What more should New Zealand do about Australian detainees?

The uproar in and outside Parliament yesterday over Chirstmas Island detainees seems to be based on demands from opposition MPs that more be done by John Key and the New Zealand Government about how Australia is dealing with and treating New Zealand born people being detained on Christmas Island.

In Parliamentary conduct described as “despicable” (Newstalk ZB):

The House descended in chaos and acrimony yesterday after the prime Minister said the Labour Party was defending rapists and sex offenders with its stance over Kiwi detainees on Christmas Island.

Labour is ‘furious’ about Key’s Question Time accusations, with Labour MP Grant Robertson saying his party’s simply asking that more be done for the Kiwis being detained.

“We are saying the Prime Minster needs to show some leadership on that. That is not backing the crimes that people in there have committed by any means.”

There seems to be more too it than “simply asking that more be done for the Kiwis”. There coukld be a bit of political posturing as well.

There’s also conflicting information about just how dangerous the New Zealanders imprisoned on Christmas Island are.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said Key’s accusations are rubbish, as she knows of a man currently detained who has no convictions, and even won medals during his army service in Afghanistan.

“He belonged to a gang called the ‘Rebels Biker Gang’ and now he’s been picked up, he’s been targeted and put into a detention centre for deportation based on what? Questionable character.”

I presume Fox and Labour’s Kelvin Davis are basing their comments on what detainees have told them, which may not be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Some may be detained without good legal reason but I expect that most have either criminal or immigration issues.

In Question Time yesterday:

1. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: What action, if any, has he taken to follow up on his statement to Malcolm Turnbull regarding New Zealand – born Australian detainees on Christmas Island, “I think, in the spirit of mateship, there should be some compassion shown”?

Andrew Little: Why is he so weak that he spends his time with Malcolm Turnbull talking about what ties to wear rather than having the moral courage to demand that Australia do what is right for the detainees?

Andrew Little: Why has it taken an inmate to die, a 2-day fire, and a full-blown riot for him and his Ministers to finally lift a finger to do something about it?

Andrew Little: Why does he not stop being so gutless and failing New Zealanders and stand up for New Zealanders on Christmas Island and the 151,000 who are now out of work under his Government?

I think Key’s reaction was unhelpful and inflammatory, and an apology would be appropriate, but he is obviously frustrated by being pushed to do more about something he has little say in, Australia’s dealing of criminal and immigration matters.

And iot’s not just the Opposition demanding more be done.

@MatthewHootonNZ on The Huddle is getting this Christmas Island thing bang on right now. Key is being gutless.

What should he do about it? Fo to Canberra and…make them what?

Gee, fly to Canberra or do nothing? You can’t think of any other options Pete?

Send the SAS and a Hercules to Christmas Island?

Don’t be a twit

So Matthew, Grant, Marama, Andrew – what exactly do you think Key can and should be doing that hasn’t been done already?

“The prime minister is a coward ” – on right now.

Hooton must know the political reality of Key’s position oveer what is happening in another country. Does he really think more could and should be done? Or is he, and Labour, using this issue as an excuse to attack Key for their own political reasons.

The Herald in today’s editorial Hamstrung PM cynical on detainees:

Mr Key continues to put his hopes in gentle persuasion rather than public criticism of Australian policy. His response to the riot has been almost sympathetic to Canberra, arguing that if Australian prisoners were rioting at Paremoremo he would not expect a protest from the Australian Government. Opposition parties think he should at least be asking questions of Australia at the United Nations, where it is under investigation by the Human Rights Council, and seeks a seat on that body.

But the fact remains New Zealand has more to lose than to gain by pressing too hard. Citizens of no other country have the right to live and work in Australia as freely as New Zealanders do, without becoming citizens or officially permanent residents. This privilege has been enjoyed by citizens of both countries since time immemorial, but never formalised, it seems.

We have no treaty to invoke against deportation of Kiwis who have been there a long time. We can only hope Kiwis who go there take note, and do not let us down.

Many of the New Zealand detainees have abused a privilege given to just us by Australia. Getting loud and angry like Davis and Little may achieve more – but it may not be the sort of more they are presumably aiming at.

