Nathan Guy to retire


Former National Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy will retire from politics at next year’s election.

Mr Guy became an MP in 2005 and a Minister in 2009. He has held the Otaki seat since 2008 and will have served 15 years in Parliament by next year’s General Election.

“I have been extremely fortunate during my time in Parliament and am proud of the work I have done in my Otaki electorate as well as for New Zealand as a whole,” Mr Guy says.

“My number one priority has been to support the people of Kāpiti and Horowhenua, and it’s been a pleasure to have helped thousands of constituents with their wide-ranging issues. I’ve also enjoyed the interactions had with locals at weekend markets, special events, in the streets or on the side-line.

Mr Guy says highlights include winning the Otaki seat and being a Minister for nearly nine years.

He won the seat from Labour’s Darren Hughes.

“During this time I’ve worked with six Mayors, seen huge growth and development in the electorate and had wonderful staff supporting me at my offices in Paraparaumu and Levin.

He served as Minister of Primary Industries, Internal Affairs, Immigration, Veterans’ Affairs, Civil Defence and Racing in the John Key and Bill English-led National Governments, and has also been Associate Minister of Transport, Associate Primary Industries, Associate Justice, and Associate Economic Development.

“As Primary Industries Minister I am proud of my work leading the Government’s response to a blackmail 1080 threat to infant formula, that kept overseas markets open and ended in a successful prosecution

“I have, and will continue to be a strong supporter of rural communities, especially as Minister through adverse events like the dairy downturn, prolonged North Canterbury drought, earthquakes and floods. I advocated hard for water storage projects and helped secure funding for a variety of projects including Central Plains stages one and two.”

Mr Guy believes National can win the 2020 General Election because of the talented, hard-working group of MPs who are focussed on delivering policies that will make a difference to New Zealanders.

He has made the announcement now to give National time to select a new candidate that will continue to work hard to represent the people of Otaki.

“My family has been amazing in their support over the years, and it will be a big change especially for my children who have only ever known their dad as an MP.

“I’m excited about what the future may hold and want to thank the people of Horowhenua and Kāpiti for their support. I will always advocate for the region I’m so proud to call home.”

I have always found Nathan very approachable and there is no doubting his commitment to and advocacy for the primary sector.

The announcement says he’s retiring from politics, that’s not the same as retiring.

He is a farmer and will have plenty of other opportunities should he choose to pursue them.

National leader Simon Bridges has announced a minor reshuffle in the wake of Nathan’s announcement.

Nathan has been a champion for rural New Zealand. As a farmer and a businessman, he understood more than most what the sector needed and he delivered for them.

“Today I am announcing that his portfolios of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety will be picked up by Todd Muller. He will also keep his Forestry portfolio. Todd is a hardworking and high performing MP who is deserving of a promotion. I have no doubt that Todd will hold this Government to account on behalf of rural New Zealand.

“The Climate Change portfolio will be picked up by Scott Simpson, which will tie in well with his work as our Environment spokesperson. Scott is passionate about the environment and leads our Bluegreens team. Scott will continue our pragmatic approach to climate and environmental issues.

“The Workplace Relations and Safety portfolio will go to Todd McClay, which will fit well with his work as our Economic Development spokesperson. With business confidence already at record lows, New Zealand businesses cannot afford this Government’s radical industrial law reforms.

“National is the strongest team in New Zealand politics. Today’s reshuffle shows that we are brimming with talent and have the best people to hold this shambolic Government to account.”

All three are well-suited to these portfolios.

Private and public


Had Darren Hughes not been an MP the complaint against him might not have been reported.

It certainly wouldn’t have been reported in as much detail as it was and that prompted Phil Goff  to say he was subjected to  trial by media.

Some media went too far in pursuing the complainent, whose name is suppressed. But you can’t blame journalists for trying to get a story like this when it concerned an MP.

He will not be charged but that is not the same thing as clearing his name, especially when police said they had no concerns about the validity of the complaint.

This has led to calls for him to explain what happened on the night in question.

The private life of public figures is not as private as that of other citizens, especially if what they’ve done reflects on their judgement.

