About trusts


It took a while but David Cunliffe has realised, or been persuaded, that he should come clean about the donations to a trust which funded his leadership campaign:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has come clean about the trust set up to handle his donations during the leadership contest last year, naming three donors but saying two others were not willing to be named so their donations would be returned.

Mr Cunliffe has also said that using the trust for the campaign was a lapse in judgement.

He said the three donors willing to be named were Selwyn Pellett, Perry Keenan and Tony Gibbs, who gave a combined total of $9,500. Mr Pellett, a businessman, is a longstanding Labour supporter who has donated to the party and Mr Cunliffe in the past. . .

He said other donors had given a total of $8,300 but were not willing to be named. “That is their legal right. I respect their decision and can’t control it. In their case, the trust will be returning their donations to them.” He said he did not know who those donors were, or whether they were individuals or corporates.

Mr Cunliffe said it was an error of judgement to use the trust. It had meant he did not have to disclose donations in the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

“I don’t think in hindsight that a trust structure fully represented the values I would like to bring to this leadership. Decisions that were made to set up the trust could have been better. I have learned form that and am now making sure I do whatever I can to ensure transparency.”

He said if returning those donations left any shortfall in his campaign funding, he would cover the amount out of his own pocket. He estimated his campaign cost about $20,000. . .

No Right Turn doesn’t buy this:

. . . Which is just sociopathic “sorry I got caught” bullshit. The thing about values is that you live them, and they’re instinctive. Cunliffe’s aren’t. When faced with a choice between transparency and corruption-enabling secrecy, he chose the latter, and then tried to cling to that choice when it was questioned. These are not the actions of an ethical man who believes in open politics – they are the actions of someone trying to get away with something they know is wrong. And actions like this are yet another example of why the New Zealand public thinks all politicians are liars, cheats and scoundrels. . .

The best of people make mistakes, but ethical people do live by their values and this is the third gaffe in three months:

The slip over the baby bonus, by failing to disclose in his speech that it would not be paid on top of parental leave, took much of the wind out of his January sails.

It also deflected attention from a $500 million spending pledge that Labour had hoped would set the agenda.

No sooner was the House back in February than the $2.5m property-owning man was attacking Prime Minister John Key for living in a leafy suburb and defining his own mansion as a doer-upper and his own situation as middle of the road.

The climb-down came at the weekend.

This morning he has admitted it had been wrong to set up a trust for donations to his leadership bid. (If the cost was about $20,000 for his leadership campaign, why seek donations at all?) . . .

Every election is about trust but Cunliffe has also made it about trusts.

He was foist upon the caucus by the unions and party and he’s surrounded by people whose will to return to government is in strong conflict with their wish for another leader.

With every slip he makes, that wish will intensify.

P.S. Liberation has top tweets on the trust which include:

Rob Hosking ‏@robhosking  

Meanwhile, in Matt McCarten’s office …..http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view5/2320932/blackadder-headdesk-

 Graeme Edgeler ‏@GraemeEdgeler  

How can you return the money if you don’t know who the donors were?

Vernon Small ‏@VernonSmall  

Respectfully suggest if your household income is north of $500,000 and a leadership contest costs $20,000 …. pay for it yourself.

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc  

Of Trusts Regretted and Accounts Forgotten: a short history of NZ Labour leadership since 2012.


Matthew Hooton ‏@MatthewHootonNZ  

Congrats to @GregPresland for getting Tony Gibbs,@SelwynPellett, Perry Keenan etc to donate to trust w/out @DavidCunliffeMP knowing about it


michael fletcher ‏@fletchermj  

@nzdodo You can have an election Trust or the electors’ trust – but not both


Jolisa Gracewood ‏@nzdodo  

And now we’re all saying “trust” like it’s a bad thing. #newspeak

Marcus Cook ‏@MarcusDCook  

Would Cunliffe be happy if the Rena’s owners paid the entire amount anonymously through a trust?


