Loony Labour line on flag questions

Labour is following a loony line on the flag referendum questions and have chosen to oppose the Flag Bill.

NZ Herald: Labour to oppose flag bill

Labour will oppose a bill setting up the two referendums deciding the fate of the flag because of a sticking point over the order of the questions.

The Flag Referendums Bill is expected to get its first reading in Parliament soon and has enough support to pass its first stage without Labour, although the Maori Party and the Greens have only committed to support it through to select committee so far.

The bill sets out the process and questions for the two referendums – expected to cost $26 million. The first will be later this year and ask voters to choose between four options for a new flag. The second will pit the most popular new flag design against the current flag and ask voters to pick one.

Labour’s Trevor Mallard said voters should be asked whether they wanted to change the flag in the first referendum. “There should be a yes/no vote at the beginning of the process so that if the majority of New Zealanders don’t want change we don’t spend a fortune on an unnecessary second referendum.”

That may just be a misguided approach, or it could be an attempt to diminish the debate.

From what I’ve seen online those who want a “do you want to change the flag?” question first are opposed to change so want to avoid a chosen alternative from competing against the current flag.

If the first referendum had two questions, a yes/no to change plus a choice of an alternative it is likely confuse people and to distort the result.

It would be odd voting against change and for an alternative at the same time.

If someone didn’t want change they would vote on that question but are likely to not care about the alternative choice.

Therefore if the yes to change vote won then the selection of an alternative would be at risk of being inaccurate.

And the yes/no vote would depend on which alternative was up against the current flag so the two questions can’t be asked at the same time.

Some people are likely to oppose changing to one alternative but may be happy to change to a different alternative.

The only way of dealing with this sensibly is to first select the most popular alternative, and then choose whether you want to change to that or stay with the current flag.

And that’s the plan.

Act leader David Seymour said he would support it and could see the sense in deciding on what the alternative flag would be before deciding whether to vote for a change.

The Maori and Green parties have decided to vote for the Bill to get to the Select Committee stage. That allows it to be more fully discussed and considered.

Labour seem to be taking an opposing position just to oppose a Government proposal.  So they are against a sound democratic selection process.

Seems loony opposition to me.

Mallard as Deputy Speaker

NZ Herald reports that Trevor Mallard has been lined up as Deputy Speaker.

It is understood Labour has nominated the man often labelled the party’s bovver boy for the Assistant Speaker slot traditionally reserved for an Opposition MP, and National has agreed to it.

Mr Mallard would not confirm it last night, saying it was a matter for the Leader of the House to announce.

That sounds like all but confirmation.

Labour’s Ross Robertson was deputy speaker last term. He has just retired from Parliament.

Robertson was not a prominent Member of Parliament but his catchphrase was apparently “courtesy is contagious”. He also unsuccessfully promoted a member’s bill trying to promote better MP behaviour – see Code of Ethical Conduct for MPs.

Mallard contrasts significantly with this. He has frequently clashed with speakers and has been thrown out of the House numerous times. He put himself forward for the Speaker’s position when Lockwood Smith retired.

Mr Mallard put his name forward to be Speaker by way of protest against National’s choice of Mr Carter and declared it was one of his ambitions to hold the job.

Last term he had many clashes and disagreements with Carter.

Labour will be happy if Mallard becomes occupied as Deputy Speaker.

It’s possible Mallard will rise to the responsibility. He has more experience and knowledge of what it involves, albeit on the receiving end of many unruly rulings.

…he has served as Labour’s shadow Leader of the House and is one of the Labour MPs best versed on its rules.

If this appointment is confirmed it will give Mallard a chance to prove he can do more than aspire to be chief nit picker and cantanker.

If he wants to fulfil an apparent ambition of becoming Speaker whenever Labour might lead Government again this will give him an opportunity to prove he is firm and fair enough. He will need to earn respect from opposing MPs that won’t have particularly good feelings towards him.

Contrasting Labour hoardings

Labour leader David Cunliffe put up his first hoarding today, (as snapped by Patrick Gower).

Cunliffe hoarding

Interesting to see no ‘Cunliffe’ on it apart from the picture, and a meaningless slogan the most prominent wording. ‘Party vote Labour’ is far less prominent.

Clayton Cosgrove (source Whale Oil)

Cosgrove hoarding

Cosgrove is 8 on the Labour list but no ‘Vote positive’ or ‘Party vote Labour. Much less red, his own slogan which sounds a bit like National’s, and a very misleading ‘MP Waimakariri’ as Cosgrove is not an electorate MP.

Trevor Mallard has started putting his hoardings up a day early (source Holly Bennett).

Mallard Hoarding

Mallard is standing for the electorate only and isn’t on the list so is promoting himself, with ‘Vote positive’ and ‘Party vote Labour’ far less prominent at the bottom.

Megan Woods:

Hoarding Woods

Same layout as Mallard’s but Woods is also on the list (at 20).

Jacinda Ardern:

Hoarding Ardern

Same again. This seems to be the official 2014 layout. Jacinda is 5 on the list.

Chris Hipkins:

Hoarding Hipkins

Another standard layout with the all important party vote note prominent. Hipkins is an electorate MP and 9 on the party list.


Sue Moroney (source Whale Oil)

Moroney hoarding

Two different versions. The top one is recycled from 2008, promoting both Labour and Moroney but obviously no current slogan ‘Vote positive’. The second is very prominent ‘Party vote Labour.

Ironically Moroney’s recycled hoardings are the best party promotions. She is 10 on Labour’s list and has trouble winning electrates.

It’s strange to see each MP with vastly different hoardings.

Cunliffe and the Labour blokes

Different columns on Labour, one from Rachel Smalley claiming David Cunliffe is trying to attract the female vote, and another by Duncan Garner on Labour blokes disregarding party interests and trying to shore up their electorate chances.

Rachel Smalley: Cunliffe courting the female vote

The most recent policy announcements suggest to me that David Cunliffe is not cutting it with women. You’ll remember Helen Clark lost the support of women in her final term, and I don’t think Labour has ever claimed it back. During his leadership challenge, remember that Cunliffe wasn’t popular with women in his own party. I suspect that’s resonating in the wider public too.

According to polls this year both Labour and Cunliffe have lost support from female voters.

So he’s going after the female vote. Women are more likely to bounce between parties. Men tend to vote for what’s right for their own wallets, but women are more likely to consider issues beyond personal wealth and economics.

A particular problem Cunliffe has is that women are more adept at reading body language and don’t like it when it differs from verbal language.

Even his “sorry I’m a man” speech, which was obviously targeting women, had suggestions of a lack of authenticity.

Meanwhile Duncan Garner posts Three Labour MPs say ‘stuff the party – I want to win my seat!’

Three Labour MPs have broken ranks in recent weeks – quite loudly and very publicly.

They are interested in one thing: self-preservation. They want to win their seats and they’ve given up relying on their party. They are clearly concerned Labour will poll poorly on election night, so they’ve decided to run their own campaigns – away from head office and away from the leader.

These MPs have either chosen not to be on the list or they have a low-list spot. They are vulnerable. It’s all or nothing for them.

They must win their seats to return to Parliament; this sort of pressure usually focuses an MP’s mind. They want to be back in Parliament and they want the $150k salary.

I’m talking about West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard and list MP and Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Kelvin Davis.

He has left Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene out.

Take Davis: yesterday he engaged Labour in its biggest u-turn in years. He told me he supported the Puhoi-Wellsford road project that his party has openly mocked and criticised.

Davis is a staunch promoter of Northland interests and has put this before the party.

Further south in Wellington, Trevor Mallard is openly campaigning for the return of the moa – against the wishes of his party and the leadership. It’s a desperate cry for attention: Mallard needs visibility and the moa got him the headlines.

That has been a bizarre sideshow. Cunliffe initially responded “the moa is not a goer” but Mallard has kept on going on about his pet project of the future.

And further south again, Damien O’Connor voted with the Government 10 days ago to allow storm-damaged native trees to be harvested in protected forests.

Tirikatene also voted with the Government on the tree bill.

These three blokes are the outliers in the Labour Caucus. And they are blokes too; they need to make some noise to be heard. They clearly have issues with the tame approach within their caucus.

O’Connor and Davis certainly look in touch with middle New Zealand, their electorates and their issues. They have given the one-fingered salute to their struggling party and put self-preservation first.

O’Connor, Tirikatene and Mallard are relying totally on holding their current electorates in order to stay in Parliament, they don’t feature on the Labour list.

Davis is in a doubtful list position and to put a bob each way on his chances he needs to keenly contest Hone Harawira to try and win Te Tai Tokerau off him.

While Cunliffe is struggling to woo the women voters some of the strongest male presence in Labour is going their own way, disregarding the wider party interests, and as Garner says, putting self preservation first. This suggests they don’t hold much hope of the party doing well.

Cunliffe is struggling to appeal to women and failing to appeal to his own caucus for unity.

It’s hard to see how this can work out well for Labour.

Unless Kim Dotcom sinks National, giving Labour  a shot at forming a Government despite their shambles.


Is Mallard serious?

Trevor Mallard seems to be taking his proposal to resurrect moa from their DNA seriously even though it makes one wonder if he’s taking the piss.

But he could have an odd obsession with things from the past going by his social media profiles.

His Twitter profile:

Mallard TwitterHis Facebook profile:

Mallard Facebook


This is a long time MP who has opted out of his party list but is apparently seriously standing to try and retain his electorate.


He seems to have a fixation with looking at things from bygone eras.

Cunliffe tries to paper over Mallard ‘wisecrack’

David Cunliffe is once again reacting to awkward news and appears to be trying to downplay a Trevor Mallard ‘wisecrack’ (it is more of a dumb distraction).

Mallard seems to have made most of the political news today with his proposal for resurrecting moa. Stuff reports:

Time to bring back…the moa

With “the science of de-extinction advancing quickly”, as he put it, the Hutt South MP has laid down a challenge for Lower Hutt and for scientists: Let’s work towards the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park.

While admitting it sounded “a bit Jurassic Park”, Mallard said scientists had been making progress on techniques for using recovered DNA from extinct animals to reconstruct new life.

Fifty to 100 years from now, Wainuiomata could again be home to the moa, which would make an enormous difference to the environment, community and economy, he said.

“It would certainly give us international focus and, frankly, I can’t think of a better place. Those valleys [behind Wainuiomata] are accessible without helicopter, with a one-hour walk.”

In what seems to now be a regular outlet for Cunliffe’s PR machine Greg Presland tries to play it down at The Standard.

This morning Trevor Mallard said with his tongue at least partially in his cheek that locals and scientists should work towards the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park. Scientifically the idea is not one that is utterly impossible. Work on genetics goes on all the time and it is possible that one day reconstituting an extinct creature from recovered DNA may actually bring that creature back to life.

Our politicians should be future thinkers and should be willing to discuss ideas and concepts, no matter how bizarre they currently may be.

Social media has exploded. Trevor Mallard and Moa are trending on local twitter feeds in a way which must make the creators of #TeamKey very jealous.

David Cunliffe has joined in the fun. The Herald quote him as saying:

“I don’t think this one’s going to fly. There’s a lot of scientific work to go under the bridge before moas are going to be flopping around in Wainuiomata.

The moa’s not a goer.”

This sounds vey much like a carefully written social media release. It tries to get some counter digs in against National and Colin Craig, then concludes:

Politics can be a brutal, overly serious business sometimes. We should tolerate the odd occasion when our elected representatives break out of their shell and make the odd wisecrack.

But the comments see through this attempt to paper over a wisecrack.

Mallard has deliberately floated this distraction and has gone to some effort to do so. It obviously wasn’t just an off the cuff wisecrack, he had prepared a graphic to go with his proposal.

Media happened to be on hand to report what would usually be a minor political presentation. And in Parliament more media followed up with a stand-up interview where Mallard seemed to enjoy the attention and was taking questions seriously.

From Scoop audio:

Mallard: …have been found in much better condition that people thought they would be found in and it all becomes a possibility.

You know Jurassic Park ended pretty badly?

Mallard: Yeah and that’s why I want, I only want the small moa in Wainuiomata, I don’t want those that are two forty kg and three point five meters tall. I’d like ones that I can pat on the head rather like I did the polar bear over the weekend rather than the ones that are going to bowl us over.

Are you talking about this being fifty to a hundred years away. Are you sad you’re unlikely to see this in your lifetime?

Well you can never tell, with, these days some of us do live longer than our general life expectancy. I would say that I don’t expect to be the MP for Hutt South quite at that time.

Are you serious?

I’m I’m I’m absolutely serious that there is, we should be taking advantage of science as it develops. You can either, you know a lot of people pooh poohed early scientists, ah but but this work is something that is, it’s logical, ah it is already happening around the world and I think in New Zealand we don’t need to spend any money on it yet but we should at least start talking about it.

Do you really think this is a serious priority going into an election?


So this, I mean it’s a good point, is this a good use of your time?

Ah, I made a, I was asked to make a speech in Wainuiomata which was involved why I loved Wainuiomata, and some medium term and some long term vision.

I spent much of the speech talking about housing, about the availability of cheap housing, the problems that the loan rations are causing in Wainuiomata, the fact that we’re not training properly, we’re not doing enough training and the effexct that is having on housing. That was a big part of my speech.

Ah but I was also asked to look way into the future, ah and this is what I did.

Your party has spent weeks trying to get rid of, you know bat off  distractions and now you’re just creating a new one.

I don’t think this is a distraction at all, it’s a it’s a it’s a minor long term idea ah for um for an electorate which we represent.

Will you have to change your GE policy to get this through?

I don’t think so.

So you’ll have to surely.

No no, I think if you look at our GE policy um ah it will certainly be within fifty years we’ll be able to test it against our GE ah genetic engineering policy, we’re not the Greens remember, we do have different policies, we had a royal commission on genetic modification and the answer was caution. Now I think with moa it would be extreme caution.

Anything else you’d like to bring back apart from moa?

Oh, you and your decent chess playing form.

Not former Prime Ministers?


Is there any truth to the rumour that you’re trying to resuscitate Michael Joseph Savage?

Ah, well I think I think we know where to find the remains. Thank you.   

In Mallard: Bring the moa back to life within 50 years 3 News showed Cunliffe saying “The moa’s not a goer” followed by Mallard saying “Well the moa will be a goer”.

This is a very extended ‘wisecrack’. If he is taking the piss is it aimed at the media or at his own party?

Either way this is this sort of thing would result in endless ridicule at The Standard and across social media if it had been said by Colin Craig or someone from Act.

This is a very odd thing for Mallard to promote during an election campaign that has been persistently hobbled by Labour’s own goals.

Leggett lashes Labour

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett describes himself as “a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter”. He lashes Labour in despair in a post at The Pundit – Labour’s sins of ommission.

He begins:

Where is the sense of urgency from a Labour party that doesn’t seem terribly fussed about winning this election, or at least seems quite happy to leave it to potential coalition partners to get it over the line?

The biggest crime a Labour Party caucus, activist base and affiliated unions can commit is to not put their party in a position where it can realistically when an election. They can claim all they like to want to bring new talent into parliament through the list, but on current polling, it’s rhetoric – no new faces will make it come September.

It’s worth reading his whole post. He concludes:

Where is the sense of urgency in Labour that says it’s not OK for generations in a single family to be stuck on the dole? Labour is never satisfied with the status quo – we believe that tomorrow can be better. We have a divine discontent that makes us strive to improve on what is.

It would nice for all this be reflected in the Labour Party that faces the 2014 election.

It may be too late for this election, which is not good for New Zealand.  Whether Labour could beat National this election with the help of Greens and others or not a weak (once) major party weakens our democracy.

There’s a growing chance of a Labour vote collapse.

Labour have failed to recover and rebuild since Helen Clark and Michael Cullen packed up and left Nearly two terms ago. nearly six years ago.

More worrying is that in it’s current form it looks unlikely Labour will recover next term either unless something dramatic changes, and with the same old line-up with a procession of leaders that is looking a forlorn hope.

We could be moving to (or have already moved to) just a one major party, several moderate sized parties and several tiny parties model of MMP.

While National hold power we are likely to continue unremarkable slightly right leaning at at times timid government.

When the voters eventually give a hodge podge of parties a turn anything could happen, depending on how small Labour gets, who is leading them at the time and what factions are dominant.

In the meantime dominating the news today:

Time to bring back…the moa

With “the science of de-extinction advancing quickly”, as he put it, the Hutt South MP has laid down a challenge for Lower Hutt and for scientists: Let’s work towards the possibility of moa one day striding again through the bush of Rimutaka Forest Park.

While admitting it sounded “a bit Jurassic Park”, Mallard said scientists had been making progress on techniques for using recovered DNA from extinct animals to reconstruct new life.

Fifty to 100 years from now, Wainuiomata could again be home to the moa, which would make an enormous difference to the environment, community and economy, he said.

“It would certainly give us international focus and, frankly, I can’t think of a better place. Those valleys [behind Wainuiomata] are accessible without helicopter, with a one-hour walk.”

I’d prefer “time to bring back Labour” as a serious political force but the party looks more like farce.


Problem for Problem Gambling Foundation

There was a flurry of criticism this morning when the Problem Gambling Foundation advised it was losing Ministry of Health funding for the bulk of it’s current services.

Trevor Mallard was quick off the mark.

Govt silences casino deal critic by axing funding

The Problem Gambling Foundation is being forced to shut its doors after losing government funding because it has vocally opposed National’s dodgy convention centre for pokies deal, Labour’s Internal Affairs spokesperson Trevor Mallard says.

