Andrew Little trying to sabotage democracy

Andrew Little continues to devalue our democratic process in an ongoing two faced attack on the flag referendums.

NZ Herald reports in Second flag referendum should be scrapped if voter apathy continues – Labour

Labour is opposing the bill despite leader Andrew Little’s own desire for a new flag and its 2014 policy to start the process to secure that change.

Putting petty politics before principles.

“New Zealanders all around the country have told us now is not the right time to change the flag. Almost no one turned up at public events to promote it, millions of dollars were wasted on websites and postcards and a celebrity panel of experts.

“And now John Key is continuing to push his pet project through despite overwhelming opposition.”

Over ten thousand entries were submitted as alternate flag possibilities. Many of those involved considerable thought and effort.

We have a robust inclusive consultative and democratic process in place including two binding referendums, and Little wants that all scrapped on his say so.

If fewer than half of eligible voters take part in the first flag referendum the second should be scrapped, Labour say.

Little is using a binding people’s referendum to try and score points against John Key.

He is actively trying to sabotage a referendum for his own political purposes, contrary to his and his party’s stated policy on flag change.

I think this is disgraceful Andrew. You should be ashamed of this cynical abuse of our democratic process.

But if Little thinks things should change based on popular opinion how about the latest 3 News/Reid Research poll for Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Andrew Little 10.2% (down 1.4)

That’s a lot less than half – will you scrap your leadership Andrew?

I doubt you will do that.

But more seriously, will you stop shitting on our democracy?

The Dirge

I agree with Andrew Little about our second National Anthem, except that it’s worse than a dirge, it’s a dirge with embarrassing lyrics.

The Maori version sounds better, if we must keep The Dirge we should stop after the first (Maori) verse.

It’s good to see Andrew Little stand up for something better. Will he pledge to engage the people of New Zealand in choosing a new anthem if he becomes Prime Minister? If he was seriously anti The Dirge then he would.

And another view or two:

Winston Peters: “I’ve never heard anyone singing our anthem when they’re happy.”

Hmm. NZF opens conferences with national anthem every year.

Funny.

A Little disingenuous on flag choice

Andrew Little has supported public consultation on flag change in the past. But now that we are getting just that he doesn’t want it – because it’s not the right time apparently.

ODT reports:

Mr Little said while thousands of New Zealanders wanted a change of flag, they did not believe it was the right time.

“This is not a poor reflection on New Zealanders, many of whom would like something different. Many of them want a change to the national anthem too, because they are sick of singing a dirge every time you turn up to a festive occasion. Most of them sing along to the Australian national anthem before they sing along to our own.”

He repeated his call for the Government to halt the flag referendums process.

This is very disappointing from Little. He wanted a flag choice process, he wants a flag change, but he opposes the current process. This looks like petty political pissiness.

And he is speaking too much for “New Zealanders” who he doesn’t represent nor listen to very well.

I don’t sing along to the Australian anthem. On a recent occasion I stood respectfully but silently for the Australian anthem at Fig Tree Pocket State School in Brisbane at my granddaughter’s weekly assembly. It was a weird feeling standing surrounded by Australians singing their song. It felt foreign to me.

Mr Little made the comment during debate in Parliament on the Flags Referendums Bill, a bill Labour is opposing despite Mr Little’s own desire for a new flag and Labour’s 2014 policy to start the process to secure that change.

What happened to “cut the crap” Mr Little?

Preferred Prime Minister trends

Colmar Brunton have tweeted (@ColmarBruntonNZ ) ‘preferred Prime Minister’ trends for the last twenty years.

The second chart is of most immediate interest.

John Key climbed quickly to 30-ish as soon as he took over from Don Brash, and soon afterwards overtook Helen Clark, over a year out from the 2008 election. After that he climbed significantly more, but dropped off in 2011. Since then he has fluctuated, and while he’s bee lower he’s in risk of heading into the danger zone.

In the meantime since Clark resigned from leadership four successive Labour leaders have failed to impress. Andrew Little’s trend downwards will be a concern for some, but probably outweighed by concern about how yet another leadership change would look.

Labour’s ‘race card’ taint remains

In a blog post 3 News political reporter Tova O’Brien sums up Labour’s Chinese Surname Saga.

Opinion: Labour’s risky race card flop

Labour is pissed off. It’s pissed off and it’s pissing people off.

That’s what happens when you play the race card.

