Labour supports spy bill

Labour say they will support the Intelligence and Security Bill being introduced to parliament this week through the first reading and intend to push for some improvements at committee stage.

This is a sensible and responsible approach.

It is important that all parties work together to ensure we end up with the best protection possible but keep the best protections possible for privacy of individuals.

Better balance needed in Intelligence Bill

Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party

Andrew Little

Leader of the Opposition

Labour will support the NZ Intelligence and Security Bill to select committee so the issues can be debated nationwide and important amendments can be made, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.

“The legislation controlling the work and scope of New Zealand’s Intelligence and Security agencies needs to be updated so they can adapt to a rapidly changing environment and new challenges. However this must be balanced with the privacy and rights of all New Zealanders.

“The Cullen Reddy Review showed that amending legislation is necessary. While we will support the Bill at first reading, it does not get the balance quite right. I have confidence changes can be made at select committee which is why Labour will support the Bill at first reading.

“There are concerns in the Bill that Labour wants to see addressed. The definition of National Security must be amended at Select Committee following a national debate. At present the definition is too broad and must be narrowed down to actual threats to security and government.

“It is also concerning that the legislation appears to have ignored a number of the protections for personal information suggested by the Cullen Reddy Review. These are vital and must be a part of the legislation. In today’s world it is too easy to ignore privacy concerns and we have seen what happens in the past when protections aren’t clear.

“Labour is supporting the Bill through its first reading in good faith that these changes can be made. These will result in a better piece of law that gets the balance between security and privacy right,” says Andrew Little.

Critics line up Labour

Labour had a promising start to the week, with a Newshub/Reid Research poll putting them plus Greens very close to National, albeit with both needing NZ First to make up the numbers.

But they finished the week getting negative attention from a number of columnists.

Fran O’Sullivan: Andrew Little’s right-wing gulag

Is Andrew Little planning to send any more MPs to the gulag for consorting with those he deems to be Labour Party enemies?

It’s a joke that a party which once campaigned for freedom of association is now stamping down on MPs who exercise that right.

If Labour is to occupy the centre ground – or at the least get its votes at next year’s election – it would pay to keep onside MPs like Nash, Kelvin Davis and David Shearer, who have broad appeal to business, not simply the centre-right.

Audrey Young: NZ First’s salvoes hit home in war of words

That’s what made Little’s attack this week on “right-wingers”, former Labour members including Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett, such a blunder.

It wasn’t about attacking Leggett.

It reminded people that Labour has factions – which usually lie dormant between leadership coups and leadership elections.

But it sent a message to voters who identify with similarly conservatives lefties in the caucus, such as David Shearer, Stuart Nash, Damien O’Connor, and Kelvin Davis (and Jones when he was there) that Labour might not be their natural home.

Stacey Kirk: Opportunity squandered, Labour flounders without focus

The party started the week polling in one of the strongest positions it’s been in since leader Andrew Little took the reins. 

On day one that was squandered by an unnecessary lash at a Wellington Mayoral candidate, who recently resigned the Labour Party to contest in opposition to Labour’s endorsed candidate Justin Lester. 

It was un-prime ministerial and it highlighted that left and right factions within Labour are far from dormant. 

What came the day after however, was simply ineptitude. 

Ignoring the fact that Trade Minister Todd McClay was the weak link on the issue over China’s trade retaliation threats, Little took the lead and tried to make the muck stick to Prime Minister John Key instead. 

To do that, it pays to get the facts right first. 

In the house, Little questioned the PM over whether the “Government’s decision not to investigate substandard Chinese steel imports” was connected to trade threats from China. 

Actually, no such decision has been made, and the allegation is around steel dumping, not quality per se. 

He also asked whether exports “blocked” from entry into China was a similar coincidence.

Again, nothing has been blocked, and the decision by Zespri to defer a week’s worth of shipments was its own in response to temporary barriers put up by China. 

Key strolled through, unscathed. It should be said, of no special skill of his own. 

Tracey Watkins: Is Labour’s tent no longer big enough for the ‘right wingers’?

Little’s framing of his attack on Leggett as a “right winger” is a telling one about the direction in which he is leading Labour.

