Brownlee offers resignation

Gerry Brownlee has offered the Prime Minister his resignation as Minister of Transport.

Brownlee resign

It’s an offer to resign rather than an acceptance of resignation from the Prime Minister so presumably it’s a gesture rather than the real deal.

This is how to front foot a mistake.

UPDATE: Confirmed that the resignation wasn’t accepted.

Key rejects Brownlee’s offer to resign. Says he’s “very disappointed” with his transport minister’s airport barge though

 (lawyer and prolific online legal adviser)

Huh. Brownlee appears not to have broken the law. The offence in the act only requires you to leave if asked and the infringement offence in the rules allows a defence for people who hold boarding passes.

Brownlee barges past security to get on plane – and he’s Transport Minister. Will John Key brush this off too?

Big Gerry is many things but a threat to airline security isn’t one of them. The lolly basket, possibly.

Gerry Brownlee didn’t think much of it until Aviation Security contacted him. “I suddenly realised, ‘Hell, this is a pretty serious matter’.

3 News: Bronwlee addresses media 

Labour have sharpened their knitting needles

Earlier this week David Cunliffe acknowledged that he had made mistakes but would be starting a fight-back and focus on the things that mattered.

Stuff reported: Cunliffe: The fightback begins now

“I am sure that the caucus will be as determined as I am that we stick to our knitting and to our core messages about jobs, homes and families, and avoid distractions,” Cunliffe said.

“We have got past anger a long time ago, we are focused on what a campaign needs – a positive contribution by everybody and focused on the issues that matter.”

Labour’s campaign slogan is VotePositive.

The big thing being discussed today was sparked by another Stuff article:  Labour claims Hosking’s biased.

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

A Labour source said that, despite protestations, the party was unlikely to pull out of the two scheduled TVNZ debates. “When we heard it was Hosking the initial reaction was ‘Are you f…ing joking?’ But we are trying to get it changed. We are not making a hullabaloo about nothing, we’d rather they get someone else.”

Senior Labour MP Grant Robertson said he was not part of the negotiations, but joked: “If it’s true, we’d rather have Jeremy Wells as Mike Hosking, than Mike Hosking.”

Cunliffe said he was not involved in the negotiations. Chief of staff Matt McCarten is understood to be overseeing the arrangements.

It’s all over Twitter. And Labour blogs are full of it:

Rob Salmond at Polity:  Mike Hosking and this has been re-posted at The Standard: Polity: Mike Hosking

Is this Labour sticking to it’s knotting?

They have sharpened their needles and are taking stabs at the media.

It almost looks like Labour has conceded defeat already and are making excuses in advance. “Poor us” laments and blaming the media are only going to increase the electoral damage.

It’s a very difficult situation for them but they have to do something to not contradict their ‘VotePositive” slogan.

 

The Clayton’s photo…

…the photo Cosgrove uses when he doesn’t want to use a photo.

Yesterday a question came up on whether Clayton Cosgrove may have photoshopped himself a bit for his election hoarding.

Cosgrove hoarding

That’s not a very clear photo and it’s not clear when it was taken – at least one Labour is MP is known to be re-using their 2008 hoardings.

But it appears to be the same photo that Cosgrove is currrently using on his Facebook page:

Cosgrove FacebookIt is similar if not the same as on Labour’s campaign website:

Cosgrove campaign

Also on Facebook is a photo on a post that says …

“Today (Monday the 21st of July), I had my weekly radio slot with Chris Lynch on Newstalk ZB,

…with an accompanying photo:

Cosgrove radio

However that image is re-used as it also appears on his Timeline for his radio posts on June 30, 23, 16, May, April  etc.

Here is Cosgrove speaking in Parliament on Tuesday 22 July 2014.

Cosgrove Parliament 2014 July

Here’s something curious found on Google images.

Cosgrove van sign

That looks to be the same image as his current hoardings, Facebook profile and Labour campaign site.

Cosgrove is not MP for Waimakariri, he lost the  electorate in the 2011 election, but he is using the same image.

And if you look back at the first image he is implying he is still MP for Waimakiriri. Regardless of using old photos that’s misleading advertising.

Key gives Hauiti transparency the finger

National list MP Claudette Hauiti has withdrawn from standing in Kelston and from the election. Whether she walked or was pushed it doesn’t matter, she had to go.

She hasn’t been in Parliament long, replacing Aaron Gilmore off the list last year, but she has tripped up badly twice.

Earlier this year Hauiti employed her partner in her office which is against Parliamentary rules.

Last week Fairfax reported…

… former broadcaster Hauiti surrendered her charge card after using it for unauthorised spending.

At first she blamed her staff, before admitting she’d used it to pay for a Christmas trip across the Ditch.

