodder for him – Whale Oil!

Just give the papers to Cam, and a travel allowance and I’m sure he’ll have them served within a few days.

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National Board documents

May 9th, 2012 at 8:30 am by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

Every now and again infighting gets so bad in the Nats that some gems are delivered to me. In this case it is a set of their Board and Board committee minutes.

Except they were “leaked” to numerous people, not just Trevor.  As I understand it they were posted to numerous journalists, and a few MPs.

And as I understand it, there was no leak. Just a theft. One board member never received his board documents in the mail, and it was his copy that got posted to various people. So it looks like someone took them from his letterbox. This is very plausible as his name was on them, and you would never leak documents with your own name on them. So no, there isn’t someone leaking to Trevor. Just a politically motivated theft.

Trevor is very excited by the negative references to Simon Lusk. This is amusing as just a year ago Trevor was insisting that Simon was actually working for Campaign Chair Steven Joyce, and was a loyal National Party servant. Trevor’s theories never seem to worry about consistency.

One item in the leaked minutes which I found interesting was that the Young Nats signed up 715 members on Auckland tertiary campuses over Orientation weeks. That’s a huge achievement.

 

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Shearer promotes me to PM

May 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

David Shearer went for the Prime Minister’s jugular when he brought up a past quote, in an attempt to prove John Key’s hypocrisy for not sacking John Banks.

But he missed by a mile – it turns out the quote was from National-leaning blogger David Farrar.

Mr Key had never uttered the words and David Shearer had to return to the House last night to apologise.

This is first I knew of this. Looking at Hansard it seems the exchange was:

David Shearer: Does he stand by another of his statements: “The issue has never been one of legality as much as ethics. The criminal code is the bare minimum standards for society. For MPs we expect behaviour well beyond that.”, and if so, how is he applying that standard to John Banks?

That quote is indeed mine.

Then later:

DAVID SHEARER (Leader of the Opposition): I seek leave of the House to make a personal explanation to clarify a question that I made earlier in the day.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for the honourable Leader of the Opposition to make a statement. Is there any objection to that course of action? There is none.

DAVID SHEARER: During question time I attributed a quote to John Key in one of my questions. In fact, that quote was actually made by David Farrar, and I would like to apologise to them both.

I think the PM would be more offended by the mix-up than me!

Mr Mallard this morning told RadioLIVE he was to blame.

“It’s a terrible mistake and I take responsibility for that,” says Mr Mallard, who still managed to get in a dig at the Prime Minister.

“We confused David Farrar with the Prime Minister – they both say the same things all the time, and the quotes got shuffled.

Yes, it annoys me also when the PM steals my lines :-)

I should point out that Labour happily quote me in the House when I do say things critical of the Government.

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The Lusk fixation

April 17th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour seem to have an obsession with Simon Lusk. Trevor Mallard has been blogging on him for over a year, and then in a rush of blood to his head (or somewhere) decided he was the secret leaker in the ACC saga. Never mind that the ACC Minister hasn’t spoken to him once in the past year.

As Trevor’s defamation defence will be based on proving his wild theories had a semblence of credibility, he set his assistant defence counsel Chris Hipkins to work. Chippie filed no less than 259 written questions to Ministers on Mr Lusk. Putting aside the cost to the taxpayer of their paranoia, his fishing expedition was very wide. He asked every single portfolio Minister the following:

Has he or his representatives had any written communication with Simon Lusk within the last six months in his Ministerial capacity; if so, on which date or dates and what was the nature of the communication?

Has he or his representatives had any oral discussions with Simon Lusk within the last six months in his Ministerial capacity; if so, on which date or dates and what was the nature of the discussion or discussions?

Has he or his representatives met with Simon Lusk within the last six months in his Ministerial capacity; if so, on which date or dates and what was the nature of the discussion or discussions?

One or two Ministers are yet to reply, but from what I can see 100% of the responses are “No”. So Trevor’s defence strategy is looking pretty shaky.

