McCarten and the intern scheme donor

When Labour’s intern scheme story broke in June it was reported that the scheme had been funded by one large donor.

Stuff: Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down

McCarten’s original plan was to have union funding, but it seems that was not forthcoming.

A big donor did back the plan, but their identity has not been released to the party or to the public.

Little said the party had disclosure obligations, both in terms of donors and spending. The party was dealing with that.

Little said the party had a moral responsibility to look after creditors and suppliers because there was the “potential” for a shortfall in funding raised for the intern scheme.

NZH: Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who

A mystery backer funded the volunteer scheme for overseas students working on Labour’s campaign – and even Labour does not know who it was or how much was involved.

Matt McCarten, who set up the scheme and ran it under his “Campaign for Change” organisation, told the Herald it was funded by a “private funder” who thought the scheme was a good idea.

McCarten’s confirmation of a “private funder” followed the release of a document obtained by Newshub which showed McCarten expected it to cost at least $150,000 and planned to get $100,000 from the FIRST and Unite unions, as well as seeking contributions from other unions and fundraising.

However, those unions said yesterday they had not put any funding in.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the party would disclose anything it was required to and would ensure third parties did as well. However, the party was still working out what funding there was in place.

At the time this sounded like avoidance from Labour (and it was successful avoidance). It should have been a simple matter of asking McCarten how the scheme had been funded to that stage.

The Herald also quoted Mike Treen, the Unite union’s National Director:

Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for a programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding.

No ‘direct funding’ is a curious reference.

David Farrar wrote to the Electoral Commission asking them to investigate the donation and funding. He published their response last week on Kiwiblog:  Electoral Commission rules Campaign for Change counts as Labour candidate donations

The Electoral Commission has investigated the Campaign for Change and made the following determinations:

  1. All funds spent by the Campaign for Change are Labour candidate donations and must be declared in returns after the election
  2. McCarten personally paid for the costs
  3. $65,095 was spent up until Labour formally took over
  4. The Campaign for Change was not a neutral enrolment exercise

McCarten had referred to a ‘private funder’, which clearly implies someone other than himself.

If McCarten was always the funder why did he mislead the public, and also apparently not divulge this to Labour?

This leaves questions unanswered.

Was there a private funder who backed out when the scheme became public and it looked likely the funder would be named as a donor?

Did McCarten donate with his own money? Or was it an indirect donation, with money given to him by ‘a private benefactor’, and then he handed that over to Labour?

Does it matter?

Labour seem finished with their use of McCarten’s services, and so they should be. He was always a high risk to them. McCarten must now surely be seen as politically toxic by any party.

 

‘Auckland Labour Party’ responsible for intern scheme

The ‘Auckland Labour Party’ has now been named by Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton as responsible along with Matt McCarten for the intern scheme.

Kirton has also said that “it started off as a Labour Party project”. So Kirton, and one would expect Labour’s leader Andrew Little, would have known more about the scheme than they have admitted.

When the Labour intern story broke it was obvious that Little and Kirton were not being open about what they knew about the scheme.

Little has said he had heard about the scheme as an idea at the start of the year, has admitted finding out it was running as an unapproved scheme in May, and he says he stepped in when they started getting complaints around Monday last week (but there are variations in that story too).

Matt McCarten quickly became the scapegoat. He was employed (by Parliamentary Services) to work for Andrew Little in Auckland, and no campaign work was allowed. However it is clear that McCarten has spent some time (months) working on the intern scheme aimed at campaigning for Labour.

The scheme was advertised overseas in February as a “Labour Party Fellowship”, with @labour.org.nz email addresses for contact. It became ”Movement for Change” in May and changed soon afterwards to “Campaign for Change”.  With McCarten leaving his Labour job it seems there was an attempt to distance the scheme from the party.

Little in particular has talked as though it was not a Labour Party scheme.

But that position was untenable. Other Labour Party people were connected with the scheme.

Earlier this week it was reported that Labour’s Auckland/Northland Representative on their NZ Council, Paul Chalmers, had stood down. Stuff on Tuesday (27 June): Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down:

Labour Leader Andrew Little on Tuesday said Paul Chalmers, who was connected with the scheme, had voluntarily stood down over the weekend “and he is not involved in the governing council of the party at this point”.

Chalmers is still named on Labour’s website as an Auckland/Northland representative.

