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.

Mahuta adds colour to gaggle of greys

It’s unclear whether Nanaia Mahuta is seriously gunning for Labour’s top position but her inclusion in the leadership contest has certainly added colour amongst a gaggle of greys.

Her initial intent through her last minute announcement seems to be promote interests that weren’t well represented by Grant Robertson, Andrew Little or David Parker, as NZ Herald reports in Mahuta cites Maori vote in leadership bid.

“This decision has been made with the knowledge that as the party reviews the election outcome, we can learn from the base of support that was demonstrated across Maori electorates, in South Auckland and among Pacific and ethnic communities.”

Her late and surprise inclusion makes it too soon to tell whether Mahuta’s aim is to fill a gap in the debate or more.

It’s quite possible she is primarily positioning herself for a prominent secondary role such as deputy leader – she must be considered a good candidate for that at least.

Regardless of her current intent she must harbour some leadership ambition joining the contest may stir up her own ambitions and those of her supporters.

I don’t think she should be underestimated. Two weeks ago Andrew Little was widely regarded as a long shot at best, but he quickly shot up to a favoured candidate status.

Mahuta may struggle with the affiliate 20% but the caucus 40% is likely to be spread for various reasons, and so is the members 40%.

A lot will depend on how she measures up in the spotlight as she is an unknown quantity to many. If she comes across as astute, eloquent, sensible and honest she could rise quickly in the ratings.

Yesterday she depended too much on poliwaffle, that is only liked by those that agree with what she is saying. She will need to sound like she’s speaking her own words, not overused phrases.

And most importantly she will need to sound and look like she can bring a caucus gaggle of greys into line behind her.

Labour’s leadership is up for grabs. All contestants are untried at party leadership level. Whoever shapes up may win on merit and hope.

Perhaps Mahuta can rise above the others – if she aspires to that level of leadership and can step up.

Cunliffe’s belated withdrawal

David Cunliffe has belatedly withdrawn from Labour’s leadership contest, over three weeks after a demoralising election defeat. This enables a more forward focussed contest and probably saves Cunliffe from significant embarrassment.

Choosing to endorse Andrew Little’s bid to lead Labour looks like a parting shot at Grant Robertson and ensures Cunliffe won’t be an unbiased bystander.

It has been reported that Cunliffe made the decision to withdraw last week so it’s curious why he waited until yesterday to make his announcement. He made himself off limits to media over the weekend due to “a family illness” – again showing his unsuitability to lead the party let alone the country.

He has been hiding away for most of the three weeks since the election with various reasons being given. It looks like bereavement leave. Most people who have career setbacks don’t have this sort of luxury, they have to continue earning their wage or resign.

Electorate associate and some time lawyer Greg Presland posted Some thoughts on David Cunliffe’s withdrawal:

And to David Cunliffe can I suggest a short holiday to get yourself ready for the next three years.

After spending a week after the election “soul searching” Cunliffe took a few days off “for a long planned holiday” and seems to have been largely out of circulation for two weeks since. Another holiday now? He has to get over it.

It’s often been said that if you fall off a horse you should get straight back and ride again. Cunliffe is no jockey.

Presland also made an interesting comment in his Standard post:

And you only need to read the overwhelming majority of comments on this blog to see what progressives think about him.

I think he is wrong claiming an “overwhelming majority of comments” supportive of Cunliffe, there have been very mixed feelings expressed. What Presland may be expressing is his own perspective as and integral part of the Standard machine and that those most involved in the running of The Standard have been overwhelming supportive of Cunliffe. That’s been evident going way back to how they tried to drive the so-called Cunliffe coup attempt.

There was a sign of a significant Standard shift in the weekend when they promoted and ran a Q & A for Andrew Little, who happens to now be endorsed by Cunliffe. The Q & A seemed oddly timed, until things became clear yesterday. Presland seems to be in synch with Cunliffe:

And who should the new leader be?  Someone who oversees rejuvenation in the party and ensures that caucus discipline is maintained.  And who is true to the principles of the party.  And who has the support of a majority of members.  Cunliffe has endorsed Andrew Little whose prospects now must be very good.  Andrew has been careful to hold himself apart from the factions and is someone who clearly will work to unite the party and I cannot emphasise how critical this is.

If Little fails to win the leadership what then from Cunliffe and The Standard?

(And while ‘The Standard’ appears to have swung from Cunliffe to Little it’s clear amongst the comments that Little isn’t a universally or anywhere overwhelmingly supported leadership candidate).

If Cunliffe finally finishes licking his wounds he could play a significant part in rebuilding Labour, if he visibly supports and works with the new leader and the revamped caucus.

There will be keen watchers amongst the media and opponents looking for any signs of dissent or disloyalty in Labour ranks, especially from Cunliffe, and if any is perceived it will be highlighted and amplified.

This could depend on what responsibilities Cunliffe is given by the new leader. He is potentially one of Labour’s most potent MPs but his attitude and application have to measure up. His endorsement of Little has a hint of utu.

He – and a number of other Labour MPS – have to put animosities behind them and work for the good of the Labour Party, and earn the generous wages and benefits bestowed on them by the taxpayers.

They have to do more than earn that. Unlike their wages credibility and respect aren’t  provided in their job packages and they will have to work very hard to build them back to the required level for elected representatives.

Unfortunately this will probably mostly be on hold while the Labour leadership is decided.

It may be six months into Labour’s third term in opposition before we finally start to see if Cunliffe has gotten over his double loss plus the dashing of a burning ambition to be Prime Minister, and before we see if Labour is on the mend with the combined efforts of all it’s diminishing group of MPs.

Presland said of Cunliffe’s decision:

Clearly he is prepared to put party interests ahead of his own.

That hasn’t been clear at all in the past and especially over the last three and a half weeks.

Labour desperately needs all it’s MPs to put party interests ahead of their own – including and especially all it’s ex-leaders who now include Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe (and possibly David Parker will be added to that list).

Cunliffe has belatedly withdrawn from Labour’s leadership.

Can Labour very belatedly begin their repair and rebuild after their defeat in 2008? It will be 2015 before their next leader can crank up their caucus and begin to seriously try.

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