Bridges & Reti up, Clark down

02/07/2020

National leader Todd Muller has announced two promotions in the wake of Paula Bennett’s decision to retire from politics:

Dr Shane Reti will be ranked number 13 and will take on Associate Drug Reform. Shane has demonstrated a huge intellect and capacity for work, supporting Michael Woodhouse in our Covid-19 response, as well as achieving much in the Tertiary Education portfolio.

Simon Bridges will be picking up the Foreign Affairs portfolio and will be ranked at number 17. Simon has been leader and a minister for a number of years in the last National Government. He expressed a desire for this portfolio and his experience will be valuable in this important role.

Deputy Leader Nikki Kaye will pick up the portfolio of Women and will make several announcements associated with this portfolio in the coming months.

Amy Adams will take the portfolio of Drug Reform. She will work with Shane Reti in this area. . . 

These are all good moves, I am especially pleased that Simon’s experience and skill will be put to good use.

Gerry Brownlee did have the Foreign Affairs portfolio. I have no idea what negotiations went on, but Gerry stepped aside to allow Bill English to be John Key’s deputy when John became leader for the good of the caucus and party. It looks like he has done so again which shows commendable loyalty and grace.

Meanwhile, a mess has been tidied up for the government.

David Clark has resigned as Health Minister:

The embattled MP for Dunedin North said he had become a “distraction” and that the “time is right” for someone else to fill the role, but he will stand as an MP in the upcoming election. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement Dr Clark contacted her on Wednesday to “confirm his wish to resign as a minister” and that she had accepted his resignation. 

The Prime Minister has appointed Labour MP Chris Hipkins as Health Minister until the election. Hipkins is currently the Minister of Education.  . . 

Clark is the third of Ardern’s Ministers to lose his warrant – Clare Curran resigned, and Meka Whaitiri who was sacked.

It has taken a while, had Ardern had more steel the resignation would have been accepted weeks ago when Clark first offered it.


If not sacking AG must investigate

11/03/2019

Shane Jones is in another spot of bother:

After declaring a conflict of interest in a proposed Northland cultural centre, Shane Jones sat through a meeting when ministerial colleagues decided on its multi-million dollar funding application, even giving reassurance about its governance.

Manea, Footprints of Kupe was among the first group of projects to be awarded cash from the Provincial Growth Fund, a $1 billion a year fund secured in coalition negotiations between Labour and NZ First, which is coming under increasing criticism. . . 

He has repeatedly said he stepped back from having involvement in the project and denied advocating for it.

But documents quietly posted on the website of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) showed that Jones attended what appears to be the single ministerial meeting to determine the application.

“Minister [of Finance Grant] Robertson raised his concerns about the broader management and commercial operations of the project,” MBIE official Mark Patterson wrote.

“Minister Jones provided reassurance that as the project has Far North Holding Ltd, the commercial arm of the Far North District Council, involved in its governance structures, he was comfortable their presence would alleviate any concerns on the issue.”

Patterson added that MBIE would manage other concerns through milestone payments.

“Minister Robertson was comfortable to sign the briefing knowing this mitigation was in place.”

Less than a month after Davis announced the funding, Jones was asked by Act leader David Seymour whether he had held any discussions with his ministerial colleagues about Manea.

“I asked my colleagues to make the decision on that project in order to manage a conflict of interest”.

Later he said he “noted” the involvement of Far North Holdings to colleagues.

On Friday, Jones insisted he purely offered “statements of fact” in the meeting and he believed he had managed his conflict of interest, but acknowledged others would consider it appropriate to exit meetings altogether.

“You can physically exit or you can declare a conflict and let colleagues deal with the issue,” Jones said.

“I don’t believe my presence in any meeting with three other powerful ministers has any deterrent effect.” . . 

He might believe that but it doesn’t stop the perception that he used his influence when he declared a conflict of interest and ought to have not even been in the room.

