Labour experience and turnover

A lot has been said about Labour’s failure to replace and replenish it’s caucus.

Therefore an interesting comment from Antoine at The Standard:

I’ve been comparing the Labour Cabinet of 2005 with the current Labour caucus.

1. Clark – GONE
2. Cullen – GONE
3. Anderton – GONE
4. Maharey – GONE
5. Goff – GONE
6. King – GONE [Not yet, leaving in September]
8. Hodgson – GONE
9. Horomia – RIP (God bless)
10. Burton – GONE
11. Dyson – STILL HERE (Apparently)
12. Carter – GONE
13. Barker – GONE
14. Benson-Pope – GONE
15. Dalziel – GONE
16. O’Connor – STILL HERE
17. Cunliffe – GONE
18. Parker – STILL HERE (And actually still in a senior role)
19. Mahuta – STILL HERE (Apparently)
20. Cosgrove – STILL HERE [Just, leaving in September]
21. Sutton – GONE.

It makes for sobering reading. The only remaining senior Labour MP with experience of actually getting stuff done in Government is David Parker.

That is a nearly complete turnover in talent, albeit over 12 years. If Mallard manages to get back in on the list he will be Speaker or backbench so is unlikely to feature in Caucus.

The current top 21 and the year they entered Parliament:

  1. Andrew Little (2011, list, party president 2009)
  2. Jacinda Ardern (2008, list until this year, has worked in Clark and Goff offices prior)
  3. Grant Robertson (2008 Wellington Central, worked in Clark and Hobbs offices prior)
  4. Phil Twyford (2008, list, 2011 Te Atatu, on Labour’s policy council prior)
  5. Megan Woods (2011 Wigram)
  6. Chris Hipkins (2008, Rimutaka, advisor to Mallard and Clark prior)
  7. Kelvin Davis (2008 list, 2014 list, 2014 Te Tai Tokerau)
  8. Carmel Sepuloni (2008 list, 2014 Kelston)
  9. David Clark (2011 Dunedin North)
  10. David Parker (2002 Otago, 2005 list)
  11. Nanaia Mahuta (1996 list, since 1999 Maori electorates)
  12. Meka Whatiri (2013 Ikaroa-Rawhiti, senior adviser for Horomia prior)
  13. Stuart Nash (2008 list, 2011 not in Parliament, 2014 Napier)
  14. Iain Lees-Galloway (2008 Palmerston North)
  15. Aupito Su’a William Sio (2011 list, 2008 Mangere)
  16. Sue Moroney (2005 list) – leaving this year
  17. Damien O’Connor (1992 West Coast, 2009 list, 2001 West Coast-Tasman)
  18. Kris Faafoi (2010 Mana)
  19. Jenny Salesa (2014 Manukau East)
  20. Peeni Henare (2014 Tamaki Makaurau)

Parker, Mahuta and O’Connor are the only MPs from that list with experience in government who have a chance of returning.

Ruth Dyson has been a low level minister (ACC, Senior Citizens) in the Clark government but is currently ranked 25.

Labour’s top twenty are unlikely to all get into Cabinet if Labour form the next Government.

Based on current polls if Labour and Greens manage to increase their support proportionally then about a third of Cabinet should be Green MPs, and at least a quarter.

But a Labour+Greens+NZ First triumvirate is looking more likely (unless NZ First go with National) and on current polling that is only 60% Labour, or just over half of Cabinet if done proportionally, which would be 12-15 ministers depending on how many are appointed.

Any party that is out of government for 9 years is going to shed a lot of experience, but if Labour get into government after this year’s election they would be one of the least experienced taking office, with no Green government experience and only Winston Peters from NZ First having been in Government or Cabinet before.

Moroney jumps ahead of Labour list release

Sue Moroney is quitting before she is effectively dumped by Labour after being given an ‘unelectable’  party list position and being told that  “she had lost support from the party’s ruling council”. Ouch.

She must also not rate her chances of winning an electorate.

