Leader’s opening speeches

I’ve posted John Key’s and Andrew Little’s opening speeches in Parliament separately:

Here are the rest of the party leaders’ speeches with opening and closing lines from the draft transcript:

James Shaw (Greens)

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): I would like to agree on behalf of the Green Party to the amendment placed by the Leader of the Opposition , Mr Andrew Little . The Prime Minister’s statement was notable only for its lack of notability. At least Auckland ratepayers do not have to fork out $4,500 to listen to that one! Today I would like to talk about leadership, and I would like to start by talking about a subject that many National MPs are going to become very familiar with next year. I would like to talk about retirement.

I think that that is the mistake that this Government has made. It is lost in a desert of the real. It is leading us in circles and telling us how far we have come. When I do retire and I look back on my time here, serving as a Green MP, I know that we will not have achieved everything that I want us to achieve because politics is hard and change is hard. But I do want to be able to say that we tried—that we took on and confronted the greatest challenges of our time and we tried to solve them; that we were brave enough to lead and not just follow the focus groups—because it is better to try and, if we fail, to learn from our mistakes and to try again than to do nothing. Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Winston Peters (NZ First)

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): It is always wonderful to have applause before you start your speech. This is the Prime Minister’s statement put out today and it reads nothing like the pathetic speech that he made as the Prime Minister—very embarrassing in the extreme. In this document he says this, that the Government is “taking the public with us by clearly outlining our actions and policy priorities.” Is there any New Zealander, including the backbench of the National Party, who remotely thinks that that is true? There is not a Marama murmur, no confirmation at all, because they know it is false, demonstrably false. Look, he is taking us down the road to low wages against leading economies.

Oh, what about Treaty settlements? I tell you what we will do for the Māori people—I tell you what we will do for the Māori people—we will stay with housing, with health, with education, and First World wages, and we will leave Treaty settlements to the Māori Party and those academics who are having a most rich, wealthy, affluent life on the back of their own people’s numbers, and who have forgotten about their people. Go to Moerewa and ask any Māori up there: “What have you got out of the Treaty?” Go down to Ngāti Porou and ask the average Māori: “What have you got out of the Treaty?” And so here we are in a most un-Māori way seeing Māori members of Parliament screaming out when they hear common sense. It will not save them. Our message, as we close with this speech today, and as it was in the Northland by-election, and as it will be as soon as the flag option choice goes down in March, is for the New Zealand people to hang on a little bit longer. Do not give up, because help is on its way.

Te Ururoa Flavell (Maori Party)

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Co-Leader—Māori Party): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa e te Whare. The last speaker talked about something like: “Help is on its way.” The Māori Party says: “Do not wait! Help is here. Right now! Help is here right now. The Māori Party is in the House.” Just yesterday many of us enjoyed some time to commemorate and think about Waitangi Day and the change to the legislation allowing for public holidays—awesome. In fact, those workers at the AFFCO meatworks in Rangiuru managed to get over the line to have a holiday despite having to challenge legally that issue, so I want to give a big ups to them for taking that take on. Waitangi is a day when you see the good, not-so-good, the confused, the theatrical. Everybody gets a chance to express their views. I suppose get an understanding of our country’s founding document, our history, and the challenges that face us. The conversations about te Tiriti o Waitangi means to us an ongoing dialogue.

I want to close by simply saying that as we commemorate that Treaty partnership, it is timely to remind my ministerial colleagues that I am but one cog in the machinery of the State. As part of the broader response of fulfilling our Treaty obligations, I will be encouraging my ministerial colleagues to embrace Māori development and Māori approaches as a core object of their portfolios. I am looking forward to the great amount of work that we are going to carry out this year, and to the outcomes that may come to Māori communities. Transformative gains require alignment of policy and services with Māori needs and aspirations. We are definitely heading in that direction. It is going to be a great year and I am looking forward to the work.

Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture)

Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future): I want to begin by paying a tribute to the late Rt Hon Bob Tizard, who died just a few weeks ago. I am one of the very few members in the House today who had the privilege of being here when he was a member. I see the Hon Annette King, and I acknowledge her. And I am sure she will agree with me that Bob gave the appearance of being permanently irascible. As someone once said, he was the most balanced man in the House; he had chips on both shoulders. But that actually belied a considerable intellect, terrific ability, and a form of warmth that meant that he did have a very strong sense of compassion for the underdog. I think he was a parliamentarian of an era that we no longer have, and I think it is important to pay tribute to people like that—to span in Parliament from Walter Nash through to Mike Moore as Prime Minister. As a parliamentary candidate, he first stood in the 1951 waterfront election, so I pay my tribute to him and express my sympathy to his family on their sad loss, and my appreciation, for one, at his tremendous contribution to our country. The debate on the Prime Minister’s statement is a chance to talk about the direction that the country is heading in over the coming 12 months, and it is very difficult to do that without reflecting upon the immediate past, the last few days—the events at Waitangi. The debate on the Prime Minister’s statement is a chance to talk about the direction that the country is heading in over the coming 12 months, and it is very difficult to do that without reflecting upon the immediate past, the last few days—the events at Waitangi. I want to say this: I believe that commemorating the events that happened on 6 February 1840 is extremely important and is foundational to understanding this country’s past and contributing to its future, but I am also minded of the words that Norman Kirk uttered at a time when the Waitangi commemoration first became a national holiday, in 1973. He said: “This is a day for all New Zealanders, not just the people of Northland, to celebrate the unique gifts we possess by virtue of the fact that we are New Zealanders.”

I simply conclude by welcoming all members back to the House. I welcome Maureen Pugh to the House, and I am sure we will all have many robust debates over the next 12 months.

David Seymour (ACT Party)

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): It is great to be back, and in the spirit of the beginning of the year, I would like to begin with some agreement. I agree with Andrew Little that the National Party is, by and large, managing the policies that Labour put in place, but I want to agree with the Prime Minister that the National Party is managing those policies so much better. Such is the history of these two parties over the time that they have governed our country. I want to pay tribute to the outgoing member, Tim Groser, and the fantastic job that he has done with the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is extraordinary that a small economy of $240 billion at the bottom of the world has managed, over the period of a decade, to draw in 11 other economies with a collective GDP of $27 trillion and create a free-trade zone and an agreement that will have inestimable benefits for New Zealanders and New Zealand exporters. I say “inestimable” because the argument for free trade is often very much like the argument for freedom generally. The reason that we want freedom is that we do not know exactly how people will use it, and how big the advantages of having freedom, including freedom to trade, will be.

This will be an important year for New Zealand. They all are, but this is an important one. In this year this Government, the John Key Government, will focus on building the opportunities for New Zealand, growing the skills, growing the innovation, building our infrastructure, improving our natural resources allocation, attracting investment in this country, and, most important , providing export access to our farmers and to our businesses to be able to sell overseas. That is crucially important, so for any naysayer on the other side who has a speech-writer trying to write up stories about this Government having a vision, I say: look in the mirror, it is you who are playing politics and have no vision for this country. Thank you.

Little – list or Rongotai?

According the the Herald Annette King will stand again in 2017 but may move onto the list only. That will leave her safe Labour electorate open for someone else to step into it.

Andrew Little lives in the electorate and it has been suggested before that he might inherit it. He has lost twice when standing in New Plymouth.

Annette King hints at Labour future

Labour veteran Annette King has confirmed she will stand again in 2017 but possibly only on the list, a step which would open up her Rongotai electorate for leader Andrew Little.