[Act leader David] Seymour said the documents suggested Jones “was decisive” in seeing the funding go ahead to an organisation he had a prior association with.

“He actually provided reassurance to his colleagues, which is at stark odds with  his repeated assurances in Parliamentary questions that he’d recused himself from any role,” Seymour said, claiming Jones had breached the Cabinet manual.

“I don’t see how you can continue to be a minister when something as simple as a conflict of interest, you can’t manage.”

On Sunday morning, Seymour, called for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to sack Jones.

“Shane Jones not only involved himself in an application in relation to which he had a conflict of interest, he also concealed this key meeting in answer to a written parliamentary question,” Seymour said.

Clare Curran was eventually sacked for a similar transgression.

National’s regional development spokesman Paul Goldsmith said it defeated the purpose of declaring a conflict of interest and delegating responsibility, “if a minister then engages fully in favour of a project which Shane Jones appears to have done”.

“We need a full explanation from Shane Jones of his involvement in this project from start to finish.” . . 

 Seymour and the Taxpayers’ Union have both called for the Auditor General to investigate:

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Ministers have it drilled into them that when it comes to decisions that involve a personal interest, they shouldn’t be in the room, let alone provide advice and ‘reassurances’. Shane Jones’ behaviour will give taxpayers zero confidence that the Growth Fund is being spent impartially or for economic good.”

“Businesses across the country will look at this example, along with other Growth Fund handouts, and figure that the key to profitability is cosy relationships with the political class. That is the path to cronyism and corruption.”

“The Prime Minister mustn’t let her Government’s reliance on NZ First lead to an open season on taxpayer funds. She should call in the Auditor General to investigate Shane Jones’ actions, and be prepared to strip him of his Regional Economic Development portfolio if necessary.” . . 

The Provincial Growth Fund is a $3 billion fund which has been criticised several times for doling out money without the usual cost-benefit appraisal and rigour which should precede largesse with taxpayers’ money.

The Prime Minister dilly-dallied before sacking Clare Curran.

Given the sensitivities with New Zealand First, it is unlikely she will act on the calls to sack the minister over this matter so it is up to the Auditor General to investigate.


PM there and here

27/09/2018

Happy headlines are following Jacinda Ardern in New York.

Back home the media are looking past the stardust to the continuing saga over Derek Handley and the position of Chief Technology Officer he was appointed to then disappointed from.

NZ Herald opines:

There can be no doubt the Derek Handley saga is a train wreck that is now threatening to derail confidence in the Government.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may have been hoping she could leave the domestic turmoil of the past few weeks behind her, while she – with partner Clarke Gayford and baby Neve – wows world leaders and their delegations at the United Nations in New York.

But she clearly wasn’t banking on tech entrepreneur Derek Handley yesterday releasing his text and email communications with her and former Minister for Government Digital Services Clare Curran, and speaking further about the whole sorry saga – including bemoaning his lack of apology or explanation in the matter of the bungled chief technology officer recruitment process.

Possibly Ardern thought sacking Curran from that ministerial post – and Curran’s subsequent resignation from all her ministerial portfolios – was enough to put the incident to rest.

However, yesterday the PM found herself having to fend off accusations she had misled Parliament over her own communications with Handley, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was forced to correct his answer in Parliament over emails between Handley and Curran, and new Digital Services Minister Megan Woods was clearly forced to finally call Handley to apologise for the “impact this has had on him and his family”. She also had to retract her statement there had been a confidentiality agreement with Handley over his financial settlement.

What a shemozzle.

It still doesn’t feel like a satisfying conclusion for anyone – if indeed this end of the matter. . .

This is a serious black mark for the Government. The overall unease around communication, competency and transparency over this issue is now raising questions about the PM’s leadership and the Government’s integrity in general. . .

Audrey Young writes:

It is becoming a habit – for the second time in three weeks, National leader Simon Bridges has accused Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of misleading the public.

