Annette King on Ardern, Peters and the coalition negotiations

It’s not surprising to hear Annette King full of praise for how Jacinda Ardern conducted the coalition negotiations in 2017, but she provides some good insights into how it played out.

NZ Herald – Inside the Coalition talks: How that deal between Jacinda and Winston came about

On election night Annette, despite Labour’s come-back-from-the-dead result, was disappointed. It wasn’t as good as she expected.

On the night Labour won 45 seats, New Zealand First 9 and the Green Party 7, while National had 58 and ACT 1 seat. On those numbers a Labour-New Zealand First-Green government had 61 seats, just enough to govern. But it would have been hard for New Zealand First to opt for that governing arrangement given National was just three seats away from a majority in its own right.

Once the special votes were counted, though, Labour and the Greens picked up a seat each and National dropped two.

So the final numbers read Labour 46, New Zealand First 9 and the Green Party 8. National dropped to 56 and ACT 1, well short of a majority. Between them Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens had 63 seats, increasing the prospects New Zealand First might opt to support a Labour-led Government.

Annette was confident New Zealand First leader Winston Peters would go with Labour.

“I just felt it. The way he was treated [by National]. The way [Parliament’s Speaker David] Carter treated him in Parliament. If I was the Nats I would have spoken to the Speaker and said, ‘Hang on, he’s the leader of a party. You can’t keep on chucking him out and speaking to him in that manner.’

The big unknown, the potential spanner in the works, was the Green Party and its relationship with New Zealand First.

But Annette says [Jacinda] Ardern handled the negotiations with aplomb.

“Watching those negotiations and being in both, the way Jacinda handled the Green negotiations, which were held in the Leader’s lounge in the Opposition wing, and the formal ones [with New Zealand First] on the second floor, and the way she was balancing those and being true to herself and to her values was remarkable. She would not have sold out on the Greens. If Winston had said I’m not having a bar of the Greens or they’re going to have to have nothing, she would not have sold out on them. But she managed to negotiate with the Greens so they got a win without being in the Cabinet but having major Cabinet portfolios outside.”

Annette says what interested her was that the negotiations were all about policy. Contrary to popular opinion, Winston Peters wasn’t that interested in the baubles of power. “He didn’t come in and say I want to be Deputy Prime Minister and want economic development and I want that. He did not. He came in and went through their manifesto portfolio by portfolio.

So was he just offered Deputy and Minister of Foreign Affairs out of the blue?Those baubles must have been negotiated.

“Jacinda pushed back where she didn’t agree and agreed where we did and took copious minutes and then they were shared at the end of the day so we both had the same thing and knew what we were saying. And I just thought we were spending a lot of time on policy, and it seemed to me that the Nats’ time with them was diminishing rather than growing, especially on the last day.”

“He didn’t tell her he was going with her. I think he asked some questions and then a few minutes later, maybe it was minutes, sometime later he came through Bowen [House]. Cameras were following him walking through up to the Beehive theatrette and we’re sitting in Jacinda’s office, some on the couch, some standing up, all watching the television.”

It was theatre a la Winston. It was all about him and his decision – and Ardern and Labour allowed it to happen that way.


Annette King appointed High Commissioner to Australia

This is a predicted and I think widely applauded diplomatic appointment.

Beehive: New High Commissioner to Australia announced

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced the appointment of Dame Annette King as High Commissioner to Australia.

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters.

“As High Commissioner Dame Annette will be working on one of New Zealand’s most significant relationships. The Trans-Tasman bond is exceptionally strong however the relationship is not something we take for granted, and the new High Commissioner will be tasked with keeping the connections strong,” he said.

“The new appointment is notable because Dame Annette is a former MP on a diplomatic posting. In this sense she is an exception. Of the 25 Head of Mission appointments announced this year all have been career diplomats.”

Dame Annette is expected to start her High Commissioner duties at the end of the year.

She should do a good job diplomatically connecting New Zealand to Australia.

There is a funny side to this, as Peters has blasted the appointing of ex-politicians to diplomatic posts.

In 2016 (NZ Herald):  Winston Peters takes swipe at ‘brorocracy’ of diplomatic appointments

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has promised to order “unsuitable” political appointees to return home from diplomatic posts if the party holds the balance of power next year.

In a speech to students at Victoria University today, Mr Peters attacked the “brorocracy” of recent diplomatic appointments.

“As an example of how meritocracy has been abandoned in favour of a mainly white brorocracy look no further than how some of our high commissioners and ambassadors are being appointed.

“This is not to say that some of the people we have sent offshore haven’t been the best choice, or not done excellent service, but some have not been the wisest choice.

“Many have represented an insult to foreign affairs, leaving their posts with absolutely nothing to show, but deterioration in our international relationship with that country.”

Mr Peters went on to say that a political appointee should be “the absolute exception”, and if any future appointments were made that the party regards as unsuitable, it would order that appointee home should it hold the balance of power after next year’s election.

I guess he can say that Annette King is an absolute exception. And she is not a bro.

She may well be as New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Australia.