Mr Little lives in the Rongotai electorate in Wellington – a safe Labour seat in which Ms King has been the local MP since 1993.

Asked if Mr Little had asked her to allow him to stand in the seat, Ms King said “that is hypothetical”.

“We talk to each other all the time, but I’ll make my announcement on what I’m going to do in the future.”

She said she would announce her decision “when I’m ready.”

Remember that King had said she would be deputy leader for a year and then stand aside, but after the year was up decided to stay as 2IC to Little.

Mr Little has stood unsuccessfully in New Plymouth for the past two elections but has ruled out doing so again. He was yet to decide whether to stand in an electorate.

“I’m quite enjoying being a list MP having the flexibility to get around the country doing the job I do.”

He said candidate selection for the 2017 campaign had not yet started “so that’s a wee way down the track”.

There is supposedly some political mana in being an electorate MP but I don’t know if the public cares about it.

There’s a good argument for major party leaders to be list only as they have plenty to do without attending to electorate duties as well.

Last term Bill English retired from his Clutha Southland electorate and went list only, a goo idea for someone as busy as a finance minister. Steven Joyce is another senior MP who is list only.

It would be embarrassing for the Labour leader to lose in an electorate, so switching to a safer seat could be attractive for Little.

New Plymouth was won by 105 votes in 2008 by National from Labour’s Harry Duynhoven, after Duynhoven won by 5,434 in 2005 and by 11,533 in 2002.

  • 2005: Labour 37.64%, Duynhoven 53.20%
  • 2008: Labour 31.42%, Duynhoven 47.88%
  • 2011: Labour 25.82%, Little 40.41%
  • 2014: Labour 21.10%, Little 31.56%

Not surprising that Little doesn’t want to stand in New Plymouth again. He only just made it back into Parliament last election, he was the last on Labour’s list to make it.

At least as leader he would be number 1 on the Labour list – if he remains leader.

King has won easily against National’s Chris Finlayson and Green’s Russel Norman for the last three elections, by a consistent margin of about 9,000 each time, but the Labour vote has been much lower.


  • 2008: Labour 42.69%, King 52.45%
  • 2011: Labour 34.18%, King 50.52%
  • 2014: Labour 30.35%, King 49.43%

King gets much higher personal support than Labour gets.

2014 party results:

  • National 32.55%
  • Labour 30.35%
  • Green 26.27%


Now Norman has resigned the Green vote may or may not hold up, but Little may struggle to get the same electorate vote that King maintained. King is one of Labour’s most respected MPs.

Little’s reply to Prime Minister’s Statement

I think that the leader/s of the Opposition get a copy of the Prime Minister’s Statement in advance so they can prepare their response.

Labour leader Andrew Little began:

…this is a Government that has given up on the future, that has no plan to prepare New Zealand for the future, that is more interested in scoring political points than solving the big problems facing our country, and that is letting the Kiwi dream slip away.”

And then went on to try and score political points against Key and various Ministers.

He seemed to be trying to outpoint Key on negativity. I call it a depressing draw.


Draft Transcript:

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, Mr Speaker, for getting my name right.

I move, That all the words after “That” be deleted and replaced with “this House express no confidence in this National-led Government, because this is a Government that has given up on the future, that has no plan to prepare New Zealand for the future, that is more interested in scoring political points than solving the big problems facing our country, and that is letting the Kiwi dream slip away.”

It is great to be back after a wonderful summer. It is a bit disappointing to see that the Prime Minister is less tanned and is more red in the face, but that is what happens sometimes with a Christmas break where you fret about what is actually going on.

I am very pleased to see that Michael Woodhouse has returned—that we have got through a summer with not a single worm farmer suffering a fatality or a serious harm incident and that the lavender cutters have got through their summer as well in good shipshape.

And I want to congratulate Judith Collins, because what Minister of the Crown has come back to Cabinet, made such a return, and in such a short space of time had such a dramatic impact not only in New Zealand but internationally? Because within a month of Judith Collins coming back to Cabinet, our ranking in the Corruption Perception Index went down two places. And so for a Minister who knows all about conflicts of interest, it is amazing to see the contributions that she has already made.

The Prime Minister made a reference to Taranaki and the roads, and I was very pleased to be in Taranaki this year swimming at Ōākura Beach, driving on its roads—and it does need better roads, because if there is one thing that the unemployment figures have told us about Taranaki, it is the rapid rate at which people are leaving that province because there are no job opportunities there, and 4,000 people have left in the last year alone. Thank you, National Government—thank you, National Government.

I was very pleased to be at Waitangi on the weekend just gone. They are very pleased, actually, that we had an extended Waitangi weekend.

Thank you to the fine work of David Clark MP, Grant Robertson, who drafted the original bill, other MPs on this side of the House, and, of course, Peter Dunne, who very generously supported that, bill because he, at least, is in touch with middle New Zealand and the holidays that they need.

It was very good to be there, because that was a very important place to be on a very important occasion, and I say, Prime Minister, that it is a place for the head of Government to be on the day that we celebrate the founding of this nation and the founding document.

I would repeat Te Ururoa Flavell’s plea—prayer, in fact—that he gave that the Prime Minister return there to be part of that important national celebration. That was a statement—if you could call it that—that has absolutely no vision and no plan for New Zealand at a time when we desperately need one. It was reheated, recycled, and nothing new.

We had the big announcement. The big state of the nation address was the City Rail Link—it is the City Rail Link; it does not go by any other name. It is a policy that the Labour Party has supported from the outset, championed, argued for, and supported.

And the new Mayor of Auckland at the end of this year will be the next great champion of it, and he will do a fantastic job in it.

But what is interesting to see is that as that cause has been put up and argued for, what former Ministers of Transport from that Government have said—let me count the ways. Let me count the ways. There was a Mr Brownlee who was a transport Minister, and he said at one point: “I take big issue with the suggestion that the City Rail Link is helpful or popular.”

And then he went on to say: “this valiant attempt to make the City Rail Link stack up struggles to make the case.” Something has happened in the meantime, because the case has been made and the City Rail Link is on its way. There is another position, from another Minister, a Mr Joyce—

Hon Member: Or Little?

ANDREW LITTLE: —Steven. I think it was Mr Joyce not a Mr Little. No, it was Mr Joyce—a Steven Joyce—and he is the master of flip-flops, let us face it, after Friday. Mr Joyce, the master of flip-flops said: “That’s not smart transport; that’s pouring money down a hole.”—“That’s pouring money down a hole.” The man who took 21 years to get his degree in zoology, he knows about pouring money down a hole, and so he would know all about that.

So there is no plan, there is no vision.

The National Government has reheated the City Rail Link policy because it knows that that is what Auckland desperately needs. And it knows that the right-thinking people—the sensible thinking people—have been championing that cause for many years now.

And at long last, the Government has been dragged, kicking and screaming, up the purple cycleway of Auckland to get to the point where it now has to support it. But that is not the first flip-flop.

That is not the first flip-flop from this Government either—in Government or in Opposition. We know what its track record is like. Remember its opposition to interest-free student loans? Absolutely diametrically opposed to it, and mysteriously, once they are in Government, nothing happens.

Then they were opposed to KiwiSaver, that thing that 2.5 million Kiwis are now signed up to and that is helping millions of Kiwis build up their little nest egg.

Hon Member: “It’ll never work.”, he said.

ANDREW LITTLE: “Never work”, “don’t want it”, “deeply opposed to it”. What happened when they got into Government? Nothing changed.

