More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme

Media paid attention to Labour’s intern scheme yesterday and eked out some more details from Andrew Little. There are still a number of gaps in information and credibility.

The key issues are where was the money, if there was any, who was responsible, and how this happened under Andrew Little’s nose. And did it also happen without deputy leader Jacinda Ardern being aware?

She is Labour’s most prominent Labour M with a special interest in young people and getting them out to vote, exactly what the scheme was designed to do.

Newshub:  McCarten may have left Labour in debt after intern scheme

Labour leader Andrew Little says Matt McCarten’s botched student scheme may have left a debt for the party.

Mr Little admitted today that Mr McCarten, one the scheme’s organisers, might not have the funding he had claimed and that the party would have to pick up the bills.

Internal documents obtained by Newshub show that Mr McCarten claimed to have over $100,000 funding from unions.

The unions named have all denied this, raising questions about where Mr McCarten got his money from.

There has been talk of a substantial private donor but no amount has been revealed. If it was over $30,000 then Labour have a responsibility to identify the donor. That could be awkward, especially if the aim was to finance things on the sly to try to sneak around electoral law.

While it sounds like debts have stacked up some money must have already been required.Was this handled through Little’s Auckland office? Or through the Labour Party Auckland branch?

Following McCarten being thrown under a bus – Cosgrove bus follows Labour over McCarten – the Auckland Representative on Labour’s NZ Council, Paul Chalmers has “stepped down”:

He said a senior Labour council member, Paul Chalmers, stepped down over the weekend because of his connection to the scheme and there would be an internal investigation.

Chalmers has a union background (like McCarten) and has also been campaign manager for Jacinda Ardern.

He featured in this from February 2016: Revealed: Speaker’s Warning to Labour Over Parliamentary Funds

Some weeks ago Labour sent an email in the name of Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened a Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

The email also called on “like-minded partners” to share office space and other facility resources.

So Chalmers was already on notice, as was Little and the Labour Party.

Andrew Little was aware of the idea of the intern scheme in January but says he told McCarten then that it had to be a party campaign thing. He then says he found out about the unauthorised scheme in May and said “this is not the party thing”.

Little would have us believe even though his Auckland organiser McCarten was operating a scheme in Labour’s name purportedly without Little’s knowledge, and in breach of Parliamentary staffing rules, did nothing about it until some students complained about their accommodation last week.

And where does Jacinda Ardern stand in all of this? She has been a strong promoter of young people vote.

Just last week in The Spinoff:  Chlöe and Jacinda go back to school

Arden flattered them. “You’re the most powerful voters,” she said. “The 18-24-year-old age group, it’s the most powerful because it votes the least. Did you know there were 125,000 young people registered to vote last time, who didn’t show up. If you all vote this time, the impact will be enormous. You change the government on your own.”

So it’s hard to believe that a student get out the vote campaign being organised by Ardern’s campaign manager and Auckland’s representative on Labour’s NZ Council would not at least have said something about the scheme to Ardern. Other Auckland MPs and candidates were involved with the scheme.

And back to Little’s claims of knowing nothing about what McCarten and Chalmers and the interns were up to.

RNZ: Labour’s intern programme wasn’t authorised by party

The Labour leader says he wasn’t aware an internship programme to help with the election campaign had gone ahead as it wasn’t authorised by the party.

The party’s leader, Andrew Little, told Morning Report he had been left in the dark.

“This isn’t something that has been sanctioned or approved or authorised in any way by the party organisation.

“I think what we all discovered last week when the party got the complaints, [and] the rest of us got involved trying to sort it out, is there’s a whole heap of details we’re just trying to work out,” Mr Little said.

How could he not have known something about it? He has admitted knowing an unauthorised scheme was operating in May so his claim defies belief.

Suzy Ferguson: Are you saying you don’t know where this money’s coming from?

Little: I don’t know any details about the organisation of it apart from what we now know, I think 85 young people here staying on a marae, and helping out in various parts of the Auckland campaign. Beyond that I don’t know, I’m not sure if the party knows or knew at the time, and we’re in the process now of getting the detail about the organisation behind it.

Suzy Ferguson: …are you saying you don’t know where the thick end of two hundred grand has come from?

Little: Well, um, no one in the party is responsible for what Matt and others, and let’s be fair, it wasn’t Matt alone, there were at least four people involved in driving this, three on the party side…

Little wouldn’t say, but McCarten, Chalmers and one other presumably.

Suzy Ferguson: …while this was being done Matt McCarten was in the pay of the Labour Party wasn’t he.

Little: Um, he was the, he was my, he was the director of the Auckland office, um, which is funded out of the Leader’s office, my office, um he was working for me (a) to open and run the office and (b) to run my Auckland programme, outreach programme.

Suzy Ferguson: Ok, so he’s working for you, but you’re saying you didn’t know what he was doing, you didn’t know about this?

Little: I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff. I mean he doesn’t work for me 24 hours a day. He he has a job to manage, put together my programme when I’m up there every week, and arrange the visits that I do, um he does that.

Suzy Ferguson: But is it his job to put this kind of thing together though, when he’s working for you?

Little: No.

Suzy Ferguson:When he’s being paid for by taxpayer money?

Little: No he’s not. When he first floated the idea to me at the beginning of the year of an internship programme I said to him then that’s a party issue, that’s a campaign issue, that has to be dealt with by the party. Um, I was not aware that he was involved in ah dealing with this.

McCarten floated the idea to little at the start of the year, was effectively told he couldn’t do it but went ahead anyway without saying any more about it to Little?

Little: Um now he can deal with this stuff in his own time, as I say he doesn’t work for me 24 hours a day…

Moonlighting on a Labour labelled scheme alongside Labour people seems remarkable for someone in McCarten’s position.

Suzy Ferguson: But is it clear he did do this in his own time, or was he doing this while he was being paid by the tax payer?

Little: Well I certainly wasn’t aware of him being involved in this in the times that I was in the Auckland office and he was with me as I was going about my sort of Auckland visits and programmes.

Suzy Ferguson: Why do you think this was kept from you by someone who’s essentially your Chief of Staff in Auckland?

Little: well, um, I go back to the fact that this this wasn’t anything, this programme or project wasn’t authorised by the party at all. It wasn’t part of any formal party organisation.

Suzy Ferguson: Would you not expect that he would talk to you about this kind of thing though, because otherwise it ends up coming out in a pretty surprising sort of fashion, I mean in terms of a no surprises thing wouldn’t you expect ‘oh by the way, you know in my own time, in the evenings whatever I’m doing this?

If it was as Little stated it was a remarkable situation for his main man in Auckland not to speak to him about a significant campaign project.

Little: Um yes I don’t keep a track of everything he’s doing in his own time. I think the fact that this was, if that document was to be believed about anything at all, he was clearly considering involving unions in all this, it wasn’t just a party thing…

“Wasn’t just a party thing” – but it was in part a party thing?

…so he, it looks to me like he, and whoever else was involved with him, was embarking on a project that that wasn’t just a party thing, so he was going beyond that.

So he doesn’t tell me absolutely everything he does, I’m not sure I want to know…

Sounds a bit like plausible deniability.

…I certainly wasn’t aware um this project was being organised in the way that it was, and was as advanced as far as it was before we got notified of the problems with it.

Little let a few things slip especially towards the end of the interview.

“I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff”.

He didn’t know at all, or not to the extent it was organised?

“So he doesn’t tell me absolutely everything he does, I’m not sure I want to know”.

This sounds like a nudge nudge, wink wink sort of arrangement. Little obviously knew if McCarten worked on Labour’s campaign it would breach Parliamentary rules. Did he turn a blind eye deliberately>

And it got out of control, with the unions and McCarten overreaching when they tried to push Labour policy left as well as run the intern scheme?

Little almost certainly is being frugal with the truth here.

36 Comments

  1. The issue of possible misuse of Parliamentary Service funds (which come from the taxpayer) is the big issue here. If it is proven that Labour’s leader’s budget funded unlawful electoral campaigning, with or without Little’s knowledge, Labour is in a world of hurt.

  2. Ray

     /  June 28, 2017

    This is the man who claims he doesn’t know what his Chief of Staff is up to but does know what is in the secret tapes and uses parliamentary privilege to drip feed them
    “Rabbit over there.”
    After his defamation case proves he can learn from his mistakes.

    An accurate time line of Matt and his conspiracists sackings would be interesting.

  3. unitedtribes2

     /  June 28, 2017

    And this is the guy who says English misleads the media

  4. PDB

     /  June 28, 2017

    So just about all the Auckland Labour MP’s/candidates were actively involved with this scheme but by some miracle Andrew Little and Ardern had no idea??

    Is Little really saying he had no idea of the extent of the scheme and that foreign students were flooding into Auckland for the election campaign until a few weeks ago but somehow Hone Harawira knew of it back in mid-April and it was a story in the Herald??

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11841952

    “Labour is shipping in foreign support for its election campaign with dozens of United States’ Democrats signalling an interesting in helping with the campaign.”

    “Harawira said his community networks let him know the US support for Labour was on its way after a marae was sounded out to be used for accommodation.”

    So the marae was sounded out way back in in April to hold the students. This was an organized Labour-party scheme, not some random McCarten brain-fart.

    From the same April article;

    “Labour’s general secretary Andrew Kirton – also campaign manager – said the party had contacted “sister parties across the world” to offer an invitation to people to observe or help with the election campaign”.

    So Labour’s general secretary Andrew Kirton was well in the know as to the extent of the scheme way back in April and Little says he had no idea until a couple of weeks ago?? This defies belief.

    “Kirton said Labour was looking to connect with people who wanted change, rather than being wedded to expressions of party loyalty.”

    So in April Kirton confirms this is a major pre-election Labour-run scheme – obviously not a rogue-like, undercover Matt McCarten scheme then. Is this the same Kirton who only heard about the extent of the scheme last week and flew up to sort out the problem ASAP?

    Little & Kirton have told an unbelievable lie to the public so where is the MSM on the matter?

    • Zedd

       /  June 28, 2017

      pdb.. this is all just a ‘beatup tory distraction’ from;
      the Barclay affair, the housing crisis, long hospital waiting list, homelessness, unemployment, widening gap between rich & poor etc. etc. etc…… THX to 9 long years of Natz !

      • PDB

         /  June 28, 2017

        I can hear your desperation in trying to bury this story Zedd, read my reply to you downtickers below – this story has a way to go yet.

        • Zedd

           /  June 28, 2017

          😀 oh dear… a couple of ‘interns’ had dodgy visas & that is a major reason to condemn Labour ??

          ….the tory mirror cracked, after the flag ref. failed (waste of $20++million)

          • PDB

             /  June 28, 2017

            You obviously don’t read too well Zedd – Little has outright lied about his and Labour’s involvement in the scheme, you better go and hide behind your sofa as the reasons why they have done this starts to leak out…..

            • Zedd

               /  June 28, 2017

              I still think Natz are on a ‘hiding to none’ on their; Lies, smugness & total misinfo. spread about as thick as possible..

              ‘but you cant fool all the people.. all the time’ PDB

              the reality is.. Tory MPs seem to think; lying & misleading is ‘a standard political strategy’ (as long as you dont get caught.. ) ?
              Key jumped before he was sprung !!!! 😦

            • Zedd

               /  June 28, 2017

              …boiiingg 😀

          • PDB

             /  June 28, 2017

            Maybe if you keep downticking Zedd it may go away?

    • PDB

       /  June 28, 2017

      The ‘downtickers’ can’t spin this any other way – the Herald article from April proves Little and Kirton to be telling big porkies. Also from that article add Kelvin Davis to the growing list of Labour MP’s who knew about the scheme’s extent as far back as April, way before McCarten left – but Andrew Little…….didn’t.

      The hole is getting bigger for Little………

      • Gezza

         /  June 28, 2017

        Another energetically raucus Question Time is possibly on the cards today. 🤔
        Mr Speaker will be huffy & puffy again.

        • Gezza

           /  June 28, 2017

          From todays List of Oral Questions

          2 ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Have he or any of his Ministers ever deviated from the ministerial standards he expects, in order to maintain the House’s confidence in the Government?


          6 RON MARK to the Prime Minister: In his Prime Ministerial capacity, does he stand by all his statements on the Clutha-Southland electorate office issue; if so, how does he do that?


          9 TRACEY MARTIN to the Prime Minister: In his Prime Ministerial capacity, does he stand by all his statements on the Clutha-Southland electorate office issue even if facts known to him make doing so extraordinarily difficult; if so, how?


          But I wouldn’t be surprised if the PM continues to say, as yesterday, that as he doesn’t have Ministerial responsibilty for various matters to do with the vexing topic of Clutha-Southland – he’ll just bat the balls away.

          Ministers will probably lose no opportunity when answering supplementaries to refer to Labour’s slave labour immigrant interns & any other recent revelations before their mics are cut off again too.

          • Pete Kane

             /  June 28, 2017

            What did you think of John Carter’s huddling of Q Time yesterday? (PS Busy morning on the issues.)

            • Gezza

               /  June 28, 2017

              I was amused with the way he directed Bill English how to answer tricky questions about Cluthagate. And also, when he said he had spoken with Winston about how his Question should perhaps be reworded, but that Winnie had refused, with how Winston then got up to tell the Hon Members what really happened & how he told Mr Speaker to stick it where the sun don’t shine, Sunshine!

            • Gezza

               /  June 28, 2017

              @ Mr Kane
              PS: Mr Speaker is Hon Mr David Carter, not Mr John McGregor Carter QSO, sacked former National Government Whip, currently slumming it as a Mayoral type of chappie who resides in some bucolic hamlet somewhere up in the Far North District, I believe.
              Sir Gerald

          • English can bat away questions about this now by saying that the issue is the subject of a Police investigation, and it would be totally improper of him to comment.

            • Pete Kane

               /  June 28, 2017

              Sorry G, how could one miss Hone Carter (and his friend JAB).

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 28, 2017

              JC has done well since he left Parliament, first as Cook Islands High Commissioner and then as FNDC Mayor. He’s done a very good job as both. A good people person as well as a sensible strategist and manager.

            • Blazer

               /  June 28, 2017

              sure he has..even you couldn’t fuck up..patsy posts like..that..Al.

  5. There’s an intriguing post over at Kiwiblog about the mystery donor. DPF has set tongues wagging with this morsel:

    The whisper I have heard is that the identity of the donor will cause huge embarrassment as the donor is an entity funded by the taxpayer to provide social services.

    So who might the donor be, and what might be the consequences if the donor was found to have been using taxpayer funds to actively campaign against the government which paid it the taxpayer funds for another purpose? It makes one wonder about what organisations might receive enough government funding to make a donation of this level.

    • duperez

       /  June 28, 2017

      Yesterday Farrar was whispering about sex and drug dealing in relation to a National MP too.

      Intriguing posts are easy to write. Dotcom was the author of many. Farrar would never deliberately put out intriguing posts to stir things up.

      • What I have inferred from that is that sex and drugs are discussed on the tape Barclay foolishly recorded. If that’s the case, it means the staff member, not Barclay, was discussing sex and drugs. But where’s the rock and roll?

    • Pete Kane

       /  June 28, 2017

      Not an Urban Authority – Willie, no, too tight?

  6. PDB

     /  June 28, 2017

    For those keeping score;

    Labour MPs/paid staff/candidates that knew of all the foreign interns in Auckland before the problems surfaced last week (from various media reports, intern posts etc);

    Kelvin Davis, Helen White, Matt McCarten, Andrew Kirton, Kieran O’Halloran, Caitlin Johnson, Paul Chalmers, Jenny Salesa, Willow-Jean Prime, Shanan Halbert.

    Unions that knew;
    The CTU – (Newshub: “”Matt [McCarten] asked CTU to run the worker aspect of Campaign for Change on the 12th of May this year, but we declined.”

    Unite – (Herald: Unite’s National Director Mike Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for an programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding).

    Other MP’s that knew: Hone Harawira (April).

    Poor political analyst who knew and needing free food had a meal with the interns weeks ago: Martyn Bradbury.

    Unknown: Jacinda Ardern.

    Labour MP’s who have gone on record to say they knew nothing until it all blew up last week: Andrew Little.

    • Blazer

       /  June 28, 2017

      What’s the crime?

      • PDB

         /  June 28, 2017

        Why are you diverting talk of a ‘crime’ when we are discussing the lying and hypocrisy of a certain Labour leader and PM candidate Andrew Little?

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  June 28, 2017

        Quite right, B. Mendacious stupidity isn’t a crime but if it was much of the Left would be in jail.

  7. Loki

     /  June 28, 2017

    Too many comments to wade through so apologies if this has already been raised.
    Putting aside the thieving from parliamentary services to fund this and the now too many laws broken to count problem…
    If they had donors for this Labour Party electioneering programme they will have broken the donation/ spending rules as well.
    Blaming the tax cheat for this just doesn’t wash.
    This is a top down scheme to commit fraud and cheat on an industrial scale.
    Little has to go, along with Kirton and a number of others.

  8. patupaiarehe

     /  June 28, 2017

    I read something somewhere last week, about this election campaign being boring. A week is a long time in politics…

  1. More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition