‘Auckland Labour Party’ responsible for intern scheme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suzy Ferguson: Are you saying you don’t know where this money’s coming from?

Little: I don’t know any details about the organisation of it apart from what we now know, I think 85 young people here staying on a marae, and helping out in various parts of the Auckland campaign. Beyond that I don’t know, I’m not sure if the party knows or knew at the time, and we’re in the process now of getting the detail about the organisation behind it.

Suzy Ferguson: …are you saying you don’t know where the thick end of two hundred grand has come from?

Little: Well, um, no one in the party is responsible for what Matt and others, and let’s be fair, it wasn’t Matt alone, there were at least four people involved in driving this, three on the party side…

Suzy Ferguson: …while this was being done Matt McCarten was in the pay of the Labour Party wasn’t he.

Little: Um, he was the, he was my, he was the director of the Auckland office, um, which is funded out of the Leader’s office, my office, um he was working for me (a) to open and run the office and (b) to run my Auckland programme, outreach programme.

Suzy Ferguson: Ok, so he’s working for you, but you’re saying you didn’t know what he was doing, you didn’t know about this?

Little: I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff.

That didn’t sound convincing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Interns worked with Labour MPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Q+A yesterday:

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

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

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

Little: And it did.

Jessica Mutch: It was called 2017 Labour Campaign Fellowship.

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

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

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

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

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

InternChatfield

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the five people named are all Labour Party.

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

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

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

InternPak2

InternPak3

InternPak1

From that:

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

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

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

This is how things look:

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

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

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

Why did Andrew Kirton not act until Monday last week?

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

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

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

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

What confidence can voters have in their honesty and confidence?

Lions versus Blues

The British and Irish Lions play the Blues in Auckland tonight.

The Lions team that runs onto Eden Park will be a bit of an unknown quantity. This will be a challenge for them, they will want to get a tough game under their belts.

The Blues have had a mixed season and could do anything.

I’m not on Sky and won’t pay an exorbitant amount for Fanpass so will just keep an eye on the game progress online.

There has been a shower of run recently (it could still be raining) so it will be a slippery evening.

HALFTIME: 12-10 to the Blues, sounds like a hard fought game in the wet.

FINAL SCORE: 22-16

NZ Herald: Rugby: Brilliant Blues claim sensational win over British and Irish Lions

What can you say? Typical Blues maybe? There they were, drifting out of the game because their scrum was being destroyed and the Lions were slowly grinding them to defeat and wham, four bits of individual brilliance and they pulled off the most sensational win.

In retrospect the Lions can argue they were hard done by in the Blues’ 22-16 victory. They had a few decisions not go their way, played a bit of rugby and were starting to dominate physically.

But they didn’t nail the door shut and in truth, while they played some rugby, they didn’t play enough.

If nothing else, they looked more organised and willing than they were in Whangarei and while they clearly have a mountain to climb still, there were at least glimpses of what they might be able to do when they have had a few more games together and get their top team on the track.

But the essence of their game remains bump and thump and the question that is going to become louder and louder for the Lions, is where is the x-factor?

The Lions were definitely better than they had been in game one. There was more urgency and accuracy in everything they did and while they didn’t get much beyond playing Warrenball, they didn’t feel they needed to.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Lions, they play the Crusaders this Saturday in Christchurch.

Another reason not to go to Auckland

Phil Goff and the Auckland City Council have voted for a ‘bed tax’. This is purportedly to get hotels and motels to partially pay for the cost of staging events in Auckland, but it imposes costs on just some accommodation options and will cost everyone who uses them regardless of whether they are visiting Auckland for an organised event or not.

It also makes the cost of doing business in Auckland more expensive.

Perhaps this is a sly way of trying to get the Government to fund their events, given that motels are being state funded to house homeless and hard to accommodate people.

Stuff: Auckland Mayor Goff’s ‘bed tax’ passes 10-7

A controversial ‘bed tax’ will go ahead, with Auckland Council’s Governing Body voting 10-7 in favour of the proposal on Thursday afternoon.