Then there’s Working for Families. Remember “communism by stealth”—remember “communism by stealth”? Shocking stuff—vile stuff that was going to be gone by lunchtime. They got into Government and 8 years on they are still waiting. They know that it is good for New Zealand.

This is the multi-positional, flip-flopping National Government. It does it all the time, and it is doing it again.

It is time we had a Government of visions: not the visionless, passionless lot we have got over there, but a Government that understands the issues facing New Zealanders.

What New Zealanders are looking for now more than ever before is a Government that is principled, a Government that can look out to the long-term future, see what the issues are, and understand what needs to happen today to build a better future for tomorrow.

That is what New Zealanders are looking for, not the pussyfooting around, the mincing, the politicking, or the point-scoring all over that we get on that sort of side.

Those members crow about the unemployment rate. What they will not tell New Zealanders is that the reason unemployment has gone down is that thousands and thousands of New Zealanders have just given up. They have stopped looking for work. They are no longer part of the labour force, according to the household labour force survey. They have just given up; they have lost hope.

That is one easy way to reduce your unemployment, but what a dreadful way to treat New Zealanders, hard-working New Zealanders who want nothing other than to get an opportunity to work and to get ahead. Well, that is what Labour is about.

The single biggest issue facing us is the issue of the future of work, and the conference that Grant Robertson went to was, funnily enough, the same conference the senior Ministry of Social Development official went to.

Grant Robertson: You paid for that, John. Paid for them to go.

ANDREW LITTLE: They went to it and the Government paid for them. They went only after weeks of asking the Minister of workplace relations and whatever else he is whether they were going to go, whether they should take this issue seriously.

He was not going to go and somebody from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment was not going to go, so the Government sent somebody from the Ministry of Social Development.

But that is an important issue, and countries around the world are getting to grips with it—Germany, the United States, and other wealthy countries with good progressive leaders who are thinking about what it means, thinking about what we need to do today to build a better future tomorrow so that our people can fulfil their dreams.

That is not what that Government cares about at all—it does not care about it at all. It was interesting when we announced the first of our major policies, which is about investing in people and investing in their futures: our education policy.

Well, if you want to talk about multi positions, let us go through them. Mr Joyce—the Mr Joyce—first of all says: “Well, spending on tertiary education won’t do anything.” Whoops! He is the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, so that line did not last long.

He had to change his position again; he spends over a billion dollars on it already, so he had to change that position. Then he said “Oh, it’s going to cost too much—it’s going to cost too much.”, but then he realised, of course, that the Government wants to buy tax cuts. It is going to pay for tax cuts somehow, so that argument was not going to wash.

So then he goes on to the third position, which was: “But the money’s not there.” But Bill English knows that it is there, because he has set it aside in future budgets—$1.5 billion.

They are all over the place: no plan, no idea, do not care about the future of New Zealanders.

Then, of course, the Prime Minister’s response is to talk about waitresses, because, apparently, waitresses do not have a future. Apparently, they do not get tertiary education, in spite of the fact that a good quarter of them are already people who are studying. Apparently, on ”Planet Key” waitresses do not do education or training.

Fortunately, he has now promised never, ever to talk about waitresses again for the whole time he is Prime Minister, and I simply make this point: it is not the talking about them that has been the problem.

I want to comment briefly on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, because there are a lot of misleading statements coming out of the Government. If there is one thing that is absolutely clear, it is that the Government does not want a genuine public debate on that agreement.

I want to point out that the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is not a strategy. It is an agreement, and there are experts now around the world who no longer even describe it as a free-trade agreement. They are calling it a “managed” trade agreement, because at the end of it—15 years into the agreement, if it comes live—we will still have tariffs, we will still have quotas, and we will not have free trade throughout that trading bloc.

The genuinely independent economic analysis says the benefits for New Zealand are slim. Whether you look at the Tufts University economic analysis or the Peterson Institute for International Economics economic analysis, the benefits for New Zealand are slim.

Let us not kid ourselves: it is interesting that the Peterson Institute for International Economics says that the bulk of the value of that agreement will go to the US, but even in the US it is not expected to generate any new jobs. It is saying: “Let us get prepared for the transition: there are a lot of people who are going to be out of work.”

One of the more dismal analyses for New Zealand even said that we should expect about 6,000 jobs to go under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. I hope that does not happen, but here is the point: there has been an absolute and abject failure of political handling of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement by that Government.

It has been diabolical. It would not keep New Zealanders informed while it was being negotiated—would not keep New Zealanders informed while it was being negotiated—dumped it on New Zealand at the end of last year.

Anybody who raises the most mild criticism is shouted down as somehow not knowing what they are talking about.

The Government is a disgrace. For a Government that has been in 8 years, it lacks the confidence of the people to know what is going on and to have a genuine debate, and that is no good at all.

Let us just remind ourselves too about the promises that were made about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement: we are going to have a great deal on dairy. There is no deal on dairy, which is why the value to New Zealand of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement has been downgraded so much. And it is not much better on meat.

It is a managed trade agreement. It locks in agricultural subsidies for the big powers for a longer period of time yet.

That is just the economic stuff, but it is not the economic stuff that is of greatest concern to me. It is the stuff that is nothing to do with free trade. It is the fact that we now have to sign up to other people from other countries having a say on our lawmaking; the fact that under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement our Parliament cannot pass a law to deal with land sales, which, we know, is a major issue for many, many New Zealanders.

It is not just the economic stuff; it is the non-economic factors. And I make no apology. I make no apology for drawing a clear distinction between economic interests and non-economic interests, and they are not tradeable. You cannot set one off against the other.

There is no such thing as trading off the constitutional rights of every New Zealand citizen against the economic interests of others, sparse as they are.

Statecraft has two dimensions to it. It is about the nation States that the Government of the day is in charge of, and it is about our relationship with other nations.

Statecraft does not involve selling out the interests of the nation State that you are responsible for, for the interests of other nations that we interact with. It is a failure of statecraft, not a good thing about it.

I want to say this. I am proud to say that on this side of the House there is a new generation of leaders now emerging who are principled and who reflect the demands of a new New Zealand, whose citizens are looking for leadership that is about doing the right thing for all New Zealanders—[Interruption]

And that just demonstrates how sadly out of touch that miserable Government actually is. It does not care about the people. It is a party of the elite; it is a party of the self-interested. It is not a party of New Zealand’s best interests.

New Zealanders are looking for a party and for a leadership that will talk about the real issues, the long-term issues, the dreams that Kiwis hold dear, and their hopes, and their ability to get ahead and to get an education and to look after themselves and their families, and for them to be part of strong communities so that they can continue to be part of a great New Zealand.

New Zealanders are looking for a new leadership that is about governing for physical and personal security and for economic security as well. Doing that does not require selling out to other, more powerful States than our own.

It is a generation that understands democracy as a process that involves and engages all citizens that does not capture it for the special, the privileged and the elite. That is the challenge we have.

I am proud to lead a party that does have a vision for New Zealand, that is positive about the future of New Zealand, and that does care about the people of New Zealand and the future that they face.

The single biggest issue facing us is the future of work and we are going to deal with it. New Zealanders want to know that we do have a process, that we do have a plan to deal with those whose jobs are facing obsolescence.

The experts tell us that 46 percent of jobs today will be gone in 20 years’ time. This Government knows that; it is getting the same advice. It does absolutely nothing about it—in a last desperate measure.