The race card is designed to offend. You play it in the hope that there are more people that agree with you than disagree with you.

Yes, Labour have pissed a lot of people off. It has been claimed it was a deliberate and cynical strategy to try and engineer a poll bounce like National got after Brash’s Orewa speech (they jumped 17% two weeks later), but this is much different to Orewa.

After Brash’s speech the left in particular were angry about racism.
After Labour’s Chinese Surname saga the left in particular were angry about racism.

Labour may not have thought that through very well.

In this case Labour decided more people would be riled by the prospect of Chinese offshore buyers snatching Auckland houses from the clutches of New Zealanders, than there would be people angry about Labour’s perceived racism.

So it went ahead and singled out Chinese home buyers, not based on any real facts, but because their surnames sounded Chinese.

3 News did something Labour didn’t. We visited Liu’s and Zhou’s on that list. They were happy, proud new homeowners in Auckland and most we spoke to were New Zealanders or applying to be.

One woman thought it was unfair Labour had judged her based on her surname. Another was concerned – like many New Zealanders – about offshore investors.

Of course our door knocking wasn’t scientific but neither was Labour’s analysis and at least we got a better idea of the people behind the surnames.

Labour have tried to talk up a massive problem (a ‘tsunami’ of Chinese investment) but didn’t back up their claims with any evidence. All evidence I’ve seen so far has suggested Labour’s ‘guesses’ were wrong.

NBR reported recently that of the over half a million rates bills sent out by Auckland only about 5,500 go overseas, and about half of them to Australia.

See also Auckland property sales today and Who’s buying Auckland property?

National has been poor in being slow to act on Auckland property issues, but Labour has acted poorly.

National’s being tricky, trying to have it both ways:

On one hand, it’s not rolling out a comprehensive register because that would mean capitulating on its long-held stance that a register is unnecessary.

On the other, voters want a register so National needs to be able to say it’s doing ‘something’ – albeit a piddly excuse for ‘something’.

Labour could have framed its data like that: the need for a register to clear things up because there’s no real way of knowing.

That would have been a sensible argument that flies.

But Labour didn’t frame it like that. It chose to employ scare tactics and declare as fact that three quarters of Chinese home buyers don’t live in New Zealand.

Bad call.

Now, Labour has to own it.

Labour hasn’t backed down, but they haven’t remained convincing in holding their lines.

So far Andrew Little is holding the line. Phil Twyford – the architect of the release – seems less certain.

He’s not racist so you can bet that being called racist and accused of inciting racism is smarting like all hell.

Little’s not racist either but is still holding out for ‘dem gains’ from the silent majority of non-Chinese sounding Aucklanders furious by Labour’s figures.

I’m not so convinced those gains are coming. And if Labour does get a bump in the polls my guess is it will be small and short-lived.

Long-term Labour needs to ask itself will it have been worth it? Jeopardising all those Chinese New Zealand votes – not to mention anyone else offended by the analysis.

Labour has to own those losses along with any ill-gotten gains.

My feeling is that regardless of any short term poll fluctuations Labour may have caused themselves serious longer term damage. They can’t un-whistle the race card, it’s out there and will linger longer than this month’s property stories..

It’s bee a huge risk for Little to take, either promoted by him or foisted on him by Labour’s strategy team. Little has remained staunch, sort of, but he looks uncomfortable in the role.

Labour can hardly afford to go through another leadership contest. But can they afford to retain Little’s race taint?

Shameful Labour campaign against referendums

LabourAgainstReferendumsFlyingYesterday Andrew Little upped Labour’s campaign against the flag referendums by launching a petty, cynical, shameful website trying to sabotage the flag change referendums. Putting petty politics before the people’s choice.

Shameful

I’m usually fairly easy going with what happens in our politics, but this Labour campaign against a fundamental democratic process is really annoying me. I think it’s disgraceful, despicable. Little is shitting on New Zealand democracy by campaigning against something both he and Labour have previously supported.

They are putting petty politics ahead of giving New Zealanders what will probably be a once in a lifetime choice on our flag and our national identity.

Here is Labour’s anti-democracy anti-flag referendum website.

LabourFlagCampaignThat site is asking for names and addresses and for people to join Labour in opposing the flag referendums, opposing democracy in action, opposing what their policy supports – see Labour still campaigning against it’s own flag policy.

So I won’t be submitting any suggestions. But something I would like money spent on is a decent opposition, one that doesn’t oppose things out of spite, one that doesn’t put trying to score cheap political points ahead of people voting.

How much would it cost for an Opposition that doesn’t shit on our democracy?

How low can Labour and Andrew Little go?

Last week they dumped on Chinese New Zealanders.

This week they are dumping on our democracy, dumping on all New Zealanders.

Shameful.

What now for Andrew Little?

Andrew Little started his leadership of Labour last year obviously a bit rough around the edges but showing promise as leading a new approach by Labour, hopefully on the way to recovery after a disastrous election – actually after three poor election results.

But something seems to have happened to Little during the summer break. He appears to have been sucked into the party machine and spat out as a strategy leading puppet.

This looks similar to the destruction of David Shearer as a new style leader.

Like Shearer Little looks uncomfortable in his role.

The Chinese surname strategy has gone down badly on the left. There’s been comments like ‘if Little keeps digging it won’t be long before he comes out in China and he can check out the speculators for himself”.

It’s difficult to know if Little is having trouble fitting into the role of leading, or if he’s struggling with a party strategist imposed role.

Matthew Hooton claims the Chinese surname thing is a carefully planned strategy orchestrated by Matt McCarten, including Little’s reaction at yesterday’s press stand-up – see Little buckles under pressure as he and Twyford keep digging.

Whatever – Little looks like he is struggling with his role as Labour’s leader.

Following Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe.

There’s more than a hint that Labour’s problem may not be several individuals. The party seems fundamentally flawed.

Can Little break the cycle and forge and actually lead the party? The signs aren’t looking great.

Little buckles under pressure as he and Twyford keep digging

Andrew Little threw a bit of a hissy fit when Patrick Gower questioned him on “cooked up data”.

Video and a short report from 3 News: Video: Andrew Little snaps over Chinese buyer data questions

The Labour leader took exception to a question that included the phrase “cooked-up data”, telling Mr Gower: “I’m not going to stand here and have a desperate TV3 reporter use inflammatory language on this. Cooked-up, what was cooked-up?!”

Mr Little added: “You don’t understand. You’re making stuff up.”

That’s also very ironic considering the way Phil Twyford followed by Little have made stuff up.

Ad it wasn’t just when the story broke last week. They are both still digging a hole, repeating made up claims that are not supported at all by the data they analysed.

Stuff report: Chinese officials concerned about Labour’s foreign buyer data

Chinese officials have raised concerns with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English about the “tone” of Labour Party data based on foreigners buying property in the overheated Auckland housing market.

There’s a number of reports of concern from Chinese ethnic groups and individials in New Zealand. Damage is still being done, but Labour keeps digging.

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the analysis the party did of the Barfoot and Thompson data predicted the probability of the surnames predicting ethnic origin, and he stood by that.

“And that is it has a high level of accuracy, and the result that we came up with that 39.5 per cent of houses sold during that three month period went to people of Chinese descent.

Rob Salmond claims the surname analysis was about 95% accurate and that’s not being disputed.

“We never ever made the claim, and we made it clear that we did not go and knock on the doors of those individual people and ask them if they were foreign speculators,” Twyford said.

But Labour failed completely to quantify how many buyers might be foreign Chinese, or total foreign buyers. Littl;e said “You’re making stuff up” – that’s what he and Twyford have done.

Twyford also expressed regret that some people in the Chinese community were upset by the debate, but said it was not racist.

“A fact cannot be racist – a fact is a fact. It might make you feel uncomfortable, but we need as a country to be able to have debates about these kinds of things without allegations of racism.”

It’s not the facts that have made people uncomfortable – and angry. It’s the making stuff up on the proportion of overseas Chines buyers that has been a disaster for Labour, as they have been told over and over – but they don’t seem to want to listen.

And it’s the targeting of Chinese and ignoring everyone else, and making excuses for a bit of racial/ethnic damage.

“Yes, I do care, very much,” Little said, when asked if he cared what the Chinese government thought.

But he said the Labour Party could not be constrained about putting information into the public arena because people did not want to upset the Chinese government.

“That’s not the basis on which we conduct debates in New Zealand.”

Labour shouldn’t be trying to conduct debates by making unsubstantiated guesses (if they were even guesses, they way they continue to act on this could be an attempt to divert from deliberately misleading.

Ethnic constituents had also expressed concern to Little about the way the debate had unfolded in some areas.

