Little versus Cunliffe

One of the biggest talking points on the left  of the Labour reshuffle announced yesterday was the demotion of David Cunliffe from 14 to 28, and what looks to be a humiliating appointment by his leader Andrew Little.

Cunliffe led Labour in an embarrasing election defeat last year. He then sort of stood down but stood for the leadership again.

Little beat him in the leadership contest, and punished Cunliffe with a ranking of 14, appointing him to these spokesperson roles in 2014:

  • Regional Development
  • Tertiary Education
  •  Innovation
  •  Research & Development
  •  Science & Technology
  •  Associate Economic Development

Yesterday Little ranked at 28 (out of 32 MPs) with these roles:

  • Disarmament
  • Research and Development
  • Science and Innovation
  • Land Information
  • Associate Education (Tertiary) Spokesperson
  • Undersecretary to the Leader on Superannuation Issues.

Some similar roles but he has been dropped to Associate level on tertiary education. Chris Hipkins being given  Spokesperson for Tertiary Education may gall Cunliffe (which may be what was intended).

Claire Trevett comments on that last role of Undersecretary to the Leader in Andrew Little takes bull by the horns in Labour reshuffle:

After successive leaders tip toed around the issue of David Cunliffe, Little has finally been brave enough to take the bull by the horns and simply dump him down the rankings with little hope of any return flight.

The dumping has come with some glitter attached but all up, that simply makes it the proverbial polished turd.

Mr Cunliffe has effectively gone from being the leader to the ignominy of being an Under Secretary to the leader. It will mean Mr Cunliffe is charged with the “spade work” in developing options for the party’s policy on superannuation and reporting on those to Mr Little directly.

Mr Little insisted that under-secretary role was meaningful and a show of confidence in Mr Cunliffe. He managed to avoid answering the question of whether it was a signal Mr Cunliffe should call time.

In a comment by Northsider in Labour’s reshuffle announced today at The Standard it apears that Cunliffe supporters have also taken a hit.

Lees-Galloway supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
Shearer? ABC
Parker? ABC
Wall supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
Cosgrove? ABC
Nash? ABC and a owned by RWNJs.
Mahuta supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.

You may think that there is a pattern here, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

(ABC = the Anyone But Cunliffe club)

As leader Cunliffe struggled to get support in the Labour caucus but he had a strong niche of support amongst left wing activists.

It may not be helpful to Labour’s chances of rebuilding to have politically smacked them in the face along with Cunliffe.

And Chris Trotter also comments on Cunliffe’s enforced slide at The Daily Blog in Puppet On A String? Has Andrew Little become the plaything of Labour’s dominant factions?

Consigning David Cunliffe to the rear of the battlefield, and replacing Nanaia Mahuta with Kelvin Davis do not strike me as the decisions of a wise general. (Although they may be those of a panicky one.)

As a number of right-wing commentators have already pointed out, the treatment of Cunliffe is as wasteful of the man’s talent as it is self-indulgently vindictive.

It is interesting to speculate about how Cunliffe’s supporters in the broader Labour Party will respond to Little’s brutal treatment of him.

Some will recall the statespersonship of Helen Clark, who judiciously divided up the top jobs between her friends – and foes. Others will recall with some bitterness the assurances given to them by the Labour hierarchy at the party’s recent conference.

The bitter divisions of the past had been healed, they said. Caucus and party were now working together, they said.

Yeah, Right.

Cunliffe is down and seems to have been shown the way out of Labour’s caucus by Little.

Time will tell how that plays out with a small but very vocal pro-Cunliffe support base.



Labour reshuffle

More on the Labour reshuffle as it becomes available (nothing on their website or Facebook page yet).

The top twelve do generally look like a fairly new lineup but aren’t a lot different to those appointed last year.