We are seen to take the issue seriously, and we are talking to our international counterparts, we are talking to international experts; the Government does not care. And its failure to do anything about it, its failure to rise to that issue and to that occasion, speaks volumes. It tells New Zealand that they do not care about ordinary New Zealanders and their future.

Work is changing: technology is emerging now that is going to affect every job, and we need to be doing something about it now.

We need an education system fit for the 21st century —and we will make that investment.

We need an economic strategy that is focused on New Zealanders and what they can do, that attracts investment, that does not kowtow and tug the forelocks to the powerful in hope that some crumbs might fall off the table of other countries, that actually supports New Zealanders and their ambitions—and that is what we are doing.

We need a country whose economy is strong enough to make sure that New Zealanders do get the health care that they need; that everybody does have a warm, dry, and safe home to live in.

You cannot work, you cannot excel at work, you cannot fulfil your dreams, and you cannot look after your family when the roof over your head leaves you cold, damp, and sucking in bacteria and mould because you have a Government that does not care about the quality of our housing.

That is the difference between our two parties. That is the difference between the Labour Party and the National Party.

Ours is a party that understands New Zealanders: their ambitions, their hopes for the future.

Ours is a party that is prepared to invest in that future, to rebuild New Zealand, to rebuild the dreams of New Zealanders and give them confidence and hope for the future.

I look forward to that debate. I look forward to the debate over the next 2 years, as New Zealanders see that there is one party that not only talks to New Zealanders but understands New Zealanders, and reflects their aims and ambitions—and that it is us. And I am looking forward to this year.

Prime Minister’s Statement

John Key kicked off debate in Parliament for the year with the Prime Minister’s Statement.

As usual Key sets out a modest programme for the year and put more effort into getting a few digs in at Andrew Little and Labour. It looks like pettiness and bitchiness is resuming where it left off.

But Labour had left themselves wide open on the Trans Pacific Partnership – Key said that as far as Labour was concerned TPP meant Two Position Party.

And he said a lot more negatives about Labour, while saying he didn’t have enough time to mention all the things the Government will be doing.

But what he did say about that his party will be doing was more of the same, there was nothing much new on offer.

Draft transcript:

Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I move, That this House express its confidence in the National-led Government and commend its programme for 2016 as set out in the Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament. Mr Speaker, is it not great to be back?

I hope that you had a good holiday and members did, and what a wonderful time it was for New Zealand. What a great display of cricket yesterday afternoon by Brendon McCullum in the Chappell-Hadlee series. New Zealand up against Australia one more time under a National-led Government—what a wonderful result.

And, of course, the Sevens—a tremendous result by the Kiwis, not only just here in Wellington but in Sydney—the Warriors, of course, at the final; and then Lydia Ko back in New Zealand on Friday to defend her New Zealand Women’s Open.

But it is not just sport that has the country in good; so it is in so many other economic forums.

We had a record number of tourists come to New Zealand this year—3.15 million tourists came to New Zealand to enjoy our country. No wonder they are coming, because many of them are coming to live here as well. They can see New Zealand is a great place to live under the policies of a National-led Government.

We are seeing more carriers flying direct to New Zealand. Emirates is deciding it is not enough just to fly all those times through Australia to New Zealand but it is coming direct to Auckland. Of course, Air New Zealand is doing tremendously well, bringing people from the United States through its new Houston leg and through Buenos Aires in Latin America.

Let us just look around and see what is happening in the data that we see in the early part of the year. The ANZ business confidence survey saw confidence rise to an 8-month high, with a net 23 percent of firms being confident. When it came to consumer confidence, we saw record sales over Christmas, and the Roy Morgan survey having us up at 121.4—a very strong result for consumer confidence.

Manufacturing activity—the December business numbers were stronger than in any other month in March of 2015, and the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index saw the fastest rate of expansion since October 2014.

In fact, when one looks at the BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index and the expansion of manufacturing, this has gone up every single month since the moment Labour declared there was a crisis—38 consecutive months in a row. And was that not great?

Of course, when it comes to business optimism, look no further than the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, which said “What a great result. What’s happening out there?

Very strong—people looking to hire.”, and hired they were. Last week we were greeted with a new unemployment rate here in New Zealand: a dramatic fall to 5.3 percent. That is a very strong performance. We have the third-highest employment rate in the OECD , we have very strong results of growth for young people, and, of course, wages are rising faster than inflation.

That was greeted with absolute joy by New Zealanders, with one exception—one exception. It was a great annoyance to the Labour Party and, in particular, to Grant Robertson, the doom merchant when it comes to employment. Grant Robertson is worried about a robot taking his job.

A cynic could say: “Too late, one already did.”—the job he wanted—but, never fear, he has got his people working with every editor of every women’s mag around the country, getting Jacinda Ardern nicely positioned on the front of all of those, just waiting.

But Grant is so worried about work, he decided that when Parliament packed up he would go off to Paris to the OECD to learn about work and the future of work. He is going to base his commission that he is setting up on that.

Here is how it went. It started at 10.30, a nice little break of an 1 hour and 45 minutes for lunch, than a quick 20 minutes for afternoon tea, all done and dusted by 6 o’clock, 1½ hours for cocktails. That is the future of work under the Labour Party. Job done. It was a big day.

Of course the big issue—the big issue—is the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, the “TPP”. What a tremendous trade deal this is for New Zealand. What a tremendous trade deal: 93 percent elimination in tariffs, 40 percent of our markets covered, 800 million middle-income consumers, $2.7 billion of value to New Zealand.

So it had, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, significance for the Labour Party. Do any of us know why? Well, when we think “TPP”, we think Trans-Pacific Partnership; they think “two-position party”—that is what “TPP” says to them.

This is because when it comes to David Shearer, he rightfully said to the New Zealand Herald—before he got a good spanking from the leader—“I’ll be voting for it. There’s no change there. Nothing’s changed my mind and the international interest analysis—fantastic.”

Phil Goff, he is definitely voting for it, because it is, to quote Phil, the same as the China free-trade agreement taken under Labour.

Helen Clark, she is a tremendous supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

In fact, every Labour leader in the last 20 years supports the agreement except the current one. Well, that actually is a bit debatable. So when you look at Andrew Little’s positions—and I will grant you he has had more positions than the Labour Party has had leader in the last 5 years—he says he hates the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

He got asked a pretty simple question by Mark Sainsbury: “Will you withdraw New Zealand from the TPP?” Do you know what his answer was? It was: “We won’t.” He is going to kick up bobsy-die , but no, no, he will not.

So then they asked him: “Will you vote against it?” A pretty simple question. He went: “Yeah, well, we already said—aah—if there—yeah—er—aah—if this legislation—aah. We don’t get to vote on TPP,” he said.

What about pulling out? That apparently is incredibly difficult to do, even though the text, of which he has read 500 of 6,000 pages, says you can just do it by simply putting in notification for 6 months.

When he was asked “Why won’t you pull out of TPP?”_—this was my particular favourite for the summer—he said: “Because we are the free-trade party.” Yeah, right. “We are the free-trade party.”

So when you look at his opposition it seems to be around sovereignty. So what he thinks is the problem is that other people, other corporations, other Governments can come to New Zealand and they can put a submission in against our law. That is apparently the problem.

Here is a little technical issue. The first issue is, quite right, they can do that. In fact, anybody is free to come to New Zealand and put in a submission at our select committees. It is called open and transparent Government.

