Party leaders on the election campaign

Chapters on a Victoria University book reviewing the 2017 election by each of the party leaders.

Newshub – Stardust and Substance: the 2017 election through politicians’ eyes

Accounts of political events by politicians themselves can be worse than useless and should be read with great caution. Politicians are simply too close to what happened to really give any insights into events. They’re also often just too practiced in their own spin to be able to reveal any truly interesting or new information. Too often, politician accounts of election campaigns are simply their attempts to assert their own version of history for the record.

Nonetheless, the accounts of the 2017 election by the political party leaders in Stardust and Substance are all well worth reading. Some are more self-serving than others, and they vary greatly in how much they reveal that is new or useful. But all seven chapters from the party leaders help the reader understand what went on in 2017 to make it such an extraordinary election.

They are generally more self promotional than analytical.

Jacinda Ardern – ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election

There is no doubt that 2017 will remain the most extraordinary year of my life. But a statement like that doesn’t quite capture the fact that what happened this year had layers that extended well beyond me. In that sense, before I go any further I want to acknowledge three people in particular. The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes. Their work is unrelenting. They manage and motivate thousands of volunteers, manage our governing body, and ensure we have the funds to run our campaigns in the first place. I salute them.

Bill English: ‘Confident but paranoid’: Bill English reflects on election 2017

Coming into 2017 I was often asked how National, as the incumbent government, felt about the election. My standard answer was “confident but paranoid”, which, as it turned out, proved to be the right mental setting. One had only to look around the world to see that political events had become a bit more unpredictable. The fact that you couldn’t predict where the unpredictable would occur didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, and of course it did.

I want to give some personal reflections on my involvement in the campaign as a leader. I think that the overriding impression for me was just how much I enjoyed it. As someone who had been unavoidably characterised in a certain way because of my finance role, it did take some time to adjust, and for public expectations to adjust, to my new role as a leader in a campaign. There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed it. First was that there was plenty to campaign for, again unusually for a party that had been in government for nine years. I had been personally strongly invested in many of the issues which were debated in the campaign – the economy, obviously, but also all the social issues, poverty, housing, water quality, and the environment, where we had done much intensive work over many years.

Winston Peters: ‘We chose the harder path’: Winston Peters on election 2017

Eight weeks out from the general election, New Zealand First was poised to challenge Labour’s status as the second largest political party – this was a sign: when things are going great you should be worried most. Polling revealed that we were statistically tied with Labour. From our perspective that day would have been a good one for the country to have voted.

It was not to be.

Labour were sagging badly but I think it is very unlikely NZ First would have overtaken them. Greens were picking uop more of Labour’s losses than NZ First.

James Shaw: When the wheels came off: James Shaw on Election 2017

My worst moment of the 2017 election came the day parliament rose to kick off the formal part of the campaign, about six weeks before election day.

Roughly 10 minutes before I had to give the Adjournment Debate speech on behalf of the Green Party, I received that evening’s Colmar Brunton poll results. We were on 4%, the first time during the campaign that we had dipped below the threshold which would see us return to parliament. And because, in many ways, the adjournment speech kicked off the formal election campaign period, it wasn’t a great way to start.

I finished the speech and my colleague Gareth Hughes came and sat down in the seat next to me. He looked at me and said, “Way to go, giving that speech, knowing what you know.” It was a really tough moment, because at that point it seemed probable that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and that I had just given the last speech in parliament by a Green Party MP.

David Seymour: ‘We didn’t pay enough attention to the brand’: David Seymour on Election 2017.

As a rookie MP and the sole elected member of ACT, I became the party leader and also entered the executive (as parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister of regulatory reform). I am told that nobody has entered parliament this way since the 19th century, when governments typically lasted only a year or two. The task of carrying off these roles as well as serving the Epsom electorate was always going to be large. In the final analysis it was too large.

Pawns, Bishop. Who to believe?

On February 13 this was posted by ‘Cameron Slater’: Bishop victim of blue-on-blue attack?

Several reliable sources are saying that Chris Bishop was the victim of some utu by Bill English and his faction after Bishop, Nikki Kaye and Todd Muller were held responsible for the chatter about Bill’s leadership and leaking to Barry Soper and Richard Harman.

