New Zealander of the Year supports pre-school childcare

One of the controversial measures announced in last week’s budget was:

Beneficiaries used to be forced to return to work when their child turned five, but the Government announced in the Budget that’s changing to three.

Last year’s New Zealander of the Year Northland GP Lance O’Sullivan applauded this.

I have an interesting feeling that the encouraging parents back to work at age 3, I feel that’s a good initiative. I like the initiative around increasing access to early childhood education, especially for vulnerable children.

When you’re talking there when you say about other people who can influence the lives of vulnerable children, you talk about that it’s a good thing that children as young as 3 will be in childcare. Why do you say that? Why?

Oh, look, I’m absolutely a believer. Well, look, the communities I serve, you know, the children I’m serving and looking after are typically coming from very chaotic backgrounds, okay, so if they’re on welfare, they’re more likely to be exposed to social dysfunction.

Now, that could be alcohol-drug abuse, that could be violence, that could be mental health problems, that could be problems with incarceration of any number of the families, housing problems, so, you know, if we could get an opportunity to get these children out of those environments, and these are 3-year-old-plus or even earlier, perhaps, for six hours a day, five days a week, I think we should.

I think we should be able to expose them to positive environments, keep them warm, safe and dry and give them a learning opportunity that will prepare them for school, because I don’t believe we should wait till age 5.

I mean, the chief scientific advisor, who used to be my dean at the medical school, Peter Gluckman, believes in this. I certainly tautuku his expertise in that area.

Labour’s Grant Robertson, who said that Labour would look at increasing the age back to five, should find O’Sullivan’s thoughts on this interesting.

Giving more money to dysfunctional families won’t remove the children from the dysfunction.

Pressing parents into working or training in preparation for work might mean children are put into (Government funded) childcare. This could certainly help them from a younger age.

Interview transcript: Lisa Owen interviews Northland GP Lance O’Sullivan

Lisa Owen: We’ve heard a lot this week about what politicians and commentators think about the Budget, but what about those on the front line in the struggle against poverty? Well, Lance O’Sullivan is a Kaitaia GP, public health champion and last year’s New Zealander of the Year. He’s come into the studio today. Good morning. Thanks for joining us.

Lance O’Sullivan: Kia ora, Lisa.

You wanted to see a greater focus on health and social needs of children. Does this Budget deliver? Does it go far enough?

Yeah, I think it’s been a bit of a surprise. We certainly—the lead-up to the Budget announcement in terms of media commentary was that there wasn’t going to be a lot in that area. I think, yeah, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. As a doctor that works in a high-needs community with vulnerable children, I think this will make a difference to my job on Monday, at least when the initiatives start coming into play.

In what way?

Well, look, you know, certainly $25 a week extra in households in my community can be a significant percentage income for their disposable income, and so that’s useful. Though $25 a week is probably not, you know, the end game, I think this is a step in the right direction, but it’s not going to be the magic bullet. I— I have an interesting feeling that the encouraging parents back to work at age 3, I feel that’s a good initiative. I like the initiative around increasing access to early childhood education, especially for vulnerable children. So, yeah, I think those are two or three really good initiatives that have come out of this Budget.

Well, Bill English says that kids who are living in families on a benefit need to get a decent upbringing. You said 25 bucks is a step in the right direction, but can they get a decent upbringing for that? Would you like to see it go higher?

Yeah, I think the question is, you know, what is it? Is it just putting more money into people’s pockets that are living on welfare and in vulnerable situations, or is it having, you know, a whole package of greater care and services around these people?

So which is it, do you think?

It’s probably a combination of both, actually. I think, you know— I do think that there needs to be some prescriptive measures around the increased income that could be made available to families with vulnerable children.

What do you mean by that?

Well, I would really want to see that $25 being put to the best use, okay, so I would like to see that being used for— you know, if it could be used to have children be put into early childhood centres, that would be fantastic. You know, things—

So ring-fencing the increase? So if you want to see more money go to them, ring-fencing it so you have to spend this money on food or you have to spend it on early childcare?

Well, I think, you know, that would be a possible consideration, yeah.

Okay, well, the Children’s Commissioner has said that this is a one-off increase; it’s not a plan. Do you think we need something – a bigger picture, a plan, a comprehensive plan with targets and a clear strategy?