More restrictions on New Zealanders going to Australia and living in Australia would affect many more Kiwis and ex-Kiwis than are detained on Christmas Island.

I wonder if Labour here would be so demanding that more be done if there was a Labor government in Australia?

Regardless, what more could or should New Zealand do over the Australian detainee issue?

Genter versus Robertson, Greens versus Labour

David Farrar has also posted on Chris Trotter’s hopes for a Trudeau type leader emerging on New Zealand’s left (see Scouring Labour for some Trubro magic posted here on Tuesday).

In Does Labour have a Trudeau? Farrar talks of an interesting observation:

I was listening to RNZ’s The Week in Politics today while running. It was on the budget surplus. What struck me was that Julie-Anne Genter came across as far more reasoned and logical on the economy, than Grant (Robertson).

He was still arguing that somehow the seven years of deficits were caused by National while also attacking National for not spending more. It was very weak, while Genter actually made quite reasonable arguments.

Green finance spokesperson Genter has always made quite reasonable arguments, especially on her speciality transport. Someone who is smart and eloquent and makes sure they know their stuff can shift their strengths to other issues.

Last week I posted about observations made by Colin James:

Little versus Shaw, plus the Winston factor

Colin James has made an interesting observation about Andrew Little and James Shaw in his latest column. He wonders if Little may struggle to look like Leader of the Opposition alongside Shaw.

Add to that Genter alongside Robertson as finance spokespeople and Labour versus Green could get very interesting.

Especially if Genter is elevated to co-leader alongside Shaw.

Little, King and Wellington

Andrew Little had to rush an announcement that Annette King will remain as duputy leader despite saying when he became leader that her appointment will be for one year only.

It started with a bit of disarray.

Andrew Little botched the announcement of his deputy. Gave it to a journo over coffee, then coms team scrambled together a press conference.

The conference followed this report on Stuff: Labour leader sticking with Annette King for deputy

Labour leader Andrew Little says rising star Jacinda Ardern didn’t want the deputy leadership.

This comes after he confirmed on Wednesday veteran MP Annette King will stay in the role through to the next election in 2017.

“[Jacinda] hasn’t sought the role. The nature of the role means there’s a lot of back office stuff that has to be done. Jacinda’s strength is of course her outreach and getting out there, especially in Auckland, where I need her to be the most active,” Little said.

From Geneva, where King is leading a New Zealand delegation at the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly, she said she was “very happy to do whatever Andrew and the caucus want and happy to carry on in the role”.

This isn’t surprising. Ardern doesn’t look like solid deputy material, lacking in experience and in Caucus gravitas.

King looks to be about the only Labour MP capable of doing a good job as deputy.

But this creates a problem for Little and Labour. Little also announced that Grant Robertson would remain spokesperson on Finance.

So the top three Labour MPs remain as:

  1. Andrew Little (Wellington)
  2. Annette King (Wellington)
  3. Grant Robertson (Wellington)

Ardern has to be bumped up to 4 to give some sort of a nod to youth and to Auckland. Nanaia Mahuta is currently at four but she is virtually anonymous so has to drop down.

So next currently:

  1. Nanaia Mahuta (Waikato)
  2. Phil Twyford (Auckland)
  3. Chris Hipkins (Wellington)
  4. Carmel Sepuloni (Auckland)
  5. Kelvin Davis (Northland)
  6. Jacinda Ardern (Auckland)
  7. David Clark (Dunedin)

So that balances things a bit down the order but still Wellington 4 and Auckland 3 plus 2 from well up the North Island.

The first from the South Island is Clark at 10 and he has hardly been prominent (neither have most of the others).

But the biggest imbalance is four of ten Wellington MPS that are top heavy on the line up.

The two hands of Robertson’s surplus response

Today’s Herald editorial – Use surplus for benefit of everyone – highlights a contradiction in the opposition response to the National Government finally, after seven years, achieving an actual surplus.

Across the aisle, opposition parties waved their wish-lists with new confidence, calling for the surplus to be spent on child poverty, more hospital operations, more pre-school education … you name it.

At the same time, they predicted the slender surplus would disappear as suddenly as it arrived.