The beauty of the hit on Bishop is that no matter what Bishop says Bill’s team have framed him…

Slater made a number of very low, dirty insinuations in that story (hence no link). He went on the surmise quote a lot considering he had claimed to have “several reliable sources”.

Hit jobs always leave trails, and murk, and make the target look over their shoulder. I should know better than most, having been the target of a few hit jobs. Don’t look at who was hit, or where the information originated… look at who benefits. Look for who isn’t in the mix. Once you establish those things then you are close to identifying who is behind the hit jobs.

Don’t look for what and who was in the books, look for who was missing. Then, look at who benefited from all of those hit jobs. Look for who had previously been hurt or harmed by the targets in some way.

Now look at the Bishop hit job with new eyes.

There’s enough murk to make the post looked like dual hit jobs against English and Bishop, totally unsubstantiated.

Slater made a number of other claims of sources in his scatter gun attacks during National’s leadership contest.

Today, a month later: Now we know why Bishop’s Snapchat issues were leaked

I looked back at the date that Chris Bishop’s little issue with Snapchat was released to media by Labour associated people.

It was 11 February, just two days after the alleged sexual assaults at the Labour youth camp.

Now we know why. Labour thought they were going to be the news after four youths were allegedly sexually assaulted at the camp.

Cue the attack on Chris Bishop.

Heather Du Plessis-Allan fingered Labour for it back then…

She mustn’t have been one of his sources back then.

In the end, Bishop’s Snapchatting was innocuous and not really a story…

That’s a change from Slater’s very dirty insinuations a month ago.

And – there’s an accuracy fail in today’s assertions. Going by The definitive timeline of Labour’s sex scandal (at Whale Oil):

10/02/18 Day 2 of Young Labour Summer Camp

The alleged sexual assaults are said to have happened late that evening or early the following morning.

11/02/18 Day 3 of Young Labour Summer Camp

  • NZME runs story on Chris Bishop about a mother upset at him for messaging her daughter and other minors.
  • Alleged 20-year-old offender sent home from camp.

Slater’s changed claim is that Labour initiated the attack on Bishop via a story that was probably running through the printing presses about the same time as the offences were happening supposedly happening.

Going by comments, the WO army just lapped up Slater’s latest claims, as they believed his claims a month ago without question. One comment:

So the Chris Bishop smear article wasn’t “a blue on blue hit piece” originating from Bill English’s crew after all? It was Labour putting out covering fire a week before any trace of media coverage? Surely both scenarios can’t be true.

No, both scenarios can’t be true – but both were asserted and believed at WO.

Who to believe? The ‘Cameron Slater’ who wrote last month’s post, or the ‘Cameron Slater’ who wrote today’s post?

Also, this puts some doubt (if any where needed) on ‘several reliable sources’.

Bill English’s Valedictory Statement

 

Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (National): The library tells me I’ve spoken 1,000 times in the House; answered or asked 2,000 questions and answers; I suspect probably about 10,000 interjections, 23 of which were witty. Enough of the numbers, the strongest feeling I have today, in this last speech, is gratitude. That is, gratitude for the opportunities that I’ve had, for the many people I’ve served with, but, most importantly, for the many moments of connection and witness to the lives of others, which I believe is the deepest privilege of public life: to see the joy of their achievement, to see the courage in their suffering, and to be grateful for the strength and the wisdom given to me by so many.

For those of you who may not have noticed, the other focus I developed as a finance Minister and would have put a lot of time into as a Prime Minister is social investment. Why does it matter? Well, I referred earlier to the harm I’d seen done in the 1990s by Government institutions to so many people, and we’re 20 years on, going 30 years on, going to have a royal commission into all of that, which will tell us what we already know. But the conclusion will be this: Government work looks after the weakest worst—it does the worst job for the weakest.

I’ve never understood the argument that the structure of delivering a service matters more than the people to whom you deliver it. The core of my belief—and it comes from Catholic theology, and to some extent National Party principles—is the utter integrity of the individual person, their importance, and our obligation to them to ensure that they can realise their aspirations and their full humanity. Much of what Government does does not do that.

