Labour’s TPPA reaction will be interesting

In July Andrew Little put out five bottom lines for them on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, as well as some anti-TPPA populist grizzles – Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty.

The Labour Party will not support the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement unless key protections for New Zealanders are met, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.

“Labour supports free trade. However, we will not support a TPP agreement that undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty.

“A meeting of the Labour Caucus this week agreed on five key principles which will be non-negotiable bottom lines to protect New Zealand’s interests when the agreement finally makes it to Parliament.

“Labour is pro free trade, as evidenced by the China Free Trade Agreement we signed in 2008.

And the TPPA was initiated by a Clark led Labour government in 2008 with Phil Goff a major player.

“Labour will not support the TPP if it undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. This means:
•    Pharmac must be protected
•    Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest
•    New Zealand maintains the right to restrict sales of farm land and housing to non-resident foreigner buyers
•    The Treaty of Waitangi must be upheld
•    Meaningful gains are made for our farmers in tariff reductions and market access

“The bottom line for Labour is that New Zealand’s sovereign rights must be protected. Anything else is unacceptable.”

(Populist grizzles edited out)

At a glance on preliminary reports on what has been agreed Labour’s bottom lines may have been met enough for them to support the TPPA.

A Herald editorial points out an awkward position Labour are in after Helen Clark said it would be unthinkable for New Zealand to not be a part of such a trade agreement.

Clark’s words on trade deal badly needed

Sometimes it takes someone a little removed from the fray to put the right perspective on an issue.

New Zealanders have sorely needed such insight on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, so deeply polarised are they about its potential benefit to this country.

And there could be few people better placed to supply this than former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Ms Clark’s statement, a rare one on a domestic issue since she became the Administrator of the UN Development Programme, emphasised how foolish that would be.

What had always haunted her as prime minister, she said, was the development of a series of trade blocs of which New Zealand was not part. That would be “unthinkable” for this country as an export-orientated, small trading nation.

“So, of course, New Zealand has to be in on the action with the TPP and go for the very best deal it can as the agreement expands beyond the original four economies to a wider regional agreement.”

Ms Clark’s statement also carried a message for her former Labour colleagues.

Curiously for a party that formerly embraced free trade, it has insisted its support for the TPP is contingent on the meeting of several “non-negotiable bottom lines”.

Labour may imagine this plays well with those people adamantly opposed to the pact.

But most importantly, as its former leader implies, it reveals a failure to to appreciate the big picture. That dictates a small trading nation cannot afford to stand aside from an agreement of such magnitude for the Asia-Pacific region.

So will Labour support the agreement they initiated or oppose it?

Annette King is being interviewed on Breakfast now and she is hedging her bets, saying the devil is in the detail and while she had a dig at secrecy and public engagement she said they would have to wait and see what is actually in the whole detail.

That may give time for Labour to work out a plausible position on the TPPA.

Where are the journalists going?

There are continuing concerns about journalists being gradually culled from major media organisations. NZ herald is one of the latest to show some the door.

This exchange on Twitter commented on some of that and asked lamented the thinning ranks of journalists.

Deeply concerned about right tilt in media. Now Campbell, Rudman, Drinnan gone and Weldon running Mediaworks.

Campbell has gone to a better place and… my god you’re not suggesting Drinnan is a leftie?!


He is at least an independent and critical voice re media – how thin the critical media voices now are!

To an extent that is a concern, but a signs of rapidly changing times. However there was an interesting response.

Well, you should stop bloody poaching them. Ihaka, Faafoi, Moroney ..

Sarah Stuart, Phil Twyford, Danya Levy and a little bit of David Cohen….. you have quite the Press Room.

He was making the point that political parties poach quite a few journalists.This not only reduces media experience but it pits poached experience against the reporters.

Going through those names – these three are MPs:

Kris Faafoi:

Kris lives in Titahi Bay, Porirua and was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mana in November 2010 following more than a decade working as a journalist at both TVNZ and the BBC – giving him a strong commitment to public service broadcasting. – Labour website.

Sue Moroney:

Has been an MP since 2005. Sue is a mum, a former journalist and a proud Hamiltonian and so she is a champion for early intervention and strong regional development plans. – Labour website.

Phil Twyford:

New voices: Sam Lotu-Iiga, Phil Twyford and David Garrett

MP for Te Atatu. Formerly a journalist at the now defunct Auckland Star and Sunday Star, and a union organiser, before starting his career at Oxfam as its NZ division’s founding CEO.

And ex-journalists in the Labour staff:

Jodi Ihaka:

Ihaka takes up Senior Communications Advisor role

Putting Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) at the forefront of important New Zealand politics is Jodi Ihaka’s plan, as she was recently appointed the Labour Party’s new Senior Communications Advisor (Māori).

“I’m really excited to use my communication skills in such an important Māori advisory capacity.  I have loved my time at Whakaata Māori (Māori Television) and have nothing but respect for the Māori journalists on Te Kāea and Native Affairs,” says Ihaka.

The position sees Ihaka take on a key advisory role to Labour leader, Andrew Little as well as Māori MPs including Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Nanaia Mahuta and Adrian Rurawhe.

Sarah Stuart:

Former Woman’s Weekly editor is Labour’s new chief spin doctor

Labour leader Andrew Little has appointed a former editor of the Woman’s Weekly Sarah Stuart as his chief press secretary and head of media and communications.

Stuart, whose other former roles include deputy editor of the Herald On Sunday and the Sunday Star Times and head of APN’s regional and daily community newspapers, has also worked in Sydney as a journalist.

Danya Levy:

Former political journo turned Labour Party press secretary. @danyalevy  (ex Dominion Post)

David Cohen is a freelance journalist who has done some work for Labour and Andrew Little:

Little under fire for unpaid workerFreelance journalist David Cohen was called into work on Mr Little’s campaign for the Labour leadership in October. His role was to distil Mr Little’s ideas

He did the job, sent an invoice, but nothing. So Mr Cohen complained in print in the latest National Business Review.

And David Cunliffe should know a bit about the journalist drift into politics.

Cunliffe appoints Cunliffe as chief press secretary

Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

Simon Cunliffe has been a deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times and a deputy editor of The Press in Christchurch.

That’s just for Labour.

National MP Paul Goldsmith may not have been a journalist but was a press secretary for and speech writer for Phil Goff (Labour), Simon Upton (National) and John Banks (National).

Does anyone know of any other ex journos in Parliament as MPs or working for parties?

Ardern “absolutely not” for Prime Minister but…

Labour MP Jacinda Ardern was asked about her Prime Ministerial aspirations on NBR’s ‘Ask Me Anything. She said “absolutely not” but confirmed she still had an interest in being deputy (she stood as potential deputy for Grant Robertson’s leadership bid).

During her AMA session, Ms Adern confirmed her interest in the deputy role.

But, perhaps surprisingly, that’s the limit of her ambition.

Asked, “Do you want to be Prime Minister, one day?”, she replied, “No. Absolutely not.”

She added, “I think I was very lucky to have the experience back in the 2005 election of working in Helen Clark’s office and that really opened my eyes to what a difficult job it is. I’ve always believed the things I want to achieve in politics I can do without being in that kind of role. So I’m happy being a senior member of the Labour team. Not everyone wants to be the top dog.”

This is an odd ambition, if it is accurate and honest.

If Ardern becomes Labour’s deputy leader, and if Labour gets to form the next Government, and if Winston Peters or Metiria Turei or James Shaw don’t negotiate a second in command coalition position, then Ardern would become Deputy Prime Minister.

Under normal circumstances that would mean that Ardern would sometimes fill in for the Prime Minister when he was unavailable, so would be Acting Prime Minister.

And if something incapacitated the Prime Minister than Ardern would be expected to step up and take over.

So how can Ardern want to be deputy leader, which presumably means she wants to be Deputy Prime Minister, but limit her ambition to that and not want to be top dog?

Surely anyone wanting to be deputy leader of Labour (or National) aspires top being at times at least the acting Prime Minister.

Either Ardern hasn’t thought this through or she’s not being honest about her ambitions.

Labour trend

Labour support has had it’s ups and downs over the last 76 years but the trend is clearly downwards.

Bryce Edwards tweeted this graph:

Embedded image permalink

What that doesn’t show is that their poll support has recovered from their election low a year ago, but it’s still below the trend line.

They have to get back to their last peak (Clark years) to get back into government unless they can convince NZ First to combine with them and the Greens.

“If the Greens were a Mafia family…”

Chris Trotter has written some odd stuff recently, and his latest post at his Bowalley blog is no exception.

A Green Offer National Couldn’t Refuse

THERE ARE PEOPLE in the Labour Party who take an almost forensic interest in the Greens. They can discourse at length on the “fundi/realo split”; “Deep Green” versus “Red Green”; and whether the electorally perilous potential of “Blue Green” will ever be realised.

Labour’s ongoing surveillance of the Greens should not, however, be compared to the twitcher’s hobby of watching birds. Labour’s interest in the intricacies of green politics is much more akin to the FBI’s interest in the intricacies of the Mafia. Agents may be able to rattle off the names of the heads of the Five Families; which gangsters are on the way up; and where the gangsters who used to be on the way up are buried; but this does not mean that the FBI loves or admires the Mafia. Far from it! The FBI is interested in the Mafia only because it intends to destroy it.

So Labour = FBI, Greens = Mafia.

He goes on.He includes this insight into Labour’s problems.

Labour’s problem may be summed up in two words: proportional representation.

I don’t think so. They would have been likely to have stuff up their rebuild after Clark left and gone through leaders blaming them with or without MMP. Labour’s main problem is that voters have thought they would make a crap government. It’s been a several leaders, three caucuses that have hardly changed and party problem.

Trotter concludes:

The same Mr Shaw’s adroit handling of the Red Peak flag issue in the House last week will not have lessened Labour’s forensic interest in the Greens’ ultimate intentions. His parliamentary “deal” with National, relatively insignificant though it may have been, was seen by Labour as an alarming portent of things to come.

If Labour operated like the Mafia it would know exactly what to do. Without seeking permission, Jimmy “The Business” Shaw, and his Green Gang, made approaches to a rival family.

Huh? Labour = Mafia now?

I guess Labour can be anything they like as long as they can blame someone else.

Trotter promoted his post on Twitter:


If the Greens were a Mafia family, Labour would be “going to the mattresses” over Red Peak.

Matt Nippert Retweeted CHRIS TROTTER and added:

If punditry was a Hollywood comedy road trip, Trotter would be “Lloyd Christmas” to Bomber’s “Harry Dunne”.

I think that’s funny, and I don’t even know who Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne are. I’ll find out and update the post.

Thanks grantaviuskennarius for saving me searching. Here they are:

Dumb & Dumber (1994) Poster

Clark spraying Key

Yesterday the ODT had an editorial on Red Flag – Faith in process flagging.

Labour MP David Clark posted a link to this on Facebook:


That’s typical of how Labour seems to see the flag issue, but they have been major contributors to the farce. They have  tried to portray the process as all about Key (‘vanity project’ etc) and have appeared to be deliberately divisive to try and sabotage the process.

But the Facebook thread takes a darker turn.


That’s not an unusual sort of attack on Key on Facebook but is a bit nasty.

But for Clark to endorse it is I think not a good look for an MP.

Greens should tow the leftie line!

There were a number of Labour MPs who were obviously very annoyed with the Greens when they worked out a deal with National on Red Peak and cut Labour out of the loop.

The feeling of errant child who should check with Mum and Dad before doing anything goes deeper than that in Labour.

Here’s some comments from The political machinations of the flag debate at The Standard. Micky Savage:

Don’t get me wrong. Some of my best friends are Green and if I did not have so much Labour DNA in me I would probably have joined the Greens. But I wonder if their deal with National this week over Red Peak was a good thing to do.

Jenny Kirk:

Silly Greens, and quite possibly naive and green Greens. This is what comes of choosing a Leader who has not been in Parliament beforehand, or been in any previous position that required political nous. The Greens have damaged themselves…

Media commentary suggests that Labour are the most damaged (self-inflicted) but instead of looking in the mirror they turn on the Greens instead.


SO lets not discuss Labours failings here, as this is a National Party Project and a National Party Failure to be shared with the Greens.

Sabine again:

So let the Green celebrate their success in being a Poodle to National, let them celebrate another ugly meaning less tea towel on a flawed project that is nothing but an artificial penis extension for the PM, and hey if they behave real well they might get another cycleway, cause they for sure aint never gonna feed the kids.

In my books the Green in NZ can take a hike.


James Shaw is just an utter dic*head and Key clone.


 The Greens leadership need to get to grips with changing the government, not softening the current one with compromise. Otherwise they will find in November 2017 that they just got their souls sucked dry.


But I suspect that after their secret arse licking of Key, the Green dunderheads will begin to lose some of their support base, primarily benefiting New Zealand First, whose position as the coalition king makers will get more strengthened.

Heather tangua:

A good summary, I agree about the Greens, can Labour trust them again?
They did go behind their back directly to Key, this is not the way partners work together to see a change in government


The Greens got played. Did they not realise they are dealing with a guy who will throw them under the bus tomorrow. Why did the Greens empower Key to do destroy the Greens ?


I think they call it principles, and the Greens have just shown that they are as good and as bad as all the other party, albeit with only 10 % of the vote.

So yea, let them be junior party in support of the National Party.


Labour had National over a barrel on this and the Greens where stupid to let the pressure off of National.
You have done this country a big disservice the Green Party.
One of the stupidest moves you could have done!
They shot themselves in the foot and I suspect that future polls will how a drop for them.
Labour was trying to save this country a big chunk of money by getting the referendums combined so the Greens in my book just cost this country a lot of money we can not afford!

Except that Labour were going to save no money, the referendums were going ahead regardless,


based on recent events either the Greens are fools or they are taking crap advice hook line and sinker ….maybe both

another reason why Labour can not rely on the Green Party as a coalition partner ..nor can the Left


I think the behind the scenes stuff is the reason for all the angst.

If either Labour or the Greens want to do a deal with National about anything they should tell the other party beforehand.

Anne responded to that:


Lesson to be learned for both Greens and Labour. Keep your friends and potential allies in the mix.

No ifs and no buts.

Puckish Rogue:

I agree, why don’t the Greens realise that they’re merely a branch of Labour and act in Labours best interest

Just plain selfish from the Greens, I mean the audacity of the Greens to make their own decisions when they should be doing what Labour want them to do

Labour activists to Greens: Toe the line! (Labour have enough trouble getting their own to toe the line).

Greens have had a valuable reminder that they can’t trust Labour. Labour need to earn that trust and earn co-operation and support.

Until then Greens should build on this and try to negotiate whatever policy gains they can.

Labour’s Yes/No obsession

Labour seems to be obsessed with promoting a Yes/No vote on the flag. It symbolises their whole handling of the flag debate.

Does Labour have a policy for flag change? – Yes
Does Labour want flag change? – No
Is Labour doing everything it can to sabotage the flag consideration process? – Yes
Do they understand the damage it is doing to their credibility? – No

In a number of speeches on Red Peak in Parliament yesterday Labour MPs sounded bitter and angry – probably because the flag consideration had been a major boost by the Greens.

From leader Andrew Little, from deputy Annette King, from Grant Robertson, from Jacinda Ardern and particularly from Trevor Mallard came a barrage of bitterness. Most of this bitterness probably comes from their apparent hate of John Key having anything to do with flag change.

They have accepted they have lost the battle of Red Peak. It is now going to be added to the flag choices, and this will increase interest in the first flag referendum to be held later this year.

