Herald fundraising for Labour

Today’s Herald editorial makes an important point – Labour coffers of concern to all donors.

The Labour Party’s financial deficit problems should be of concern to all New Zealanders. It is not necessary to be aligned with National or Labour to recognise that a healthy democracy needs two parties capable of providing sound government.

I agree strongly with that.

The problem with Labour is that they have to find a way of earning financial support.

Labour’s fundraising difficulties, revealed in its latest annual financial report, are not a surprise. Ever since the party’s former president, Mike Williams, stepped down there have been murmurs that his successors did not have the same persuasive touch with business donors.

But corporate leaders should not need much persuasion.

Why not? If they think a Labour led Government woukld be a backward step I can imagine they would need a lot of persuading.

There is a long tradition of large companies in this country donating fairly equitably to both major parties for exactly the reason already stated.

I don’t know how accurate that claim is.

Labour has a pragmatic leader in Andrew Little, who is going out of his way to win the confidence of business and focus the party on the nature of work and economic security in the future. The Greens, too, have a new co-leader with corporate experience and a businesslike outlook on issues. No mad-hatter party is around anymore.

Not exactly. Some people still see the Greens as a bit of a mad-hatter party.

I think that many more people see the Greens as a good voice to have in Parliament, especially on environmental issues, but have serious concerns about too much Green influence in Government, especially on financial and social issues.

And that’s a big part of Labour’s problem now they dabble around the 30% mark – they need not only Greens but also NZ First to form a Government at current support levels.

So voters fear the Green lean and worry about the Peters effect, especially as he seems to not want the Greens in a position of power and he looks down in inexperienced leaders like James Shaw – and Andrew Little.

The country will go to the next election with sensible alternatives on offer, to re-elect National for a fourth term or decide it’s time for a change.

We don’t know how sensible the change option would look yet (nor the same-old option).

Labour may have to hang in for a longer haul and it needs help. It deserves a fair deal from those doing well in an economy that took two parties to put right.

To earn ‘a fair deal’ from business donors they need to look like the will give businesses a fair deal if Labour run the next Government.

Otherwise Labour wil have to rely on the unions to give some financial help in return for the influence they get in the party and in choosing Labour’s leader.

Slater versus Fisher and NZ Herald

Cameron Slater has picked up on the story posted by Scoop and also posted on here yesterday – see Cop ‘very surprised’ by police resources for Slater investigation.

In THE MENDACITY OF THE NZ HERALD AND DAVID ‘TAINTED’ FISHER Slater refers to David Fisher as ‘a mendacious scumbag’ and states:

There is no point responding to David “Tainted” Fisher because he has an agenda and is on a mission to protect Nicky Hager and to ultimately protect himself.

That’s typical from an ongoing feud between Slater and Fisher. It’s rather ironic for Slater to call someone else ‘tainted’. Similar could be said of ‘mendacious scumbag’.

Slater picks up on a number of new and rehashed issues, including his repetitive “real Dirty Politics is now being revealed”.

But Slater makes a valid point.

What astonishes me is that the editors of the NZ Herald let David Fisher manipulate the facts and lie by omission in his articles. Why is he even reporting on these matters when he has sworn affidavits in support of Nicky Hager?

He taints the NZ Herald by his actions and his editors allow that tainting to occur.

Fisher appears to be closely associated with Hager. He has also had a long and at times very open fight with Slater (especially open on the Whale Oil side of the story).

While the Herald might think Fisher is an appropriate person to report on Hager and Slater related issues due to his in depth knowledge Fisher has at least a strong perception of not being impartial.

That’s not a good look for a newspaper like The Herald. I think they should be using someone at least with some semblance of impartiality on stories on these topics.

Fisher just feeds into the whale feeding frenzy.

Fisher on the GCSB and SIS

David Fisher has a lengthy ‘opinion’ on New Zealand’s spy agencies at NZ Herald: David Fisher: Just how bad were our spies? It’s one of his better articles.

Despite the headline looking at a troubled past Fisher also has some optimism for a better future.

John Key has opened up the spy agencies to public scrutiny in a way which we have never seen in New Zealand.

We know more now about what they do and even how they do it.

We know how the two agencies are managed, in that the GCSB and NZSIS both have top-flight lawyers in charge.

In terms of oversight and public disclosure, we are heading into an era unparalleled in our history. Citizens now have more ability to see and have explained the tasks done in their name. Again, it might not be enough but it is considerably more than we have had before.

That’s where we have come to, three years after Mr Key had to admit Kim Dotcom and one of his co-accused had been illegally spied on by the GCSB.

It’s an interesting, reasonable and balanced analysis.