Yeah, well, I’m a simple GP working, doing a simple job, although it seems pretty complex at times, but I would say, yeah, again this is a step in the right direction. I guess it requires, I believe, you know, if we’re talking about child poverty, a comprehensive plan that goes across sectors, obviously driven by our finance— our Treasury department, but, you know, looking at more than just increasing dollars in people’s hands but actually, you know, greater connectedness between all of the sectors that work with vulnerable communities, okay, so whether it be MSD, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Justice, all of these players that actually can influence positive outcomes for these communities, in particular vulnerable children.

When you’re talking there when you say about other people who can influence the lives of vulnerable children, you talk about that it’s a good thing that children as young as 3 will be in childcare. Why do you say that? Why?

Oh, look, I’m absolutely a believer. Well, look, the communities I serve, you know, the children I’m serving and looking after are typically coming from very chaotic backgrounds, okay, so if they’re on welfare, they’re more likely to be exposed to social dysfunction. Now, that could be alcohol-drug abuse, that could be violence, that could be mental health problems, that could be problems with incarceration of any number of the families, housing problems, so, you know, if we could get an opportunity to get these children out of those environments, and these are 3-year-old-plus or even earlier, perhaps, for six hours a day, five days a week, I think we should. I think we should be able to expose them to positive environments, keep them warm, safe and dry and give them a learning opportunity that will prepare them for school, because I don’t believe we should wait till age 5. I mean, the chief scientific advisor, who used to be my dean at the medical school, Peter Gluckman, believes in this. I certainly tautuku his expertise in that area.

All right. Well, the Government has talked a lot about targeted help, so is it right that all kids under the age of 13 get free doctor’s visits? Because that means a millionaire could take her kids along to the doctor for free. Would that money be better spent elsewhere?

Yeah, look, I have for a long time felt we needed to be more targeted with our, you know, what we have. We have a limited resource and we have a scattered distribution in need, so the need at the lowest end, the investment there is going to pay significant more dividends than investment at the higher end. And, you know, that requires some people viewing they’re giving up something. My guess the aversion to targeted funding is that the political popularity of that, you know, it’s great to that all of our children in New Zealand are going to get free access to care, despite the fact that probably only about 25% really need that because of their vulnerability.

We’re talking about people giving something up there. We’ve just been having a discussion about superannuation. Do you think it’s right that someone can collect a super while still earning a full wage? Would you like that money to go somewhere else?

Yeah, well, look. Yeah, well, just looking at the Budget overview today, the biggest spend in the Government cost is social security and welfare – $25 billion in this budget. And then it’s 15 billion for health and 13 billion for education. I’d really love to see that flipped on its head and see education and health being the top spenders in a budget. So how are we going to cut down the welfare costs? Well, there is a really big section of the country who are beneficiaries that we forget to talk about, and that’s superannuates who have contributed a marvellous—made a marvellous contribution to New Zealand society and the nation building, and we can’t forget that. How do we support them through into their retirement? But the question is, where—at what end of the age spectrum are we having the greatest challenges, and how can we get the biggest dividend, I guess, for our investment? And I would be saying there, looking at how we rejig the superannuation as a smart move, yeah.

Iain Lees-Galloway unhappy in Parliament

Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway wasn’t happy with the Speaker David Carter nor a number of Government MPs  yesterday in Question Time.

 

Disgusting display of arrogance from Bill English in the house. And from elsewhere in the house (that I may not name) too.

He retweeted

The Speaker’s reasoning only makes sense if…nope. It’s just plain ridiculous

And  

Carter now shut Cunliffe out. Peters tries to help. Carter says public will judge… We have. You’re a useless, useless puppet

Then tweeted:

Parliament has become a complete farce. Most of you already think that but it’s been confirmed for us too today.

Retweeted 

Carter again demonstrating how a biased Speaker contributes to disorder in the house

Blaming the Speaker for ‘disorder in the house’ ignores the responsibility (or lack of) of those who are being disorderly, the MPs.

Then

I was wrong… child Poverty IS a laughing matter (going by National MPs’ giggles anyway).

Then another target:

Tim Groser and other Nat MPs very excited that he’s made a dick of himself on the international stage. Must be a National MP KPI.

Back to the Speaker – retweet of

When Carter says “no doubt in my mind the question has been addressed”, has he considered that the problem might be his mind?

Then yet another target:

More patronising arrogance from a National Party Minister. Take a bow, Simon Bridges.

Most of the criticism of the Speaker seems to have come from this exchange between Grant Robertson trying to dig into aspects of Bill English’s budget – it is hardly surprising that English wouldn’t reveal what could be addressed in the budget.

Draft transcript:

5. Finance, Minister—Statements on Return to Surplus

[Sitting date: 20 May 2015. Volume:705;Page:6. Text is subject to correction.]

5. GRANT ROBERTSON (Labour—Wellington Central) to the Minister of Finance : Does his Budget 2015 speech include the statement, “there will be a small surplus this year and increasing surpluses forecast over time”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The member will just have to wait one more sleep to find out.

Grant Robertson : Why should New Zealanders believe his making a promise for a surplus for next year and forecast surpluses for the following years tomorrow, given that he made that exact promise last year and will break it tomorrow?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Well, I am quite confident that New Zealanders will make up their own minds about that, regardless of what that member says. In fact, if that member criticises the Budget and our economic management, most of them will conclude that we are probably doing the right thing.

Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that the surplus he will promise tomorrow for next year is possible only if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will just have to wait until tomorrow, but I hope tomorrow he uses the term “fiscal crisis”, because—

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am going to invite the member to ask that question again.

Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that the surplus he will promise tomorrow for next year is possible only if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will have to wait until tomorrow, but I hope he uses the term “fiscal crisis” tomorrow.

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! If the member is saying that question has not been addressed, on this occasion, it has. He talked about the surplus that will be promised tomorrow in his question. It has been addressed.

Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that a surplus for 2015-16 is possible only with a significant rebound in global dairy prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will have to wait until tomorrow.

Hon Members : No, no.

Hon BILL ENGLISH : Well, he will have to wait until tomorrow.

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is the third time I have asked a straight question to the Minister—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. That is not the same question he has asked three times. On the second occasion he repeated the question he had asked the first time, and on that occasion I ruled that, because of the way it was framed, that question had definitely been answered. Does the member have a further supplementary question? [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet, and I am going to warn that member that if he interjects like that again while I am on my feet, I will be asking him to leave the Chamber.

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you telling me that the Minister addressed the question I just asked?

Mr SPEAKER : No, I am not. I am saying that when you rose and took a point of order and said you had asked the same question three times, you are—[Interruption] I have a very good mind to do it. The point I was making was that the member was wrong with his first point of order, when he said he had asked the same question three times. He had not. We are moving forward, if the member wishes to ask—[Interruption] I am not entertaining further questions on my—[Interruption] Order! I am not entertaining any further adjudication on that matter. If the member has further supplementary questions, I will hear them.

Ron Mark : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am trying to be helpful, as an independent observer.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will simply raise his point of order.

Ron Mark : The point of order, Mr Speaker, to assist you, is that he—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order, I hope, but it will be heard in silence. It will be heard in silence.

Ron Mark : I am not challenging you at all, but—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Would the member simply raise his point of order.

Ron Mark : I am trying to. The point I want to raise with you is that he did not actually say those words. His words were “This is the third straight question I have asked.”, not “I have asked the same question”—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member may not have heard me, but I said that as far as I was concerned I had adjudicated on the matter and that was the end of the matter. The member may not have heard that.

Grant Robertson : Is it correct that Treasury advised him that a surplus for 2015-16 is possible only if there is a significant rebound in global dairy prices?

Hon BILL ENGLISH : The member will have to wait until tomorrow.

Grant Robertson : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How is that an answer addressing that question? It is about advice he has received. He cannot tell me to wait until tomorrow. Amazingly enough, Treasury do give him advice. He ignores it—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! We have had a similar line of questions now on four occasions. It is not the way I would have hoped the Minister would have answered the question, but—[Interruption] Order! Grant Robertson will leave the House. I warned the member that—[Interruption] Order! The member will leave the Chamber.

  • Grant Robertson withdrew from the Chamber.

Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! We have a point of order that I will hear from Chris Hipkins.

