No room for leakers

21/10/2020

People who know my National Party affiliation keep asking me if I’m in mourning. I’m not, but I am both sad and angry and I’m not the only one:

Melissa Lee – who is one of those still in a job – said the result was “devastating”.

“We’ve always been very close friends and we’ve all become, you know, brothers and sisters. I love every single one of my colleagues and I feel terrible for those who did not make it this election,” she said.

So far as the leaking during the campaign is concerned, she said: “That’s something I’m really angry about. I just think New Zealanders will be very disappointed in us. We just look like politicians who can’t actually keep it together.

“I’m really disappointed whoever it is and hopefully it will stop.” . . .

The only ones to win if the leaking doesn’t stop are Labour and the media.

Lee said the problem with emails was they were sent to not just MPs but also their staff and possibly other people. She added she was not accusing staff of being behind the leak of the email she sent.

She advised any National MP who was leaking to media about Judith Collins being dumped as leader to “shut up”.

Departing Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe who has been in Parliament for 12 years, said his message for his colleagues was to be decent.

“To be fit to govern you must be absolutely united, you must demonstrate a very clear vision for what is important … and also demonstrate fundamental decency.

“You have to be a team that people can respect and want to have lead a nation.”

He said the National caucus needed to focus entirely on being fit to govern, otherwise “it would be a difficult way back”.

For nearly nine years Labour didn’t look like it was fit to govern. National should have learned from that.

Macindoe said Collins had done a good job in “extraordinarily challenging circumstances”, and it would be a mistake “to get the knives out” for her.

Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger said the caucus was united behind Collins. Three leaders, departing MPs and board members and leakers had made for a difficult year but Collins had “kept a smile on her face every day”.

She said there was no room in caucus for leakers.

Whoever has been leaking obviously doesn’t understand that the media is never a politician’s friend. A journalist will welcome leaks and use them, but won’t give any favours in return.

She agreed it was ironic that the team ran on a strong team banner.

“We weren’t the best team… You can have all the best players, it’s no different to the rugby. If you’ve got people dropping the ball, or not being able to do the right thing, then you don’t win, and that’s what happened.”

This was the election that Covid-19 stole but National’s result was far worse than it would have been if it wasn’t for the damage inflicted by the disloyalty and leaks that sabotaged the team.


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:


Key #1

04/12/2014

Prime Minister John Key is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

This year’s 10th annual Roll Call can reveal John Key as its Politician of the Year. It was a straightforward choice. Key has stood head and shoulders above the rest in the polls, and his party romped home in its third election, the third time in a row it has added extra seats as well.

Key polled highest among the Trans Tasman Editors, contributors and their Capital insiders who make up the panel which compiles Roll Call, and despite signs there may be trouble ahead for Key if he is not careful, 2014 was his year.

Of course winning a fourth term will be dependent as much on the party’s support staff and their management as the Parliamentary team. The same goes for Labour as it battles to rebuild after its shattering defeat.

Roll Call says Key is “still phenomenally popular and if he comes through a third term without serious damage, a fourth could be within his grasp. But he’ll have to be careful.”

Trans Tasman’s Editors note “Key has not only performed strongly at home, he has become an international figure as well, cementing his and NZ’s reputation abroad with his election as chairman of the International Democratic Union.”

“However there are clouds. The fallout from the “Dirty Politics” saga continues. It should have been firmly put to bed in the campaign. And Key’s tendency to “forget,” or “mishear” the question is becoming a worrying feature of the way he involves himself in the Parliamentary and media discourse.”

“He has the respect – almost the love – of the voters, he needs to be careful he does not treat them with contempt. A fourth term does beckon, but the PM’s tendency to be just a bit smug, a bit arrogant, and at times a bit childish could derail it.”

“For now he is a titan, but Labour has a new leader and a new sense of purpose, and the next election is a long way away.”

National’s Front Bench performed exceptionally well in 2014, with just a single Cabinet Minister losing ground. Nikki Kaye fell from 6.5 to 6, after the “bright young thing” nearly lost Auckland Central. Roll Call suggests she must work harder.

Steven Joyce adds half a mark, taking the man most see as John Key’s successor to 8. “He doesn’t drop the ball and handles a raft of senior portfolios with calm confidence. Outside Parliament he was National’s campaign manager and must share some of the credit for its victory.”

Bill English, last year’s Politician of the Year, maintained his score of 9 out of 10. He is still “the safest pair of hands in the cabinet. Cautious, dependable and now mostly steering clear of debating chamber rhetoric.”

After a bad year in 2013, Hekia Parata has battled back to take her score from 5 to 7. “Key believes she’s competent and wasn’t going to hang her out to dry. He’s giving her the benefit of the doubt in delivering on a gutsy vision for the Education sector.”

Murray McCully takes his score from 6.5 to 7.5 after putting together the team which won NZ a seat on the UN Security Council and doing many of the hard yards himself, while Maggie Barry gets kudos for fitting in well to Conservation and being who “some say is the most popular National MP behind Key himself.” Her score jumps from 3 to 5.5.

The Ministers outside Cabinet are more average with Craig Foss, and Jo Goodhew, going down in score, Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith staying the same and just Nicky Wagner boosting her score from 4.5 to 5.

Both support party Ministers, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell boosted their scores. Dunne from 4 to 5 “gets a point for coming through a horrible year with his head/hair up” while Maori Party leader Flavell goes from 6 to 6.5. “We’ll make a call and say he’s going to be an outstanding Minister.”

The dubious honour of low score for National goes to Melissa Lee. “Hard working but faded after a good start.”

Among the thoroughly shattered Labour MPs, there was little to write home about. David Cunliffe’s score falls from 7.5-6 after the election defeat. But “history may judge him more kindly than last week’s headlines. Is he NZ’s Kevin Rudd?”

Andrew Little’s star starts to shine though. His score jumps from 4.5 to 7. “No-one is going to die wondering what Little thinks. He’s a tough talking union man from way back who isn’t going to compromise his beliefs.”

Labour’s low scorer is Rino Tirikatene who stays on just 2.5 out of 10. “Do still waters run deep or are they just still? Has had time to find his feet and still no impact.”

For the Greens co-leader Russel Norman is the standout, holding his score on 7 out of 10. “After John Key Norman works the media better than any other party leader… If the Greens had gone into coalition with Labour he would have been hard to handle.”

And of course the old war horse Winston Peters is still there, blowing a bit harder than usual. He boosts his score from 7 to 7.5. “Does he have the will and the stamina for another three years on the opposition benches and a campaign in 2017?”

This year for the first time Roll Call also looks at the impact those MPs who left Parliament at the election had, and it is here we find this year’s low scorers Claudette Hauiti and John Banks, both on 1 out of 10.

As for the numbers:

Of National’s 60 MPs, 30 improved their score on last year, 7 went down, and 10 stayed the same. There were 15 new MPs who were not ranked.

Of Labour’s 32, 12 went up, 8 went down, 5 remained on the same score as last year and 7 were unable to be ranked.

ACT’s single MP was unable to be ranked. Of the Maori party’s 2 MPs 1 went up, and the other was unable to be ranked, while United Future’s single MP improved his score.

The Greens had 3 of their 14 MPs improve their score, 4 went down while 6 remained the same, one was unable to be ranked.

For NZ First 2 MPs improved their scores, 1 went down and 2 remained the same. 6 were unable to be ranked.

Of the National MPs able to be rated this year, 32 had a score of 5 or higher, while 13 scored below 5, while for Labour it had 16 of its MPs rated 5 or above, while 9 scored below 5.

The 2014 roll call is here.

 

 


Subs should have dirty minds . . .

20/05/2009

. . . or at least the ability to spot a double entendre so they spot the problem with a headline like this from TV3:

Melissa Lee turned on at heated Auckland University debate


Feel, Speak, Think – uh oh

14/05/2009

One of the – many – reasons I’d never consider a career in politics is that I have a tendancy to feel then speak and only later do I think.

Of course that means that sometimes what I think is uh-oh as no doubt Melissa Lee did after saying the new motorway might keep criminals from South Auckland away from Mount Albert.

It was a stupid thing to say and she has acknowledged that and unreservedly apologised for saying it.

Of course Labour made a meal of it and is determined to keep dishing it up again. I’m not questioning that because that’s what happens in politics.

The media has made a meal of it too and while I’m not questioning them reporting it I do have some questions about the prominence it was given and the fact it’s still getting it.

I accept that a statement made at a public meeting during a by-election was fair game. But usually in cases like this if an MP admits a mistake and apologises the oxygen goes out of the issue.

Why then was this silly story still leading radio news bulletins all afternoon and why has it just been previewed as the major item for the late TV news, long after the apology was made?

Is this really the most important thing happening in the world today?


Conference no-show cans candidate selection conspiracy theory

09/05/2009

Remember the fuss earlier this week about Melissa Lee being described as the list MP for Mount Albert in the National Party’s Mainland Conference agenda?

Well, now she’s not attending because she’s too busy campaigning.

That supports the view that there was no conspiracy over her selection because had it all been stitched up she’d never have accepted the invitation to speak at the conference in the first place.


No-one ever said democracy is perfect

07/05/2009

From today’s NZ Herald:

“Well you won’t be getting my vote because I don’t think we need any Asians in Parliament,” the pharmacist shot back tartly.

Korean-born Ms Lee, a former journalist who has been in New Zealand for 21 years, asked brightly, “Why not?”

Mr Baird said he had his reasons. “They are very difficult people to deal with. They don’t spend any money. I don’t see that they bring any money into the country. Another problem is their English is very bad.

“You’re all right,” he told the candidate later. “You are almost 100 per cent. But, seriously, we find it difficult, particularly old people. We have Titus here to talk to them.”

Guess how he voted in the last election.


Lee National candidate for Mt Albert

04/05/2009

I’ve been surfing to find the results of National’s candidate selection for the Mount Albert by-election and Kiwiblog is the first with the news that Melissa Lee  has been selected.

Ravi Musuku, the only other nominee, will be disappointed but in spite of conspiracy theories, National has a very democratic selection procedure which gives all votes to its members.

If the electorate has sufficient members who have belonged to the party for at least six months then all those who vote will be from the electorate. If not, delegate numbers are topped up with members from neighbouring electorates.

In spite of conspiracy theories the rules make it very difficult, if not impossible for the board or caucus to influence selection.

In fact, my experience of National Party people suggests that if they were told to vote for a candidate they’d favour another because they don’t like being told what to do 🙂

P.S. National, the party which is often attacked by others for lacking gender and ethnic diversity, is the only one which hasn’t selected a middle-aged bloke of European descent as its candidate.

UPDATE: I credited Kiwiblog as being first with the news but I note that Whaleoil  posted 12 mintues earlier – not that either of them are competitive 🙂


The scoop that wasn’t

04/05/2009

The Herald thought it had a scoop:

National party ‘names’ candidate for Mt Albert by-election

National is holding a meeting in Auckland suburb Mt Albert this evening to select its candidate – but someone in the party has already decided who it is going to be.

The National Party Mainland Conference agenda lists Mt Albert candidate MP Melissa Lee as a speaker.

But it’s the paper that’s got it wrong. I’ve got a copy of the official programme and it says:

Address by Mt Albert’s List MP Melissa Lee.

Note the difference between Mount Albert candidate which she may or may not be after tonight’s selection, and  Mount Albert’s list MP which she is.

The programme notes her position as buddy MP for the electorate which isn’t represented by National, it’s not second guessing the selection process.

Hat Tip: No Minister

UPDATE: TV One news has just given the same story, not understanding the difference between a list MP and a candidate.


It’s a blokes’ race so far

03/05/2009

Labour has selected David Shearer to contest the Mount Albert by-election.

The party has often criticised National for not having enough women MPs, but gender obviously wasn’t enough to sway votes in this selection although I think  – and please correct me if I’ve got this wrong – Helen Clark, who held the seat until she resigned last month, was the only woman to hold an Auckland electorate for Labour after last year’s election.

Labour does have Auckland-based female list MPs.

Act selected list MP John Bowscawen yesterday and Green party co-leader Russel Norman is contesting the seat for his party.

National’s selection will take place tomorrow with List MP Melissa Lee and Ravi Musuku, who contested the seat last year, seeking the candidacy.


Getting the numbers

21/04/2009

Commentators seem to be agreed that Melissa Lee is the favourite to win the National nomination for the Mount Albert by-election.

I have no inside knowledge of her, any other candidates or the views of members in the electorate.

But I do know the party rules and that some favourites have been overtaken in the past by nominees who had a better understanding of what was required –  support from more than 50% of members or voting delegates, in the electorate.

Progressive voting is used so if a nominee doesn’t get at least half the votes in the first ballot the name of the lowest polling nominee is removed and everyone votes again, and if necessary, again until someone crosses the 50% threashold.

Providing an electorate has more than 200 members, and I think  Mount Albert does, it is only the members from the electorate who vote.  The members decide at their AGM if voting will be by universal suffrage or if it’s to be done by delegates with one for every set number of members.

Some high flyers in previous selections have either not understood this or have understood but still failed to win over enough delegates and missed out. David Kirk didn’t get the selection for Tamaki after Rob Muldoon’s retirement because Clem Simich had the numbers

But it’s quite simple. Candidate selection in the National Party, unlike other parties which give at least some of the power to its hierachy,  is grass roots democracy. The winning nominee is the one who wins the support of at least half the members or voting delegates in the electorate and that’s done the old fashioned way by letting them get to know you and convincing them you have the skills and abilities to be a good electorate MP.

John Key has announced the by-election date. It’s June 13th which is also the date Simon and Garfunkel will be playing in Auckland and the All Blacks have a test match in Dunedin., not that either will be relevant becasue both will take past after polling closes.

UPDATE: Lou taylor at No Minister  has another perspective on the by-election


They said this about the list

18/08/2008

Even if the election result is not as favourable for National as current polls, the party list indicates the new caucus will be younger, have more ethnic representation and more women than the current caucus.

Tracy Watkins  says:

The elevation of the newcomers reflects National’s push to put up more women and elect a more ethnically diverse caucus.

Dene MacKenzie  says:

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce could be a broadcasting minister in waiting after being ranked 16th on the party’s list, released yesterday.

… A study of National’s list shows an emphasis on areas which in 2005 cost the party the election, particularly in South Auckland.

This election, National will have candidates listed high enough in South Auckland seats to ensure they become MPs, with the prospect of lifting the party vote.

Peseta Sam Lotu-liga (standing in Maungakiekie) has been ranked at 35 and Kanwal Bakshi (Manukau East) is at 38.

McKenzie also notes:

Dunedin health manager Michael Woodhouse looks assured to enter Parliament as a National Party list MP judging from the party’s full list released yesterday.

Mr Woodhouse, chief executive of Mercy Hospital, is ranked 49th on the list, meaning National has to poll, on paper, anywhere above 41% for him to become the list MP based in Dunedin.

Several candidates ranked below him are likely to win electorate seats so to be safe, National would have to poll 43% for him to become an MP.

If he does enter Parliament, he will be the replacement for Katherine Rich, who has been the party’s list MP from Dunedin for the past nine years.

Audrey Young  says:

On current polling, the list would produce six Maori MPs, three Asian MPs and a Pacific Islander in National’s next caucus.

The six Maori would be sitting MPs Georgina te Heuheu, Tau Henare and Paula Bennett, joined by Hekia Parata, Paul Quinn and Simon Bridges. The latter may get in Parliament by winning the Tauranga seat.

Pansy Wong, a sitting list MP, expects to be joined by broadcaster Melissa Lee and Indian businessman Kanwal Bakshi.

The party’s Maungakiekie candidate, Auckland City councillor Sam Lotu-Iiga, has been given an assured place in Parliament at number 35 on the party list.

… There are many variables that determine the number of list MPs allocated to a party, including the number of electorate seats it wins, its total party vote and the number of votes cast for parties that are eventually not entitled to any seats.

But under a scenario that sees National polling 48 per cent (and, say, Labour 35 per cent, the Greens and NZ First 5 per cent, the Maori Party with four seats, and one seat each for Act, United Future and Progressives) and with National keeping the electorate seats it now holds, the party would win another 27 list seats, all the way to number 61 – Marc Alexander, a former United Future MP who will contest Jim Anderton in Wigram.

Some polls suggest there might be even more, but lessons from history and a dose of realism make that unlikely because smaller parties usually get more support during the campaign.


Two board nominations for National list

28/07/2008

National Party President Judy Kirk has announced that the party board has nominated Melissa Lee and Steven Joyce as two of the five list-only nominations permitted by the constitution.

Lee is the host of Asia Downunder and a director of the Asia-Pacific Producers Network.

Joyce is chief executive of Jasons Travel Media and National’s campaign chair. He was the party’s general manager and campaign manager at the last election. He co-founded and was CEO of what is now Radioworks.

I was Otago electorate chair when Joyce was leading the party’s constitutional review and when he became general manager. I enjoyed his dry sense of humour which will be an asset for an MP and his experience of working with volunteers will also be very helpful.

Two sitting MPs – Georgina te Heuheu and David Carter, have already been nominated for list-only places.


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