  1. Andrew Little – no change
  2. Annette King – no change
  3. Grant Robertson – no change
  4. Phil Twyford  – up from 5
  5. Jacinda Ardern – up from 9
  6. Chris Hipkins  – no change
  7. Kelvin Davis – up from 8
  8. Carmel Sepuloni – down from 7
  9. David Clark – up from 10
  10. Megan Woods – up from 13
  11. David Parker – up from 15
  12. Nanaia Mahuta  down from 4

Out of the top 12 are Su’a William Sio (to 15) and Iain Lees-Galloway (to 14).

Little says he wants Trevor Mallard as Speaker. The rest outside the shadow cabinet should be considering their futures outside Parliament.

Reported yesterday in NZ Herald – Little rings in changes for Labour

Mr Little would not reveal details yesterday, but said the grounds on which he made his decisions were “hard work, freshness of ideas, and competence”.

Matching this with the Trans-Tasman ratings:

  1. Andrew Little 6 (down 1)
  2. Annette King 6.5 (down 1)
  3. Grant Robertson 4 (down 2.5)
  4. Phil Twyford 6 (no change)
  5. Jacinda Ardern 5 (no change)
  6. Chris Hipkins 6 (no change)
  7. Kelvin Davis 6 (N/A)
  8. Carmel Sepuloni 4 (N/A)
  9. David Clark 4 (down 1.5)
  10. Megan Woods 4 (down 2)
  11. David Parker 4 (down 2)
  12. Nanaia Mahuta 4 (up 1)

Trans Tasman 2015 ratings –

Trans-Tasman: top MP David Seymour

In their annual assessment of MP performance Trans Tasman has named rookie ACT MP for Epsom David Seymour as their top MP for 2015.

David Seymour, Epsom – 8.5

Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister of Education and Minister of Regulatory Reform.

What a performance from Seymour. Given a free ride into the House, made leader of a rump party, no one expected much of him. He has proved them all wrong, and become a strong positive MP. He’s been everywhere and is a hard worker – a real surprise. If anyone can make ACT relevant again, it’s Seymour – he’s the man.

This doesn’t surprise me.

Seymour showed potential when I heard him speak at the Act Southern Conference in the middle of last year. I also spoke to him in person and initial impressions were positive.

He then did the hard yards and won Epsom to get a seat back for ACT in Parliament.

He then had to deal with establishing his electorate presence in Epsom, re-establish an ACT Party presence in Parliament, work with the Government and make a mark for himself.

He seems to have managed all of this admirably.

And he is young and hard working enough to do more, possibly far more.

ACT’s big challenge is to find some candidates to build on Seymour’s success.

More from Trans-Tasman:

2015 Politician Of The Year – David Seymour While not exactly a political novice – he has form in student politics, and stood unsuccessfully twice in Auckland seats before getting elected, as well as being an adviser to then ACT leader John Banks, 32 year old David Seymour is in his first term in Parliament, he is a novice as a party leader, and coalition member. The surprise is how well he has performed, and the degree to which he seems to have made ACT a potential vote winner again. Sure he made the odd “coq” up, but no more than many of his colleagues.

He has handled his work with dedication, he is “everywhere” and he is a genuine talent. ACT’s charter school policies could turn out to be one of the successes of the coalition in policy terms and his move to ensure bars could open during the Rugby World Cup showed how in touch he is with public thinking.

He gets the nod as politician of the year because he is at the vanguard of a new wave of politicians – starting with a back to basics approach both in electorate and Parliamentary work.

He’s doing what a minor party should do under MMP – giving support, but making the Govt’s life difficult as well, and he is also doing it tactically. He has proven he can master the Parliamentary bun fight, now he needs to show he can make his party relevant.


Trans Tasman: best and worst of Labour

Stuff reports on Trans Tasman’s annual assessment of political performances in Trans-Tasman roll call – the best and worst of the 2015 political year.

Here are Labour MP assessments and ratings.

Labour fares little better, with transTasman saying it is still reeling from electoral defeat and Andrew Little’s ascension to the top job.

“He is battling to get his caucus behind him and to an extent has succeeded, but there are still many in the party’s ranks who should be looking to their futures – Clayton Cosgrove, David Cunliffe, David Parker and Trevor Mallard should all be looking for new jobs.”

