Andrew Little – cautious on cannabis

Duncan Garner looked at the cannabis issue and interviewed Green spokesperson Kevin Hague and Labour leader Andrew Little about their views on cannabis on RadioLive.

Andrew Little – “So my approach is proceed with caution”.

There’s likely to be as much political caution as caution over cannabis. But if encouraged Little should at least join the debate and not sweep it under the carpet as most parties and politicians have kept doing up until now.

SHOULD WE LEGALISE CANNABIS? GREENS AND LABOUR SAY LET’S THINK ABOUT IT

Another US state has legalised cannabis so Duncan Garner asked his listeners if it’s time we did the same in New Zealand and got a resounding “yes”.

More than 1000 people voted in his poll, with, at the time of writing, 86% of people saying New Zealand should follow the likes of Colorado, Uruguay, the Netherlands and North Korea and legalise cannabis.

Transcript of the Andrew Little interview.

Garner: We’ve had this debate this afternoon around the legalisation of cannabis, we’ve got a poll up and man it’s been phenomenal, 86% replied (saying cannabis should be legalised), 2000 votes. We’ve had Kevin Hague on, he says it is actually time for this debate to actually occur given what’s happening in America, around four different states either decriminalise or legalised.

What’s your position on decriminalising cannabis?

Little: Yeah up to now I think we’ve, my personal view is I’ve approached it very cautiously. I mean I, when I was a union lawyer I did a lot of cases of the drug and testing in workplaces and all that sort of stuff.

The studies I did of it, the thing that came out of it for me was that a lot of the cannabis in New Zealand, that’s grown in New Zealand has such a high THC level it’s actually different to cannabis sold in other countries, so that’s an area of danger.

But having said that I’d be keen to have a look and see what the experience has been of States like you know Washington and the other states that have adopted decriminalisation more recently and just see what the experience has been and see whether there is something we can learn from it.

I’d never say no to it but I’d say we’ve got to approach this with considerable caution.

It sounds like Little wants to approach it with considerable caution. A lot has already been learnt from overseas experience going back many years.

Garner: Right, considerable caution because it could be politically not viable, it might make you unpopular? Or because you believe in it’s worth having a debate?

Little: Oh no given that my honeymoon’s over, I’m used to the unpopularity…

Garner: Yes it is over, you don’t want a long honeymoon mate, you don’t want a long honeymoon…

Little: I’m more concerned about the public health and safety aspects of it and given the conditions here. That’s the issue for me.

There are already health and safety aspects as things are. And legal and social issues. But how we currently deal with it isn’t working very well.

I think since i was up at the Auckland University quad yesterday, part of the ? week, I talked to some of the young folks there and that issue came up.

Unprompted just raised that issue with me. So there’s clearly a discussion going on out there though and you know we need to be part of it.

The discussion has been going on for a long time.

Garner: When you discuss these things obviously you get those headlines out, ‘Little supports decriminalisation’, I mean is that a fair headline or not?

Little: (pause) no that would be an unfair headline at the moment because I, I’m not, I don’t, I know there is an issue there. I’d like to look more closely at it. I’d like to  look at the experience of the American states that have decriminalised.

But I draw on my own personal experience and the research I’ve done when I was a union lawyer, to say there is an issue here that is not as easy just to say let’s decriminalise, let’s open it up.

So my approach is proceed with caution.

Garner: Proceed with caution but at least start to look at what’s happening in America.

Little: Have a look, and lets have the debate. Ah and lets get some facts, lets shine some facts on the issue. Lets not just react emotionally but lets have the debate, get the facts and proceed with caution.

There’s a lot of facts known already. It’s the debate that’s been lacking, assiduously avoided by politicians.

Little is being ultra cautious here.

To be fair to him it’s early in his time as leader and he will need to work through it within Labour. At least that’s what he should be doing.

I know there’s a will in (part of) Labour caucus to address the cannabis issue. And there’s likely to be strong support in the Labour constituency to address the issue. And in the wider population.

Little needs to be encouraged and if necessary pressured to pick up the cannabis ball and run with it. Serious political debate on it is long overdue.

Public, Greens and Labour favour action on cannabis law

Duncan Garner has been asking his listeners and Kevin Hague and Andrew Little about addressing cannabis law.

Should we legalise cannabis? Greens and Labour say let’s think about it

We should do more than think about it, we should be doing something about it.

More than 1000 people voted in his poll, with, at the time of writing, 86% of people saying New Zealand should follow the likes of Colorado, Uruguay, the Netherlands and North Korea and legalise cannabis.