That’s a shame, because I’ve never met a person, in 27 years, who had no hope—never, not one, including the worst of our offenders, and I’ve met them. There’s always some hope. In fact, often that’s all they have. So that’s why I, in my small opportunity to do so, injected into the public service, at least, the word “customer”—mainly because they hate it. They don’t like that word. Who thinks they’re a customer of Government?

Well, in the real world, they have choices, they have preferences, so why can’t someone with multiple disabilities have choices and have preferences? Why do they have to put up with what we give them or what some professional group says is the way the service should be, and that you can’t do something different because it might undermine the integrity of the service? Well, what about the integrity of the person? What about them? Actually, that’s who we are here for, and my sense of that over 27 years of public service is stronger than it’s ever been.

I used to tell this story, which I’ll tell again. It’s from the Auckland City Mission, who tracked 100 families. They interviewed them every couple of weeks for a year, and they created this case study. It was a solo mum with a child with disabilities, and everything she did in two weeks. She said at the end of it, “Absolutely stuffed. I’ve visited 23 agencies. There was one that treated me with respect, knew my story, helped me, gave me a cup of coffee—it was Instant Finance.” We’re getting outdone on compassion by the people who charge 37 percent a month.

That’s telling, and if there’s anything I want to leave as a lesson here, it is the dangerous complacency of good intentions. There’s too much of it in New Zealand—that, somehow, if you say you mean well, that’s going to make a difference. Well, actually, it can cause damage because you’re not actually talking about what actually happened. The services we provide are not about us; they’re about those people. The only measure of it is whether it changes their lives—whether we reduce the misery—but we have system built, still, too much on servicing that misery.

Social investment will roll on because ideas are powerful. Knowledge is powerful—more powerful than Governments—and now people know it can be different, enough of them, and I want to complement those, particularly those brave public servants. We had a fantastic time doing some of the hardest stuff, because it’s hard to do, and I must say, if it was as easy as just giving money—I used to think of this as a Minister of Finance.

If I believed every claim made to me and my predecessors about the benefit of the next $100 million, there’d be no problems in New Zealand—none. They would have all been gone 20 years ago. The fact is, most of those claims are wrong, because the people claiming it’ll make a difference have no idea and never go back and see whether it made that kind of difference. I think, as you can see, I’ve never quite lost my energy for that one, and the only regret I suppose I have after 27 years is that we were ready to some good stuff if we’d been re-elected. But that’s politics: you get great opportunities without having to earn them, and they can be taken away just as easily.

I just want to finish with a few remarks, particularly acknowledging my family who are here today. This has been our adventure, particularly 2017 and the campaign, where I discovered that our rule of having no politics at home hadn’t worked. That was our rule. We shifted the family to Wellington and made a couple of rules: no politics on Sunday, go home for tea every night—so I have not eaten in Bellamy’s for 20 years—and we don’t talk about politics when I get home because there’s plenty of other stuff to talk about. I discovered that, actually, they’d been reading the paper, surfing the internet, and had developed political views of their own—some of which are wrong. But it’s our togetherness that matters, and the great gift of me leaving politics will be that we can re-craft that sense of togetherness.

I want to just finish with a quote from James K. Baxter that I’ve always liked. It’s from his poem called “New Zealand”, where the first line is

“These unshaped islands, on the sawyer’s bench,

Wait for the chisel of the mind,”

On March 13, when I officially resign—it feels like you leave the building about six times when you’re going, six last times—it will be 10,000 days since I was elected, and I want to acknowledge my brother Conor, who pointed that out to me. Ten thousand days since I was elected, and I’m satisfied that, every day, I took my turn at the chisel.

 

Full transcript here.

Winston Peters hasn’t dropped legal action against National Party

Conflicting reports this morning on whether Winston Peters has dropped legal action against the National Party and National MPs.

NZ Herald: Winston Peters hasn’t dropped legal action against National Party

NZ First leader Winston Peters has agreed to drop his legal action and pay costs to former National Party leader Bill English and other former ministers over the leak of his superannuation overpayments.

Peters was taking legal action against English, Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce and Anne Tolley as well as two staff members while trying to uncover who leaked details of his superannuation overpayments to the media before last year’s election.