Top five – Labour

Annette King – 6.5/10

Struggles to shake off the mantle of the 90s but is still a dominant force in the party. Labour will need her experience heading into a tough election in 2017.

Andrew Little – 6/10

Making a good first of the leadership, getting his MPs on side and on message. Still not using all his MPs strengths to full advantage. Polls need to move quickly and needs better advice.

Kelvin Davis – 6/10

Gets up the PM’s nose and has a social conscience… ready to be thrown into the attack and relishing it.

Chris Hipkins – 6/10

If Labour ever gets back into power, he will be at the top table.

Phil Twyford 6/10

Another of the young Labour stars who has worked his heart out on housing and transport issues. Deserves a big role in the next Labour Government.

Bottom five – Labour

Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene – 2/10

Another MP going nowhere fast. No prospect of advancement.

Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson – 2/10

Another Labour MP on her last legs. Needs to move on.

Mangere MP Su’a William Sio -2.5/10

His role is to deliver the Pacific Island vote and as long as he is there he probably will

List MP Clayton Cosgrove, Mana MP Kris Faafoi, Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare, List MP Sue Moroney, Manukau East MP Jenny Salesa, Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri  – 3/10

Cosgrove is “a shadow of his old self” and on the outer – probably time to go, says trans-Tasman. Of the others, it says Faafoi had promise, but is yet to deliver, Moroney has worked hard but “it’s not enough”, Salesa has talent but hasn’t shown it and Henare has had no memorable moments so far.

As for National their deputy ranks ahead of Labour’s leader, showing how important a capable deputy leader is.

No sign of Jacinda Ardern in the top five (nor the bottom ranks). She is rated 5/10:

Has done a good job of corralling the Auckland youth vote. Too close to Grant Robertson to have Deputy Leader aspirations. Didn’t deserve “pretty little thing” comment, but hasn’t exactly mastered her shadow portfolios. Still polled as 4th best preferred PM.

Grant Robertson should be worried about his rating, down from 6.5 to 4.

Floundering in the finance role, with generalised comments exposing his lack of knowledge. Isn’t making the traction he should and is relying on his cronies like David Clark too much to fill in the gaps. Not doing his party any favours.

It’s notable that for a party that puts some importance on gender balance apart from King who seems to be there for her long experience and ability to keep the caucus out of mishief the rest of the top performers are all male.

There’s more gender equality in the bottom perfomers.

It should be a major concern for Labour that their are 9 MPs rated 2-3 out of 10. That’s nearly a third of their caucus. The rest just about all have to make the shadow Cabinet being announced today.

Only 7 Labour MPs rate 5 or better. That’s also a major concern.

Trans-Tasman 2015 MP roll call

Trans Tasman: best and worst of National

Stuff reports on Trans Tasman’s annual assessment of political performances in Trans-Tasman roll call – the best and worst of the 2015 political year.

Here are National MP ratings.

National is starting to suffer third termitis, and some of its minister’s are burnt out. That’s the view of transTasman, which has just released its annual roll call, the publication MPs look forward to with equal parts excitement and dread.

National is showing signs of third-termitis and senior ministers like Gerry Brownlee and Murray McCully are looking tired, out of sorts, or burnt out.

“Some are looking to the future – [Speaker] David Carter looks as though he will be pleased to relinquish the Speaker’s chair for a Knighthood and a cushy foreign posting, where he will no longer have to be selectively deaf, while Tim Groser will also be looking forward to an ambassadorial posting”.

Top Five – National

Finance Minister Bill English –  8/10

“A foundation for the Government’s ongoing success. Dependable and canny as always, finally getting the books back into the black, even if only for a short time, has been a big deal for him. The power behind the throne.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully 8/10

“He has been a virtual blur this year, rushing through so many countries and doing so much. Failed to secure Middle East peace though. A strong year for the man, which has ended in a hospital bed. He made a massive effort.”