But they are still banging on about a battle they lost in Parliament months ago. They have insisted that the first referendum has a Yes/No question on whether flag change is supported.

A range of experts have advised that Yes/No on the flag should wait until a preferred alternative is decided. Some people don’t know if they want flag change until they know what the change would be to, That’s why we get to select a possible alternative first.

Parliament backed the experts and ruled out a yes/No vote up front.

But Labour want to re-litigate this, and they look angry because that is being denied them, last week by John Key and now by the Greens who have showed them how to do politics for the people rather than remain entrenched in petty politics like Labour have.

People who want to retain the current flag want a Yes/No question up front, that’s understandable.

But people who want change, and particularly people who don’t know if they want change until they know what the alternative would be want to select that alternative first. And that’s how it’s going to be.

But Labour have pinned their anti-change strategy on an up front Yes/No vote and appear unable to let go of defeat on that.

Except that they have agreed to vote for the addition of Red peak because according to Trevor Mallard most of the Labour MPs prefer Red Peak as an alternative. And because they have painted themselves into a corner on this and would look been more churlish if they opposed it.

The Greens have shown Labour how to do practical pragmatic politics. Like David Seymour. I hope we get more of this.

And Labour haven’t taken this well at all. They appear to feel betrayed by a party they seem to think should be their lackey.

And they appear to be bitter about their Yes/No failure.

Will Labour remain obsessed and angry and bitter and continue to try and shit on the flag consideration process?

Or will they put their hypocritical embarrassments behind them and support a process that was in the policies they campaigned on last year?

Labour, Policy 2014:

The New Zealand Flag

Labour will:

review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement.

We believe that the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public. We would however support the ability of the RSA and similar organisations to continue to fly the current flag if they so wish. New Zealand changed its national anthem from ‘God Save the Queen’ on a gradual, optional basis and that process worked.


Labour – co-deputies?

Labour leadership is in the news again with 3 News  releasing the results of a Reid Research poll on deputy leadership.

  • Jacinda Ardern 33%
  • Annette King 25%
  • Don’t know/don’t care 28%

King was appointed deputy to Andrew Little last November but only for a year:

Annette King new Labour deputy

Mrs King, who was deputy to Phil Goff from 2008 to 2011, will hold the job for a year before stepping aside.

There’s been suggestions recently that King is reconsidering and may want to stay on as deputy.

King is a very experienced asset to Labour. She is respected by a better performing caucus. But she has been around since 1984 and Labour need to be seen to be renewing. And King and Little are both Wellington based.

If King steps aside then Ardern is a logical choice for deputy, giving balance as  young Auckland woman MP with obvious appeal to the public.

King has actually been mentoring Ardern.

If Ardern is appointed to the deputy role it would mean that both Labour’s leaders are list MPs. There are pros and cons with that.

She’s relatively inexperienced, especially in a leadership role, but the way to develop that is to practice it.

There may be a good case for having co-deputy leaders, putting the experience of King alongside the youth of Ardern.

Little’s legacy the retention of the Union Jack?

Josie Pagani made an interesting point in a RadioLive interview with Duncan garner about Labour’s and Andrew Little’s stance on opposing everything about the flag change despite it being contrary to party policy.

Patrick Gower had just talked about it being Key’s legacy policy followed by Garner suggesting yesterday Key almost seemed to be conceding on flag change..

Yeah he’ll be worried about cause you’re right Paddy, this is his legacy policy, and he can’t just be stuck with his war on weeds or his cycle pathway, you know he’s gotta have something a bit more iconic so he’ll be really worried.

Key’s known little for those things and far more for other achievements but that’s a side issue.

Personally I think he’s made a really good case for the change in the flag, and I think it’s a shame that the politics, the sort of gotcha politics between Labour and the Nats has sort of got in the way of this.

And Labour will be worried too, cause they don’t want their biggest achievement in Opposition to be preserving the Union Jack.

Both Garner and Gower agreed that that was a really good point.

If Labour succeed in helping retain the current flag it may be a long time before they can credibly try carry out their own policy to change the flag.


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