It is understood Peters has now agreed to withdraw the legal action and pay some of the legal costs for the National Party MPs and staff – believed to be about $10,000.

The National side had said they would take further action on costs if a settlement was not reached.

But Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry has just been on RNZ and has stated that this is incorrect.

He said that the first legal action was over – on behalf of Peters he had sought documents, and as is normal when that happens, costs needed to be paid. he wouldn’t confirm or deny the amount of costs.

The defendants will be identified when the next legal claim is lodged. Bill English, Paula Bennett, Anne Tolley, former ministerial staff Wayne Eagleson and Clark Hennessy, and journalists Lloyd Burr and Tim Murphy were included in the first action.

Henry would only say that action has been dropped against the two journalists. He says that they were never intended to be a part of the eventual legal action.

But he refused to say which of the MPs and staff might be still subject to future legal action.

Henry said no statement of claim has been lodged, and would not say when that was likely to happen – he said that these things take time.

“…the coalition negotiations were a charade”

The latest Listener, about Bill English’s legacy, says:

Ardern was as gracious in her comments about English’s pending departure as New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was mean-spirited. Peters’ inability to contain his bitterness suggests the coalition negotiations were a charade.

That’s a bit how things look.

His resentment towards National is deep-rooted, and since the election, the feeling is reciprocated. It is unlikely that National’s change of leader will diminish Peters’ toxicity. That is no longer Bill English’s problem.

It’s unlikely this will be easily resolved while Peters remains in Parliament.

Video of Winston Peters comments on Bill English stepping down

English versus Ardern on Partnership Schools

Soon departing Leader of the Opposition Bill English questioned Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern about Partnership Schools yesterday.

1. Rt Hon BILL ENGLISH (Leader of the Opposition) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all of her Government’s policies?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister):Yes.

Rt Hon Bill English: In light of her statement that, “we want to say hand on heart we want to be a society judged on how we look after our vulnerable”, is she aware that many of the children in partnership schools are vulnerable, so why is she moving to close those schools?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As I said yesterday, we are working as closely as we can with those schools to transition them, to make sure that those children have the best quality education, and that includes making sure they have registered teachers and they’re being taught the curriculum.

Rt Hon Bill English: When the Prime Minister uses the word “transition”, is she aware that the legislation her Government introduces certainly closes the partnership schools—it makes their closure absolutely certain because legislation will be passed to achieve it—but there is no guarantee those schools will be able to reopen?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: It ends the model. It stops future contracts. But it still allows this Government to negotiate with those schools to try and keep them open if they are willing to have registered teachers and to teach the curriculum.

Rt Hon Bill English: What guarantee can she give to the students and parents of the partnership schools, which she is legislating to close, that they will be allowed to reopen with some other status?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we’ve said, we’re stopping any opening in the future. With those who are currently operating, we’ve said we want to work constructively with them. There is the ability for them to operate as special character schools or even, perhaps, as alternative education operators and providers, and that’s the work that the Ministry of Education is undertaking with them, as we speak. What I would like to give them is the assurance that we are working diligently on this. I know that some of the rhetoric coming from the Opposition isn’t helping with their security, but that’s what we’re doing.

Rt Hon Bill English: Can I ask the question again. What guarantee can the Prime Minister give that a partnership school will be able to reopen, a guarantee that is necessary for the peace of mind of the students, and the parents, who attend those schools and may not be familiar with the legal niceties she’s referring to?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As we’ve said, I can assure those parents, if the school in which their child is attending is willing to have registered teachers to teach to the curriculum and to operate with the same kind of funding parameters, generally speaking, as State schools, then that is exactly what we are seeking from those schools. Ultimately, those parents will want to probably have those same assurances from those current providers because a lot of this decision sits in their hands too.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is it now the case that if the schools close, it’s the schools’ fault not the Government’s and that she won’t actually offer a guarantee that schools will be able to reopen and, therefore, parents and students should be told the truth now rather than be misled through months of complex legal negotiations?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: If these schools have at their heart the best education for their kids, then I imagine they should be able to transition.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Is the Prime Minister aware that existing partnership schools are being urged to close rather than negotiate with the Ministry of Education in good faith, and that that urging is coming from Opposition members of Parliament?