Prime Minister John Key – 7.5/10

Takes a tumble from last year’s rating of 9.5. His popularity is undented, despite ponytail gate and other controversies…..The flag debate may deflate his ego but he is still far and away New Zealand’s most popular leader.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams – 7.5/10

“We said she would be one to watch and she has added to that impression with strong performances across all her portfolios.”

Trade Minister Tim Groser – 7.5/10

“Another minister who has had a huge year and weathered some storms. He is expected to leave soon for a less pressured environment.”

Bottom five – National

List MP Paul Foster-Bell – 2/10

“Last year we suggested he sharpen up his act. He hasn’t.”

Taranaki MP Barbara Kuriger – 2/10

Says she wants ot help promote regional growth. Her own area is doing well but it’s clear she hasn’t had much impact anywhere else.”

List MP Melissa Lee- 2/10
“Probably should be considering another career. Her bus has well and truly pulled out.”

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith – 2/10

Replaced an MP who was a waste of space, but proving he’s better is tough as well, says transTasman.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, List MP Brett Hudson and List MP Nuk Korako – all on 2.5/10

On Simpson, transTasman says: “Can’t seem to get anyone’s attention outside the committee he chairs”. On Mitchell, they say:  “Another holder of a safe seat. A good example of why we should consider fixed terms for MPs.” Hudson: “We said he would have to prove he is anything more than a lightweight. So far still punching at his expected level.” Korako: A man considered genial by most, who has done nothing to change anyone’s opinion.

I think Bill England has been National’s most consistent and probably most valuable performer.

I don’t know about Murray McCully, he is out of sight most of the time, apart from the Saudi Farm debacle which should have marked him down substantially. He was lucky to survive in his job.

It will be hard for new National back benchers to make an impression amongst such a large caucus.

Trans-Tasman 2015 MP roll call

Little to announce reshuffle

Andrew Little is due to announce a Labour lineup reshuffle today. It’s going to be fascinating to see what he does. He says it is the last reshuffle planned before the 2017 election – two years is a long time in politics.

Little has to be seen to be significantly refreshing his lineup, something Labour has lacked over the last seven years.

This will be difficult when he has chosen to retain Annette King as his deputy despite saying she was being appointed for a year only after he won the leadership last year.

Little will have to promote ‘Ministers of the future’, also a challenge from a small talent pool.

But one of his biggest challenges will be how those he demotes and points at the parliamentary exit door will respond and behave until the next election.

One reason for retaining King is her ability to keep the lid on dissent and disatisfaction.

However Labour need to do do more than that. They somehow need to earn voter assent and satisfaction in their performance.

UPDATE: Reported in NZ Herald – Little rings in changes for Labour

Mr Little would not reveal details yesterday, but said the grounds on which he made his decisions were “hard work, freshness of ideas, and competence”.

Greens on RMA

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has spoken up about National’s proposed Resource Management Act reforms, expressing concerns that ‘people’ and ‘neighbours’ won’t get to have their say adequately.

Greens: RMA reforms will ‘lock people out of having their say’

The Green Party has criticised proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying the overhaul would leave many people out of the consultation loop.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the changes will leave too many people without the means to voice their opinion on changes in their neighbourhoods.

“The major part [of the legislation] will be locking people out of consultation and having a say,” Ms Turei told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

She says even under the current laws, only a relatively small number of people are actually involved in the process.

“More than 90 percent of the consents that are issued under the RMA are not notified, there’s only a really small proportion where people get a chance to have a say about what happens in their neighbourhood and we think their right to have a say should be protected.

“There are people who are affected by the decisions that other people make, they should have the right to say [something] about that.”

“We’re talking about people’s neighbourhoods; there are big issues in Auckland at the moment about the nature of development in Auckland City – should Aucklanders be locked out of having a say about what happens in their city?”

Turei seems to be confusing two things – people having their say (there’s many ways they can do that) and potentially bogging down RMA applications because some people want to stop anything changing in their neighbourhood.