Michael Woodhouse MP ‏@WoodhouseMP  

Mr Cunliffe and the word trust in the same news article. Not in quite the way he was hoping…

Nick Cross ‏@NW_Cross  

“I didn’t know the money came from Dotcom – Cunliffe” – Predicted headline ~6 weeks from now


David Farrar ‏@dpfdpf  

Trying to decide who is happier over the Cunliffe secret trust for his donations story – @grantrobertson1 or @matuashane or @johnkeypm


One law for their mates


You’d think no  party would want to be seen to be opposing the Lobbying Disclosure Bill which is a move to greater transparency.

But Labour has some difficulty with the concept – it wants to exclude its mates:

4A Definition of organisation
  • (1) In this Act, organisation includes—

    • (a) a business, trade, industry, or professional organisation whose purposes include the advancement of commercial interests:
    • (b) a chamber of commerce or board of trade:
    • (c) a company, partnership, trust, association, or society:
    • (d) a group whose purposes include the advancement of commercial interests.

    (2) For the avoidance of doubt, in this Act, organisation excludes—

    • (a) a group of persons acting together to pursue objects of a national, patriotic, religious, philanthropic, charitable, scientific, artistic, social, professional, or sporting character, or other similar objects:
    • (b) a trade union or labour organisation, or a group of any such entities.

Which bit of transparency does Labour not understand?

What makes people lobbying for national, patriotic, religious, philanthropic, charitable, scientific, artistic, social, professional, or sporting character, or other similar objects any better or worse than those lobbying for commercial purposes?

And why should trade unions or labour organisations be exempt from disclosure?

If  Labour wants to give unions special rights and powers  inside the party that is their business. But there is absolutely no reason why such organisations should be treated any differently from any other lobbyists in parliament.

Hat Tip: No Right Turn

NZ’s Best Blog Award goes to . . .


The very worthy winner of the Air NZ Best Blog Award is: Cactus Kate.

Cactus Kate (http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.com) has won the New Zealand Bloggers’ Union’s inaugural Air New Zealand** Best Blog Award Dim Post .http://dimpost.wordpress.com) was runner up and No Right Turn (http://norightturn.blogspot.com) and Whaleoil (http://whaleoil.gotcha.co.nz) were awarded joint third place.http://hot-topic.co.nz); In A Strange Land (http://inastrangeland.wordpress.com); Kiwianarama (http://www.kiwianarama.co.nz); Liberation (http://liberation.typepad.com); and Not PC (http://pc.blogspot.com).

The union launched the awards after another media awards competition, sponsored by a foreign budget airline that uses decrepit Boeing 767s for its Trans-Tasman services and doesn’t even have proper lie-flat beds in Business Class, failed to follow its own criteria in selecting its short list. . . .

. . . In awarding the Supreme Award to Cactus Kate, the judges described the blog as: “Intelligent, persuasive and influential, with the sort of investigative journalism Metro should be publishing. This is a blog which has contributed to changes in the administration of some of New Zealand’s most important regulatory bodies, as well as providing a healthy degree of humour.”

In awarding the Runner Up Award to Dim Post, the judges described the blog as: “Genuinely world-class political satire on matters both weighty and absurd, delivered almost every day. While clearly demonstrating a centre-left perspective, the writer also has the ability to surprise with unpredictable ideas.”

The judges said they struggled most with the choice between No Right Turn and Whaleoil for third place.

Commenting on Whaleoil, the judges said: “While the writer’s vitriol can be distasteful and his spelling and grammar sometimes leaves much to be desired, Whaleoil is the ultimate right wing blogger, delivering scorching critiques of current issues every day, and undoubtedly influencing real political events.”

Commenting on No Right Turn, the judges said: “While there is some doubt about the degree to which the blog has influenced real events and the lack of a comments option could be seen as against the spirit of blogging, No Right Turn provides extremely well researched and well-written contributions – with a decent dose of hard-left anger – on a very wide range of political, social, constitutional and human rights issues.”

The judges recommended that Whaleoil consider investing in a more advanced spell and grammar check program and that No Right Turn consider opening up his site to community discussion.

Congratulations to the winners, placegetters and NZ Bloggers Union which took the suggestion of better blog awards and made it happen, with panache and humour.

