Irony on irony


There was more than a little irony in the idea of the Minister of Entitlement and Indignation Chris Carter accepting a post witht he UN to sort out corruption in Afghanistan.

But now there’s more. He did his valedictory speech a couple of weeks ago, started the new job last week but has only just got around to tabling his resignation with the Speaker – and it doesn’t take effect until the end of the month.

What’s worse, collecting two salaries for a fortnight; accepting yet more pay for being an MP when he’s no longer being one; or that parliamentary rules allow that to happen?

Hat tip: No Right Turn

Who’s left for him to play with?


No National-led coalition would include Hone Harawira’s party.

Labour, or at least its leader, has ruled out inviting him into coalition too.

Now Harawira has ruled himself out of a coalition which includes the Maori Party.

Who’s left for him to play with?

If he has a wee chat to Chris Carter he’ll find parliament is a very lonely place when you’ve got no mates.

Which bit of loyal doesn’t he understand?


Remember how Christ Carter kept saying he was loyal to Labour, his problem was with the leader not the party?

He’s changed his mind: Greens party of choice for Chris Carter

And the award for chronic entitilitis goes to . . .


 . . . Chris Carter and his partner who canned a taxpayer funded holiday  only after TV3 found out about it:

Mr Carter and his partner managed to book an international holiday using the MPs’ travel perk right before Parliament’s Speaker, Lockwood Smith, banned MPs from taking private travel with public money. . .

Carter and Mr Kaiser were booked to leave Auckland on December 29, flying business class via Singapore to Colombo and Sri Lanka.

The estimated cost of their flights is $13,902 – 90 percent picked up by the taxpayer.

The pair were planning on holidaying with British MP Ben Bradshaw and his partner but an hour after 3 News confronted Mr Kaiser, Mr Carter sent a text saying the trip was cancelled and he wasn’t going to front.

Well done TV3. Now could you follow up with some questions:

How much did cancelling the trip cost and who paid for it?

What do two professionals do with their money if they can’t afford to pay for their own flights?

What’s happened to the airpoints they’ve accrued on previous trips?

Which would cost more: a by-election or continuing to keep Carter in the lifestyle to which he’s become accustomed?

Quote of the week – updated


 The fact he [Chris Carter] is in trouble because he is an over-promoted party hack with a hugely inflated ego have taken some time to sink in.

The hints of revelations – some MPs were all set to join him and roll Phil Goff, but have apparently now headed for the Parliamentary underbrush – have only added to the air of paranoid and despairing disarray around Labour.  Not for the first time, we recall the words of another Labour dissident, John Tamihere:  there were too many people in the party with “nothing but the ability to plot.”

It looks as though a lot of them aren’t even any good at plotting any more.

Trans Tasman.


The speaker Lockwood Smith will fine Carter because he hasn’t been in parliament on sitting days as required.

“I recognise that that the penalty is small, but this does not mean that I do not take the attendance of members seriously. While members draw a parliamentary salary they should attend sittings of the House.”

Mr Carter has been back at his new office in the basement of parliament this week after he was kicked out of the Labour Party on Monday night.

He has given a series of media interview and was this afternoon reportedly at a gym in Auckland before doing a stint on a radio talkback show.

Parliament has been sitting all week, including today.

Docking an MP’s salary by $10 a day isn’t a small penalty it’s ridiculous and needs to be reviewed. 


Keeping Stock has more – Carter thinks Lockwood is kicking him while he’s down.

Tell that to his constituents who work for a lot less and would lose a lot more if they took a day off.

Hell hath no fury like an MP scorned


When you’ve been kicked out of the party you say you love you have several options.

Chris Carter has chosen the ballistic one:

Expelled former Labour MP Chris Carter has declared war on Labour and its leader Phil Goff, threatening to dish dirt and name those he said were involved in plotting to oust Mr Goff.

Mr Carter was booted out of the party by its ruling council on Monday night – the first such move since MP John A Lee was ousted in 1940 – despite an hour-long plea from Mr Carter laced with threats to reveal embarrassing skeletons. At one point he told the council: “I can be friend or foe. If it’s foe you want, its war.”

An ex-MP who has acted somewhat irrationally at times doesn’t have a lot of employment options.

One of those open to Carter is writing a book and it’s in his interests to keep himself in the headlines to generate sales.

But he may not be Labour’s only problem.

In his submission, leaked to The Dominion Post . . .

Was Carter the leaker or is there someone else in the party with issues?

Carter not a John A Lee


Chris Carter is the first MP to be expelled from the Labour Party since John A. Lee was kicked out in 1940.