“We always knew, given the nature of the information, if we released it, that was one not just possible response, but a likely response.”

So Little admits knowing that offending people would be a likely reaction.

He denied that was concern at the Labour Party’s characterisation of the data, or the way the party had conducted the debate.

Asked if he felt bad about people feeling the data was racist, Little said he was “concerned that some people have felt that because of their ethnicity they have somehow been singled out – that does concern me”.

Failing to accept any responsibility, this is worse than the ;sorry if anyone was offended’ apology, because there is no sign of any apologies.

“But then we looked at the information and what it was telling us – the gap between a 9 per cent Chinese ethnic population in Auckland and 40 per cent of the purchasers of Auckland properties over a three month period being of Chinese ethnic descent.

“That was too big of a gap to say ‘we’re too afraid to release this information’.”

It’s a pity they weren’t afraid to make stuff up about the information – they piled unsubstantiated ‘guesses’ in  a classic example of cynical wedge politics, using the New Zealand Chinese community as a scapegoat.

The Auckland market has a major problem  with the impact of non-resident foreign buyers, which the Government was ignoring, Little said.

“We’re not going to [ignore it] – as uncomfortable as it is, and as crude as our information might have been, the conclusion that the non-resident foreign buyer is having a huge impact on the Auckland housing market is real, and people are concerned about it.”

He admits the information was ‘crude’ – it wasn’t the very limited information that was crude, it was the way Labour embellished it substantially, knowing it would be a Chinese bashing that was crude.

All this has been pointed out over and over again to Labour over they last ten days. Often very  explicitly.

So I find it incredible that Twyford and Little are still pushing their divisive drivel.

And now Little has shown sign he is buckling under the pressure he has brought upon himself.  Lashing out at a journalist is just going to make things worse.

Labour have dug themselves deep on this, and now the sides of the hole are caving in on them.

I have no data to base this claim on, but I think that for every day Little and Labour continue to keep digging there will be another year before this is forgotten. If the Labour Party lasts that long.

And it’s hard to see Little becoming Prime Minister on this performance.

Labour’s official response on foreign buyers

There’s been a lot said via media interviews by Phil Twyford and Andrew Little about Chinese profiling used to highlight the (unknown) level of foreign purchasers in the Auckland property market.

This strategy was launched on Saturday 11 July via an interview of Twyford on The Nation.

Full transcript: Lisa Owen interviews Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford

Video: Interview: Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford

Twyford was subsequently interviewed by media generally, and Little joined the public discussion. Both featured in a number of media reports.

But what has Labour’s formal response been? They have issued two media releases, one each from Little and Twyford.

Time for foreign buyers register

It is time the Government set up a foreign buyers register so New Zealanders can see exactly how many of our houses offshore speculators are purchasing, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce was being cute this morning when he said the Government would be collecting this data from October 1.

“From that date all house buyers will have to have a New Zealand IRD number. That is not the same as a foreign buyers register because there is no guarantee the information will be available in a way that allows public scrutiny.

“A register would provide a searchable and up-to-date database which would inform the market and public debate. Without one, the Government will simply pick and choose data to support its false claim foreign speculators only account for 1 per cent of all house sales.

“The Government must also assure New Zealanders non-resident foreign buyers purchasing properties through companies or trusts will be required to disclose overseas interest in accordance with the Overseas Investment Act which has a 25 per cent threshold.

“Kiwi families who are struggling to buy their own home want to know the impact offshore speculators are having on skyrocketing Auckland house prices. They are sick and tired of losing homes at auction to higher bidders down the end of a telephone line in another country.

“Chinese investment specialist David Mahon today said investors in China are amazed they can come to New Zealand on holiday and buy a house because they are unable to do that anywhere else.

“National needs to start listening to what the public want and set up a proper register, not another halfway measure which is becoming the trademark of this Government,” Andrew Little says.

A careful reference to “investors in China” but nevertheless still targeting one nationality.

And:

Joyce making it up on Aussie non-resident ban

Steven Joyce is at such pains to deflect attention away from his Government’s failure to address the housing crisis, he is now making up stories about Australia’s ban on non-resident house buyers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“The Economic Development Minister claims the Australian Federal Government’s ban is not working and it’s now trying to change it.

“However, according to Australian China Relations Institute spokesperson James Lawrenson the ‘Federal Government is happy with the rules’ and ‘if anything they’re getting tougher on enforcement’.