RNZ: Labour to release party list

A party list ranks MPs and it dictates who will get a seat in Parliament, depending on the result of the party vote at the election.

Labour’s moderating committee has to follow party rules, including ranking the list to make sure half of the caucus are women.

That has to be balanced against the leader Andrew Little’s promise to give Willie Jackson a high list position, and the fact that Mr Little and the senior MP Trevor Mallard are also list-only candidates.

David Parker is also a list MP, and is the only Labour MP with experience as a minister in government.

There’s already been one casualty, with MP Sue Moroney announcing she will stand down, after failing to get an electable position.

She said she was told last night she had lost support from the party’s ruling council.

But pre-empting this: Moroney to quit politics after lower list ranking

She said she made the decision after she was not ranked high enough on the party list.

Ms Moroney has been an MP since 2005 and was the party’s chief whip while David Cunliffe was leader in 2013 and 2014.

There’s already been one casualty, with MP Sue Moroney announcing she will stand down, after failing to get an electable position.

She said she was told last night she had lost support from the party’s ruling council.

Labour leader Andrew Little said he understood her reasons for standing down and that her contribution to the Labour caucus would be missed.

Moroney is currently ranked 16 by Labour but apart from Trevor Mallard (at 24) all the other MPs below her are electorate MPs.

Her record:

  • 1996 contested Karapiro, 31 on list (unsuccessful)
  • 2005 contested Piako, 42 on list, became a list MP
  • 2008 contested Hamilton East (lost by 8,820), 22 on list
  • 2011 promoted to front bench by Phil Goff
  • 2011 10 on list
  • 2013 appointed Chief Whip by David Cunliffe
  • 2014 10 on list

She was not rated as highly by Little when he became party leader, and has now been told to bugger off by the Labour council.

It will be interesting to see the Labour list, with a party requirement to have a reasonable gender balance.

This may have been tricky with Little, Parker and Mallard relying on the list as well as an apparent promise of a winnable list position for Willie Jackson.

Currently 12 of Labour’s 31 MPs are female, with Moroney and Annette King not standing again.


The political young guns

Audrey Young refers to the ‘relatively young’ Bill English and Steven Joyce as ‘extended seniority’ so doesn’t consider then as part of the young club of politicians – English was named in the National ‘young guns’ late last century.

She doesn’t refer to Andrew Little at all in The rise of National’s young guns an added advantage for the Government.

Instead she names the young guns of the Opposition (all Labour):

It was Labour’s biggest advantage. That advantage has been reduced, if not neutralised, and National, first under John Key and now Bill English, has accomplished a rejuvenation that Helen Clark found difficult in Government.

The Greens are making a feature of their young recruits this election.

Labour has finally managed it in Opposition with

  • Grant Robertson (46)
  • Jacinda Ardern (36)
  • Phil Twyford (54)
  • Chris Hipkins (38)

as their new young hopes.

And currently for the Government and possibly the next Opposition:

  • Amy Adams (42)
  • Simon Bridges (40)
  • Nikki Kaye (37)
  • Jonathan Coleman (50)

This is the future of Government and Opposition beyond the current leadership of National and Labour. Whoever loses out of English and Little are unlikely to continue for long.

NZ First’s younger guns seem to be suppressed and kept out of sight by the old cannon, and Shane Jones (if confirmed) is a re-bore.

The Greens who most likely to figure if they get into Government are:

  • Metiria Turei (47)
  • James Shaw (43)
  • Julie Anne Genter (37)


Polls and Peters

Media have been making a big thing about Winston Peters after poll results come out for years. A lot of nonsense has been spouted, and there’s been very poor analysis in the rush to promote the headline maker.

Peters seems to have had more proclamations of ‘king maker’ than Queen Elizabeth 2 has had curtseys.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff: Poll numbers and record immigration election-year music to Peters’ ears

The heavy breathing would have gone up the Richter scale with two figures out this week.

The first was a Roy Morgan poll putting Peters at 10.5 per cent support.