Fisher concludes:

This is the question which needs to be answered – what should the agencies be doing? If their job is “keeping New Zealand society secure, independent, and free and democratic” how can it best achieve that? Among other things, it was confusion about the GCSB’s reason for being which led it into forbidden territory.

If we’re all clear about the path on which the intelligence community is heading, surely there’s far less chance of those agencies accidentally straying into the wilderness.

There seem to have been significant changes for the better in New Zealand’s spying world.

Herald making things up about Honours?

The Herald yesterday made a number of claims about public support of the New Zealand Honours system. Were they making things up or where their claims based on anything of substance.

The headline: Editorial: Kiwis OK with knighthoods

Which Kiwis? How many Kiwis? I’m sure some at least would not be ok with that claim.

More general claims in the editorial:

  • New Zealanders can hardly wait to see titles bestowed on their homecoming All Black captain and coach today
  • Annette King, yesterday said the party had not reviewed its policy on royal honours since they were restored by National in 2009 but she saw no appetite in this country for “chopping and changing” the system.
    She is right.
  • Without a few titles conferred, the annual New Year’s and Queen’s Birthday honours lost much of their focus and public interest. Their reinstatement was well received.
  • In New Zealand, though, the titles now sit fairly comfortably within an honours system that has been restyled our way.
  • Though knights and dames remain nominally royal appointments, New Zealanders treat them as the indigenous decision they really are.
  • New Zealanders like to elevate respected fellow countrymen and women with a title to their name.
  • Even formally, it is likely to be Sir “Richie”. We are fine with that.

I’m not fine with that. ‘Richie McCaw’ is appropriate recognition to me.

I call bullshit in the Herald’s claims. I don’t know if a majority of New Zealanders would agree with any of those points or not but I’m certain that not all New Zealanders would agree with any of those points. Probably far from it.

I guess a newspaper from Auckland calling itself NZ Herald thinks it speaks for everyone. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t.

Herald not quite right on Dirty Politics and public interest

Today’s NZ herald editorial compares Cameron Slater versus Nicky Hager (Dirty Politics) and Matthew Blomfield versus Slater (defamation action) in Editorial: Dirty Politics passes public interest test:

Blogger Cameron Slater and author Nicky Hager have much in common, even beyond the emails one wrote and the other obtained, possibly illegally, now the Supreme Court has ruled computer files are property.

Both claim to be journalists, and both have found their work subject to the scrutiny of the High Court.

Both have cited a clause of the Evidence Act as a shield to protect their sources. In both cases, the sources provided a tranche of emails on which the reporting was based.

Hager is yet to have a judgment on the issue he has raised – whether the search warrant used by detectives to seize information from his house was valid.

Slater, though, has already had answers to the many underlying principles that are also under question in Hager’s case. Those questions go to the heart of a free press in a democracy, and the purpose it serves.

In an unrelated action, the Whaleoil blogger told the High Court he should not have to reveal who supplied him information he used for a series of posts because he was a journalist.

He claimed Evidence Act protection of a journalist’s sources. Justice Raynor Asher found Slater was a journalist by virtue of regular publication on his blog.

But he ruled that Slater could not have the protection for his sources offered by the law because there was no public interest in keeping their identities secret.

This was little public interest in the whole feud that Slater became very actively involved in.

The reason for the loss has a bearing on the Hager case and on journalism now the internet makes it possible for anyone to be a publisher, or a journalist.

Police have accepted Hager is a journalist. In Slater’s case, Justice Asher also found he was a journalist but focused on the work he produced.

He found a journalist’s protection of sources should “promote the free flow of information, a vital component of any democracy”, adding, “This factor would appear to have particular relevance where the facts and opinion that are the subject of the communications are of public interest and significance.”

Slater was conducting a smear campaign of virtually no public interest and of s\zero importance to democracy.

Slater’s was a defamation case. Hager’s is a criminal investigation. Justice Asher found Slater’s work – at least in relation to the case before the court – did not meet the test of public interest. Did Dirty Politics serve the “public interest”?

Putting aside political allegiances, the book did shine a light on aspects of the modern political world which had previously been in shadow. As a result, the public is better informed about the way our democracy operates.

The Supreme Court’s ruling suggests receiving illegally obtained email may be a crime.

On this basis, Hager’s challenge to the police search of his house may be harder to sustain. But since his book served a public interest, free speech should prevail.

I agree that there was significant public and democratic interest in what Hager revealed in Dirty Politics.

But I’m less certain about “free speech should prevail” given that Hager chose to package selected and allegedly one sided hacked data in a book that was sold for profit and launch it into an election campaign.

