Two Labour MPs break ranks on Charter Schools

Labour, along with close allies the teachers’ unions, has always strongly opposed Charter Schools.

SO it’s notable that two Maori Labour MPs have openly supported a charter school.

3 News reported: Kelvin Davis defies Labour policy in charter school support

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has rebelled against his leader, Andrew Little, by giving his support to a charter school – a policy Labour strongly opposes.

Mr Davis was present at a fundraiser for a charter school.

Charter schools use taxpayers’ money, but are privately run – an ACT Party policy adopted by the Government.

The fundraiser was for a school run by the He Puna Marama Trust in Whangarei.

Mr Davis is Labour’s associate education spokesman, so it’s a bad look for him to show support.

Another Labour MP, Peeni Henare, also attended.

Davis is MP for Maori electorate Te Tai Tokerau, Henare is MP for Tāmaki Makaurau. Some Maori see benefits in Charter Schools, and Davisd and Henare have put more priority of the interests of their Maori constituencies rather the political interests of their party.

Labour sources have told 3 News Mr Little did not want them to go.

It does look a bit awkward for Little and Labour.

A spokeswoman for Mr Little said he left the decision to go up to the MPs, and their attendance does not reflect any change in Labour’s policy on charter schools.

But it’s obvious the blanket policy opposing charter schools is not universally accepted within the party.

It suggests a clash of special interests within Labour – their education constituency versus their Maori constituency.
 

Jacinda Ardern, career politician

Jacinda Ardern appears to be a politician with ambitions, but what drives her? Is she in the right party? She’s long been associated with the Labour Party but her website profile wouldn’t look out of place in the Green Party.

Personal Statement

Jacinda Ardern

A bit about Jacinda ardern

Politics is not an easy place to be – but I believe New Zealand has the potential to be even better than it is, and Parliament is one place where I can help make that happen

When I was pretty young I lived in a small town called Murupara, a place that was forgotten during the economic reforms of the 1980s, and which lost its main source of employment when the forestry industry was privatised. I saw then the level of poverty that exists in some parts of our country; I saw the impact of a lack of work and hope, and what happens when we don’t invest in our kids.

That’s why I’m in politics.

I believe in an Auckland and a New Zealand that owns its future, and its assets, that is smart and grows the economy by investing in Research and Development and clean technology, has a world class public transport system that we can be proud of, invests in children, and is genuinely a world leader on environmental issues.

And why do I want to strive for all of this on behalf of Auckland Central? That’s easy – because it’s my home; one I know we can make even better than it already is.

To me that’s vague waffle and immensely underwhelming.

Her background (according to her):

My experience

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is “what did you do before this?”

Like many Kiwis, I was getting experience overseas. I worked as an Assistant Director in the Department for Business and Enterprise in London, trying to improve the way they regulated small businesses. I also worked on a review of Policing in England and Wales.

I lived in New York, making meatballs at a soup kitchen, and before that, I was at home in New Zealand, working for Helen Clark.

For many years I was also the President of an international political organisation with consultative status with the United Nations – it took me around the world from Beirut to Geneva, but also taught me how to manage an international Board – and that home was where I wanted to be.

International political experience and working for Helen Clark. Outside of politics there seems to be little or nothing.

Wikipedia has more details:

Born 26 July 1980 so she is now 35.

Ardern grew up in Morrinsville and Murupara, where her father, Ross Ardern, worked as a policeman. She attended Waikato University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications. She joined the Labour Party at a young age, and became a senior figure in the Young Labour Party.

After graduating from Waikato University, she spent time working in the offices of Phil Goff and of Helen Clark as a researcher.

She didn’t mention Phil Goff in ‘My Experience’.

She later spent time in London, working as a senior policy advisor. In early 2008 she won election as the President of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

Her Labour party profile has more detail on her UK experience:

Before entering Parliament Jacinda worked for two and a half years for the Better Regulation Executive in the UK Cabinet Office. Her role as an Associate Director was to improve the way that local authorities, in particular, interfaced with business. She was also seconded to the Home Office to assist with a review of policing in England and Wales.

That means she must have gone to the UK at about the start of 2006. She would have left school about 1997-98, so that gives her about eight years to get her University degree and work for Goff and Clark.

Wikipedia:

After a high placement on Labour’s party list for the 2008 election (her ranking at number 20 virtually guaranteed a seat in Parliament) Ardern returned from London to campaign full-time. She also became the Party’s candidate for the Waikato electorate. Ardern was unsuccessful in the electorate vote, but was elected as a List MP.