Some of it was purely politics; Little was trying to scare off Labour voters from supporting Leggett over the Labour-endorsed candidate Justin Lester. (His aim was also a bit off the mark, accusing Leggett’s campaign manager of being a “leading ACT party identity”, which is not the case, though Leggett counts among his donors developer Chris Parkin, who is.)

But it is also telling of Labour’s untidy political management.

So was it inept untidy unfocused political management?

Is Little’s team too busy trying to manipulate and bludgeon the Labour Party leftwards to pay adequate attention to management basics?

Or is this just Labour’s deliberate strategy as the party heads towards candidate selection and potentially the ejection of the more centrist MPs and aspiring candidates?

NZ First versus Labour (and the rest)

It looks increasingly likely NZ First may be in a deciding position after the next election based on current polls, by a margin.

Winston Peters simply won’t indicate which way he will go, with National or with Labour-Greens, if he sticks to past practice. He claims this is letting the voters decide first but it’s difficult for voters to decide if they don’t know what he might do.

Peters has attacked the Government and National a lot. But NZ First seem happy to also attack Labour – this isn’t entirely surprising as they will compete for votes with Labour.

Audrey Young writes NZ First’s salvoes hit home in war of words.

With every passing week, it becomes more likely that New Zealand First will decide the next Government.

New Zealand First attacks the National Government frequently.Until now, it has largely avoided open attacks on Labour in the 4 years the parties have shared the Opposition benches.

But for a party that will go into the election with no coalition preferences, it has to change that perception.

In that context it was significant when New Zealand First deputy leader Ron Mark publicly rubbished Labour twice this week, in the general debate on Wednesday, then again on Thursday in Question Time.

Winston Peters was away but he apparently has no qualms about it.

Mark’s salvoes represent a new phase for New Zealand First – a “no favourites” phase.

In General Debate on Wednesday:

RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First): It is one of those days, is it not, when you come down to the House, you have got a whole bunch of speech notes and you are ready to deliver something that is prepared, and then someone stands up in the House and says something that rocks you in your shoes. That has just happened with Mr Iain Lees-Galloway’s speech on immigration.

Like one of the previous members said, the adjournment time gives us the chance to get out and take stock and listen to people. We have to say, in New Zealand First, we have to say we have travelled up and down the country. From Invercargill to Auckland, I have been everywhere, and the message we are getting consistently is that the public is actually tired of the type of speech that Mr Iain Lees-Galloway just gave. They are tired of one side of the House claiming that another party in this House, whose immigration policies have always been sane, sensible, and population-focused—is racist and xenophobic.

Now, suddenly, on the back of a poll that Mr Iain Lees-Galloway from Labour has seen, which tells him “Oh my gosh, 60 percent of the country agrees with the Rt Hon Winston Peters in New Zealand First that immigration policy is chaotic, is out of control.”, suddenly everyone should listen to Labour.

Let me tell you what people are saying out there: “Red or blue, there’s nothing new.” National and Labour are just the same. It is like Pepsi and Coke: tell me whether one can tell the difference. One comes in a blue package; the other comes in a red package, but everyone knows 90 percent of the people cannot tell the difference between Pepsi and Coke, and that is exactly what is happening right now.

We do not actually care about the argument that goes on between National and Labour on who put more police here, who has got a stronger focus on law and order, or who wants to get immigration under control—we see them both as exactly the same and so does most of New Zealand right now, who are all coming to that realisation.

We go down to Invercargill, down to Gore, and who is filling in my meeting? It is National Party farmers, who have had a gutsful.

Todd Barclay: Absolutely no one—no one is there.

RON MARK: Todd Barclay can stand up and rant but Todd Barclay should ask the listing committee of the National Party where his committee has gone. Where has his committee gone? People are looking at this Government as being no different from the last Government.

Then we have Mr Grant Robertson on Q+A telling the whole nation the trickle-down economy does not work. Hello! Mr Robertson, if you had not realised it, it was started by the Labour Party. It was called Rogernomics, and then National picked it up and called it “Ruthanasia”. The result was the same: devastation in the provinces and farmers out there being told they should get on and keep their chins up and handle the economic changes, whilst this Government, which trumpets free-trade agreements—which the Labour Party promoted as well—has done nothing to curb the excessive use of subsidies in these countries that they proudly proclaim they have established a free-trade agreement with.

