Curran not standing or not wanted?


Friday’s ODT had an interesting advertisement:

The New Zealand Labour Party wishes to advise all Electorate, Branch and Affiliated members that nominations for the Dunedin South constituency remain open. The closing date has been amended and is now February 28 2014.

Does this mean that sitting MP Clare Curran isn’t standing or that she’s standing but not wanted and the party’s hoping for other nominations?

Or does it just mean there’s been a muck-up and no-one’s been nominated at all?

Whatever the answer this is most unusual in what was once a dark red seat.

However, at the last election it was more purple – National won the party vote and its candidate Jo Hayes, who will enter parliament on the list when Katrina Shanks retires next month, made a serious dent in Curran’s majority.

Hat tip: Pete George

Jo Hayes to replace Katrina Shanks


National list MP Katrina Shanks has announced she won’t be returning to parliament next year:

Katrina Shanks, National List MP based in Ohariu, announced today that she will not be  returning to Parliament in 2014.

“I have decided to take up other opportunities in 2014 and have accepted the role as chief executive of the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand,” Katrina Shanks said.

“The funeral services sector is facing change – legislative, demographic, and societal, and the association and its members need to be in front of this change. I look forward to the opportunities and challenges the sector has to face.

“I wish the National Party all the best in the 2014 election and consider it to have been a privilege to have served as a Member of Parliament in a John Key-led Government.

“I am looking forward to my new role and spending more time being closer to my young family.”

Katrina announced recently that she wouldn’t be contesting next year’s election.

One benefit of being a list MP is the ability to resign without triggering a by-election.

Jo Hayes will take her place.

National Party President Peter Goodfellow has confirmed that Joanne Hayes will enter Parliament on the National Party List to fill the vacancy created by List MP Katrina Shanks who has announced she will resign in January next year.

“Katrina has made a real contribution to New Zealand and National over the past eight years,” Mr Goodfellow said.

“As a List MP, she has worked hard to provide an effective voice inside the National Caucus for constituents in Ohariu and the Hutt Valley, and been a strong advocate for Kiwi families.”

Mrs Shanks will resign to take up a new role as chief executive of the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand.

Joanne Hayes contested the Dunedin South seat for National in 2011. Now based in the Manawatu, she is Director of Community Relations for UCOL Whanganui.

“Joanne brings a wealth of experience in Maori business, health, and education which will be a real asset to Parliament and our Caucus,” Mr Goodfellow said.

 Mrs Hayes is of Ngati Porou, Ati Haunui A Paparangi, and Rangitane ki Wairarapa descent, and is married to Pat with two sons and two grandchildren.

“I believe my background in health, education, and community and economic development position me well to make a valuable contribution in Parliament,” Mrs Hayes said.

“I am looking forward to working under the leadership of our Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, and to enter Parliament alongside my National colleagues.”

 Jo won the party vote for National in Dunedin South at the last election which is a huge achievement in a very red seat.

I am sure she will work equally hard in parliament.

Wilkinson, Shanks won’t seek re-election


National MPs Kate Wilkinson and Katrina Shanks have announced they won’t be seeking re-election.

Kate entered parliament as a list MP and won the Waimakariri electorate in 2011.

She was Minister of Labour and Conservation until earlier this year.

“It has been a fantastic privilege to have been both an MP and a Cabinet Minister in the John Key-led Government,” Kate Wilkinson said.

“It has been humbling and satisfying being able to help constituents in the area – especially following the Canterbury earthquake events, when we all learnt so much as a region and as a country.

“One of the most satisfying achievements was obtaining funding for the North Canterbury Health Hub and I certainly want to see that through.

“I first stood as the National Party candidate for Waimakariri in 2005, taking Waimakariri from being a Labour stronghold to ultimately becoming a National seat. Winning the electorate vote in the 2011 election was an absolute thrill.

“I had in mind in 2005 that I would stand for election for three terms. I feel that it is now time to consider fresh challenges and opportunities. I will remain focused on working for the people of Waimakariri until the election and look forward to supporting National’s new candidate.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Waimakariri for their ongoing support and for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of so many exciting projects which have assisted in making Waimakariri such a special place.”

Katrina has been in the unenviable position of standing in Ohariu but not seriously contesting the list vote in order to help Peter Dunne hold the seat.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve in the John Key-led Government,” Katrina Shanks said.

