Little still mixed on TPPA

Andrew Little still seems to have mixed positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Patrick Gower:

So Little is loudly saying he is opposed to the TPP one minute, and then the next minute he’s quietly admitting he’d vote for the good bits. It is a Jekyll and Hyde show where Little is Jane Kelsey one minute and Phil Goff the next.

He tried to gloss over the Goff/Shearer/Helen Clark/et al elephant in Labour’s TPPA room in his ‘State of the nation’ speech yesterday:

I’d also like to acknowledge Phil Goff.

It’s funny, Phil seems to be at every gathering in Auckland with more than three people for some reason. Phil, this is going to be a big year for Auckland, and I know you’ll do a fantastic job as Mayor.

Little  may be looking forward to Goff resigning from Parliament if he wins the mayoralty, so he doesn’t figure in next year’s election lead up.

He addressed the TPPA directly later in his speech.

The truth is, this government has given up on the future.

They’ve been selling us short.

There’s no better example of this than the TPP agreement the government will sign next week at Sky City.

You know, over the summer, I managed to work my way through large parts of that agreement.

It wasn’t the breeziest of summer reading, I’ll say that much.

But what the text of the TPP makes very clear is that this Government has traded away our democratic rights.

Under the TPP, our democracy is under threat.

New Zealand’s parliament will be constrained in its ability to pass laws in our — your, mine, our kids’ interests.

In fact, on issues like labour laws, and environmental laws, our government is now obliged to give the governments of eleven other countries — and their big corporate players — a say on the laws we make.

New Zealand MPs will no longer be solely responsible to the people who elect them.

And I cannot accept that.

Labour has been a champion of free trade for decades. But we have never been asked to pay the price of the erosion of our democratic institutions.

Binding future parliaments, making our government accountable to politicians and corporations overseas instead of voters here at home?

That’s not free trade.

That’s special rules for the powerful and privileged at the expense of the voters of New Zealand.

Last week Goff and David Shearer made it clear that they have quite different views on the TPPA, publicly confirming their support. Shearer will have to apologise to the Labour caucus for breaking their collective responsibility. Goff had been given a pass by Little.

However after the speech journalists asked Little about the TPPA and he revealed that he was still not totally against it.

Patrick Gower reports:

In his speech, he talked up Labour’s opposition to the TPP to cheers from the party faithful. Then he came over to journalists and admitted Labour would support certain laws that put some parts of of the TPP into action, confirming Labour would vote for legislation that reduced tariffs for Kiwi exporters, which the official advice shows will be required.

So Little is loudly saying he is opposed to the TPP one minute, and then the next minute he’s quietly admitting he’d vote for the good bits. It is a Jekyll and Hyde show where Little is Jane Kelsey one minute and Phil Goff the next. It is a political con-job aimed at keeping his own supporters on side by opposing it while emotions are running high with the signing next week, but not wanting to get caught out as being against New Zealand exporters when the benefits kick in down the track.

If Little really opposed the TPP, he would refuse point-blank to vote for any legislation that enables it. Until he does that his position lacks credibility, and that means the TPP is quickly becoming a big problem for Little. He’s got MPs Goff and David Shearer going rogue with their public support but — unlike him at least they are up-front and easy to understand.

Little and Labour still have a big problem over their mixed messages and clash of support on the TPPA.



Censuring Shearer, Goff let off

Collective caucus responsibility imposed on David Shearer, breaking ranks is fine for Phil Goff.

Andrew Little says he will ensure David Shearer for expressing his support of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at the same time that Labour as a party swings to full anti-TPPA, but he is letting Goff off. This inconsistency is odd and could prove problematic for Little, now trying to deal with a split caucus.

NZ Herald reported last night (but dated 5:30 am this morning):

David Shearer to be censured over breaking Labour line on TPP

Labour MP David Shearer is set to be censured for breaking the Labour line on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after speaking out in support of the trade agreement.

Labour leader Andrew Little would not outline possible sanctions or comment on whether Mr Shearer could be stripped of his foreign affairs portfolio.

“There is a range of options. I don’t want to go into any of them, but it is important he understands, and that every caucus member understands, that caucus collective responsibility is real and it’s got to stand for something.”

“I’ve had one discussion with David so far just to ascertain the facts. I’m yet to have a further discussion with him about what happens now, but I think every caucus member knows caucus collective responsibility is utterly vital and there has to be some sort of consequence if that is breached.”

But Goff has been let off – why does caucus collective responsibility not apply to him?

Although fellow MP Phil Goff also spoke in support of the TPP, Mr Little said he had agreed Mr Goff could break ranks with the party because of his long-standing support for the trade agreement as Trade Minister when the talks kicked off.