Chris Hipkins : Repeatedly during question time today, when there have been points of order from either side of the House, you have admonished members on this side of the House for their interjections during points of order or when you were on your feet. I would like to know whether the same ruling is going to apply to Mr Brownlee, Ms Parata, and a variety—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have heard enough from that member. There were occasions when there were interjections from this side of the House when I called for order, particularly when Mr Mark was attempting to raise a point of order. I could not identify the particular person who made those interjections. Frankly, they were coming from a large number of people. On this occasion I specifically warned Mr Robertson that if he was to interject again when I was on my feet, I would have no choice but to ask him to leave. He did not heed that warning. He gave me no choice but to deal with him severely. I say to all members that when I am on my feet and I call for silence and then a member specifically, after being warned not to interject, does so, he leaves me no choice but to be severe.

Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The colleague Mr Robertson in front of me used four supplementary questions to ask the same question, as you have previously advised members to do when Ministers are not giving a straight answer. You have ejected a member who had absolutely understandable frustration. My point of order is to ask you what sanction will apply equally to Ministers who are deliberately thwarting the intent, if not the letter, of the Standing Orders and denying the people of New Zealand the opportunity to have a proper question answered in a proper manner.

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I think that question might be reasonable if it were about a range of topics that any Minister should be able to answer about their portfolio. But 24 hours before a Budget is delivered being asked to give a commentary on what will be in a Budget text is completely unreasonable. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I can understand the sense of frustration on this side. I have agreed with that. But that was not the reason Mr Robertson was ejected from the Chamber. I hope I do not have to point it out again to members. The reason was that he was given a very specific warning. He ignored that warning.

Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Is it a fresh point of order?

Hon David Cunliffe : It is, because I did not question your ruling that you ejected a member for questioning your judgment. My point of order was, given the circumstances and the understandable frustration on this side of the House and the thwarting deliberately of the intent of the Standing Orders, at what point would any sanction be applied to any Minister who continued to make those types of tactics plain? That was nothing to do with the ejection of Mr Robertson.

Mr SPEAKER : I accept that point. Ministers are responsible for their own answers and those answers are then judged not only by this House but by the public. On one occasion when I did not think that the Minister had answered the question correctly I asked Grant Robertson to repeat the question. That is a tactic I frequently use. [Interruption] The member now interjects and says that it was on four occasions. As I have pointed out to the House, those questions were different. In one he quite specifically talked about a matter that would be addressed in tomorrow’s speech, and that gave the Minister a perfect out to say he would have to wait for the Budget. As to the last question about Treasury advice, it would have been a more satisfactory answer if it had been answered directly by the Minister, but at the end of the day I am not responsible for the answers that are given by any Minister in this House. Ministers themselves are responsible for—[Interruption] Order! Ministers themselves are responsible. They will be judged both by this House and by the public.

Hon David Cunliffe : Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : No, I have dealt with that matter from the Hon David Cunliffe.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! Just a minute. I just want to be clear to Mr Cunliffe that I have dealt with that matter. I have made a ruling. I do not intend to relitigate it here today, but if it is a fresh point of order—

Hon David Cunliffe : It is, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : A fresh point of order—the Hon David Cunliffe.

Hon David Cunliffe : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What is the definition of “addressing the question”?

Mr SPEAKER : Now the member is attempting to relitigate the matter. I judge that on every occasion depending on the context and content of the question, the context and the content of the answer. I am the one who makes that judgment.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : I am sorry—is this a fresh point of order?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Yes, it is.

Mr SPEAKER : The Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. If one of the four questions with additional words gave the Minister of Finance an out, what was the redeeming feature for the first three answers that did not give him a way out?

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member is now relitigating a matter that we have already ruled on in the House today. He is not raising a fresh point of order.

Tracey Martin : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Again, I want to give the same warning to Tracey Martin, to be fair to her. If she is raising an absolutely fresh point of order, I am happy to hear it, but if it in any way relitigates the discussion we have now had for the last 10 minutes, then I will be asking that member to leave the Chamber.