Free speech has responsibilities, and I’m not sure Hager meets the public interest test in the manner in which he ‘spoke’ about Slater’s communications.

Open and fair democracy requires full or unbiased disclosure (free speech), not a book that cannot be isolated from a political agenda.

If the data Hager got was of sufficient public importance to override the illegality of obtaining the data then I would have expected it to be made public via media when he obtained it. Or at least start to release it if it was of such public and democratic importance.

A tribute to John Armstrong’s last column

John Armstrong’s last column is presumably in the Herald today, and online John Armstrong: A Farewell to all that.

No journalist is always at their best but I have usually read John’s columns, insights and political reporting with interest.

Image result for john armstrong

Best columnist 2013

His last column is headed with an explanation:

John Armstrong has worked in Parliament’s press gallery for nearly three decades. For a good chunk of that time he led the Herald’s coverage of politics. Ill health has forced him to quit the job he loves. In this final assignment – which he set himself – one of New Zealand’s most astute political observers reflects on the politicians he’s encountered.

Then John writes his last political commentary.

Here is a message to the anonymous Herald reader who was so angry with a column I had written that he offered to drive me to the airport on condition I left the country.

Save yourself the bother, mate. I’m out of here. I’m on my bike (or at least, would be if I could get on a bike).

For the past 16 of the nearly 30 years I have been in Parliament’s press gallery, I have been locked in what is inevitably a losing battle with the ravages of Parkinson’s disease.

There will only be one winner. And it won’t be me who stands on the victory dais. Things have reached the sorry stage that this has to be the last regular political column I will be writing for the Weekend Herald.

He then recalls some of his most memorable political events and people. It’s a longer than normal column and is very interesting.

He then gets to our current Prime Minister and our last Prime Minister.

That leaves Helen Clark and John Key. They are head and shoulders above the rest.

Both had the array of attributes that are needed in a prime minister. Like a great all-rounder in cricket, the role demands one to be as lethal with the ball as the bat. Key may just outscore Clark as a consensus builder, but she had more intestinal fortitude when it came to pushing unpopular causes. But we’re talking at the margins here. You can argue which is the best until the cows have not only come home but are back in the far paddock again.

Both were faced with the most difficult decision a prime minister has to make — whether to send military personnel into a war zone. Clark did so in Afghanistan. Key has done so in Iraq. Neither ducked for cover.

So why quibble. The trophy for best prime minister is shared. History, anyway, may judge them by the massive contributions of their respective finance ministers, Michael Cullen and Bill English. Two formidable partnerships, for sure.

Not everyone at Kiwiblog and The Standard will agree with John’s non-partisan accolades for both Clark and Key but I think he has made a fair judgement here.

He thinks out democracy is stronger now:

There is another question that deserves attention. To twist an old Robert Muldoon quip, is New Zealand’s democratic fabric stronger now than when I first arrived at Parliament? Arguably, yes. MMP has made Parliament not only more representative of New Zealand society but also less tolerant of ministerial mistakes and mischief. Ministerial resignations are much more common.

It’s far from a perfect democracy, but as the saying goes it’s better than all the alternatives.

What is worrying is the decline in voter turnout, especially among the young.

The best way of improving our democracy is to improve engagement of the people, so this is a worry. But for those who do want to engage in politics in New Zealand in some way it has never been easier.

John waves for a new flag.

A parting shot. It was never my role to express personal opinion. But speaking as someone of English nationality, for heaven’s sake, let’s change the flag. While New Zealand is a young country, it now has a much greater self-confidence.

It is time to express that confidence and the nation’s separate identity by coming out from under the shadow of what is now an irrelevant foreign ensign otherwise known as the Union Jack.

But seeing how contentious some have tried to make a relatively simple flag change process his last shot does seem to have justified despair.

And while we are about it, it is long past time New Zealand became a republic. Unfortunately, I’m whistling in the wind on that one.

And he ends with his future:

As for me, there may be a lot more tweeting and even, God forbid, a blog, and maybe even the occasional contribution to the Herald. Otherwise it’s time for fresh voices from a new generation to issue the verdicts on our politicians.

Thanks John. Your columns have long been printed in the Otago Daily Times as well as the Herald so I have read a lot of your work. Your balance and insight have been laudable.

You have helped interest me in politics. And despite what the bitter and twisted at The Standard and The Daily Blog have said about you because you didn’t emulate Pravda I’ve enjoyed and benefited from what you have shared with New Zealand.


Little versus Ardern misses the mark

The Herald editorial today looks at Labour leadership  and co-leadership options. In particular they promote Jacinda Ardern as a deputy, and as a potential leader in waiting.