Shearer has supported the TPPA for some time as well, As have other Labour MPs.

The treatment of Mr Shearer differs from that of Mr Goff, whose comments rubbished claims the TPP was an unacceptable infringement of New Zealand’s sovereignty — the very reason Labour is opposing it.

However, Mr Little has confirmed Mr Goff had a dispensation which allowed him to break the party line. Asked if he had told Mr Goff to at least stop speaking publicly on the issue, Mr Little said he had discussed it with Mr Goff and “I’m confident we have a shared understanding about that”.

He said most people recognised Mr Goff was the trade minister who initiated the negotiations and had a “deep-seated”view on it. Mr Goff is running for the Auckland mayoralty so no longer has a ranking within Labour’s caucus.

Shearer is currently ranked 13 and is MP for Mt Albert, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Associate Defence Spokesperson. Little can’t take his electorate off him.

Labour split on TPPA

It’s not surprising to see a split in Labour ranks over the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Phil Goff under Helen Clark’s government had quite a bit to do with initiating the TPPA.

Helen Clark recently said:

“What always haunts one as a New Zealand prime minister is, will there be a series of trade blocs developed that you’re not part of? Because that is unthinkable for New Zealanders, an export-oriented, small trading nation.”

“So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with a [TPPA] and go for the very best deal it can.”

Labour leader Andrew Little has been sort of saying he opposes the TPPA, or at least parts of it, and that he would breach the agreement if it comes into force and he is Prime Minister.

One News last night (partial transcript from video, source Anthony Robins):

Labour finally confirms it’s opposed to controversial TPPA

[Little] “I don’t support it, we don’t support it”

[Little] “Very difficult as it is for us as a party that for 80 years has supported for, championed and advanced the cause of free trade, we see an agreement that cuts right across the rights of New Zealand citizens…”

[Vance] “Plus Andrew Little points to US university analysis which predicts the deal will lead to between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs lost in New Zealand by 2025. The report also estimates GDP growth of less than 0.8% again by 2025.

Grant Robertson has been sort of saying he opposes the TPPA at meetings this week that strongly oppose the TPPA signing, at least giving the impression Labour opposes the signing.

Today the Herald reports MPs break ranks on TPP.

Two senior Labour MPs have broken ranks with the party line and declared their support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), amid rumours that at least one, Phil Goff, could cross the floor of Parliament to vote with National if Labour opposes enabling legislation.

The issue was hotly debated at the Labour caucus retreat in Wairarapa this week.

Mr Goff, a former leader and former Trade Minister and now an Auckland mayoral candidate, and David Shearer, also a former Labour leader, last night told theHerald they both still supported the TPP.

It is no surprise that Goff and Shearer support the TPPA. The only slight surprise is the timing of them coming out in support.

Mr Goff said the deal should be signed.

Mr Goff did not blatantly criticise Labour’s position. But he effectively dismissed that view and the suggestion that Labour would not be able to prevent foreign investors buying New Zealand residential property.

“Every time you sign any international agreement you give away a degree of your sovereignty.” He cited the China free trade deal negotiated when he was Trade Minister.

“We gave up the sovereign right to impose tariffs against China when we signed up to the China free trade agreement. But it came with quid pro quos. China gave up its right to impose huge tariffs on us.

“That’s what an international agreement is; it’s an agreement to follow a particular course of action and a limitation on your ability to take action against the other country.

“You have the ultimate right of sovereignty that you can back out of an agreement – with all the cost that that incurs.”

That’s the realities of international agreements, something that Little and Robertson seem oblivious too, unless they are playing the different sides of the debate.

Mr Shearer told the Herald that his position on the TPP was unchanged and “certainly after reading the NIA [national interest analysis]” that was to support the deal.

Mr Shearer would not comment on whether he would cross the floor.

Little has responded:

Labour leader Andrew Little told the Herald last night that Labour would support tariff-reducing legislation but would oppose any measures if they undermined sovereignty, expressly the issue of selling houses to foreigners, and anything that allowed foreigners to have a say on New Zealand laws.

“As a caucus we don’t support the TPPA in its current form.”

Mr Little said Mr Goff had made his view known to him and to the caucus and they understood his position because he was close to the TPP.

He said the issue of crossing the floor was a matter for future discussion.

Asked if there would be any consequences for Mr Goff and Mr Shearer for supporting the TPP, he said there was an understanding about Mr Goff.

I guess the ‘understanding’ is Goff hopes to win the mayoralty later this year so Little has little control over what he says.

Goff may like to leave Parliament with a legacy of playing a significant role in enabling the TPPA.

“Anybody else in caucus, that’ll be a matter for myself and/or caucus.”

There’s likely to be others in the Labour caucus who have at least some problems with Little’s and Robertson’s stances on the TPPA.

Little was praised last year for apparently mending a split caucus, or at least keeping any differences out of public sight.

It appears that Labour have joined others in trying to use the TPPA as a wedge between National and the opposition, and also a Maori wedge.

But the wedge may end up causing a self inflicted split amongst themselves. Little has created a very difficult situation for himself and for Labour. I presume he will have seen this coming. It was inevitable.

Vic Crone announces Auckland mayoralty bid

In what looks like a serious and credible bid Victoria Crone has announced she is resigning as New Zealand boss of Xero to campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

NZ Herald reports Xero boss in race for mayoralty

The contest to find a new mayor for the Super City moved up a gear yesterday when business boss Victoria Crone put her hat in the ring.

Ms Crone said being a serial politician was the biggest asset she brought to Auckland, with a familiar centre-right ring of addressing rates increases, perceived council wastage, transport and housing.

“I believe strongly in the values of fiscal responsibility and share this view with others on the centre-right.”

After less than two years at the helm of accounting software company Xero in NZ, Ms Crone resigned yesterday to focus on the mayoralty and building a profile outside her narrow business circles.

Ms Crone will stand as an independent, but has the support of the fledging centre-right Future Auckland and the right-leaning Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance.

Having strong backing and the financial means to launch a campaign ten months out from the local body elections make this a significant announcement.

I heard Crone interviewed on Radio NZ yesterday and she came across well.

Ms Crone, 42, is the favoured candidate of National powerbrokers to go up against Labour MP Phil Goff, whose profile and 30 years in Parliament make him the early favourite to replace Len Brown.

The media have promoted Goff as a favourite, but Crone’s candidacy may put real pressure on him. He still has to look like he is doing an adequate job as an MP as he has chosen to continue those responsibilities in parallel to campaigning.

If Crone is seen as a serious contender for mayor Goff may have to reassess running dual roles next year.

A valid criticism of Crone is her lack of political experience. Does a mayor benefit more from a political or a business background?

But there are questions about Goff’s suitability too. Does national politics transfer well to super city politics? Or is something significantly different needed?

And Goff’s failure to make any real impression as Labour leader over three years and in the 2011 general election raises questions about his electability if up against strong candidates.

Other candidates are Orakei Local Board’s Mark Thomas, right-winger Stephen Berry and activist Penny Bright.

They continue to struggle to get significant media coverage. Selection by media is a hard hurdle to overcome.

Crone has set up a website: Vic for Mayor


Interesting to see her colour scheme. It looks red on one of my screens and orange on the other.

Judith Collins versus Phil Goff?

Audrey Young at NZ Herald suggests that a speech by Judith Colins to the ACT regional conference yesterday could be a pitch for a run at the Auckland mayoralty.

Judith Collins on the Auckland mayoralty

National MP Judith Collins gave a wide-ranging speech about the Auckland Council to an Act regional conference yesterday, which is bound to renew speculation she is considering standing for the Auckland mayoralty.

However she also appeared to make a pitch for Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett, whose name has also been associated with a mayoral run.

“Auckland desperately needs a leader, someone who can articulate their plan, implement it and be accountable for it,” she said.

She applauded the fact that Mr Barnett had repeatedly called for a transparent line-by-line review of council costs and planned capital expenditure.

“He is absolutely right…taxpayers deserve to know what public money is being spent cost effectively and efficiently…

“As a ratepayer, I just hope that we end up with a financially literate, decisive mayor who can work with central government and not someone who thinks that being Mayor of Auckland is all about themselves,” she said in the speech which was distributed by her press secretary.

Ms Collins said the current candidate of the right, Mark Thomas, isn’t good enough to take on Labour MP Phil who is standing for the mayoralty at the local body elections in October next year.

She told the conference she had been “quite hopeful” about Mr Goff until he had ruled out asset sales or reconfiguration.

Judith Collins told the Herald in November that she had no plans to stand for the Auckland mayoralty and that her focus was getting back into the cabinet.

That was last month. The local body elections are nearly a year away. Collins’ future in Parliament may be limited.

Collins versus Phil Goff would make it a fascinating contest.



Little Little success in Australia

Andrew Little’s and Phil Goff’s trip to Australia to lobby for New Zealand ex-pats and detainees seems to have had little success. This isn’t surprising.

NZ Herald reports: Australia won’t budge on deportations

Australia won’t budge on deportations and shows little appetite to examine support for Kiwi expats – but Labour senses softer ground among politicians from both major parties.

Labour leader Andrew Little and MP Phil Goff have completed a day of lobbying in Canberra after meeting Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Opposition leader Bill Shorten.

They received little encouragement from Mr Dutton, except for a promise to look at any individual deportation cases raised by Labour.

“There wasn’t a eureka moment where he said, ‘Oh no, I’ve got it all wrong, but it was useful to have the opportunity to put the case and put the arguments,” said Mr Little, who will tomorrow visit Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.

The visit of New Zealand’s Opposition leader went largely under the Canberra radar. He entered Parliament in the early morning heat past a pack of local reporters with no question asked, and there was only minor interest from Australian media outlets.

However, Mr Little said that there was a broad acceptance from Liberal and Labor members of two committees he presented to that there was some unfairness in the way the rules were applied.

This may have been a reality check for Little in one of his first dabbles in international lobbying, and Australia will be relatively easy.

Leaders of opposition parties can do little at home so will achieve little abroad except perhaps build relationships and experience.

Why did Little take Goff with him? Goff is off next year if he wins the Auckland mayoralty.

Little may have felt he needed experience alongside him on his Australian foray, but surely Labour should be looking at building expertise for the future.

‘The Message’ is clear

Russell Brown has posted The Message at Public Address, giving an account of sorts of Phil Goff’s launch of his campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

They message he is trying to convey is quite clear. His intro:

The announcement of Phil Goff’s intention to seek the Auckland mayoralty yesterday was able and organised. Various important constituencies were represented in the room, the messaging was precise and the first person to be greeted by name in the candidate’s speech was the present deputy mayor, Penny Hulse. So she’s on board.


Goff was at pains to emphasise that yesterday was not a campaign launch, merely the announcement of his candidacy. Policy will come with the launch proper, next year. He has already drawn some clear lines: finance the CRL more quickly, prevent Port expansion into the harbour, don’t privatise Watercare. But he will need to take good advice on what he chooses to say around the complexities of the Unitary Plan, the Auckland Plan and the Long Term Plan before having to actually state policy on them. Populism gets very perilous in that area, especially when you’re promising “protection for areas of high heritage value.”

But yesterday’s launch was competent and confident. After he spoke, Goff circulated easily for photographs while the press waited at the door of the room. His meeting and greeting completed, he turned, strode to the door and delivered his lines. He clearly does know how this is done.

Is Russell Goff’s media adviser? Did he arrange the media event? Whether he did or not his message is quite clear.

I can’t see any dosclosure so he must just be a interested observer, albeit quite keen on Goff’s bid for the mayoralty.


Bright, Thomas, Hay, Berry, Goff standing for mayor

It’s no surprise at all that Phil Goff has annnouned he will be standing for mayor of Auckland.

He has already been getting a lot of media attention – and free publicity. The media machine tends to strongly favour those who are already well known to them. Some potential candidates they simply ignore, ruling out any chance they will be noticed by an apathetic voting public.

Others who have announced their intention to stand include:

  • Stephen Berry (former ACT candidate)
  • Mark Thomas (Orakei Local Board member)
  • Penny Bright (protester and blog self promoter)
  • David Hay (former Green Party member, council employee)

Don’t expect the media to rate them a chance or give them an equal chance.

In a launch promotion coverage at Stuff:

At the moment Goff is by far the front runner in a race that has only seen lesser candidates declare their hand.

Regardless of their potential capabilities the labeled ‘lesser cndidates’ will get significantly lesser media attention and get lesser votes. They are efectively ruled out as soon as they begin.

Goff may make a good mayor, and the media will ensure he has the best possible chance of winning.

Plus he has the advantage of remaining an MP so he can effectively do a lot of his preliminary campaigning while being paid to be a Member of Parliament.

For most people to stand any chance they have to quit any paid job and commit to campaigning at their own expense.

Nats proxy to contest Auckland mayoralty?

The Auckland local body elections have moved a step closer to being merged with national politics with the formation of Auckland Future to help the centre right contest the elections next year. It is closely linked with the National Party.

They will support a mayoral candidate “if, and when, a winnable candidate emerges”.

It seems almost certain that Phil Goff will stand for the mayoralty, giving his bid a strong Labour connection.

Bernard Orsman reports in NZ Herald – Nats back new Auckland ticket.

 Party figures drive centre-right platform created out of dissatisfaction with state of Super City

National Party figures are behind a new ticket, Auckland Future, being set up to wrestle for control of the Super City at next year’s local body elections.

