Labourites strongly against TPPA

The dominant online Labour view on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is negative, despite Helen Clark saying it was ‘unthinkable’ that New Zealand stay out of such a large Pacific Rim trade agreement (and despite it being initiated by Labour in 2003 and worked on right through to the end of Clark’s tenure in 2008).

Rob Salmond seems to expand on Grant Robertson’s themes in TPP, eh? at Public Address.

The deal really is a very big one globally; it’s just not such a big deal for New Zealand.

It looks to me like the biggest loser in the deal is Mexico. It doesn’t get much in the way of market access that it didn’t already have via NAFTA, and the US-Japan deal on autos hurts a lot of Mexican factories purpose-built to supply auto parts from Japanese car companies into the US.

New Zealand isn’t as big of a loser as Mexico, but its gains are very small, and could get swallowed by the sovereignty losses.

Comments are also generally negative.

Greg Presland at The Standard: TPPA agreement reached

The TPPA has been agreed to. Dairy access improvement is minimal, there will be a cost hit on Pharmac and every industry but Tobacco will be able to access the investor state dispute resolution procedure.

Lynn Prentice at The Standard not strictly speaking a Labourite now): As expected, TPPA gives a peanut return

In 15 to 25 years, long long after I have retired,  and the TPPA is fully realised. It maybe worth an extra $260 million per year in possible tariff benefits. By contrast, the China Free Trade Agreement within 5 years was increasing our exports each year by an extra $350 million. But the costs for the TPPA start as soon as it is signed. We may make a profit off it in 10 years. This is not a good deal.

Anthony Robins: TPP roundup

A roundup of the best analysis of and reaction to the TPP. The gains are minor and delayed, the losses are real. In NZ we don’t have any democratic input into ratification, but the US does, and the deal may fall there.

Robins starts his post quoting staunch TPPA opponents Jane Kelsey and Gordon Campbell.

What about the Labour Party itself?

NBR reports: Labour says jury’s out on supporting TPP

Senior Labour Party politicians are waiting for the detail of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade and investment pact before declaring whether it breaches any of the five “bottom lines” the party says the TPP must meet before deciding whether to maintain the long-standing practice of bi-partisan political support for trade deals.

Written statements from acting Labour leader Annette King and finance spokesman Grant Robertson both cited the bottom lines without saying they had been breached.

“Too early to be sure,” said Mr Robertson in answer to a texted question from BusinessDesk. “On land/housing sales, it doesn’t look good, with Aussie-style ban on purchase of existing houses seemingly prevented.”

In her statement, Mrs King said: “Labour supports free trade but the TPPA is more than just a trade agreement. The government must come clean now on what ‘ugly compromises’ they have made behind closed doors.”

So some general criticisms but understandably they need to wait to see the details.

But notably:

Leader Andrew Little is on holiday and has not commented and the party’s trade spokesman, David Parker, is also out of the country.

Unfortunate timing for Little – or perhaps fortunate, it gives him time to digest the agreement and work out a suitable response, but his absence has left a vacuum for Labour’s online warriors to attack the agreement.

Parker’s absence may also be just a quirk of timing, it’s common for MPs to take a break during Parliamentary recesses and school holidays.

But as Labour’s Trade and Export Growth spokesperson Parker seems to have been quiet on the TPPA for some time. His last news release as posted on Labour’s website was on 19 August (on Saudi sheep and SkyCity).

His last item on the TPP was on July 31 – Will poor TPP dairy outcome stop National selling out our homes?

Like the details of the TPPA Labour’s position on the twelve country trade agreement may take some time to emerge with any clarity.

Stuart Nash conflicted on TPP opposition

Steven Joyce has highlighted the fact that a number of Labour MPs actively supported and spoke at Trans Pacific Partnership protests on Saturday. He also poited out that this may conflict with Labour’s interest in promoting regional development.