Since then she announced she would be withdrawing from standing again, but it’s unlikely she would have got a winnable list position and she wasn’t expected to come close to winning Kelston.

While National have dealt with her exit quickly and efficiently (one the credit card spending went public) they have been far less willing to be transparent about the level of spending, as Andrea Vance reports in Hauiti protected to the bitter end.

What she hasn’t admitted to is how much personal spending went on that card.

Incredibly, National leader John Key and party Whip Louise Upston say they don’t know.

They knew enough to get rid of her.

Insiders say the party was worried more would leak out and Key took charge when he returned from his Hawaii holiday.

But the party is refusing to answer questions about further allegations of misspending and Hauiti has gone to ground.

The episode has made a mockery of Key’s boasts about being transparent on MPs’ spending.

Yes, it’s very poor from Key and National – first for allowing a new MP to make two such basic mistakes, and now for hiding the details.

Hauiti and the National Party are exploiting an obstinate interpretation of the Parliamentary Service rule which prevents the release of information about MPs.

This is reasonable when it applies to private details such as pension schemes, phone records or that would identify constituents. Where it should not be applicable is the use of taxpayer cash, particularly where there are irregularities.

It ignores the reality that we, the taxpayer, are MPs’ employers – not the back-office Parliamentary Service.

Both National and Hauiti have not responded to a request for a privacy waiver to allow the records to be released.

This creates the impression there is something more to hide.

Whether Key has something else to hide or not if he is not prepared to be open and transparent on this he leaves himself and National open to speculation – and most likely more media digging.

This sort of secrecy would be poor at any time but it is a bad look coming into an election campaign, particularly one where National are deliberately risk averse. If this blows up into a bigger issue Key can only blame himself.

Opinion leans to ‘fat tax’, Government opposed

A Herald-Digipoll shows that a small majority favour a tax on ‘unhealthy’ sugary foods and drinks.

Do you think it is a good idea or a bad idea to put an obesity tax on high-sugar foods such as soft drinks?

  • Good idea 53.9%
  • Bad idea 42.5%
  • Don’t know/refused 3.6%

They don’t seem to have asked “Do you want to pay more for your groceries?” which may have got a quite different response.

And it doesn’t seem to have swayed the current Government.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the poll result was “not surprising” considering the high profile the issue of obesity taxes has had in media coverage.

He reaffirmed the Government’s opposition to fat taxes or sugar taxes, saying they would raise the cost of a range of staple products such as jam.

“The Government’s preference is to provide information and support for individuals and families rather than nanny state regulation,” he said.

Mr Ryall said investment in healthy eating and exercise initiatives were a more evidence-based and sophisticated way of reducing obesity. A Healthy Star Rating system was supported by 82 per cent of people in the DigiPoll survey, though more than half of that group felt it should be made compulsory for manufacturers.

Ms Kaye said the Government had decided against making it mandatory because this would cause food prices to spike.

It’s been tried unsuccessfully in Denmark.

Denmark is the only country to experiment with a tax on foods which are high in saturated fats, but repealed the measure after a year because it inflated food prices and put jobs at risk.

It’s something that on the surface seems like a sensible healthy tax but when you take the icing off idea the public are less likely to like the taste.

Cunliffe’s conflicting claims about Queenstown meetings

David Cunliffe has given two conflicting explanations about what he knew before meeting a sex offender in Queenstown.

Audrey Young (NZ Herald on Monday):

… the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB on Tuesday):

Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

“There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

One of those versions at least cannot be accurate.

Rodney Hide, who publicised the offending, said in in his column (Sunday 13 July):

I know something of this case. I certainly know the attacker. And I know some of our leading politicians know him and know, too, of his attitude and behaviour towards women. It was a topic of conversation when I was in Parliament.

He also said in his column on Sunday (20th):

After my column, various low-level political operatives asked me who it was. It was tittle-tattle for them, I thought, but then I realised they were checking whether the predator was on their team. They expressed no concern for the victim and no outrage.

And:

Through the week, our “prominent” New Zealander’s media mates rang journalists to minimise his offending. The spin was that the judge didn’t believe the woman and, sure, their mate had made a forceful pass, as he does, but not an assault. Yeah, right.

These are the enablers. They defend, minimise and excuse sex crimes.

And:

His victim is clear: “He is a dirty b****** and people should know … For me, it’s not over – I want his name out there.” And of him? “There is no remorse there; absolutely no remorse whatsoever.” Sound familiar?

From the stand up interview yesterday that Soper was reporting on:

Soper: Why did you meet in Queenstown with a prominent New Zealander who’s been up for sex chargers?

Cunliffe: Well I am subject to the same rules around name suppression that you are. There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

Soper asked more questions:

Soper: He’s well known though, I mean we, most of us know so why didn’t you know?

I’m sure that political journalists made a point of knowing.