“New Zealand now has one of the strongest economies in the world, an education system which focuses on every child, a healthcare system which is responsive to patients’ needs in a timely manner, and most importantly considers families to be the cornerstone of this great country.

“Working as an MP it has been an honour to be able to meet so many great New Zealanders, especially those who give to our communities through their volunteer work and make a real difference to so many people’s lives.

“I came into Parliament wanting to put the spotlight back on families and highlight the important role which they play in our society today. The work I have performed both in my select committee roles and policy development has allowed me to contribute greatly in this area.

“Working across three Wellington electorates has meant that I have made many friends and been supported by many people. I thank these people for their support of the work that I have undertaken.

“I have decided that now is the right time to leave my career in politics, and look to spend more time being closer to my young family. I look forward to taking up new challenges outside of Parliament.”

These announcements follow similar ones from Chris Tremain, Chris Auckinvole, Paul Hutchison, Cam Calder  and Phil Heatley, and Bill English’s decision to seek a list spot rather than contesting the Clutha Southland seat.

National lost a lot of MPs in 2002 but had big intakes in 2005 and 2008 as well as some new MPs in 2011 and two since then.

This is providing good opportunities for renewal which is healthy and will enable National to campaign with a lot of fresh faces.

Answer of the week


Question Time this week got a bit boisterous but it also included some gems, amongst which was this:

Katrina Shanks: What reports has he seen on New Zealand’s economic programme and the Government’s approach to turning round the economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I recently read a report from the Australian Financial Review that says: “What immediately stands out is Wellington’s grown-up and stable Government,”. It also says that New Zealand’s bad luck is about to take a turn for the better, and it will reap the benefits of disciplined policy making. The Australian Financial Review, which is not noted for being a cheerleader for New Zealand, notes that New Zealand did not have a mining boom to shield it from the global financial crisis. But it acknowledges that we did have a devastating earthquake in Christchurch and a drought this year. It notes: “John Key’s National Government also had to deal with the legacy of nearly a decade of a back-sliding and big-spending Labour Government.”

It’s not just people like me with a blue bias who realise the nine years of damage inflicted by Labour is among the problems this government has to fix and that its disciplined policy making is making a positive difference.

Conference reflections part 1


Too little sleep and lots of excitement is not  conducive to insightful or incisive posts so I’ll stick to reflections on the weekend’s highlights of  the National Party’s Mainland conference which was held in Oamaru’s beautiful Opera House.

Delegates were welcomed by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean who was too modest to point out that she had led the project to restore and refurbish the building when she was on the District Council.

Waitaki mayor Alec Familton opened the conference with a lesson in history and politics in which he linked Liberal MP and Minister of Land, Sir John McKenzie, former National Prime Minister Sir John Marshall and our current PM John Key.

He applauded the government for policies which leave more of our money in our own pockets, a sentiment which I, as a ratepayer, heartily approve of in a mayor.

Environment Minister Nick Smith had been going to speak about water but in response to requests from delegates he tackled the more complex and controversial issue of the ETS  (a post on that will follow).

Invercargill MP Eric Roy spoke with knowledge and passion about the goal of a pest-free Stewart Island. It’s a challenge but the environmental and economic rewards would be huge.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s speech included an outline on strategies to help people become independent.

She told of a man who had been unemployed for many years. He had poor literacy one of the consequences of which included lots of fines for driving without a licence because he couldn’t read and write well enough to get one. He was taught to read and write, got his drivers licence and a jog operating a forklift.

When his case manager went to check on him after the first week he liked his boos, was enjoying his work, and delighted to be earning $600 a week. When the case manager went back the following week he wasn’t so happy. He still enjoyed the work but thought the boss had lied to him because he hadn’t got the $600 he’d been promised. The case manager checked his pay slip and pointed out the difference between the $600 he’d been promised and what he got in his hand was tax.

The man mentioned his 19 year old son was looking for work too. When the case manager went back a couple of weeks later she asked if the son, who hadn’t got the job, was on a benefit.

The father said of course not, he wasn’t working to pay taxes to have his son sitting round on the dole.

MPs Katrina Shanks, Michael Woodhouse and Jo Goodhew spoke on leaky homes, ACC and reforms to Aged Care policy respectively then joined Paula for a social policy forum.

The remit requiring freedom campers to have self-contained loos passed unanimously. Matthew Littlewood of the Timaru Herald reports on that here).