Valedictory statement – Annette King

Annette King has been a very accomplished and widely respected MP and Minister. She has probably done more than anyone to help Labour survive the last nine years. If she had chosen to stand as leader she will probably have done better than any of Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe or Little.

She has mentored Jacinda Ardern and helped ready her for her big step up last week.

King has just given her valedictory statement in Parliament.

Hon ANNETTE KING (Labour—Rongotai): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I could not start before the grandson arrived.

Where to begin? It has been 33 years since I was first elected, 11 elections, nine leaders, 15 portfolios, 985 speeches in this House, so many debates, so many challenges, so many stories, and so much fun. I have often asked myself how Skinny Robinson from the small South Island town of Murchison ended up in a place like this. So like any good yarn you have got to start from the beginning. I joined the Labour Party in 1972 following the victory of Norman Kirk and the third Labour Government—a Government that was full of ideas, passion, and hope. I joined in Hamilton. I went to my first branch meeting, and I was immediately made the secretary. That is what happens in the Labour Party.

Throughout the 1970s I did most of my party work in Hamilton. I was instrumental in setting up a new branch in Hamilton East called the Trendy Leftie Club. It was called that because the Prime Minister of the day, Rob Muldoon, called everybody who was in the Labour Party a “Trendy Leftie”. For our inaugural meeting we invited the up-and-coming leftie of the day—Richard Prebble. [Interruption] It is possible to get things wrong in politics.

It was Richard Prebble, the then Minister of Railways, who, when I excitedly told him that the Waikanae Railway Station had just been painted, said: “Ah! That means we’re gonna close it.”, and he did. But my real political activism started in March 1974 when I joined around a thousand school dental nurses, in white starched uniforms, red cardigans, veils, and seemed stockings, and marched up Lambton Quay to Parliament in support of a pay claim. I was petrified. But I have never forgotten a carload of young blokes who called out as we passed them: “Hey, hey, you Waikato sheilas, best looking in the bunch.” I can tell you it put a real spring in our step that day. We had waited years for a pay rise. With the sport of Dan Long and the PSA we walked away that day with a 24.4 percent pay increase from Norm Kirk. Yes, it was great—an increase of $8,000 in today’s money. It was unprecedented at that time, and I can tell you that the silver fern railcar rocked and rolled its way back to Hamilton that night with the help of a few bottles of golden sherry.

I learnt from that day the value of leadership and courage—leadership from people like Maggie Morgan, Pam Horncy, and Sheila Brown. Pam and Maggie are those two who have dressed in that uniform up there tonight. It showed me the value of standing up and fighting for what you believe in and the value of belonging to a union. Now, 43 years on, I am ashamed we still do not have pay equity in New Zealand. Women have waited long enough. No more excuses, no more half-baked measures, no more litigation. It is time for us to once again lead on women’s issues. Our country used to be a leader. There is so much more that we need to do.

In 1981 I shifted to Wellington. I packed up my old Chevette, the TV, the dog, and my young daughter Amanda and I headed to new challenges. I joined the Mount Victoria branch of the Labour Party, and I was immediately made the Secretary. That is what happens in the Labour Party. It was there that I met the formidable Kath Kelly and her husband Pat. I also met Helen Kelly. She became my babysitter. One of the sadnesses for me is that I leave this place and Helen Kelly is not sitting here with us.

I worked on Fran Wilde’s campaign, and it was with her encouragement, along with Helen Clark, that I put my name in for the 1984 election. The Party had decided that we needed more women in Parliament, because we were sick of being tea ladies, Mr Joyce. We wanted to make policy, and we wanted to make decisions. Before the 1984 election, women made up 8 percent of Parliament—8 percent. It increased to 15 percent—the biggest increase ever. And 33 years on it is now 31 percent. That is not good enough. All political parties need to commit to making this place truly a House of Representatives.

I supported MMP, because I saw it as a way to achieve diversity and fairness in our voting system. It has changed the make-up of the House, but we have still got a long way to go. President Jim Anderton selected me for the seat of Horowhenua, but I never expected to win. I called myself the accidental MP. We had never held that seat before, and I was swept in on the popularity of David Lange with a majority of 447. We put together a fantastic campaign with 1 month to do it in—after the calling of the Schnapps election—for the 14 July, Bastille Day, and the result was a political revolution. The campaign was short; it was sharp, and it was furious. It was led by my long-time friend and campaign manager for all but one of my 11 campaigns, Lloyd Falck and his wife Marea. Lloyd, who is larger than life, was my Chief of Staff for nine years, and Marea my electorate secretary. I owe them so much.

It was during that campaign that I met the 8-year-old Darren Hughes. He was Lloyd’s neighbour, and, yes, he was already a political junkie, delivering my pamphlets. He will deny this, but both he and his brother Bryce curtseyed when they first met David Lange. [Interruption] Darren is one of the most talented people I have ever met, and this House is the poorer for him not being here.

They used to say the softest thing about Anne Hercus was her teeth, but she was the person who gave me my first break in Parliament after the 1984 election. She put me on her working party to establish the first ever Ministry of Women’s Affairs and she made me chair of the Social Welfare Committee. I was a real novice, up against the wily old fox Venn Young, who was the former Minister, and he gave me a real lesson in the art of politics. I quickly learnt you had to hold your nerve if you were going to survive in this place.