Both expulsions were prompted by criticisms of their leaders but that’s where the comparison ends.

It wasn’t just Carter’s criticism of Phil Goff. You only have to look at his interview on Q&A to see that he still feels aggrieved and has no remorse.

Well, I got angry about being hung out to try over it, cos I was working my guts out and there was no private travel, it was all government business, and I felt Mr Goff hadn’t been loyal to me. You know, loyalty’s a two-way thing, Paul.

He keeps saying he’s loyal to Labour but his actions contradict that.

Any MP who doesn’t realise it’s not about him/her, it’s about the party is a liability.

Carter doesn’t get that and because he doesn’t he won’t go quietly.

Another chapter for Carter’s book


Chris Carter has given up on being the candidate for Te Atatu.

“In good conscience I cannot campaign on behalf of a leader I have criticised,” Mr Carter said.

“It would not be fair to him or ethical of me. I hold this view while at the same believing the Labour Party, with its values of social democracy and concern for the welfare of ordinary people, is the best party to serve the interests of New Zealanders.”

Mr Carter said he remained a loyal Labour supporter.

This will make another interesting chapter in the book he’s threatening to write.

Acceptable reasons for triggering a by-election


If you’ve been Prime Minister and you’ve just lost an election it’s almost certainly better for your party and you if you accept you’ve done your dash as an MP and chose to move on.

If you’ve left – or been kicked out of – your party and want a mandate from your electorate, resigning and standing in the by-election your resignation triggered could give you one.

If you’re ill and can’t represent the people in your electorate properly a resignation would be better for them and you.

If you’ve decided you’d rather be a mayor than an MP you’d be doing the taxpayers and your constituents a favour if you resigned from parliament.

Giving up because you’ve got a better job is not a good reason to trigger a by-election.

When you win a seat at an election you are elected for a three-year term and the unwritten contract with the people who put you there should be broken only for very good reasons.

MPs who leave early without good reason let down the people who voted for them, their party and the public who have to fit the bill for the by-election.

Winnie Laban is standing down, Chris Carter may and Jim Anderton should.

I wonder how the cost of three separate by-elections compares with the cost of a general election?

Carter was right but now he’s wrong


Public opinion supports Chris Carter’s contention that Labour can’t win the next election with Goff as leader.

But while he was right about that, he was also wrong to think a change of leader would help because the TV3 poll has even worse news for the party –  people don’t think it will win with anyone else as leader either.

Tonight’s TV3 survey followed Labour MP Chris Carter’s attack on Mr Goff, when he said “Phil Goff is a very nice guy but he’s just not going to win”.

It asked voters whether Mr Carter was right, and 42 percent said he was. A further 32 percent said Labour can’t win no matter who the leader is.

The majority of people polled – 64% – also thought Carter should resign from his seat.

I agree with them. Macdoctor has diagnosed his problem as expediency rather than stress. Even if he has a genuine illness it is unlikely that two months will be enough to cure  him.

Given the amount of travelling he’s done, the people of Te Atatu have had a part-time representative for several years. Now they’ve got one who’s on leave.

They deserve someone who’s committed to serving them fulltime and preferably someone who has a better grasp of what’s acceptable behaviour towards the party which selected him and for the people who elected him.

The nature of opposition


The Farming Show is a must-listen for many in the rural sector.

It also has gems for political junkies like this one from Monday’s show when Jamie Mackay asked Bill English about Chris Carter.

 Bill replied:

This is a man on a mission. He’s a symptom not a cause.

The hardest thing in Opposition is to get to the point where you accept the voters were right to kick you out when they did and the Labour Party hasn’t got there yet and Chris Carter hasn’t got there either.

So what you’re just seeing is the internal tension which is a group of people frustrated and angry that they’re not making any political progress.

That is the nature of Opposition, that’s inevitable. They’re going to have a lot more scraps, they’ll change leaders a time or two and eventually when they accept that they were right to be kicked out the public will start listening to them again.

When you look at the internal ructions and the little policy they are suggesting it doesn’t look as if they’ll be accepting the public was right to kick them out for a while yet.

MPs to get Carter clause?


Many employers came up against Labour’s employment laws which made it difficult to sack someone even for gross misbehaviour. Now they know what it feels like.

Kicking him out of caucus was easy. Getting him out of parliament and the party is proving to be more problematic.

However, Chris Carter’s extended sick leave is likely to result in a change of rules.

Speaker Lockwood Smith is concerned that Carter could stay away from parliament for the rest of the term and lose only $10 a week from his salary.

Dr Smith says the law needs changing.