NZ Herald: Labour MPs’ TPP protests under fire:

Mr Joyce, the Economic Development Minister, said Labour tried to suggest it was generally in favour of TPP and trade deals as a way of backing regional New Zealand but then attended anti-TPP rallies, including in Hawkes Bay.

“I think they are certainly split on it but it also shows they haven’t got any discipline on it either.”

He was most surprised at the attendance of Mr Nash, of Napier, one of the few MPs Labour has from regional New Zealand.

“These trade deals are about the meat industry, the apple industry, the wine industry, the horticultural industry, all those food areas getting access to some of the biggest populations in the world and lowering their tariffs and he is wandering along to an anti-TPP rally.”

I think that’s a fair point, especially for a Hawkes bay MP.

Mr Nash was one of at least six Labour MPs who took part in nationwide marches on Saturday, as was Labour’s trade spokesman, David Parker, who spoke at the Dunedin rally. Others were Phil Twyford, Ruth Dyson, Megan Woods, and Clare Curran, while Jacinda Ardern apologised for her absence.

And Labour’s trade spokeperson David parker was also supporting protests agaist a trade agreement.

Nash defended his involvement.

Mr Nash said he had been an importer and trader for eight years.

“I support free trade, without a question of a doubt, but it is not free trade at any cost.

“I know how valuable trade can be … but I have real concerns about this free trade agreement.

“Because we have no idea what is in this agreement, it is impossible to support it.”

He has no idea what’s in the agreement but has real concerns about it and says it is “impossible to support it.”

I’m not sure whay he’s so ignorant about it, I’ve heard quite a bit about what might be in the agreement, should it be signed.

But why is his default position (if he really has ‘no idea’ what might be in the agreement) to oppose the TPP when it could potentially be of significant benefit to the region he represents?

Shouldn’t he be arguing for an agreement that’s favourable?

Nash and Labour seem to have a strategy of opposing anything the Government is working on, even when they would almost certainly be supporting the policies and initiatives if they were in Government, the TPP and flag change beig current prominent examples.

They might be credible if they opposed specific aspects of the agreement that have been publicised, but claiming total ignorance and appearing to totally oppose the TPP looks like a party entrenced in Opposition.

Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill

A Member’s Bill put forward by David Parker has passed it’s first reading tonight by one vote.

Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Minimum Wage Act 1983 to extend its provisions to apply to payments under a contract for services that are remunerated at below the minimum wage.

For: Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, United Future

Against: National, ACT

Explanatory note:

General policy statement

People engaged as contractors have few of the protections of employees. They can be paid at a rate which is less than the minimum wage.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Minimum Wage Act 1983 to extend its provisions to apply to payments under a contract for services that are remunerated at below the minimum wage. Currently certain types of work, such as pamphlet deliveries, are not subject to any minimum wage requirements because remuneration is paid under a contract for services. The Bill provides for such contractors to be paid not less than a minimum rate, equivalent to the minimum wage.

As is the case for the minimum wage, the rate can be either hourly or on a piece rate basis.

Parker’s speech:

Improving tax compliance on capital gains

In the past Labour MPs have repeatedly claimed and implied that property speculators don’t have to pay tax on capital gains. A year ago then leader David Cunliffe and finance spokesperson David Parker both pushed this fallacy. From Cunliffe and Parker repeat claims on property speculation:

David Cunliffe in a speech to Young Labour:

We have too many children who are getting sick because they live in cold, damp, cramped houses with black mould growing up the walls. Sometimes owned by speculators who just push the rent up while getting rich on tax-free capital gains.

David Parker on The Nation:

“You need to tax the speculators….capital gains tax”
“Loan to valuation ratios would not be needed if they were taxing speculators and building affordable homes.”
“National Party, despite the fact that we had 40 percent house inflation, they’re not doing anything about it. Not taxing speculators…”

Presuming they must have known that IRD does pursue compliance on taxing the capital gains of speculators this looked dishonest.