Finance Minister Bill English, fresh from the Budget which has gained unprecedented levels of approval, including not only economic and political analysts but fashionistas too, shared some reactions.

Among these were: It’s not great but it’s not Greece and it’s okay not UK.

He also said it was better to tax less the things you want and tax more the things you don’t. that’s why the budget increased tax on consumption and lowered it on income.

Bill said New Zealanders seemed to be more resilient and independent in this recession than in the 1990s. Most people are handling the tough times and we are a more resilient country because we’re standing on our own feet.

Know when to go


You’ve got to know when to hold up, know when to fold up, know when to walk away . . . “

The Gambler  was right as are Helen Clark and Michael Cullen.

By announcing they are standing down from the leadership they’ve circumvented the rumours, the inevitable questions from the media and the just as inevitable plotting from the Labour caucus.

Cullen is a list MP so he could walk away from parliament altogether at any time with minimal disruption. Clark, as an electorate MP, has a duty to her constituents and the expense of a by-election to consider before she resigns but I wouldn’t expect her to complete the full term.

Two of her soon to be former minsiters should follow her example.

Jim Anderton has had more than his day.

His majority  is a still respectable 4,566 and he got 14,174 votes. But Marc Alexander, the National candidate got 9608 electorate votes and 11954 party votes.

The Labour candidate Erin Ebborn-Gillespie won only 4,581 electorate votes but Labour recevied 12,583 party votes. While Progressive, the vanity vehicle Anderton calls a party, got only 1,878 votes.

He should make this his last term.

Peter Dunne should also take a hard look at the numbers in Ohariu.

He received 11,250 electorate votes, the Labour candidate Charles Chauvel was 1170 behind on 10, 080.

National’s Katrina Shanks was 3rd with 8,822 electorate votes but National won the party vote with 15,750. Labour received 11,182 votes and United Future just 787. This suggests that had Dunne not announced he would go with National which prompted a nod and a wink from John Key for a party-vote campaign in the electorate, then Shanks may have won the seat.

Something else to consider – the Green candidate, Gareth Huges got 2,229 votes – so if those people had voted tactictly for Chauvel,  Dunne would have lost the seat to Labour.

United Future is now Ununited Past and Dunne should step down at the end of the term.

Some National MPs need to consider this and also remember that one of the reasons Labour lost was that the electorate thought the caucus was getting a bit stale.

I’m not going to name names, suffice it to say there are some MPs who should accept that in the best interests of the party they should make this their last term and step down with their dignity intact or become victims of another dead-wood purge.

Dunne spurns Labour


The previous post is already old news – Peter Dunne has spurned Labour.

United Future is cutting its ties with Labour and has announced it will go with National after the election.

Party Leader Peter Dunne made the announcement at a joint press conference with National leader John Key at lunchtime on Sunday.

He says his party will support National and will definitely not do any deals with Labour after the election.

Dunne says he has not told Labour leader Helen Clark of the decision, and nor will he stand down from his current post as Minister of Revenue.

. . .  A Cabinet post appears to have been UnitedFuture’s price for going with National, though Dunne says National’s policy positions are more aligned with that of his party and better for the country.

He is coy about being a Minister in a National-led government but Key says he wants a strong working relationship, and would envisage Dunne being a member of Cabinet.

Both Key and Dunne say no deal has been struck over giving the UnitedFuture leader an easier run in his seat of Ohariu-Belmont.

However, Key acknowledges the focus there for National will be on the party vote.

The focus everywhere is on the party vote because that’s the one that counts but in many electorates National is seeking both votes.

There could be a coded message here for National supporters to split their votes and give the constituency one to Dunne and the party vote to National.

Katrina Shanks has been working very hard for National in the electorate but unless there’s an absolute disaster in the next 13 days she’s assured of a list seat.

Has UF been sensible?


Matthew Hooton  reckons that United Future’s dismal poll ratings might be reflected in support for leader Peter Dunne in Oahriu where National list MP Katrina Shanks is competing with him for the seat.

When Dunne was interviewed on Agenda on June 8 he said his party had paid back more than half the amount they owed parliamentary services after illegally spending public money on their 2005 campaign.

I wonder if they’ve done the sensible thing and paid the rest back? If not, like WInston Peters and NZ First, every cent they’re spending on their campaigns is a cent they owe us. And that would tell us they think getting re-elected is more important than paying back their debts.

Hat Tip: Roarprawn

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