Plus anyone who knows Simon knows that at this time of year the last thing he worries about is politics. His main activity is being out on a grassy knoll with a high powered rifle looking for venison to go in the freezer.

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Will Mallard and Little promise to quit also?

April 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins has promised to quit if she or her office is found to have leaked an email at the centre of a spat over an ACC claimant as the auditor-general launches an investigation into governance at the state insurer.

So will Mallard and Little resign if their allegations it was Collins are found to be untrue?

Mr Little, along with Green MP Kevin Hague, earlier asked Auditor-General Lyn Provost to look into aspects of ACC’s governance that would not be examined by the investigations already under way by the privacy commissioner and being considered by the police.

Ms Provost said yesterday she would hold an inquiry examining aspects of ACC’s governance.

“The inquiry will examine how ACC manages a range of risks at the board level of the organisation. It will also examine how any matters relating to ACC claimant Ms Pullar that came to the attention of the board or individual board members were dealt with,” she said.

As well as this inquiry, Ms Provost intended to develop an audit proposal on ACC’s general operations, with a focus on its case management.

I’m pleased the Auditor-General is investigating.

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Who pays?

April 2nd, 2012 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins was unable to say whether the minister had asked for Crown funding but did say the matter would cost the taxpayer nothing if Mr Mallard apologised or backed up his remarks with evidence.

Wellington lawyer Graeme Edgeler said that while there were instances of the Crown paying legal costs for ministers who were the target of defamation proceedings, he could not recall ministers receiving taxpayer funding when they were the plaintiffs.

Furthermore, “this doesn’t really seem government-related at all”.

“This is an offence to Judith Collins’ personal reputation.”

Even though any damages and costs awarded if the suit was successful would go back to the Crown, the case was “really for her personal benefit”.

My view is that when the Minister is a defendant, then the Crown should pay the legal costs. But I am uneasy with the notion of the Crown paying legal costs for a Minister as a plaintiff to sue other MPs and a media outlet. It may be permissable within the Cabinet Manual rules, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

Apart from anything else it would allow Mallard and Little to portray themselves as martyrs with the resources of the state being used to try and silence them.

If it is privately funded, then it is a very different matter in terms of how the public will view it.

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Collins taking defamation action against Mallard, Little and Radio NZ

March 29th, 2012 at 10:05 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins is taking defamation action against two labour MPs and a news organisation, her spokeswoman says.

I understand the MPs are Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, and the media organisation is Radio New Zealand.

It will be fascinating if it proceeds, to see the proof Trevor and Andrew have to back up their assertions.

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Salient satire

March 18th, 2012 at 3:17 pm by David Farrar

Salient have kindly added me to their distribution list, and have just been reading their first few issues. Had a good laugh at a satirical article on Trevor Mallard’s scalping, which they have on their website also. An extract:

In a shocking turn of events, it has emerged that the sell-out sales to this week’s O-Week events was not due to popular student demand, but was rather the result of a new business venture by Labour Party politician and entrepreneur, Trevor Mallard MP.

Salient understands that the MP had bought all 1,000 tickets to the Mt Eden and Roots Manuva shows, set to be held as part of Victoria University’s O-Week 2012, in an attempt to scalp them on Trade me for a negligible to modest profit.

In a written statement to Salient, Mr. Mallard stated that the initiative was part of a broader fiscal scheme to bolster his personal income.

“The pay down at Parliament is bloody dire, to be honest,” he said.

“I mean, for fuck’s sake, what else was I meant to do?” …

In the face of these accusations, Mr. Mallard has refused to capitulate to demands to return the tickets to the student body, vowing to fill the venue himself.

“It’s a matter of honour now,” he said, “But it’s all good. I’ll bring my Parliament bros along. Trev and the boys can always bring the party!”

Mr. Mallard claims he may just be able to scrape together a half-capacity crowd. All he needs to do is round up in one room everyone who wanted Phil Goff to be Prime Minister.

Heh, very good. Even better was Michelle A’Court on the same topic Seven Days on Friday night. I won’t quote her exact words, but let’s just say it was very funny.