Sources have linked National Party president Peter Goodfellow, former presidents Sue Wood and Michelle Boag, and Auckland-based ministers Nikki Kaye and Paul Goldsmith to the plan.

It is understood the National Party is prepared to contribute resources and fundraising skills to the ticket while keeping the National brand away from the Super City arena.

Prime Minister John Key was one of about 80 people at a fundraising event for the new ticket on October 14 at the Geyser Building in Parnell.

The ticket is the latest attempt by the centre-right to win control of the council after two poor campaigns and the failure of the Communities & Residents ticket, formerly Citizens & Ratepayers (C&R), to gain traction.

C&R president Karen Sherry, when asked if C&R could merge with Auckland Future, said “that’s a discussion that needs to be had” but added “sometimes competition can be healthy”.

Ms Kaye, MP for Auckland Central, said she wanted to ensure a strong voice around reducing rates and bureaucracy.

“There has to be change. It [the council] has been pretty fragmented and I’m very interested for a new entity to emerge.”

Campaign and fundraising experience should give this a major boost and the people involved and endorsing it give this an unmistakable National tinge. It looks like the Auckland mayoralty in particular will look closely related to national politics.

Joe Davis, a Browns Bay business consultant and National Party volunteer chairing Auckland Future, said the organisation was incorporated in September.

He said there had been a lot of conversation across the centre-right, including the National Party, about wanting to see Auckland run well, and with a vision.

“There is real widespread dissatisfaction with the current state of Auckland,” Mr Davis said.

“The city is too big and too important to have councillors voting in an ad hoc manner on key issues.”

Mr Davis said Auckland Future would field a ticket of councillors with a strong policy platform so voters would know what they were voting for.

He said the ticket did not have any candidates lined up and would embrace a mayoral candidate “if, and when, a winnable candidate emerges”.

So they aren’t saying specifically that they will support a mayoral candidate but one could presume that’s a major aim.

The Auckland mayor is seen as one of the most important elected officials in the country. The Prime Minister isn’t even elected as such, their party is elected with it’s leader becoming Prime Minister.

There may be good arguments both for and against national politics mixing more with local politics.

One benefit could be that the centre right in Auckland come up with a serious contender for the mayoralty. Last election Len Brown didn’t have much credible competition.

Phil Goff may stick with his proposal to remain an MP until/unless elected mayor. Campaigning for local body elections while a sitting MP is a major merge of national/local politics on it’s own, with the taxpayer funding his campaign time.

Goff off Little message

Phil Goff has spoken about the Trans Pacific Partnership, an Agreement he should be proud of as he played significant role in getting the talks under way.

While he seems to have spoken careful he has a different slant on it to his leader Andrew Little.

Stuff reported:

Labour unlikely to breach TPPA over concerns – Phil Goff

Senior Labour MP Phil Goff says it is unlikely the party would have to breach parts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) free trade deal if it came to power, with “more than one way to skin the cat” regarding its concerns.

Goff is ‘senior’ in length time as an MP and an ex-leader, but has slipped to seventeenth in Labour’s pecking order.

Goff, a former Labour leader and the trade minister who signed a free trade agreement with China in 2008, told TV3’s Paul Henry he had encouraged his party colleagues to consider the costs of opting out of the deal, which was “not the monster” that opponents were afraid of.

He denied Labour was “stuck in the dark ages” regarding the TPPA, and said the party had not yet decided whether it would support or oppose the deal.

“I think the party is doing the right thing at the moment – until you read the fine print, you don’t sign the document.

“We’ve had a briefing from Tim Groser and that was really helpful, but there are things that he couldn’t answer…and we’ve got to see the detail of it.”

So a bit of defend and wait support for Labour’s line.

Goff say he “maybe [knew] a little bit more about the trade than some of the others” in Labour due to his involvement in initial negotiations, and said he had asked his colleagues to consider the costs of not being in the TPPA.

“This is a deal that’s going to get bigger: It’s 12 countries now, but I can conceive that China will come in, South Korea will come in.

So he is fairly pro the TPPA.

“Let’s look it at it honestly: This is not the gold standard that I set out to achieve – dairy is frankly third rate and that was disappointing – but nor is it the monster that TPPA opponents were afraid of.”

While Goff said Little was “quite right” to want to see the fine print before making a decision, he said it was unlikely a Labour-led government would need to breach aspects of the deal it disagreed with, and could instead discuss their concerns with the other parties.

“I don’t think we’ll have to, I think there’s more than one way to skin the cat of the deal.”

Not surprisingly he is not keen on Little’s ‘flaunt it and see what happens’ approach.

It’s hard to guess what Labour’s position will end up being on the TPPA.


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