Mr Speaker, you are a farmer from the Banks Peninsula and I know that you were raised like me in rural New Zealand, in the Wairarapa, and we know something that our grandparents told us a long time ago, and farmers down in Gore and down into Invercargill were telling us this as well: nothing is free—nothing. Do not come into this House and trumpet “Ruthanasia” policies or Rogernomics policies and tell us that the poor at the low end of the chain are going to benefit from that, because all the evidence shows, after 30 years of rampant neo-liberal experimentation—started by the Labour Party—that the gap between rich and poor is greater than it has ever been. It has actually reached the level where you may never be able to turn it back—well, looking at the housing situation.

By the way, we are getting to the stage in New Zealand First where we actually think we have got a security problem, because it seems that every second day Labour is picking up one of our policies and trumpeting it as its own. The thing that disappoints us more than anything is that the media print it. We would simply ask them: “If you want the original Rolex, come to New Zealand First—do not go buying a cheap, Singaporean model from the Labour Party.”

In Question time on Thursday:

Ron Mark: Is the Minister surprised that he has so many anti-immigration questions from Labour these days, given that previous Labour leaders have so viciously attacked New Zealand First and Winston Peters on the very same topic?

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I will hear from Mr Chris Hipkins.

Chris Hipkins: The Minister is not responsible for questions that the Opposition asks.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I cannot see that there is any ministerial responsibility, anyway. We are moving on.

Ron Mark: Is the Minister confused by reports from political parties that have formed a coalition recently, when we have questions such as this and he is being asked to answer questions such as this, and then the leader of the Green Party, James Shaw, goes on radio and says—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is no ministerial responsibility whatsoever. [Interruption] Order!


Mark: “Is the minister surprised that he has so many anti-immigration questions from Labour these days, given that previous Labour leaders have so viciously attacked New Zealand First and Winston Peters on the very same topic?”

The “vicious attacks” haven’t happened for years.

But Mark and Peters have long memories and can quote chapter and verse about who said what when as far back as 2002.

Despite their party supporting Labour in Government from 2005 to 2008, they hold a grudge.

So will the next coalition government be based on which party grovels about grudges the most to NZ First?

It sometimes seems Peters has a blanket grudge against the Greens so that could get interesting.

But for now Peters and Mark will be targeting votes. From ex-National voters who are tired of the current lot. From the big pool of voters who despair about Labour getting themselves sorted and looking capable of leading. And from the sizeable pool of potential voters who use NZ First and Winston as a protest vote.

That’s actually smart politics – votes are what count.

Then after the election Peters will smile at Key, and at Little and Turei and Shaw, and he probably won’t even have to use the word ‘grovel’.

Vance lances Little’s Labour

Andrea Vance lances Andrew Little and Labour, and broadswords them and then thrusts a dagger – in Little doing a poor job of telling Labour’s story.

Vance is not usually seen as a left unfriendly screaming righty. And that’s not how she comes across in this opinion piece at One News. She adds to what are fairly widely talked perceptions of Labour under Little.

Why – when they started the week with a bump in the polls – is the party yet again facing whispers and recriminations about disunity?

It’s because Andrew Little waxes desperate with imagination.

I’m not sure about the imagination.

In an astonishing and undignified episode, he tongue-lashed Wellington mayoral candidate Nick Leggett and left-wing commentator Phil Quin, and humiliated his Napier MP Stuart Nash.

Little forced Nash to pull out of a speaking engagement and branded former Labour party member Leggett “right wing”.

It’s probably not uncommon for leaders to though their weight around within their party, but not as publicly as Little lashed out at what he seems to see as traitors of the left.

Little over-reacted and in doing so has ripped opened the debate about where he is taking the party.

Labour’s broad church is closing in on itself and a centrist or faction to the right no longer looks viable, with the exit of Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove and potentially David Shearer.

What’s worse is that Little and his office look intent on forcefully shutting down any internal debate or discussion.

In assuming the leadership, Little stopped the party tearing itself apart.

But now it’s time to relax the discipline, because it’s poisoning the well of fresh ideas that Labour badly need.