“The sanction available to the Speaker so the member doesn’t stay on indefinite leave is so weak,” he says. . .

. . . So Mr Carter’s case has proved one thing – it’s easy for a suspended MP to walk away from Parliament and to stay on full pay.

The law allowing him to do this is 30 years old, it’s out of date and Dr Smith says not only does it need changing – he’s determined to do it.

No-one employed in the private sector could get away with extended leave on almost full pay. Dr Smith is right the rules need to change to ensure that MPs won’t be able to either.

UPDATE: Keeping Stock  posts on the Dominion Post’s editorial which starts:

 Spot the difference. Once the Government’s new industrial relations legislation takes effect a member of the public will, if requested, have to supply her employer with a medical certificate for even one day’s absence from work. Labour MP Chris Carter becomes stressed and party president Andrew Little unilaterally declares he will be taking two months’ sick leave.

Mr Carter may well be unwell. He has certainly appeared stressed since his lavish spending on overseas travel while a minister in the last government was made public. However, his party’s concern for his psychological wellbeing would ring truer if his colleagues had not queued up to publicly question his sanity and if the clamour had preceded, rather than succeeded, his attempt to destabilise Phil Goff’s leadership by sending an anonymous letter to journalists advising of disharmony in Labour’s ranks.

Sick leave gives Mr Carter and Labour space for cool-headed consideration, but it is a solution available only because of the strange netherworld MPs inhabit.

They don’t have job security, they have to reapply for their positions every three years. But it’s ridiculous that there is nothing to prevent them marking time at our expense on almost full pay.

Carter on stress leave


Was I too quick to condemn labour MPs for questioning Chris Carter’s mental health?

He’s applied for, and been granted, eight weeks’ stress leave from parliament.

Three hats two too many


Andrew Little couldn’t give a better example of why being Labour Party president, national secretary of the EPMU and a would-be Labour MP means he’s wearing two hats too many:

But on TV3’s The Nation this morning, Mr Little seemed to be at odds with Labour Party Leader Phil Goff’s position on whether workers should be able to cash in their fourth week of annual leave.

Mr Goff has said he is relaxed about it, Mr Carter considered that a flip-flop and wrote his now infamous letter.

Today, Mr Little ruled it out.

“There will be no tradeability of the fourth week of annual leave,” he said.

That is a valid comment from a unionist but a party president and would-be MP should leave any comments on policy to the leader and caucus.

Disputing the leader’s comments on party funds isn’t helpful either:

But he denied Mr. Carter’s allegations that the party was short of money.

“As the president of the party I get the monthly financial reports…I know what the state of the parties finances are in, they are very healthy.”

Especially when he contradicts himself a few sentences earlier (07.58)

“We’ve been paying back debt from the last election . . .

Still being in debt from the last election when we’re at least half way to the next one doesn’t sound like the party finances are particularly healthy.

KOW denies collusion


Keep Out Winston (KOW) denies colluding with Labour MP Chris Carter to keep Winston Peters out of the headlines.

“I”ll admit we were worried when we heard stirrings earlier in the week. We called an urgent meeting to discuss strategy should rumours of the resurgance of the man whose name we dare not mention prove true, but events overtook us,” KOW spokesperson Omai Gosh said.

“However, we were impressed by how successful Carter’s antics were and it’s given us some good ideas of strategies we might use should the need arise for desperate action in the future.”

You don’t have to be mad to work in parliament . . .


If anyone had a case for saying their job made them mad it would be MPs.

They work long hours in an unnatural environment surrounded by Alpha personality types knowing every misstep is likely to end up in the media. Most have to live away from their families and when they go home they have to deal with electorate duties. Even Wellington based MPs spend a lot of time travelling round the rest of the country – and further afield.

To make matters worse they’re surrounded by people who are may be as much rivals as allies and not all your enemies are on the other side.

It’s a high pressured and unnatural life and it would be understandable if that had an detrimental impact on their mental health.

If it did, it wouldn’t be helpful if colleagues started publicly questioning your state of mind.

I agree with Inventory 2 who said:

 The personal attacks on Carter and the innuendo around his mental health reflect very poorly on Labour in our humble opinion.

This isn’t the first time Labour, which prides iteslf on its sensitivity, has been less than sensitive over mental illness. Regardless of  my state of mind, that strategy  would definitely make me mad – at least in the sense of being furious.

UPDATE: Apropos of attacks  getting personal, Kiwiblog has a post on the post deleted from Red Alert.

Pity the volunteers


The Chris Carter circus is all very amusing for those of us looking on from the outside but it will be anything but funny for insiders.