Mr SPEAKER: No, no. I’m going to disallow that supplementary. I think the Leader of the House has a special standard, and he’s going to stick with it.

Rt Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity to visit Pacific Advance Senior School, as I did on Monday, talk to the staff and the students, hear the stories of the way that school has changed the lives of those 13-, 14-year-old girls, and 16-, 17-year-old boys, of whom, as the Government says, there’s only 1,000, so it won’t matter much—

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Bill English: Will she visit a school, look them in the eye, hear the stories, and reassure them that the Government guarantees the continuation of that school?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I am going to let the Prime Minister answer it, but I am also going to remind the father of the House that in the last couple of weeks I’d like him to set a very good example, which involves succinct questions, and just to warn people, especially sitting very close to him, if they ask one that long, it will be ruled out.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That assumes that I haven’t met and spoken to students from charter schools and those who teach there before—I have. In fact, just a few weeks ago, I had a conversation with someone who works in a charter school where they said they were absolutely confident that because they have registered teachers and teach the curriculum, they could transition and will.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware that as part of this shambles, education officials told a select committee this morning that the closures could cost up to $15 million?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the constant framing from the Opposition around closures when this Government is working—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: It’s your law. It’s your bill.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Let me explain to Mr Smith, if he listens closely: we will not enter into any future contracts. We will negotiate with existing schools to try and transition them. It is that side of the House that is scaremongering and trying to cost the taxpayer money.

Rt Hon Bill English: So is the Prime Minister unaware, first, that her legislation guarantees the closure—legislates the closure—of the schools and, secondly, that the Government will have contractual obligations of up to a million dollars per school if the schools are closed as partnership schools, regardless of the nature of a transition?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I know that the member understands this. We’re ending the model. That doesn’t stop the ability of a school to start operating as a school of special character.

Hon Nikki Kaye: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: A point—was Nikki Kaye’s a point of order or a question?

Hon Nikki Kaye: A point of order. The Prime Minister did not answer the question by the Leader of the Opposition. There were twofold points there, and she should answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: I think she addressed the question, which is the requirement.

David Seymour: I seek your guidance: at what point—

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member will sit down. It’s not the Speaker’s role to do tutorials here; I’m willing to give the member one in my office later.

David Seymour: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I’m not seeking your guidance. I want to know: at what point is the Prime Minister misleading the House when she introduces legislation—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat, and he’s lost his supplementaries for this week. He knows well that to accuse a member of misleading the House in the House in that manner is disorderly. If he’s got any supplementaries left for this week, he doesn’t anymore.


Of note is Chris Hipkins adding a question that was disallowed. He had an opportunity to push his case for his actions as Minister of Education  on Partnership Schools in the General Debate that followed, but he chose to waste Parliament’s time with pettiness instead – see Petty Parliament

Bill English’s resignation

Bill English managed to keep secret the news of his resignation as National Party leader and from Parliament until just before he have a news conference announcing it this morning.

This isn’t really a surprise to me. English was reportedly considering resigning a couple of years ago but stepped up and stayed on when  John Key resigned. English went on to do a creditable job in the election campaign last year, and possibly also to his credit he didn’t concede enough to win Winston Peters’ support to form a Government.

The timing was initially a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense. If he stepped down too soon after the election the party would have not been in a good situation to consider a new leader – after losing power all National MPs would have benefited from considering their futures.

So English waited until everyone was settled into the first full year of the current term, and then made his announcement.

English has been one of the most influential politicians in new Zealand this century. He is widely applauded for managing the country through very difficult financial times, first taking over as Finance Minister as the Global Financial Crisis hit, and then managing our way through the impact of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Labour will be thankful to have taken over when the country’s books are in such good order.

And Jacinda Ardern seemed to genuinely applaud his achievements, as any good Prime Minsiter would:

Just heard the news that Bill English has decided to stand down. Bill has made a huge contribution through his time in office and to politics generally. I admire those who serve NZ in this place, and Bill did for a long time, and he did it well. My best wishes

So it’s a well earned political retirement for English, while National now has to deal with choosing a new leader, but that’s a different story.

UPDATE: Statement on Bill English

RT HON JACINDA ARDERN

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today paid tribute to outgoing National Party Leader Bill English.