But Hughes has resigned as an MP, is no longer a public figure and therefore is under no obligation to explain anything.

If however, he wants to return to public life he will need to make an explanation and an apology for what could be described in the kindest light as a serious lapse of judgement.

Unless he does any suggestion of a return to public life will be overshadowed by doubts and questions.

If a story like this had broken on almost any other MP there would have been at least a few people willing to twist the knife or spill some dirt. That there wasn’t shows an unusual degree of affection for him from colleagues, not just on his side of the political divide, and the media.

But if he wants to return to public life he can’t rely on his likeability to prevent this episode coming back to haunt him unless he fronts up about it. And if he is considering a come-back then the sooner he explains and apologises the better.

Only two people know


Only two people know what happened in Annette King’s house in the early hours of the morning around three months ago.

One of them made a complaint to the police about it and has name suppression. The other lost his job.

Police have finally decided to take the matter no further:

Police said this afternoon that they had decided to take no further action after deciding the complaint against Hughes did not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges.

That might have been the end of it but the man against whom the complaint was laid was an MP.

He says he did no wrong and his supporters say he’s now been cleared. Others say he hasn’t.

Andrew Geddis explains what the decision means:

. . . a decision not to press any charges does not necessarily mean “nothing much happened – and certainly nothing criminal” … it may be that the police simply consider there isn’t enough evidence to justify charges (in that there is a low probability of a conviction being obtained). However, I suspect that if this comes down to a “he said”/”he said” situation with nothing much to back one side over the other, the police will err on the side of bringing matters before a court. In part, that’s because of a general awareness that such allegations have not been taken seriously enough in the past, and in part it’s because the police will be desirous of avoiding “cover up” allegations. Hence, I’d read a decision not to lay charges as weighing a bit more on the side of “nothing criminal happened” than on the side of “maybe something criminal happened, but there just isn’t enough to say for sure”.

Only two people know which interpretation is correct.

Hughes has paid a very high price for what, based on the facts made public (that he took a young man home after an evening of drinking), was at the best a grave error of judgement.

The young man has also paid a high price for accepting that invitation and laying the complaint. Although his name is suppressed there’s enough information about him in the public domain for a lot of people to identify him.

And someone else has sustained damage in the crossfire. Geddis says:

Hughes’ political fate was effectively sealed once the decision to try and keep the matter under wraps was taken by Phil Goff.

Brian Edwards makes a similar point:

Had the Leader of the Opposition handled things more adeptly, Hughes would still be a Member of Parliament.

Phil Goff is in Greece for his son’s wedding. Given the strength of poison in the chalice of Labour leadership it’s unlikely that he’ll return to find someone has taken it from him. But it provides more ammunition for those who are preparing for a post-election coup.

Meanwhile Hughes says:

“Whatever I do, I would like to continue to serve our community and our country. But there’s plenty of time.

“I now intend to take some time to consider plans for the next phase of my life and will not be making any further public comment.”

He blames the media frenzy for forcing his resignation.

He has a point – only two people know what really happened but a lot of column inches and air space were filled with speculation.

The name suppression laws are also to blame. As soon as police said an MP was under investigation it became inevitable he would be named and enough was made public to narrow the field for anyone determined to identify the complainant.

Only two people know what happened, one’s lost his career and will always be remembered for this episode. The other still has name suppression but he too will be known by many as the one who went home with Hughes on that night.

Only two people know what happened there, both have paid a very high price for it.

There’s good reasons for returning to parliament . . .


. . . but the opportunity to deliver a valedictory speech and wanting to stick it up David Farrar and Cameron Slater  aren’t among them.

She might just take up the seat, she said. She would rather like the chance of a dignified retirement and to make a valedictory speech. . .

. . . So she says she has reasons to return: unfinished business, the salary, supporting colleagues in their first opposition election, offering institutional knowledge and support. Acting as camp mother, essentially.

Those reasons … and to “stick it up them”.

Stick it up who? Phil Goff?