And well done Air NZ on not being upset by having its name and CEO associated with the wards without their knowledge.

The judges comments on all 30 nominees are worth a read too in spite of – or some might say because of –  the comments about this blog.

Making the news


Good journalists are supposed to report the news not make it.

This has escaped Australia’s Channel 9 which was disappointed by the handful of people who turned out to see Prince William arrive.

A reporter from Channel Nine’s Today show was asked by her bosses to find some fans holding signs.

When she couldn’t, the reporter says she was told by the studio in Sydney to “make some up herself”.

The Channel Nine reporter wrote signs in pen saying “I love William” and gave them to a small group of women.

The reporter then did a live cross in front of the signs but did not mention they were her own creation.

The reporter told the ABC it was a “light hearted running joke on breakfast television” and the signs will not be on the news tonight.

Had the reporter been on the ball she’d have realised the real news story is that royal visits don’t really rate with the public any more which is a symptom of the slow but inevitable move towards a republic.

Journalists following the prince seem to be a lot more excited than the locals:

“It’s low-key to say the least,” said Hello! reporter Judy Wade, a longtime royal watcher who has followed Prince William since the day he was born.

“Compared to people back home, those here really don’t seem that interested at all.

“As one Kiwi I spoke to put it: I think they’d rather spend a nice day like this at the beach.”


But while the lack of interest might be a symptom of a move towards a republic, No Right Turn thinks it might also be a hand brake because too few people care enough to agitate for change:

The British royal-watchers call this “a distinct pro-republican feeling”, but its more that we just don’t give a damn – the monarchy is simply utterly irrelevant to our lives. Though from a republican view, that irrelevance is a two-edged sword; not giving a damn also tends to mean not giving a damn about getting rid of them. Hence the slow drift to republicanism; no-one cares about them, but no-one cares enough to finally sign the paperwork to get them out of our lives either…

I think a republic is inevitable,  I’m generally supportive of that in theory and have no problem with people not turning out in droves to meet the Prince. But I am not impressed by those who plan to protest at the opening of the Supreme Court building today.

I won’t second Alf Grumble’s desire to behead anti-royalists but I think the anti royal protest, and another by Justice staff who want a pay increase, are merely displaying bad manners and a desire for publicity.

Though at least this time the crowd will probably bring their own placards  which will save the reporters from having to make some themselves.

Hat Tip: NBR

Blogger on blogs on radio again


Denis Welch is discussing blogs on Nine to Noon  again.

He started discussing the Tumeke rankings and mentioned some of the top 10, but sadly Dim Post who wasn’t mentioned last week, wasn’t mentioned this week either.

Welch reckoned No Right Turn is the best blog and also paid tribute to Poneke.

Putting us in our place


Scrubone has posted his first draft putting us in our place on the political spectrum.

Of the eight bloggers categorised one is authoritorian left, two are authoritorian right and the rest are liberal right.

Contrast that with No Right Turn’s graphing the NZ blogosphere in 2003 – one left and one right authoritarian; 13 liberal right one liberal centre and 26 authoritarian   liberal left.

I recognise only a handful of those 2003 blogs, one of those is Big News who was liberal left then and is now authoritarian left.

The money or the holiday


Some of our staff take all the holidays owing to them and more; we have to insist others take all they’re entitled to.

Those who take extra time off won’t be affected by the proposal to allow workers to choose the fourth week’s holiday or an extra week’s pay; those who aren’t keen to take what they’re eligible for will happily take the money instead of  packing a bag for a  fourth week off.

Four weeks holiday plus 11 statutory days off adds up to six working weeks plus a day off work in a year. Not everyone wants that much so now they’ll have a choice of taking the money instead.

The existing policy gives workers a vacation which many turn into a staycation, because they can’t afford to go away. National’s policy will enable them to choose a paycation instead.

It’s each worker’s choice, and if blogs are anything to go by this is clearly understood by those on the right but not on the left.

Kiwiblog approves the move and notes the fear and ignorance from opponents. 

Keeping Stock  agrees with the Herald editorial.

Oswald Bastable will be happy to take the cash and use it for his annual holiday.