Tracey Martin : Thank you, Mr Speaker. I appreciate your warning and I hope that I do not transgress, but I seek your clarification on the last question asked by Mr Robertson—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member now—

Tracey Martin : —not the content of the question, not the content of the question, but I am asking whether you could give a ruling later on about when it is appropriate, if we ask a direct question about a report, for a Minister to say we have to wait until tomorrow—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member is now very dangerously—should be about to leave the Chamber. She is relitigating the decision I have made. I have explained to Mr Cunliffe that I have got to judge every answer given, as to whether it addresses the question. Mr Cunliffe sought more definition on that. I said it depends on the context of the question, the content of the question, the content of the answer, and the context. There is no specific ruling I can give as to whether any question in the future will be addressed or not. I make a judgment to all; that is my responsibility in this House.

Robertson versus LINZ on foreign ownership register

OIA documents show that LINZ thinks a foreign ownership register of landowners wouldn’t be easy nor accurate.

NewstalkZB reports: Stoush brewing over foreign landowner register.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act show Land Information New Zealand believes a land transfer system wouldn’t be an appropriate way to collect the information, nor would it produce accurate results.

LINZ warns enforcement of a register could be difficult, and requiring land owners to provide their immigration status could be inconsistent with the Privacy Act.

Officials also say singling out foreign land owners could breach the Bill of Rights and Human Rights Acts.

But Labour’s Grant Robertson doesn’t agree.

“They make the point of looking at the state of Queensland and come up with every small and minor reason why it might not be possible. In reality, if there is a will and need to do this it can be done.”

It would cost an extra $100,000 for changes to be made to the electronic land transfer system to record a property owners’ residence status

Labour MP Grant Robertson says given the price of houses in Auckland at the moment, $100,000 is a bargain to get the system going.

He says it seems to him New Zealanders want to know more about the origins of people who’re purchasing houses.

How many New Zealanders want to know about this apart from MPs who want to use it for political ammunition?

What would a register be useful for apart from complaining about how many foreigners buy property here? The next step would be actually stopping foreign ownership, but then a register would be superfluous.

Robertson is Labour’s finance spokesperson, why is he speaking on this? He may just have responded to journalist inquiries, there’s nothing on this on his Facebook timeline, Twitter, his website or the Labour media release page.

The most important question is what will a foreign onwership register achieve?

Looking up for Labour under Little

Andrew Little has made a very good start to he leadership of Labour. He seems to be on a refreshingly sensible track.

Colin James writes in his weekly column The big Little start to Labour’s rebuild (emailed but also published in ODT)

Can Grant Robertson count? Will Jacinda Ardern stick it out? What does an Andrew Little smile look like? Where does a theology degree fit in politics? Does any of this matter?

Plenty think Labour is mere amusement or an historical relic awaiting embalming.

They might have cause to think again.

One cause is Little.

There is already a distinct change in Labour under Little.

He lost the party vote and the MPs’ vote to Robertson and is leader only thanks to an historical hangover, the “affiliated” unions’ privileged role. One-person-one-vote is not the Labour way yet.

But Little has quickly won authority.

In part that is because he came to the top job without a caucus factional taint.

That gave him the scope in last week’s skilful remake of the shadow cabinet to both contain resentment and open wide room for up-and-comers to prove themselves (or not). He pointed ageing MPs towards the exit.

The shadow cabinet looks to be a good start, challenging some to step up and suggesting some step out.

Next, he made the most of John Key’s tortuous mishandling of the report on Key’s office’s scummy dealings with an over-helpful Security Intelligence Service and his own chumminess with the nefarious Cameron Slater.

Key subjected himself to three days of Little’s jaw-jutted, union-boss sermonising. Ian Rennie got a deserved whack, too, from a bloke who knows employment law and practice.

He scored points here but he has to be careful on ‘Dirty Politics’ that could end up being as political quicksand if he agitates too much. If the other side of the story emerges (as Cameron Slater promises it will) Little will not want to be to closely associated.

Little looked the strong leader (as, by the way, he had in his presidential speech to Labour’s 2010 conference). Party faithful perked up.

By the end of last week he was shaping as someone they could back, whatever their disappointments. That includes Robertson and running-mate Ardern.

And at least some of the anti-Little activist seem to have been won over.

Little did two other things likely to grow his leadership.

One was to commit to emulate Helen Clark as she clawed Labour up from 28 per cent in the 1996 election to 38 per cent in 1999: tirelessly tour the country to build his and the party’s all-but-evaporated presence in the suburbs and provinces.

That addresses the need Robertson identified on September 22: to be “part of the communities we live in”. And, yes, Little can produce a twinkling smile which, liberally employed, could engage potential voters.

A good plan. He has obviously done his homework, or has some very good advisors that seemed to have been absent during the Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe leaderships.

The second leadership-building move was his speech yesterday on “the future of work” where he sees a “new insecurity”. Labour, he said, must “be there for all the people who make their living from their own work”.

The nature of work has been changing fast. Many jobs don’t pay enough to live on (so taxpayers top them up, in effect subsidising employers). Many are employed by agencies, not their place of work’s owner. Many are on “zero hours”. Some have scurrilous clauses in their contracts.

Many who would once have been employees are contractors or in small businesses, by necessity or by choice.

How to ensure a dependable livelihood — “a fair shot”, Little called it — in a small, open country in a highly globalised world is a complex challenge, especially for Labour.

This is a very important thing for Little to achieve the right balance with. He has to support the unions but also widen Labour’s appeal to a much wider group of working voters.

Shadow finance minister Robertson will head a “commission” to do this “signature piece of work”, as Little called it. Robertson will draw on his international contacts, including Matt Browne, the English head of the Centre for American Progress, and on the musings at a conference in Amsterdam in April where he was on a panel.

Little said they would concentrate on researching and developing forward looking policy rather than sniping negatively. About time someone in Labour got this.

Robertson is also eyeing a root-and-branch tax rethink. Taxing income from capital gain is not dead. Land tax is back on the table.

Robertson will follow Michael Cullen’s 1996 example and bury his head in economics textbooks through the summer (and, yes, he can count). He has a new lease of political life.

With him is theologian David Clark, a three-year Treasury alumnus (similar to English), in economic development, David Parker in trade (focusing on exports), former business-consultant Stuart Nash in some sector portfolios — and Ardern, who asked for small business to apply some of the learning from her time in the Blair British Labour government’s regulatory reform taskforce.

Keeping Parker committed could be a challenge, he seemed very demoralised after his second failed leadership bid.

Clark is yet to prove himself, last term he seemed to be underdone and floundering.

I don’t know about Nash apart from some cringey posts at The Daily Blog. He will need to be guided.

Ardern is often thought fragile, from her looks and dress. And she did go gloomy after the election and leadership losses and her downranking by Little to ninth. She might yet be tempted to a private life in the private sector.

But underneath Ardern is tough. She is well thought of in some, including business, quarters in Auckland — at her best a potential star. Watch to see if she is deputy leader this time next year.

It looks like she is being lined up for deputy leadership. She will need good mentoring and has to demonstrate she is capable of stepping up

So, even though Little is 49, the Robertson-Ardern leadership campaign promise of a “new generation” to contrast with National’s 50-somethings is still alive. Clark, Chris Hipkins (education) and Megan Woods (environment and climate change) are all under 45.

Through 2013 Labour-plus-Greens averaged 0.5 per cent more in polls than National. If Little can sustain his strong start, if Robertson can count and deliver and if the 2013 Green connection can be reforged, Labour-Green might be competitive in 2017.

Little has made a very good start and should be rewarded with some poll recovery, especially while Key flounders with his ongoing association with Slater.

This year is nearly over politically. It will be important for Little to start next year strongly. He has resolved to tour the country next year, but he can’t disappear into the provinces.

Cunliffe blundered by having such a weak start to this year. It was if he had switched off over an extended holiday period.

Little just needs to hold his current impetus into the silly season, and then hit next year running with early impact – as do his caucus.

If they can avoid too many major mistakes and don’t revert back to negative nit-picking – picking battles is important rather than getting sucked into silly skirmishes.

Things are certainly looking up for Labour under Little.

Vernon Small at Stuff:  ‘Work’ speech a giant leap

Andrew Little’s call for Labour to redefine what it means by working people – a broad church that embraces contract workers, the self-employed and small business – is on the face of it no great revolution.

But for a party that sprang from the union movement, and which has for several elections tried to get out the “missing million” non-voters among the mainly low paid and marginalised, it is a telling nod in the direction of . . . call them what you will.

Small concludes:

It may not have been the most dramatic or detailed of announcements – a commission set up in Opposition barely rates as news really.