Many might claim that the well of fresh ideas has been poisoned at least since Helen Clark left nearly eight years ago.

It also makes Little and his office look thin-skinned, weak and paranoid. (His team has also been overly aggressive in spats with John Shewan and Earl Hagaman, which hints at a toxic culture.)

Attempts to look tough have looked overly tetchy, and as responses from Shewan and Hagaman especially have shown, Little has attracted some messy looking publicity.

Little is no Jeremy Corbyn: his leadership is safe until the election.

But he’s doing a poor job of telling Labour’s story, particularly to those floating centre voters.

Is he trying to tell Labour’s story? It looks more like Matt McCarten and Little have chosen a heavy handed old style union approach.

They are at risk of prompting voters to go on strike and lock them out of the government benches.

A bolshie looking narrow left is going to struggle to appeal widely.

Watkins on Little versus Leggett

Tracey Watkins in Stuff on how party politics appears to be taking over local body elections, and how it could backfire.

The current mayor of Christchurch, Leanne Dalziel, is a former Labour MP and Minister.

Phil Goff is touted as the front runner for mayor of Auckland.

And Labour are promoting a candidate for the Wellington mayoralty, Justin Lester.

Ankle tap or leg up? Why Andrew Little’s assault on Leggett might backfire

As if national politics wasn’t brutal enough, Andrew Little has turned the Wellington mayoral campaign even uglier by verbally attacking a high profile candidate.

Little has drawn a new battle line in the mayoral campaign by claiming one of the front runners, Nick Leggett, is a “right wing” candidate, backed by right wing funding. He also claimed Leggett’s campaign manager was a “leading identity” in the ACT party, which Leggett rejects, as he does the “right wing” label.

None of this would be particularly extraordinary except Leggett is the long time Porirua mayor and a former Labour Party member who only resigned the party when he entered the mayoralty campaign in opposition to its official candidate, Justin Lester.

Little’s assault on Leggett as a right winger is revealing on two counts; it tells us the extent to which party politics is taking over local body elections.

And it is an insight into the resurgence of Labour’s age old battle between the left and right factions of the party.

There are also signs that Little is prepared to try and control what Labour MPs do, depending on who they are – see Little trying to forbid MPs associating.

If Little’s intention in taking on Leggett was to give Lester a leg up it could just as likely backfire. It exposes the extent to which national politics has crept into local body elections, something that may not sit well with all voters.

It also rips the scab open on Labour’s left right divide. And given the party’s brutal history on that front – think back to the Lange, Douglas years – he might regret going there.

There’s a risk of backfire both in the Wellington mayoralty and in national politics for Labour. Looking as split as UK Labour may not work out well for a party trying to rebuild.


Little versus Key on Chinese trade

Andrew Little’s second shot at John Key in Question Time yesterday was short and not very sweet.

TradeSteel Imports

5. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that threats of trade retaliation by China if New Zealand investigates substandard Chinese steel imports are “unsubstantiated rumours”, given his Government has been discussing that threat with China since May?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes. Every time the issue of possible retaliatory action against our exports has been raised, New Zealand has sought, and received, assurances from China.

Andrew Little: Was the Government’s decision not to investigate substandard Chinese steel imports connected to trade threats from China, or is that just a coincidence?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am not aware of the decision that the Government has made in regard to that.

Andrew Little: Is it just another coincidence that our kiwifruit exports are now blocked from China after Chinese threats of trade retaliations if we investigate its steel dumping?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: My understanding is that the issue holding up imports of Zespri kiwifruit into China is a technical matter. It is a technical matter related to some rot that was found on fruit that was imported some weeks earlier. My understanding is that Zespri has voluntarily decided not to export the fruit, because it is going through, now, a pre-examination process that will ensure that when it restarts the exports to China, they are rot-free.

Andrew Little: Why is it acceptable for China to ban New Zealand exports for containing a fungus that poses no health hazard and has been present on our kiwifruit exports to China for years?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is Leader of the Opposition and, on the basis of that, he has some responsibility at least to get the facts vaguely correct. The fact is that Zespri voluntarily stopped sending exports of kiwifruit to China for about a week. They have not been banned by the Chinese.

Andrew Little: How has he let the relationship with China get to the point where it is allowed to send us shoddy steel but we cannot send it top-quality kiwifruit?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member is just making this stuff up. He does himself a disservice.


Back in Parliament

Parliament resumed yesterday after a long winter recess. Andrew Little, supported by Metiria Turei, in their first confrontation with John Key:

3. ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Minister for Building and Housing, given that, after 3 years in the job and numerous policies that were supposed to make housing more affordable, he now says it’s “probably not a good time for a young family to buy” and they “should be patient”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes. I am pleased that the member acknowledges the Minister has advanced numerous policies as part of the Government’s comprehensive housing plan. They include a new $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund, over 210 special housing areas for 70,000 new homes, an expanded HomeStart scheme for first-home buyers, the national policy statement on urban development, Resource Management Act reform, a raft of extra tax measures, a new unitary plan for Auckland, more tools for the Reserve Bank, and independent urban development authorities for areas of high housing need. By any definition that is a comprehensive housing plan.

Andrew Little: In light of that answer and moving on from good intentions, does he agree it is a bad time for young families to buy, especially given Bill English’s estimate that only 500 affordable homes were built in Auckland last year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I think the point the Ministers have been making is it is important for every person who buys a house to consider all the factors and to do so with their eyes open. We have interest rates that are at a 60-year low. Of course, we have a very strong economy with strong wage growth, and that makes it more affordable. But house prices do go down, as well as going up, and I think it is important that people just are observant of those facts.

Andrew Little: Given Auckland house prices have doubled on his watch from $496,000 to $992,000 does he now accept that the average Auckland house is out of reach for most families?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. If you look at the year to 31 March 2016 in Auckland there were 31,963 sales. Sales in the under $600,000 category of existing homes were over 30 percent of that—9,638 sales. For new houses under $650,000 there were 11,842 constructed—37 percent of sales.

Andrew Little: After 8 years why has he failed to stabilise house prices and build enough affordable houses?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I said to the House before, in the early part of the term of this Government there was not strong demand for housing, but because of the economic programme of the Government we have now seen New Zealanders returning from overseas, we have seen New Zealanders not leaving, and on the back of all of that we are actually seeing the biggest housing boom in New Zealand’s history. An enormous number of houses are being built—and yes, of course it is taking some time to work its way through the system. It is not unique, I should say: if one looks around the world at cities like Melbourne, Sydney, London, Dubai, New York, and many others, they are also experiencing quite high house price increases.

Tim Macindoe: How is the Government’s comprehensive housing plan translating into new houses around New Zealand, where they are needed most?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: We are now in the middle of the biggest housing boom New Zealand has seen. We are on track to build 85,000 houses across New Zealand in this term—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I apologise for interrupting, but the level of noise now coming from my left is at a level where I am going to have to deal with it rather severely. I do not mind some interjection, but just because members may not like a question or like an answer it does not need to lead to a constant barrage coming from my immediate left.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The construction industry is the biggest it has ever been; there are around 40,000 more people working in the sector than 2 years ago. In the year to June residential building consents increased 16 percent to over 29,000—the highest for a June-year since 2004. The Government’s comprehensive plan is boosting housing and supply, and we need to build on this good momentum.

Andrew Little: Why is Auckland City 40,000 houses behind what it needs to accommodate today’s population?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Primarily, actually, it is because of bad planning rules, I think, around Auckland. But the good news is that those planning rules are about to be reformed under the new Auckland Unitary Plan.

Andrew Little: Rather than hoping that the problem will fix itself, is it not time that he got off his backside and he and his Government got in behind Kiwis who want to own their own homes, and just built some bloody houses?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The only person who is in hope is Andrew Little, who hopes that one day he will poll higher than Winston Peters.

Tim Macindoe: What reports has the Prime Minister seen about whether alternative approaches would succeed in controlling house price inflation?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have seen one report, which was completely inconclusive about its chances of controlling house price inflation. It said: “It’s hard to be specific about that.” That was, of course, Andrew Little on his pipedream of building 100,000 houses for just $2 billion.

Andrew Little: Why does he think that the majority of New Zealanders now back Labour’s KiwiBuild plan to stabilise house prices and build 100,000 affordable homes for families to buy?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: A sound bite does not make a plan. [Interruption] If the best that New Zealand can do is 100,000 houses over 10 years then we are in serious trouble, because this Government will see 100,000 constructed over 4 years.

Andrew Little: Is this not the truth: his half-baked policies, his bumbling Minister for Building and Housing, and all the hollow promises will not solve the housing crisis, and that he leads an arrogant and out-of-touch Government that has given up on the Kiwi Dream of homeownership?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No. If one looks at the activity that has taken place, the enormous amount of action that we are actually seeing—and actually the inaction that we saw in the 9 years of the previous Labour Government—then we can actually see a credible plan to more houses being built. And that is the reason why most New Zealanders actually can see that that is working. Of course it is going to take some time, but that is a factor that we are working our way through. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Mr Twyford, please, less interjection from you specifically.

Metiria Turei: Does he agree that for homes to be more affordable for families, the gap between house prices and incomes needs to reduce?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, as the Minister for Building and Housing said earlier in the House today, that is a factor—but there are many other factors, including interest rates. One thing I will say is that if house prices in New Zealand were to halve, that is a war on the poor. It is the poorest New Zealanders who, in percentage terms, borrow the most against their houses. Metiria Turei has been telling New Zealanders—and the Opposition is supporting her—that halving house prices will actually see the poorest New Zealanders have all of their equity eliminated. That is a war on the poor.

Metiria Turei: Given that house prices are rising at more than 10 percent nationwide but Treasury predicts wage growth at less than 3 percent, when does he expect that housing will become more affordable for families in Auckland?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: There are a number of factors. Firstly, very low interest rates, stronger real wage growth than we have seen for a very long period of time, and strong employment markets actually are supporting young people and, actually, people across the board to be able to afford housing. That is the reality—that they have got the confidence of doing that. One of the reasons why more people are interested in buying houses in New Zealand, particularly in Auckland, is that they do feel that confidence in the Auckland market.

Metiria Turei: How many of the 400,000 Aucklanders aged between 20 and 40 will be locked out of the housing market because of low wage growth and skyrocketing house prices?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: By any definition, you cannot say there is low wage growth in real terms. When one looks back at the previous Government, there was virtually zero real wage growth in New Zealand because inflation was high. Inflation is running at extremely low levels, interest rates are extremely low—in fact, they are at a 60-year low—and employment markets are very strong. They are the conditions that support young people to get into a property. What we will see, I think, is a change in the nature of the sorts of properties that young people buy—more of them buying apartments and the like. That is an international trend that we are seeing. But to say that someone cannot buy a house in Auckland at under $600,000—which is where the Government’s KiwiSaver HomeStart scheme is set—is not true: there are many apartments, townhouses, and some homes in that category.

Metiria Turei: Given that when he became Prime Minister the median Auckland home cost six times the median household income and now it is almost 10 times that, when does he expect that that number will stop growing?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: When I became Prime Minister, 35,000 Kiwis a year net left for Australia. When I became Prime Minister, interest rates were 8 percent, and 11 percent in some retail numbers. When I became Prime Minister, there was a significant recession and a decade of deficits. One of the reasons why New Zealanders are coming back to this country is that they see the opportunities that are being created. I think most New Zealanders would prefer the conditions they see today than those in 2008 when I first became Prime Minister.

Little trying to forbid MPs associating

Andrew Little is trying to control who Labour MPs can associate with, but not very successfully.

Newstalk ZB: Labour MPs forbidden from associating with “right-wing” Wellington mayoral candidate

Wellington Mayoral candidate Nick Leggett appears to be public enemy number one for the Labour Party as its MPs are forbidden from associating with him.

Labour Leader Andrew Little has pulled rank, preventing MP Stuart Nash from speaking at an event where Mr Leggett was also speaking.

Mr Little said the event was for right-wingers who have routinely sought to undermine the Labour Party and it’s not right for a Labour MP to share a platform with people who do that.

And he’s making it clear he considers Nick Leggett, a former Labour Party member, a right-winger.

“His campaign manager is well-known ACT party identity. We know that there’s money from the right-wing that has gone into his campaign. He’s a right-wing candidate.”

This is stupid. Is Little going to stop Labour MPs and candidates from associating with right wingers and people who try to ‘undermine’ Labour during next year’s election as well as this year’s local body elections?

However, Leggett is laughing off suggestions he’s right wing.

Mr Leggett said he’s standing as an independent and doesn’t believe there’s a place for party politics in local government.

“I’ve got people that have worked on my campaign from all parts of the political spectrum, mainly Labour and National obviously. That’s local government, you unite around good ideas for the communities that you live in.”

Labour has endorsed current deputy mayor Justin Lester for the position.

Little doesn’t think it’s a good idea though. If Labour candidate Justin Lester wins the Wellington mayoralty will Little try to tell him who he can’t associate with? Councillors who until recently were members of the Labour Party?

And it gets stupider.

When it was pointed out to Little that David Shearer had attended the same function, Little said: “I’m saying it is not right for Labour MPs to be associated with events like that and with people who seek to undermine the Labour Party.”

Shearer attended – as any MP should be able to – but Nash was prevented from associating with Shearer and others by Little.

Will Little try to stop Labour MPs from associating with right wingers and people who try to undermine Labour in Parliament?

Sack them all?

It’s not uncommon so see calls to sack politicians. Andrew Little was at it again today:


Duncan Garner picked up on this: Little calls for fifth minister to be sacked

Andrew Little has called for Nick Smith to be sacked as Housing Minister.

Shock. Horror. You’re bloody joking me?

If Andrew Little had his way there may be no Cabinet Ministers left.

Maybe that’s the grand plan?

In the last year or so Little has called for the sackings of:

  • Murray McCully for the Saudi sheep deal.
  • Todd McClay for his position on China trade sanctions.
  • Simon Bridges for his Northland one-way bridges policy.
  • And Gerry Brownlee for his management of the Christchurch rebuild.

And now Nick Smith. Are there any more?

So; does Little have a point?

Has Nick Smith been so bad on housing that he deserves to be sacked by the Prime Minister?

Or does Andrew Little need to get a bit more original and find some better lines and more creative material.

There’s a real cry world type problem here. How would anyone know when it was really justified for a Minister to be sacked? Not by listening to Little. Or others.

I don’t think Little has called on John Key to resign yet but both Russel Norman and Winston Peters have in the past.

It’s hard enough getting capable people standing for Parliament as it is without sacking all and sundry at the whim of a political opponent.

Wouldn’t it be good if more leaders actually led by example instead of trying to trash everyone else?

Labour’s Kiwibuild supported

Newshub/Reid Research have polled on Kiwibuild.

‘Do you support Labour’s Kiwibuild policy?’.

  • Yes 56%
  • No 41%
  • Don’t know 3%

This time a reasonable headline – Labour’s ‘Kiwibuild’ popular with voters  – but Patrick Gower again goes a bit overboard with his commentary.

Labour’s policy of building 100,000 affordable homes over 10 years for first home buyers is supported by a clear majority of voters.

It’s another blow on the housing front for National, as it shows Labour’s signature policy has significant support.

I don’t see it being a game changer, not at this stage at least. Much may depend on the state of the housing market in a year, leading into the next election.

Labour likes the result.

Leader Andrew Little says the result vindicates the policy and is proof it’s not only popular, but Kiwis believe it’s one of the best solutions to the crisis.

“People do expect when we do have a crisis of the nature we’ve got – a shortage of houses across the country – that if the private sector can’t do it, then the Government needs to step in and lead a building programme,” says Mr Little.

And Greens beat National over the head with it.:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei is also welcoming the result, saying it flies in the face of the Government’s vehement opposition to a mass-scale house-building programme.

“National will not do it because they are so fixed in their ideology,” she says.

“I mean, they just launched a billion-dollar fund which had nothing to do with building new homes. They have no new ideas and I think that’s why they’re failing.”

Ironic for Greens to accuse someone else of being fixed in their ideology.

Prime Minister John Key says the poll result is not a sign the current system is failing.

“We don’t think it’s necessary because that’s 100,000 homes over 10 years,” he says.

“We’re going to build 100,000 homes under our programme in about 3.5 years.”

There has to be real signs of progress towards that by next year’s election or National could be dumped on housing.



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