“I was actually thinking of David Farrar and Cameron Slater, et al. I wasn’t thinking about my former colleagues,” she says. “I don’t think it’s a particularly worthy thing to say, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t.”

Having no good reasons for going to parliament hasn’t stopped people before but to Judith Tizard’s credit she’s just announced on Q&A that she will not take up the list seat vacated by Darren Hughes.

Her interview with Guyon Espiner will be on the link above later and if you missed the broadcast it is worth a look.

Her comments are definitely not a vote of confidence in Phil Goff, Andrew Little or the Labour Party hierachy.

MMP gives parties too much power and makes them impotent


MMP gives parties a lot of power in some ways but leaves them impotent in others.

They rank the lists which determines the order candidates get into parliament giving them a lot of  control over candidates.

Once a minor party has a seat it has power far beyond its support base even, as both Jim Anderton and Peter Dunne prove, it is no longer effectively a party.

However, the system which gives parties a lot of power also leaves them powerless.

Labour doesn’t want Judith Tizard, Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher or Dave Hereora back in parliament but under the rules, they are the first five in line to get the seat vacated by Darren Hughes. Only if each in turn does not accept the offer can it be offered to Louisa Wall.

If any of those five returns to parliament we’ll be paying them 11 months salary and allowances which comes to a total of $162,020 to do what?

She or he will go to parliament, sit in the house and have select committee duties until parliament rises for the election in early October. S/he might be asked to be a buddy MP in an electorate but how hard s/he applies her/himself to the task will be entirely up to her/him.

Knowing s/he is only there as a stop-gap gives her/him nothing to lose as Judith Tizard has already made clear:

Goff’s other problem is Hughes’ vacant party list spot – it’s due to go to Judith Tizard.

He views her as a figure from the past and doesn’t want her back.

“It’s for seven months, for some that might be regarded as disruptive,” he says.

But Tizard is undecided – she’s got unfinished business.

“I’d love to make a valedictory speech,” she says.

And if she does – she really will be disruptive.

“The question is whether Phil Goff is the person to lead New Zealand and he’s got to capture New Zealand’s imagination and for New Zealand to see him as an alternative,” she says.

Labour is already unstable. Allowing a former MP to return when she makes it quite clear she isn’t loyal to the leader will only make that worse but the rules of MMP allow that to happen and there’s nothing the party can do about it.

Labouring the list


Party lists are of great importance to the people on them.

That’s understandable for anyone not standing in an electorate, or standing with little or no chance of winning. But even those with safe seats often want a high place for ego’s sake if nothing else.

Those ranking the list labour over them trying to present a line-up which will appeal to voters without disrupting caucus and upsetting non-MP candidates which can be mutually exclusive goals.

But does anyone else, even political tragics, really pay much attention to them?

The lists are made public once they’ve been sorted but unless there is someone who is well known I’d be very surprised if many voters know, or care, about who is on them and in which order.

The only time after an election a list matters is if a list MP jumps or is pushed from parliament when the next person on the list is invited to take his or her place.

Sometimes,  a party has second thoughts about the ranking as Keeping Stock reminds us the Green Party did  when co-leader Russel Norman leapfrogged Catherine Delahunty and Mike Ward to get into parliament before the last election.

When the Labour list was ranked in 2008 the importance of not upsetting sitting MPs must have had at least some bearing but that is now causing them problems.  The next person on the list is former MP Judith Tizard who must be offered the place vacated by Darren Hughes. If she turns it down it’s offered to Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher and Dave Hereora, all former MPs who, Labour president Andrew Little told Mary Wilson on Checkpoint, will not be on this year’s list.

The next one on the list is Louisa Wall another former MP but one who is standing again.

It is possible that the next five people on Labour’s list won’t want to disrupt their lives to return to parliament for a few months. But, has anyone asked them if they’d like to return for longer? The Labour list has yet to be ranked so if one of the five made the sacrifice they could be offered a place which has the potential to keep them in parliament for the next term.

But from what Little said last night, that isn’t a consideration. Instead it looks like five people will be expected to not take the place which they are entitled to by the law giving a whole new meaning to the term labouring (or should that be Labouring?) the list.