“In fact, an Australian Federal Parliament cross party committee has recommended giving its tax department more powers to clamp down on those using trusts and companies to pose as Australian citizens.

“Like the Australian Government, Labour believes offshore investors should have to build new homes and add to the supply of houses, instead of pricing Kiwi families out of the market.

“In recent days I have been inundated with emails of support for Labour’s policy which has also been backed by BNZ economist Tony Alexander.

“New figures out from Trade Me today show the average asking price for an Auckland home has soared by $130,950 in the past year, a whopping ten times the average increase across the rest of New Zealand.

“Aucklanders are tired of losing their homes at auctions to offshore investors down the end of a telephone line in another country. It is time the Government woke up to this,” Phil Twyford says.

While Twyford initially generalises with “non-resident house buyers” there is a only one country named via “Australian China Relations Institute spokesperson”.

Little privately tries to clarify his 90 Day Trial stance

Apparently Andrew Little has tried to clarify his stance on 90 Day Trials in an internal Labour email.

As posted this morning:

Stuff reports: Labour would retain 90-day trial periods, but make them fairer – Little

Andrew Little appears to have made an about turn on labour law reform, ruling out abolishing the 90-day trial period for workers.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) has called on Labour to clarify its position and the Government is accusing Little of “weasel words”.

At a breakfast in Upper Hutt on Friday, Little was asked about Labour’s position on 90 day trial period, in which employers can dismiss workers.

“Our policy is to add a fairness requirement,” Little said.

The question frequently came up from employers, Little said, with every employer indicating they already gave feedback to any worker they let go, so they would not be affected under Labour’s policy.

“We just want to make a requirement to give feedback so the person knows whether they’re on track to make the grade or not.”

Asked afterwards if that meant that the trial periods would certainly stay, Little said: “Well we wouldn’t be talking about making the 90 day trial periods fairer if we were going to get rid of it.”

Any changes would not have a significant impact on employers, Little said.

“There won’t be any new onerous obligations in that regard, but it will make it fairer and we will write that into law.”

This was regarded as quite vague by some, including Labour supporters.

At The Standard Anthony Robins posted Labour on fire at will and commented:

I hope we get some clarity on this today. I would not be surprised if the original report of a change in policy turns out to be correct, the quotes from Little seem pretty specific. I think that Labour has to “swallow some dead rats” to get traction again, and this may be one of them.

After discussion and some strong criticism Labour Party member Te Reo Putake revealed Little has sent out an email to some in Labour. He first commented:

Andrew Little comments:

“During the press conference that followed I was asked about our position on the 90 day trial period. Labour has not, and does not, support the 90 day law as it stands. It is unfair and needs to change. As part of our overall policy review we are working with businesses, workers and their unions about how fair trial periods will work.

Labour is not opposed to trial periods where they provide opportunities for those who might not otherwise get them and where they are applied fairly. That kind of trial period has been provided for in our law for many decades, but the law National brought in is unfair and we will change it.”

Weka asked:

Where’s that from trp? Would love to see it up as a post (Notices and Features?) just so there is a clear statment that is highly visible.

Te reo Putake replied:

An internal email this morning, weka. I’ll add it to the post (assuming r0b doesn’t mind?).

That confirms that he is privy to internal Labour correspondence (and is an author at The Standard).

Another party member Colonial Viper responded:

I don’t understand, who did Andrew Little issue this clarification to?

Why has it not been put out as a standard press release – is there a reason Little won’t stand behind this statement in public?

And that suggests it was a limited circulation. Presumably Te Reo Putake had clearance from Little or Labour to publicise internal correspondence.

As following comments reveal not all party members got this email – TRP seems to have privileged contact with Little. Interesting that TRP is helping defend the backflip, putting his party interests ahead of his union interests.

It’s worth re-posting these quotes here:

”We don’t need the 90-day law and under Labour it will go.”
Source – https://www.labour.org.nz/media/90-day-law-sees-more-workers-shown-door

“Labour would, however, not back away from its plans to change employment law, including scrapping the 90-day trial period for new employees.”

– Radio NZ

Following comments claim that this clarifier is still quite ambiguous – more on this in the next post from the architect of the law.

UPDATE: Author of 90 Day Trials Wayne Mapp says that Little’s clarification is ambiguous – 90 Day Trial legislation author joins debate

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