This time she has also been accused of misleading Parliament as well as the public and Bridges has demanded she correct her statements.

Ardern put up a strenuous defence on both counts that there was no need for corrections. . .

But Kiwiblog quotes Hansard: and shows on the 18th and 19th of September in answer to questions from National leader SImon Bridges that taking the most generous view of what she said, she was at the very least economical with the truth.

Back to Young:

Until now, the fiasco, mainly over an undisclosed meeting, had reflected badly on Curran but the contagion has spread to Ardern and made the Government look amateurish.

Grant Robertson had to correct an answer in the House today he gave last week on Clare Curran’s emails to Handley and Woods had to retract a suggestion that the severance contract with Handley may have been subject to a confidentiality clause.

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters swore blind Ardern was blameless of anything and everything.

True, she will not have to correct any answers she has given to Parliament.

But that is almost irrelevant because even if she did, it would not undo the damage she has done to herself.

A train wreck, a schemozzle,  a fiasco. These aren’t adjectives any government wants applied to them.

But nearly a year into office, the one that explains the mess is amateurish.

 


Messier and messier

15/09/2018

Former minister Clare Curran’s mismanagement has cost taxpayers $107,000.

Dumped chief technology officer candidate Derek Handley has been paid out more than $100,000 in compensation by the Government, Digital Services Minister Megan Woods has confirmed.

Woods said the Government had agreed to pay Handley compensation totalling $107,500 after deciding to put the recruitment process for the country’s first national chief technology officer on hold and “rethinking the role”. 

Woods issued the statement after Handley said the Government had reneged on a commitment to give him the job and paid him three months’ salary, and costs, as compensation.

Handley said he had decided not to keep the money, and would instead donate it towards a fund to support ideas, programmes and grants to tackle “digital inequality”.

Former communications minister Clare Curran resigned first from Cabinet and then as minister after it emerged she met Handley in February to discuss the job and then “omitted” to document the meeting in response to a parliamentary question.

Handley said he was “offered and accepted” the job – which had been billed as offering a salary of up to $400,000 plus a $100,000 travel budget – a month ago.

“Earlier this week I was deeply disappointed to learn that the Government will no longer follow through with their commitment and will not be making that appointment at this time.”  . .

 National’s State Services spokesperson Nick Smith sums it up:

. . .“The process around appointing a Chief Technology Officer has been a shambles from the beginning. It involved secret meetings and emails, the resignation of Minister Clare Curran and now we’re paying Derek Handley around $100,000 for a job he never even started.

“The Government must now come clean with the hidden emails from Clare Curran and the Prime Minister so we know the full story of how badly this was handled.

“The CTO is the flagship of the Government’s IT policy and was budgeted to cost the taxpayer over $500,000 per year. Now if it still goes ahead we can add a pay out of over $100,000 because of the Government’s incompetence.    . .

Point of Order calls this a disgraceful  saga, one  which  has  few parallels  in the history  of state-sector  appointments.

Curran’s resignation as a minister ought to have put this particular mess behind the government, but the mess just keeps getting messier and more expensive.

 


Lying by omission

07/09/2018

Remember Jacinda Ardern saying in a pre-elections debate she wouldn’t lie?

What would she call this?

Jacinda Ardern insisted in an interview today that she would not fire Clare Curran – but the Prime Minister had accepted the errant MP’s resignation the night before.

The under-fire Curran has quit as a minister, saying the pressure on her had become “intolerable”. She becomes the first casualty in the Ardern administration.

Ardern told Newstalk ZB’s Chris Lynch – in an interview recorded at 8am this morning – that she would not fire Curran.

But it has now emerged the errant minister told Ardern last night that she would quit – and Ardern accepted her resignation.

When asked by reporters in Gisborne today about her comment to Newstalk ZB, Ardern said: “The question that I was asked this morning was whether I’d asked her to resign, and the answer was no.” . . .

Courts require people to swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Omitting to tell the whole truth isn’t lying by commission but it is lying by omission.