UPDATE: Kiwiblog notes that the five could-be MPs would be turning down 11 months salary if they decline the chance to return to parliament.

Best done quickly


MacBeth was right: If it were done when tis done, then ’twere well. It were done quickly and Darren Hughes has followed his advice by resigning from parliament before the mess surrounding police inquiries gets worse.

This is not an admission of guilt and he says:

Although people are commonly thought to be innocent until proven guilty, it has become clear to me that this doesn’t apply in the political arena,” he said.

“I have done nothing wrong, and I remain confident that the legal process will have the right outcome.

“My immediate focus is on clearing my name. I will continue to co-operate fully with the Police inquiry, which will unfortunately need to continue in the glare of publicity.”

One motivation for his resignation is to take the heat off the Labour Party but there are enough question over Phil Goff’s handling of this issue to make that unlikely, especially if the rumours of the New York Branch of the party is helping MPs do the numbers to roll Goff.

MacBeth was mulling over an assassination when he spoke about acting quickly. It is probable that at least some Labour MPs are contemplating the political equivalent.

Inappropriate is the appropriate word


Inappropriate is an often overused word but it is the appropriate one to apply to the most generous interpretation of the story which has resulted in Darren Hughes standing down from his positions of Labour Party whip and education spokesman.

Rob Hosking writes in the NBR:

The 32-year-old Otaki MP may not have broken any laws. But the picture his behaviour paints is hardly that of a diligent and seriously hard working MP. 

No charges have been laid, it is possible none will be and that the generous interpretation is the correct one.

But even if that turns out to be the case, the story has already damaged Hughes’ reputation and calls into question his judgement.

It is also adding to speculation on whether or not Phil Goff will lose the Labour  leadership before the election.

Hughes did the right thing by admitting he was the MP whose behaviour was being investigated which removed suspicion from his colleagues. But even so the personal damage from what appears to be at best inappropriate behaviour could result in equally serious political damage to his leader and party.

3 out of 3’s not good


An opposition party desperate for publicity would normally be pleased that three of the country’s biggest papers devoted their editorials to it.

But Labour wouldn’t be celebrating the editorial round ups they were given last week.

The ODT editorial was headlined Earning Trust:

It damns Phil Goff with faint praise, says the team he leads is shy on talent then gets to the nub of the matter:

 One reason delaying its return is the question of trust.

There were sufficient numbers of dodgy practices by Labour when in government to help speed the party’s exit from power; any attempted repetition of that behaviour so early in its term of Opposition should be a dominating concern of Mr Goff and his colleagues.

The Dominion Post’s editorial was headed No shortcuts for labour’s sinners.

The party’s MPs have lost touch with the voters who elected three straight Labour-led governments.

If they were doing their jobs, the MPs would know, from their daily contact with constituents and interest groups, what the pressing issues are.

Labour’s MPs resemble grumpy, disinherited members of the landed gentry who have been turfed out of their comfy gentlemen’s club for not paying their subscriptions and are trying to fast talk their way back in past the doorman.

But there are no shortcuts. If Labour’s MPs want to regain the good opinion of the public, they will have to earn it.

Voters are drawn to politicians who seek to serve their (voters’) interests. They are repelled by politicians who seek to serve their own interests.

The Herald on Sunday editorial was headlined Labour lose moral compass:

Barker has acted dishonestly.

Hughes has sacrificed principle for patsy-ism.

Goff has just cowered and, when confronted by political reporters outside the Labour Caucus room with nowhere to hide, obfuscated.

Labour’s leader must now stand up and take responsibility for the deception that was conducted with funds entrusted to him by Parliament.

Barker should be sacked from all his Caucus responsibilities. Hughes, too, must be left in no doubt about how repugnant his rationalisations are.

These, then, are the simple truths that are demanded of Labour’s tarnished leadership.

And these are the truths Labour has forgotten.

Using public money for party polling was wrong, but it’s Labour’s response to it which has kept the issue live and raised issues about integrity which won’t be countered easily.

Parties have to earn public trust before they win votes and Labour spent last week showing once again why it can’t be trusted.