Little facing dilemma over deputy choice

Labour’s leader, Andrew Little, faces a dilemma over what sort of deputy he needs. Probably he would be happy to retain the party’s present deputy, Annette King, but he said a year ago the position would be re-opened about now.

Ms King has been excellent in the role – loyal, experienced, sensible in public statements, liked and respected by friend and foe, a safe pair of hands. That is all any leader would want in the person who must stand in for him at times and back him up when necessary.

And King would be excellent in the role for the next couple of years. I don’t think anyone else in the Labour caucus comes close to her mana and reliability.

But whether Mr Little likes it or not, there is much interest in the possible promotion of Jacinda Ardern. She is young, presentable and appears to have a popular following. A political party in Labour’s predicament cannot afford to let her appeal go to waste.

The party is a year into a third term of opposition and the polls are not yet giving any sign that a change of government is on the cards at the next election.

Labour needs to project the image of a fresh, new potential government.

The editorial concludes:

In politics there are loyal, safe, non-threatening deputies and there are ambitious deputies, using the post as a step to the top job. Parties in government need the first kind, but in opposition they sometimes need the second.

In Jacinda Ardern, Labour would appear to have a potential deputy who would not press for higher office unless the party needed a new leader, and could step up if it did. Labour needs her.

This misses the most pertinent point. Andrew Little was selected as leader last year. Little needs to step up. Overshadowing him with Ardern wouldn’t help him. Deputies should be effective and largely out of the spotlight, Ardern and her promoters have an attraction to the spotlight.

Little and his management team have made mistakes. Some of them are significant mistakes, like their fluttering over the flag fiasco, and their awful positioning and handling of the TPP Agreement being reached.

I think Little is at a political crossroads. He seems to be heading down a very rocky track right now.

If he can learn from his mistakes and learn from the stupidity of his advisers and take drastic action to turn things around then he has time to get on track to at least make a credible attempt at the 2017 election.

David Shearer got sucked into the Labour party machine and never fought out and rose above that.

Little needs to recognise the problems and fix them – fast. Otherwise Labour are in trouble – as if they haven’t had enough trouble recovering from the Clark years.

Ardern may make good copy for the Herald but she is not Labour’s answer as deputy and she is certainly not Labour’s answer as a replacement for Little at the top.

Promoting Little versus Ardern misses the mark. Little needs to promote himself as a competent leader. That will take a major change to achieve but Labour needs it to happen – they need to allow it to happen.

A rouge seal

This story has remained misspelled all day at NZ Herald.

Seal bites boy

A rouge seal attacked a 10-year-old in Mahia yesterday

A rouge seal attacked a 10-year-old in Mahia yesterday

I guess it’s mouth is pink, that’s close-ish to rouge.

The Herald must have a rogue editor.

Here’s a rouge seal:

Also a rouge Seal apparently:

A red seal:

Media changes

There’s been a number of media changes lately, indicating companies are looking at ways of reducing costs and trying to get sufficient revenue to survive in the modern media world that has been turned upside down by the Internet..

The Spinoff has been promoting themselves madly on Twitter. There are some familiar names amongst them.

The Spinoff is a New Zealand website covering television, sports, books and more. Founded in 2014 as a television site, in September 2015 it relaunched with a broader remit, but the same sensibility.

We also have a business-focused division, The Spinoff Custom, which creates content for brands, with the ability to generate high quality text, video or audio in a variety of formats. Our products include 1972 magazine, created for Barkers, and premium travel writing for Flight Centre.

Lightbox.co.nz are major sponsors of the television content on this site, and we are incredibly grateful to them. Part of their sponsorship involves us covering their shows – but only those we genuinely love. They understand for a site like this to work we need to be able to cover the entire TV universe, too. Which we do – and always with complete editorial independence. That’s a big part of how we can bring The Spinoff to you for free, while still paying our writers.

Our sports coverage is sponsored by PGA Tour Live and Premier League Pass. So we’ll pay extra attention to golf and the EPL, while also discussing the wider sporting landscape. Books are brought to you by Unity Books. Without any of these sponsors we simply wouldn’t exist, so please support them whenever you can.


  • Editor & Publisher: Duncan Greive.
  • Commercial Director: Fraser McGregor
  • Television Editor: Alex Casey
  • Sports Editor: Scotty Stevenson
  • Books Editor: Steve Braunias
  • Politics Editor: Toby Manhire
  • The Spinoff Custom Editor: Catherine McGregor
  • Staff Producer: José Barbosa
  • Staff Writer: Calum Henderson
  • Staff Feature Writer: Don Rowe

MediaWorks with Rachel Glucina launched Scout, an entertainment/celebrity news/gossip website on Monday.