Labour have long criticised National for following their surplus years under Helen Clark and Michael Cullen with a sequence of deficits.

Even now they lambast National because they say the surplus will be short lived due to tightening economic conditions and low inflation.

But Labour have opposed many measures aimed at keeping a tight rein on spending.

They have pushed for more spending.

As soon as the surplus was announced Labour MPs suggested how it could be spent many times over.

On one hand Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson was highly critical of the meagre surplus:

First surplus a blip on radar screen of debt

by  on October 14, 2015

Bill English’s first surplus is just one black drop in a sea of red, with New Zealanders still paying over $10m a day in interest payments, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Finance Minister has finally found a surplus needle in his haystack of debt. Despite promising a ‘significant’ surplus, it’s just $414m. That’s less than 0.2 per cent of GDP – a rounding error, not a surplus.

“But the surplus show is over before it has begun. With the economy running out of steam, National’s promises of a string of surpluses are extremely unlikely to become reality. That’s poor financial management.

“National’s financial management will go down in history as one small surplus – at the peak of the economic cycle – out of nine Budget deficits.

And on the other hand, on the same day, he issued this complaint about the lack of spending required to achieve the surplus:

Nats sacrifice Kiwis’ health and education for surplus

by  on October 14, 2015

National’s drive for surplus has meant less investment in critical areas like health, education, housing and transport – yet John Key told Parliament today he wants the money for cycleways, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Government’s belated surplus has been partly achieved by dropping spending by $235m in education, $97m on housing and community development, $52m in health and over $300m on transport and communications.

“These are critical areas. Too many students are failing NCEA, dilapidated state houses are making people sick, patients are waiting far too long in hospital emergency departments and regional roads and internet services are in desperate need of upgrades.

“It also appears that $444m has been taken out of the EQC claims budget. No one in Canterbury waiting for repairs or needing their repairs redone would think that money isn’t needed.

“The next time Kiwis find themselves waiting for an operation, getting sick in their home, worrying about their children’s performance at school, or nearly crashing on a dodgy road they can thank their lucky stars Bill English has a surplus and John Key has his cycleways,” Grant Robertson says.

This is Opposition opposing gone mad – criticising National for finally, only just achieving a surplus but hammering them for not spending more. For not spending a lot more.

On one hand he criticises years of deficits, but he wants to hand out heaps more money with his other.

The Herald wrote:

If the surplus in the final account for the year that ended on June 30 can be sustained in the current year and projected to continue, the best use of it would be to reduce debt more quickly. The next best use would be to resume the contributions to the NZ Super Fund that the Government suspended six years ago.

The level of debt and stopping contributions to the Super Fund have also been criticised by Labour.

If Robertson ever becomes Minister of Finance it will be interesting to see how he goes about balancing the books.

A surplus, just

The Government have got their surplus, just. Bill English may be more relieved than happy, and prudence will need to continue with financial conditions being a bit iffy.


By Hon Bill English

The Government has reported an operating surplus in the fiscal year that ended on 30 June, meeting a target set in 2011 following the Canterbury earthquakes and the international financial crisis, says Finance Minister Bill English.

The OBEGAL surplus of $414 million in the year to 30 June 2015 is equal to 0.2 per cent of GDP and the Government’s operating balance inclusive of gains and losses was a surplus of $5.8 billion or equal to 2.4 percent of GDP.

While core Crown expenses grew by $1.2 billion (1.7 per cent), the increase in spending was lower than the pace of growth in the economy, resulting in expenses easing to 30.1 per cent of GDP, compared with over 34 per cent of GDP four years ago.

“Returning to surplus in 2014/15 is a significant milestone. I’m proud of the steps taken across the wider public service to help deliver the surplus target while also improving the quality of social services delivered to New Zealanders,”  Mr English says.

“The Government is committed to continued prudent management of the public finances, including ongoing attention to operating spending and the underlying drivers of demand for public services. The Government supports reprioritisation of spending that is not delivering results and rigorous management of the Crown balance sheet.

“Our focus must remain on steady and ongoing reductions in public debt over the medium term. That is the most prudent approach to take in a still uncertain global environment,” Mr English says.

“The economy is growing. It recently registered its 18th consecutive quarter of expansion to deliver annual growth of 2.4 per cent in June 2015.