This is already a real problem here in Turei’s electorate of Dunedin North, where people oppose building on the other side of the harbour to where they live (and other places) because they don’t like the look of it.

And it could get worse.

The Dunedin City Council is currently proposing a ‘second generation’ district plan. A proposal in that is to designate large areas of the city above the 100 m contour as a ‘significant landscape zone’. And thatb will significantly restrict what you can do with your land if it’s above 100 m in those zones.

A lot of Dunedin is over 100 m.

I have a special interest in this because I own properties that straddle the 100 m contour.

Under the new proposals if I want to build a building larger than 60 square metres I will need resource consent.

If I want tp build a house higher than single story or with paint greater than 30% luminosity or plant particular species of trees or a number of other things I will need notified resource consent.

So neighbours and people on the other side of the harbour will be able to have their say. And if past experience is anything to go by people will oppose.

The local Green dominated council and the Green Party want everyone to be happy before anything is built, and if someone doesn’t like the look of something in the distance then they can do more than have their say – they can stop people doing normal sorts of things with their own land.

There’s a vast difference between environmental protections (important) and allowing neighbours to have their say and prevent people douing what is not out of the ordinary on their own land.

This illustrates a major problem many people have with the Greens.

Just about everyone wants to protect the environment as much as possible, so having someone sticking up for environmental issues is great.

But most people don’t want severe restrictions on what they can do with their own land and property.

And they don’t want extreme Greenies preventing them from doing fairly normal and reasonable things with their own property just because the extreme Greenies have what they want and don’t like the look of something else.

Hooton lobbying or stirring over National leadership?

When a lobbyist floats leadership change of the governing party I’m naturally sceptical.

Bryce Edwards has tweeted about a paywalled column in NBR where by Matthew Hooton either promotes a National leadership change or is trying to stir one up.

Hooton has been floating ideas about Key needing to go or is due to be replaced for quite a while.

Matthew Hooton: “Joyce associates openly talking about leadership change” (paywalled) –  Rumours of Joyce becoming PM

Hooton says Nats caucus too docile to challenge if Key hands power over to Joyce: “MPs are not encouraged to ask questions or even speak.”

Hooton says National caucus now docile: “Caucus meetings are shorter than ever and are dominated by briefings by Messrs Key and Joyce”

Hooton: John Key’s “knighthood depends on him handing over to a National prime minister rather than losing an election to Labour”

It would be sad if Key’s leadership decision is based on the best way for him to get a knighhood.

I don’t think a knighthood would suit him. Would he still goof around?

If Key & Joyce waited til “Paula Bennett was out of the country, they would have a good chance of presenting a handover as a fait accompli”

Joyce “is sure he could do the retail aspects of the prime ministership – clowning around on commercial radio and so forth – as well as Key”

I don’t see Joyce in that role at all.

Hooton: Murray McCully “may seek the chairmanship of World Rugby, formerly the International Rugby Board, when it comes up in May”

I don’t know about the Chairmanship of World Rugby but it’s time for McCully to move on from politics.

And Joyce responded:

@bryce_edwards All complete rubbish from a commentator who has proven once again he is as close to the National Party as Catherine Delahunty

Crush the Speaker?

Parliament has been degenerating into a bigger shambles than usual with long simmering Opposition disgruntlement threatening to boil over.

The Speaker has been under increased criticism. It’s an unenviable position, with David Carter struggling to keep the House under control.

He’s not the strongest of Speakers but he is also bearing the brunt of Opposition parties failing to make much impact.

Rather than up their own performances a few Opposition MPs would appear to be keen on crushing the Speaker.

Rather than look at their own incompetence they have increasingly taken to blaming the referee.

In MPs playing for yellow card Stacey Kirk suggests Carter may be moved on soon anyway…

But then what more exacting cue for an exit stage-left, with speculation pointing to a plum diplomatic posting for him – perhaps London or Ottawa – at the next Government reshuffle

…and explores the alternatives.

Maurice Williamson

Ask around Parliament and many would say Maurice Williamson would be a sound, and potentially hilarious, choice as Carter’s successor (which is likely why John Key won’t pick him).

A position best served to a senior politician on a downward trajectory – Williamson ticks that box.

Most importantly, his appointment could bring a return to what opposition MPs deem fundamental to Question Time: Ministers may actually be expected to answer questions.

A change of Opposition attitude and asking better questions might also help.

Gerry Brownlee

Perhaps it’s for that very reason Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee appears to be the front-runner, raising fears about what that might mean for political journalists.

He displays an obvious and growing disdain for the Press Gallery, overheard once lamenting how “bloody young” they are, and is a regular complainer about their actions in the corridors of power.

The Speaker’s job is to facilitate debate inb the house though. It’s the MPs job to feed the journalists with stories.

Other names murmured as outside chances include Anne Tolley and Jonathan Coleman. Both seem unlikely.

Anne Tolley

Tolley is determined to oversee massive reform of Child, Youth and Family, which has barely begun.

Jonathan Coleman

Coleman is hardly in the twilight of his career.

In fact, his name has also been thrown in conversations discussing the next Minister for Foreign Affairs. That at least makes more sense than Speaker, him already having proven himself in the understudy role of Defence Minister.

But the doctor appears to have hit his stride in Health and, while ambitious, Foreign Affairs is a tough ask for anyone with a young family.

Any other candidates for a new Speaker?

What about Judith Collins? In practical term she is probably in the twilight of her career, although I don’t know if she’s ready to accept that yet or not.

Crush the Speaker?

Dunne on Labour, Little and poll responds

In his weekly blog post Peter Dunne has criticised Labour for being too negative and having lost their soul.

Sadly, today’s Labour Party is but a shadow of its bold predecessors. There is no sense of future direction or purpose, and even in its rare positive moments, the Party’s best offerings seem to be a hankering for yesteryear.

The boldness in politics is now coming from the National Party – formed primarily to oppose the first Labour government – with no more striking example than its Budget decision this year to lift basic benefit payments, the first such upward adjustment in over 40 years(including the 3rd to 5th Labour Governments). Labour, the traditional friend of the beneficiary, was left gasping in its wake.

Labour’s challenge today is to recover its soul and its place. In this post market age, there is a still a role for a radical reforming party of the left, if it is prepared to be bold.

There is the opportunity to pull together the threads of the Labour heroes and promote a new commitment based around strengthening New Zealand’s national identity through constitutional and social reform, and encouraging diversity.

There is still a place for a progressive party promising a new, more co-operative economic approach in today’s globally digitally and free trade connected world. And there is still a place for a progressive party to promote new, innovative approaches to education and social services.

But rather than grasp these opportunities, Labour has become predeterminedly negative. While it supports a new New Zealand flag, it opposes the current referendum process, essentially because it is a National Prime Minister’s idea.

Its approach to economic policy is stalled because it cannot make up its mind on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Its stigmatising of people with Chinese sounding names buying property in Auckland has robbed it of any credibility in the diversity stakes, and its capacity to champion meaningful education reform is zero while it remains the plaything of the PPTA.

Andrew Little responded – Stuff reports Little says Labour’s job is to ‘contest and challenge’ the Government:

Little rubbished Dunne’s comments saying in Opposition there was a job to be done and that is to “contest and challenge what the Government of the day is doing”.

“This is from a man who left the Labour Party and is now a party of one,” he said from Sydney where he is visiting New Zealand-born detainees at Villawood Detention Centre.

“You’ve got a job also to come up with the alternative ideas but you’ve got situations like this, a bunch of Kiwis who are looking for a voice, and somebody’s got to step in,” Little said.

And Dunne responded to that on Twitter:

Poor old angry Andy, just proves my point

And Stuff have run an online poll (take with a grain of salt):

Has Labour lost it’s way?

  • Yes, it’s too negative 26%
  • Yes, It’s not innovative or bold enough 12%
  • Yes, both of the above 41%
  • No, it’s fine 21%



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