The most entertaining thing about the launch was seeing non-Mediaworks journalists rubbishing it, which gave Scout some helpful promotion.

Midweek Scouts New Zealand announced that they were completely unassociated.

And on Friday Scout actually broke some news – about media competitors NZME:

Redundancies expected at NZ Herald

A huge shake-up is under way at the New Zealand Herald with several high-profile names facing redundancy, SCOUT has learned.

On Wednesday, staff at NZME – owners of the Herald – were invited to attend a company presentation announcing expansion plans to integrate its print, digital and radio news teams in a 24/7 operation. Lunch was served and staff were feeling positive. 

The next day, however, the restructure axe fell and several consultation meetings were held in offices off the Herald newsroom floor with employees affected by the redundancy news.

SCOUT has been told high-profile columnists John Drinnan, Brian Rudman and Michele Hewitson are facing redundancy.

NBR has expanded on this:

It’s now understood that other senior staff at the NZ Herald being ‘consulted’ about the proposed plans to facilitate the creation of NZME’s “world-class integrated newsroom” (ie, more than likely being made redundant) also include Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon, feature writer Alan Perrot and columnist John Roughan.

One NZ Herald staff member says, “It’s a bloodbath.” Another tells NBR that 30% of editorial staff are getting the chop. The number is unconfirmed, but would still mean editorial is getting off more lightly than sales where sources suggest that up to 40% of staff could receive their marching orders.

This looks like a major culling of staff and restructuring of a mutli-faceted media company.

So print, broadcast and online media are going through major changes.

But no sign of any action from Freed since a minor sign of something insignificant from them a month ago.

Changing work hours for World Cup

A campaign including a petition has been started to change work hours to better suit the Rugby World Cup.

NZ Herald is promoting this – Push for Rugby World Cup-friendly working hours.

A petition advocating a later start to the standard work day during the Rugby World Cup has kicked off – will you Push Back For Black?

The Push Back For Black petition calls for employers to change their standard working hours to 10am-6pm from 9am-5pm to allow employees to catch early morning Cup matches before heading to work.

NZME radio brands Hauraki, Radio Sport and ZM together with the Herald were among the first to support the petition.

Why is a petition needed? Any business can choose to retain or change their work hours as they see fit.

But I’m not sure whether the Herald is going to change it’s printing or delivery schedule. Delivering newspapers a few hours later may annoy quite a few of their customers.

Herald managing editor Shayne Currie urged other employers to follow suit. “To allow New Zealanders the opportunity to stay up during the night to watch the All Blacks play – or enjoy a full game at home from 7am or 8am – seems the patriotic thing to do.”

Good grief.

Mr Currie may not be aware but with modern media it’s possible to watch games of rugby via recordings, streaming and replays at a wide variety of times.

Then bizarrely:

The campaign comes as an Oxford University researcher claimed that forcing staff to start work before 10am was tantamount to torture and was making employees ill, exhausted and stressed.

Dr Paul Kelley said there was a need for a huge societal change to move work and school starting times to fit with the natural body clock of humans. Before the age of 55, the circadian rhythms of adults were completely out of sync with normal nine-to-five working hours, posing a “serious threat” to performance, mood and mental health.

“Staff are usually sleep deprived. We’ve got a sleep-deprived society,” Dr Kelly said.

“It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical, emotional and performance systems in the body.Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.”

Sleep deprivation has been shown to have significant effects on health. A week with less than six hours’ sleep a night led to 711 changes in how genes function, one study discovered.

Does that mean Kelley and the Herald would recommend that New Zealanders shouldn’t allow themselves to become sleep deprived during the World Cup? That would mean not watching games live but watching replays after 10 am. So then they would have to delay their work until noon.

The Herald and NZME can change work hours for their staff however they like – I’m not sure how that will work with Radio Hauraki – but this campaign seems to be poorly thought through.

It almost seems like a September Fools joke of some sort.

But there really does seem to be a petition – http://www.pushbackforblack.co.nz/

Work starts when play ends.

Sign-up to our petition to push back the start of the working day to 10am for the duration of the cup.

The battle for rugby’s greatest prize is nearly upon us. But the time difference with England means that majority of games will be shown early in the morning back here in NZ.

Many of us will be preparing for our working day or will already be at work at the very moment our team need our support.

We say this cannot happen. Let the nation gather in their homes and public spaces to cheer on our boys.

Good grief. Someone must be taking the piss. But this part seems to be true – Sleep expert Dr Paul Kelley wants the business and school day to begin at 10am.


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