Whaleoil is please the government will let employees buy back holidays.

The Visible Hand in Economics thinks it’s an excellent policy, thinks the Greens have got it wrong and has a more detailed discussion.

Monkeywithtypewriter may not consider himself politically right but he’s right on this when he says four weeks entitlement, pull the other one.

Meanwhile the sky is falling on the left where:

Bomber at Tumeke! doesn’t understand that the four week’s entitlement doesn’t kick in until a year has been worked so has nothing to do with the 90 day trial period.

No Right Turn takes a very jaundiced view  of employers.

And The Standard is doesn’t believe in good faith.

The PREFU isn’t pretty


Thanks to Ruth Richardson we don’t have to wait until after the election to find out the state of the nation’s books.

She is responsible for the requirement to have a pre-election economic and fiscal  update (PREFU) so we all know that the fair weather Finance Minsiter has left the cupboard bare.

The executive summary  says:

We are now expecting weaker economic growth over the next few years, resulting in slower growth in tax revenue and higher government expenditure. Combined with increases in the costs of some existing policies, these factors lead to sustained operating balance deficits and higher debt-to-GDP ratios.


The economic outlook is weaker …

Imbalances have built up during nearly a decade of sustained growth, including inflation pressures, an overvalued housing market, high household debt and a large current account deficit, with implications for interest rates and the exchange rate. With the economy slowing, these imbalances are starting to unwind – as are imbalances in the global economy – but there is a long way to go.

 And who will we trust to take us there? The academics who helped get us into the mess by focussing on redistribution, or the business people with the knowledge and skills to get us out of it with policies which focus on growth.

Other views:

Keeping Stock, No Minister,  Kiwiblog and No Right Turn

Pundit launched


A new on-line daily current affairs magazine, Pundit,  aims to:

. . . start an intelligent conversation about New Zealand’s place in the world and its future.

Its founders are: 

Tim Watkin (former deputy editor of the Listener and blogger for the Guardian in Britain) and Eleanor Black (former deputy editor at Next and associate editor of California magazine) came up with the Pundit concept in late 2007, while living in San Francisco. They joined forces with broadcaster Ian Fraser in early 2008 and together the trio launched the site in September.

Other contributers are David Beatson, Dr Jon Johansson David Lewis, Jacqueline Rowath and Jane Young,

Hat Tip: No Right Turn

Equal rights vs equality


The Research NZ survey  has generated debate at No Minister  and The Hand Mirror  over equal rights and equality and a post on the issue at No Right Turn.

The discussion reminded me of this Garrick Tremain cartoon which I cut out of the ODT several years ago.

My memory of what prompted the cartoon is a little vague but it had something to do with whether women would be admitted as members.

I don’t know what the upshot was then but am fairly certain membership is open to women now.

75th anniversary of first female MP


Elizabeth McCombs  became New Zealand’s first female MP 75 years ago yesterday, almost 40 years after women first got the vote.

She won a by-election for the Labour Party in Lyttelton after the death of her husband, James, who had held the seat.

Some Labour leaders were not convinced about her candidacy as James had only won by a slender margin in 1931. In the end they had no cause for concern – Elizabeth was elected with an overwhelming majority.

In her time in Parliament Elizabeth tried to keep women’s issues at the forefront, advocating causes such as equal pay. But she had little opportunity to effect change. Labour was then in opposition and she died less than two years later, in June 1935.

Hat tip: No Right Turn

Update: The Hand Mirror has a fuller post here.

It’s only one poll


The latest Roy Morgan poll  shows a significant narrowing of the gap between National and Labour.

National is now at 44% support (down 3.5) and Labour is up 4 to 38%.

There is some comfort in the knowledge that New Zealand First has only 2.5% support, down 4 points to the lowest they’e been for a year.

The Green Party got 8%  support (up 0.5), Maori Party 3.5% (up 1.5), ACT NZ 1.5%  (unchanged), United Future 1% (up 1) and others 1% (up 0.5).

It’s only one poll and the gap was going to tighten. But why it has when John Key showed he had both gumption and principles when he ruled Peters out of a National-led government; and while Helen Clark is bound tight to Peters; Labour is bulldozing through the Emissions Trading Scheme legislation; the economy is in recession and the party has still to announce any policy defies logic.

Like Fairfacts Media over at No Minister I’m gobsmacked.

[Update: Maybe we can take some hope from No Right Turn who reports on a poll which shows the Christian Heritage party which disbanded in 2006 got more support (.4%) than the Alliance and United.]

Tumeke blog rankings


Tim Selwyn has published the July rankings for the New Zealand bologsphere on Tumeke!

Kiwkblog and Public Address retain first and second places respectively.

The Standard and Whaleoil swap places at third and fourth.

Frogblog, Not PC and No Minister are steady at numbers five, six and seven and The Hive is up one place to eight.

No Right Turn is down one to nine. Tumeke!, Poneke, Inquiring Mind and Cactus Kate retain their places from 10 to 13.

Keeping Stock is impressively up 11 at 14; New Zealand Conservative has jumped seven to 15 and Homepaddock has moved up five to 16.

The Visible Hand in Economics is down one to 17, Liberty Scott is steady at 18, the Dim Post moves up 13 to 19; and The Hand Mirror is down six to 20.

Links to all these sites are on my blogroll.

Tim comments:

Apart from the bronze, the top dozen are rather static. The big movers seem to be the more right wing blogs that have picked up their traffic count and content output – the latter driving the former most likely: Keeping Stock, NZ Conservative and Home Paddock helping to displace left Labour blogs of Jordan Carter and Tony Milne.

The ranking is based on Alexa rank for traffic plus the number of posts, comments and links.

Thanks, Tim for the time and effort you put it working it all out and thanks to all of you who visit, link and comment and thereby contribute to Homepaddock’s improved place.

Jane Clifton on line


Jane Clifton’s column is one of the reasons I buy the Listener. I’m delighted to discover (thanks to No Right Turn) that she’s now on line.

This week she looks at the blurring of the lines betweens politics, journalism and blogging then gets on to Winston Peters:

The other discordant note for voters has been that what investigative resource we do have has lately been trained on Winston Peters, to a degree that risks triggering the trusty Kiwi-underdog hormone. Although he’s probably fish food in his Tauranga seat, there’s a chance the glamour of martyrdom will lure enough voters to float him over the 5% oblivion threshold.

This would be an unspeakable injustice. Even if he’s done no wrong, his refusal to give the public intelligible explanations should be politically unforgiveable. It’s a tricky issue for the media, because, protected as he is by the Prime Minister’s determination to have an out-of-body experience every time New Zealand First Party business is mentioned, Winston is proving bullet-proof.

The allegations are so serious, no other minister could have gone this long without being suspended. No other politician could realistically hope for re-election till the matters were cleared up. But the normal rules don’t apply to Winston – and not just because he holds the balance of power and because we’re all blissfully distracted by the Olympics. By sheer force of personality, he is a sort of Bermuda Triangle for investigative journalists. We have assembled all the firepower and rocket fuel you could wish for to force this issue to speedy disclosure – yet we’re becalmed.

I cheerfully admit that I wrote a couple of weeks ago that the allegations, combined with his hauteur at having to answer them, would finish him off, sooner rather than later. Now, I feel like a fox terrier waiting eternally over a rathole, instinct overriding the clear evidence that the rat has no earthly need to come out.

So, are we now bullying Winston? It could look that way. After so many years of reporting his high-and-mighty pronouncements, and enduring his abuse and his remorseless cigarette-bumming, there is undeniable satisfaction for many journalists in administering to Winston a dose of his own medicine.

But more than that, it’s our job to put under the microscope those who hold themselves up as our exemplars, and to stay on their case even when the going gets tedious. Other people may want to muscle in on this territory these days, and good luck to them.

Please stay on the case Jane, tedious or not there must be answers to the many questions over Peters, his party and their donors and the rat will have to come out of the hole eventually – even if it’s just to bum a cigarette.

(P.S. In case the bean counters and advertisers are concerned, even though I’ve read my favourite part of the magazine on line I’ll still be buying a copy next time I’m in town).

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