It’s good to see that Andrew Little seems to be either more informed or more honest. He recently suggesting that the Reserve Bank target speculators as reported in Focus on spec buyers: Little

 Mr Little said the Government must take action on property speculators who were damaging the housing market.

Mr Little is known to not favour the introduction of a capital gains tax, something Labour had campaigned on in the last two elections and lost.

Mr Little said there were several options the Government could take to prevent property speculators building up large housing portfolios and pushing up house prices.

First home buyers, or those who wanted a rental property for retirement, were being shut out of the market by lending restrictions that should be targeted at property speculators who sometimes owned 10 to 20 houses and sat on them, he said.

”The solution needs to focus on Auckland. There is no point in a family trying to buy a house in Wanganui, where prices are dropping, being subject to lending restrictions designed to lower house price inflation.”

Another solution could be those buying multiple properties needing a higher level of equity for subsequent purchases, he said.

But the most important action was to build more houses to increase supply.

He’s on the same page as National in seeing the need to increase the supply of houses. And I’d expect him to agree with Bill English in his approach in IRD to clamp down on speculators.

Finance Minister Bill English yesterday rejected calls by the Reserve Bank to remove tax incentives for investment housing, which the bank has blamed for rising house prices in Auckland. But he said there was an ongoing discussion about whether the Inland Revenue Department could be doing more to enforce existing rules on property trading.

Mr English said there was already a tax in place for people who bought property with the aim of reselling it.

And with real estate agents and buyers reporting high levels of trading activity in Auckland, “there is a question of whether that should give rise to further enforcement activity”.

Speculators are already taxed, when the IRD can determine that they have been speculating.

At present, speculators have to declare that they are buying a house with the intention of reselling it. They are then taxed on the sale.

The IRD scrutinises property transaction records to make sure people are complying with this rule. In particular, it looks at how quickly a house is sold and the number of houses a person is selling.

Figures released by the IRD showed that $52.4 million was collected in 2013/2014 from speculators or traders – either from one-off speculative transactions or patterns of dealing. This figure is expected to increase in 2014/15. The IRD has already collected $63.2 million.

So IRD are addressing speculation and their tax take is increasing.

Any potential changes to the IRD’s resources would be announced as part of the Budget on May 15.

That suggests that the rules are seen as sufficient but that more resources may be provided to improve compliance with tax on capital gains when speculating.

Slater with Garner – a bit of a bully goat

Duncan Garner talked to Cameron Slater yesterday on his ‘The Hour of Power’ on Radio Live.

Garner: One of the more controversial players this year, and I’ve put him in my top five because he has impact. You may not like him, you may despise him actually and you may think he plays a pretty rough game, but this guy you cannot ignore him. Cameron Slater, Whale Oil, Cam good afternoon to you.

Slater: Good afternoon Duncan.

Garner: Do you like the fact that, well I’ll be pretty blunt here, that um a lot of people hate you?

Slater: I don’t care. I literally don’t care if they hate me or despise me, um, that says more about them and their thought processes that they allow themselves to be consumed by hate, because I literally don’t hate anybody um in this country and certainly not anybody involved in the beautiful game of politics.

Garner: Yeah although you do run some pretty um, some pretty aggressive attacks with a hate lines. you say you don’t hate anybody but one look at your blog and um you might think that you do.

Slater: When was the last time you read my blog Duncan?

Garner: Ah about an hour ago actually before I came on air.

Slater: And where’s the hate in there? There’s thirty odd posts there today, thirty yesterday or so, there’s not a word of hate there anywhere.

Garner: Yeah it wouldn’t be hard to find.

Slater: I don’t think people are a little bit subjective and a little bit soft and just don’t like the robust confronting that I do and that’s too bad ’cause I’m going to keep on doing it.

Garner: Let me just quote you one thing though mate, you said you play politics or blog like the Fijians play rugby”I’ll smash your face into the ground”, that’s pretty aggressive.

Slater: Oh it is pretty aggressive, but you know this is politics not tiddly winks. You know people want to, you take David Parker today, he stood up in the house again, smeared everybody, not a shred of evidence, he’s too gutless to say it outside of the house.

I say things in my own name, I say it on radio, on my blog, in public, and I’m not afraid of confronting the truth, but these gutless little wimps in Parliament are too cowardly to say anything outside of the house, and it’s my role in society to deal with that.

Slater has chosen that role.

He isn’t afraid of ‘confronting the truth’, bluntly (what is true is often disputed). He does it under his own name publicly. No problem with that.

He has fearlessly pushed boundaries and led the bleeding edge of blogging in New Zealand politics.

But he can be gutless as well. His blog blocks, censors and bans people confronting him with truth. That’s as gutless as any politician.

But he isn’t good at being confronted. He’s a bully who often over-reacts vindictively if someone annoys him.

Slater uses a sledgehammer and through his draconian blog moderation he takes the tiddlywinks off people who have tried to tell opinions or truths he doesn’t want competing with his own attack lines.

He may not hate anyone but his comments, his posts, his attacks can often appear as hateful.

Some of his attacks on David Parker recently gone further than aggresiveness, they have been unnecessarily nasty and spiteful. It’s possible to confront the truth aggressively without playing the dirty card.

Slater has a well worn pack of dirty cards. That diminishes his impact and effect because it’s easy to dismiss his over the top attacks as just hate and dirt.

It’s unlikely he will change his approach, which is an extreme mix of guts and gutless.

He’s a bit of a bully goat.

How not to end your year

David Parker hasn’t had a good year.


The Labour policies he contributed significantly to helped lose Labour the election. He then contested and lost the Labour leadership, and looked like that whacked him hard.

Today in the last day of Parliament of the year Parker was the last to try and score a hit for Labour in Question time. It was as successful as his policies and leadership bid.

He seems dispirited and will probably be seriously contemplating his future over the Christmas break.

InTheHouse has somehow stuffed up their last two transcripts for the year, this one is not there. Probably just as well not to be on the record.

David Parker’s SFO allegations

Yesterday under Parliamentary privilege Labour MP David Parker made allegations about undermining the Serious Fraud Office.

Radio NZ reports Parker raises Hotchin, SFO allegations

Labour MP David Parker has used parliamentary privilege to call for a deeper investigation into allegations arising from Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics.

He also told Parliament he had been informed of unsubstantiated claims about businessman Mark Hotchin, and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) inquiry into the collapse of Hanover Finance.

Details in the book resulted in a government inquiry into whether the minister in charge of the SFO at the time, Judith Collins, was involved in a campaign to undermine the then head of the SFO, Adam Feeley.

Ms Collins resigned as a minister at the time but has since been cleared of any wrongdoing by the inquiry.

However, serious questions remained, Mr Parker said in the House today.

He told Parliament two people had approached him making serious allegations about Mark Hotchin and the SFO investigation into him.

Video of Parker’s speech:

General Debate (draft Hansard transcript)

Speech – Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour)

Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour): There remains much to be investigated arising from the Nicky Hager book. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security showed last week the politicisation of the SIS by the head of the SIS and the Prime Minister’s own staff in his office.

What was written off by the Prime Minister as a left-wing conspiracy during the election was proven to be true: underhand tactics being used by the Prime Minister and the SIS. National was cynical enough on the day of the release of that report to drop two others including the report by Justice Chisholm into Judith Collins.

That report found that Judith Collins did not undermine the Serious Fraud Office. It found that there was no evidence in that regard. It did not inquire into whether Judith Collins had been improper in respect of Oravida —whether she had a personal conflict of interest there, a financial one.

It did not inquire into whether it was proper of her to pass information about public servants to Slater and it did not inquire as to whether the other allegations as to undermining the Serious Fraud Office were correct. Those matters were all outside the terms of reference.

The report did not exonerate Judith Collins in respect of those other matters and the report does not exonerate anyone else in respect of what may have been happening in respect of the undermining of the Serious Fraud Office.

What do we now know? We know that thousands of dollars were being paid every month via Carrick Graham to Mr Slater. Presumably thousands of dollars were also being paid to Carrick Graham himself.

What were both of them doing? Well, they were both undermining the Serious Fraud Office.

Who were they doing it for? We do not yet know who they were doing it for. It looks like they may have been doing it for Mr Hotchin .

Why would Mr Hotchin have been interested in doing that? Well, he was being investigated as to whether he should be charged with criminal offences following the half a billion dollars of losses suffered through Hanover Finance failing. He was being investigated at the time by the Serious Fraud Office.

I have had two people make worrying allegations to me. One is a former staff member of the Serious Fraud Office who told me that at the time that the Serious Fraud Office commenced its investigation a former adviser to Hotchin contacted this person and said:

“Hotchin plays a rough game. You watch out. He will use underhand tactics to undermine the Serious Fraud Office and their staff.”

The second allegation I have had made to me was that Mr Hotchin used underhand tactics to take out some of the potential witnesses against him in respect of his conduct by Hanover Finance.

I cannot name either of those sources and I cannot prove those allegations to be true. They are both hearsay allegations to me but these allegations must be investigated.

We have seen in respect of the SIS matters that there was fire behind the smoke and in respect of these allegations we know that thousands of dollars were presumably being paid by Hotchin to Carrick Graham and Slater and Cathy Odgers in respect of their efforts to undermine the Serious Fraud Office.

What we do not know is whether those actions were criminal and whether there was a criminal conspiracy. I made a complaint to the police over 2 months ago in respect of that. The only information I have had back other than to inquire whether I had more evidence was a line in the Chisholm report to say that the allegations in respect of Judith Collins were not being looked to any further, but it looks like no further actions are being inquired into.

These are serious allegations. They must be looked seriously at by the authorities. We have seen the politicisation of the SIS.

We must make sure that the police have not been politicised. They were happy enough to inquire into the teapot tapes, to cooperate with the Prime Minister to deem Mr Ambrose guilty despite the fact that he had two arguable defences, and yet we do not have the police looking at these most serious allegations as to whether the other allegations in the Hager book are true.

Indeed, Mr Hager—and if it were not for his efforts none of the SIS stuff would have come out and none of this other stuff would have been investigated—is the one who is being raided. He is the one who has suffered search warrants and yet neither Mr Slater, Ms Odgers, Mr Hotchin, nor the others like Carrick Graham seem to have been investigated by the police, and I do not think that is good enough.

A Little lineup leaking

Andrew Little will announce Labour’s new line up this morning, but some key details seem to have been leaked. Is this the infamous Labour caucus sieve still at work, or are snippets deliberately being drip fed by Little?

Patrick Gower has tweeted that “word from inside Labour” is that Annette King will be Little’s deputy, Grant Robertson will get the Finance role and David Cunliffe won’t be on the front bench.

David Parker has already said he doesn’t want either the deputy nor finance roles and there was speculation he may quit Parliament after seeming to be hit hard by his leadership bid failure.

But the Herald ‘understands’ that Parker has been brought back “into the fold”.

Mr Little also said he had brought David Parker back into the fold after speculation last week that he could leave Parliament. After coming third in the leadership contest, Mr Parker said he did not want to retain the finance or deputy positions, which prompted questions about whether he would remain as an MP at all.

Mr Little said he had “a very good discussion” with Mr Parker and he was confident that the role he had been given would “meet his expectations”.

King as deputy would be good, she is one of Labour’s most respected old school MPs and has been acting as leader during the leadership contest. She was deputy leader under Phil Goff’s leadership from 2008 until she resigned after Labour’s defeat in 2011.

She would also help Little bridge the caucus divides.

Robertson in Finance is interesting. It is one of the most demanding and important roles. It is also a nod towards bridging divides, but keeping Robertson as busy as possible may also be a crafty move. Helen Clark did similar with Michael Cullen after beating him in a leadership contest.