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A charitable donation

March 2nd, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Did my $1,000 donation today, as promised for the Mallard-Slater race. I said I’d donate $1,000 to CCS if Mallard won or $1,000 to the Mental Health Foundation if Slater won. So CCS Disability Action got the donation.

Sadly it looks like there won’t be a sequel boxing match for me to sponsor/donate to :-)

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A reasonable request

March 2nd, 2012 at 1:08 pm by David Farrar

In Parliament yesterday:

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): When the House resumes on Tuesday, 6 March the Government will progress a number of bills on the Order Paper, including the Committee stage of the Search and Surveillance Bill, …

Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South): I am sorry. I missed the very first part of the Minister’s comments. I am not going to ask him to read the whole thing again. The question I have got, though, is I am seeking an assurance that the Search and Surveillance Bill will not proceed to its Committee stage until we have had the Supplementary Order Paper for at least 48 hours. I think there is general agreement across the House that it would be good if we could have at least a bipartisan approach on this, rather than have legislation that only just goes through and because I know that there is still a bit of a gap between the major parties I would just like an assurance that we will have at least 48 hours to look at that before it does come back in.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): One of the new requirements under the Standing Orders that apply to this Parliament beyond is that the Government does indicate bills that possibly could come up for Committee stage ahead of time. I am sure that any undertakings that have been made, any understandings that relate to any of these bills, will be honoured.

It is good the Government has indicated the committee stage is next week for the Search and Surveillance Bill. However Mallard’s request for any SOPs in advance is a reasonable one – not just for Labour, but for the public also. The bill deals with fundamental issues of powers of the state and civil liberties. Any amendments which are non-trivial should be tabled as soon as possible to allow for consideration and feedback.

At this stage, none are listed on the legislation website. Hopefully they will be there by or at least on Monday.

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More nastiness from Labour

March 1st, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

Wayne Mapp’s commercial legal experience is limited to three years assisting one John Collinge, former President of the National Party who is better known for activity on the the table at the London High Commission than legal expertise.

He spent thirteen years at the University of Auckland but was unable to obtain a chair or a position in the Law School. He then became an undistinguished MP and a lacklustre Minister.

Mapp got the push from the National caucus but has been given a job at the Law Commission – a role normally reserved for distinguished lawyers.

Cronyism again.

An incredibly nasty and spiteful post by Mallard, who continues to remind people of all that is bad within Labour. He doesn’t just attack the appointment of Dr Mapp, but denigrates his entire career.

I have no issue with people having a go at appointments not made on merit, due primarily to their political links. for example the appointment of Brian Neeson to the Human Rights Review tribunal was rightly criticised by many (including me).

The most outrageous crony appointments was when Mallard’s Government appointed Labour MP Di Yates to four separate boards – to Food Standards Australia New Zealand,  Trust Waikato Community Trust, education book publisher Learning Media’s board and the board of the Waikato Institute of Technology.  The appointment to FSANZ was justified in the press release on the basis Yates was from Waikato which is “arguably the food bowl of New Zealand”. Yes, seriously, that was the only rationale they could come up with..

But anyway back to Dr Mapp, his appointment needs a fairer appraisal than Mallard’s nasty denigration. I’m surprised he has such venom for Mapp, because in fact Wayne was one of the least partisan MPs in Parliament. In fact he was a member of the Labour Party for many years, before he joined National. He even stood against Phil Goff for the Labour nomination for Mt Roskill in 1981 (when Wayne was in his 20s). Most Labour MPs would be far more generous towards Wayne, and probably be mortified by Mallard’s nastiness towards him. However they allow Mallard to remain their public face.

Wayne has always had a great love of policy and the law. I first met him before he was an MP, when he was Northern Region Policy Chair, and I was the Young Nats policy person. He would happily spend hours debating policy and law with me and others. He’s exactly the sort of person you do want on the Law Commission – he won’t be partisan, he has huge intellectual curiosity (which is what you need on the Law Commission) and a passion for good law and policy. I think his appointment is an excellent one – and it is useful to have someone with actual parliamentary experience on the Law Commission, in my opinion.

As for his legal background, so denigrated by Trevor Mallard who has a BCA (and an assault conviction). Wayne has an honours degree in law from Auckland University, a masters from the University of Toronto and a PhD in international law from Cambridge. He spent 12 years as an academic in commercial law, and left as an Associate Professor before he became an MP.

The suggestion he got the push from the National Caucus is also a typical Mallard lie. Wayne’s decision to retire at the last election took everyone by surprise. His primary motivation for leaving Parliament was to open doors for his wife Denese Henare, whose activities as a lawyer had to be somewhat restricted while he was an MP. Denese, incidentally, has served on the Law Commission herself and I am confident that Wayne’s contribution will match her own distinguished record.

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Is this why Trevor buys tickets for Homegrown?

February 20th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I couldn’t work out why Trevor would regularly buy tickets for Homegrown. I did have suspicions he was in it for the profit. But this photo from the Dom Post suggests that possibly Trevor’s interest is not entirely financial :-)

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Question 12

February 16th, 2012 at 6:44 pm by David Farrar

Enjoy it!

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Trevor’s credibility for sale on Trade Me

February 16th, 2012 at 12:22 pm by David Farrar

Heh, someone has set up an auction of Trevor Mallard’s credibility. The proceeds will go to Christchurch Earthquake recovery.

The Q+A, as always, is amusing:

Q: Is there any actual evidence you can provide to show that this item has ever existed

Q; Doesn’t Trademe rules state that the item must be in your possession? I don’t think anyone anywhere has Trevor Mallard’s credibility in their possession. In fact, research is ongoing to find proof it ever existed, as far as I am informed.

Q: While at face value this looks like a bargain, do you have any way of verifying that the product actually exists? I am somewhat dubious, as I have not seen any recent evidence of the existence of “Trevor Mallard’s credibility.”

Q: How damaged is this item? Will there be a refund available if it doesn’t pass muster?

Q: Is there a buy now? or will you let the auction take it’s course?

Heh, now that last one is very funny.

 

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Helping Trevor out

February 16th, 2012 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Labour MP Trevor Mallard says he didn’t know how to set a “buy now” option on Trade Me – despite being a member since 2005 and on-selling tickets to Homegrown and the Wellington Sevens in the past.

Under fire for ticket scalping after selling four tickets to the sold-out Homegrown festival at a $276 profit, Mr Mallard told Radio Live this morning that he hadn’t been aware he could put a “buy now” price on the auction.

However, his TradeMe account shows he has been a member of the online auction site since 2005, and has sold plenty of tickets in the past.

Did not know how to set a buy now option? Really? Well in case Trevor needs a hand in future, I’m happy to assist.

If you are selling tickets to a concert on Trade Me, this is the screen you will see.

As is obvious, setting a buy now price is incredibly simple. You just enter the price you want in.

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Mallard the scalper

February 16th, 2012 at 8:26 am by David Farrar

Jody O’Callaghan writes at Stuff:

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has been accused of scalping tickets to a Wellington music festival.

The tickets to Saturday’s sold-out Homegrown festival have a face value of $95 each.

Whitireia music student Laura Signal, 19, and her three friends were desperate to attend so they bid for four tickets on Trade Me, paying a final price of $656.

Miss Signal was surprised when the trader turned out to be the Hutt South MP, who used his parliamentary email address for the auction.

You wonder how Trevor finds the time to be an MP in-between cycling and scalping.

The students said they asked Mr Mallard about a “buy now” price during the auction, but he replied that he would let the auction run.

Some may condemn Trevor forcing poor struggling students to pay more, so that he makes a profit on top of his $170,000 or so parliamentary remuneration, but I think it is great to see a Labour MP show his commitment to free markets and  profits.

In November 2006, Mr Mallard initiated legislation – now the Major Events Management Act 2007 – to protect event sponsors from people making money out of major events with which they had no formal association.