A caution here. Both Labour and National will tell you they don’t put too much stock in the Morgan poll, as its numbers can move around a lot. But over time it is a useful indicator of trends. And Peters is definitely trending.

Not really. NZ First has been fluctuating up and down in polls.

His numbers are particularly significant because Peters has a history of finishing strongly  As the Morgan poll notes, in 2011 NZ First averaged 3.5 per cent for much of the election year before winning 6.59 per cent of the vote.

In 2015 Peters averaged 5 per cent support and got 8.66 per cent on election night (the final round of polls had him at about 8 per cent).

She means 2014.

His rise appears to be starting early this year.

I think that’s nonsense on two counts.

The terms ending in 2011 and 2014 were quite different to this term. In those terms NZ First support dropped significantly between elections and rose significantly late in the election campaigns.

This term NZ First hasn’t dropped the same, in large part due to the publicity and success of Peters’ by-election win just a few months into the term.

And NZ First polled higher in Roy Morgan polls last year, eased back, and has bounced back. That is not a trend.

On top of that the political situation is quite different this term, with the National led government in it’s third term, and with John Key resigning. And Labour is onto their fourth leader post-Clark, and Labour and Greens are presenting as a combined option.

Here are NZ First poll results (Roy Morgan) for 2016 and to April in 2017:


Since peaking at 12.5 a year ago the trend seems to be very flat with fluctuations barely outside the margin of error.

And Colmar Brunton is similar so far this year for NZ First:

  • February 2017 – 11%
  • March 2017 – 8%

Reid Research:

  • March 2017 – 7.6%

About al that can be taken from this is that:

  • NZ First support has stayed higher this term than in the previous two terms,
  • Their support is fluctuating up and down, not trending,
  • The political situation this election is quite different to the last two elections.

With about five months to go until the election it’s impossible to predict what NZ First support will do in the polls, and how it will end up in the election.

I think NZ First is unlikely to end up with less support than in the 2014 election (8.66%, up from 6.59% in 2011), unless something unexpected happens like Peters gets sick.

But it is pure speculation trying to predict how much higher they may go.

Shane Jones is expected to be announced as a candidate next month – that could help their chances, or it might not. Jones’ popularity, especially outside Labour, is untested. He lost to Pita Sharples in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate in 2011.

And Jones isn’t all that popular in NZ First: Never Shane: NZ First members oppose political return of Shane Jones

Shane Jones’ rumoured political comeback with NZ First has faced a setback, with party members setting up a “Never Shane” group to protest his potential candidacy.

Jones’ return to politics as an NZ First candidate has been tipped for some time, with suggestions he may announce his plans at his annual Waitangi barbecue on February 4.

However, a Facebook page described as “a network of NZ First members and supporters opposed to Shane Jones” has been set up ahead of a potential announcement.

Some NZ First MPS, deputy Ron Mark in particular, may be uneasy about Jones being promoted too.

A lot may depend on how well received this year’s budget is, and how well Bill English does in the election campaign, as that will determine whether National sheds votes or not (they are currently looking shakier than previously in polls).

But it’s not a given that National voters will switch to NZ First.

A lot could also depend on whether Andrew Little and Labour strike a chord with voters or not.

NZ First support could be anywhere between 10-15% (higher would be unusual but not impossible).

But it’s far too soon to get any good idea of where they might end up.

A key factor could be whether the voters are comfortable with NZ First holding the balance of power or not. They have avoided that in the last three elections.


Ardern at the Press Club

Jacinda Ardern spoke at the Wintec Press Club yesterday. Time Murphy (@tmurphyNZ) tweeted as it went.

Jacinda Ardern addressing the after-lunch Wintec Press Club – reading (!) about 10 typed pages of anecdotes/observations. A surprise.

To a question on Peters: ‘Is he a racist?’ Long pause. ‘I think Winston knows what he’s doing.’

On Peters: “If the electorate delivers a result meaning would we negotiate with him? ‘Yes'”
Audience member: ‘Could you not?’