But what did Andrew Little do at the end of last year? I know. He rushed off to Australia to go to put a submission in against its legislation and last night he was telling me to give David Cameron a ring, so I could put in a submission about their legislation. So he has got a massive problem with everybody else doing it except himself.

So let us just go through one or two of the myths of Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Sovereignty—I think you all agree we have covered off. Anyone is free to come and put in a submission about New Zealand, but this Parliament determines its law and this Parliament on its own.

There is a theory out that somehow this affects Māori. Well, it does—positively—because the text says the Treaty of Waitangi is specifically excluded and when it comes to Wai 262 that is excluded as well.

And, by the way, the wording in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is basically the same as the wording in the China and Korea free-trade agreements. There is nothing new and you did not see the protestors out there then, but funnily enough you see them now.

Apparently, the problem is that it was behind closed doors. That is what Andrew Little said at Rātana: the whole problem was that it was behind closed doors, expect the only minor technical problem was that, one, it was exactly the same in one form as any other free-trade agreement we have done, including the China free-trade agreement that was concluded by Phil Goff, sitting over there, and the Labour Party.

But what is more than that, for years the Government has been undertaking consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We did not wait for the text to be completed. We did not actually wait for the national interest analysis to come out. What we actually did was we went up and down the country, including to substantial groups of iwi, including to the Federation of Māori Authorities.

In fact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade tells me there has been more consultation on the Trans-Pacific Partnership than on almost any other free-trade agreement that it can see or any other things that we have done.

The last issue is theoretically we can be sued under the provisions of investor-State. Well, do not accept my word for how difficult that is. Let me quote this for you, from Phil Goff who said, and quite rightly so because he actually understands what he is talking about when it comes to this area: “The barrier to get investor-State dispute is very high, and the chance is very unlikely.”

We have had investor-State in this country for 30 years. Forget about a case being won. There has not been a case taken in 30 years.

Andrew Little came out with quite a little doozy when he was trying to summarise his position, and, to be granted, his press secretaries must have had quite a field day with that. He put up: “TPP highlights divisions in New Zealand.” The right heading, I should have pointed out to them, was: “TPP highlights divisions in the Labour Party.”

David Shearer and Phil Goff might be prepared to say what they think, but quite a lot of MPs are out there, talking to people in the business community. Names are getting named about who is quietly supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Labour Party ranks.

We know why Andrew Little is not. It is because every single union came out pretty much in opposition to it. We know who elected the Labour Party caucus. It was not the people sitting over there, but the union movement of New Zealand. They are opposed, and that is what it is. They are the two-position party.

It is not just when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I remember in this House a very spirited debate about sending our guys, our men and women, over to Iraq to train people. I remember that spirited debate. What great work they are doing. We saw Ramadi taken back over Christmas—people trained by our men and women. I remember that debate.

At Christmas, despite Andrew Little telling us he did not want to send traitors, by Christmas he wanted to send the SAS. They are the two-position party.

When it comes to the flag I am not even going to bother. It is still on their website. Their position is still a change of flag by a referendum.

Let us get to the Government’s agenda. It is long and varied. Employment law will be an important piece of legislation passed this year, and important work done by the Government.

When it comes to pay equity, the Government is dealing with the issues of Terra Nova—the court cases there. We are working with the stakeholders. I think we are working very constructively there. We are looking for sensible and practical guidelines that can be implemented, and good progress is being made. Good progress is also being made on the minimum wage.

There is more to come from the Government on that front, but every year this Government has encouraged and put up the minimum wage, and of course we are seeing wages growing faster than inflation.

When it comes to legislation around minimum employment standards, that too is going through this Parliament in 2016 along with work around the zero-hour contracts.

When it comes to the costs for employers and employees, ACC, we are going to see those costs fall by $450 million in 2016. There is great work being done by the Minister and by the ministry.

When it comes to average motor vehicle costs for ACC, they are being cut by a third, down to, on average, about $130.

The Business Growth Agenda—it was good to see Winston Peters coming along and supporting Steven Little, our man—well, Steven Joyce. That would be Andrew Little. I forgot his name; he has had so much attention recently.

But the Business Growth Agenda, what is it going to do? There will be more of the regional programmes, more initiatives around tertiary education, more for ICT, more graduates in ICT, the roll-out of three graduate schools around the country, and the lifting of the number of engineers. It is about skills and innovation.

When it comes to apprenticeships, there has been a big increase in both the number of apprenticeships—those being trained—and particularly pleasing, a very big increase in the number of Māori and Pacific students doing well in our education system.

We can see that with the increase in the NCEA level 2 levels, we can see it through the numbers going through our universities in the successful completion rate, we can see it in our apprenticeships, we can see the growth in the Māori economy—and all of this happened on the back of the Business Growth Agenda, with more science and innovation, and certainly the National Science Challenge is helping to drive that.

I do not have a huge amount of time to go through all of the initiatives for education and health, but it is fair to say that the Government will invest more money this year—more money in both the infrastructure supporting our education and health systems, more availability for drugs in our community, more choice for people when it comes to education, and better opportunities to equip youngsters for modern New Zealand, providing access to not only world-class education but world-class health systems.

Infrastructure will be a big part of the Government’s programme for 2016. This year the Government will alone spend $6 billion in infrastructure.

What is fair to say is we build the infrastructure, and the Labour protesters lie in the middle of it—but at least it is providing some use for them from time to time.

But we will be at the table with the City Rail Link, we will be there with the East-West Link, doing work on that, the Waikato Expressway, more roading for Christchurch, and more regional roading projects. They are still cheering in Taranaki about Mt Messenger—still cheering about what has been happening there.

When it comes to housing affordability, Resource Management Act reform is high on the Government’s agenda. And for those parties who want to talk about housing affordability, the costs on business, and the costs on households, there is a simple solution: come to this Parliament and support sensible Resource Management Act legislation, and the Government will work with you. Connectivity is a big part of this Government, with the world with free-trade agreements but also with ultra-fast broadband—for that initiative of 80 percent, and also rural broadband.

And as I said, when it comes to housing there will be work in a number of areas including more land being released, work on withholding taxes and their implementation—and almost certainly for foreigners there—and of course, more work on the special housing areas.

When it comes to rental properties, legislation will be introduced in relation to the installation of smoke alarms in rental properties.

When it comes to the environment, there is the important legislation around the oceans sanctuary of the Kermadec Islands: 620,000 square kilometres going into an ocean sanctuary twice the land mass of New Zealand and the equivalent of the land mass of France—what a great way to preserve our environment.

And for the least well-off in our community, benefits will arise by $25 per week for beneficiaries with children from 1 April, there will be more obligations on sole parents, a major review of Child, Youth and Family—the review has been completed, the work has been done, and the Minister is now working on that.

When it comes to social housing we will see the transfer of social housing to social housing providers in Invercargill and Tauranga, new places in Auckland.

When it comes to Māori, there will be more work when it comes to Treaty settlements so that by 2017 all iwi who want to settle with the Government can. There is enormous work happening in the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act reforms.

When it comes to security legislation, the Government is working hard on the reforms being proposed in the new report by Patsy Reddy and Michael Cullen in relation to the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau.

There will be the small issue of the flag referendum in March.

This is going to be a very, very busy year for a National-led Government. We are hungry, we are energetic, we are ready to go, and, unlike the Opposition, we are united. We know what we stand for and we know what we stand against.

We have many policies but we are on the same pages. We are the one-position party, and with great momentum for New Zealand.