“Bill has worked tirelessly as Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Opposition Leader among his many public roles. Very few serve for so long at such a high level, but garner the respect of many.

“He has always stood for what he believes in. He is a man of clear convictions who has always had a genuine concern for the well-being of New Zealanders, and gave a huge portion of his working life to serving on their behalf.

“The impact of public service on a politician’s family cannot be understated. In the 27 years Bill served as an MP, with the support of his wife Mary, his children were born, and grew up.  They have made great sacrifices so he could do his job to the best of his ability.

“I wish Bill and his family all the best for the future,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Interview: Bill English on his resignation

Charter school clash between Labour’s education and Maori interests

As Labour’s education spokesperson last term Chris Hipkins always seemed to represent the education unions. They and he have always opposed the Partnership Schools (charter schools) championed by ACT and introduced by the National led government.  But this has clashed with Labour’s Maori constituency who like the educational alternative charter schools have given them.

Hipkins always signalled that a Labour government would scrap the charter schools, but that didn’t go down well with Labour’s Maori MPs. From 2015:

And last July:

Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

But this week (Stuff): Government moves to scrap national standards and charter schools

The Government has introduced a bill to scrap national standards and charter schools in New Zealand.

However, charter school operators wanting to be involved in education could apply to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

The new legislation was introduced by Hipkins on Thursday, who said it was backed by the vast majority of the education sector.

“Both National Standards and charter schools were driven by ideology rather than evidence. Both were rejected by the vast majority of the education sector. The Government’s strong view is that there is no place for them in the New Zealand education system.”

And the opposition to charter schools of Hipkins and the education unions also seems driven by ideology.

ODT editorial: Ideology-driven education changes continue

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made his intentions about the future of New Zealand’s education system very clear before the election. And he is now starting to deliver on his promises.

The changes, although well signalled, are said to have caught some of his opponents unaware.

At the top of the list is Mr Hipkins’ requirement for private charter schools to change direction, quickly.

Mr Hipkins is quick to condemn the National and Act charter schools, despite evidence non-achieving pupils were reaching levels of achievement previously unheard of. It seems wrong for Mr Hipkins to complain about ideology-driven decisions when, clearly, his dislike of the charter schools is a major reason he is demanding changes.

The preferred option for Mr Hipkins is to explore early termination of contracts by mutual agreement. Operators wanting to be involved in education can apply to the minister to establish another form of school, such as a designated character school.

Strong concerns and resistance has already been expressed by some partnership school operators – who tend to be private trusts rather than money grubbing businesses that opponents of charter schools claim.

As part of the process, applications will need to meet the relevant and so-far unspecified requirements.

It sounds like Hipkins is rushing into this.

The establishment of charter schools gave parents the right to decide how their child was to be educated. Unions criticised the amount of money used for establishing the schools, ignoring the fact it was much less than to establish a state school.

A lot of criticism has been wrong, if not deliberately misleading.

And the Opposition has waded into it: Bill English attacks Labour ministers as ‘the worst kind’

Opposition leader Bill English has lashed out at Government ministers Kelvin Davis and Willie Jackson and their stances on charter schools, accusing them of being “the worst type of politician” by turning their backs on the pupils they used to serve.

Davis, who is Labour’s deputy leader, said last year that he would resign if the charter schools Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū in Northland closed down.

Labour MP and Employment Minister Willie Jackson has also shown support for charter schools. He used to run the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (Muma), which sponsors Te Kura Māori o Waatea in South Auckland and last year successfully applied to open a second charter school.

English lashed out at the ministers today, saying the decision to close the door on charter schools was “nasty and vindictive, and the victims will be the kids”.

“The people in those schools will be very disappointed to find that Willie Jackson and Kelvin Davis didn’t mean a word of it. Despite the fact they went to set up the schools, now they’ve become politicians of the worst sort – turning their backs on the people they used to serve, and worst than that, shutting down the schools they founded.

“For a Government that says that children are at the heart of everything they’re doing, the Prime Minister has not been able to give one reason why it’s good for those kids to have their school closed. It’s a disgrace.”

He took a swipe at the Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day barbecue.

“This is complete contradiction to everything the Prime Minister has said. That’s why she won’t go to these schools. It’s all very fine to make a show of cooking sausages for people on Waitangi Day.

Ardern spoke fine words about a new era in government relationships with Maori at Waitangi, so the timing of Hipkins rush to close charter schools is awkward.

“I challenge her to go to the schools and cook some sausages for the kids, and tell them, ‘It’s the last one, because I’m going to close the school’.”

Hipkins has refused to visit a charter school.

One charter school operator said that a scheduled meeting with the Ministry of Education next week may be pointless now that Hipkins has acted before consultation.

Davis declined interviews today and would not be drawn on his previous promise to resign if the schools closed.

In a statement, he urged the two Northland charter schools to transition into the state school system.

​”If they want to continue delivering kaupapa Māori education, they can – as a special character school.”

Davis, Jackson and Heeni will be under pressure to represent the interests of their Maori constituents – which could clash with Hipkins representing the interests of the teacher unions (I think he’s an electorate MP but his focus seems to be as a union lackey).

From Waitangi’s Waitangi Day to New Zealand’s Waitangi Day

National MP Nuk Koraka explains Why Bill English and I went south for Waitangi Day

By using our national day to engage with iwi from all over the country, we send a message that we’re serious about the spirit of the Treaty instead of being where there will be the most cameras, writes Nuk Korako, National’s spokesperson for Māori Development

Waitangi Day is a day for discussion; a day for remembering; and a day for moving forward not, as some believe, a day for highlighting divisions. Waitangi Day should be – and for most of us is – a day to look back at what has been and come together to look at what can be.

This year, I joined Bill English for Ngāi Tahu’s Waitangi Day celebrations at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Awarua. The decision to go south this year was based on our belief that Waitangi Day is a day important to all Māori across New Zealand, and was in no way a slight on Ngāpuhi, as some have suggested.

The rich history and tikanga felt within the Treaty Grounds made it an undeniably special place to spend Waitangi Day.

We must always remember, the Treaty has signatories across the country, so it is only right to travel to those places like Awarua, in acknowledgement of that. As did our National Party members who attended Waitangi this year. Bill, I and a number of our colleagues spent the day engaging and discussing the progress and the work still to do between the Crown and iwi across New Zealand.

Iwi everywhere have their own stories of the Treaty and what Waitangi Day means to them and that includes Ngāi Tahu. One hundred and seventy eight years ago, on 10 June 1840, Ngāi Tahu Rakatira John Tuhawaiki, Kaikoura Whakatau, and Te Matenga Taiaroa signed the Treaty of Waitangi on Ruapuke Island just across from Awarua. Iwikau and Hone Tikao had previously signed at Akaroa on 30 May. Hone Karetai and my tipuna Korako were to sign in Otago on 13 June 1848.

The Tiriti o Waitangi was a nationwide agreement. Waitangi Day is overwhelmingly focussed on the place it was first signed, Waitangi, while most of the rest of the country largely ignores it, apart from some enjoying a public holiday for some.

By using our national day to engage with iwi from all over the country, we send a message that we’re serious about the spirit of the Treaty instead of being where there’ll be the most cameras.

The Treaty, to other iwi in New Zealand, does not begin and end at Waitangi. The Treaty is not about a place – it’s about people.  It’s not a location – it’s an agreement. And it was an agreement made with a large number of Rakatira across a number of different locations. And the debates that were held in those various locations were as deep, hot, and contentious as the ones that occurred at Waitangi all those decades ago.

Bill’s decision to spend Waitangi in Awarua is not a rejection of Ngapuhi or of others who attend Waitangi. It’s about the rest of the iwi of Aotearoa whose men and women signed the treaty 178 years ago.

The history of protest at Waitangi, and the actions of protesters in drawing attention to themselves is a feature of that part of the country. It does not and never has represented the celebrations that occur in other parts of Aotearoa.

From Ōrākei in Auckland to Awarua in Bluff and even across to the Chatham Islands, February the 6th is a day of whānau, community, and a coming together of Māori and Pākehā to celebrate an event that defines us as a nation.

If Waitangi Day is ever to be recognised as a significant national day then it needs to be embraced and celebrated around the country.

Jacinda Ardern got a lot of positive press for her five day effort in Waitangi, and may have been the catalyst for a new era of recognising Waitangi Day.

But Koroko and English have made an important point.

To really come of age the treaty needs to grow from being Waitangi’s Waitangi Day to being New Zealand’s Waitangi Day.

Will that ever happen?

 

National caucus retreat

National MPs are heading to a two day retreat in Tauranga to ‘build on policies’. Note that it is ‘a retreat’ and not ‘retreat’.

It’s a long way out from the next election to be building on policies, they have plenty of time and opportunity to do that. I expect they will spend some time on their strategies as an Opposition party as well.

RNZ: Nats retreat a chance to build on policies – English

The getaway in Tauranga – the party’s first since its election loss – is a chance for MPs to take stock of their performance and plan for the year ahead.

 

In a statement, Mr English said the retreat would focus on “building on the policies which received such significant support at the election” and devising new policies.

“[The] National Party will continue to outline a clear plan and direction to make that happen as we attempt to earn the right to govern again in 2020.

“By contrast, the new government has just spent five days in Waitangi and not presented a single specific idea on how to improve the lives of New Zealanders – a pattern which has quickly emerged since October.”

He said National was Parliament’s largest party and its “most popular”.

Mr English said last week he did not expect any leadership discussion over the two-day meeting.

“If anything, a bit of a burst of speculation like this has probably hardened up support,” he said.

There appears to be a bit of political mischief involved in the ‘speculation’.

It comes after a series of reports last week that some in the party were agitating for a change in command.

While leader Bill English appeared on safe ground, some National MPs privately told RNZ there was discontent about deputy Paula Bennett.

Some MPs met last night at the home of local MP Simon Bridges for a BBQ ahead of the retreat at Trinity Wharf Hotel. It’s understood the dinner was organised by Mrs Bennett.

 

A political BBQ is often associated, rightly or wrongly, with flaming of leaders.

I doubt there will be any serious challenges to English while he chooses to remain in charge, but Barry Soper continues to stoke things along for someone.

Newstalk ZB: Resignations predicted from National

There are expected to be resignations from National Party MPs in the near future, as turmoil in the party continues.

Turmoil? It would have been a big surprise if some National MPs didn’t resign this term.

Newstalkzb Political editor Barry Soper says that alongside MPs will be at least four candidates who’re next on the party list.

“That would strongly indicate that MPs are planning to resign, with former speaker David Carter and former Treaty negotiations minister Chris Finlayson the most likely,” he says.

Or it could simply indicate the prudent inclusion of peeople on the list who are likely to become MPs over the next two and a half years.

The caucuses annual photograph, planned for early March, has also been postponed, a further sign, Soper says, of impending resignations.

Really? Soper seems to be trying to read tea leaves, forgetting that tea bags took over decades ago.

Soper says that there seems to be a refusal amongst party insiders to accept they lost the election.

Are they calling for a recount? Are they calling for renegotiations of a coalition? Are they calling for the impeachment of Jacinda Ardern?  Are National MPs trying to sit on the wrong side of the House?

I have often seen claims of “a refusal amongst party insiders to accept they lost the election”, but with no evidence.

“Until they get over the loss and their dislike of Winston Peters, the party will find it hard to move on and analyse how they blew it by alienating the New Zealand First leader.

National successfully alienated Peters in 2014, and unsuccessfully tried to bury NZ First in 2017. You win some and lose some in politics.

Any party that has been in power for nine years has some difficulty ‘moving on’ and getting used to being relatively irrelevant and powerless – Labour took nearly nine years after their loss in 2008.

The impression I got was that English and National looked resigned to losing power once Peters became pivotal in deciding who would lead the government last year, as if they viewed it as there time was up. And there may have been some relief that they dodged a bullet.

They have a lot of work to do to establish themselves as an effective opposition and prepare themselves for the next election.

However in the main National’s future is reliant on the performance of the current Government. If Ardern and peters do reasonably well, and the Greens hang in there, it will be their election to win or lose in 2020, and National won’t be able to do much about it, no matter who their leader is.

The retreat in Tauranga is a small step on their way to holding things together until they get another shot at taking over.