“The Government’s programme to build a more productive economy is delivering dividends in the form of higher living standards and better quality essential services. And it is also delivering returns in terms of the health of the Crown’s finances.

“What today’s figures from Treasury indicate is the Crown’s overall finances have been radically turned around in the years since they had to absorb cumulative shocks outside of the control of any government,” Mr English says.

In the wake of those shocks, the Crown’s annual operating balance excluding gains and losses (OBEGAL) was a deficit of $18.4 billion – that’s equivalent to around nine per cent of national income or GDP in that year.

“It has required very careful stewardship over day-to-day expenses to permit the Government to chip away at the size of the OBEGAL deficits year after year and, in 2014/15, to return to surplus and deliver on the target first set in 2011,” Mr English says.

“Our focus must remain on steady and ongoing reductions in public debt over the medium term. That is the most prudent approach to take in a still uncertain global environment,” Mr English says.

Having criticised National for running deficits for siz years Labour have switched to criticising them for not spending more (which would keep us in deficit).

Nats sacrifice Kiwis’ health and education for surplus

by Grant Robertson on October 14, 2015

National’s drive for surplus has meant less investment in critical areas like health, education, housing and transport – yet John Key told Parliament today he wants the money for cycleways, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Government’s belated surplus has been partly achieved by dropping spending by $235m in education, $97m on housing and community development, $52m in health and over $300m on transport and communications.

“These are critical areas. Too many students are failing NCEA, dilapidated state houses are making people sick, patients are waiting far too long in hospital emergency departments and regional roads and internet services are in desperate need of upgrades.

“It also appears that $444m has been taken out of the EQC claims budget. No one in Canterbury waiting for repairs or needing their repairs redone would think that money isn’t needed.

“Bill English says this is the Government saving money but the truth is he is trying to cover his Budget blushes and belatedly scrape together a surplus.

“Incredibly now the Government is in surplus John Key doesn’t want to fix these critical areas – he wants to spend the money on more cycleways.

“The next time Kiwis find themselves waiting for an operation, getting sick in their home, worrying about their children’s performance at school, or nearly crashing on a dodgy road they can thank their lucky stars Bill English has a surplus and John Key has his cycleways,” Grant Robertson says.

I await Robertson’s plan for spending more, resuming contributions to the Super fund, and reducing Government debt.

“How hamstrung by Union fealty he is” (Andrew Little)

This morning on Q & A Labour leader Andrew Little said the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement failed Labour’s bottom lines on two counts – that it didn’t allow legislation that stopped foreign nationals from buying property in New Zealand (and he supported Grant Robertson/Jacinda Ardern’s suggestion that Labour would ignore the Agreement and cop the consequences), and that the gains for dairy trade were too small to justify the agreement.

So while Little says they have to wait until they can see the details of the TPP Agreement he seems to have positioned himself and Labour as being against the Treaty.

When asked how this sat with Helen Clark’s comments – she said it would be “unthinkable” for New Zealand to be left out of the TPP Agreement) – Little waffled around without directly disagreeing with Clark.

In comments on Andrew Little on the TPPA (on Q &A) Traveller said:

I could feel sorry for Little if I wasn’t so hard hearted. Every time he opens his mouth he illustrates how hamstrung by Union fealty he is. How hearts and minds will be won in 2017 by what we’re all coming to see is a Union movement dominated Labour I’m buggered if I know.

It does appear that Little is backing what seems to be a general Union stance of free trade agreements and particularly the TPPA – they are bad because they are pro-corporation and anti worker.

What Unionists don’t acknowledge that many workers are employed by corporations.

Many businesses in New Zealand that will benefit from reduced or removed tariffs and reduced trade barriers are small businesses, and medium and large sized business that employer workers.

I’m not aware of many worker controlled co-operatives involved in international trade in New Zealand. I guess that’s because Unions want the Government to employ everyone.

But even if the Government employed everyone New Zealand would still be very reliant on trade with other countries. And that would benefit from more trade agreements, not less.

I can understand Unionists being immersed in worker versus corporation ideology.

I understand that Andrew Little was a Unionist before he became an MP and before he become leader of the Labour Party.