I was also put on the Finance and Expenditure Committee. I was the only woman, and I was scared stiff, because sitting opposite me was a line-up of heavy hitting former Minister’s led by Rob Muldoon. I did not open my mouth for 6 weeks. After a while I got enough courage to ask a question, and I cannot remember what it was, but I can still see Muldoon fixing me with that stare and saying: “Who’s she?” I quickly learnt you need a sense of humour if you are going to survive in this place. I did have an odd relationship with Muldoon. He was the person who said I had put the horror into Horowhenua. But just before the 1990 election I passed him in the old billiard room, and he grunted, and he said: “I hope you win.” He often got things wrong.

For the first 3 years I was seated next to Trevor Mallard. We have fought and scrapped with each other for over 33 years, but he is one of my oldest mates, and a passionate politician. I will always remember the day when we had shifted seats to sit behind the front bench for Trevor to speak. He was speaking with volume on full when his front teeth, which were attached to a plate in those days, flew out of his mouth and landed on Richard Prebble’s shoulder. He leant forward, he grabbed them, he put them back in his mouth, and he carried on speaking without taking a breath or hesitation.

It was a tradition back them for two new members to propose the Address and Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I was chosen to do the Address, and Jim Sutton, my old mate, was chosen to do the Reply. It was not till afterwards that Mike Moore told us there was another tradition: those who were chosen usually lost their seats—and we did, in 1990. But, as they say, we came back. We came back as the retreads of 1993!

The years between 1984 and 1990 were both distressing and exhilarating. We became a deeply divided caucus and party by the end of 1990. I am not going to dwell too long on those years, but the fourth Labour Government made some of the most significant changes seen in New Zealand—economic, social, and constitutional. Rapid and radical economic changes included removing agricultural subsidies, removing controls on foreign exchange, introducing GST, removing import tariffs, corporatising many of our State assets, and much more. It took my dear old dad years to forgive the changes we made to the Post Office, a place he had worked for 40 years, and it was not until Kiwibank was opened that he felt his money was safe again. There were changes that were needed, but not enough thought was given to the consequences on families and communities, and some of those consequences are still with us today.

But there are highlights I do want to remember. Homosexual law reform, 1986—I believe one of the most courageous politicians in this House was Fran Wilde. She withstood the vilest of campaigns against her and her family, and I was proud to stand with those who voted in support of reform. I was told that I was going to lose my rural seat in the 1987 election if I voted for reform; I increased my majority. I learnt that you can only ever vote with your conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscience in your electorate. The old adage “To thine own self be true” comes to mind. And there are many more reforms that are needed in this area, particularly for transgender people, who continue to be discriminated against.

You know, we too often forget some of the reforms of the fourth Labour Government, over-shadowed by those economic changes. They were reforms such as the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act—thank you, Dr Cullen; fully abolishing the death penalty; this one is amazing—making rape in marriage a criminal offence; the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act; Homestart to help people buy their first home—what a novel idea; Treaty claims dating back to 1840; and, of course, nuclear-free New Zealand. Today the nuclear-free policy is owned by all New Zealanders, something most people are proud of. I believe that our nuclear-free stance, the failure of Britain and the US to condemn the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour, and our refusal to send troops to Iraq without a UN mandate were some of the actions that have led to New Zealand having a more independent foreign policy today.

A little-known story, however, is the part I played in restoring diplomatic relations with France after the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. After the 1987 election Peter Dunne and I were made parliamentary under-secretaries. Cabinet decided that we needed to get our relationship with France back on a better footing. It decided to send the lowliest ranked member of the executive—me—to reopen dialogue. I was dispatched to Paris to meet their Minister of Foreign Affairs. She spoke in French, I spoke in English, and I have not a clue what we talked about. But the message was clear: New Zealand was giving France a silent one-finger salute—I will not do it—while at the same time showing we had forgiven, but not forgotten.

In 1989 I was elected to Lange’s Cabinet. That lasted 7 days before David Lange resigned. I do not think I was the reason. I became a Minister in Geoffrey Palmer’s Cabinet, and later Mike Moore’s. I had responsibility for immigration, youth affairs, employment, and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister with responsibility for caucus relations. Dark clouds were already gathering over the caucus, and as a peacemaker I turned out to be an absolute failure.

As Minister of Employment I had to front up to the media every month to announce the increase in unemployment figures, and they were rising at an alarming rate. It was a political nightmare. You Ministers have it easy these days! But from my one year in that role came one of the highlights of my political career: the setting up of the community employment development unit, the brainchild of Garry Moore and a number of other fantastic community development workers, including the late Parekura Horomia. It was an agency that was outside the Department of Labour, and I have to say it caused the then Secretary of Labour a lot of angst. But many of the economic and job opportunities that started under that policy endure today—think Whale Watch Kaikōura.

In 1990 I lost the Horowhenua seat by 624 votes. There is nothing more devastating to a politician’s ego than to be defeated at an election—rejected by your constituents. But on reflection, it did me good. With the help of Steve Maharey, who had just been elected to Parliament, I got a job as the CEO of the Palmerston North Enterprise Board, a business and economic development agency. I learnt the value of small business as a generator of jobs in New Zealand, and I met two people very influential in the next steps of my political career who are now lifelong friends: John Harvey, who became my press secretary, and his wife Dr Judy McGregor, someone who has fought for equal opportunities all her adult life. They took over the publicity for my re-election in Miramar in 1993. Their bumper stickers remain the best I ever had: “Miramar Needs A King”. The other one was “A King for Miramar”, and they worked, because I won the seat back for Labour at that election.

John and I had many adventures in my 9 years as a Minister in Helen Clark’s Cabinet, like the time John convinced me, when I was Minister of Racing, to ride a horse out the front of Parliament dressed as a jockey—by now I was hardly Skinny Robinson. Several of us, including Helen Clark, Darren Hughes, Rick Barker, Damien O’Connor, and Paul Swain, owned a race horse during the 3 years I was Minister; it was called Bowen Arrow. It was well-named because it could only run straight and it was scared of corners. The damn thing never won a race until we got rid of it.

The 5th Labour Government—1999 to 2008—brought the next set of progressive reforms in New Zealand, many of which endure today. I must credit Helen Clark for the many opportunities and challenges she gave me over the 9 years I was in her Government and Cabinet: Health for 6 years, Transport, Police, State Services, Justice, and Food Safety. I must thank Michael Cullen for giving me funding in every one of those portfolios. In fact, my colleagues used to say “follow the money when I got a new portfolio. Not only was Michael an outstanding Minister of Finance, he has a keen sense for the ridiculous. He often used to send me little notes in the House. I have kept them all, and most of them are not for publication, but I will always remember the one he sent me on the day I was authorising the irradiation of peanuts. It read: “nuts to be irradiated, Labour Women’s Council happy”.

I held the Food Safety portfolio for 9 years and the work undertaken by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), Andrew McKenzie, and his staff was world leading. I regret that the Government dismantled the agency at a time when the rest of the world was responding to consumer demand for food safety, transparency, and independence from food producers. I hope there will be a re-think by the new Government.

The Health portfolio remains my passion and my greatest challenge. People often say that health is a hospital pass; actually, it was a privilege. The people who work in health are the most committed of any I have ever met. We have had some outstanding leaders in medicine, in nursing, in midwifery, and in many of the allied health services. I was fortunate to have an outstanding Director-General, Dr Karen Poutasi, and a strong Ministry of Health to advise me. After we came into Government we set out to tackle the inequities in health that had emerged after the health experiment of the 1990s. We were becoming a “care-less” society. With the help of my associate Ministers Ruth Dyson, Steve Chadwick, and Tariana Turia, we set in motion many reforms to re-establish a public health system focusing on preventing disease.

We developed long-term strategies such as the Primary Health Care Strategy, which endures today—well, at least in name. It set out the direction to make primary healthcare services more accessible and effective, particularly for those who historically had missed out on such services. It focused on both financial and non-financial barriers, and it needs to happen again.

There are many challenges in health, and I urge the incoming Government to address as soon as possible the growing crisis in mental health. Mental health has always been the Cinderella of health. What we are seeing now is a repeat of the 1990s, which led to the Mason inquiry and the need to double funding, train, and increase the mental health workforce.

One regret I do have is we still do not have affordable dental care for adult New Zealanders. Dr Clark, I expect you to deliver that.

I was fortunate to attend the annual World Health Assembly for 6 years, and a lasting achievement was New Zealand being one of the leaders for the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control—a set of policies that have helped to save millions of lives around the world. I married Ray in 2000, and I took him with me on my first assembly in Geneva. Rodney Hide, the perk-buster turned perk-taker, labelled it a “golden honeymoon in the Mediterranean”. Ray’s response was that if Rodney thought that listening to dozens of speeches on the evil of smoking was erotic, he had a very strange life indeed.

It is often said that bricks and mortar are not important, but I can tell you that they are when it comes to hospitals and health centres. We set out to rebuild hospitals from Kaitāia to Invercargill, many of them under threat of closure. Murchison was to be closed, and I got a phone call from Dad. He said: “You can’t close Murchison. I was born there, you were born there, and so was your sister.” It was rebuilt under my gentle guidance, and I got to open it as Minister of Police.

I do have to admit to one major failure in the health portfolio—and I am sure Hekia Parata will relate to this. Helen Clark told me that as Minister of Health, I had to talk to Parekura Horomia and convince him to lose weight. I went to Pare’s office and I said: “The Prime Minister said you need to lose weight. You’ve got to go on a diet.” His response was unprintable. I said: “You’ve got to join Weight Watchers, Pare.” There was another outburst of bad language, and then he said: “OK, OK. I’ll join, but only if I can do it by correspondence.” The impossible we did immediately, but I have to say miracles took a little longer.

The Police portfolio brought some particular challenges: the Bazley report into historical police conduct; the recruitment and training of 1,200 extra police, as per our agreement with New Zealand First; an increase in pay for police officers—and Greg O’Connor was a skilled and relentless union negotiator; he will go well in this place—and the passage of the new Policing Act. We have an outstanding police service in New Zealand, and many of the changes in attitude and practice were led by Howard Broad, Rob Pope, and Lyn Provost, three commissioners who brought vision and ideas and what I called head and heart. [

There was one thing I was not prepared for as Minister of Police, and it was a bad case of shaver’s rash that I got after 100 UK recruits kissed me on the cheek at the police college, when I welcomed them to New Zealand. It was the closest I ever got to an operational matter. My one regret is the manner in which the Urewera raids of 2007 were carried out. Although the Minister of Police has no involvement in operational matters, I have gone to Tūhoe and I have made my peace with their people.

In 2008, we were back in Opposition and I had two stints as deputy, first with Phil Goff and then Andrew. Phil Goff is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He is the original “Energizer bunny”. I left him in charge of the health portfolio when I went overseas, but I only did it once. My staff begged me to never do it again. He demanded everything that was on the internet for every oral question that was asked. We sat together in this House for 20 years, and we are good mates.

Andrew—Andrew, you brought unity to our caucus and renewal to our front bench. Look at this line up. The average age is 47 years—I have not added what the Government’s is. But I have to tell you it is brimming with talent. And Andrew, you have ensured our next caucus will be made up to close to 50 percent women.

Jacinda, I am so proud of you. I have a feeling that you are going to lead the party for years to come, and you are going to be one of our most loved and effective leaders and Prime Ministers.

I have been privileged to represent the Miramar-Rongotai electorate for 24 years, including the Chatham Islands, a unique part of New Zealand. The Chatham Islands are very independent, and proud of their islands, and they are also very innovative. They were asked to provide land for a nuclear test monitoring station by the UN as part of the international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. They responded that the only land available was at the airport, 20 minutes from town, and, unfortunately, there was no reticulated power there. There is now, and half the cost was paid by the UN.

My electorate is one of the most diverse in New Zealand and a sanctuary to new settlers and refugees from many parts of the world, and I have been proud of New Zealand’s commitment to receiving UNHCR mandated refugees. They make a fantastic contribution to New Zealand. In 2001, our Government welcomed 40 unaccompanied minors from the ship Tampa, to New Zealand. They had been rejected by Australia. That was a proud moment. I want the next incoming Government to make us proud again—double the refugee quota

Rongotai is the home of creativity, ideas, and jobs arising from the film industry—old factories were turned into studios and workshops. I say to my colleagues opposite, it was the fifth Labour Government that kick started the film industry in Wellington, contrary to popular propaganda.

Rongotai is the home of social housing. If any Government wants a good model, look no further than the partnership between our Government and the Wellington City Council, which resulted in warm, dry, affordable apartments for the most vulnerable citizens.

I leave this seat with a sense of achievement—Wellington has only had to wait 50 years for its new hospital—but also with a sense of sadness. But it is tempered by the fact that Paul Eagle will become the next member of Parliament for Rongotai.

Hon Christopher Finlayson: What about me?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I know my cousin Chris Finlayson would want a recount if he was to win.

Many things have changed in the intervening 33 years. The bars have all but disappeared. The all-night sittings have gone. Gambling schools have closed—although I still owe Jim Sutton $60. Time-wasting procedures in this House have been done away with. The Parliament now sits more days of the year, and Bellamy’s food is healthier. When I arrived, we were offered two roasts a day, and I set about putting salads on the menu. Muldoon went on TV and he complained. He said “There’s this woman in Parliament, and she’s put salad on the menu, and it’s not good for you.” And there are now enough toilets for women. That was not always the case. This is a better place for members, for their families, and for staff.

So in conclusion, it is time for me to go. I had 15 years in Government and 15 years in Opposition. I have now been informed that I am the longest-serving woman member of Parliament. That officially makes me the “Grannie Annie” of the House. The people I have met, the places I have been, the chances to make a difference—it has been a privilege.

It is time to acknowledge and thank those who have been with me over 33 years. To the Labour Party—you gave me the chance to be an MP. I would not be here without you. To members and supporters—thank you, particularly my Labour electorate committee chairs Peter Noble; the late Mike Herne; Peter Franks; the longest serving of them all; and Eileen Brown. To my electorate staff—the formidable late Tilly Hunter, Marea Falck, Robin Boldarin, Bill Nairn, and Sophia Shanks. My patient and talented parliamentary team—Jennifer Rose, Emma Williams, and Angela Bray, who made today possible. I could not have done it without you, Ange. They all have one thing in common: they know my PIN number, and they know where to find things that I have lost. And Jenny happens to know my bra size. She was once dispatched on urgent public business to buy me a new one.

My loyal friends, who have stuck with me even when I forgotten to phone them, and my four closest are here today—Mary, Jenny, Marie, and Liz. My family—Dad, who is now 95-years-old, who will be watching. I hope I have done you proud, Dad. My late Mum, who loved politics—she watched everything I did and said, and she would phone and tell me whether she liked what I was wearing, or whether I had enough curl in my hair. I hope it looks all right today, Mum.

To my two wonderful sisters, Raelene and Pauline, and their husbands, Bill and Pete—they were forced to work on all my campaigns.

To my new family, gained when I married Ray: Christopher, Daniel, Ben, their partners, and my four step-grandchildren who do call me Grannie Annie.

To my daughter Amanda: I am so proud of you, darling. I hope you have forgiven me for the times I put politics ahead of you. You married a good Ozzie bloke, Tim. He is my favourite son-in-law, and you gave me my grandson William, the most beautiful boy in the world.

And, finally, to my husband and lover, Ray: after 18 years, yes, we are still on our honeymoon. When I told you on our first date I never intended to marry again, you replied: “I didn’t know I’d asked you.” We have been laughing ever since. I think I am the only person who asked to look at your teeth before I would marry you. You are my best friend.

Finally, to my colleagues—people often think politicians dislike each other. It is not true. I have liked and respected many colleagues from all side of politics—many I call friends who have made life in this place enjoyable, fun, and, at times, challenging. I respect those who have the courage to put themselves forward in an election, to be open to scrutiny and criticism, and to be accessible. Where else in the world would you meet your MP at the fish and chip shop on a Friday night in their slippers. I do believe people come here wanting to make our country a better place.

I cannot finish without a special mention to my Wellington colleagues, Grant, “Chippie”, Kris, and Trevor. We have been a great team, and I am sorry, Peter, but we intend to paint the whole of Wellington red at this election—

Hon Member: Dreams are free.

Hon ANNETTE KING: —ha, ha—and with a good tail wind we want to take Wairarapa as well.

Finally, to the fantastic staff who make this place work: thank you. As MPs we are so well served by caring and professional people.

A person who exemplifies commitment to this place by our staff is Sheryl Grace, our Senior Security Officer, who is retiring in September after 38 years of service—congratulations, and thank you, Sheryl, wherever you are.

So, Mr Speaker, it is goodbye from me—over and out.


Bread and Roses sung

Q+A: Labour women in politics


When Q+A tweeted this yesterday I questioned talking about “women in politics” with just two women from one party featuring.

That’s ridiculous. One on one interviews with politicians of different genders from different parties is usually about specific issues.

I think a general sounding issue about women in politics should include different women and different politics. Annette responded “You are far too sensitive Pete!”

If Q+A called it “Labour women in politics” then featuring King and Ardern would be appropriate. But not a general “women in politics’.

I can only guess, but it looks to me like Labour have been given a spot on Q+A and chose to feature the ‘women’ theme with King (out with the old) and Ardern (in with the been around for a while).

This week Labour revealed that their election advertising would feature both Ardern and Little.

It will be interesting to see if the interview amounts to a probing look at Labour women in politics, or if it is a soft campaign promo.

What has changed since king has been in Parliament? “More women”. It is a much more representative place. It is now much easier for women to be heard.

Ardern says she has been well supported in the Labour caucus, but the external commentary is questionable.


Quiet Labour reshuffle

Andrew Little has have reshuffled his caucus’s speaking roles after David Shearer’s resignation and Annette King’s stepping down as deputy.

It seems that Jacinda Ardern’s elevation to deputy has not been matched with an elevation in speaking roles. She has been spokesperson for Justice, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Children, and Small Business Associate Spokesperson for Auckland Issues, none of which are heavy hitting roles.

Dunedin MP David Clark has been given King’s Health portfolio. Clark has been an MP since 2011 and was quickly rated as a good future prospect, but has not been prominent for some time. Health will be a step up and a big test for him.

According to NZ Herald Megan Woods has been bumped up from 10 to 5 in the pecking order.

Ardern has retained all her portfolios, including Children, Arts, Small Business and Justice.

She will also pick up the extra duties of deputy, although Little said she would not fill the usual mould of deputy and would instead help him campaign.

That starts immediately – Ardern will accompany Little on a series of public meetings this week, including in Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, and Auckland.

They are keeping these changes low key, with one Tweet but I can’t see anything yet on Labour’s or Little’s Facebook pages and the Labour website still lists King as deputy.

And their website home page does not list the reshuffle under ‘Latest’ nor under ‘Latest Headlines’. I had to hunt for information.

David Clark takes over health role

Dunedin North MP David Clark succeeds Annette King as Health Spokesperson as part of a minor reallocation of portfolios announced today by Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“David has been Associate Spokesperson for some time and has worked closely with Annette in this important portfolio so I’m very confident he will do well in this role.

“A Labour Government will reverse National’s health cuts and David’s skills and experience will be invaluable in communicating to the electorate how Labour will fix the health system.

“Stuart Nash takes over David’s Economic Development (including Regional Development) portfolio and David Parker picks up his Trade and Export Growth role.

“Megan Woods has been a strong performer in her Climate Change and Canterbury Issues roles and picks up Stuart’s Energy, Innovation and Science, Research and Development portfolios.”

Among other changes:

  • Peeni Henare gains State Owned Enterprises
  • Raymond Huo, who is expected to join the Labour caucus next week, takes over the Land Information Role
  • Adrian Rurawhe moves into the Shadow Cabinet
  • Annette King takes over State Services

“This completes changes triggered by Michael Wood’s election as Mt Roskill MP. Earlier this year Kris Faafoi was elected Senior Whip and Adrian Rurawhe, Caucus Secretary.

“The team I lead into this year’s election is strong and determined. We will be working hard to show New Zealanders that there is a better way that provides fairness and opportunity for all,” says Andrew Little.


Raymond Huo is set to return to Parliament soon to replace Ardern on the list and will do the Land Information portfolio.

That gives him some work in the area of foreign buyers – Land Information includes the Overseas Investment Office, as well as data collected on foreign buyers by the Government.

Is this an attempt to dampen down the fallout from their controversial ‘Chinese sounding names’ debacle?

Ardern confirmed as deputy

Jacinda Ardern was unopposed and therefore confirmed as Labour deputy leader today, as expected so it didn’t get much attention.

Someone at The Standard – ‘Notices and Features’ – tried a ra ra post Congratulations Jacinda Ardern! but it got a lukewarm response with not many bothering to comment.

Here is Labour’s Facebook pic:


Meanwhile it was kinda funny to see that King has been featured in Woman’s Weekly:

How was that organised so quickly?


Pressure now on Ardern

Now that whoever wanted Annette King dumped as deputy and retiring soon, and who engineered the elevation of Jacinda Ardern, has achieved their goal the pressure goes on Ardern to perform.

Ardern stood once unsuccessfully in Waikato in 2008 but got in on Labour’s list. Since then she has stood in the Auckland Central electorate and failed to win back what had long been a fairly safe Labour seat. She got into Parliament placed at 6 on Labour’s list in 2014.

She stood as Grant Robertson’s deputy in the Labour leadership contest in 2014 after David Cunliffe stood down, but they were defeated by Andrew Little.

This year she moved sideways to Mt Albert after David Shearer resigned. This is a safer Labour seat long held by Warren Freer (1947-1981), Helen Clark (1981-2009) and Shearer (2009-2016). She won easily, but this was more a winning political manoeuvre than a democratic mandate.

Ardern has been groomed, and has now been anointed as new deputy by Andrew Little, the exiting Annette and other MPs, so it looks like she will be voted into the position unopposed  next Tuesday.

Ardern has been Labour spokesperson in quite a variety roles. She is currently spokesperson for Justice, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Children, and Small Business
Associate Spokesperson for Auckland Issues.

She hasn’t exactly made an impact with those portfolios. The Latest from Jacinda Ardern:

Despite her multiple roles she doesn’t look like much of a multi tasker, but I guess she had a by-election to win.

She has stated an ambition to remain spokesperson for Children and says she has no ambition to take over King’s challenging Health role.

Media have talked Ardern up as an essential to lifting Labour out of the polling doldrums, and critical to their chances of forming the next government.

Labour have been polling mainly in the 25-30% range for some time and really need to lift that by at least 10% to look like a credible lead party.

So for the first time in her political career the pressure is really going to apply to Ardern.

She needs to establish herself in the newly won Mt Albert electorate. At the same time she has to take over as deputy and establish herself there. And she may have to come to grips with some different speaking roles for Labour as Little will need to do a rearrangement of responsibilities.

And Ardern also has to try to live up to her billing as the poster girl for a supposedly refreshed Labour Party.

Her image makers and some of the media have put Ardern on a personality based  pedestal. She has been groomed as a celebrity politician, with fairly modest political achievements on her CV.

Now Ardern has been put up there she has to step up and actually perform.

But not too well. The supposed aim is for Ardern to complement Little’s leadership without overshadowing it.

Not only does she have to play a balancing act, she also has to hope that the media don’t ignore Little and laud over her too much. Having won their support she may not be able to control how far they try to take her glam.

This of course assumes the plan is for Ardern to remain deputy to Little. She keeps emphatically saying she doesn’t want to be leader, but she had also said she had no ambition to be deputy.

She has also said she will do what is asked of her and what is deemed to be best for the Labour Party.

What if those pulling Labour’s strings want to elevate her even more? Will she just smile and step up again?

But for now she is going to become Labour’s deputy. She has to live up to her billing, or Labour will see another ‘game changer’ flop.

How will Little and Ardern and Turei and Shaw look to voters as a combo, with Winston Peters lurking in the shadows?

The pressure will be on Ardern to play her part – as supporting actor only.

That’s something we will find out over the next six months.


King abdicates, Princess Jacinda in waiting

So after the media ran a campaign of deputy replacement, and after denials from Andrew Little that there was any change afoot and there was no vacancy, and from Jacinda Ardern a number of times that she had no ambition or plans to be deputy, and after Annette King was adamant she was not moving, they have all miraculously changed tunes in unison today.

King has thought things through and will now stand down as deputy, and won’t seek re-election in September. She will leave a big hole in Labour ranks.

The new deputy won’t be appointed until a caucus meeting next week but Little quickly annointed Ardern and Ardern quickly looked gratefully anointed. There is virtually no chance of her being challenged by another MP.

This all looks quite messy but the manipulators have got their way as Labour’s regeneration plan continues to unfold.

Media is generally enthralled with the princess in waiting, saying she is just what Labour needs to pick up support, especially from younger voters.

We shall see in a month or three whether the latest game changer changes anything substantial.

One potential problem has been well pointed out – what happens if Ardern steals media oxygen from Little? There are signs of that already.

What if Ardern jumps from her latesr 4% in preferred ‘Prime Minister’ and leapfrogs Little’s 7%? That could be awkward, I doubt that Ardern is in the leadership plans for now.

An interesting election lead up just got a bit more interesting – which is of couyrse what the media wanted, they dreaded boring Bill and drab Andy thrashing out the election.

Expect them to start spotlighting and comparing the deputies Ardern and Paula Bennett now.

Celebrity elections are the thing these days. Who cares about doddery old democracy?

Ardern lipstick on a Labour pig?

The media and pundit obsession with trying to pressure Labour into promoting Jacinda Ardern to deputy leader continued yesterday.

This is despite the reality that most people don’t know who deputy leaders are and don’t care.

It seems to be a sign of the growing obsession with promoting celebrity politics – Ardern is better known for her cultivating of the celebrity circuit than for her political accomplishments.

Sure she won the Mt Albert by-election, but that was in a safe Labour seat against no opposition, and having moved there after three failed attempts to win in two other electorates.

Last week Bryce Edwards virtually demanded a deputy leadership change this week if Ardern won in Mt Albert.

He followed up yesterday with a round up of old and new items from activists (who \used to be journalists) and pundits promoting his agenda – Political Roundup: How long can it be before Labour elevate Jacinda Ardern to deputy?

Edwards included just one alternate view:

One commentator disputes the need to make Ardern the deputy. Russell Brown sarcastically says “of course what Labour needs in election year is yet another leadership shakeup” – see: Mt Albert: Cooperating, competing and carpooling.

I posted King of the deputy castle, media dirty rascals yesterday morning but that was probably a bit too critical of his activism to rate a mention. There has been more media activism to promote Ardern into the deputy headlines.

This is all more a symptom of journalists and pundits who want to be political players and movers and shakers rather than being reporters and analysts.

Annette King seems to have quietly done a good job holding the Labour caucus together and protecting Andrew Little’s back. As a deputy is supposed to do. It doesn’t make sense to throw a spanner in the works there with six months until the election.

Ardern has a new job to do in Auckland, she needs to establish herself in an electorate for the first time, and also needs to prepare herself for the election.

It makes no sense to me to give her another new job which will tie her more to Wellington and bury her in the party machine.

And I’m sure Little doesn’t want a deputy who attracts all the media attention.

Who cares who is deputy leader of Labour? I think that most voters don’t give a toss. Those that do can read about Ardern in the Woman’s Weekly.

And perhaps some journalists could consider whether they are political reporters, or activists promoting their pet politicians.

And – would Ardern lipstick really help a Labour Party pig?

King of the deputy castle, media dirty rascals

Annette King has reacted staunchly to media speculation that Jacinda Ardern may (some say should) replace her as deputy leader.

Claire Trevett @ZH: Annette King lashes out at ‘ageist’ idea of stepping to one side

Ardern’s win in Mt Albert prompted fresh speculation Little should replace his steady pacemaker King with the crowd-pleasing sprinter Ardern as deputy for the home straight to the election.

There is sense in that.

I don’t see the sense to that. Ardern can try to please the crowd without being deputy. Having a strong deputy who can keep the Labour caucus under control is important, and King is far bettter qualified to do that.

But King can not see it. King’s response was a quite astonishing and vociferous defence of her turf.

I’m not astonished. I’m astonished that media and pundits think they can organise deputy leadership changes.

She claimed the talk around Ardern was ageist. She even went a little bit Trump, accusing media of having a vendetta against her.

I don’t think it is a vendetta against King. It is the media thinking that they are political players rather than reporters.

Speaking to the Herald she questioned what Ardern could offer that she did not, other than relative youth.

When it was suggested Ardern’s Auckland base was one, King replied “does it really matter these days?” and said she could travel the country as a list-only candidate.

Ardern’s Auckland base, her ability to communicate well from children to Auckland business leaders, her popularity and her deft touch with ‘soft’ media make her an asset Little could better utilise by having her as his deputy.

It is an asset he cannot afford to ignore.

Little can use his Ardern ‘asset’ in better ways than tying her down as deputy. She has just taken on substantial added responsibility as a new electorate MP in Auckland, giving her much greater responsibilities in Wellington at the same time makes no sense.

King’s value to Little is indisputable but largely for internal reasons – she is in Wellington to run the ship while he travels the country and can control caucus with one pinky finger.

That sounds like a job description for a deputy.

The trouble is he cannot risk replacing her now King has publicly stated her wish to remain in the job.

Little could take the risk of upsetting the likes of MP Poto Williams and Maryan Street over his decision to recruit Willie Jackson to Labour, but he can not afford to get offside with King.

King has great loyalty in Labour and Little will not be able to replace her unless she recognises it is a necessary idea herself.

He somehow has to make it seem like it was her idea all along.

It’s fairly obviously not King’s idea at all.

Some of the media are trying to manipulate Labour Party leadership. This is way outside their job description.

Little and King call the shots when it comes to deputy leadership of Labour.

Trevett and others in the media are dirty rascals trying to intervene and influence what is a party matter.