Leaders’ debate

September 4, 2017


More than little late to pay

February 18, 2015

NBR columnist David Cohen wrote in the print edition of the paper last Friday that Labour leader Andrew Little hadn’t paid a bill he’d sent him.

Cohen had been asked to analyse Little’s communication, did so, sent the bill and followed up with phone calls and emails.

It was only yesterday, four months late and after Steven Joyce raised the matter in parliament, that Little paid up:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce attacked Little over his stance on employment law changes after revealing Little had not settled his bill with National Business Review columnist David Cohen.

Writing in the NBR last week Cohen confirmed he did paid work for Little to help him secure the Labour leadership but four months later was still waiting for the cheque.

Joyce said he raised the overdue bill because it was important for Parliamentarians to “pay people promptly”.

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

Little insisted afterward that the bill had been paid – but would not confirm or deny that the payment had only been put through after Joyce raised the matter in Parliament.

“It’s been paid today.”

He said the bill had been sent in good faith but went to his campaign team rather than himself.

“It was on that person’s desk and flitted around some others,” Little said.

“Had it come to me at the time he remitted it, it would have been paid at that time.”

Little would not say what time he paid the bill and whether it was after Joyce raised the issue.

“It hasn’t been paid as a result of what Steven Joyce said in the House but it’s been paid.” . . .

Can Little be blamed for the tardiness of a member of his campaign team and the others whose desks the invoice flitted around?

At least as much as it shows a problem with processes and not just in a huge hole in the way bills are dealt with but also in media monitoring.

The leader of the Labour Party won’t’ have time to read every column inch that’s written but someone in his office ought to be monitoring the media for every mention of him.

I read Cohen’s column last week and it’s difficult to believe that either no-one in Little’s office, caucus and the wider party did.

It is easier to wonder if they did and didn’t alert him.

If no-one monitors the media, or isn’t doing it properly, Little has a problem. If people who are supposed to support him read the story and didn’t tell him, he’s got an even bigger problem.

Four months is more than a little late to pay a bill, especially when you’re leading a party that purports to stand up for workers and wants to court small business people.

There’s no smaller business than a one-man one.

Update: Cohen makes this point on Radio NZ:

. . . He sent in his report and invoice four months ago.

“During that time I followed up the invoice, I called his office, I spoke with Matt McCarten, his Chief of Staff, many emails were exchanged and it became abundantly clear that the waiter had been stiffed, as it were.”

Mr Cohen said he found this ironic given Mr Little’s recent attempts to connect with small business and the self-employed.

“Andew Little has been crafting excellent speeches on the pressures felt by small business, by freelancers, by sole operators and he’s been committing himself to lessening the stress and strain that one in five New Zealanders, like me, experience.

“Now, you can’t really hold forth on these subjects and not look after your own creditors.”

Mr Joyce was being questioned by one of Mr Little’s Labour MPs about whether the government intended to take a tougher line on zero hour contracts.

Mr Joyce used that as an opportunity to take a potshot at Mr Little.

“This is obviously not a zero-hour contract.

“It could perhaps be better described as a zero-payment contract – the employer in this case being then-leadership aspirant for the Labour Party, one Andrew Little, the current Labour leader.” . .

A Chief of Staff and unionist who doesn’t understand the importance of paying bills properly?

Where’s his concern for the worker and where are his political antennae?





September 27, 2014

Obviously not paying attention to business this week – only 3/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


June 1, 2014

Just 5/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


April 12, 2014

Only 5/10 in the NBR’s Biz Quiz (which has questions from this week’s news although it’s headed December 7th).


March 23, 2014

Only 5/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz – however, I’d like to claim a bonus for noticing it’s dated December 07.2013 although the questions refer to events this week.


December 14, 2013

Only 4/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


December 1, 2013

6/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


November 24, 2013

7/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


October 26, 2013

5/10 in the NBR’s Biz Quiz.


October 20, 2013

Only 5/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


October 13, 2013

Blush – a new low: only 2/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


October 6, 2013

Just 5/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


September 29, 2013

6/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


September 22, 2013

6/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.

M J Savage Memorial Rest Home

September 8, 2013

The print edition of the NBR’s In Tray covers a Ministry of Health report on the M J Savage Memorial Rest Home.

It concludes:

 . . . In its executive summary, the Ministry of Health says that, sadly, the M J Savage Rest Home has outlived its natural life and is taking up space that could much more usefully be occupied by a home for distressed trade unionists, homeless academics and bewildered bloggers. It recommends knocking the place down and relocating the residents in Queensland.

I think the new Australian government will have enough challenges without having to deal with these people.


September 1, 2013

Blush, an embarrassing 3/10 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


August 18, 2013

5/9 in NBR’s Biz Quiz.


August 3, 2013

5/9 in the NBR’s Biz Quiz.

LabourGreen shonky power policy even shonkier

August 3, 2013

The headline says: Greens/Labour made up ‘super profit’ claim for shonky power policy – source.

The story is behind  the paywall but explains that Stanford University professor Frank Wolak said LabourGreen took his figures, on which they based the rationale for the policy, out of context to suit their own agenda.

In another NBR story, Professor Wolak says New Zealand’s existing market arrangements are starting to work better and should be improved further.

In a wide-ranging interview with BusinessDesk, Professor Frank Wolak of Stanford University described the Greens/Labour NZ Power single buyer policy as “a sham that might make me feel a bit better” but was the wrong weapon to attack “runaway” retail electricity tariffs, which he says are the real problem in current market arrangements. . .

. . . he made it clear he did not calculate the $4.3 billion figure which critics say are proof of excessive power company profits and a consumer “rip-off”.

“That certainly attracted a lot of attention, most of it unwarranted,” he said.

Prof Wolak says the NZ Power policy, which would unpick a 25-year-old experiment in electricity market design in favour of a centrally planned model, “may not even solve the problem, which is runaway retail prices”.

Prof Wolak urged more competitive reform in electricity generation and retailing and far tougher regulation of the monopoly parts of the system: the Transpower national grid and local electricity distribution networks.

“It may look good, but it’s got lots of challenges,” he says of the Greens/Labour policy. “You’re throwing the entire baby out just to get rid of the bathwater and you’re going to start over, as if you have all these problems.

“My argument is that some of the changes since 2009 are pushing in the right direction,” says Prof Wolak, whose 2009 report for the commission found evidence of electricity generators wielding market power at different times, to maximise the value of their generation efforts. . .

Labour’s economic spokesman David Parker who was behind the policy rejects the criticism.

There’s no surprise in that when the man whose figures he used says they’ve been taken out of context and the policy wouldn’t work.

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