Labour’s “souls for the polls”

Media got back to Labour’s embarrassing intern scheme yesterday.

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

Two of Labour’s interns may have broken immigration visa rules, the party says.

Party secretary Andrew Kirton said in the course of sorting out the international volunteer programme the party had become aware two of the 85 interns may not have held the visa necessary to take part in the programme.

That seems to be a relatively minor issue.

One curious aspect of Labour’s intern programme was an attempt to turn out votes from church goers.

McCarten had also floated the idea of bringing in a reverend from the United States – dubbed “souls for the polls” to unify the Ratana and Pasifika churches and turn out voters.

“I can’t imagine Al Sharpton coming down,” Mr Little said.

Interns in the programme had been working on targeting ‘religious Labour votes’:


Little said McCarten’s plan – which he has named a “Campaign for Change” –  was one of those “ginger groups” that pop up from time to time. He described McCarten’s ideas as “fantasy world stuff”.

It was originally promoted as “Labour Party Fellowship” and was also referred to as”Movement for Change” (a document that gave details about the scheme referred to ‘Movement for Change Ltd’ but there is no registered company of that name).

Bringing out a bunch of US students to campaign for them was criticised as hypocritical due to Labour’s recently announced policy aimed at substantially cutting down on student visas.

If they had brought out a US pastor to campaign for them it is likely to have raised more eyebrows. Is there a shortage of Kiwi pastors?

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

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

“There is a potential for it [debt], yes,” Mr Little said. “We take moral responsibility and that means and creditors and suppliers have to be looked after and we will have to do that.”

They may need a few pastors with collection plates



Little and Labour MPs with interns

Andrew Little appears to have misled and not been honest about the extent of the Labour Party involvement with the Labour Party Fellowship scheme, also known as the intern scheme, Movement for Change and Campaign for Change.

Little said “people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved. Without without approval or authority or any mandate they went ahead and did stuff.”. But he admits:

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.”

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”.

But it is obvious it was a party thing. And if the party stepped in straight away then Little hasn’t admitted it, he has denied it.

Some of the interns say in LinkedIn profiles they have been in the scheme since April. See Links between interns and Labour from April.

The right approach was once we got notification of complaints, or the party didn’t, I was told about it, I said we get up there straight away. The general secretary Andrew Kirton and his team did an outstanding job, he was there on Monday…

The party (Little and general secretary Andrew Kirton) didn’t step in until Monday 19 June.

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.

There is a moral responsibility to be truthful and not to mislead. It was not just the Labour Party name that was associated with it.

Little, Jacinda Ardern, other Labour MPs, and Auckland candidates were associated with it.

The week before Little claimed to have acted immediately:


As well as interns, included in the photos:

  • Labour leader Andrew Little
  • Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern
  • MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis
  • Labour candidate for Rodney Marja Lubeck
  • Labour candidate for Northcote Shanan Halbert
  • Labour candidate for North Shore Romy Udanga
  • Labour candidate for East Coast Bays Naisi Chen


That shows a Labour party banner, interns (with Movement for Change ribbons around their necks), and Labour candidates Halbert, Lubeck and Udanga.

@youngnzlabour and MPs @raymondhuo and @Damien O’Connor liked the tweet.

Shanan Halbert retweeted the tweet. “Shanan Halbert has been selected as the Labour Party candidate for Northcote in the 2017 Election. Authorised by Andrew Kirton, 160 Willis St, Wellington.”

He also tweeted:

Little wasn’t taking responsibility for the Labour Fellowship Scheme. He was avoiding responsibility for the scheme prior to last Monday, but he, Ardern, Labour MPs and Labour candidates were all associating with the interns.

Like this:


Little needs to show actual leadership and take full responsibility for and some ownership of Labour’s involvement in the scheme. Some questions could do with answers.

Why did Little say that in May he discovered “people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved  without approval or authority or any mandate” but say he took no action until 19 June?