Majority public support (albeit an self selecting online poll).

Green Party drugs policy spokesperson Kevin Hague said evidence shows legalisation leads to reduced harm from cannabis.

“We need to go to legalisation with regulation, which is pretty much the approach we take with alcohol, which is New Zealand’s most popular drug,” Hague said.

And…

Labour Party leader Andrew Little said New Zealand should see what the experience is in US states where cannabis has been legalised but “proceed with caution”.

There’s increasing change to loosening cannabis laws around the world, it’s past time we should look at similar here.

RadioLive interviews with Hague and Little at the link, Should we legalise cannabis? Greens and Labour say let’s think about it.

Follow https://twitter.com/nzdrug

Andrew Little and The Voice of Reason

‘The Voice of Reason’ was a regular commenter at The Standard for years. That was highly ironic considering that he  was consistently on of the most vindictive lying abusers of anyone deemed a political enemy at The Standard.

A few years ago TVOR changed his name to a Maori equivalent, Te Reo Putake.That’s an insult to te reo.

(And incidentally made a mistake indicating he used multiple pseudonyms at one stage).

This came up recently:

Travellerev:
Te Reo Putake might mean the Voice Of Reason but for God’s sake, his is the voice of insanity

The Murphey:
Is it possible to be a ‘voice of reason’ when one’s bias is so openly illustrated via fear a fearful and scared perspective in his commentary’s ?

Te Reo Putake:
Yes, it is. I chose the voice of reason to wind up righties. As you can see from travellerev’s comment, it still works beautifully.

That’s about as stupid as ‘Redbaiter’. Another indicator:

If I can be the voice of reason for a moment, I hope that Standardistas won’t gloat over this news, after all innocent until proven guilty and just because he’s a hypocritical bullying piece of shit doesn’t mean that, ha … stop it, musn’t laugh … ha, ha, ha … no, really … ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh lordy this is too good , ha ha ha ha, not able to be company director if bankrupt, ha ha ha, Freed dead in the water ha ha ha ha …. sorry, I’ll be back when I’ve composed myself. Now, what was I saying?

There’s more irony in that than at Taharoa. Especially “hypocritical bullying piece of”…

Te Reo Putake on Little’s leadership win:

Pretty pleased with this result. Well done, Andrew. And well done to the other candidates, too. I hope Andrew asks caucus to elect Jacinda deputy. It would be the right move.

This election shows that NZLP now has a mature internal democracy, and that we can elect our leaders in public, rather than in the boardroom. A lot of the credit should go to Moira Coatsworth. The democratisation process she has lead has gone a long way to making the party a more enjoyable place to be.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post that said if Andrew ran, he would win. I’m going to go for the second leg of the quinella; Andrew Little will be NZ’s next Prime Minister. You read it here first, Standardistas!

“That we can elect our leaders in public” indicates that TRP is a member of ‘we’. He also attends Labour Party conferences – “Conference is going to be great fun, whatever happens. I’m looking forward to attending.”

An indication of local political interests:

Iain LG is a long way from “undistinguished”. He has held Palmy against a concerted effort from the Tories for 3 elections and for one term was the only provincial Labour MP. He successfully promoted David Cunliffe for the leadership, and was elected as junior whip. He clearly has Andrew Little’s ear as well. Even more significantly, he has also built a formidable local electorate team that is easily the best in Labour for canvassing and publicity and is a model for how to campaign successfully. Even John Key acknowleged his work, commenting to Banksie in the teapot tapes that he was unbeatable in the seat.

“A formidable local electorate team that is easily the best in Labour for canvassing and publicity” may coincide with TRP taking a break from blogging before the last election, but I’m not sure that is usual behaviour on The Standard “a model for how to campaign successfully”.

And a hint of union association:

Nah, it turns out Little didn’t give PRC “a clean bill of health”. In one of the links above he’s quoted incorrectly in reference to the site health and safety committee and a second factual quote is misused to give a false impression to fool readers (including Phil F., apparently). Opinion masquerading as fact.

What is true is that the union could have done better, but as it was never told by the workers on site that there were issues and the company went out of its way to undermine safe mining best practice (including offering bonuses to workers to ignore the problems and just get the coal moving), it’s understandable.

More importantly, it was hardly a matter the then National Secretary would know anything about prior to the explosion. He was based in Wellington, running the union as a manager, not doing the organising work of the local union rep and site delegates in Hokitika.

Ironic seeing TRP criticising “he’s quoted incorrectly” and “opinion masquerading as fact” when that’s one of his trademarks on The Standard.

“Andrew and I”:

“You and Little are saying that contractors aren’t workers.”

Correct. Andrew and I both know the law. Now you know it. Isn’t the Standard great like that?

“Some how because they aren’t workers it makes a difference?”

Yep, there is a difference. Workers are paid on a regular basis (weekly, fortnightly etc.). Contactors are generally paid on the 20th of the month following an invoice being sent. So, it can be up to seven weeks after the work is done that it is even due to be paid. Mind you in NZ there is a lag in payment that can drag on for weeks beyond that, (particularly in media!) so there is nothing unusual in Cohen having to wait.

You get a picture of who is behind pseudonyms over time, and that’s just a few from a short period.

This is as a commenter at The Standard but recently TRP elevated himself to become an author as well (of a blog that’s not Labour Party as lprent adamantly keeps reminding).

I thought his posts were quite good, and I thought his behaviour might change to reflect more responsibility.

But as shown in Same old TRP hasn’t discarded his dirty spots. It didn’t take much to prove that. And trying to use his ‘author’ status to threaten banning if I gave as good as I got suggests a certain amount of gutlessness.

Prentice protected and tried to excuse his behaviour – “TRP was winding you up“. So repeated lying and abuse is “winding up” and fighting back is banned, literally.

Apart from some association via the Labour Party (and union background) Andrew Little doesn’t have anything to do with what happens at The Standard.

But unfortunately what happens at The Standard reflects on him and on Labour, and often very poorly.

Little notably told John key to “Cut the crap!”. Unfortunately for him and Labour there’s more chance of Key taking his advice than Prentice and TRP.

It’s a shame that this sort of behaviour overshadows the reputation of The Standard, and it must be annoying for authors who try to do a good job like Greg Presland and Anthony Robins.

However they choose to be associated with the crap, and they choose to do nothing (openly at least) in stemming the crap. In fact Presland supported TRP on Sunday by also threatening a ban for challenging his crap, so despite his good intent as an author he’s an integral part of the problem.

And this is a problem for Andrew Little, because The Standard is the main face of Labour in the blogging world, and they continually lie and abuse and chase away anyone not deemed a suitable member of the club.

Andrew Little has so far succeeded because he often genuinely sounds like a voice of reason. Even is caucus seems to have woken up to the reality that perpetual infighting is tantamount to perpetual Opposition.

But Labour activists are stuck in a dirty rut at The Standard.

I gave Te Reo Putake a chance to reconsider his lying abusive behaviour on Sunday and he chose to re-emphasise his dirty approach rather than retract.

The crap is unlikely to be cut. They keep shitting in their own and Labour’s nest.

Little and Goff contradictions over Iraq

Like just about everyone Andrew Little has trouble taking one consistent stance on Iraq. NZ Herald report on his meeting with Tony Abbott:

Labour leader Andrew Little told Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in their private meeting that Australia’s air strikes against Isis in Iraq make sense because the Iraqis were saying air strikes were making a difference.

So it makes sense to listen to what the Iraqis want regarding air strikes.

But he also told Mr Abbott that the plan for New Zealand and Australia to train Iraqi troops was an exercise in futility because it would be “propping up a corrupt and dysfunctional army”.

But it’s futile to listen to what Iraq wants regarding training their troops.

This sounds like cherry picking points of political convenience. And I wonder what Little’s stance on providing training assistance would be if he were in Government.

And John Key pointed out another contradiction.

Mr Little yesterday said a stable Middle East was in New Zealand’s interests but it was not going to be achieved with 16 trainers and 120 logistics and security personnel for two years. “It’s too small to make a difference.”

Mr Key said yesterday that the same parties who say New Zealand won’t make a difference in Iraq were the same ones that said New Zealand should make a stand against climate change “and when I say we’re only 0.14 per cent of world emissions, they say it doesn’t matter that we’re small”.

That’s the reality of politics – if you deal with many issues it becomes easy to find contradictory approaches (Key won’t be immune from this).

And especially it’s a reality of the Middle East. It’s such a complex situation, where becoming allies with prior enemies isn’t uncommon.

Another contradiction was highlighted by Phil Goff on Q & A yesterday.

Firstly to you, Mr Goff. Labour’s opposition to military action here – what is it in a nutshell?

GOFF: In a nutshell, it’s because this is a high-risk venture that is probably the least effective thing that we could do to stop ISIS. I’m totally opposed to ISIS. I think there are some really effective things that we could do.
We could be providing humanitarian assistance. There are 13 million people in refugee camps in this region, not only from ISIS, but from some of the other regimes that are just as brutal.

What sort of systems are you talking about?

GOFF: Just keeping people alive, giving them healthcare, giving them food, giving them proper accommodation. The $35 million that we are spending on putting troops into Iraq so that we will have 16 trainers – that money could make a real difference in keeping people alive in those refugee camps.

Even humanitarian aid workers are at risk. You’re putting them at risk without any military support. We’ve seen them being beheaded.

GOFF: No, we’ve done this before. We provide our assistance through people on the ground from the region who deliver that aid.

It’s high risk to deploy our troops to help train the Iraqi army, but Goff downplays the risks faced by humanitarian workers, who are targeted as beheadable pawns by ISIS.

Nevertheless, you have lost this battle – hey are going – and your Labour counterparts in Canada, the UK, Australia have all backed their government in this. Why not Labour now? You know it’s going to happen.

GOFF: Because we believe in an independent foreign policy. We make our own judgement. John Key is making his own judgement.

An independent foreign policy doesn’t rule out doing what some other independent countries choose to do.

GOFF: We have made the hard decisions as a Labour government time and time again. I was part of the decision to send people into Afghanistan, to the Solomon Islands, to Timor.

Those were decisions where you had a clearly achievable objective. There was risk. We were prepared to take that risk, but we were going to achieve our objectives and we did. In this case, trying to do something with the Iraqi army with its 50,000 ghost soldiers, it’s ineffectual.

I’m sure those decisions weren’t independent of what other countries were doing. Trying to sort out Afghanistan was seen as futile – and it’s questionable whether ‘clearly achievable objectives’ have been achieved. Any improvements taken time and effort but there are still significant issues there.

There are animosities that have been entrenched and stirred up for millennia in the Middle east. It’s hard to see how anyone can win there.

And it’s difficult for politicians in New Zealand to take non-contradictory stances on what should be done.

Little assures 100 percent Labour effort in Northland

Now Winston Peters has confirmed he is standing in the Northland by-election Andreww Little has made it clear Labour won’t stand aside or wink wink to help Peters.

Stuff report:

Labour won’t stand aside its candidate in the Northland by-election following NZ First leader Winston Peters’ confirmation that he is contesting the seat.

Labour had already confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate and leader Andrew Little said yesterday he had not considered standing her aside to allow Peters an advantage – and would not do so.

“We’re backing her 100 per cent.”

National should not take the seat for granted, said Little. He sensed constituents were annoyed that Mike Sabin, who resigned as National MP earlier this month because of personal circumstances, had let them down.

The seat was “anyone’s game”, and Prime was well known in Northland as a Far North District councillor, Little said.

Despite Bradbury dreaming about Peters and Northland this confirms Labour’s commitment to contesting the by-election.

They would have been nuts for Labour to stand aside to give Peters an easier campaign. That would have eneded uip embarrassing both Peters and Labour.

In the meantime Bradbury takes credit for predicting

As TDB suggested, Winston Peters will be running in the Northland by-election.

However in that post Bradbury also said:

It all depends on how willing the opposition parties are to being co-operative to take away National’s majority without needing United Future or the Maori Party.

Now he’s still in dreamland. Labour say there’s going to be no co-operating with Peters.

If Labour can work with Winston in Northland it will ask questions why they couldn’t do it with Hone in Te Tai Tokerau. If Labour and NZ First work together it will also mean the Greens have their work cut out for them in 2017 to prevent Labour and NZ First screwing them again.

Any Labour-NZ First minority Government would be a blow to progressive politics.

That’s about all Bradbury has got to hope for. He seems to have moved on from Internet-Mana as the revolutionaries.

Hoping for Peters to win against both National and Labour seems like wishful thinking. And that thinking isn’t shared bu some of the comments at The Daily Bliog.

CleanGreen backs it “1000% Martyn”:

Time is nigh for Labour to play Key’s game and win as voted for Labour to do this for us.

Forget the past and collectively combine to allow Winston to save our parliamentary system by setting a level playing field with equal votes after Winston takes Sabin’s electorate and helps turn our fortunes around finally after six long hard nightmare years.

Smarten up Labour play key at his own game for a change.

But Chris McMahon is more realistic.

there’s as much chance of Labour not standing as there is of the corrupt Iraqi army defeating ISIS.

Donald predictyed Labour’s stance:

I highly doubt Labour will stand down. Also this private poll sounds a little dubious.

Peters has stated he has not done any polling, so Bradbury’s poll claim looks even more dubious.

Sleepy:

A safe seat, a low voter turnout, National will win this by election easily.

Winston will not win.

While it’s not over until the counting that seems a likely outcome.

Andrewe Little has said it’s a very tall order for Labour, and Peters is likely to split Labour’s vote making it harder for either to win.

Bennett accusations follow Sepuloni stand down

Paula Bennet has been accused of complicity in the standing down of Labour welfare spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.

One News reports that Labour welfare spokesperson stood down as mother faces benefit fraud charges.

The Labour Party’s welfare spokesperson has been stood down from that role following a ONE News revelation.

Mr Little decided to stand Carmel Sepuloni down after ONE News revealed the accusations against her mother.

Beverley Anne Sepuloni is due to appear in the New Plymouth District Court tomorrow morning on 19 charges laid a month ago. She’s accused of claiming the sickness benefit in 2006 when she shouldn’t have. She’s also accused of applying for the disability allowance in 2008 when she shouldn’t have.

It’s alleged she claimed rent subsidies between 2003 and 2010 which she wasn’t entitled to. And she’s also accused of failing to tell welfare officials – for 10-and-a-half years – that she was living with a partner.

So that sounds like something that’s sad and embarrassing for Sepuloni but Andrew Little acted quickly and appropriately once the news broke.

It could raise questions but until facts are known and the outcome of the case is known that’s as far as this story should go.

Except that at The Standard some commenters have turned it around into dirty smears against Paula Bennett.

Lynn Prentice posted Carmel stood down for possible conflict of interest.

I have to say that this is such a relief after having many years of  dithering around the Labour caucus in many previous incidents since I started with this blog. Good on Carmel and Andrew!

With what is currently known that should be what the story is about so far, embarrassing for Sepuloni but appropriate action by Little.

But Prentice also said:

While I’m sure that we will still get the dribbling trolls, this is how potential conflicts of interest should be handled.

He was right, some commenters have questioned what Sepuloni might have known. That is yet to be determined.

But the major trolling emeregd as attacking smears on Paula Bennett, absent any evidence.

Anne:

Yes, mickysavage! I’m too angry to say too much at thIs moment, but I will repeat two words in capital letters:

PAULA BENNETT?

Ant:

Yeah, wouldn’t be surprised if they chucked Carmel’s whole family under the microscope after she became opposition spokesperson, they can be a vindictive bunch.

Felix:

Standard operating procedure for this government suggests the opposite. It’s actually more of a stretch to assume they had nothing to do with it.

Ed:

Obviously the thought was that perhaps Paula Bennett had been advised of an upcoming prosecution, and seeing a fairly unusual name made further enquiries. If that is the case (and it may of course not be), I hope the reporter does let Carmel know where the information came from . . .

DoublePlusGood

I think it’s also possible that Bennett ordered some digging on the Sepuloni name, and went after the mother.

Alpha z

paula bennet minster for welfare, & opposit of carmel sepuloni at parlement & elections. may be extra special utu from bennet & Tolley against carmel. can be or not, but I think yes.

ankerrawshark:

I too wonder where TVNZ got the heads up from/??? Wouldn’t put it past the Nacts….

So the resident Standard trolls have turned a positive Labour story into a smearfest.

And in contrast to assuming Bennett’s guilt some assume Sepuloni (senior) must be innocent, like Murray Rawshark:

Standing down is the right thing to do in these circumstances, even though her mum is most likely innocent. Many cases of so-called benefit fraud arise because WINZ are so useless and incompetent.

Different standards of presumed guilt or innocence based on politics.

Beverley Anne Sepuloni is due to appear in the New Plymouth District Court this morning. The media isn’t totally reliant on tip-offs from politicians. This  would have become public knowledge without any help from Bennett or National so why would they get involved?

And if someone did alert One News so what? Andrew Little saw it as important enough to stand down his spokesperson as a precaution. The sooner he found out the better.

And the sooner Carmel Sepuloni found out the better as well.

Andrew Little’s response to the Ministerial Statement on Iraq

Ministerial Statements

Iraq— Deployment of Troops

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition):

The decision of any Government to send troops to a conflict zone is a very serious one, and it is right that this House takes time and is detained in its usual duties to consider it, to debate it, and, ideally, to vote on it, but we will not have that chance today. We will at least have a chance to talk about it today, but the truth is this decision was made some time ago.

The Governments of Australia and Iraq were told about the decision last night, and the people of New Zealand have been told about the decision and the details of the deployment of New Zealand troops to Iraq this afternoon. But as I say, it is very clear: this decision was made some time ago, and I venture to suggest it was made for a range of different reasons that have not been outlined today.

Labour’s position is clear: we should not send troops to Iraq. There is no case to do so. We have all seen the images coming out of Iraq, the images from the Islamic State, its barbarism, its brutality, and its evil, and there would not be a New Zealander sitting in their home who has seen those images whose stomach would not have been turned and who would not have been impressed upon in a very nasty way by what they have seen.

But let us be clear about what we are dealing with. They call themselves Islamic State, but they are not a State.

They want to establish a caliphate, a medieval form of social organisation and control, but they are not within a single border; they run across borders. They are cultural, they are ethnic, they are religious, and they are driven by a number of different motivations. They are not a nation State in the way that we typically recognise; they are a grouping, an organisation, a movement, and they draw their support accordingly. Islamic State is not confined to Iraq.

It is in Syria, it is Libya, and—as we know, and as the Prime Minister acknowledged—it is adherents can turn up anywhere in the world. Islamic State is a repository of the dispossessed, the marginalised, the fanatical, the extreme, and, yes, the evil, but it is not a conventional enemy and the circumstances in which we are being asked to fight it or train others to fight it in Iraq are not conventional.

We are told we are sending troops to train the Iraqi army. The Prime Minister says they will be behind the wire but we know they will not be. They cannot stick there, they cannot stay there, that is not all they will do. They will not just be behind the wire; they will be exposed to the much wider conflict and it will not be just the soldiers we send to the Iraq, it will be Kiwis travelling around the world.

So we need to ask ourselves—and a Government exercising this decision in a responsible way will ask itself—what it is that we are being asked to do, or that our people are being asked to do, that will put our people at risk that has not been tried before. What are they being asked to do that has not been done before? What is it about what they will do that will succeed where others have failed?

After 10 years of training of the Iraqi army by the US army, after $25 billion of assistance to the Iraqi army, what impact will we have, what can we hope to achieve? In the weeks that the Prime Minister has been talking about this issue since his speech at the end of the last year the case has not been put. New Zealanders are none the wiser and we do not support the decision.

Where does Islamic State come from? It comes from a number of factors. The first is the failure of the Iraqi army—an army that is demoralised, that is poorly led, poorly organised, riven with corruption, and it has been like that for 10 years, and we think that by sending a very modest force as part of a multinational group we are going to achieve what the US army has not been able achieve for 10 years.

Islamic State comes from the failure of Government—the Iraqi Government, which has struggled to come to terms with the responsibility of being an open and transparent and diverse Government. It comes from the failure of Government to change Iraq as a nation State and rebuild its economy.

So young Muslims are shut out of a future, shut out of a livelihood, and they retreat to the hands and the arms of Islamic State. We will not fix the Iraqi army and those whom we join up there—and it will not be the soldiers of 62 other nations; it will be five nations—will not fix the army.

It is disorganised, it is broken, it is treacherous, and it is corrupt. I take the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Dr al-Jaafari, when he says that the request for assistance is not just for military assistance; in fact, it is not even the priority. He diplomatically told us that civil reconstruction is equally important if not more so, and it is clear to me that that is what is more important. We will not defeat—no one will defeat—Islamic State through the Iraqi army.

We will deal with it when we deal with the underlying causes and we will deal with the underlying unrest that is spread across that region. There is something useful we can contribute and it is about turning Iraq into a functioning, viable nation State.

To do that, they need an effective Government. Dr al-Jaafari was very clear. They need advice on good Government and we will help them when we assist them with economic reconstruction. They know that they need to move away from dependency on oil. They know that they need to build an agriculture sector. They know that they need to build horticulture and industry.

Those are the things that will last a long time, that will build a nation State, that will give confidence to a people and enable them to take back their land and control of their country. New Zealand has a reputation abroad as an honest broker.

We have not won our seat on the United Nations Security Council for no reason at all. We won it overwhelmingly in the first ballot, hands down, because of our reputation as a responsible, reputable global citizen. We have the opportunity to provide leadership in a way that we have not for a long time before, and we should do that.

We should do that on this issue. We should do that on this issue to help rebuild Iraq. We should do that on this issue to turn back the militants, the extremists, the fanatics who pose a threat to world peace. That is what we can do when we provide assistance with civilian reconstruction to countries like Iraq.

It is wrong to say that the only request for assistance was for military assistance, because that is not where the request stopped. There is another point: when we send our troops to this conflict zone without clarification, understanding, or certainty about the status of those troops in that country, we are exposing them to even greater risk.

If we cannot achieve a status of forces agreement with Iraq, then that says something about that country and the support for this mission by those people, and we should not expose our troops to that risk and to that threat.

We have a unique opportunity for moral leadership to show that there is a different way, a long-term way, and a lasting way to address the conflicts and the hatreds that exist in the world and in that region, and that is through supporting nation States—fledgling nation States, in some cases—to come to terms with their responsibilities, rebuild their economies, rebuild their communities, and give themselves the confidence and the means to repel the evil that is represented by Islamic State . We have turned our back on that option. Labour is opposed to sending troops to Iraq.

Andrew Little’s leader’s office appointments

The leadership roles in Andrew Little’s office have been confirmed.

  • Chief of Staff: Matt McCarten
  • Political Director: Neale Jones
  • Director of Media and Communications: Sarah Stuart
  • Director of Research and Policy: Martin Taylor

McCarten’s background is well known, both political and union. His appointment by David Cunliffe last year raised a few eyebrows as he had close associations with Mana. His re-appointment by Little also surprised some.

Neale Jones also has a union background, he is ex comminucations manager for EPMU, the union Little used to head before switching to Parliament. Martyn Bradbury on Jones in 2013:

Cunliffe’s new head of communications is likely to be Neil Jones, currently doing a similar job for the Engineering, Publishing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU). Jones has been out of the country for the last few years, working on a contract basis for a number of progressive, campaigning NGOs. Also in his early 30s, he is highly thought of by his peers in the trade unions who describe him variously as “really on to it” and “an impressive guy”.

(Neale) Jones was appointed by Cunliffe as head of communications. This is a different role for him.

Last year Josie Pagani named Jones as a Labour staffer who blogged at The Standard but that hasn’t been confirmed (or specifically denied as far as I’m aware). It would be surprising if Little allowed staff to blog anonymously directly but it would be normaly for the communications directory to communicate with bloggers as well as journalists.

David Farrar on Sarah Stuart in Labour’s new chief press secretary.

Sarah is a former Deputy Editor of the Herald on Sunday, during its start up phase when it went from no customers to winning many awards. Since then she went on to be managing editor of the APN regional and community papers and then two years editing NZ Woman’s Weekly. She has a formidable media background, as both a journalist and an editor.

I think this is a strong appointment for Labour. Her background in both hard and soft news will be useful as they try to get Little’s brand set as a positive one. She should also be able to manage relations well with the press gallery. I’ve not had any dealings with Sarah for many years, but all my experiences has been she is very pleasant and likeable (which helps in dealing with a diverse caucus).

Social media may be a challenge for her, but that is what you have staff for.

On Martin Taylor from Hamish Rutherford at Stuff.

From time to time political parties are accused of giving plum jobs to party faithful, but it appears Labour has not done so in its appointment of new research director, Martin Taylor.

True, Taylor (according to Beehive people) used to work in the office of former Attorney-General and Labour Minister Margaret Wilson, but since then, Taylor has been been chief executive of the Aged Care Association. A carer of the elderly he may be, but he is not an obvious supporter of the union movement.

Check out this release from Taylor in 2011:

“The Labour Party’s Aged Care policy released today by Steve Chadwick has ignored the findings of a 2010 national review into the Aged Care sector and instead proposes policies they rejected themselves when in Government. The policy also mirrors the Nurses’ union ‘Aged Care Charter’ released to Parliament today and which also ignores the critical issues facing the sector.”

Weeks later Taylor wrote that both Labour and National were in a “state of denial” over the issues facing the aged care sector.

Last year the Aged Care Association issued a series of statements warning about the implications of the Kristine Bartlett vs. Terranova Homes and Care Ltd case (a test case for aged care workers fighting for higher wages.

“For the aged care sector it is a big concern. The majority of the sector is standalone SMEs or not-for-profit providers, and they will not be able to survive if caregiver wages increase by 15 per cent without a supporting increase in government funding,” Taylor said.

Admittedly, Taylor said in another statement on the case that the organisation acknowledged that “caregiver wages are too low” as it pushed for the government to increase the amount it paid aged care providers.

That’s an interesting appointment in an office with strong union representation.

Farrar on the team:

Little has also confirmed former EPMU staffer Neale Jones as the party’s political director in Parliament and Martin Taylor as their research director. A good staff team don’t win you an election (the leader does that), but a non performing team can stop you winning. Little’s picks are looking quite sound.

Little’s Green snub may benefit intelligence review

Fran O’Sullivan: Little relegates Greens to sidelines

Norman is now claiming the two old parties have colluded to entrench the enormous powers of the Prime Minister and his spy agencies behind a “facade of pretend accountability” and that a “duopoly of illegal” spying will be maintained without any independent oversight.

The counter-factual to Norman’s hyperbole is that his own independent oversight at the committee level clearly hadn’t stopped what he complains about.

Why do Greens think that Turei would stop more than Norman who doesn’t appear to have achieved much?

If “a “duopoly of illegal” spying will be maintained then Norman hasn’t been very effective. Of course his rhetoric is also debatable.

So, he’s feeling a little political heat right now and is having to field claims he has been “cavalier” and “sexist” to boot by bypassing the opportunity to inject Turei into the slot on the committee which was held by Green.

Neither Little’s decision, nor Key’s, has been driven by the “old boys’ club” syndrome.

What the pair have done is formed a “grown-ups club” to deal with the critically sensitive issue of overseeing the major review of New Zealand’s intelligence services.

Replacing someone who has seemed to oppose all surveillance and security with someone else who share’s that opposition may not be very helpful to properly review intelligence services.

Greens can keep opposing everything from outside the committee.

Andrew Little’s Green snub may benefit the intelligence review by providing more positive input.

Little slammed and slammed again

The Little payment debacle seems to have been played down here. It’s an awful look for Andrew Little and will take a lot to recover from.

The problems are detailed by David Farrar: Incompetence from Little and Labour

1. Hiring a right wing journalist to advise on your Labour Party leadership campaign in the first place
2. Not paying him promptly when invoiced on 10 November
3. Not responding to the next three e-mails from Cohen asking to be paid
4. The Leader’s Chief of Staff gets involved on 22 December and doesn’t get it paid that day or even tell the Leader
5. Two weeks later still unpaid, and COS gets e-mailed again.
6. Another three weeks goes by and it is unpaid, and the journalist (NB journalist!) has to e-mail again
7. The COS finally tells Little at the end of January and Little doesn’t get it paid that day
8. Another week and another reminder and still no action
9. Little gives a speech on how Labour wants to help small businesses, infuriating the self-employed journalist who e-mails again, now angry. Warning bells should be ringing loudly by now.
10. Two more weeks later Cohen writes an article in NBR that appears in their print edition last Friday complaining he has not been paid. The incompetence is so huge that this does not result in a payment being made by end of day, but is ignored
11. Four days later Steven Joyce raises the non payment in the House and finally it is paid
12. When confronted over the bad look for the Labour Leader to not be paying a worker the money he is owed, Little gets angry at the media and demands they call him a contractor not a worker!

Farrar also points out:

The public rate competence well ahead of ideology.

It’s not just the public who will be querying his competence (in particular the small business part of the public that Little is targeting for support).

But when the media spot incompetence they punish it. And when they get a bad reaction from their target they punish that too.

And a comment at Kiwiblog slams Little some more.

Little’s leadership campaign was a personal campaign and nothing to do with the Labour Party machine per see, so McCarten isn’t to blame at all. Thius is Andrew’s mess pure and simple as the CEO of his Leadership Campaign…..

Little should have had his campaign staff organised with a simple Accounts Payable spreadsheet recording all entities engaged, their tasks, agreed costs, whether those costs had been paid in part of in full, contact details etc.

The fact his staff weren’t organised and didn’t under take simple management of the engagements and costs indicates Little doesn’t have good organisational skills and/or good leadership skills – as obviously his campaign staff cocked it up completely and the work of his staff is a reflection of him interms of staff selection and management

He then compounds it by getting angry with the media. Why just not say yip organisational snafu by the campaign team, just found out about it and have paid up.

And then to top it off the Contractor v Worker BS. Personally as a CONTRACTOR myself I find his characterisation of a CONTRACTOR as not a WORKER bloody insulting!!!! Just because I’m not a Corporate/SME employee or a Unionised employee doesn’t mean I don’t damn well work for a living and am therefore not a WORKER.

Andrew thanks for confirming I shouldn’t listen to Labour any more – you have confirmed if I’m not an employee then I am not someone you give a damn about except as a potential source of additional taxes to fund your redistribution dreams…

Oh and great job distracting from Nationals multiple mismangaments of issues lately [Sabin/Sky City] I am sure Joyce will shout you a drink in Bellamys in thanks….

Little’s learning curve suddenly turns his public image to looking far less favourable.

And to top it off Cameron Slater gets in a payback dig:

And Cameron Slater points out of course that one of the condemnations in DIRTY POLITICS was that certain journalists did work for politicians, and lobby groups, and other interests without clearly revealing full authorship.

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