It will see nightly room rates bumped up between $3-$6 for hotels and $1-$3 for motels.

The targeted accommodation rate will see hotels and motels charged extra to partially offset the cost of staging major events in the city.

Goff said it would free up $13.5 million of ratepayer funding which could be used to bolster transport and infrastructure.

He has previously said hotels and motels could pass on the cost to tourists as a surcharge.

“With the targeted rate on accommodation we are asking accommodation providers to meet half of the cost of tourism marketing and events which previously fell totally on Auckland ratepayers,” he said.

“It’s only fair that those who benefit directly from events that promote tourism share in that cost.”

But is it fair to make accommodation providers and visitors who have nothing to do with tourism promotion and events to pay to subsidise the events? No.

It seems to exclude other accommodation providers like holiday rentals, home stays and Airbnb.  Campervans are another popular mode of accommodation that escape the tax.

TIA chief executive Chris Roberts said it was based on bad information and a poor understanding of the workings of the visitor economy.

The commercial accommodation sector has repeatedly offered to work with the Council to find a fair and sustainable way to make an appropriate contribution to the city’s visitor and event promotion activities. That offer still stands.”

He said it could be a “considerable time” before accommodation providers knew how much they would have to pay.

Accommodation providers would be able to apply to the council for a rates remission, taking into account any forward bookings they might have, but there would be no guarantee, he said.

Has the cost of administering all of this been taken into account? It sounds heavily bureaucratic.

It seems to be a poorly and unfairly targeted tax on some accommodation providers.

Is this the best Phil Goff could come up with?

The Nation: Twyford on housing

This morning on The Nation:

talks to about National’s plan to build houses in Auckland… is it enough?

I hope he is asked what land Labour plans to build their 50,000 houses on.

Twyford says if home buyers need a govt subsidy to buy a $650,000 house it’s not affordable.

Going about ‘affordable’ new houses. Most first home buyers don’t buy new houses, they start with older cheaper houses.

Twyford says Labour will build large developments around the railway line – he says Akl Council has identified good sites.

Twyford says a Labour govt will buy private land if necessary to build houses on.

Pushed on what land they will use Twyford evades and avoids and says they will work with the council and Maori. So no specific land yet.

Twyford says Labour will bring in highly skilled electricians, carpenters and plumbers to build Kiwibuild houses if they have to.

There is already a building labour shortage. If Labour’s houses are additional to the building al.ready under way and under pressure they will need to hugely increase the workforce.

The Nation: Interview: Phil Twyford

 

National’s Auckland housing policy

The Government 9alias the National Party) announced housing policy today to address the severe shortage of housing in Auckland.

They say they have been planning and preparing this for two years but the timing looks a bit cynical, not just because it is election year, but also being soon after Labour announced housing policy at their Congress.

And Labour MPs are all over Twitter claiming National has stolen their policy but it is too late, too little and not good enough.

Govt to build 34,000 new houses for Auckland

Immigrant to Little, Ardern…

An immigrant who owns a restaurant in Auckland and knows both Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern has a public message for them via The Spinoff: Andrew Little is a regular at my restaurant. Here’s what I’d like to say to him about immigration

Israeli-born Yael Shochat is the owner of much-loved Fort St institution Ima Cuisine. She writes about the essential role immigration plays in her restaurant – and why the Labour leader’s vow to slash immigrant numbers by ‘tens of thousands’ has her deeply worried.

To Mr Andrew Little, and to dear Jacinda, whom I consider a friend: you’ve been to my restaurant, Ima Cuisine, many times. You’ve shared my company and enjoyed my most beloved dishes – immigrant food from all over the Jewish diaspora, and Palestinian food, the indigenous cuisine of my country. What are we going to say to each other next time you come in? Are you going to give “compliments to the chefs”, half of whom are not welcome here under your immigration policy? Am I welcome here? I certainly don’t feel welcome now that you’ve promised to cut “tens of thousands” of immigrants.

Your immigration policy (and the policy of the Greens and the National party) is based on racist tropes and stereotypes. Anti immigration sentiment is built on myths that don’t add up. We migrants are “lazy”, sucking up resources and putting a strain on the welfare system, and at the same time we work too hard – we are “stealing” jobs from “ordinary New Zealanders”.

This is false. Immigrants are largely young (considering we have an aging population this can’t be a bad thing), fit, and keen to work to better their lives. They are good people, they are healthy and they are paying tax. They are not a drain on society, they are holding it up! The jobs they are “stealing” are usually the ones Kiwis don’t want – low-paying and physically demanding. This unfortunately makes migrants more easily exploited by employers; that was certainly the case for some of my staff before they came to me.

She explains what she thinks Little’s suggested slashing of immigration will do.

Right now I, my friends and peers in the restaurant industry are all crying out for kitchen and wait staff. Stopping immigration – while refusing to actually address the underlying causes of problems in the job and housing market – will mean I won’t be able to hire anyone. I won’t be able to cook for you anymore. Many other industries will also suffer.

Stopping immigration won’t solve our problems but it will create more. Stopping immigration will divide our country and make it less safe.

Policies such as yours are dog whistles, mostly inaudible messages of demonisation and othering used for political gain.

If today it is the case that even the left can be covertly racist, we are emboldening more overtly racist individuals, leaving them more space to spread their hatred and their violence.

I understand that you are desperate for more votes this election, and sure, blaming immigrants for the ills of society is an easy way of getting them. So shift the blame on us as many have done before you. I just hope you’re ready to face the consequences.

I hope Team Little-Ardern do what they can to avoid the consequences by rethinking their stance on immigration and coming out with some actual policy that doesn’t harm those who have already come here and added value to New Zealand.

And more than Little and Ardern – immigration without discrimination and ostracisation is necessary for New Zealand to thrive as a compassionate and thriving multi-cultural country.

Differences over ‘tourist tax’

As usual Newshub got their weekend story out of  The Nation: Paula Bennett rejects calls for tourist tax (it wasn’t a story until Bennett said she didn’t support a tourist tax).

More than 18 million visitors come through the gates at Auckland Airport each year and Mayor Phil Goff says local government can’t cope with the tourism boom.

Instead, he says a tax could help.

“Ideally the Government could put on a bed tax across the country and a small arrival tax and share it amongst local Government – that would be most equitable,” he told Newshub.

But Ms Bennett has scuttled that, saying she’s not a fan. She says tourists already pay tax via GST, and she’s worried further taxes might deter travellers.

“We’ve got the best package in the world to deliver but we don’t want to be seen as a rip off,” she said.

Ms Bennett accepts there is pressure in some areas as a result of booming visitor numbers, but says it’s covered by the regional tourism fund, which has put forward $8.5 million to fund public toilets, car parking and freedom camping facilities.

And the story making has extended to other politicians.

But Green Party co-leader James Shaw disagreed.

“I don’t think New Zealand is going to be perceived as a rip off. It is an absolute premium destination, as you can tell from the visitor numbers,” he said.

Tourists already pay a border charge of between $22 and $26 and the Greens say that should be increased to help pay for infrastructure.

So there already is a form of a tourist tax, but the Greens support increasing it.

And NZ Herald joined in with Labour leader Andrew Little calls for tourist tax:

Labour leader Andrew Little wants a “tourist tax” charged at the border to help pay for tourism infrastructure, rejecting Tourism Minister Paula Bennett’s concerns it risked making New Zealand look like a “rip-off.”

Little said a “modest” levy would be ring-fenced to pass on to local councils to use on tourism-related infrastructure.

“We rapidly and urgently need new infrastructure and infrastructure upgrades targeted at tourists and the easiest and most efficient way to pay for it is just a border levy collected when you buy your ticket, and a mechanism to distribute it to local councils.”

Little said it would be simple to add the levy – since 2015 there has been a levy of about $22 to pay for border control added to the cost of a ticket. In its first five months, that had generated $27.72 million – well above the forecast income of $20.22 million.

That will be because of the boom in tourist numbers.

Tourists pay 15% GST on much of what the spend while in New Zealand. There is also a lot of tax generated in the tourism industry through employment (PAYE) and company tax.

And they also contribute to roading revenue through fuel tax.

While different opinions were extracted from politicians on this it is not likely to become an election issue if any tax was going to be an entry tax – not many international tourists vote.

But a ‘bed tax’ as suggested by Goff could be more contentious. It would be messy if it only applied to international visitors – would that be based on passports? Or country of residence?

It’s not surprising to see a mayor propose a Government imposed tax “and share it amongst local Government”, that would make rates rises a little less bad, but “that would be most equitable” is an interesting claim. Equitable for whom? The city where the biggest airport in the country is?

The administration (and cost of administration) of a bed tax could be an issue. There would be possibly substantial bureaucracy involved in collecting a bed tax and paying it out equitably to all the local bodies who want it.

Hotels and motels pay local body tax (called rates) as it is, why doesn’t Goff just increase the rates for hotels and motels and home stays?

Labour now oppose treaty settlement

Labour had initially supported a Bill that would release a public reserve in Auckland for housing and would also help settle a Treaty of Waitangi claim. But they are now opposing it, to the disappointment of Auckland.

It makes things awkward for Labour’s Maori MPs – Andrew Little recently claimed “Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice”.

Phil Twyford on Twitter today:

NZ Herald: Pt England reserve housing development opposed by Labour as ‘land grab’

When Labour supported the enabling legislation at its first reading in December its Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare said he was “extremely excited” about the opportunity for Ngati Paoa.

And Labour’s Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni said the party supported the bill because “we will support any piece of legislation that is going to be about building more affordable homes in Auckland”.

“It does not make sense to use prime land for grazing cows when it could be used for affordable housing,” Sepuloni said.

However, in a press release today Twyford said the legislation was a “land grab” that flew in the face of the local community’s wishes.

“The Minister seems to think because some of the land has cows grazing on it, it’s fair game to take it for housing. The community needs this land for future generations. Once it is sold for housing it will be permanently lost to the public.”

Does anyone in Labour communicate?

Labour’s opposition has disappointed Ngati Paoa, who said without the land there would be no Treaty settlement between it and the Crown.

“By opposing the legislation Labour is opposing a Treaty settlement bill – for the first time in the history of the Treaty settlement process,” said Hauauru Rawiri, chief executive of Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust.

“All other iwi in Tamaki Makaurau support this transfer. Opposing the Bill pits the Labour Party against mana whenua of Auckland.”

Rawiri said he urged Labour’s Maori MPs to lobby colleagues on the issue and vote against their party if necessary.

That’s the Labour Maori MPs that Little was talking about in this press release on the Labour Party website:

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

Who’s running Labour, Little or Twyford?

Will the Labour Maori MPs back the Auckland Iwi?

Twyford is leading Labour’s election campaign in Auckland. This puts party support at risk in Auckland electorates as well as Maori electorates.

City quality of life good

Despite the doom and gloom picture painted by some in politics in a new survey most city dwellers in New Zealand say that the overall quality of life is either very good or good (from 78% to 88%, total 81%), with only a few percent thinking it is poor or in the case of a couple of cities, very poor (from 2% to 4%).

Dunedin topped the rankings but only by a negligible margin over Wellington.

It’s not surprising that Christchurch has the lowest extremely good+good ranking, but only Hamilton and Porirua register (just) on ‘extremely poor’.

Results by city council:

cityqualityoflife2016

 

The cities surveyed cover 65% of the new Zealand population. Margins of error range from 1.9%-4.4%, overall 1.3%. Tauranga is not included.

The Quality of Life Project

…was initiated in 1999 in response to growing pressures on urban communities, concern about the impacts of urbanisation and the effects of this on the wellbeing of residents.

The project was a collaboration between councils represented in Local Government New Zealand’s Local Government Metro Sector forum.

The key purpose of the project was to provide information to decision-makers to improve the quality of life in major New Zealand urban areas.

Overall nine council report