Little said it was also possible the party would have to cover some of the costs of the plan masterminded by Little’s former chief of staff Matt McCarten, who more recently was Little’s Auckland organiser but stood down from that role in mid May when his contract ended and was not renewed.

An eight month contract terminated four months before the election seems odd.

Also on Tuesday in an RNZ interview Little’s story was starting to wobble over what he knew and who was responsible. From More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme:

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…

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.

That didn’t sound convincing.

Even more details emerged yesterday. Newshub ‘It’s not a good look’ – Labour fronts up on intern visa problems

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton told The AM Show it’s “not a good look,” but said as soon as he heard of the programme’s problems, he stepped in to sort it out.

“My team arrived on Tuesday to sort out this programme of Matt McCarten’s and the Auckland Labour Party.”

“It’s been a bit of an effort but we’re getting on top of it now. The young volunteers are now really excited to get out and learn about MMP environments across the country.

“It started off as a Labour Party project – not too dissimilar to what we’ve done in the past. The problem with this though was it was expanded out quite significantly by Matt McCarten with support from the Auckland Labour Party.

“[It] got out of control, the management got out of control, and that’s why we stepped in straight away.”

So after about a week of trying to distance Labour from the intern scheme Kirton has admitted that it was an “Auckland Labour Party” programme, along with McCarten who was effectively Little’s chief of staff in Auckland.

Little and Kirton appear to have been somewhat frugal with the truth over the last week.

They have either deliberately misled and lied about the extent of their knowledge of the scheme, or the Labour Party in Auckland and Little’s Auckland employee were running an unauthorised scheme without telling them anything about it and without them finding out about it until last week. Or the week before. Or in May, depending on which explanation you listen to.

A number of Labour’s Auckland MPs and candidates have been involved with the interns in their campaigning – seeLinks between interns and Labour from April.

Alongside Little’s claimed lack of knowledge of the scheme it is also curious that deputy leader Jacinda Ardern, Auckland based and with a special interest in young people and getting them out to vote, seems to also have had no knowledge of an international and local student get out the vote campaign in her own city.

Labour still have major questions to answer about who the mysterious anonymous donor was, and why McCarten and possible other Labour staffers were running a campaign scheme when their employment terms didn’t allow that.

 

Interns worked with Labour MPs

Andrew Little and Andrew Kirton have tried to distance themselves from the Labour Party labelled fellowship/intern scheme, blaming it on Matt McCarten and as Little said ” people closely associated with the Labour Party”.

But some things don’t add up about Little’s claims of what he knew about the scheme.

The interns have been busy scrubbing any references to the scheme from their social media but some snippets have been found that suggest that the interns were working with Labour MPs in Auckland.

If that’s the case it would be remarkable if the Labour leadership and head office were largely unaware of what was going on.

Little has claimed the high ground saying it was a moral responsibility to step in and sort out the problems that were revealed last week, but he also has a moral responsibility to be up front and honest about what he knew about the scheme.

If he knew more about the scheme than he is saying then he is being evasive, some call what he is doing as lying by omission.

If Labour in Auckland were running an unapproved and unauthorised scheme that Little and Labour’s head office knew nothing about then that also looks bad.

On Q+A yesterday:

Jessica Mutch: Let’s talk about that then. How did it get out of control? Was it a lack of organisation on the part of Labour?

Little: No. This started out as an idea at the beginning of the year. I certainly became aware of it, um when it was raised with me. I said it’s a campaign issue, it’s a party issue, you’ve got to deal with it as a campaign issue.

Jessica Mutch: But it had Labour’s name on it though.

Little: And it did.

Jessica Mutch: It was called 2017 Labour Campaign Fellowship.

Little: Yeah because people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved. Without without approval or authority or any mandate they went ahead and did stuff.

The person most involved appears to have been Matt McCarten. He was supposed to be working for Little in the Labour Leader’s  Auckland Office – from last September when McCarten left his job as Little’s Chief of Staff:  Labour leader Andrew Little says his adviser Matt McCarten’s taxpayer-funded salary is within the rules because McCarten will be doing “outreach” work for Little rather than campaign work.

Little: The next I became aware was about May this year when the party was getting messages from students about to arr… within days of arriving, um, ah, the party stepped in straight away to people associated with it saying what is going on, there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing.

The party was given assurances, “we’ve got funding, we’ve got a programme sorted out, nothing to worry about’.

Interns were being confirmed in April and arriving in mid- May:

InternChatfield

Little was at least partially aware of this but then said:

Jessica Mutch: But then there was something to worry about.

Little: There was, yeah, we got the complaints this week and the minute that happened, because we were aware that the Labour Party name was associated with it.

It’s not about legal technicalities. I take a very dim view of those who hide behind legality and say it is moral responsibility that is the most important thing.

It wasn’t just the Labour Party name that was associated with it.  There seems to have been quite a bit of direct Labour party involvement in the scheme, in Auckland at least.

David Farrar posted in Of course this was Labour’s scheme:

And the five people named are all Labour Party.

  • Matt McCarten organised the scheme out of the Labour Leader’s Office, being paid by the taxpayer to do so
  • Caitlin Johnson and Kieran O’Halloran are paid staff for the Labour Party, It’s ridiculous to think they were doing this independently and without approval of the party.
  • Paul Chalmers is on the Council of the Labour Party and is a regional chair
  • Simon Mitchell is a longtime Labour activist

To argue this scheme was independent of Labour when it was called a Labour fellowship, and run by staff from the Leader’s Office and Labour field offices, plus a member of Labour’s National Council is beyond credibility.

But information from an intern suggests that Labour MPs in Auckland were also involved.

InternPak2

InternPak3

InternPak1

From that:

“worked directly with North Shore MPs to craft specifically altered campaign strategy”

“worked directly with MPs to craft specialized strategy that matched their electorates”

This may or may not be embellished, but there is a clear indication this intern was working directly with Labour MPs in Auckland.

This is how things look:

  • Little “certainly became aware of” what he says “started out as an idea at the beginning of the year”.
  • Interns were advised of being accepted in the scheme in April.
  • Interns were arriving in mid May.
  • Little: “The next I became aware was about May this year when the party was getting messages from students”
  • In May “the party stepped in straight away to people associated with it saying what is going on, there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing.”
    The party was given assurances “we’ve got funding, we’ve got a programme sorted out, nothing to worry about”
  • McCarten, who was supposedly doing “outreach” work for Little was involved
  • Labour Party staff were involved
  • Labour MPs appear to have been directly involved
  • Little “we got the complaints this week [he says Monday 29 June] and the minute that happened, because we were aware that the Labour Party name was associated with it.”

A number of things don’t add up, and Little is not being honest about what he knew about the scheme.

Why did Little do nothing about a scheme involving the election campaign in the crucial Auckland region despite saying “there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing”?

Why did Andrew Kirton not act until Monday last week?

Why were Labour MPs and Labour Party employees involved in an unauthorised scheme in Auckland that the Labour leadership and party head office claim to have only become involved in  one week ago?

Why is Little claiming the moral high ground when he is not being open and honest about details of his knowledge of the scheme?

It looks like either Little is hiding a lot, or Auckland Labour has been acting independently of the Labour leadership and Labour’s head office with Little having some knowledge of it.

If Labour were to succeed in September’s election they would not only need to have  their Wellington leadership and head office working with their Auckland MPs, they would also need to work with the Green Party and probably with NZ First.

What confidence can voters have in their honesty and confidence?

Private funder for Labour’s intern scheme

Matt McCarten says that the Labour intern scheme had a private funder “who thought the scheme was a good idea”.

NZ Herald: Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who

A mystery backer funded the volunteer scheme for overseas students working on Labour’s campaign – and even Labour does not know who it was or how much was involved.

Matt McCarten, who set up the scheme and ran it under his “Campaign for Change” organisation, told the Herald it was funded by a “private funder” who thought the scheme was a good idea.

McCarten must have also thought the private funding was a good idea.

He was chief of staff for David Cunliffe and Andrew Little, and ran Labour’s election campaign in Auckland until he quit to balls up the intern scheme last month.

Has he no clue about the requirements of political campaign funding? Or did he think he wouldn’t be found out?

It is understood Labour itself still does not know who that funder is or how much was spent on the programme and it has been left to cover some of the costs of housing the interns at Awataha Marae, although McCarten said he believed the payments were up to date.

This has put Labour in  a very difficult situation, as by association they may end up being responsible for this.

Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton took over the programme this week after concerns about how it was being run and the ability to manage the numbers involved.

He would not comment on the funding issue, saying he was still working on taking care of the interns and “sorting the mess out”.

After that he may have a funding mess to sort out.

Heading into an election campaign this is a terrible diversion for the Labour Party.

Labour will also have to consider whether it needs to declare any contributions to the costs of the programme as a donation.

Electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler said it would have to if it was a Labour Party programme, but it probably would not have to if it was a third party campaigning for Labour.

It was advertised as a “Labour Party Fellowship”, involved Labour MPs, and was set up by McCarten while he worked for Labour until May – but was run by his Campaign for Change.

The Campaign for Change change seems to have been a rush job to try to distance the scheme from Labour, but ” third party campaigning” could be very difficult to argue.

Other Labour Party activists and staffers have been names as involved in the scheme.

One could wonder if a more effective sabotage of Labour’s campaign could have been executed, but I think it’s more likely that this was a mix of arrogance and ineptness from McCarten and those directly involved, and a glaring lack of oversight by the Labour Party at best.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the party would disclose anything it was required to and would ensure third parties did as well. However, the party was still working out what funding there was in place.

Awkward.

Interns have given mixed reviews – yesterday one told the Herald that much of the attention had been on the standard of accommodation, but that had not been the problem or the reason Labour officials had to step in. Nor had complaints by individual interns.

“There’s pushback from many who feel it shouldn’t have been shut down so quickly, but I really don’t know how much longer it would have lasted, especially since the whole programme was labelled ‘Labour’, without clear connection to Wellington. It was a ticking time bomb until Wellington found out and shut it down. That’s ultimately why it was shut down – it had Labour’s name all over it, but Wellington had no control over the situation or even knew many details about it.”

So it seems that McCarten was out of control.

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.

“Matt is ambitious, and where there is a will there is a way is often his attitude. He may have tried to reach too far in this case. We thought there were positives and are a little bit sorry to see it’s all fallen on its face.”

So Treen was also involved. He stood for the Mana Party last election and has links to socialist groups – see  Mana Party and Socialists

It looks like a misconceived attempt at a coup of Labour – see Labour policy coup attempt?

Labour policy coup attempt?

The Labour Party has handled the foreign student intern issue very poorly and they have been justifiably been blasted from all sides.

Leader Andrew Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton have been trying to repair the damage and pile the blame on Matt McCarten, but they should have known exactly what was being done and ensured it was properly managed. They stuffed up badly.

However there are suggestions that McCarten and others involved in the debacle may have been attempting some sort of grand plan to push the party left and effectively execute a policy coup.

Martyn Bradbury has been involved, and as usual he has trouble keeping quiet. He has posted Why the Labour Party Student Intern ‘scandal’ is a smear

Watching that meltdown into the shameful scandal it’s being sold as by the media and Politicians desperate to move the attention from Bill English is as ugly as it is typical.

The spluttering shock and hyperventilation of the corporate media at a story that is over a 2 months old right when English was getting screwed seems remarkably good timing for National.

Mostly fortuitous timing I think. National and the media didn’t engineer the Labour intern debacle, and the timing seems to be largely coincidental.

What Labour were doing with these interns happens every election. International Students come here to monitor and experience our elections, what was different about this year was how quickly over subscribed the programme became.

There’s doubt about that claim as documents (see Funding of Labour’s intern scheme) have revealed plans for more interns than have arrived.

The plan to use international students who had worked on campaigns like Jeremy Corbyn’s and Bernie Sander’s were going to be matched by domestic volunteers who were going to target 60 000 Aucklander’s who had enrolled to vote but hadn’t voted and 60 000 Aucklander’s who hadn’t enrolled at all.

They wanted to import the success of Sanders and Corbyn campaigns at getting out young voters (but failed at winning elections).

The campaigns focus was engagement and it had Labour Party sign off and Union buy in.

What happened however was Labour Party HQ Wellington become panicked by how big the Campaign had grown and despite green lighting it started dragging their feet until the thing fell over.

A whispering campaign targeting the funders strangled off money because Labour Party HQ Wellington’s preference is to win over voters who are exisiting voters because the policy platform doesn’t have to be particularly radical for that.

The Newshub documents show “First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000″ and the “Council of Trade Unions (CTU) was also to be involved in management of the project” but they have quickly distanced themselves today and claim that they hadn’t committed any funds.

Did the scheme proceed without proper funding in place?

Bradbury:

What Labour didn’t want was a huge campaign to the Left of Labour pressuring them for a Corbyn or Sanders platform.

Labour didn’t want this…

Campaign for Change Manifesto 
1: Free public transport for students and beneficiaries
2: 18 month rent freeze 
3: 5% maximum rent rise
4: $20 per hour minimum wage
5: Artists and Volunteers benefit
6: Free condoms, contraceptive pills and sanitary pads available at schools and family planning
7: Universal Student Allowance for Tertiary students
8: Free public internet
9: Lower voting age to 16
10: Free school lunches 

…so the fear of a successful left wing agenda has once again managed to doom Labour. Just like the candidate selection fiasco and just like the Party List fiasco, this has come down to poor internal management by the Wellington arm of the Party.

While it’s not clear it appears that Campaign for Change tried to force these policies on the Labour Party – in effect trying a policy coup.

Policy development usually takes years and includes input from party members. It is not usually foisted on a party by a small group of activists with revolution in mind.

The perception of political hypocrisy is a mainstream media generated one, the real story is Labour’s fear of a courageous left wing platform.

There was a heap of hypocrisy over student workers working for nothing and living in poor cramped conditions. But that’s not a big deal compared to what Bradbury is suggesting.

Blaming Matt McCarten and leaving him to twist in the wind is expected but it certainly isn’t honourable or justified.

If McCarten and Bradbury and whoever else was involved thought that importing a team of campaign slaves that would somehow magically turn out hundreds of thousands of votes for Labour they are naive or nuts.

If they thought that three months out from the election the Labour Party establishment would change all their policy plans and take on a ten step pathway to political oblivion then all the criticism that can be mustered is justified.

It looks like a policy coup attempt by a bunch of clowns absent any clues or leadership.

Back to the actual party leadership – how Little and Kirton allowed this to even get off the ground I have no idea. I am flabbergasted at how this looks.

 

Funding of Labour’s intern scheme

Labour still have questions to answer about why they have deceived and not been upfront about the degree of their involvement in the intern scheme fiasco.

Andrew Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton seem to have tried to play down the degree of party involvement but the whole thing has had Labour written all over it.

Newshub has obtained documents showing funding plans – Union money behind Labour’s botched intern scheme

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it.

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks.

Yesterday Matt McCarten stated “The programme was extremely popular and quickly became oversubscribed. The scale of the programme is now greater than I can manage, and I am aware of issues that this has caused.”

It was reported there were about 85 interns, less than that budgeted for.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

Would this have been declared in Labour’s donation returns?

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.”

It was clearly a Labour plan.

A less expensive plan was also outlined, in which half of the students would be billeted.

The cost of that came in at $148,000 plus operational costs. It would have required less of a fundraising drive, but still relied on union funding.

The scheme was already under way, there must have been some funds raised and used.

On Thursday, Labour leader Andrew Little fronted up about the party’s intern scheme which got “wildly out of control”.

So it must have been poorly managed.

“I have to say it is embarrassing for the party, of course it is,” he conceded.

“I am disappointed that they’ve been let down, but right now the priority is to fix that up, look after them, make sure they’re okay and work out what do from there.”

One priority is for Little to be up front about Labour’s involvement, and his knowledge of it. And Andrew Kirton.

For such a large and elaborate scheme with Labour labels everywhere the party leadership and party management must have been well aware of it. They surely must have approved it.

Some questions that deserve answers:

Have any Labour people worked on the intern scheme while being paid by Parliamentary Services?

Has Labour breached the Electoral Act by not having authorisation statements on the scheme’s Facebook page and Twitter account? Both seem to have now been pulled, but they had no sign authorisation statements.

One question that has been answered emphatically is McCarten’s campaign skills. Appalling.

Update: Andrew Kirton is being interviewed on RNZ.

He said he first knew about the project in April. Espiner is challenging him on that.

Kirton says he hasn’t seen the document until it was just published by Newshub.

Kirton is in evasion overdrive, trying to dump everything on McCarten.

Kirton says that “it was Matt’s programme that he took over when he left the party”.  So it was already a Labour party project.

He keeps diverting to ‘as soon as we were aware of the problems we stepped in to sort things out”.

Asked if the spending was going to be counted in their election  spending he said the hadn’t thought about that. Remarkable.

Kirton’s responses in that interview need a lot more scrutiny.

Intern schemes using international activists are common.

Trying to pretend a scheme has nothing to do with Labour is crazy.

McCarten, Kirton and Little all have to take responsibility for this mess.

Labour campaign exposed as foreign workers rebel

Matt McCarten’s ‘Campaign for Change’ has been exposed as being far from the non-partisan project he claimed it would be, as Labour try to deal with rebelling foreign student election workers complaining about their housing conditions.

Key points:

  • McCarten’s ‘Campaign for Change’ is a front for the Labour Party, not non-partisan as claimed, and not aimed at “full political participation” in election.
  • Foreign students have been brought to New Zealand to work for Labour.
  • The students would not have been paid at all for their work.
  • The students have rebelled against cramped and poor living conditions.
  • They are being used in political deceit.

Last week I posted  McCarten’s ‘new’ project

1 million people did not vote in the last election. 250,000 people who were required to register did not. These numbers represent a crisis of democracy. This group overwhelmingly consisted of young people, workers in low paid occupations…

“The Campaign for Change will channel the energy and passion of New Zealander’s who want to see a change of Government this election.” says Director Matt McCarten.

This non-partisan campaign is being created in order to get people engaged and involved. The disconnect between a million citizens and political participation is a threat to our democracy.

The disconnect between what Labour are doing here and what they are campaigning against is a threat to their campaign.

The Campaign for Change is directed by the goal of full political participation.

It’s obviously not. It is using poorly housed foreign slave labour targeting votes for Labour.

Richard Harman at Politik posted Labour Party volunteer workers rebel over living conditions.

A Labour Party scheme to recruit  85 overseas students to campaign for the party during this year’s election has hit trouble.

The students rebelled over their accommodation and their disappointment with what was supposed to be a high powered learning programme but which appears to be not much more than political campaign drudge work.

Now party heavyweights have had to step in to rescue the programme and deal with the complaints from the students.

POLITIK has seen emails which show that the students have now held two meetings with party officials to complain about their accommodation on an Auckland marae and the work they were being asked to do.

Last night Labour’s General Secretary Andrew Kirton confirmed that there had been issues with the scheme which had arisen over the past week.

He said the scheme had been originated by Andrew Little’s former Chief of Staff, Matt McCarten, who now runs Labour’s campaign office in Auckland.

Not quite. Last week McCarten said he was leaving Labour to run a non-partisan ‘Campaign for Change’. Is he still based in Labour’s campaign office?

The heart of the row appears to be the living conditions under which the interns have been accommodated at Awataha Marae in Northcote.

The students met Labour party officials on Saturday to protest about their accommodation and were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.

The interns were invited by Labour to help with its campaign.

Kirton says that Labour’s head office had been notified of these problems and had now stepped in.

The interns would leave Auckland and be distributed across the country. They would be billeted with Labour supporters.

Short lectures are promised from some top Labour Party names:

  • Andrew Little
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Helen Clark
  • “Current ambassadors to NZ.”
  • “Senior party stakeholders and staff, including the President and Chief of Staff “
  • Teleconferences with senior staff from US Democratic Party and UK Labour Party

However, Kirton said there were now problems organising these talks because the volunteers were no longer in one place.

This looks more like a farce than anything, but questions of consistency arise – Labour are campaigning against foreign workers, low wages and housing problems.

And it also raises questions about McCarten’s and Labour’s honesty in the campaign.

In Parliament yesterday Andrew Little questioned Bill English on “an acceptable moral standard” and “a cover-up” and “a public figure is lying”.

This isn’t as shoddy as the Barclay debacle, but when asking “Why should New Zealanders place any trust in him as Prime Minister” when McCarten, and Labour and Little by association, have been dishonest about the nature of the Labour campaign to get out votes.

Little said the Prime Minister “told media things that are untrue about his knowledge of Todd Barclay’s actions, and consistently failed the moral standards that New Zealanders expect of their elected leaders”.

Ill-considered deceits like Labour’s ‘Campaign for Change in which foreign student workers are being exploited.

Why should New Zealanders place any trust in Little as leader of Labour?

Is it any wonder many people don’t trust any politicians and can’t be bothered voting?

Little still deceiving on health ‘cuts’

Labour has been claiming that health funding has been cut for some time. There have been questions about their claims, as actual health funding has continually been increased while National has been in Government.

Last week David Farrar took them to task over their claims in Labour’s lies on health spending

For some years now Labour have lied and lied and said that National has cut health spending by $1.7 billion. The media run this as a statement of fact often, despite it having no basis in truth.

The most generous interpretation you can make is that Labour is saying that they have calculated the level of funding they think Vote Health needs, and that it is $1.7 billion more. But that is very different to saying it is a cut.

If you are on a $60,000 a year salary and ask for $70,000 but only get $64,000 then you can’t say your salary has been cut by $6,000.

Now let’s look at what at what Vote Health has done between 2008 and Budget 2017.

  • Nominal Vote Health – increased by $4.85 billion a year from $11.92 billion to $16.77 billion – a 40.7% increase
  • Real Vote Health – increased by $3.00 billion a year from $13.77 billion to $16.77 billion – a 21.8% increase
  • Real Vote Health per capita – increased by $341 a year from $3,233 to $3,574 – a 10.5% increase

You can claim it is not enough. You can claim more is needed. You can claim growing elderly population needs more funding. But you cannot claim it has been cut. That is a lie.

This blew up further over Labour reaction to John Key getting a knighthood – see Labour called ‘lying losers’ over Sir John pettiness.

But Andrew Little is resolutely continuing to claim ‘cuts’. He has in part made some adjustment to how he words it but keeps reverting to claiming ‘cuts’.

1 News:  ‘The system is so overstretched’ – Andrew Little says health system underfunded by $2.3 billion

Economic consultants Infometrics, commissioned by Labour, conducted a new study which found funding needed to restore the health system to the level it was seven years ago to keep up with cost pressures will rise to $2.3 billion by June next year, up from $1.7 billion last year.

Mr Little told TVNZ 1’s Breakfast programme he is not surprised the Capital and Coast District Health Board is reportedly putting up pre-op patients in motels due to the funding shortfall and being “overstretched.”

“In a single year alone, if we really wanted the health system to be funded to the level it needed to be… the budget of a couple of weeks ago would’ve put an extra $220 million into the health funding alone,” Mr Little said.

“What it comes down to is after nine years, we’ve got a government that hasn’t funded health services to keep up with the growing population as well as the change of population, the age of the population.

“The demands on health services are what they are and they’re growing exponentially, and particularly in mental health services and we’ve got a government that’s not funding it properly. That’s why people are missing out.”

The ‘shortfall’ is how much less health funding there is than Labour thinks/says there should be, not a reduction in funding. As Leader of the Opposition it’s fair enough for Little to push for more health funding.

This was backed by Labour’s General Secretary:

More tweets:

That inevitably means cuts to services all over the place, and 1000s of people missing out on care.

Case in point – news today in Wgtn that patients have been forced to stay in motels.

And increased, unnecessary pressure placed on our health workers.

But according to National’s shouty cheerleaders the system has had so much new money, everything is great and we should all just shut up.

Time for a fresh approach to healthcare- Labour will restore Nationals funding shortfall and that will mean better care & restored services.

Kirton linked to a press release from Little:  $2.3 billion shortfall in health

This didn’t mention cuts but stated:

“cost pressures has widened to a massive $2.3 billion, says Labour Leader Andrew Little”

“The huge sums of money missing from health”

“the gap since 2009/10 in core crown health expenditure that is required to meet cost pressures grow from $1.7 billion last year to $2.3 billion by June 2018″

“This funding shortfall was not addressed in National’s latest Budget.”

Health funding increased in the latest budget.

““This funding shortfall is just another glaring example of how National after nine years has steadily eroded New Zealand’s social foundations.”

““Labour will restore the health funding shortfall over time…”

No indication of how much Labour will ‘restore’ and over what time.

That was all carefully worded, but Little followed up on Facebook yesterday:

LittleHealthCuts

In 1938, New Zealand became the first country in the world with universal healthcare, ushered in by our first Labour Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

It meant New Zealanders were able to access quality, free healthcare whenever they needed it. For years, our health system was the envy of the world.

Things are very different now. National has massively cut funding from our health system in real terms, with last year’s shortfall of $1.7 billion set to rise to $2.3 billion by next June.

“National has massively cut funding” is blatantly misleading. Providing less funding than Labour says there should be is not a cut, it’s less of an increase than Labour says their should be.

What’s the cost of those health cuts?

There’s the ‘cuts’ word again.

It’s a mental health system in crisis, where patients are being discharged to caravan parks. It’s people who can’t afford to go to the doctor. It’s elective surgery becoming harder and harder to qualify for. It’s health workers who are overstretched, exhausted, and operating without the resources they need to properly care for their patients.

National has neglected health. They’ve had nine years to tackle the big issues facing New Zealand, and they’ve failed.

Normal sort of general rhetorical criticism from the Opposition.

As part of Labour’s fresh approach, we’ll restore their massive health cuts, so that all New Zealanders can get the healthcare they need, when they need it.

Back to “their massive health cuts”. This is not just blatantly misleading, in this case it is outright wrong.

This deceit has been pointed out to Little and Labour often enough, but Little persists with pushing his ‘cuts’ lines. ‘Lie’ is a fair description.

 

Labour clampdown on social media

Labour’s party secretary Andrew Kirton has accidentally sent a text to media asking candidates to clean up their social media presence.

More in Labour Party candidates told to clean up their social media profiles

The Party’s general secretary Andrew Kirton issued the directive in a text he also accidentally sent to reporters today.

… Kirton said there is nothing unusual about sending such a text – but he will make an effort to direct messages to the right contacts in future.

“The advice to our candidates is normal practice and part of running a disciplined campaign that focuses on issues New Zealanders care about,” Kirton said.

The advice to candidates doesn’t surprise me, although the accidental mis-sending could be a bit embarrassing if it was accidental.

What does surprise me though is the method and timing. I think that advice like this should be a prominent part of the application to stand process. Most if not all Labour candidates are already selected and some at least pushing for social media and traditonal media coverage and profile

Nelson electorate deal denials

Mixed messages over Labour-Green electorate deals or no deals continue, with denials from both Labour and the Greens that there there will be no deal in Nelson.

In the original 1 News report Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election Andrea Vance said:

In Nelson the Greens fell like they can pick up a lot of votes and so they’re in talks with Labour at the moment to stand a Labour candidate aside so that the Greens can have a clear run in that seat in Nelson.

The reason the greens have chosen Nelson is because it’s a classically Green seat. Now they’ll campaign hard in that seat because they’ve been given a chunk of money by an anonymous donor who has specified it must be used in the campaign in Nelson and the West Coast only.

And so Labour found it easy to stand aside because the candidate there would go up against Nick Smith for the electorate vote who’s been there for years and years and years and there’s a strong incumbent.

There is some very specific information there. Someone must have given this to Vance. Metiria Turei and her plans to stand in Te Tai Tonga also featured in that item.

Little responded on 1 News’ Breakfast programme: “This is news to me, we have no agreement on any seat”.

A follow up from 1 News: ‘Bugger that!’ – Labour members leave party over proposed deal with Green Party in Nelson

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson.

One of those who quit said the members had emailed in their resignations – and the reasons – to the party.

“They were eight core people and they’ve walked away. They expected us to help the Greens… we’re not going to work for the Greens, bugger that.”

The ex-member said supporters were unhappy about how they learned about the proposed deal.

“It leaked out at the [annual] conference. One of the candidates was told by Andrew Little… people here are really angry.

But Labour continues to deny any deal in Nelson. Stuff: Labour denies giving Green light for Nelson:

The Labour Party has denied suggestions it is standing aside in Nelson, despite media reports that it is engaging in strategic deals with the Greens ahead of next year’s general election.

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said despite an agreement between Labour and the Greens to work together to change the Government there was no such plan for Nelson.

“We have a very strong party in Nelson and that won’t change. I’ve been impressed by how our members have remained committed to winning government next year,” he said.

“This is about how to work together under MMP to change the Government and get the economy working for all New Zealanders.”

A “no such plan for Nelson” denial followed by general poliwaffle.

Greens are also now denying a deal has been done.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said no decisions had been made about any electorate seats, including Nelson. He also said was wrong to suggest that there was any connection between this donation and its candidate selection process in Nelson.

“That is patently incorrect … no decision has been made about the Nelson electorate seat, or any others, and no donation, regardless of its size, will have any bearing on our decision-making process.”

The original report didn’t say a deal had been done, just that Greens were ‘in talks with Labour’, albeit implying it looked likely to happen.

And of particular note is that Shaw is doing the backtracking, not Metiria Turei.

This is a real muddle and doesn’t help Labour and Greens look like a cohesive government-in-waiting.