But Little has set in motion a 150-week trek to reposition Labour, if not towards the Centre, then at least alongside a much broader group of voters than it won over in 2014.

Video at NZ Herald: Little: ‘Labour Party will work for you’

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:

LabourRowboatEmpty

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.

Robertson and Ardern, Grant and Jacinda

As widely expected it was announced at Grant Robertson’s launch yesterday that he would put forward Jacinda Ardern as his deputy should he become the next Labour leader.

Ardern is effectively Robertson’s running mate, and as Ardern said, they are mates in general terms, with Ardern referring to Robertson as “my colleague, but first and foremost my friend.”

RobertsonArdernThis ticks one of the most important boxes for Labour – it looks like a very different face of Labour leadership after a run of three older male failures.

It also has risks. The deputy is chosen by Labour’s caucus after the leader has been selected by the party. If Robertson wins the leadership and his caucus chooses a different deputy it could make for an awkward start to his leadership.

And it will make addressing another of Labour’s problems difficult to address – unity of caucus. A leadership team of two friends does not cover reaching across the caucus factions very well.

Greg Presland writes about this at The Standard.

Although Ardern may be the best choice in Robertson’s part of caucus it is hardly a decision that will unify caucus.  And to those who say that such a selection should be based on competence there is a whole lot of competence amongst the party’s female MPs to select from.

Sepuloni brings distinctly non beltway grass roots qualities that I believe are vital to the party’s interests.  If Robertson is intent on establishing unity then if he wins Carmel or Nanaia should be at the forefront of any list of potential deputy leaders.

A Robertson and Ardern partnership could have both a positive and a negative impression for voters. They might appeal to some in middle New Zealand where Labour needs to win back voters – but they may struggle to appeal to Labour’s supposed labouring base, blue collar (or high-viz) workers.

They look markedly different to recent Labour but do they look like labour Labour? They risk the same image clash with their supposed constituency that Russel Norman and Metiria Turei have, more slick slick preachers than sleeves rolled up Salvies.

They seem to be interested in the celebrity circuit, with a magazine promotion coinciding with the campaign launch.

RobertsonArdernMagazine

Does that look like a party leader and deputy leader?

Does that look like a future Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister?

This could be an inspirational innovation in campaigning, or it could be a big flop.

While the voting population may be attracted by the women’s magazine approach it may be a hard sell with Labour’s caucus, party activists and union affiliates who get to choose their leader.

Robertson has made a bold move pairing up with close associate Ardern, but it’s very risky.

Labour leadership contest – Grant Robertson

(nominated by Kris Faafoi and Rino Tirikatene)

L:aunching campaign:

Launching campaign 2-4 pm Sunday 19 October.:

I will be launching my campaign to lead Labour this Sunday. It’s time for a new generation of leadership to rebuild Labour and win in 2017.

I’d love to see you at my launch on Sunday at the King’s Arms in Auckland. I’ll talk about my vision for the Party and the style of leadership I will bring to deliver a Labour government that supports the hopes and aspirations of all New Zealanders, not just the wealthy few. Where we vigorously back those who work, make, think and create. Where we seize the opportunities of our wonderful country through bold policy that is about people, and meet the challenges of 21st century issues like climate change and the future of work.

Details: 2pm – 4pm, Sunday 19th October, Kings Arms, France Street, Auckland

Statement from website:

It’s time for a new generation of leadership to rebuild Labour.  Our values of fairness, opportunity and responsibility to one another remain strong. Now we must face the future, look outwards and reconnect with New Zealanders.   We can do this by being clear, direct and consistent about where we stand, and letting New Zealanders know we stand alongside them. We can do this by being part of our communities, campaigning with and for our people, not just at election time, but every day.

My vision is of Labour at the heart of a government that supports the hopes and aspirations of all New Zealanders, not just the wealthy few.  Where we vigorously back those who work, make, think and create.  Where we seize the opportunities of our wonderful country through bold policy that is about people, and meet the challenges of 21st century issues like climate change and the future of work. A government whose priority is ensuring opportunity through education, training, health, and supporting families and where we care about each and every one of our fellow citizens and the environment we live in.

If you want to play your part in a Labour Party that is valued and respected in our community, and that will boldly embrace our future- vote for a new generation of leadership to win.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,079 other followers