Meanwhile the two-position party can spend the rest of 2016 arguing with each other, because they are the only people who are going to be listening to them—themselves.

Josie Butler and her squeaky toy

Josie Butler is the Christchurch nurse who through what she shows is a squeaky toy.sex toy at Steven Joyce at Waitangi. She has released a short video explaining this on Facebook.


She has also done an interview with ManaNews – EXCLUSIVE: Josie Butler tells all about dildo attack.

Can you explain the reason for you throwing the dildo at Steven Joyce?

I’m a nurse and I’m very concerned about the effects of the TPP on my patients. I believe, and I am not alone, that the TPP will have profoundly negative effects on New Zealand, socially, culturally and economically. I care deeply about my country and it’s people, and I want NZers to know that we can still avoid this outcome. This agreement has not been ratified yet.

Balanced debate on the issue has been continually shut down by the government. I think it is a shame that it takes a hard-working nurse throwing a dildo at a politician to open up this debate.

She hasn’t opened up ‘balanced debate’. Debate has been going on about the TPPA for years. If anything she polarised debate about the TPPA, and about the relevance of Waitangi on what is supposed to be the focal point of a national occasion. She has added to the circus.

When did you decide you wanted to do this, and did you act alone or with others?

I’ve been campaigning against the TPP for two years. We have been taking part in the democratic process, we’ve been to the City Council, we’ve educated people, we’ve organised numerous peaceful protests. The TPP is not good for NZ, and I will not give up working towards a healthier NZ, a stronger NZ, a fairer NZ.

So it looks like she is not interested in balanced debate, she has been a strong opponent of the TPPA for two years.

When you said “that’s for raping our sovereignty”, can you elaborate on it?

The TPPA is the rape of our tino rangitiratanga, the torture our basic human rights, and the murder of our people. We already have over 300,000 children living below the poverty line, I don’t want to live in a country where families have to choose between potentially life saving medication or feeding their children because of the increased price of medications under the TPPA.

The Government claims that the price of medications won’t go up – they will continue to be subsidised. There is no evidence that the price of medications will increase under the TPPA as far as I’m aware.

Can you detail how you got into being anti-TTPA, and what active work you’ve done around this?

I got involved through the Nurses Union. I heard the grave concerns from the medical professionals around me about the TPPA and became aware of what was at stake. Those concerns haven’t disappeared now the text is out. I’ve been active in the campaign for two years, and have organised numerous peaceful protests and actions throughout Christchurch, and have spent countless hours campaigning against this. The TPPA is not primarily a trade agreement, it is a mechanism whereby global corporations can override the sovereignty and lawful decisions of nation states.

That’s fairly standard anti-TPPA rhetoric which is not backed by facts.

Can you describe what the fallout has been like since this? (Good,bad, supportive, ugly, and examples)

The overwhelming support and Aroha from around the world has been amazing. Now that the world is having the conversation about the TPPA maybe we can all do something about it.

If she thinks her squeaky toy throwing has initiated a ‘conversation about the TPPA’ around the world she is overestimating the effect of her actions somewhat.

Did you expect it to gain this much attention?

The aim was to gain awareness about the atrocity that is the TPPA

Most of the attention was on the farce of Waitangi being famous for taking cheap shots at politicians. Some people like what it is, especially political activists and media, but most New Zealanders can’t be bothered with it.



That doesn’t look much like a balanced debate salute.


The clenched fist salute has been used by many in the past, including black power, white power, Anders Breivik and socialists.

Butler has been organising anti-TPPA protests for some time. She attended the Auckland protest last Thursday.

A year ago on Facebook she posted this on a Te Matatini Festival kapa haka page:

Kia ora whanau, my name is Josie, I’m a nurse from Otautahi, and I am messaging you all to ask for your help. The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is a free trade agreement due to be signed by our government very soon, and if it goes through it will have dire consequences for Aotearoa. Prescription medications will cost a lot more money, foreign investors will be given more rights to buy up NZ, our cultural heritage can be trademarked and copyright by the highest bidder, and foreign corporations will be able to sue the NZ government if we do not meet their demands.

We are organising a National Day of Action on the 7th of March to stand up against the atrocity, and to show our government that this is not something that New Zealand wants to be a part of. The Christchurch protest will go down Riccarton Road, and finish at Deans Ave/Riccarton Road (right in front of Hagley Park).
Te Matatini is on this date at Hagley Park.

I am messaging you all to ask if any of the kapa haka groups would be interested in meeting our protest at Deans Ave/Riccarton Road and helping us complete our stand with a haka at approximately 2pm on 7.3.15. I want you to be able to tell your mokopuna one day that the reason they can afford essential and vital health care and medicines is because you stood up for their basic human rights.

He waka eke noa. Arohanui.

Not very balanced. And not very accurate – eg “Prescription medications will cost a lot more money” – as this was a long time before the TPP agreement was reached and it became known what it would actually mean.

But as with other protesters Butler is continuing the same claims of fear of serious effects despite them not being realised in the agreement.



Turei and a Pharmac fallacy

There’s been a lot of speculation about Pharmac in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. And misinformed comment and misinformation.

In a column (MP’s View) in Dunedin’s The Star Metiria Turei wrote:

Is the TPP agreement good or bad?

There are many questions about what it means, largely because we have been kept in the dark. The agreement has been negotiated in secret and that has made it hard for everyone on both sides of the debate to really understand the impact of it.

Until the Agreement was agreed on of course it was difficult to know what the impact might be. But it was finalised and the full text was made available last year.

So now the text has been released, we can all, for the first time, really look at what is negotiated and make our own judgements.

Let’s look at Pharmac for example. There are many people who are concerned about maintaining access to free and cheap medicines.

So, we are seriously concerned about then increased cost of medicines, especially the new and better ones emerging called biologics. As more of these become available in New Zealand the cost will rise.

It’s unclear what she means by that. Of course if there are more of a group of medicines the cost of that group will probably rise.

The Government estimates a $1 million annual cost to Pharmac but says nothing about increased costs of new medicines.

It’s likely new medicines will be more expensive with or without the TPPA. Medine costs have been rising for decades.

The Government also estimates $4.5 million for the set-up cost and a $2.2 million annual cost of a process to allow Pharmac decisions to be reviewed by other agencies.

Even the most conservative analysis from MFAT shows costs rising but little benefit to sick New Zealanders needing help.

I don’t think anyone expected there would be definable benefits to sick people from the TPPA. I doubt MFAT made an emotional ‘analysis’ like that.

What they do say in Cost to PHARMAC of Implementing the Transparency Annex of TPP :

The analysis below outlines the estimated costs of operating new administrative procedures required under TPP. While these procedures will not change the PHARMAC model or its ability to fund, prioritise, approve or decline applications for funding pharmaceuticals, they do involve some cost to implement.

The actual operating cost to PHARMAC of implementing TPP is likely to be less than the estimates below, partly because PHARMAC may be able to absorb some of the activities required by the Annex within existing resources.

Estimated costs are then detailed, coming to the totals cited by Turei. But Turei doesn’t say that MFAT said that the operating costs are likely to be lower. And MFAT doesn’t say anything like “little benefit to sick New Zealanders needing help”.

And we have listened carefully to the arguments on both sides of this debate.

Medicines is just one example where the details give us all better information about the effects of the TPP agreement.

I encourage you to look a little deeper into it.