I also understand that Little became leader of the Labour Party in no small part because of the 20% of the vote for leader that unions get, plus a good share of the membership 40%..

I also understand that the not much of the Labour Caucus 40% went to Little.

I don’t know if Little is hamstrung be Union fealty, but he certainly seems committed to supporting Union ideology on the TPPA. Which means opposing it.

If so this is a major change in position on trade agreements for Labour. Or at least for some of Labour.

It wouldn’t be surprising if there’s quite a bit of concern in Labour’s Caucus about this significant shift.

Little seems to be committed to being anti-TPPA and pro passing legislation that ignores the Agreement, similar to Robertson and Ardern.

Where does this put Labour’s deputy, Annette King. I don’t know how inclined towards Union fealty she is.

Is this enough to swing favouritism for deputy in Labour’s promised reshuffle next month towards Ardern?

Hooton – fox targeting the Labour chicken house?

Matthew Hooton has piled into Labour over their stance or apparent stance on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, both through a column at NBR and via Twitter.

For some background on Labour and the TPPA see Labour – fundamental flaw in thinking on TPP agreement.

The NBR column is behind their paywall but they summarise it:

Labour lurches to the extreme left over TPP


Andrew Little’s rabble is under the spell of Jeremy Corbyn and the far-left Twitterati.

At least five Labour MPs – including two former leaders – would cross the floor if its leadership decided to vote against the TPP, party insiders say. Labour’s leadership is considering withdrawing from the deal if it forms a government in 2017.  John Key could split Labour by forcing a parliamentary vote on ratification, writes Matthew Hooton.

David Farrar quotes what looks like most or all of Hooton’s column at Kiwiblog in Hooton on Labour and TPP, including:

John Key must be sorely tempted to put the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to a formal ratification vote in parliament. If the prime minister did so, he would split the ridiculous rabble that sits across from him.

Two former Labour leaders, Phil Goff and David Shearer, would cross the floor to back the deal, along with Napier MP Stuart Nash, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis and Tāmaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare, party insiders say.

That’s provocative – and unsubstantiated.

The party’s antics over the TPP this week suggest its missing-in-action leader, Mr Little, and its woeful finance spokesman, Grant Robertson, have never moved on from their time leading student rabble as presidents of the New Zealand University Students’ Association.

As Labour – fundamental flaw in thinking on TPP agreement shows Robertson has taken an odd stance. I asked Hooton on Twitter about Little as he has been absent and silent. He said:

Assume @AndrewLittleMP stands wherever the new mega Union tells him to. On #tpp and everything else.

Back to his column:

Insiders say that when Labour’s senior MPs and staff discuss policy and political positioning, the likely reaction of the left-wing Twitterati and blogsophere is given greater weight than that of any union, environmental group or social-policy advocates, let alone any industry association or business.

Insiders? Who’s been talking to Hooton? Has Labour started to leak and fracture over the TPPA.

Labour insider Rob Salmond was quick to diss the TPPA and posted a critical TPP, eh? at Public Address that seems to fit with the Robertson opposition to the trade agreement.

The Standard has had a number of TPPA posts:

Hooton has been commenting at The Standard on the TPPA – see this search.

Back to his column:

The party’s hierarchy is now seriously considering actively campaigning against the TPP and making a manifesto commitment to activate the agreement’s withdrawal procedures should it become government.

You read that right: today’s Labour hierarchy is seriously considering promising to withdraw from a trade deal with 40% of the world’s economy, including the US, Japan and Canada, for which Ms Clark, its greatest prime minister for a generation and its first ever to win three elections, deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

Have nothing to do with these people. Do not give them money. Do not help them with their policy development. Do not let them visit your business for cute photo-ops designed to suggest today’s Labour is interested in listening to mainstream people.

For all the current government’s usual purposelessness and drift, the lunatics now running Labour’s asylum must never be let near power.

That’s far harsher than Hooton’s anti-John Key campaign.

Stuff checked Hooton’s claims out with Labour – in Little’s continued absence Annette King spoke in defence.

Labour’s Annette King denies internal rift over TPPA deal

Claims of a rift within Labour over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) have been dismissed as “crap” by acting leader Annette King, after claims up to eight MPs would vote against the party if it chose to oppose the controversial trade deal.

King accused Hooton of “absolute spin and downright deceit”, and challenged him to name one Labour MP who had spoken to him about crossing the floor.

Hooton has named up to seven Labour MPs he says could vote against the party on TPPA related legislation but that assumes Labour as a party would oppose any legislation.

But he has referred just to ‘insiders’ as his source, not specific MPs.

“It actually makes me angry that anyone would give any credence to his crap…there isn’t a tissue paper between us on the way we’re handling it.”

King said Labour’s position on its bottom lines for the TPPA had been agreed by the entire caucus, and balanced the party’s support for fair trade with its concerns about secrecy around the deal.

“There is no doubt that we are a party in favour of free and fair trade…we’ve proven that. What we’re getting to is the fair part of the trade: how fair is it on New Zealanders, on our health, on our sovereignty?”

While the last Labour Government had signed a free trade agreement with China, the TPPA was “a deal like no other” and needed to be scrutinised before the party would give its position.

“We are taking it seriously in terms of looking at it and asking, demanding we get information and answers, and we won’t be pushed around by Hooton or any commentators.”

King said the Labour would discuss its position at its caucus meeting, but denied there had been any conversations about opposing the deal.

“We’ve never had such a discussion: we have been waiting like the rest of New Zealand to see what’s been negotiated, because all we have had is five years of secrecy…and people picking up things as gossip.”

Except that Robertson and Ardern have both said that Labour could ignore the TPP Agreement and pass legislation contrary to it’s legal requirements. Again, see Labour – fundamental flaw in thinking on TPP agreement.

Hooton responded to the Stuff article:

. resorts to outright lies: “there isn’t a tissue paper between us on the way we’re handling

That’s certainly an odd claim by King, given that Labour’s leader (Little) and their Trade Spokesperson David Parker have both been silent over the last week.

Does King fully support what Robertson and Ardern have stated? All she has done is used the old attack as defence tactic.

Is Hooton stirring up potential rifts in Labour? Certainly.

Are Labour MPs feeding and encouraging him? Unless Hooton is blatantly making things up then that seems likely.

This will certainly contribute to some interesting discussions within the Labour Caucus.

It could be a tricky week next week for Andrew Little when he returns and will no doubt be pressed on what Labour’s actual position is.

If he backs the Robertson/Ardern lines that place Labour in a very difficult position on the TPPA. Proposing to pull out of or ignore the provisions of (and therefore breach) the agreement would thrill some on the hard left who oppose trade agreements, but it may not thrill the voters Labour needs to win back.

But if Little takes a softer line and generally supports the TPPA with some reservations pending details then that will raise serious questions about who has been running Labour over the last week.

Is Hooton a fox circling the Labour chicken house? We may or may not get to hear the squawking, but it’s hard to imagine there will be none inside.

UPDATE: I put the heading and a link to this post in a tweet and Annette responded:

@PeteDGeorge @MatthewHootonNZ @nzlabour @AndrewLittleMP no -a fool chasing rainbows for a pot of gold!

Labour – fundamental flaw in thinking on TPP agreement

Labour has so far reacted to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement in a leadership vacuum – Andrew Little has been away all week, and so has their Trade spokesperson David Parker.

Their official releases this week perhaps give some idea of where Labour stands on the TPPA.

Deputy leader Annette King was first up: New Zealand has missed the bus on TPP

“The devil is definitely in the detail in these agreements. New Zealanders must be told whether the government has traded away our right to further restrict foreign ownership of housing or farm land and what agreements have been made to allow foreign corporations to sue New Zealand for regulating in the public interest.

“Labour supports free trade, but the TPPA is more than just a trade agreement. We have been very clear that we will not support it if it does not meet our bottom lines including meaningful gains for farmers, the ability to restrict house and land sales, protecting Pharmac and the ability to govern in the interests of New Zealanders,” Annette King says.

That was vague (fair enough in the absence of detail available) with no stance specified apart from standing by their bottom lines.

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson was next with TPPA fails dairy and foreign buyers tests

“National needs to be clear whether this deal will stop a future government from further restricting land and housing purchases by overseas buyers.  Early reports indicate that this has been traded away. Giving New Zealanders a fair go at owning our land and fulfilling the Kiwi dream of owning a home are core principles for Labour.  We reserve the right to regulate and legislate to make this happen.

A hint there that Labour reserves “the right to regulate and legislate” regardless of what is in the international agreement.

Robertson tweeted along similar lines:

National Govt has traded away right of future govt to further tighten land/housing sales to overseas buyers. (1/2)

(2/2) Labour believes supporting Kiwi dream of owning own home is core principle. We must have right to legislate to help this happen.

He repeats “the right to legislate” regardless of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

King again – Groser playing games over Pharmac fallout – this was just criticism of the TPPA in relation to drug procurement with no Labour commitment stated.

They were all on the 6th (Tuesday). The only other news release was yesterday, with Nanaia Mahuta with the Maori angle on land – TPP may affect Maori land interests.

The Government has signed a deal that may put Maori land interests second in line to multilateral trade interests says Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

“Maori have a strong affinity to their lands and natural resources. It is possible that the Government could preference foreign and corporate interests.

“Australia can still restrict foreign buyers of its homes. Malaysia can still ban foreign ownership of affordable housing but now it seems the Government has negotiated away our rights to protect our land.

Did Australia and Malaysia get exemptions in the TPPA? Or will they do what New Zealand will do, adjust their laws to comply with what they have signed up to?

Jacinda Ardern went further even that Grant Riobertson in a speech to the Rotorua Chamber of Commerce: Labour to carry on regardless of TPPA – Ardern

A Labour Government will make laws without regard to the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and if necessary “face the consequences”.

That was the view of Jacinda Ardern, Labour MP and spokesperson for small business, speaking at a Chamber of Commerce event in Rotorua on Tuesday.

“When we’re in Government we’ll continue to legislate as we would and we’ll face the consequences,” she said.

Ardern said that Labour was not against free trade agreements, but that the TPPA had been passed with very little Parliamentary scrutiny.

“This was very different to your usual trade agreement,” she said.

“It wasn’t just state to state, it was corporate to state.”

Ardern is seen as closely associated with Robertson, and she put herself forward as deputy on Robertson’s leadership bid last year.

Robertson had claimed a right to legislate regardless of the TPPA.

Ardern says that “When we’re in Government we’ll continue to legislate as we would and we’ll face the consequences”.

What would the consequences be of breaching the TPP Agreement?

What will be the consequences of Robertson and Ardern taking this stance when Little returns next week?

If Little is on board with this bizarre approach to international agreements then what will be the consequences for Labour?

In the short term this is certain to be thrown at them in Parliament.

In the longer term it questions their credibility as a government-in-waiting party, something they have struggled with for the last years.

But this is not just a perception of incompetence, it is a fundamental flaw in thinking on international politics and trade agreements.

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.

Robb on Little: “You always know when someone is going places”.

Retiring Parliamentary staffer Shona Robb says that she thought from day one that Andrew Little would be “going places” and looks forward to seeing him in “the big role” in 2017.

Stuff reports – MPs’ long serving staffer retires after four decades:

After 39 years, six prime ministers and hundreds of MPs, Shona Robb has called time on her career. And as Parliament’s longest serving staffer clocked off for the last time yesterday, her silver wrist-watch stopped.

She started work in the Opposition typing pool in September 1976 – before Parliamentary Service was established and construction of the Beehive was finished. MPs Todd Barclay, David Seymour, Jacinda Ardern, Nikki Kaye, Julie Anne Genter and Simon Bridges were yet to be born.

Working for MPs for 39 years is a huge achievement.

Robb makes some interesting comments about Andrew Little – see the video from 1:12

But the last few years working with Andrew has been pretty special indeed, and you always know when someone is going places, and I think I knew from day one.

So I’m really backing this man and I hope that, you know, in 2017 he’s going to take the big role. So we’ll be there to see you do that.

There’s also some interesting visuals involving Grant Robertson while Rob was saying that.


Well done Shona for a long career in Parliament. We’ll see in a couple of years if Little gets the big role as she anticipates.


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