As Meat Loaf might have sung: We don’t like them, we don’t trust them, we don’t want them and three out of three’s not good.

Is there more?


Trans Tasman thinks there might be.

In its Play of the Week  it says:

. . . But those with suspicious minds should consider how the Opposition is acting. The biggest spender, Chris Carter, snootily told media it was all a bit of politician bashing and answering for his $200,000 plus expenses was beneath him. Darren Hughes put it around National had changed the rules. But at question time?  Silence.  Normally something this embarrassing to the Govt would take up at least half question time.

If competing companies colluded like this the Commerce Commission would be all over them.  The message for journos?  Keep digging. There’s more.

 I don’t think any of our MPs have moats to clean as some of their British counterparts do. But a window into their spending has been opened and taxpayers aren’t impressed by what’s been exposed.

John Key has ordered an inquiry into Ministerial expenses but that needs to be widened to all MPs’ expenses.

Good MPs more than earn their salaries, which for some are much less than they could command in the private sector; and I have no objection to them receiving a fair allowance or reimbursement for out of pocket work related expenses.

Air travel for children and spice* to join MPs in Wellington isn’t a problem either.

But all payments should end when they leave parliament and certainly shouldn’t continue for those found guilty of corruption.

It is reasonable to ensure the system doesn’t allow stretching the rules for those still employed by the taxpayer either. There is a suspicion that some MPs are taking more than their fair share of public money, albeit within the rules, and that the rigor which is applied to other public spending is not applied to all spending on and by MPs.

That suspicion will continue until and unless a full review takes place and it is clear the rules are fair to both MPs and taxpayers.

 P.S. Trans Tasman is a weekly newsletter available on subscription. I subscribed a year ago after reading references to it in The Hive and consider the sub value for money. Whoever thought up the password for this month has a sense of humour.

*Spice n pl of husband, wife, spouse, partner and/or significant other.

Labour still don’t understand big electorates


Labour is still questioning the increase in funding to enable MPs in the biggest electorates to employ another member of staff.

This was agreed to in the coaltion deal between National and the Maori Party and recognises that although the number of people in every  electorate is similar, it’s much more difficult to service them over a large geographical area.

Darren Hughes doesn’t understand the situation:

Does he think it’s appropriate to overrule the unanimous decision of the all party Parliamentary Service Commission chaired by an independent person to achieve a result that predominately benefits the National Party and the Maori Party by nearly a $1 million a year,” questioned Labour MP Darren Hughes.

Oh dear, Darren, you’re showing why there was a blue wash through the Maori seats and provinces in the election, you and your party don’t understand the needs of people in large electorates and the difficulty of servicing them.

The funding isn’t for MPs personally, it’s for an extra staff member and associated costs to help them serve their constituents and to help constituents access their MPs more easily. The funding doesn’t predominately benefit the National and Maori parties, it benefits people in their electorates.

The electorates which will get extra funding and the area they cover in square kilometres are:

Te Tai Tonga




West Coast-Tasman


Te Tai Hauauru










Te Tai Tokerau




To understand how big these electorates are, compare them with the size of the 10 smallest ones:

Mt Albert


Manukau East




Christchurch Central








Te Atatu


North Shore


Mt Roskill




East Coast and Taranaki King Country which are bigger than Hauraki-Waikato and Northland which is almost as big, won’t get any extra funding.

East Coast


Taranaki-King Country




TV3’s report on the issue isn’t qutie right either. It says:

After 3 News revealed the 10 MPs holding these seats were to get an extra $92,000, political parties got together and decided that was too much.

TV3 didn’t “reveal’ this. It wasn’t a secret, Kiwiblog and I both posted on it last November when the coaltion deal was announced.

Political relationships


Funny how the story of Swazi losing a Defence Department contract broke on the eve of the Jobs Summit, or was it?

Roarprawn drew the dots between Sawzi’s owner Davey Hughes and Labour MP Darren Hughes and this week’s Trans Tasman confirms that Davey is Darren’s uncle.

Of course this could be a coincidence.

%d bloggers like this: