Kelvin Davis – no substance to melt down

Kelvin Davis was in the news for the wrong reasons this week, but it can’t be called a melt down, his performance has been little more than liquid for a nearly a year.

What seems a long time ago now, in Opposition, Davis looked like a solid Labour MP with good prospects. When Jacinda Ardern was suddenly elevated to leader Davis was appointed her deputy, and that looked like a smart combination.

But while Ardern stepped up with aplomb, Davis looked way out of his depth, and has struggled to tread water since.

Below the Beltway marks him down on this week’s bad press:

Kelvin Davis – the deputy Labour leader has been missing in action for months, ostensibly while on the road to consult with iwi. But his performance at a select committee raised questions about whether, in fact, the roadshow is just Labour’s cunning plan to keep him in hiding.

Hubris already, Labour?

Kelvin Davis’ appearance at a select committee this week was so excruciating some seasoned watchers almost had to shield their eyes.

Refusing to answer questions, he told Opposition MPs “you guys are in the bilges while we’re up on the bridge looking at the big thing”.

To labour the metaphors further, Davis added:  “In a tourism sense, I’d say we’re looking at the lakes and you guys are looking at puddles.”

Then when National MP Jacqui Dean asked him about the impact of small business costs on tourism jobs, Davis used the classic male put-down, accusing her of being “hysterical” (he didn’t say “hysterical woman”, but might as well have).

It usually takes at least three years for government ministers to get that arrogant. Has Davis just broken the speed record?

So not a good look for Davis, nor for Labour. The timing of this is unfortunate given Ardern is soon to go on maternity leave, leaving Davis as Labour’s senior leader in action (presumably 2IC to Winston Peters).

RNZ: Davis under fire for ‘vacant’ performance in Parliament

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis has given a “vacant” and “complacent” performance at Parliament, refusing to answer basic questions about his portfolio, National MPs say.

National MP Todd McClay described it as “possibly the worst performance of any minister in any select committee ever” and demanded he be recalled.

“He was vacant, not just complacent. He frankly couldn’t answer a single question. I think the tourism industry deserves much, much more than non-answers from a non-minister.”

Mr McClay said the public deserved answers about a budget worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The committee now needs to consider whether it got the detailed response it needs … and if not, this minister should come back before the committee.”

The select committee’s chair, National MP Jonathan Young, said that was a possibility “if we feel that we’re quite dissatisfied with the level of information that we’ve received”.

“Prior to the Budget, they kept saying ‘you’ll have to wait and see’. And here we are, investigating the Budget, and we’re getting ‘you’ll have to wait and see’ again. That’s just totally unacceptable”.

Mr Davis was questioned by the committee about a range of topics including the international tourism levy which Labour campaigned on before the election.

Pressed for details about the levy, Mr Davis repeatedly told the National MPs they’d have to “wait and see”.

“We’re quite confident that we won’t have a problem in attracting visitors to New Zealand.”

Ministry officials confirmed that they did not believe the proposed levy or the $6 million drop in the tourism budget would affect rising visitor numbers.

Mr Davis objected several times to Mr McClay describing the proposal as a “border tax”, eventually refusing to answer a question.

“Sorry, we’re not implementing a tax, but if you want to rephrase the question…”

At one point, Mr Davis accused National MP Jacqui Dean of being “a bit hysterical” for asking about the impact of minimum wage rises on small business.

“What if there’s no jobs for [New Zealanders]?” Ms Dean asked.

“I think you’re being a bit hysterical about that, to be honest. There will be jobs.”

Ms Dean shot back that the comment was “offensive”.

Yesterday Davis apologised, and Ardern expressed her disapproval –PM has words, Davis says he let himself down when he called National MP ‘hysterical’:

The Prime Minister has had words with her deputy over him calling a National MP “hysterical” and has told Kelvin Davis he shouldn’t have said it.

In a statement from Jacinda Ardern’s office, a spokeswoman said, “Minister Davis has apologised to Jacqui Dean and to the Prime Minister herself.

“The Prime Minister says he should not have made that comment and he understands that.”

More details of Davis’s performance at the Select Committee:

Davis is one of the poorest performers in Government, made worse by his position as Labour’s deputy leader. Labour and/or Davis have hidden from scrutiny as much as possible, but with Ardern soon to go on leave this will be more difficult.

Davis needs to step up, or he may have to step down.

57 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  June 9, 2018

    Like many I thought he had potential but once in Parliament and with the clout of winning office he has reverted back to the worst school teacher you ever had!
    Not the first Labour MP or the only one to do so (watch Trevor Mallard in action).
    I must add in the defence of teachers my wife says no principal would get away with this sort of behaviour now .

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  June 9, 2018

      I wonder if he’s just sort of frozen as we have all probably done when we realise or think that we can’t do something that we’ve taken on. The problem is that it’s a lot more serious in his case. He might do well to just say bugger this, I’m resigning.

  2. Pickled Possum

     /  June 9, 2018

    That’s what happens when all governments ‘ignore’ the North,
    the people end up doing it their way. Who is to say it’s not working?

    It has been pretty peaceful up here lately with an excitement running thru the
    provinces over The Community Fund c/- Shane Jones.
    Shanes gonna look after his Northland whanau.

    Communities are getting together to have a say in how they would like to see their community working, thriving and becoming self-sufficient.
    Economic growth? as long as the majority of the growth stays and maintains the infrastructure. No Thomas Malthus theory for us, we want to be ready for growth.
    Northland has the potential to be the garden of NZ. No Bayer seeds for us.

    MP’s have a longer life in Parliment if they are doing work on behalf of the people.
    Which is what Kelvin is most probably doing. Got his feet on the ground.
    His ears are open. He has lived and seen plenty being a teacher and principal in Kaitaia
    he knows his people, he wasn’t parachuted in from Helensville,

    Not all Leaders will have a Masters in Literature or can recite Bill’s poetry,
    their leadership will come in a different form.

    Kelvin will, in my opinion, work on recidivism in Prisons.
    keep Serco on their toes .. till they are booted out for doing the most
    expensive shit job in corrections ..

    Prisons have the opportunity to rehabilitate, work on lowering NZ appalling recidivism,
    Effective Rehabilitation in NZ prisons has been absent for too long.

    We Hope Kelvin is up to it.

    • I had hoped he would be up to it, but he has been unimpressive so far, especially as Labour’s deputy leader. And his poor performance in Parliament this week was as Minister of Tourism.

    • Corky

       /  June 9, 2018

      I wouldn’t put faith in Kelvin, PP. He will be gone before Labour is gone in 2020. I think there will be a large clean-out of Maori MPs at the next election unless they are on a list.

      Kelvin, Jonesy and Winston may have been good in their day, but they are now liabilities.

      • Pickled Possum

         /  June 9, 2018

        Yes your right there Corky, faith … ‘complete trust or confidence in someone or something’
        I do not put my faith in any MP or person of authority these days, most times just a letdown.

        What I do is Hope … ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen’
        that Kelvin will rise to the occasion and do his best for his constituents.

        Kelvin Jonesy Winston … Liabilities? to who Corky.
        Matt King listens to who? … he’s too busy trying to make Al Happy with his
        4 laned highway from Warkworth to Whangarei.
        Whats going to happen when the price of petrol makes these highways look like modern art.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  June 9, 2018

          They’ll be full of electric cars, possum.

          • Pickled Possum

             /  June 9, 2018

            Can you get to Whangarei from Warkworth in an electric car now Al?.
            Do you see this being a real alternative to petrol?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 9, 2018

              Yes, it seems pretty clear they will be. Just a matter of time. Next decade or so.

            • Griff

               /  June 9, 2018

              The 40kw Nissan leaf can go Whangarei to Auckland and return.
              EPA range 378 km.
              Tesla S 100D is over 600km on a charge.

              Disclaimer
              Your mileage may vary.

              Electric will be a better alternative than petrol once prices come down.
              Lower center of gravity , instant torque,Sports car handling and acceleration.
              Battery price is falling 5% a year.
              By 2025 or thereabouts electric cars will cost the same to buy as a petrol one. If you add the benefits of less maintenance and lower running cost for electric it makes their uptake a certainty.

          • PartisanZ

             /  June 9, 2018

            And will they be full of electric trucks and, to a much lesser extent, electric buses?

            Isn’t it for trucks that the two additional lanes are required for 158 kms from Auckland to Whangarei?

            And what of beyond Whangarei?

            We’re told of massive increases in tourist and freight traffic, so at least another 154+ kms of ‘improved’ highway is required from Whangarei to Kaitaia …

            • PartisanZ

               /  June 9, 2018

              Multiply that by four – SH’s 1, 12 (Twin Bridges?) 10 & 16 (Twin Coast) – and I can see why Labour-led has said … “Maybe we should spread the expenditure beyond $710 million for 18 km from Puhoi to Warkworth. Maybe this “other people’s money” can be more equitably shared for the good of more (other) people” …

            • Griff

               /  June 9, 2018

              Daimler’s main truck company, is unveiling the eCascadia…., a class 8 truck with a range of up to 250 miles, according to the company:

              “The Freightliner eCascadia is based on the Cascadia, the most successful heavy-duty long-distance truck (class 8) in the North American market. 730 hp is almost silently generated under the characteristically long, U.S.-style hood. At 550 kWh, its batteries provide enough energy for a range of up to 400 km (250 miles), and can be recharged to around 80 percent within 90 minutes to cover a further 320 km (200 miles).”

              https://electrek.co/2018/06/07/daimler-electric-semi-truck-ecascadia-tesla-semi/

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 9, 2018

              Fine if you want the north to remain a crime and drug-ridden nature reserve growing gorse and mangroves.

            • PartisanZ

               /  June 9, 2018

              Which of course I don’t Alan … as many of my comments testify …

              I’m talking about 2 + passing lane with maximum safety for the whole distance … rather than 4 lanes to Whangarei and the Far North neglected as always … (aside from ‘Bridge Bribes’) …

              And I’m talking about sustainable enterprises in all sorts ‘industries’ – various types of horticulture, perhaps especially the massive potential of hemp and cannabis, long-term sustainable forestry rather than 44 years of pinus radiata accompanied by massive health risks and followed by desertification, and sustainable rather than ‘degenerative’ tourism …

              … along with resilient local economies …

              But heck, if “a crime and drug-ridden nature reserve growing gorse and mangroves” is the way you see the place you live and ‘love’ … who am I do criticize …?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  June 9, 2018

              No-one is saying get to Whangarei and then stop. That’s just the first target. Getting there more quickly and safely already lets more people spend more time in the Far North and reduces shipping costs for goods and produce in both directions.

    • Blazer

       /  June 9, 2018

      well said…agree with this..’Northland has the potential to be the garden of NZ. No Bayer seeds for us.’
      Need some irrigation initiatives.

  3. chrism56

     /  June 9, 2018

    Remember at the time how Mr Davis was talked up as one of the exciting new talents. If he is that, what does it say about the rest of the Labour MPs?.

    • PartisanZ

       /  June 9, 2018

      What do you do when one of your team struggles? Give up on the whole team?

      • chrism56

         /  June 9, 2018

        If Mr Davis was to be replaced, Labour needs to appoint a Maori as deputy. Otherwise, they would be the only party without a Maori in their top team. Now PZ, who is the replacement out of their Maori caucus? Maybe, Nanaia hopes it will be her – but seniority is her only attribute. Mr Davis is by far the best of a very poor bunch.

        • PartisanZ

           /  June 9, 2018

          The question is: Has Kelvin done anything worthy of replacement?

          Jacinda stepped up. Who’s to say Nanaia can’t do the same if required?

    • Corky

       /  June 9, 2018

      National are in opposition at a time where, in my opinion, we have one of the worst Labour governments of all time. How fortuitous for National is that?

      At least Rodger Douglas had the RIGHT ideas and a plan.

      • Pickled Possum

         /  June 9, 2018

        Rodger Douglas ruined the Kiwi in Kiwiland with his RIGHT ideas and elitist PLAN.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  June 9, 2018

          No, he didn’t. He cut out a lot of dead wood. He is not at all elitist, as anyone who knows him will know or anyone who has read his writings will know. My husband knew him well, I don’t know him so well.

          A friend and I once sang My Darling Clementine to him – in Latin. One of my accomplishments 😀

          He is a very decent bloke and no elitist.

          • Gezza

             /  June 9, 2018

            (I hope you might give Corks an easy time today. I get the feeling his feelings are a lot more easily hurt than he lets on.)

          • PartisanZ

             /  June 9, 2018

            Kitty, there’s no reason why Rogered Douglas can’t be both “a decent bloke” and an elitist prick.

            He promoted, deviously introduced and forcibly championed ideology, policy and legislation which clearly favoured the capitalist-corporate-political elite …

            Hence … elitist. Simple really.

            He cut a lot of heart out of this country along with some dead wood …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  June 9, 2018

              One person ? Nobody has that much power.

              He wasn’t even the PM. You give him far too much credit.

            • PartisanZ

               /  June 9, 2018

              He and his cronies in government, banking, finance, corporate business and Treasury … The Robber Barons …

              He was their figurehead, their Oliver Cromwell (or worse), hence he takes most of the ‘credit’ … (which I notice you like to give him alone if its positive?) …

            • Richard

               /  June 9, 2018

              I guess you weren’t about at the time and wouldn’t be aware of how fucked we were before Roger Douglas dragged us out from behind our very own iron curtain.c

        • Gezza

           /  June 9, 2018

          Given you an uptick for “Kiwiland” sis. Keep up the good work there.
          We need to get that one on everyone’s agenda. 😎

          • Gezza

             /  June 9, 2018

            I suppose I better read some of PG’s posts instead of just commenting with no idea what we’re talking about.

          • PartisanZ

             /  June 9, 2018

            Gezza, I can’t imagine a worse fate than living in a country named ‘Kiwiland’ …

            The Yanks and many others will say we named our country after a little furry fruit … and ask why the strange looking bird on our flag?

            If you wanna go the ‘Kiwiana’ route with nation-building there are some other options –

            – Buzzy Bee Land
            – Gumboots & Black Singlet Land
            – Haka MokoLand (to finalize the insult)?

            Or the economic activity route –

            – GrassLand or Grass-FedLand?
            – DairyLand
            – PineLand
            – HiTechLand?

            • PartisanZ

               /  June 9, 2018

              Got it! ……… Milk-and-HoneyLand!

            • Blazer

               /  June 9, 2018

              ‘the Yanks and many others will say we named our country after a little furry fruit …’…on that basis we may have to change the name back to..’Chinese gooseberries’….

            • Gezza

               /  June 9, 2018

              Gezza, I can’t imagine a worse fate than living in a country named ‘Kiwiland’ …

              I can. Living in a country named Aotearoa New Zealand.

      • Blazer

         /  June 9, 2018

        pity about Rogers pig farm …going bust…bad management?
        All Douglas did was embrace the Thatcher/Reagan put,and begin the explosion of…inequality ,in promoting the venal neo liberalism,globaliisation horseshit that still…prevails…unfortunately.

  4. David

     /  June 9, 2018

    He is one of the most talented members of this cabinet.

  5. artcroft

     /  June 9, 2018

    I listened to the audio link, Captain Arsehole really couldn’t answer a single question. So much for open and transparent government. I hope Davis is put in front of the mike more often. Talents like his need a larger audience.

    • Corky

       /  June 9, 2018

      Captain Arsehole? Is your personal trainer making you run without your boots and spurs again, Arty?

  6. duperez

     /  June 9, 2018

    Kelvin Davis is a nice man and a capable man. I was surprised when he was made deputy because regardless of how you want to play the game, and how you think the game should be played, you want someone in the position with some latent dog and nastiness in them.

    Having someone in the position as an apprentice, who has to learn nastiness and demonstrate it while doing the job is likely to fail in any circumstances let alone in the present situation with a rabid opposition, a rapacious, hopeful, expectant media and smarting supporters of other than the coalition parties.

    For public consumption, Davis needs to bold and bossy and assertive, not come across as wishy-washy. He needs to show he’s in control. He needs to tell some opposition MP she’s getting hysterical. Well maybe not, he does that and he’s told to apologise, people say he’s nasty and unfair, and the forum for robust debate and political points-scoring is really a place of gentility and no agendas.

    Steven Joyce, Jonathan Coleman and Gerry Brownlee in exactly the same circumstances would have had someone told and feeling they had been told that they were being hysterical without using the word and without giving any more information and answers than what led to the word hysterical being used.

    In the game Davis is in, it’s not mainly about being capable at doing the jobs behind the scenes and seeing things are done, it’s mainly about the bear pit. In the bear pit he seems to be a cub.

    • PartisanZ

       /  June 9, 2018

      Gotta say duperez … you sure do nail things!

    • Gezza

       /  June 9, 2018

      I suspect Possum is right – that in relating to Maori on his home turf – Kelvin does well. The kinds of things he comes out with I can see going down quite well on a marae where I gather speeches include a little sledging or teasing-type humour that makes people smile without necessarily feeling offended. The normal process is for something in kind to be said by another in rejoinder, again to general amusement. My observation is that Winston does this well too.

      But Kelvin is clearly not deputy leader material, and Jacinda needs to address this. Nanaia seems to be getting the hang of things. Willie in the house is a clown. Thinks he’s still on the radio, but comes across as not having the skills needed for Ministerial responsibility.

      • Pickled Possum

         /  June 9, 2018

        Gez did you see that interview with Willie and Judy Collins on Duncan Garner news thingy it was hilarious, to say the least. Looks like they wanted to do a bit of cage fighting.
        The song ‘Let’s get it on’ is ringing in my ears.
        Duncan couldn’t shut down Willie, he was off! Left Joody gob-smacked. Willie can stay in focus on topic much longer than Jude. imho

        • Corky

           /  June 9, 2018

          No, Willie is your typical boorish Maori bully. That’s why he hates David Round. Ironically, I really rate Willie as an interviewer. He herds his guests around with aplomb.

        • Gezza

           /  June 9, 2018

          No, unfortunately I didn’t see that Possum. I don’t watch tv3 because in my opinion watching that tv channel progressively lowers the IQ.

    • artcroft

       /  June 9, 2018

      Kelvin was nasty because is doesn’t know s**t. When you are competent and in command of yourself and the facts your confidence is high and you can engage pleasantly with others. When your backed into a corner through your own incompetence you bully, blameshift and lie. All the things Capt Arsehole did.

      Take Anette King. Thoughtful, competent and gracious. She never had to resort to the crap Davis had to. Why is that?

      • Blazer

         /  June 9, 2018

        maybe you should take a leaf out of…Annettes…book.

      • duperez

         /  June 9, 2018

        When you’re backed into a corner through your own incompetence you bully, blameshift and lie, and scream out things like, “Get some guts!”.

  7. Blazer

     /  June 9, 2018

    can’t say much about many deputy leaders of both main parties over the ..years.

    • duperez

       /  June 9, 2018

      The roles of a deputy in any organisation are complex. Some desirable factors in some situations might not be wanted in others. In politics do you want a deputy who in as short a time frame as possible is determined to be the top-dog and has to attributes to get there?

      It could be that the person ideal to be the captain of the 2nd XI or 2nd XV doesn’t have what it takes to be in the first teams but serves other purposes well.

      • Gezza

         /  June 9, 2018

        The thing we’ve learned this time though is that when picking your deputy you need to have an eye on whether they can actually step up and be an acting PM in an emergency or in scenarios such as where both the PM and the Deputy PM from another party touring overseas somewhere at the same time. And Kelvin can’t.

        • Blazer

           /  June 9, 2018

          Kelvin doesn’t need to…we have..Winston.

          • Gezza

             /  June 9, 2018

            And if his presence is suddenly required in Pyongyang to avert a crisis?

            • Blazer

               /  June 9, 2018

              I hadn’t thought of that,or even the possibility he may be kidnapped…by aliens.

            • Gezza

               /  June 9, 2018

              Happened to Yeltsin & Lange

            • Gezza

               /  June 9, 2018

              It was only when the aliens’ memory block malfunctioned that Lange realised what the hell had happened.

            • Gezza

               /  June 9, 2018

              Might have a look at some other threads now. I only popped in to stop Sir Alan wreaking havoc.