On outpolling Little: ‘Andrew tends to focus on the party vote’. Because of my unusual name ‘I tend to pop up a little’.

That’s an odd claim. I haven’t heard anyone attribute the publicity she gets to her ‘unusual name’.

Question to Ardern:’Does Little tend to dull your shine?’
‘No. Part of my job is standing alongside Andrew helping people get to know him’.

I don’t know how her presence helps people to get to know Little, unless she attracts people to meetings who wouldn’t go just to ‘get to know’ Little.

Ardern: ‘Trevor Mallard is much more sensitive than you know. He feels things deeply. And I’ve learned – you just don’t let em see you cry.’

Fairfax’s Tony Wall: Do you sometimes feel like you’re a winner in a loser party?
Ardern: long answer on left parties overseas

On being a professional politician – and her view on outsiders like Trump: ‘What – so you elect a professional arsehole, instead?’

On being labelled a ‘Show Pony’?’
‘If you rally against that too hard you’re treated as humourless. So I’ve chosen not to react’

Ardern’s grilling continues, from young journo: ‘You have a man above you that you’ve refused to roll? What does that say about you?’

MC Braunias: ‘We have time for a couple more questions’
Ardern: ‘Do we have to?’

Stunning raw politics at Wintec Press Club – pack questioning after a severe introductory roast: Ardern did better as it went on.

Final Q on Winston answer
Ardern: ‘I’ll tell you why I paused – I truly do have to ask is he genuinely racist. I don’t know him well enough’

Peters is one of, if not the, best known politician in New Zealand, so it’s odd for Ardern to claim she doesn’t know him well enough.

She joined the Labour Party at a young age, and became a senior figure in the Young Labour Party. After graduating from Waikato University, she spent time working in the offices of Phil Goff and of Helen Clark as a researcher.

After a high placement on Labour’s party list for the 2008 election (her ranking at number 20 virtually guaranteed a seat in Parliament) Ardern returned from London to campaign full-time. She also became the Party’s candidate for the Waikato electorate. Ardern was unsuccessful in the electorate vote, but was elected as a List MP.

She is now 36 and has been involved in politics most of her late teen and adult life. This is her ninth year in Parliament. She must have at least observed Peters a bit by now. It’s hard not to notice him in Parliament.

If Labour want to negotiate a coalition deal Ardern might need the start getting to know Peters better.

It’s interesting that the Wintec Press Club invited Ardern to speak. Some of the media seem to like giving her attention, more so than for Andrew Little.

9th Floor – Jenny Shipley

The next interview in the RNZ ‘9th Floor’ series features Jenny Shipley.

The 9th Floor: Jenny Shipley – The Challenger

By Guyon Espiner

Jenny Shipley evoked strong responses from New Zealanders during her time in politics and I suspect that, with her new comments about “middle class welfare” and working with Winston Peters, she is about to do so again.

But while people respond strongly to Shipley, there has been very little examination of her leadership. Researching the interview for The 9th Floor series, Tim Watkin and I found there were few books and very little academic study of this hugely influential New Zealand politician.

During the day we spent with Shipley she said New Zealand needs to take the “blowtorch” to middle class welfare, with student allowances and healthcare areas where middle and higher income earners should pay more. She finds it “morally bankrupt” that the country doesn’t have an honest discussion about this and that she personally feels “sick” that on her income she can’t opt out of subsidised health care.

She also has some fascinating observations about working with Winston Peters, who may again be a key coalition player after the coming election.

“Winston could have been Prime Minister but for want of himself. His complexity often got ahead of his capability. Watching him on a good day he was brilliant,” she says. “He was an 85 percent outstanding leader. And the 15 percent absolutely crippled him because he would get so myopically preoccupied with a diversion that it took away his capability and intent on the main goal.”