Why did Matt McCarten suddenly announce on 11 June that he had ceased working for Little in May?

Why did Little say the first time he did anything with the interns was on Monday 19 June when he attended a Labour Party event with the interns the previous week?

Why did Little say of the intern scheme “this is not the party thing” when it is obvious that the interns have been working with Labour candidates in Auckland in a number of electorates?

There’s nothing wrong with using foreign students to assist with campaigning (apart from a bit of hypocrisy), but there does appear to be something wrong with Little avoiding taking responsibility for a scheme that had some minor issues with intern complaints.

The much bigger issue is what Little and Labour appear to be trying to hide.

McCarten has been dumped on by Little, Kirton, and by Clayton Cosgrove – seeCosgrove bus follows Labour over McCarten.

Certainly McCarten seems to have driven the scheme, but it has been suggested that he is a “voluntary scapegoat”.

His sudden departure from the Labour Party job was before the intern complaints happened – he says it was in May. Why did he leave, whether it was in May or in early June when he announced it?

McCarten launched the supposedly non-partisan ‘Campaign for Change’ that also involved Mike Treen and according to himself Martyn Bradbury, people associated with the far left and not with Labour.

This was launched on Saturday 17 June – New Zealand launches ‘Campaign for Change’.

Little says he stepped in to deal with problems two days later.

I don’t think Little has been straight on Labour’s involvement in the fellowship/intern scheme, with his own knowledge of the scheme, and what went wrong that led to McCarten’s sudden departure from his Labour job and sudden intervention by the Labour leadership and head office even though Little, MPs and candidates were involved with the interns and they were clearly involved with the Labour Party in far more ways than using the name.



Cosgrove bus follows Labour over McCarten

On Newstalk ZB Clayton Cosgrove has followed the Labour party bus driving over Matt McCarten as he cops all the blame for the intern scheme.

No sooner than the National Party had their, you know, let’s say drama or debate last week, some would say it’s a little more serious than that, but Labour then had the situation with the foreign students coming in here.

Now Clayton, I’ll start with you this time, how did the Labour Party not know about the conditions?

Clayton Cosgrove: Oh well as I understand Matt McCarten, who used to be employed by the Labour Party…

It’s unclear when his employment ceased but McCarten says in May but he didn’t announce it until 11 June. There seems to be no doubt that McCarten was purportedly working for Labour while he was working on this scheme.

… came up with one of his you know you beaut ideas and Matt’s sort of characterised as a guru, god only knows why, he destroyed the New Labour Party, he destroyed the Alliance and everything he touches turns to the proverbial.

More colourful than others in Labour but joining in the ‘blame Matt’ chorus.

But nonetheless he came up with this idea, he was the author of it, he was the coordinator of it, we found out, and as I understand certain commitments were made to these young people, those commitments weren’t honoured.

Andrew Little found out about the detail of it, ah and stepped in right away and said, well, you know even though it’s gonna work for me (?) he started this, he’s put this together, we’re going to fix it.

Little said on Q+A he knew about the idea early in the year, and he knew that an unauthorised programme was operating when interns were arriving at least as far back as mid-May, so “stepped in right away” is disingenuous.

And as of today my understanding is, I think there’s about sixty plus of the eighty who want to remain. I understand they’ve been billeted out, those commitments that have been made to them I believe have been honoured, ah and you don’t see Andrew Little making excuses, blaming other people, having amnesia.

Except that they are trying to excise Labour and put all the blame on McCarten.

He stepped into the space and said “we are fixing it”, ah and my understanding is it has been fixed.

Just so people understand, these are intern programs that are run all over the world. National party people, Labour party people go all over the world, Young Nats,  Young Labour and they fight campaigns.

And I must say that the weapons grade hypocrisy of the Maori Party who came out and slammed us for having interns, well if you go onto their web page and look under the volunteers and go down about three boxes it says “do you want to be an intern?”