That’s a high list placement for someone who has been overseas, but she obviously had good contacts back in New Zealand. It looks like it could be a planned career path.

She came a distant second in Waikato in a strongly National leaning electorate, getting about 23% for her personal and Labour’s party vote – in 2011 the Labour candidate got a lower personal (18.4%) and party (16.44%) vote.

Soon after the 2008 election defeat Phil Goff replaced Helen Clark as leader and he appointed Ardern as Labour’s spokesperson for Youth Affairs and as associate spokesperson for Justice (Youth Affairs), outside the 28 top ranked MPs (along with Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Iain Lees-Galloway, Carmel Sepuloni and Phil Twyford).

Ardern was elevated to 13 on Labour’s 2011 list, the head of the newbies. Here are those MPs still in Parliament:

13. Jacinda Ardern
14. Grant Robertson
15. Andrew Little
16. Shane Jones
17. Su’a William Sio
23. Kelvin Davis
24. Carmel Sepuloni
27. Stuart Nash
28. Clare Curran
30. Chris Hipkins
31. David Shearer
33. Phil Twyford
37. Iain Lees-Galloway
41. Kris Faafoi
45. Rino Tirikatene
47. Megan Woods
49. David Clark

Ardern had moved to Auckland Central, which was held by Labour’s Judith Tizard comfortably until she lost to Nicki Kay in 2008. In a close contest Ardern lost to Nicki  Kaye in 2011 but she retained her place in Parliament via the list.

Phil Goff resigned after the 2011 loss and David Shearer was elevated into the Labour leadership. And he elevated Ardern to Labour’s front bench at number four, spokesperson for Social Development, Children, Associate Arts Culture and Heritage.

Then in September 2013 Shearer resigned and David Cunliffe became Labour’s leader. His reshuffle dropped Ardern back to six, spokesperson for Children, Police, Corrections, Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Ardern was placed at five on Labour’s 2011 list due to Shane Jones dropping out of contention. She had another close tussle with Kaye in Auckland Central, losing by 600 votes – but that was likely to be more to do with strategic Green voting. In the all important party vote Labour got just 21.67%

So how has that trended in Auckland Central?

  • 1996 – 37.14% (party vote, Judith Tizard MP)
  • 1999 – 41.50%
  • 2002 – 44.1%
  • 2005 – 45.24%
  • 2008 – 34.55% (Kaye won the seat off her with National getting 40.08%
  • 2011 – 25.11%
  • 2014 – 21.67%

Auckland has been also strongly contested by Greens, Nandor Tanczos since 1999 followed by Denise Roche since 2008.

But the declining Labour Party vote doesn’t look pretty.

After the 2014 defeat David Cunliffe sort of resigned, triggering another leadership contest. Grant Robertson promoted a joint ticket with Ardern as his deputy. Two centre city career politician candidates. They lost out to the inexperienced union backed Andrew Little. Robertson had also lost to Cunliffe.

While Little has placed Robertson at number three on the front bench and given him the challenging Finance responsibility Ardern has slid down to nine, with Twyford, Hipkins, Sepuloni and Davis all leapfrogging her.

Her current party profile:

Jacinda Ardern

Labour List MP in Auckland Central

Spokesperson for Justice, Children, Small Business and Arts, Culture & Heritage

Jacinda’a passion for social justice led her to the Labour Party at just 17 years old. She was elected to Parliament in 2008. Jacinda ran in the 2011 election as Labour’s candidate for Auckland Central, halving the incumbents’ majority down to approximately 700 votes.

Press releases from Ardern on Labour’s website show a fairly low level of activity.

Posts on her own website also show a low level of activity too.

She’s more active on her Facebook page, perhaps that suits her target constituency more.

If Andrew Little decided to step down what would Ardern’s chances be if she stood for the leadership?

She would presumably have mixed support from Labour’s caucus.

She doesn’t seem to have much support at The Standard where she doesn’t often rate a mention. After this weeks Herald promo of her leadership chances –  Labour’s support recovers to 30s – got no similar promotion.

Colonial Viper:

Jacinda is a run of the mill MP. Parliamentary staffer to Labour MP; been one of the 2% for a long time now, Grant faction and seen successive Labour defeats while in caucus.

Jenny Kirk:

I, too, have been wondering re the promotion of Jacinda Ardern – a very sneaky move to use her to undermine Andrew Little.

They are both active in Labour.

And it’s hard to see strong support from the unions for Ardern or Ardern/Robertson.

If she did succeed due to ‘last remaining cab on the rank’ and become Labour leader will voters see past her lightweight feel-good look-good self promotions and wonder where the substance is?

Ardern is a career politician. I see little sign of her being any more than that yet.

Perhaps she is targetting a leadership bid should Labour lose again in 2017, and has her sights set on the 2020 election. She’ll still only be forty then.

If she wants something other tha polituics in her CV she has time to take a break from Parliament for a couple of terms and get some real life experience, not political position by friendly appointment but proving she can get an understanding about real life and real people outside the bubble vacuum left by Helen Clark.

That would allow her to return via Labouir’s list in 2023 and perhaps contest the 2026 election leading Labour with something of substance behind her.

Otherwise it looks like her career is destined to be an ineffectual career in New Zealand followed by an appointment to the UN.

Little has a sense of humour

In Question Time in Parliament today Andrew Little asked several questions on the Health and Safety Bill, starting with:

Does he have confidence in the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, given his decision not to include sheep, beef, and dairy farming in his Proposed Schedule of High Risk Industries?

There were predictable digs about lavendar growing and butterfly farming.

Does the Prime Minister agree that ridiculous situation where working with lavendar and butterflies is high risk, but working with bulls and explosives is not, has undermined public confidence in his Health and Safety reforms, and if not why not.

But he was working up to a good one.

If he thinks butterfly breeding is high risk but dairy farming isn’t, can he tell us the last time a rampaging butterfly had to be shot by police in the streets of Whanganui?

There was much laughter from the left and even some smiles on the right.

He has a wee way to go but maybe there’s some hope for Little.

Little better on Q & A (Workplace Safety)

Labour leader Andrew Little was interviewed on Q & A yesterday. It focussed on a topic he knows well due to his twenty year union background, and he did a much better job than i his heavily criticised effort on The Nation the previous day (see The Nation: Little and Labour repeating failed strategies).

In particular when host Greg Boyed tried to bring up worm farming…

Try to explain to me, as somebody who’s not in Parliament, how on earth—You know, the media’s got plenty of comedy value out of this with the worm farming and that – how is something like that even allowed to slip through? Surely someone must have seen that in the early stages – ‘Right, we’ll push that aside. We don’t want that mentioned in the same time.’ How did that happen?

…Little dismissed the meduia beatup and turned to a positive approach to improving the Bill instead.

I don’t want to get heavily into that. Something would have happened between the officials and the minister, and Michael Woodhouse has worn enough over the last few days. I would rather work with Michael and whoever else in his government and his support parties…

That looks like a significant and welcome change of approach from Little.

Video: Workplace Safety – Labour (10:24)

This followed an interview with Michael Woodhouse on the same topic – see Woodhouse on the Workplace Health and Safety Bill.

Transcript of the Andrew Little interview:

GREG Welcome back to Q + A. Well, we heard Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse before the break. Let’s bring in Labour Leader Andrew Little. You heard what he had to say – that the overall feeling he wanted to put forth is this is not set in granite – there’s a lot of room for this to change. What are your thoughts and what do you have to say?

ANDREW The truth is, we have one chance to pass the law and to get it right. And that’s going to happen sometime this week. And what’s important for public confidence in the law is that we get it right now. So I don’t accept his view that we can now go through the law change process, have it ridiculed, if only for some parts of it, and then somehow through the consultation process that will follow, that will restore public confidence, because it won’t.

So what the minister needs to do now – and the support parties who are part of propping up this Government – is we actually need to take the next couple of days to see if we can thrash out what a good law is going to look like so we can very quickly restore public confidence in it.

GREG Okay, without burying people in legislation, red tape and a lot of cost, how can it be changed from here so it’s actually going to mean less people are killed in the workplace?

ANDREW Well, what we can’t have, for the sake of public confidence, is this process now where the minister can designate industries ‘high hazard’ or ‘low risk’. Because what we’ve seen with that in the last few days is that’s a very arbitrary line to draw.

And you get the silly absurdities where worm farming, which according to the minister, has caused deaths, is regarded as more high risk than the industry that has killed over 100 people in the last three years, and that’s farming, whether it’s dairy, beef or whatever.

GREG The thing I’m finding frustrating, and I think most people are, is you go, ‘Okay, on one hand, farming is dangerous – a lot of people die. But they’re not going to be under this. They’re not going to feel the weight of this. They’re not going to get any safer. What am I missing? Why is that happening?

ANDREW I think the myth is that the average farm now is kind of Mum, Dad and the kids and the odd bit of farm labour that comes on. That’s actually not the average farm anymore.

The average farm is a properly-run business and there’s labour coming and going all the time. And so they are not the three or four operation. They can be a dozen, they can be up to 20. They might fall under that threshold that the Government’s put in place to try and exclude them, but they still need a culture and an environment in the workplace where the health and safety issues can be talked about.

And I’ve spoken to farm labourers who tell me that if only they knew when they were going to work on the farm that there was a colleague, you know, somebody at their equal – not the farm owner, but a colleague – who could induct them in about the health and safety and what the expectations were, that would make the difference, and that’s what we need. And the legislation needs to reflect that.

GREG Having said that, there are still operations that are Mum, Dad and the kids or two or three people. To have a health and safety officer foisted upon them is absurd, and the cost of it and the legislation of it – that would be absurd, wouldn’t it?

ANDREW So if the legislation is drafted so that was optional – if there were any employed workers there, paid workers there or contractors who say, ‘Yeah, I just want to have somebody who I can go to,’ yeah, let’s do it. The reality is in the small, more intimate businesses, that won’t happen, in the same way that hasn’t happened under previous legislation.

But there will be places, and I think of workplaces of the 10 to 20 level, where, actually, that is real, where you get a group of people – they are working there. Even at that level, people want to know that there is a system that they can contribute to, where their voice is heard and that they can raise issues with impunity, and that’s important too.

In the end, good health and safety comes down to good workplace culture, and even quite small workplaces still need a good workplace culture. The legislation, and certainly now the debate we’re having over it because of the mishandling of the categorisation, is undermining confidence in this new legislation, which is the last thing we need given what’s happened that’s led us to have this legislation in the first place.

GREG Labour was on board with this until July. When, where and why did it go wrong as far as you were concerned?

ANDREW When that legislation first came in, we were pretty happy with it. We thought there were some changes at the margins but it covered everybody. And there was enough in there that for the very small businesses, of course it wouldn’t be onerous for them; they’ll carry on sorting out the way they operated.

Then the Government was determined to get exemptions, and that’s actually what’s driven all of the consensus flying apart.They were desperate to exclude small businesses, and in reality they were desperate to exclude farmers because we know that the farming lobby was very powerful in saying, ‘We don’t want to be constrained by this.’

So they excluded small businesses, then they realised they still had to include high-risk businesses – well, farming and agriculture still is high-risk, so then they had to find a way to exclude that. And it’s kind of exception upon exception upon exemption that’s led to the distortions that’s led to the absurdities that we’re now debating and is now undermining confidence.

GREG I want to talk about the families of Pike River, who we saw at Parliament this week, understandably frustrated with the delay, and at the end of it, frustrated with the outcome. That said, and with the absolute greatest of respect to the families there, apart from something like corporate manslaughter being installed, is any of this ever going to be satisfactory to them? And I think most people would understand the answer would be no.

ANDREW It’s not just the Pike River families. We had families from the forestry industry there whose family members had been killed in the forestry industry, and we had a couple of others there as well, even representatives from the timber industry and timber processes from 20 years ago, where poisoning actually ended up killing people.

So it was a cross section, and I think they are people who, because they have experienced the grief of the loss of somebody who has gone to work and not come home, they are a champion for saying we’ve got to get workplace health and safety right.

This is our chance after the tragedy of Pike River, to get it right, and I would just say to the minister, if you’re serious about getting a law that he can be proud of – and he should do, because I don’t think he’s the one at fault here – let’s take the next couple of days with him, and I’m more than happy to meet with him and use the benefit of my 20 years’ experience in this area doing health and safety in the workplace, representing families at coroners’ inquests, to get this law right so that we can get it through Parliament.

I don’t think it’s going to be good for this minister and his government for us to have another day, two days, three days, who knows how long this will take to debate through Parliament, and continue what is undermining confidence in what should be a good piece of legislation.

GREG The aims they’ve got – 25% less deaths in five years, by 2021 – is that enough? That seems not terribly ambitious to me.

ANDREW If you get the culture right—It’s interesting the minister talked about the forestry industry. What happened in the forestry industry is that they finally had a wake-up call and they finally found some leaders within that industry that said, ‘This can’t go on,’ and they worked with worker representatives, the CTU and others, they did an inquiry, they got some good recommendations, and the forestry companies and even down at the contractor level committed to improving workplace health and safety in that industry.

And that’s making the difference. But they had the impetus to do it. Well, we need a piece of legislation – this law, the Health and Safety Reform Bill – that is the impetus to every employer and every worker, saying, ‘Yep, we get it now. We’ve got the message. We’re all committed to lifting our performance and we’ll make the difference.’

GREG Are fines the way to go? Are penalties for people who don’t play it safe and do things right – is that something we should be looking at increasing?

ANDREW You want WorkSafe New Zealand, as the, kind of, police officer of all of this, to have some discretion about how they approach it. And what happens with a small business isn’t going to be identical with what happens with a large corporate in a high-risk industry. So you want some scope for discretion about warnings and education, but you do need a backstop, which is the more punitive measures that you take.

But, you know, I trust WorkSafe New Zealand to get it right, when it’s about working with businesses as well as the workforce, to lift our health and safety performance.

GREG So you sit down with the minister, which is unlikely, but you said you would. If you sat down with him, in a pithy sentence or two, what would you say needs to change between now and a few days to actually make this effective so people are going to stop dying on the job?

ANDREW Let’s make sure that the way the law is drafted gives the same message to everybody, and let’s trust people to get it right when it comes to implementation and trust WorkSafe to get it right when it comes to enforcing the rules.

GREG To an extent, are we being naïve to think we can do much more to the death toll than we’ve already done? You’ve got people, you’ve got heavy machinery, you’ve got dangerous situations in farms, you’ve got hills, you’ve got equipment that fails. You can’t legislate that risk away completely, can you?

ANDREW The question is why our farming sector has a bigger fatality record and more serious accidents than the agricultural industries in other countries. And bearing in mind too that in our agriculture industry, we have underreporting of incidents. And WorkSafe New Zealand did a survey and found that roughly a quarter of serious-harm accidents that actually happen are being reported.

There’s a whole heap not being reported, so the picture is probably worse than is being made out. We can do better. In the OECD, we rank fifth from the bottom in terms of workplace health and safety performance.

We can do better, we have to do better, we must do better. People are entitled to know when they go to work, they’ve got best chance than ever of returning home safe again at the end of it. That’s what it comes to.

GREG Try to explain to me, as somebody who’s not in Parliament, how on earth—You know, the media’s got plenty of comedy value out of this with the worm farming and that – how is something like that even allowed to slip through? Surely someone must have seen that in the early stages – ‘Right, we’ll push that aside. We don’t want that mentioned in the same time.’ How did that happen?

ANDREW I don’t want to get heavily into that. Something would have happened between the officials and the minister, and Michael Woodhouse has worn enough over the last few days. I would rather work with Michael and whoever else in his government and his support parties, left a message with Peter Dunne’s office on Friday.

We’ve had some back-channel talks with the Maori Party. I would rather be working with the Government and their support parties to get this right.

We arrive at Parliament on Tuesday, and we get something that we can all get behind and we can say to New Zealand, ‘Whatever happened, we’ve got this right now. We are all confident and pleased with it, and this will make a difference to New Zealand.’

The difficulty with the Left’s leadership

I thionk there’s two key things that many voters look for in political parties and in potential coalitions – a perception of competence, and capable and strong leadership.

The Left have problems in particular on leadership.

So far Andrew Little has failed to inspire as a leader. This is a significant problem for what should be the lead party in a potential coalition.

Winston Peters seems to be setting his sights high. It’s been reported as high as being Prime Minister for at least part of the next term. Peters seems to despise inexperienced wannabees leapfrogging his seniority. He seems to see himself as the de facto Leader of the Opposition.

New Zealand First is currently the smallest of the three Opposition parties. The Greens would presumably and understandably not be happy if Peters took a greater leadership role than them in a three way coalition.

But the Greens have a problem too – their dual leadeership might suit them in at a party level, but at a coalition level it dilutes their leadership.

Peters would not be happy sharing deputy leadership with two Green leaders who were at primary school when he first entered Parliament in 1978 (Shaw was five, Turei was 8).

It’s quite likely that the next election will be contested by John Key, undisputed leader of National, versus Little, Peters, Turei and Shaw, all competing for ascendancy.

When it comes to a leadership contest four versus one could be difficult to sell.

The Nation: Little and Labour repeating failed strategies

On The Nation yesterday (replayed today Sunday on TV3 at 10 am) Labour leader Andrew Little was interviewed by Lisa Owen.It was followed by a panel discussion.

Lisa Owen wraps up the political week with former Green candidate Marama Davidson, Victoria University political scientist Jon Johansson & rightb wing commentator and PR consultant Matthew Hooton.

TheNationPanelAug2015

Here are comments on the interview from the discussion.

Owen: We heard from Andrew little there, and is he looking like a Prime Minister in waiting?

Hooton: I think he’s really struggling on the transition from being a union leader to being a Parliamentary leader and a potential Prime Minister. On every issue he addressed he ended up waffling, on every single topic that came up except possibly on the Health and Safety issue where he probably was a bit stronger because it’s his background.

But whether it was the TPP, mining, or even whether Winston Peters might be Prime Minister in a Labour led Government, he waffled.

Johansson: Well I mean one, he’s experiencing what is being experienced on both sides of politics now, which is the real problem post MMP from a leadership perspective is being the Opposition leader.

And where I was very interested in his comments today was they have not moved on from this sitting back passive sitting back role in terms of promoting relationships with other parties.

Now given the numbers Labour simply cannot form a Government without coalition partners, and we all understand that, and I think the lesson I most learnt from the last three years up to 2014 is it takes three years, a full three years of effort, to get a message through to the New Zealand electorate that I am a credible alternative and this is what it’s going to look like, this is who I’m going to share power with, and these are some broad strokes of what we’re going to do.

None of that today. They’re not interested in that. And so for me if they replayed that ad, National’s successful ad with the rowing boat, what has changed?  Absolutely nothing.

LabourRowboat

Except that Winston Peters now sees himself sitting on in the middle of the boat with a megaphone too.

Owen: Well the thing is if you look at that speech he gave recently you could have thought that on Green policy, you would have thought if you didn’t know it was him you could have thought it was Metiria Turei delivering that speech. So in some ways are they moving towards the Greens, and then in other ways policy wise moving towards Winston Peters?

Davidson: There is policy compatibility with the Greens and Labour and one of the substance things, he had a hard interview for sure Andrew Little, but one of the substance points I picked out is that he is maintaining working hard with good relationships across the Opposition party, Labour and Greens continue to work well together

And in terms of coalition partners just as Jon was highlighting most New Zealanders actually choose Greens ahead of other parties to be as their most preferred coalition partner.

Davidson usually seems more intent on promoting the Greens rather than analysing the issue under discussion. And the Greens virtually rule out considering a coalition with National.

Owen: If that’s the case though what Jon’s saying though is he’s not being up front and saying it out loud is he.

Johansson: All I think is why would any voter who is tired of John Key and his Goverment, what is the alternative which they are turning to? It is not being presented to them. They don’t know actually what the next would look like if they want to move away from a National led Government.

Hooton: It was a terrible interview by Andrew Little and i don’t think it was an unreasonable interview, he was asked about the major policy issues of the day and he had no answers on any of them. So, you know, he’s just simply not there yet. Your three year rule (to Johansson) has got two years to go.

Owen: Is it too soon though to be lining yourself up with…

Johansson: No. Because they should have demonstrated to themselves the failed strategy of the last three years shouldn’t be projected onto the next three years. They’re replicating a failed strategy.

That’s fairly damning from Johansson, but Little or someone within Labour needs to take urgent and serious note. Johansson is not Mike Hosking or Paul Henry or Matthew Hooton.

It looks like Labour are repeating past failed strategies. It looks like Little is repeating the mistakes of past leaders.

It looks like Labour are trying to row their boat sideways into a strong current and are ignoring advice to turn things around a bit.

I’m not anti Labour. I’d like to think that at some stage in the future I might seriously consider voting for Labour again (the last time I voted for them was in 2005).

But I’m anti incompetence.

Link to video: Interview: Labour Leader Andrew Little

Andrew Little on the Trans Pacific Partnership

On The Nation yesterday (replayed today Sunday on TV3 at 10 am) Labour leader Andrew Little was questioned by Lisa Owen about Labour’s positio on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

You’re lining up with the critics on the TPP. So let me ask you, if the deal doesn’t meet Labour’s five bottom lines, there is an out-clause, we’ve checked this: you just have to give six months’ notice. So if you are in government, would you consider getting rid of it, getting out?

If that agreement doesn’t meet our bottom lines, it undermines our sovereignty, it fails to protect Pharmac, it fails to protect the Crown’s obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi, and there’s no material benefit to us in it, we won’t be sticking around in it.

So you will exercise that clause?

Well, if there’s a right to get out of it, we’re not going to stick with an agreement that takes all the rights of citizens away from citizens in terms of a sovereign government and gives no material benefit.

What do you think that would do to our international reputation, though, if you pulled a plug on a deal that had already been signed and sealed?

If we are doing a deal with countries representing 40 percent of the world’s GDP, and the price of that is that New Zealanders lose the right to have their sovereign government, to legislate in their best interests, for example, restrict land sales to protect the rights of New Zealanders or to undermine the obligations of the Crown under the Treaty, or to undermine Pharmac and its ability to purchase medicinal drugs for New Zealanders, and there’s no trade benefit in it for us, we get no agricultural access to the biggest markets — the US, Canada and Japan — there’s nothing in this for us. Why would we be in it?

Little seems to have left a lot of wiggle room there.

Would Labour under Little’s leadership withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership should an agreement be reached under the current Government?

I have no idea.

Source: Transcript: Labour Party leader Andrew Little

Link to video: Interview: Labour Leader Andrew Little

Andrew Little on Workplace Health and Safety

On The Nation yesterday (replayed today Sunday on TV3 at 10 am) Labour leader Andrew Little was questioned by Lisa Owen about the Workplace Health and Safety Bill that’s currently going through Parliament.

Let’s move on to the Health and Safety Bill. Now, you’re opposed to it. But Peter Dunne told us that he can’t believe— and this is a quote from him. Labour’s ‘breath-taking hypocrisy’, ‘because however incremental, this bill does make things better for workers, he says. Are you playing politics with worker safety?

No, I’m not. Look, health and safety is an absolutely crucial part of, you know, good workplace relations and good workplace practice. After Pike River, the disaster and the tragedy that was Pike River, that wasn’t just about a big employer. It was about small employers and businesses of fewer than 20 workers. That was a disaster that was avoidable with good systems, but most importantly, good culture.

So the main thing about the Health and Safety Reform Bill was about getting things in place to have a good culture in the workplace, and there was a consensus about that, and what the bill was first introduced, it was actually in pretty good nick, and I sat on the select committee, and we heard employers, and National Party were very good.

Something has changed in the last few months, and I think what’s happened is that the National Party has decided, or their supporters in the farming lobbies have said, ‘We don’t want a bar of this.’ And even though that is the sector that has the worst record of fatalities and serious accidents, this government is bending over backwards to exclude our businesses and our farming businesses that actually need legislation like this to improve their performance.

So you would want all businesses to have a safety… health and safety officer, regardless of their size or the risk? All of them?

It’s about having, you know, the art of health and safety. What it makes it work is when front-line workers — the front-line workforce — owns it, understands it and is involved in it.

So would you like those front-line workers to have the option, whatever the size business they’re working in or the risk level, to have a health and safety officer?

They should have the right to have one if they want it, and the reason for that is that when you’re dealing with your, you know, health and safety issues, concerns you have about safety at work, actually, going to a peer, going to your equal in the workforce is a way better way to go than relying on a manager or the boss who may not know the full detail of it, which has been, unfortunately, practised in far too many fatal accidents in workplaces so far.

Yet, in saying that, you are mocking the Government. You know, you’re mocking the Government. But, at the same time, you want every worm farmer, every lavender farmer, and every butterfly farmer— if you want every business to have one of these reps — you want that?

Uh, yeah. No, let’s get this right. We had a— we had a bill originally that created the same rule for everybody. That was the right thing to do, and what it did was—

Including all those—? Including all those occupations I’ve just listed? Everybody? So they would be in the mix?

Give workers in small workplaces the right to have a health and safety representative if they wanted one. If they don’t want one, no big deal. But what the government has done is said… They’ve taken fright and said, ‘We want to exempt small businesses.’ Then they decided they needed to ensure that all high-risk industries were included. So they then had to come up for an exemption to the exemption. Then they decided that they didn’t want to upset the farmers. So now they’ve had to come up with an exception to the exception to the exemption. It’s just a mess. It is a total mess.

But you want, Mr Little, would add to compliance costs for small businesses, yet at the start of the year, you said you want to take the handbrake off small businesses. So which is it?

Small businesses have health and safety practices at the moment. Good small businesses, and I’ve visited a lot of them. They do health and safety already, and there are good businesses involved in the workforce.

But you support those regulations being tougher, and that’s more compliance, more red tape and more costs.

Having… Giving a workforce of a small business the right to have their go-to person on health and safety is not a compliance cost. There’s no compliance cost in it. It’s having a go-to person. It’s having a point person in the workplace. A new worker, in particular, comes in. Doesn’t quite get it. They know where to go to on issues of health and safety. That’s what you want. That what gets better health and safety performance.

But a lot of small businesses would say that is more red tape. That is not taking the handbrake off.

Good businesses are doing it already. It’s not a handbrake. It’s not an impediment to good business at all. What we— but what we see in some sectors — and farming is the classic one — tend to be smaller business. They have the worst health and safety. More than a third of the fatalities, workplace fatalities in New Zealand in the past five years, have come from farms. Why would we exclude farms from having the best possible standards and procedures for health and safety. It doesn’t make sense.

Source: Transcript: Labour Party leader Andrew Little

Link to video: Interview: Labour Leader Andrew Little

Andrew Little on The Nation

Labour leader Andrew Little is being interviewed on The Nation this morning.

Coming up first, @AndrewLittleMP on what marks out his Labour Party… health & safety, TPP, the Greens and more. 9.30am TV3

I’ll add some impressions and details here.

What does Little’s Labour stand for?

Little starts with an attack on the Government’s “appalling record” on negotiating deals.

Pike River was a disaster that was avoidable.

Health and Safety – Labour mocks the Government to include worm farmers and lavender farmers to have health and safety officers – but Labour want all companies to be able to have health and safety officers.

At the beginning of the year Labour said they wanted to take ‘the handbrake off’ small businesses but is trying to explain why more health and safety provisions are justified.

The 90 day bill – Little said it would go. Little now says that employers will still have the right to take employees on a trial period.

Little won’t answer whether Labour will repeal the trial legislation but Little says there are two laws, but won’t commit to repealing either.

Lisa Owen said she would leave him “sitting on the fence”.

TPPA – Little says he couold pull the plug on it, or aspects of it.

Sustainable economy important.

New Zealand has become “an embarrasment” on climate change.

Can Little be clear on cutting back on mining and drilling? No. That’s different to Green sustainability aims.

Labour without the Greens? “We will need a coalition partner”.

All roads to power lead through Winston. “Your need him. In a future Government you will need Winston.”

Little: “Under MMP they will need partners”.

They will continue to work on their relationships with Greens and NZ First.

Not much really said overall. The household opinion is that Little did little more than “waffle around rhe edges”.

A bit underwhelming. Again.

The panel have now commented on Little’s interview. Mathew Hooton was scathing. Jon Johansen was very unimpressed. Lisa Owens was unimpressed. (Marama Davidson seems to do little other than promote the Greens).

Link to video: Interview: Labour Leader Andrew Little

Labour leader lament

Labour’s leadership has been lame since Helen Clark stood down.

Clark was a determined and strong leader, backed by a strong Head of Staff (H2), and supported by a very capable deputy in Michael Cullen.

Who can remember who the current deputy leader of Labour is?

Phil Goff was only ever a placeholder leader. He lasted a term, campaigning earnestly in 2011, but failed to inspire against the odds – National’s previous Governments has all last three or four terms.

Goff was replaced by an unlikely gamble, David Shearer. Shearer offered something fresh and new, something Labour badly needed, but was soon hobbled by a stale and old management team. He had strong international credentials but still doesn’t look like leadership material.

Next David Cunliffe’s ambitions were given a chance despite not havig majority support of the Labour caucus. He tried hard in the 2014 election – too hard at times – and fell hard but reluctantly after defeat.

Next up was Andrew Little, another relatively inexperienced punt. He started with some promise last year, but this year has looked out of his depth. He wasn’t helped by Winston Peters out manouvering Labour in the Northland by-election, but since the has looked listless on a listing Labour ship.

Little’s opportunity was to be a refreshingly frank ‘cut the crap’ leader. But like Shearer he seems to have been taken over by the committee and he looks lost and lacking in confidence and conviction.

By now you would think that someone in Labour would realise that after four leaders had failed to fire there could be a common problem, the way the party operates around it’s leadership.

National’s election advertising showed Labour, Greens and Internet/Mana rowing in different directions in a dinghy. Labour are doing that on their own.

To rescue his situation Little needs to take control and lead. That would probably require major personal and management changes.

And he needs to do this quickly. Winston Peters is topping in in ‘preferred leader’ polls, and Labour just dropped back to 27% in the latest Roy Morgan poll, down 5%.

Unfortunately if Little fails to lead Labolur’s options look bleak.

Jacinda Ardern topped the recent Sate of the Boardroom assessment of Labour MPs but she looks to be nowhere near ready to lead.

Grant Robertson has failed in two leadership attempts already. He might think it could be third time lucky but he has failed to inspire inside Labour so it’s hard to see him wowing the voters.

David Parker has dabbled but has never threatened to rise to the top as a serious contender.

Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe have already failed.

King, Cosgrove, Mallard, Dyson and probably O’Connor should make way for new talent, if such a thing can be located in Labour circles.

Who else is there? No one stands out as a potential leader to me.

Except perhaps for Chris Hipkins, if he can get out of the shadow of senior mentors. Can the caucus kid become a leader? Does he have that ambition? Does he have sufficient support within Labour?

So Little may get more time before they panic.

Can he break free of the tired old party shackles? No sign of it yet, but one can hope.

Green and NZ First growth is probably limited, so our Parliament and our democracy desperately needs a strong Opposition at least, and needs some sign that there is a party capable of running the country. Currently Labour look like they can barely run their noses.

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