Little said he would review his MPs’ portfolios after a year, and that he wanted his MPs to have at least two years’ experience in their roles before the general election.

“We’ve got three years … and we want the best going into 2017.

“So I’ve made the judgment that I’ve got a year to try some people out, to try some new things, try some new combinations and see how those work.”

“I think you’ll see that this reshuffle is about bringing the caucus together as a team.”

“Bringing the caucus together as a team” will be one of Little’s biggest challenges and a key responsibility of deputy King.

And if these details are unauthorised leaks and the leaking continues then the King should start beheading any offenders.

Stepping up in the Labour boat

Andrew Little – obviously he has to step up big time. He’s put himself forward as leader, he has been chosen, and he has a massive job to do.

Labour caucus – while Little has to work on uniting his Caucus all the MPs need to unite behind Little and contribute to recovering and rebuilding.

Past leaders – Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe have all had a go and failed. It is their duty to help Little succeed.

Grant Robertson – he ran a very close race and will be bitterly disappointed. He needs to take some time to get over it, then do his utmost to help Little and Labour succeed. He isn’t leading the party but he can and should take a significant role in leading the Caucus support of Little.

David Parker – has indicated he doesn’t want to be deputy and doesn’t want to be Minister of Finance. He may be disappointed and he may be hurting, but this is very disappointing. Parker thought he was good enough and committed enough to be Labour leader, so he must be big enough and committed enough to be a strong senior member of Little’s caucus. He go in on the Labour list for another three year stint, like all the other MPs he owes it to Labour to do his utmost repair the damage and rebuild.

Nanaia Mahuta – has been criticised for being low profile and insignificant in her EIGHTEEN YEARS as an MP for Labour. She felt she could take on the huge challenge of being party leader. She must step up and repay her party.

Andrew Little has taken on a huge challenge. His success will be partly up to him, and it will just as much be up to all other 31 Labour MPs in Parliament, as well as the Labour Party.

If they all don’t out in the effort and work together they will live down to National’s expectations (this was a multi-party dig but it could be applied to Labour’s past performance on their own):

LabourRowboatOr this will be the Labour boat:


Good Standard on Labour leadership

An unusually good post and comment thread at The Standard on Labour’s leadership contest – My (late) vote.

Lyn Prentice is a campaigner from way back and has a good idea about how things work, especially with Labour – he’s it bit off the mark with some of his claims about National but that’s not his strength.

For a review of the leadership contenders and an insight into Labour campaigning it’s worth reading through the post and most of the comments.

Prentice happens to pick the leadership contest similar to I would (I’m not a Labour member so haven’t had to decided):

  1. Andrew Little
  2. David Parker
  3. Nanaia Mahuta
  4. Grant Robertson

I think I’d reverse Mahuta and Robertson.

And another old school Labour campaigner Anne names her preferred front bench.

  1. Andrew Little
  2. David Parker
  3. Grant Robertson
  4. Nanaia Mahuta
  5. David Cunliffe
  6. Phil Twyford
  7. Jacinda Ardern
  8. Annette King
  9. Phil Goff
  10. David Shearer

Her comment:

Yep. I came to the same conclusions for exactly the same reasons as lprent. A Little/Parker combination is what the Labour Party needs with Robertson, Mahuta, Cunliffe, Twyford, and Ardern taking the next five places. Annette King and Phil Goff still have a lot to offer in the way of experience and knowledge, but they have to give way to a new team. Having said that, I think they should – along with Shearer – take the next three places.

Leader plus ex leaders/acting leaders fill half of those positions – experience is valuable but it’s time the worked out how to work together and put the party ahead of their own ambitions or grievances.

I’d swap Robertson/Mahuta and Twyford/Ardern to put more female presence up the list. And I’m not sure that Goff should be that high, I’d rather look to the future more through Hipkins instead.

It’s worth repeating – interesting and worthwhile post and comments at The Standard.


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