Disingenuous. Yes, the Maori party has an intern option on their website under Volunteer, but there is no suggestion of any foreign volunteers or students on visas being sought.

So you know putting that aside, but the point is Andrew Little got the detail, commitments were not lived up to, he moved in, it’s been fixed. And I think that actually shows ah leadership, not dodging and weaving and hiding behind a gorse bush.

Cosgrove is spinning the standard Labour line that Andrew Little spun yesterday on Q+A and that has been obvious on The Standard.

He’s more colourful in his comments on McCarten but joins in the blame game and hypocritically says that they are not “making excuses, blaming other people”.

Cosgrove has continued the dodging and weaving that Little and others have been doing.



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:


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.




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?

Q+A – Andrew Little on the intern problem

Andrew Little on Q+A this morning:

Labour leader Andrew Little gives his take on National’s handling of the Todd Barclay affair – plus Jessica Mutch will ask him about Labour’s treatment of foreign campaign volunteers.

Bill English is also being interviewed so their performances will be able to be compared.

Little doesn’t say that English should resign but has shown that he can’t be trusted. He questions English’s leadership.

Little says that if he had to deal with a Labour MP was being investigated by the police he would insist they cooperate with the police – something they aren’t required to do legally.

Little chose to switch to the intern scheme.

How many are staying? About 60.

He is pushing how he dealt with this compared to English.

He says it is an idea that started at the beginning of the year. He says people did things without authority.

He says that in May the Party (Head Office) became aware of problems and the links with Labour and stepped in to deal with it.

A fairly strong interview from Little. He and his advisers have decided to promote his dealing with the interns in comparison to English’s dealing with the Barclay stuff.

It will be worth looking more closely at what he has said – largely an unauthorised and maverick party scheme that got out of control.

A Marae spokesperson has also been interviewed. He was asked about expected numbers of interns – he says “about 80”. Not many more than that were involved, so the claims of a major oversubscription sounds fanciful.

Michelle Boag says that Little is disingenuous distancing Labour from the scheme and then claiming moral superiority coming in and sorting things out.

John Tamihere basically agrees with this.

Some quotes from the interview:

Little: You do have to step up and take responsibility straight away.

I was confronted with a situation that I was frankly horrified with in our party earlier this week when I heard about the complaints of those students, they way they were being treated. Found out they were here because people closely associated with the Labour Party had got them here and made promises to them.

I said the the party “We must take moral responsibility. We step in and we clean it up”.

We didn’t wait til a media story broke to respond.

That’s how it looks. Politik broke the story on Thursday morning. Perhaps the party had already stepped in.

We responded straight away. The story came out, um, but I but you take leadership is about taking responsibility and doing the right thing.

Jessica Mutch: But in this case was that the right thing to do? Because as we’ve seen this play out over the last few days, students have come out sticking up for the conditions in the marae, saying that they’ve enjoyed the programme. Do you feel like maybe if you’d taken a bit of time, stepped back, perhaps gone to the marae and assessed it for yourself, you may have been able to handle this another way instead of saying “look, we did this wrong”. Is that the right approach in this circumstance?

Little: The right approach was once we got notification of complaints, or the party didn’t, I was told about it, I said we get up there straight away. The general secretary Andrew Kirton and his team did an outstanding job, he was there on Monday…

That’s before the story broke.

…talked to the students, started getting things sorted out. The reality is some of them did want to have different arrangements, the vast majority have said look they want to stay, they’re excited by the programme, and they want to carry on doing it.

Jessica Mutch: How many are staying?

Little: Um, I don’t know what the final is. As of yesterday it was about 60 of the 85. I think they’re still working through some of the final ones. So um many of them will.

But many of them, it goes back to the story about when you’re confronted with something that you might find personally uncomfortable or embarrassing, it’s your personal feelings aren’t the issue, it’s when you’ve got people’s livelihoods at stake and their welfare at stake, you step in and do the right thing.

If you’re the head of an organisation, it’s not about you, it’s about the organisation, and if you’re the Prime Minister of a country, it’s about the country, it’s values and it’s standards.  That’s what you’ve got to stick up for, that’s what the Prime Minister’s role is about.

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.

McCarten was supposed to be working for Little in the Labour Leader’s office in Auckland. See from last September:  Andrew Little: nothing wrong with taxpayers footing the bill for his Auckland guru Matt McCarten

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.

He denied he was trying to use taxpayer funds for campaign-related work, saying party work would be done by party workers in the same office rather than McCarten and other Parliamentary-funded staff.

It looks like either McCarten was doing campaigning withoiut Little’s knowledge, or with Little’s knowledge. I’m not sure which is more shonky.

Other people with email addresses were advertising the programme. Little is implying he wasn’t aware of what was going on. Back to Q+A:

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…

But Little said the party stepped in straight away last Monday.

Little: …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’.

An unapproved unauthorised programme under Labour’s name that Little and the Labour Head Office knew nothing about was nothing to worry about?

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.

So from what he says Little was happy to let an unauthorised programme that was using Labour’s name and was being run not just by Labour Party personnel but by McCarten who was supposed to be Little’s main man in Auckland to continue until complaints started being made on Monday.

McCarten says he left his Labour job in May. Was that when Little found out what his Auckland organiser was up to?

Jessica Mutch: But Matt McCarten has been a bit of a fall guy for you guys this week, he’s been mentioned a lot, taking responsibility for this, have you talked to about that in the last few days?

Little: I haven’t personally spoken to him about it. And yeah he has been involved in it.

Jessica Mutch: Is he the fall guy?

Little: I don’t know what you mean about fall guy.

Jessica Mutch: Has he taken responsibility for how this played out?

Little: Well I haven’t spoke to him, um, ah I’m sure others have, I haven’t spoken to him.

Sounds like he knows about others talking to him and doesn’t want to go there.

Little: My priority, and I said to the party right from the outset, when we got those complaints last week, the priority is the well being of those young people, that’s what we focus on now. That’s what this week has been about.

Diversion from McCarten, who seems to have been running a rogue programme that Little knew about in May.

Little: Next week and the weeks that follow there are still questions to be answered, we’ll get on top of all that.

A lot of questions that could do with answers, something Little seems to be avoiding.

Jessica Mutch: Why not use New Zealanders for this kind of work?

Little: We have thousands of New Zealanders in our campaign. We’ve got the most campaign activists signed up to our campaign.

Jessica Mutch: But why use foreign students coming in, or interns coming in?

Little: We’ve been part of, and actually the National Party will have too, part of international political internship programmes for donkeys years. We’ve had people, very small numbers, involved in our campaigns in the past.

We’ve sent young Labour people, the National Party sends young National people off to the United States, to Australia, to the UK, to participate in internship programmes that means they get to see a campaign, get to know about   another country and it’s political systems.

That happens world wide. That’s what this was a part of. It got way beyond people’s ability to control. We’ve stepped in to take over.

So it was a normal campaign programme that Little had heard an idea at the start of the year, had found out more about it in May, but the party is just stepping in to take over now. Something doesn’t add up here.

Jessica Mutch: The marae has had some bad PR over this. Is that fair?

Little: No, totally unfair. That is a good marae. It’s well set up. It’s got good facilities, um it’s got fantastic leadership…

Jessica Mutch: So how did this happen them, why are the students complaining?

Little: Well the students did complain, that’s just a fact, you get the complaints, you deal with it.

And look I’m not one of those people that goes around quibbling about ‘well it’s only one person, two people or three people”, there’s a complaint, you get stuck in, you get involved, you find out, you deal with the people, you know, saying there were things wrong. You’ve got to deal with it. That’s what taking responsibility is about.

And even if it is embarrassing, as it was for us, ah you’ve got to step in and do the right thing at the right time and that’s what we did.

So Labour has dealt with, or is dealing with, the student complaints.

But there is a lot more to this than Little is wanting to talk about.

He said “We didn’t wait til a media story broke to respond.” But he is avoiding responding to bigger questions than a few disillusioned foreign students.

Like what did Little’s supposedly main man in Auckland run an unauthorised programme under Labour’s name and then suddenly quit when a few foreign students complained?

Video here:


More on Labour’s intern scheme

A couple of other points about Labour’s failed intern scheme.

From the document Labour Intern Scheme obtained by Newshub:


That clearly claims that the project is being managed by the Labour Party, the CTU (NZ Council of Trade Unions) and AUSA (the Auckland Students Association?)

Labour Leader’s Auckland Office

It states “The project is managed out of the Trades Hall, Grey Lynn and the Grafton Road office”.

Grafton Road is where the Labour Leader’s Auckland Office is:


Last August from Stuff:  Little’s chief of staff to head new Labour office in Auckland

Labour leader Andrew Little’s chief of staff Matt McCarten is poised to quit the job and head up a new Labour office in Auckland.

Little said he had not finalised who would staff the Auckland office, though he had been looking at setting it up for some time.

From early July and the Taxpayers’ Union – Speaker’s Warning To Labour Over Parliamentary Funds:

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

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

It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty. Use of taxpayer resources in this way is clearly against the rules.

The Speaker has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service will be monitoring Mr Little’s spending and has written to him setting out the rules for taxpayer funded out-of-Parliament offices.

Checking up on use of Parliamentary funds isn’t new.



I presume this will be checked out over the intern scheme campaigning.

Movement for Change Ltd

The Labour Intern Scheme document also says “Financial risks and legal obligations are the responsibility of Movement for Change Ltd”.

The use of ‘Ltd’ denotes a limited liability company. I can’t find a company named ‘Movement for Change Ltd’ on the Companies Office register.

Perhaps there was an intention to set up a company that would be legally and financially responsible for the Campaign for Change but it appears that it never happened.



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?


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’s lame response

Opposition parties will have been very happy about yesterday’s revelations impacting on Todd Barclay, Bill English, National and the Government.

But Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little has been a bit lame in capitalising. He had an opportunity in Question Time in Parliament yesterday:

2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he believe that the moral standards he sets as Prime Minister are high enough?

@robhosking responded:

this is a daft scattergun, kitchen sink attack from Little. Needed a surgical strike, not a widely aimed rant.

RNZ:  PM and MP’s conduct in question over recordings

The Labour leader Andrew Little says Barclay is causing chaos, and that it’s totally unacceptable that Bill English hasn’t insisted he cooperate with the police.

Barclay, like anyone, has a legal right not to speak to the police if being investigated. Barclay says he acted on legal advice in not speaking to the police.

I think it would be totally inappropriate for English to have insisted how Barclay dealt with the police.


“It looks to me like that all the way along, Bill English, Todd Barclay, and possibly others, have done everything the can to play this whole thing down.

“Look, it’s a classic lesson in politics. So often it’s not the original transgression, it’s the cover up that kills you, and that’s what’s happening now.”

The original transgression, an MP allegedly illegally recording an employee in the workplace, seems serious enough to me. But that’s just a back bench MP, not the PM.

The media are hard out holding Barclay and English to account. Little doesn’t need to do much, but his contribution has been lame.

UPDATE: Little has just been interviewed on RNZ. He says that Barclay should resign. That’s probably a fair call, many are suggesting that is an appropriate action, but Little called for another MP to resign a day or two ago so that reduces the impact of this call.

He said he wouldn’t go as far as saying that English should resign.

Transcript from Question Time:

2. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he believe that the moral standards he sets as Prime Minister are high enough?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Prime Minister): Yes, but we can always do better.

Andrew Little: Is it one of his moral standards that Minister who become aware of a breach of the law by a high-ranking public official should report it to the police; if not, why not?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I would expect any Minister who became aware of possible breaches of the law to bring it to the attention of the authorities.

Andrew Little: Why has he left it until today to confirm that he himself gave information to the police about one of his MPs and an allegation of unlawful conduct on the part of that—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I just ask the member to reflect very quickly on that question, and I am going to read four Speakers’ rulings that I think are relevant. Speaker’s ruling 172/2: “The Prime Minister and Ministers are responsible for only those matters that fall within their responsibilities as Ministers, not as leaders of parties. That [applies to] all parties in the House.” Speaker’s ruling 172/3: “The Prime Minister is answerable for any statements made as Prime Minister. But the Prime Minister is not answerable for actions taken in a non-ministerial capacity, whether as Leader of the Opposition or as leader of a political party.” Speaker’s ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through the Parliamentary Service to the party.” Speaker’s ruling 173/2: “The Prime Minister has no responsibility either for what occurred at a select committee or for a member of the caucus.” I invite the member to consider his questions very carefully, but he needs to keep those four important Speakers’ rulings in mind as he proceeds with his line of questioning.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand that the comment that the Leader of the Opposition was questioning the Prime Minister about was made at a prime ministerial press conference. Therefore, he must be able to be questioned about it in the House.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, no. I do not think that is—[Interruption] Order! I do not think that is necessarily the case, particularly when I look at Speaker’s ruling 173/2: “The Prime Minister has no responsibility … for a member of the caucus.” So if it is a ministerial responsibility—[Interruption] Order! I am only relating what are the precedents that have been established in this House. The member might not agree, but she does not need to disagree with me while I am reading what is a Speaker’s ruling. I am not ruling any question out at this stage. It is going to be a difficult issue for me to negotiate my way through. I will do my best, but I am asking the member to carefully think of those four Speakers’ rulings as he frames his continuation of questions.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In making those decisions about which questions should be in order or not, one of the important distinctions that we ask you to consider is that the Prime Minister is responsible for the conduct of Ministers and what Ministers do with information that comes into their possession, including whether that information was received whilst they were in a current or in a previous role. So the Prime Minister, as Prime Minister today, may have received information in a previous ministerial role. As he is now the Prime Minister, he can still be questioned about when he knew that and what he did with that information.

Mr SPEAKER: I think that is absolutely true, and if you consider the first supplementary question advanced by the Leader of the Opposition, it fell into exactly that category. Andrew Little—to continue his supplementary questions.

Andrew Little: Was the then Minister of Finance behaving ethically on 1 March 2016, when he told media that he had not directly talked to his former staff about Todd Barclay’s alleged illegal recordings, when in truth he had directly contacted both Glenys Dickson and Stuart Davie about it?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: The then finance Minister, I presume, was answering questions about a matter that was in the media and under investigation.

Andrew Little: Is the Prime Minister standing by the conduct of his then Minister of Finance when being asked whether he had direct contact with people associated with the allegations involving the then MP—and still current MP—for Clutha-Southland, and went on to say he had had no direct contact with anybody involved in those affairs, which we now know to be untrue?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, and I understand there was some further explanation of that this morning.

Andrew Little: Does he agree with his statement that “It’s not leadership to cover up and hope it all goes away?”; if so, why is he covering things up and hoping they will just go away?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I disagree with that. I think a statement to the police is not a cover-up.

Andrew Little: In light of his conduct in relation to not only Todd Barclay but also Alfred Ngaro threating housing NGOs who criticise the Government, Nicky Wagner disrespecting people with disabilities, Simon Bridges attempting to unlawfully withhold public information, why has the Prime Minister always chosen to defend their conduct rather than defend the moral standards Kiwis expect?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the first place, I dispute a number of those statements. Secondly, I think Ministers have demonstrated their adherence to much higher standards than previous Governments because they recognise their mistakes and apologise for them quite quickly. That is how you maintain standards. People will always make mistakes; the question is what you do to fix them.

Andrew Little: If the conduct of Todd Barclay, Alfred Ngaro, Nicky Wagner, and Simon Bridges is OK by him, how can he possibly claim to have any moral standards at all?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: Again, I disagree with some of the member’s statements, but the conduct he refers to was dealt with by the Ministers who recognised for themselves that their conduct did not reach the standards required by this Government, and they corrected those mistakes pretty quickly.

Andrew Little: Given today’s new revelations about Pike River, which contradict his Government’s repeated claims, is it morally acceptable for him to delay and frustrate the grieving Pike River families’ desire to see justice and get their men back?

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: I certainly understand the distress of the families, particularly as these matters have been drawn out in a way that must have some of them reliving the tragedy regularly. All the matters that have been raised by the families were dealt with by a royal commission. It is not a matter of what the Government thinks; it is a matter of what the royal commission did, where the families were fully represented. Rather than delaying and frustrating the families, we are actually working with them now on a plan, which is about to be implemented, for a safe, unmanned investigation of the drift.

Andrew Little: How did his Government’s morals come to include bullying staff and critics, covering up its mistakes, refusing to cooperate with the police, all the while ignoring New Zealanders who are desperate for mental health care, desperate for a warm, dry home, and desperate for a place to call their own; and is it not, after 9 years, time for this Government to stop governing in the interests of the National Party and govern in the interests of all New Zealanders?

Mr SPEAKER: The Rt Hon Prime Minister—the first part of that question is in order.

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH: As demonstrated by the recent Budget, which Labour voted against, we focus on the issues that matter, such as raising the incomes of the lowest-income households in New Zealand. In fact, it is because Ministers deal with their issues quickly, recognise mistakes, and move on that we have been able to stay focused on the issues that matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Did he check out the facts when he conveniently forgot his involvement in the Barclay affair or his involvement with the Prime Minister’s budget going towards Barclay’s staff—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, we are in the same territory where we have already been. There is no prime ministerial responsibility for a member of Mr English’s caucus.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister’s budget is the relevant point, with respect, that brings this question inside the ambit of the Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER: No; that is exactly the reason it is no longer in line with the Standing Orders. I refer the member to Speaker’s Ruling 173/1: “The Prime Minister is not responsible for funding provided through the Parliamentary Service to the party.” This question is out of order. [Interruption] Order! I have dealt with the matter.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I am seeking a point of clarity.

Mr SPEAKER: What is it?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: You are saying it is the Parliamentary Service budget. This, of course, came from the Prime Minister’s office. Are you saying it is the same thing?

Mr SPEAKER: No, it is exactly the same as the leader’s budget.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will put the question again, then.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the question has been ruled out of order. If the member wants to ask a fresh supplementary question and have another go, he can do so.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: No, I am reframing the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question has been ruled out of order. It is lost. It is gone. If the member wants to have another—[Interruption]. Well, then, the member rises and asks for another supplementary question. Supplementary question—the Rt Hon Winston Peters. [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I am not putting up with this behaviour from a very senior member of this Parliament. He either starts to behave himself or he will be leaving the Chamber. If he wants a supplementary question, he rises to his feet and asks it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Am I entitled to ask my question in silence, without the backbench barraging me?

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, the member is totally entitled to, but when he rises to his feet he gets on with the question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Can I ask the Prime Minister whether he conveniently forgot his involvement in the Barclay affair, and how come he told the media one thing that demonstrably is not true?

Mr SPEAKER: As far as there may be some prime ministerial responsibility I am inviting the Prime Minister—if he wishes to address it, he can. [Interruption] Order! The question has been asked. It was a very marginal question. I left it there. The Prime Minister does not have to rise to answer it. [Interruption] Order! If a member wishes to leave the Chamber—that is completely unacceptable parliamentary language. The member will now stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Chris Hipkins: I withdraw and apologise.