Shipley also says that Peters, Deputy Prime Minister from 1996 to 1998, was excellent at absorbing information but sometimes simply hadn’t done the reading. “I would make a personal judgement as he came into my office as to whether the envelope with the papers in it was either open or closed and it often would tell me the extent to which he had read what we were then going to discuss. I learned to both respect and manage it and on those days the meetings were short.”

Perhaps more than any other leader we spoke to she lets us in on the influences, conflicts and complexities of being Prime Minister. There are two striking aspects to this. The influence and impact on her family is one, and includes a harrowing story of how death threats against her affected her young son. The other is being a woman at the top of politics. Would history have treated Jenny Shipley and Ruth Richardson differently if they were men?

Roy Morgan – April poll

The April 2017 Roy Morgan poll has no bounce for National which eases down half a notch, but Labour still isn’t getting any traction. NZ First are back up over 10.

  • National 43% (down from 43.5)
  • Labour 29.5% (no change)
  • Greens 13% (down from 14.5)
  • NZ First 10.5% (up from 7.5)
  • ACT Party 1.5% (up from 1)
  • Maori Party 1% (down from 2)
  • United Future 0% (down from 0.5)
  • Internet Party 0% (down from 0.5)
  • Conservative Party 0.5% (no change)
  • Independent/Other 0.5% (no change)

That should be a warning to National that they need to start to look like they really want to get re-elected rather than just drifting along, and serves notice yet again that things just aren’t working for Labour.

Both National and Labour-Greens would need NZ First to form a coalition based on these poll results.

The Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating has fallen 7pts to 129pts in April with 58% of NZ electors (down 3.5%) saying NZ is ‘heading in the right direction’ cf. 29% of NZ electors (up 3.5%) that say New Zealand is ‘heading in the wrong direction’.


Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone – with a NZ wide cross-section of 862 electors between April 3-16, 2017. Of all electors surveyed 7% (down 0.5%) didn’t name a party.



“Labour’s Looming Train Wreck”

The gloves are off as parties position themselves for the election.

Peter Dunne Speaks: Labour’s Looming Train Wreck

Dunne tries to draw parallels between UK Labourt and NZ Labour, and between Jeremy Corbyn and Andrew little.

For those who follow British politics, the prospect of the coming General Election turning into a major train wreck for the British Labour Party looms large. Barely a day passes without another set of contradictory views or comments emerging from senior members of that Party.

Most of the criticism inevitably finds its way back to the Party’s veteran socialist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a man who, in a long political career has never been chosen to hold any Government office. For afficiandos, it is all fun and games, happening sufficiently far away not to be too bothered about.

However, there are some similarities with the New Zealand situation which should not go unremarked upon.

And remark upon them he does.

Jeremy Corbyn was never elected leader of the British Labour Party by the Party’s MPs – indeed, only a few months ago, they passed overwhelmingly a vote of no-confidence in his leadership. Yet he remains, having twice been selected by the Party at large and its trade union base to be Labour’s standard bearer.

New Zealand Labour has a similar selection system – current leader Andrew Little was installed in his role in 2014 with the backing of well under half his MPs, and then only narrowly because of the union vote.

As with Mr Corbyn, Mr Little knows that the key to his retaining the leadership, lies not with his MPs, but with the Party’s trade union affiliates. He has already shown his recognition of that by his installation of trade union officials as candidates in a number of seats around the country. Many are likely to feature high up on the Party’s “democratically” selected list.

And, like Mr Corbyn, he has eschewed any prospect of Labour claiming the centre ground of politics, indeed going so far as to dismiss the political centre and those who occupy it as “irrelevant.”

Both Mr Corbyn and Mr Little believe naively that there is a latent Labour majority out there – the missing million voters New Zealand Labour keeps talking about – that has only to be offered a “true” Labour Party for them to return home, and that in the meantime, there is therefore no need to reach out to any other voting group

As the Antipodean Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Little must have groaned when Teresa May called Britain’s election for early June. New Zealanders are going to be able to watch a preview of his performance and likely fate, well in advance of our own election.

And when the inevitable blood-letting takes place after the British train wreck, New Zealand Labour will struggle to avoid the spotlight being turned on its own Jeremy Corbyn, and his journey down the same track.       

Dunne and others will no doubt try to have the spotlight shone on similarities between Corbyn and Little, and between UK Labour and NZ Labour.

Peters plays media with racist taunts

Winston Peters may have had a reasonable point to make about a Herald item today on immigration, but his attack on two journalists with Asian sounding names was widely criticised and deplored.

The Herald has responded with a statement from the editor.

The original Herald article: Top source countries for migrant workers are not Asian

A rise in work visas has been the driving force behind record immigration numbers but the main source countries are not from Asia.

A Herald analysis into immigration data found work visa arrivals increased from 16,787 in 2004 to 41,576 last year.

The top five source countries for work last year are the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America.

The United Kingdom, which made up 16.6 per cent of work visas issued, has twice as many as those of Germany on 8.8 per cent.

Australians do not require visas to work in New Zealand – the Statistics New Zealand
figures however shows people coming from Australia as their last country of residence.

A response from the journalists: Why Winston Peters got it wrong: The Herald responds to his attack on our journalists

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters today released a media statement about the Herald’s coverage of work visas and the top five source countries for work visas last year. The statement’s opening paragraph read: “New Zealand Herald propaganda written by two Asian immigrant reporters stating the top five source nations for work visas are not Asian is completely wrong and based on flawed analysis, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.” Here is the response from those reporters, Harkanwal Singh and Lincoln Tan.

A decent way to address a contentious issue by Michael Reddell: Which countries did Essential Skills visa grantees come from in the last year?

News on another immigration record: Record migration puts squeeze on housing, roads and the Government

Related video: Watch NZH Focus: Net migration to New Zealand has hit another record


More housing responsibilities for Adams

Nick Smith has been probably the poorest public performer in Government over the last few years. He has had to try to deal with the difficult housing issues in Auckland, but has often done that badly.

Amy Adams has been one of the best performers. She has been gradually taken over housing responsibilities from Smith, who remains as Minister for the Environment and just one housing responsibility, Building and Construction.

In comparison Adams has a long portfolio list:

  • Minister of Justice
  • Minister for Courts
  • Minister for Social Housing
  • Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand Corporation
  • Minister Responsible for Social Investment
  • Associate Minister of Finance

Two of those are directly involved with housing, but Social Investment and Finance have close relationships with Government housing.

Isaac Davidson at NZH: Adams rises, Smith falls in Cabinet reshuffle

Bill English’s reshuffle marks another rise in the ranks for National’s quiet star Amy Adams.

It is also a demotion for Nick Smith, who has now been distanced from any responsibility for the Government’s house-building programme.

English today denied any suggestion of a demotion for Smith, saying reporters “should not read into it”.

But his appointment of Adams appears to recognise that National is bracing for an election-year fight on housing and that Smith wasn’t fit to lead it.

Adams was already responsible for social housing, emergency housing, and Housing New Zealand. She has now been given control over the National-led Government’s plans to build tens of thousands of homes in the next decade.

There are tentative signs that Smith’s various initiatives to lift supply in Auckland are gaining some traction. And as English keeps repeating, the problem is not money but space – something which Government has limited control over.

But it is clear that Smith had lost the public argument on housing affordability.

Adams is a highly capable, confident minister, and perhaps most importantly a good communicator.

English is now trusting her with a huge workload. On top of her housing roles, she maintains the large justice portfolio, and is also responsible for the newly created social investment agency.

Adams has five months to do what Smith couldn’t and at least give the impression that National has the situation under control.

Housing is going to be one of the big issues this election after house prices have gone mad, especially in Auckland but increasingly elsewhere in the country.

People who already own homes may like the increase in value, but those who don’t will see home ownership as an increasingly difficult goal (if that’s what they want, some people are happy to rent).

Adams has little time to fix housing, but if she doesn’t appear as cranky as Smith she will at least give better appearances of competence.