Cunliffe: I should ask you Barry, shouldn’t I. I will next time.

Soper: No no no, it’s a fair point though that ah, many people…

Cunliffe: We asked around Barry and we had no indication of any risk of that nature.

Hide claims political operatives were asking about it. Soper claims “most of us know”.  Cunliffe and those advising him may have been some of the few who didn’t know – by why the heck didn’t they find out? Especially when “the possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man”.

It could be a lack of awareness or competence in Team Cunliffe but it’s difficult to understand how they didn’t know – and it’s difficult to understand why they didn’t make sure they knew.

And why has Cunliffe’s explanation changed between Sunday and Tuesday? Maybe he could have another go at clarifying what he meant.

There’s a tricky question to ask about Cunliffe’s Queenstown visit that must be looked at completely separate from the above.

Why did Cunliffe have a meeting with Labour Clutha-Southland candidate Liz Craig and an ex National MP?

Cunliffe cheerleader chumped by change of tune

David Cunliffe’s chief cheerleader at The Standard, Greg Presland, has been chumped by Cunliffe’s change of tune on whether he knew anything about the sexual offender before meeting in Queenstown.

Presland posted in Herald says weird things about Cunliffe and Labour Clutha Southland candidate:

The Herald said:

… the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

You have to wonder why the meeting was mentioned and why it was thought that it would cause a distraction to Cunliffe.  

No doubt the intent is to continue with the bad news narrative that the right have been pushing but what was Cunliffe to do?  Have a Police vette conducted of all people that he may meet?  Even this would not have helped because the person involved received a discharge without conviction and had all details suppressed.  

And Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald he had no idea of the background until yesterday.

Presland is presumed to be close to Cunliffe in his electorate and he’s the lawyer who organised the donations trust. He’s been a dogged and loyal supporter.

But now Cunliffe has changed his tune in “Sometimes tough times make you tougher” – Cunliffe.

 Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

“There is a suspicion that a person who asked to meet me and my candidate down there might be a person in that category. All I can say is had I known that, and we did ask around if there was any reason not to meet, we wouldn’t have had the meeting.”

It must be tough  being a Labour cheerleader at the moment when Cunliffe keeps saying weird things.

There’s not much cheerfulness at The Standard these days.

Cunliffe’s sorry, support slumps

There are many reasons why David Cunliffe’s and Labour’s support is slumping. Cunliffe has conceded that saying “sorry for being a man” may have contributed.

How he has dealt with it could also be indicative of his struggle to impress people, especially men but also women.

Audrey Young reports on NZ Herald’s latest poll results in Labour losing its appeal for men:

Labour’s support among men has fallen to just 23.9 per cent in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey and leader David Cunliffe concedes it may have something to do with his “sorry for being a man” speech to a domestic violence symposium.

Since last month:

  • Labour’s overall support fell from 30.5%  to 26.5%
  • Men’s support fell from 27.6% to 23.9%
  • Women’s support fell from 33.4% to 29.1%

When Cunliffe spoke to the domestic violence symposium he received praise from people attending the symposium but had a much more negative response in many forums. He was accused of putting on an act. One suggestion commonly made was that it was a speech targeting an audience but lacked conviction. He has been accused of similar in the past.

Mr Cunliffe said it was hard to tell whether his speech to a domestic violence symposium was behind the fall.

“It may have had some effect.”

It most likely has, and not just support from men, some women also rolled their eyes at his statement.

In comments since then Cunliffe claims he does not resile from what he said but has avoided repeating his “sorry” claim.

“I certainly don’t resile from the comment that family violence and domestic violence is something all New Zealanders need to consider carefully and to take some responsibility for.

“At no time have I suggested that all men are guilty of it.”

No defence of saying sorry. No explanation or clarification.

This adds weight to the impression he was targeting an audience and doesn’t want to say the same thing to a wider audience, even though he was well aware there was media coverage of his speech.

Mr Cunliffe said he had clarified what he meant and was not planning to give another speech on it.

He has only partially clarified what he said but has avoided the most contentious part.

And that he doesn’t plan to “give another speech on it” suggests that outside the symposium audience he isn’t very committed to his words.

Mr Cunliffe’s speech was praised by many of the women at the family violence conference.

But if it was just a speech and he has no intention of backing it up with anything more even that praise may be short-lived.

Cunliffe talked the talk, briefly, but that seems to be where his “brave statement” ends.

This adds to a wider problem Cunliffe has – he appears to say what he thinks different audiences want to hear, without conviction, persuasion or proof that he meant it.

It’s not just men who don’t warm to Cunliffe’s speeches. Women also prefer politicians who give some action that they might practice what they preach.

Cunliffe’s sermons on the moment will continue but the congregation is rapidly losing faith.

Mixed reports on Government targets

Some better public services (BPS) targets are being met and others are lagging according to an update released by the State Services Commission yesterday. The targets were created in 2012 to measure improvements demanded by Government by 2017.

Variable results are to be expected but both NZ Herald and Stuff headline failures:

NZ Herald: Govt lags on some targets

Stuff: Govt failing to meet many key targets 

This is what both detail as successes and failures.

Failing to meet target:

  • Reducing child abuse – reduction in the rate of assaults on children
  • Reducing children going to hospital for rheumatic fever
  • Fully immunising 95 per cent of children younger than 8 months

Meeting or exceeding target:

  • In the past year, the number of working-age people receiving a benefit for more than 12 months fell by 6434, or 8.5 per cent.
  • A target of 45,000 fewer recorded crimes a year by 2017 had already been met – targets related to overall crime and youth crime reduction have effectively been achieved, although the trend for violent crime means a continued rate of improvement will be needed over the next three years.
  • Targets to reduce the cost of doing business and allow Kiwis to do more of their interaction with the Government online either need addressing or are some way off being achieved.

Contradictory claims:

  • Herald: The proportion of 18-year-olds achieving NCEA Level 2 rose to 78.6 per cent and was on track for a target of 85 per cent by 2017.
  • Stuff: A flagship goal of raising the number of 18-year-olds with a minimum of level two NCEA or equivalent to 85 per cent by 2017 could be more difficult than the Government has previously admitted. Last year English insisted the target was on track to be achieved.Between 2012 and 2013, the proportion achieving level two climbed 1.4 percentage points to 78.6 per cent. Even at that rate the target would be narrowly missed, but yesterday English said every improvement was getting more difficult to achieve.”As these levels rise the increments are getting harder,” he said at yesterday’s post Cabinet press conference, adding that the Government was now taking intervention at an individual level to achieve the gains.

State Services Commission: Better Public Services website

Big Strides In Latest Justice BPS Results, statement by Justice Minister Hon Judith Collins on the latest updates on Better Public Services Results 7 & 8.

Greens talk poverty but target middle NZ vote

The Green Party talk a lot about addressing children in poverty. In a policy announcement today they emphasise this:

The Green Party today announced that its key social platform for this election will be to tackle child poverty and inequality by ensuring every child in New Zealand has enough to thrive.

But the policy they announced today seems to be clearly targeting the middle New Zealand vote in Greens announce 20 hours free ECE for two year olds:

In the first of these announcements, made today, the party has announced a package to support families by extending access to free early childhood education and improve the quality of all ECE.

The key policy points in the Green Party’s plan for supporting families’ access to ECE are:

  1. Extend the 20 Hours free early childhood education subsidy to cover two-year-olds, at an initial cost of $255 million. As the benefits of this successful scheme are opened up to at least another 40,000 children, more kids will get a good start in life and the burdens on their families will be eased.
  2. Provide $32 million a year to restore funding for 100 percent qualified teachers, as part of an ambitious plan to boost the quality of early childhood education and make sure every child gets the right care and support.

The total package will cost $297 million a year immediately rising to $367 million in four years.

“Every child should have enough to thrive. Any less is a failure of our society,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“One in four children lives in poverty, and 205,000 Kiwi kids are now living in severe poverty, and going without the basics.

But this doesn’t seem to be directly targeting poverty. Some poor families may benefit, but middle and upper income families will also benefit. Not extending EXCE down a year is hardly a “failure of our society”.

“Extending 20 hours free ECE to two-year-olds will make a real financial difference to thousands of families. We estimate that families with two-year-olds in ECE could be up to $95 a week better off under our policy.

“About two thirds of all two-year-olds are currently enrolled in ECE, but their parents miss out on the ’20 Hours’ subsidy given to three and four year olds. We will make the system fair by extending the same subsidy to the large number of two-year-olds in ECE.

“Despite the relatively low level of current subsidy, around 40,000 two-year-olds are still enrolled in ECE, significantly more than a decade ago. Our policy helps will make a big difference to those families straight away.

It will be popular to some, but a one year of childhood is very narrow.

“This is an investment in families and our kids’ education and in reducing poverty.”

“Good-quality ECE helps children reach their full potential, both in education and in leading healthy and productive lives. It can even make the difference, according to recent research, between being in or out of poverty in later life.

“Investment in ECE is a great education spend today, but it can also reduce poverty and inequality overtime.

They have pushed the poverty line eight times in this media release. Perhaps they have more policies to come that will specifically target more pressing poverty needs, but despite their insistence this one seems to miss the mark.

It’s a good enough policy, if the cost can be justified in an overall budget, but they are trying to oversell the poverty pandering.

$300-400 million a year is a lot to allocate to all two year olds, not just those who are really deprived.

This looks a bit like a vote buying exercise dressed as a pauper.

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