This exchange on Facebook has been circulating:


Pharmac director Jens Mueller said:

Any PHARMAC cost increases will be absolutely negligible in comparison to the total PHARMAC budget and the additional export revenues from the TPPA.

An MFAT Fact Sheet says:

Consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP. Most prescription medicines are fully subsidised and, with few exceptions, New Zealanders pay no more than $5. TPP does not change this in any way.

I wonder how carefully Turei and the Greens have listened to both sides of the argument. Turei is playing on people’s fears with little justification and only vague assertions.

Reports I’ve seen in media show little concern about the effects of the TPPA and medicine costs.

It looks like Turei is playing on a Pharmac fallacy.


What Harre really wanted from TPPA questions

Yesterday I posted Some questions about the TPP from a post by Brendon Harre in which he said…

I have an open mind regarding international trade.

I am in favour of free trade reforms if the beneficiaries are spread throughout society.

I am not sure if the TPPA fits into the beneficial category for the ordinary person. I am not sure if trade and democracy are working together like they have in the past or against each other.

I have some questions -not just for the supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but also to those that oppose it.

He has circulated this on left wing blogs were he has made what he wanted clearer.

At The Daily Blog:

It was directed at both sides. But I mainly want answers from the pro-TPP people because they have done such a poor job answering basic questions.

Some of anti-TPP people have also done a poor job of truthfully answering basic questions.

At The Standard:

I wrote an article about the TPP where it seems we may be in danger of losing important aspects of our democracy. Pro-TPP people have to give some pretty robust answers to some fundamental questions IMHO.

So it’s fairly clear where his TPP allegiances lie.

Are we really “in danger of losing important aspects of our democracy” with the TPP?

I haven’t seen any robust arguments in support of this claim. There seems to be little if anything in the agreement that impacts any more on our democracy than past international agreements.

Every international agreement can put some restriction on what New Zealand can do, but it’s a voluntary restriction that can be reversed if ever our democracy chooses to do so.

Before the TPP agreements was reached last year the anti-TPP warned of a range of specific potential problems.

After the text of the agreement was made public the opposition changed to general terms like anti-democracy and anti-sovereignty.

Brendon, it’s up to you and those who oppose the TPP to make robust arguments for the problems you allege.

In the absence of compelling arguments that our democracy will be compromised I assume there is nothing much we need to be concerned about.

Straddling the political divide

Some see politics as a big division between one thing or another but in reality there’s far more fairly common ground than there are extreme differences.

But today the ODT chose to call their editorial Straddling the political divide, looking ahead to the year in Parliament kicking off. However i think what they are referring to is more of a divide between what the public would like to see of their Members of Parliament and how those MPs present themselves in Parliament.

Parliament resumes tomorrow with the Prime Minister’s statement taking precedence over other business.

While official business takes centre stage tomorrow, the political year started earlier with the State of the Nation speeches by political leaders.

Mr Key can take all the time he needs as his statement has no limit in length. The debate in reply has a limit of 14 hours but the Government can, if it chooses, and it probably will, adjourn the debate and get on with other business. The year needs to start strongly.

The debate in reply begins with the Leader of the Opposition moving a no-confidence vote in the Government and moves on from there into the Opposition parties trying to score some political points against the Government in general and Mr Key in particular.

Mr Key has been untouchable for seven years and will point to the achievements of his Government as he outlines parliamentary priorities for the year ahead. In the past, Mr Key has deviated from his set speech to get a march on the Opposition, which has an advance copy of his address.

Tomorrow can really be the time for Mr Key to put aside the political agenda of trying to make his opponents look silly and provide some uplifting goals to which he aspires.

The Opposition can use their time to avoid making personal attacks and focus on providing some alternatives to what it sees as damaging policies.

All of this seems sadly unlikely and New Zealanders will again be left frustrated on the sides of the political divide.

As I said at the start, I think one of biggest divides in New Zealand politics is  not left versus right (the main parties are often called National Lite and Labour Lite) but a divide between how our Members of Parliament behave in Parliament and how the public would like them to behave.

Robust debate with opponents and challenging policies are very important aspects of a democracy.

But far too often our politicians resort to petty attacking and opposing for the sake of opposing rather than based on common sense.

The tone of our politics and of Parliament must be set from the top, by the party leaders. When did we last have a leader who led by example?

John Key has been a very successful leader but I don’t think he has yet been a great leader. He often tries to be a person of the people, quite successfully going by the polls but that’s probably as much to do with a lack of strong opponents.

Andrew Little is yet to step up as a credible leader.

The party leader I’ve been most impressed with over the annual Waitangi debacle is Winston Peters, who spoke honestly about the core of the problems. Perhaps the wily old campaigner can rise above his usually futile game playing and end his career on a respectable high.

Is Key capable of providing ‘some uplifting goals”?

Or will he continue to massage the masses with meanderings, policy-wise?

Likeable (to half the population) but with modest achievements who eventual fades away? Or can he become a leader of our times? If he aspires to the latter he will need to do more than just wave a flag.

Can Key find a way of straddling the divide between successful politician and aspirational leader? Does he want to?

Little: “we won’t pull out” of TPPA

Andrew Little has caused further consternation and frustration on the left by restating that Labour won’t pull out of the TPPA, despite having sort of having said they oppose it.

Yesterday on RadioLive: Labour won’t pull out of the TPP – Little.

Mark Sainsbury: The thing that sparked all this off of course, the TPPA. Can I just get something straight from you, you’re opposed to us signing it. Does that mean if you become Prime Minister, Labour was in power, you would either pull out of the treaty as it exists, or would refuse to ratify it?

Andrew Little: Ah no, well hold on, we signed it long ago, it was a clerical exercise, it didn’t create the agreement, the agreement was already created.

Created is odd terminology. It wasn’t signed long ago, it was signed by the Trade Minister’s from all twelve participating countries in Auckland the day before.

Andrew Little:  Secondly ratification will happen over the next two years. Our Government has the numbers to do the New Zealand ratification regardless.

Mark Sainsbury: In two years time you could be Prime Minister Andrew Little.

Andrew Little: And so the question then is would we pull out of it, if it’s ratified, all the countries have ratified it would we pull out of it?

We won’t, and the reason why I am making the objection that I am making and the Labour Party is making, and indeed others are about provisions in it that cut across our sovereignty, is that I want to go back and say right there’s things in here that are wrong.

Things in here that we just shouldn’t have, and we will kick up bobsy-die about and put pressure back the way and that’s why New Zealanders are expressing a view about it it’s so important…

Mark Sainsbury: Hang on, it sounds like you’re trying to have a bob each way on this Andrew Little, on one hand you’re saying this is wrong, there’s all sorts of problems with it and things it does cover and flaws in the system, you’re against it. Will you vote against it in the House?

Andrew Little: Yeah we’ve already said um, if there’s, the legi, I mean, let’s go, we don’t get to vote on the TPPA. That’s done and dusted. There’s then legislation that covers some aspects of it that has to come to the House.

Anything in the legislation that cuts across sovereign rights we will oppose. Things that are, that support genuine free trade because we are a free trade party, we will support.

The train has left the station. So what we’re talking about now is how do we protect and preserve New Zealand’s interests under the TPP and that’s what we’re talking about.

Mark Sainsbury: But hang on, you can’t be a lion in opposition, a lamb in Government can you? I mean and it sounds like, while we’re in opposition this is dreadful, this Government sold us out, but if we’re in power we’d do the same thing.

Andrew Little: The Government sold us out on those parts of the TPPA that cut across sovereign rights in New Zealand, the rights for us to make our laws without undue influence and pressure from other interests. That’s what we’re talking about.

Yes there are other aspects that will help some exporters. There’s, you know, we’ve never shied away from that, um but lets be very clear.

The train left the station last October when Tim Groser signed off the agreement in Atlanta with the other Ministers, and what we’re dealing with no is what do we do to get ourselves in ship shape so that when Labour is next in Government and we’re dealing with other countries and big corporates from overseas breathing down our neck they won’t be surprised when we turn around and say ah-ah, this isn’t what New Zealanders want, we’ve opposed this, we’re opposed to it in principle and we’re going to fight against it and we’re going to protect New Zealand’s rights, but we’re not going to cut across um, they um you know our free trade credentials.

Mark Sainsbury: So you’re opposed to it in principle but not in practice.

Andrew Little:  Well if you want to break it down to um, if you’re desperate to have that there’s only one one you know ah one answer to this it’s either completely wrong or completely right. A six thousand agreement isn’t going to be like that.

Um and a free trade a free trade agreement that has some aspects of free trade but then has other things that have absolutely nothing to do with free trade but cut across New Zealand’s rights, I mean it doesn’t break down that simply.

So what I am talking about and what Labour is talking about is doing those things that are going to allow us to protect and preserve ourselves against the worst aspect of the TPPA that are nothing to do with free trade.

Mark Sainsbury:  So you want to fix it, but what I’m just saying, what you’re telling us today here is despite your public opposition to it right now, if Labour was in power, you are Prime Minister, you would not pull New Zealand out of that agreement.

Andrew Little:  Pulling out would would be um is way more difficult than it is to kind of roll off the tongue and lets pull out.

So no, we won’t pull out, but what we will do is fight tooth and nail to stop those things that are undermining New Zealanders’ democratic rights. Cause we have too. Cause we stood for that for decades and we’ll continue to do that.

That’s quite a muddled interview with only vague assurances of protecting rights but stating Labour won’t pull out of the TPPA.

Trying to sound tough while conceding there’s not actually much if anything Labour would actually do.

The clearest thing he said was ‘um’.

Add to this a couple of Little’s responses to a Q & A at Stuff on Thursday:

In what situations do you see New Zealand utilizing the exit clause?

Should the agreement be ratified over the next two years, any question of leaving the TPPA would be a huge call. It is not something that I am contemplating. That’s why I’ve been saying I want the next Labour government to be in a position with a mandate from New Zealanders to re-address the things that cut across our citizens’ rights.

That says much the same thing.

Do you believe the TPP will be amended by the US and become even more draconian for NZ to push it through congress?

Talking to US administration officials and politicians at the end of last year, it was made clear to me that there is no more negotiation, and that the deal is as it is now. Under the US fast track law, there is no scope for individual representatives and senators to pull apart specific clauses and chapters. But in reality, with American politics who would know?

So while Little claims a Labour led government would try and negotiate changes he says here “there is no more negotiation”.


Labour have backed themselves into a corner on the TPPA and all Little can do is squirm.


Trottermania and revolution

Chris Trotter reveals some of the thinking of the revolutionary left in his latest post Making It Stop: Taking Stock Of 4 February 2016, With Some Thoughts About The Way Forward.

First he thanks the organisers of Thursday’s TPPA protest in Auckland.

To Jane Kelsey and Barry Coates I can only say thank you. Demonstrations like the one I marched in on Thursday don’t just happen. They are the product of hours and days and years of hard work, during which people fight not only against loneliness and fatigue, but against the insidious thought that their unceasing efforts might all be in vain.

Observing the glowing faces of Jane and Barry, as they rode down Queen Street on the afternoon of 4 February 2016, it was their selfless commitment to battling on, heedless of setbacks and against all odds, that brought tears to my eyes. Once again, thank you.

One of the features of the protest was the re-emergence of Hone Harawira and the Mana Movement, fighting for Maori sovereignty despite Harawira and others making ignorant or deliberately false claims about it – see Harawira versus TPPA.

Jane Kelsey has been a long time anti-trade political activist who has been working with the Labour Party with their move to a more anti-TPPA stance – see Kelsey briefing Labour on TPPA.

Involved in uniting Kelsey with Labour was Andrew Little’s chief of staff Matt McCarten, who happens to have had close connections with the Mana Party.

Barry Coates was number 17 on the Green Party list for the 2014 election. Recently number 16 Marama Davidson replaced Russel Norman in Parliament so Coates is next in line to be an MP. Here’s his Green candidate profile.

Back to Trotter:

BUT, NOW WHAT? In which direction should the energy generated by the 4 February protest actions be turned?

He suggests a few ongoing protest actions. Then:

The extent to which these core messages have already entered the public’s consciousness has unpleasantly surprised the TPPA’s supporters.

I think he may be overestimating how much the public knows or cares about the TPPA, and there are ample indications the media can see through their spin and have started to call them on it.

Radio NZ, One News and Newshub all showed how little the core messages had entered the protesters’s consciousness let alone the wider public.

They were taken aback at the size and vehemence of the Auckland protests and will already be working on ways to unpick the picture Jane Kelsey and her comrades have embroidered so vividly on the public mind. The Government’s and big businesses’ counter-offensive will have to be met, held, and rolled back.

The comrades versus big business – that’s the core message about what’s driving the TPPA opposition.

I know someone who went to a meeting last week featuring Comrade Kelsey. They genuinely hoped to be informed about the TPPA. They were gobsmacked about how sour and substance-less the messages were.

Strategically, the struggle is between the progressive/patriotic forces operating within the twelve signatory states, and the defenders of the transnational corporations. Obviously, this puts the “Pro” forces at a serious disadvantage. Far from being able to pass themselves off as promoters of the public good, they will emerge from the contest as the big corporations’ fifth columnists, committed to defeating the patriots fighting to prevent the agreement’s ratification.

The people versus the corporations again.

John Key and his Government thus risk entering election year as a collection of figurative “Quislings”, guilty of conspiring against the national interest on behalf of entities without countries, morals or scruples.

If this perception can be driven deep into the electorate’s mind, then National’s chances of re-election will be nil.

Trotter’s comrades dream. It’s a dream they also had last term, with asset sales instead of the TPPA, that became a nightmare when the reality of the election result hit home.

More importantly, the victorious coalition of Labour, the Greens and NZ First will be swept into office with a broad mandate to take on a corporate plutocracy that has ruled without challenge for far too long.

Wonderful. And the world will be rescued from evil at last.

For the first time in over 30 years, there will be a mass political movement dedicated to putting itself “upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus” of the neoliberal machine – and making it stop.

Except this time Labour seem to have decided to fight for the Mana space on the far left, after their worst election result in living memory in part due to a voter reaction against the Internet-Mana.

Comrades were convinced that Internet-Mana would hold the deciding votes after the last election,  and the glorious revolution would be realised.

But instead they crashed, and burned Labour.

Trotter seems to think Labour-Mana is a winning combination along with the Greens and NZ First. I wonder what Winston thinks of all this, he’s politically very astute.

Not long ago Trotter tweeted a link to his post:

Some thoughts on Thursday’s anti-TPPA demo. Has the “Missing Million” woken up?

The ‘missing million’ dream was another failure last election. The ones who vote saw through it.

This seems like just another swing between Trottermanic and Trotterdepressive.

What’s missing is 21st century reality.


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