He said at the time: “When there is bulk-buying of tickets to such events simply for the purpose of profiteering, scalping is a ripoff that could deny many people the opportunity to see an event.”

No, no, no. Scalping is not a rip off. What is wrong with a 60% return on capital?

Mr Mallard told The Dominion Post yesterday that the sale was neither scalping nor dodgy. He bought the tickets last year but now had another engagement.

“I’m slightly surprised if promoters with whom I spend several hundred dollars a year on tickets complain when I sell some I can’t use to someone who wants them using a Kiwi-based online auction.”

He listed the tickets at face value, but let the auction run above $500 because he “knew that they were worth more”.

I purchased ten tickets for the Sevens this year. Two people in our group pulled out a few days beforehand. I sold the tickets at face value via Facebook as I didn’t want to make money out of them – just get reimbursed for the cost.

He believed the students had breached his privacy by revealing him as the ticket trader.

Hmmn, threatening the students. Perhaps Trevor could specify what part of the Privacy Act he alleges they have breached?

The Herald story on the same issue finds Trevor also scalped tickets in 2009 and 2010 for the same event.

UPDATE: A thought has occurred to me. It is curious that for three of the last four years Trevor has been auctioning tickets for Homegrown on Trade Me. It is possible he does not in fact buy the tickets, but they are complementary tickets given to local MPs? Can any other local MPs clarify whether they get complementary tickets?

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Mallard on Gardiner

February 8th, 2012 at 4:24 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogged:

The National party are up to their old tricks – appointing people very close to them to positions in a way that is not appropriate.

Trevor’s view of appropriate is sacking Madeleine Setchell because her boyfriend took a job with John Key, and defaming Erin Leigh because she was a whistle blower.

First Sir Wira Gardiner. Very talented. Appointed by the previous government to do some tricky tasks.

I’m glad Trevor mentions that. A quick search reveals Labour appointed Wira to the following:

  •  independent Board of Inquiry to consider the proposed National Policy Statement for Renewable Electricity Generation, by Trevor Mallard
  • interim chair of of Te Mangai Paho, by Parekura Horomia
  • the Treaty of Waitangi Fisheries Commission, by Parekura Horomia
  • facilitate hui on seabed and foreshore, by Michael Cullen
  • Crown facilitator for Central North Island Forests Land Collective Settlement, by Michael Cullen

But he is married to a Cabinet Minister. He should not be appointed by any Minister in the current government to paid employment. John Key and Bill English have appointed him to sell their asset sales process to Maori.

As usual, Trevor is lying. Wira was selected and appointed by Treasury, not by Cabinet or Ministers.

If you claim that is a conflict, then you are also saying Peter Davis should not have been employed in the health sector.

Labour got Madeleine Setchell sacked because of whom her partner was. Thankfully National does not do the same.

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Mallard on Crafar

January 18th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A few people are discussing whether Red Alert should be closed down. Just in case it is, I’ll respond now to a blog from Trevor Mallard on the Crafar farms:

And to make it clear, it is my view that there is no reason whatsoever to sell these farms offshore. To anyone.

That’s an interesting view, but that is like me having a view on who Sam Morgan should have sold Trade Me to. Labour do not own the Crafar farms. The Government does not own them. The taxpayers do not own them.

The reason the farms may be sold offshore is because someone offshore offered the owners more money for them.

Landcorp could probably hock off a couple of its non core farms and then buy Them all using its very strong balance sheet to raise debt finance for the balance.

Yes they could. And all they have to do is offer more money than any other bidder. Nice and simple, and that way the owners do not end up out of pocket, just so politicians feel better.

The Overseas Investment Act has criteria on which a sale to non-residents should or should not be approved. The Crafar farms are a small fraction of the farm land sold to non-residents and approved under the last Labour Government. One can have a sensible debate about amending the criteria, but a poling of banning all sales is just appealing to xenophobia and racism. I can guarantee you if it was an Australian farmer bidding for the farms, we’d be rolling out the welcome mat.