And it was unnecessary.

The resignation was given, and accepted, last night, giving plenty of time for anyone who needed to know before the public knew to be told.

Delaying the announcement was poor political management that led the PM to knowingly mislead the public and seriously contradicts the government’s aim to be open and transparent.


Minister down

07/09/2018

The Labour NZ First Green government has lost its first minister:

Embattled Dunedin South MP Clare Curran has resigned as Minister, saying the pressure on her has become “intolerable”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced just after midday today she had accepted Ms Curran’s resignation after two failures to properly record meetings and this week’s stumbled response in Parliament to questions about her personal use of email. . .

The pressure was of her own making.

To do the wrong thing once might be considered a mistake that might, if one was being charitable, be blamed on inexperience. Although, charitable or not, when it cost a senior public servant her job it was a very big mistake.

To do the same wrong thing twice can’t be blamed on inexperience, it’s a sign of serious incompetence and no government can afford incompetent ministers.


Um, ah, ah

06/09/2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern might still have confidence in Clare Curran but the minister doesnt’ appear to have confidence in herself:

. . . Curran stumbled over her answers in Parliament’s debating chamber, as she was forced to admit that Government business was conducted on her personal email. She was not forthcoming with a response about why she used her Gmail account for official business from “time to time”. 

Asked “what Government business has she conducted via her Gmail account”, Curran appeared flustered and claimed she’d answered the question before being told by the Speaker she had to answer it directly – she then required Lee to ask it again. 

Curran answered: “To the best of my recollection, um, ah, ah, I haven’t, um, I haven’t used my, um I’ve answered um OIA, ah, ah, OIA responses and personal, um and parliamentary questions correctly and to the best of my recollection, um, ah, you know, that, that has, that’s what I’ve done.”

It pales in comparison to the email controversy surrounding former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her 2016 presidential run against US President Donald Trump, but has raised similar questions over security and transparency of information.  . .

When you read Nick Smith’s speech in Tuesday’s snap debate about Curren’s sacking, it is easy to see why she might be lacking confidence in herself:

“We have a Minister of Open Government—actually, the very first Minister of Open Government that’s ever existed in this Parliament—and the promise of the Minister of Open Government was to be the most open and transparent Government that this country has ever had, and then what we find out from that Minister is that not once but twice that Minister behaved in a secretive, in a sneaky, and in a dirty way.

“Now, let’s come to the events that have led to Clare Curran’s resignation as the Minister of Open Government. Firstly, we had the incident with Radio New Zealand.

“Let’s understand how important that is. A free, politically neutral media goes to the heart of how our democracy works.

“We are not …  one of those countries where we have a State media that just spins the Government line, like you might get in a North Korea or a Zimbabwe. Here we have Clare Curran having private, secret meetings with the head of news—not some public servant.

“What is the Minister of Broadcasting doing having meetings—secret meetings—with the head of news at Radio New Zealand? There wouldn’t be a member in this House, not even my newest colleagues, that wouldn’t have a feeling that, well, that doesn’t feel quite right. ‘I’m the Minister of Broadcasting; I shouldn’t really be having secret meetings with the head of Radio New Zealand news.’

“But here’s the part that has me gobsmacked: the week after this Parliament admonishes her for being dishonest about the secret meeting, guess what Clare Curran does? She arranges another secret meeting, this time wearing the portfolio as the Minister of Digital Technologies.

“I’ve been here for 28 years. I’ve seen some Ministers goof it up. What I have never seen is a dicky Minister commit exactly the same crime just one week after there’s a massive controversy.

“Now there are only two possibilities here. Either she’s dumb, or she’s dishonest. I’m sorry, there can only be two explanations for that course of events that has occurred. . . 

Dumb or dishonest?

Oh dear, neither of those are qualifications for a minister inside or outside Cabinet and it says little for Ardern’s judgement that she couldn’t see that.

By taking the soft option of demoting Curren from Cabinet but allowing her to stay on as a minister, Ardern has made her a target and bought herself an on-going headache.

And while we’re not he subject of ministers who are out of their depth, this exchange between National’s Chris Finlayson and Labour’s deputy Kelvin Davis is instructive:


From misfortune to carelessness

30/08/2018

The government has lost a second minister in less than a week:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted Minister Meka Whaitiri’s offer to stand aside from her portfolios, while an investigation is carried out into a staffing matter in her office.

Newshub understands the probe follows allegations of a physical incident with another staff member in her office, which involved some shoving. . . .

The announcement comes just six days after Ms Ardern removed Minister Clare Curran from Cabinet for failing to disclose a meeting she had in relation to the Government’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role. . .

If Lady Bracknell was commenting on events of this week, she might well say, To lose one minister may be regarded as misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.


So . . .

25/08/2018

Jacinda Ardern knew on Monday about Clare Curran’s second strike.

Why did she wait until 4pm Friday to announce she was sacked?

And why was she sacked from Cabinet but not as a minister?

 


Without rain . . .

24/08/2018

On a day when Scott Morrison becomes Australia’s Prime Minister;  the story around the leak of Simon Bridges’ travel expenses takes a bizarre turn, and Clare Curran becomes the first Minister to be sacked from Jacinda Ardern’s cabinet, nature reminds us that without rain there would be no rainbows:


Why lie?

28/03/2018

Revelations about the meeting between Carol Hirschfeld and BroadcastingMinister Clare Curran has led to the former’s resignation and the latter’s belated admission it should never have happened.

And she says that calling it an unofficial, informal meeting was wrong, and it may have been naive to have had it in the first place.

“I considered it to be an informal, not an official meeting, and I got that wrong,” Curran told media this afternoon.

Even if we take her at her word that she considered it to be informal and unofficial, the whole debacle raises several questions

1. Why did Curran arrange it?

2. What was its purpose?

3. What was discussed?

5. Who leaked the information that it was planned and diaried to National’s Broadcasting spokesperson Melissa Lee whose questions in parliament made it public?

6. Why did it take so long to admit the meeting was official?

7. Why hide the fact that it was official?

And the most important question:

8. Why lie about it?

Hirschfeld is a highly regarded journalist.

She hasn’t resigned for having the meeting.

That was inadvisable but it’s neither a resignation nor sacking offence.

Lying about it is.

Whatever possessed her to describe the meeting as unplanned and to stick to that claim for four months?

She has lost her job. The Minister has not – yet.

 

 

 

 


Bending branches

07/02/2018

Government ministers are bending the branches of government to breaking point, Helensville, and lawyer, MP Christopher Penk says.

By constitutional convention, respective roles played by our three branches of government are deliberately distinct. The “executive” (which is led by cabinet but includes all the civil service) basically runs the country. The “legislature”, aka parliament, passes laws defining the limits of that executive power, among other things. And the “judiciary” (our court system, more or less) applies the law, deciding each case on its individual merits in accordance with existing legal norms – without fear or favour and free from political pressure.

The doctrine demanding a separation of powers is a sacrosanct safeguard within our partly written, partly unwritten constitution. Its importance lies in preventing any one individual or group from gaining an outsized portion of power.

Taken together, constitutional safeguards have helped to keep New Zealand blessedly free of corruption in our short but proud history. Enjoying such stability and certainty is an international advantage that we should guard jealously and zealously. . .

He gives four examples where ministers’ behavior has weakened the constitutional framework:

* Andrew Little’s comments on a perceived problem with bail

* Little’s comment on the decision not to prosecute over the CCTV collapse.

* Clare Curran’s tweet on a police prosecution.

* Grant Roberston’s threat to make an example of landlords illegally raising rents.

In this country it’s pretty hard to hold a government to account when it bends, or even breaks, constitutional convention. That’s the thing about conventions, of course: for better and worse, they’re almost impossible to enforce. The flexibility of our constitutional arrangements is actually a real strength most of the time (whatever advocates of a comprehensive written constitution may say), so this is not a criticism but an observation.

That said, with few firm legal constraints in the form of “black letter law”, political accountability becomes all the more important. As Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that is where we come in. And take note, ministers: we will.

The transition from opposition, where there is greater leeway for criticism, to government and cabinet where much more circumspection is required, isn’t always easy.

But that’s no excuse for bending the branches of government as these ministers have.

Adam Smith writes on this at Inquiring Mind.

 

 


Enemy of this enemy no friend

10/03/2015

Quote of the day:

. . . Whoever wields the shovel, bullshit is bullshit. It is bullshit to claims that Islamist acts of terror have nothing to do with Islam, or that ISIS are freedom-fighting anti-imperialists in sheik’s clothing. However tenuous their grasp on scripture, these are swivel-eyed religious fanatics on a killing spree of shocking proportions. Common antipathy towards U.S. (oh, and Israel) is a very bad reason not to stop them. – Phil Quin

This enemy of the USA is no friend of anyone’s except those who share its evil intent.

Anyone using anti-Americanism to justify not doing everything possible to counter that evil is letting political prejudice blind them to reality.

Hat tip: Karl du Fresne

 P.S.

Apropos of mindless anti-Americanism and confused thinking:

To which someone responded:

Labour doesn’t want to send troops to Iraq but it wants to send TVNZ reporters?!


It’s the party vote that counts

28/06/2014

The absence of so many of Labour’s sitting MPs and candidates from its list raises questions about those people’s focus.

The confusion is compounded by comments like this from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran:

. . . ”I’m 100% committed to the party vote around Dunedin and the region. My total focus will be on this campaign and that is behind my decision to withdraw from the list.” . . .

Not being on the list sends a strong signal that she’ll be campaigning to hold her seat as the only way to remain in parliament. Quite how that helps maximise the party vote isn’t clear.

National won the party vote in Dunedin South in 2011. The first priority of its candidate, Dunedin born-and-bred Hamish Walker is to build on that but Curran is vulnerable in the seat too.

So are at least four other Labour MPs.

. . . In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.

National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat. . .

A majority of the electorate votes will keep an MP in, or get a candidate into, parliament.

But it’s the party vote which gets them in to government.

That should always be the priority and in spite of the polls, there is no certainty over which parties will be in government after the election:

. . . With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.

‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’  . . .

Labour’s dismal polling and unpopular leader should make an election win easy for National, but it’s the total block of party votes for right or left that matters and that will allow one or other of those parties to lead the next government.


Labour’s list

23/06/2014

Labour has announced its party list for the 2014 election.

Five sitting MPs Ruth Dyson, Kris Faafoi, Clare Curran, Trevor Mallard and Rino Tirikatene have opted off the list as has Napier candidate Stuart Nash. . .

Did those not on the list step aside voluntarily or did they jump when they learned their plaes?

Hamish Rutherford gives Curran’s  statement:

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran makes a short statement over the phone about withdrawing from the Labour list:
“I made a decision to withdraw from the list. I’m focused on winning Dunedin South for Labour and a hundred per cent committed to campaigning for the party vote. Not just in Dunedin but across the region, Otago-Southland region. And that’s all I’m saying, okay?”

This might be nearer the truth:

Rutherford  also lists the winners and losers:

Winners on the Labour list:
David Clark up from 49 in 2011 to 26 this year
Iain Lees-Galloway from 37 to 24
Loiusa Wall, not placed in 2011 is ranked 12
Chris Hipkins rises from 30 to 9 this year
David Shearer was 31 last time, ranked 13 for 2014
Megan Woods rises from 47 to 20.

Losers:
Carol Beaumont down from 22 in 2011 to 27 this year
Maryan Street, 7th in 2011 is ranked 15 this year
Phil Goff, leader in 2011 and number 1 in 2011, is ranked 16

Damien O’Connor who rejected a list place three years ago is back – at 22.

Is that a sign he’s back in the fold or that he’s worried about losing his seat to National candidate Maureen Pugh.

Have the people ranking the candidates followed the party’s rules that 45% of caucus should be female?

That can only be determined when the votes are counted.

They have however fallen one short of the 65 list candidates the rules stipulate they should have.

That seems strange when at least two electorate candidates lots – 16 men and 5 women by my count – who are standing in electorates aren’t on the list at all.

Mallard says he chose not to seek a list place:

You’d think he’d understand how MMP works by now.

Everyone who wins a seat will push those who are depending on a list seat further down so unless Mallard loses his seat his not being on the list makes no difference to anyone else on it.

Chris Bishop, National’s candidate will be doing all he can to help him.

On current polling there will be some MPs facing the knowledge their chances of staying in parliament aren’t high and hoping the party does lose some electorates.

The list is:

1 David Cunliffe   2 David Parker   3 Grant Robertson   4 Annette King    5 Jacinda Ardern   6 Nanaia Mahuta   7 Phil Twyford   8 Clayton Cosgrove   9 Chris Hipkins   10 Sue Moroney   11 Andrew Little   12 Louisa Wall   13 David Shearer   14 Su’a William Sio   15 Maryan Street   16 Phil Goff   17 Moana Mackey   18 Kelvin Davis   19 Meka Whaitiri   20 Megan Woods   21 Raymond Huo   22 Damien O’Connor   23 Priyanca Radhakrishnan   24 Iain Lees-Galloway   25 Rachel Jones   26 David Clark   27 Carol Beaumont   28 Poto Williams   29 Carmel Sepuloni   30 Tamati Coffey   31 Jenny Salesa   32 Liz Craig   33 Deborah Russell   34 Willow-Jean Prime   35 Jerome Mika   36 Tony Milne   37 Virginia Andersen   38 Claire Szabo   39 Michael Wood   40 Arena Williams   41 Hamish McDouall   42 Anjum Rahman   43 Sunny Kaushal   44 Christine Greer   45 Penny Gaylor   46 Janette Walker   47 Richard Hills   48 Shanan Halbert   49 Anahila Suisuiki   50 Clare Wilson   51 James Dann   52 Kelly Ellis   53 Corie Haddock   54 Jamie Strange   55 Katie Paul   56 Steven Gibson   57 Chao-Fu Wu   58 Paul Grimshaw   59 Tracey Dorreen   60 Tofik Mamedov   61 Hikiera Toroa   62 Hugh Tyler   63 Susan Elliot   64 Simon Buckingham


Lies or politics

28/04/2014

Labour has been tricky about another of its policy releases.

Last week it announced its veteran’s policy which would extend the Veteran’s pension to all veterans, whether or not they were impaired.

That sounds very generous but Matthew Beveridge covers an exchange on Twitter between Labour MP Clare Curran and Graeme Edgeler which shows that yet again Labour hasn’t given the full story.

The veteran’s pension is the same as national superannuation so week to week war veterans will be no better off with Labour’s policy.

Some would call that tricky, some would call it lying by omission.

Either way it’s just like the bumbled announcement of the baby bribe which omitted to let people know that it would kick in only after paid parental leave finished.

Then there’s getting facts wrong which is at best a very poor reflection on politics:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3’s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

“This is an appalling number of errors for someone who would seek to run New Zealand’s economy. This number of errors surely can’t have been made by accident,” Mr Joyce says.

“Mr Parker’s attempts to describe the New Zealand economy sound much more like the situation this government inherited from Labour in 2008 than anything we are seeing in 2014.

“He must have been thinking of 2008 when he talked of ridiculously high interest rates, a poor balance of trade, and the poor performance of the export sector. All were pretty sick back then and all are in much better shape today as a result of this government’s careful stewardship of the economy.”

Mr Joyce says there are two possible conclusions. “Either Labour is deliberately fudging the facts to fabricate the need for their radical economic policy prescription, or they have truly woken up in 2014 for the election without observing anything that has happened in the last five years. The latter would at least fit their regular denials of the impacts of the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.

“New Zealanders know that this country today is doing better than most other developed countries, and in 2008 we were doing worse than most, in fact entering our own recession before the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.

“It might be an idea for Labour to look at the steady improvements that are occurring in the New Zealand economy before they start trying to write up their policy ideas.”

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Getting these facts wrong by accident is incompetence.

Getting them wrong deliberately is worse.

Either way, Labour is trying to talk down the economy which is doing well in spite of the GFC and the earthquakes and because of good management by the National-led government.

That the economy is growing doesn’t mean everyone is doing well.

But the chances of improvement for everyone are far greater under this government than they would have been had Labour been in power and continued with the tax and spend policies which put the country into recession before the GFC hit the rest of the world.

The chances of improvement will be far greater with another National-led government than with the alternative prescription a Labour Green government would impose on us.

 


Curran confirmed for Dunedin South

24/03/2014

Labour has confirmed sitting MP Clare Curran as its candidate for Dunedin South.

The party took an unusually long time to confirm the selection and there’s some evidence that the party didn’t really want Curran again.

She’s unranked in caucus, the selection date for the electorate was extended and the photo of the Labour women’s caucus celebrating International Women’s Day had every woman MP but her.

One of those could be considered unfortunate, all three together add up to a candidate who doesn’t appear to have the confidence of her colleagues.

If her own party don’t really want her, why should the good folk of Dunedin South?

 


Celebrating all but one

08/03/2014

It’s International Women’s Day and National is celebrating the depth and diversity of their women’s caucus.

Photo: National women - Strong, dynamic leaders.

Labour is trying to but have scored another SMOG – social media own goal.

They’re celebrating all but one of their women –  Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is missing.
Where's Clare?

Is this deliberate or accidental and does it have anything to do with the fact that Dunedin South still hasn’t confirmed its candidate selection?


Malicidity

07/03/2014

Quote of the day:

. . . Labour couldn’t run a bath – and if they did, it would leak. But would the leak be deliberate or accidental? Who, after the last week, can say? There was a flurry of discussion over whether the leaks about David Cunliffe’s secret trust, and then the Clare Curran email snafu, were on purpose or by accident. Malice or stupidity? There is perhaps a third, blended category: Malicidity. A combination of malice and stupidity, treachery and boneheadedness. . . Trans Tasman

A majority of caucus saddled with a leader they didn’t prefer; fissions and factions within and between caucus and members . . .

It would be a reasonably safe bet that the leaks would be deliberate.


Can’t run themselves, can’t run the country

05/03/2014

Labour’s bad week has got worse.

Labour has confirmed that documents on its ICT strategy accidentally sent to the Government came from David Cunliffe’s office, not Clare Curran’s as widely reported yesterday.

Yesterday Curran, the Dunedin South MP, supplied Parliamentary media with copies of an email saying they had been accidentally sent from her office to that of Communications Minister Amy Adams.

The document contained a large number of policy ideas as well as speech notes signalling plans to announce free individual devices for pupils in low decile schools.

However late last night Labour’s chief press secretary Simon Cunliffe confirmed that the email sent in error actually came not from Curran’s office, but from that of the Labour leader.

While Simon Cunliffe would not say who the particular staffer was, Fairfax has been told it came from Rob Egan, a former communications manager for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. . .

Was this a deliberate and misguided attempt to take the heat of Cunliffe over the untrustworthy trust donations debacle at the expense of the not-universally popular Curran?

Why did Curran say her office was responsible when it wasn’t?

Whatever the answer to those questions is, this is another example of Labour’s inability to run itself which shows it’s far from ready to run the country.


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