It also appears that Mallard was wide of the mark. Criticisms have been premature.

The funding hasn’t been cut, it is being moved to a “superior” provider. From the Problem Gambling Foundation’s media statement Statement on Ministry of Health contracts:

While the Ministry describes PGF as a valued provider of quality services it has told PGF it has a superior offer for the clinical and public health services PGF provides.

Mallard acknowledges the change of service provider despite his “axing” headline:

“The Ministry of Health has said it has received a ‘superior contract bid’ but as the Foundation is the largest provider of problem gambling services in Australasia, it is hard to imagine a more qualified organisation to do this work.

“The Government’s deal with SkyCity stinks and the public knows it. An additional 350 pokie machines in Auckland will cause significant harm to the community.

“The Problem Gambling Foundation has spoken out about the dangers of this deal and are now paying the price.

“Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne and the Ministry of Health need to explain the reasons for this outrageous decision,” Trevor Mallard says.

Stuff explain in Problem Gambling Foundation loses Govt funding:

A spokesman from Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne’s office confirmed today that the other organisation was the Salvation Army.

The spokesman said the Salvation Army bid for the contract was more efficient, and offered more services and value for money.

It’s tough on the PGF but funds for services should be contestable. The Salvation Army have a record of providing a wide range of services – and they have also been critical of the Government.

Internal Affairs minister Peter Dunne and the Ministry of Health both “emphatically deny” any political involvement.

The Mojo story and a Masterton coincidence

The big question still unanswered about the Mojo Mathers versus Taxpayers’ Union story is who initiated the story.

Questions are being asked about a taxpayer-funded trip for deaf MP Mojo Mathers to be interviewed on a small provincial radio station.

A puzzle has remained about who put the questions to the Herald on Sunday in the first place.

Tonight PhilP commented on Kiwiblog:

I read a piece in Monday’s Wairarapa Times-Age where Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins were in Masterton last weekend with their Wairarapa Labour candidate Keiran McAnulty. Apparently they were out door knocking.

I can’t find the item on their website, but lo, the Wairarapa Times-Age is hosted by NZ Herald so must be APN.

This story is confirmed by some tweets:

@Kieran_McAnulty  Mar 1
Had a fantastic response from #gigatownMTN locals today, as the Labour team canvassed door to door. To those who helped out – Thank you!

@chrishipkins Mar 1
Great afternoon door knocking in Masterton. We’ve got an awesome candidate in @Kieran_McAnulty – popular with locals!

Embedded image permalink
And curiously:

If MPs end up having to justify every plane trip, taxi ride, bus fare, or train ticket the end result will be less public access to MPs

 @gtiso  Mar 1

@chrishipkins don’t worry. It’s only the left-wing MPs.

That was on Saturday. The Mojo Mathers story was posted on the NZ Herald news site at 8.30 am on Sunday.

Green MP’s 800km taxpayer-funded trip questioned
By Patrice Dougan

8:30 AM Sunday Mar 2, 2014

Was it available in the print version of the Herald on Sunday before Sunday?

It seems quite a coincidence that Chris Hipkins was in Masterton on Saturday with Trevor Mallard and was talking about the story topic.

Another tweet:

Drove down to Children’s Day celebrations at Avalon Park this morning. Don’t tell Jordan Williams about this travel extravagance…

See earlier story: Mathers story seems odd

UPDATE: There’s confusion over timestamps in Twitter between browsers, it appears that Hipkins’ tweets were made on Sunday afternoon. Chrome:

Hipkins Masterton 1

But Firefox seems to be accurate:

Hipkins Masterton 2I’ve never noticed before but the layout is different between the browsers as well.

I accept the Sunday afternoon timestamp. This reduces the level of coincidence, but it’s still very curious to see the three Labour MPs active in Masterton on the same day the story was probably researched and written.

The news report from the Masterton Times-Age.

Labour MPs Masterton

And the big questions remain:

  • who gave the story to the Herald on Sunday?
  • why was the Taxpayers’ Union questioned about the story?
  • why did the story imply the Taxpayers’ Union had asked the initial questions?
  • what were the motives for trying to make something of a very innocuous visit by a Christchurch MP to Masterton?

UPDATE2: Someone from the Wairarapa says about the Times-Age:

Worthy of note is that the wretched editor, one Andrew Bonallack, is determined to turn the paper into a Labour Party news propaganda organ.



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