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Mallard on Euthanasia

January 5th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

A UK commission headed by a former lord chancellor has found in favour of assisted dying.

Euthanasia is a conscience vote in parliament. In Hutt South all candidates from parties that got into parliament said they would support the first reading of a bill.

My view has firmed on the issue over the last decade and unless evidence to a select committee highlighted something I am currently not aware of, or if there was a major drafting error I would support a bill through all stages.

Not that I will get a vote, but if I did I would also vote for such a bill through all stages, so long as it was drafted competently.

Also like Trevor, my views have firmed up over the last decade. Coming from a medical family I used to have serious reservations about any change that may see doctors have any role apart from prolonging life. But we already see passive euthanasia on a daily basis.

The turning point for me, was Rodney Hide’s newsletter about the death of Martin Hames. The cruelty of what Martin was forced into doing, made it clear to me that the status quo was not acceptable.

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Trevor agrees with me

December 15th, 2011 at 6:53 pm by David Farrar

In April I blogged:

This means you could have a cabinet of 12. The Speaker looks after Parliament, and one Minister per major agency. One could have associate ministers outside cabinet who get delegated some of the specialist areas within an overall portfolio.

Yesterday Trevor Mallard blogged:

New Zealand has a ridiculous number of Ministers for a country our size.

It had got slightly worse under MMP but this government has taken it beyond absurd with 80% of the non National confidence and supply partner members bought off with a Ministerial post, and the final one on a promise of getting one during the term.

It would have been nice to have Trevor speak up when he had influence. I’ve long said we should have a smaller Ministry. It was in fact Helen Clark who increased the size of the Executive to 28. Key has just maintained it at that size.

I spent three years as a whip which included cabinet committee experience in the 1980s and the nine years as a Minister in the Clark government.

I saw lots of weak, and some frankly useless Ministers. Most, but not all, were in the second half of the rankings. They often caused more work than they added value. There was an enormous amount of time wasted explaining what was either obvious or buried in papers that if they had been read hadn’t been understood.

Trevor should name names! :-)

I tend to divide Ministers up into three camps – leaders, administrators and bumblers.

The ideal Minister leads their portfolio and ministry. They impose the Government’s policy agenda on the ministry, listen to officials but do not always follow their advice. The number of “leader” Ministers in a Ministry does tend to be rarely more than a dozen.

Hence why I’d restructure the state sector into 12 super-ministries as advocated in my linked post. That way each super-ministry is likely to have a “leader” Minister who will apply strategic leadership to the portfolios within. Also there are probably only a dozen great CEOs in the state sector, so you get benefits at the CEO level also. Finally it reduces Cabinet from 20 to 12, which makes it a more effective decision making body.

The “administrator” Minister is probably the most common type of Minister. Unlike Trevor I would not call them useless. Their problem is more they just do what their officials tell them to. They do not apply external political judgement to issues, and hence as Trevor alludes to they need rescuing from time to time.

If there were just 12 Ministers in total, I think the paperwork would be too much. It is not that Ministers are not busy. Hence I’d have all full portfolios held by one of 12 Cabinet Ministers but maybe still have say eight Associate Ministers outside Cabinet who get delegated specific areas. This makes them a good training ground for becoming a full Minister, but still reduces the Ministry by eight or so.

I think we don’t need more than ten or a dozen Ministers. They should all be in Cabinet. And to trial talent we should use three or four Under Secretaries who report directly to the relevant Minister.

We broadly agree, but I’d call the Under-Secretaries Associate Ministers. Maybe could do it like the UK – Secretaries of State are full Ministers in Cabinet and Ministers of State are Ministers outside Cabinet.

It will be interesting if any of Trevor’s former Ministerial colleagues agree with his description of them as useless.  To spare the competent ones, he should name those he meant!

More importantly, he should lobby David Shearer to announce a policy to reduce the Ministry from 28 to 12 Ministers. That would be hugely popular.

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