Phil Goff will be fuming. Instead of attention focussing positively on Labour for attacking the government it’s on him, his caucus and the Te Atatu MP.

He may also be worried. What if Carter isn’t a lone wolf but a stalking horse?

The rest of caucus will also be angry. Even if they agree with Carter that Labour can’t win the next election with Goff as leader, he’s added poison to the chalice because anyone who took over would be splattered with mud from this mess.

But the people who will be really upset, and for whom I have real sympathy, are the volunteers.

They’re the ones who do the fund raising and the organising. They pound the pavements delivering pamphlets, they phone talkback write letters to the editor, comment on blogs, perhaps even contribute to one. They sit through meetings, in often cold halls, to provide moral support for candidates and MPs.

They are the ones who give their time, their energy and their money for a cause they believe in. They stick with the party through thick and thin, in opposition and government.

And most do it in the knowledge the only reward they will get is seeing some of the policies they support and may have helped shape take effect.

Carter thinks Labour can’t win the election with Goff as leader. He should also realise the party won’t get anywhere without volunteers and he’s just kicked them in the shins.

Carter kicked out of caucus


He’s been guilty of troughing, of whining, of lack of self knowledge and now Chris Carter is guilty of stupidity:

MP Chris Carter has been suspended from the Labour Party after admitting to sending an anonymous letter claiming there is a plot to overthrow leader Phil Goff.

“His actions were stupid and disloyal,” Labour leader Phil Goff told a press conference this afternoon.

“There are no more chances. His future in the Labour Party is at an end.”

He was stupid to write the letter, more stupid to deliver it to parliament where security cameras operate and stupider still to address the letter by hand because Goff recognised his writing.

UPDATE: TV3 has a transcript of the letter:

Just a heads up on two issues you might find quite interesting in the Labour caucus.

1) Next Tuesday the union based MPs will challenge Goff’s position on the tradability of the 4th week of the month’s annual leave entitlement. There is general outrage that in an unguarded media moment Goff bucked the caucus and CTU position that the 4th week was not tradable for cash and essentially supported Key’s position. This issue has brought to a head the growing discontent in the caucus with both Goff’s leadership style and his poor polling. David Cunliffe has a big smile on his face and many in the caucus now expect a move against Goff and King before the election.

2) George Hawkins has been challenged in his electorate by a member of the Engineers union. Nominations close on 1 September. George is threatening a by-election and since the party is broke there is panic in the ranks over this prospect.

Attack from within


The headline Goff totally loses the  plot would be of little significance if it came from the right. But this one is from the left – Brian Edwards.

He starts:

Either Phil Goff is getting appalling advice from his media advisers or he is ignoring good advice. Either way, his recent handling of Chris Carter would suggest that he has totally lost the plot.

He concludes:

So what is Carter to do? If I were advising him, I would suggest that he swallow his pride, do whatever will satisfy Goff’s apparent bloodlust, then keep his head down until after the 2011 election, when he will almost certainly be answerable to a different, and more reasonable leader of the Labour Party.

I agree that Goff has handled this badly. Punishing Carter for travelling too much when he was a Minister in Helen Clark’s government is bizarre; not least because it has unleashed her supporters.

Carter has an unfortunate inability to see himself as others see him, but treating him like a child, dispatched to his room until he says sorry and learns to play nicely, will only reinforce his nobody-understands-me syndrome.

That someone outside the party and from the blue end of the political spectrum thinks this means little.

When someone who has been (not sure if he still is) a Labour insider and is from the red end of the spectrum thinks and writes this it’s a sign of trouble within the party.

Attacks from outside can help a party unite. Attacks from within simply cause trouble within.

Who’s sorry now?


Shane Jones has apologised.

He’s admitted what he did, accepted it’s wrong, said he’s sorry, been stripped of his portfolio responsibilities and been demoted to the backbench.

He is sorry for what he did wrong and he is justified in feeling sorry at how he’s been treated in comparison with Chris Carter.

Carter has been moved from the first bench to the second, lost Foreign Affairs  spokesmanship but has the Conservation role.

He’s also been told to apologise and did but if you have to be told to say sorry  and don’t accept you’ve done anything wrong then you’re not really sorry.

Goff looked like a leader who meant business yesterday but today Carter’s petulance has overshadowed that. and led us to ask why he didn’t demote him further.

He doesn’t seem to understand the big spender and master of hissy fits has used up all his chances. That’s why Inquiring Mind asks if Carter has some pictures. I don’t believe he does but I can’t understand why he’s been given so much rope.

%d bloggers like this: