Labour “all the more certain” to win

Party President Nigel Haworth has said that Labour are “all the more certain” to win next year’s election because of Andrew Little’s leadership.  He was speaking at an event in Dunedin celebrating the centenary of the party.

That’s rather optimistic given the current state of the party and polls.

ODT: Labour confident in its 100th year

The event was held at the Community Gallery to celebrate the party’s centenary exhibition.

It allowed Labour to look back on its achievements with pride.

“We have done the hard yards. The other side has picked up what we’ve done and sort of tinkered with it,” Prof Haworth said.

The party expected a September 2017 general election, and was six months ahead of what it had anticipated in its preparations, Prof Haworth said.

Hard to see how Labour is six months ahead of preparations, unless they mean with fund raising or candidate selection.

Clare Curran acknowledged the party had not always lived up to its ideals.

It had mostly, but not always, stuck to its values.

“Let’s be honest,” she said.

Asked about the comment, Ms Curran told the Otago Daily Times  there was no point  “glossing over” the economic upheaval of the 1980s, but people should remember it was one part of a significant history.

Labour in the 80s rescued the country from the dire economic situation left be Rob Muldoon, nut now some on the left seem to see Lange and Douglas as dirty words.

Mr Little was keen to look forward, rather than back, devoting much of his speaking time to a campaign-style speech that talked about the “Kiwi dream” and the “deep housing crisis”.

Littler has been using those themes for some time.

If elected,  Labour would not put up with further delay to the Dunedin Hospital redevelopment, and would start rebuilding immediately.

‘If’ elected? I thought politicians spoke more positively than that.

Labour would guarantee no loss of services, and would safeguard its status as a “fully fledged” teaching hospital, Mr Little said.

Dunedin hospital has battled against losses of services for decades under successive governments. With the city and coastal Otago falling behind other parts the country population-wise and the ongoing centralising of expensive health facilities it’s hard to see the level of services maintained.

Listening to Mr Little’s speech was Labour supporter Richard Thomson, deputy commissioner of the Southern District Health Board and a member of the hospital redevelopment partnership group.

He declined to comment when approached by the ODT.

Thomson will know the reality of the situation.


Does anyone recognise this dude?





Labouring with housing for the homeless

Housing for the homeless, for those living in cars, living in garages and cramming into shared accommodation, has suddenly become a media and political issue even though it’s been a problem for many years, decades.

One morning about ten years ago we found a person sleeping on the floor in a passageway in the building where I work. He must have have entered before the building was locked at night.

Like many social issues it’s a difficult one to deal with. Many homeless people live on the fringes of society and can be difficult to accommodate in the system.

But homelessness happens to be an issue that is suddenly getting the media spotlight. And political interests have either created this attention  or are trying to benefit from it.

Bryan Gould: Homelessness a problem Govt chooses to avoid

The Prime Minister, asked yesterday morning on National Radio, what advice he would offer to an Auckland family with nowhere to live but in a car, suggested that they should, “Go to see Work and Income to see what help they could give them.”

The advice that a desk officer in Work and Income could miraculously find them a house they could afford was the equivalent of shrugging his shoulders and saying, “I have no idea of what they could do and I don’t really care.”

This is a very politically loaded paraphrase from Gould and misrepresenting the Prime Minister like this won’t help informed debate.

WINZ is actually a valid suggestion as they deal with emergency benefits and housing for those who are struggling. It is probably the best place to start.

And saying the Government is choosing to avoid the issue is ignorant or dishonest.

Last week: Emergency housing funds good start – providers

New funding will give some relief to families currently forced to live in cars and garages, emergency housing providers say.

The government yesterday announced it will provide $41 million over the next four years to fund 3000 emergency housing places and a special needs grant for people in crisis.

The fund will provide about 800 beds at any one time across New Zealand – 360 of them in Auckland.

Although providers welcomed the announcement, they said the government also needed to address the underlying problems that were leaving increasing numbers of people homeless.

So the Government is clearly trying to address the issue, and this will have been planned and the funds allocated some time before homelessness jump into the spotlight.

A cynic could suspect that news that the Government is trying to do something about it has prompted opponents to try and create a negative impression.

And last month the first increase in benefits for a long time kicked in. Governments will always be questioned on whether they are doing the right things and doing as much as they can but claiming the are deliberately ignoring social problems is dishonest.

Gould suggests:

Yet let us be clear. The problem of families with children forced to live in third-world conditions is eminently resolvable. It simply requires the application of resources – resources that a country with our wealth could easily afford. The issue is one of priorities.

Allocating Government resources is always one of priorities. But there is simply nowhere near enough money to fix every social problem, even if that was possible – money is just one part of a complex mix.

We could put an end to child poverty and housing shortages if we decided to move the issue nearer the top of the list.

While Gould refers to ‘the issue’ he names two and they are both parts of much wider issues. Many children statistically deemed to be in poverty in New Zealand are already housed.

It doesn’t happen because we choose that it shouldn’t. We choose to elect a government that we know will give a low priority to the most vulnerable in our society – a government that on the other hand will strive might and main and will take considerable political risks in the interests of, for example, its friends in the foreign trust industry.

Gould now switches to his real aim – to promote a change of Government. As if that would suddenly fix all problems with housing and children.

Sadly, the cynical view of human nature represented by the values of so-called “middle New Zealand” now allow our government in effect to wash its hands of the problem.

This sort of political rhetoric will do nothing to house the homeless and lift all children out of poverty.

Gould seems to think that waving a socialist wand will solve all the problems, but he is expressing a more extreme ‘diss the Government, vaguely suggest magic solutions’ than the Labour party he supports – a party that is struggling to be taken seriously as an alternative to National, in part because of messengers like Gould.

And it’s not just Gould.

NZH: Andrew Little’s crowded house stunt backfires

There have been recent stories in the media about overcrowding in Auckland, with people having to live in cars, garages and tents on properties.

The problem appears to be worst in Otara, where one house in particular reportedly had 17 people living on the property, with some forced out of the house to sleep in a tent.

Everyone recognises there are real and serious problems with housing , especially in Auckland.

Labour leader Andrew Little attempted to show reporters an overcrowded house in South Auckland yesterday – but it backfired when the indignant owner insisted it was only being renovated.

The media were given an address on Bairds Rd in Otara, which fitted the description of the above house, to wait for the Labour leader.

However, as the cameras were set up, the occupant came out and told journalists the house was in fact being renovated and the tent was full of furniture and renovation materials.

Labour’s communications director Sarah Stuart redirected journalists to the party’s local office before Mr Little arrived.

At the office, Mr Little was a little lost for words and confused about which house he was earlier meant to be at.

There was a house with a tent in the yard whose occupants his MPs Jenny Salesa and Peeni Henare had been working with, he said.

An important part of an MP’s job is to help constituents.

I think that using constituents with problems for political stunts with the media is highly questionable.

However, as the cameras were set up, the occupant came out and told journalists the house was in fact being renovated and the tent was full of furniture and renovation materials.

Labour’s communications director Sarah Stuart redirected journalists to the party’s local office before Mr Little arrived.

At the office, Mr Little was a little lost for words and confused about which house he was earlier meant to be at.

There was a house with a tent in the yard whose occupants his MPs Jenny Salesa and Peeni Henare had been working with, he said.

“I haven’t been to that house, I’ll need to clarify which one that is – there was a house that I was invited to go and talk to the people of, then asked not to go, people didn’t want the level of attention,” he explained.

Labour does not look capable of managing a crowded house story let alone a country.

And it looks like Labour MPs may have a mission to find people with housing problems.

Yesterday Clare Curran posted this on a closed Dunedin News Facebook page:

Dear admin I hope this post is ok:
I am concerned that Work and Income are making calls to people living in state houses to tell them they no longer qualify for a state house and they need to find a private rental. This is despite their circumstances remaining the same. Can anyone verify this has happened to them or someone they know? Message me if you want to provide the information privately.


I thought that generally constituents went to MPs if they wanted help. Here it looks like an MP trying to find people who will help her with a story she is pursuing.

It seems odd that she claims “I am concerned that Work and Income are making calls” but then says she wants verification.

One example was given:

I know of someone who has been in a HNZ house for years and was given a month to get out so a refugee family could move in. There was no change in her income or anything else

Curran responded:

Can you get in touch and ask if she will speak to me

Another Labour housing story in the making?

Compass swings from food farce to terrible tax

The Compass Group has been under fire for food quality in hospitals, especially in Dunedin.

I don’t think hospital food has ever been anything to write home about but recent examples have highlighted food quality problems and also company image problems.

Even more pressure has gone on Compass Group after it has been revealed that they pay bugger all tax in New Zealand, relative to their turnover – about 2%. And there have been suggestions they have been profit shifting to avoid tax liabilities.

Thisb is embarrassing for Compass and also for the Health Minister and the Government.

Radio NZ: Questions over Compass’ tax payments

Compass New Zealand has lent its British-based parent millions of dollars while the fees and royalties it has paid to the UK have quadrupled over the last four years.

Tax experts have said such transactions are commonly used by multinationals to shift profits between subsidiaries to avoid paying tax.

Accounts filed with the Companies Office show its New Zealand arm has been lending the company’s British parent millions of dollars.

Those loans increased six-fold over the last four years to $33 million for the year ended September 2015, up from $5.5m in 2012. Royalties and fees quadrupled over that same period, from $805,000 to $3.5m.

Such so-called transfer pricing transactions are all legal.

However, Auckland tax consultant Terry Baucher described the loans as “unusual”, especially given the interest rate of between 2.9 percent to 3.8 percent was a lot higher than what Compass would pay for borrowing money in the UK and none of the money had been repaid.

“It’s unusual to see. It’s not surprising – intra-company loans go on all the time. But you would think that given low rates of interest available in the UK there was no need for those advances to be made,” he said.

RNZ News asked Compass to explain why a multinational that made a global profit of $2.5 billion last year needed to borrow $33m from its New Zealand arm.

Compass New Zealand has not paid a dividend to its British parent in the last four years, but has paid about $1m in fees and services to its Australian arm each year. Fees and royalties to its British parent between 2012 and 2015 have quadruped to $3.5m.

Dividends and royalties were taxed by Inland Revenue (IRD), and loans were not. Compass New Zealand paid $2m in tax last year, just over 1 percent of its revenue of $170 million.

Compass said it paid that amount because its costs were high and its margins low.

ODT reports: Curran calls Compass’ tax arrangement amoral

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said Compass was not doing anything against the law, but she believed the situation was ‘‘amoral”.

She said there was increased focus on the low rate of tax paid by multinational companies, and the Government was lagging behind other countries in dealing with the problem.

If those Compass costs include royalties and loans transferred offshore then their morals look as good as an unappetising gloop on a hospital plate.


The presumed potato and whatever else is in the centre of the plate represents the Compass Group’s New Zealand revenue.

The portions on the rim of the plate represents approximately how much tax Compass pay in New Zealand.

Clark, Curran speak at anti-TPP event

Labour’s trade spokesperson David Clark and Dunedin’s other Labour MP Clare Curran followed up appearances at last night’s anti-TPPA meeting with speeches at a rally in the Octagon today.

The ODT reports: Octagon declared a ‘TPP-free zone’

Up to 250 people have declared the Octagon a Trans Pacific Partnership-free zone at an ”action event” in Dunedin this afternoon.

Event organiser Jen Olsen said Dunedin should follow suit and become the first city to declare itself TPP-free.

I’ve already mentioned in the previous post that unilateral declarations are not very democratic.

The crowd heard from Labour’s Dunedin MPs David Clark and Clare Curran, the first time the pair have spoken publicly since Labour declared itself opposed to the controversial deal after years of uncertainty over where the party stood.

They seem to have decided to back some fairly extreme trade activists. This is a major change for Labour, who were involved in getting the TPPA off the ground.

Dr Clark, who is also Labour’s trade spokesman, said it had been a ”hell of a ride” since he took on the trade portfolio last month.


Labour trade spokesperson David Clark (Facebook)

The party had taken a “principled stance not a populist stance” to the TPP, which breached New Zealand’s sovereignty, he said.

New Zealand relied on trade, but not at any price, he said.

He said the party needed to be careful how its presented its argument over TPP in order to take “middle New Zealand” along with it.

Taking “middle New Zealand” while lurching leftward may be quite a challenge for Labour.

Ms Curran echoed Dr Clark’s sentiments, and reminded the crowd Labour celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.


“We are immensely proud of our history – most of our history,” Ms Curran said.

Their current actions may or may not be viewed with pride.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei received the warmest response from the crowd, especially when she declared the TPP would bring down the National Government.


She said she had been heartened by the anti-TPP speaking tour featuring US trade authority Lori Wallach.

It wasn’t a big crowd but that sounds like it was Greenish rather than the “middle New Zealand” Labour think they might appeal to.

Labour branch recess “nothing to lose any sleep over at all”

Labour are that brimming with support that the putting of a branch into recess has been descrobed by the Labour Party president as “certainly nothing to lose any sleep over at all”.


The Labour party leadership is shrugging off a move by a Dunedin branch of the party to go into recess because it says it is not left wing enough.

The Anderson’s bay branch of the party has said it is going into recess.

Its organiser, Tat Loo, who writes under the pseudonym “Colonel Viper’ on the left wing blog site, “The Standard”. Said “Labour as an organization is failing ordinary Kiwis both locally in Dunedin and centrally in Wellington on many different levels and it shows every sign of continuing on that track.

“We want no part of propping up the Thorndon Bubble careerist ‘pretend and extend’ set any further and will be moving on to new political projects.”

But party president, Nigel Haworth, said the move was “really quite inconsequential”.

He said it was a minor perturbation.

“It’s certainly nothing to lose any sleep over at all.”

In fact Mr Haworth and leader, Andrew Little, night well regard the move as a minor victory in their quest to make the party more relevant to mainstream New Zealand.

Yeah, right, sheeding support is just what Labour need right now.

Ok, Tat Loo has been a vocal critic of the direction Labolur is heading (right and down) at The Standard for a while. A few years ago he got offside with Clare Curran and she is alleged to have tried to have him suspended from the party.

But Labour can’t really afford to shed factions.

I met Tat Loo during the 2011 campaign (he stood for Labour in the Clutha/Southlan electorate), seemed a nice enough guy but having seen what he writes at The Standard our ideas on politics are obviously quite different.

As Colonial Viper Loo wrote about the branch recess decision at The Standard:

ABP Branch of Labour goes into recess; all Branch Officers to resign

Dunedin’s most active and most innovative Labour Party branch is going into recess.

Going by the comment count (361 to date) there’s been a lot of interest.

Quite funny to see me pop up in the commentary:

Colonial Viper 17.2

thanks RL. To our team forging unity throughout the Left is not going to be the goal, it is going to be shifting and driving authentic political debate, something that many are clearly uncomfortable with.

  • One Anonymous Bloke


    Like Pete George only with conspiracy theories 😆

    • Colonial Viper

      yeah, because everyone on the Std reckons that my politics and that of Pete Georges are directly comparable.

      • One Anonymous Bloke

        I’m referring to the fact that, like yours, his rapier-like debating abilities make people uncomfortable 😆

        • McFlock

          Different sides of the same coin.

          PG often seemed to me to be so keen on the idea that truth was a matter of perspective that he would disappear up his own cartesian doubt.

          CV seems to be so convinced he can read the matrix code as it swirls by that anybody who disagrees with him must be either a fool or a neoliberal stooge.

Quite funny to be included in discussions like that.

Less funny – both Tat Loo and I are potential Labour voters, albeit from opposite sides of their spectrum. That both of us a rejected by Labour and Labour supporters suggests that 30% might be not be left behind any time soon.

But apparently the Labour leader and the Labour president see this as really quite inconsequential, a minor perturbation and  certainly nothing to lose any sleep over at all.


Overdose on irony

In You’d never guess who’s accused me of making stuff up Phil Quin says:

Is it possible to overdose on irony?

‘Cameron Slater’ (this post sounds like Slater) quotes Quin in PHIL QUIN ON THE FERAL OPPOSITION TO DISSENT IN LABOUR and says:

In Labour people aren’t allowed to change their views, have to subscribe to group think and if they don’t then they get run out of town on a rail. Good people have left Labour because of attitudes like these.

Joe Bloggs points out:

Kinda reminded me of all the good people who’ve left WO for exactly the same reason… the irony, the irony, oh how it burns…

But Slater is as inept as Clare Curran – see Quin illustrates dissent in Labour – in failing to see the irony in what they say.

Quin illustrates dissent in Labour

In his latest column Phil Quin sums up his despair about Labour: “I am genuinely exasperated by its unrelenting incompetence, and fearful that New Zealand is on the cusp of becoming a one-party state.

I feel much the same, and I’ve seen many others express similar sentiments. A strong democracy benefits from having at least two strong political parties.

Labour’s continued failure to look like a Government in waiting – and their habits of blaming everything and everyone else and of attacking anyone who criticises them rather than address the problems being highlighted keeps limiting and reducing support that they badly need.

Quin points some of this out in You’d never guess who’s accused me of making stuff up.

Of all people, it was Dunedin South MP Clare Curran who took to social media to attack as “fiction” my latest NZ Herald column on the party’s disastrous TPP policy. For good measure, she added  I am “very bitter”.

Is it possible to overdose on irony?

In my plagiarism posts, I presented several examples of Curran lifting entire sections from magazine articles and inserting them without attribution in a Labour Party policy paper. Neither Curran nor anyone else in Labour disputed my account.

By contrast, when calling my column “fiction” and me “very bitter”, Curran failed to produce a scintilla of evidence to support either claim.  Just another baseless ad hominem attack. Ho hum..

This happens every time without fail.  Some outlet or other publishes something from me that contains criticism of the Labour Party because I am genuinely exasperated by its unrelenting incompetence, and fearful that New Zealand is on the cusp of becoming a one-party state.

The response from Labour is never to dispute the facts as I lay them out, or even to question my interpretation. I am simply attacked for being “bitter”.

Try attempting to out-criticise anything to do with Labour at The Standard if you are labelled a right wing nut job and you will see what Quin is getting at,

So why do people choose the ad hominem attack over engaging on the substance of arguments to which they object?  After all, I cop a fraction of what others with unfashionable views endure on a daily basis.  Sadly, personal vilification in lieu of argument is a ubiquitous feature of the modern discourse.

When they have only a party entrenched in negative behaviour without a positive outlook people tend to lash out at others. Instead of addressing and fixing their own faults.

The problem for Labour is that they call in the attack dogs each and every time. All dissent amounts to apostasy.  Every critic must be acting in bad faith: they are embittered over a factional stoush twenty years ago; they harbour ulterior motives; they’re on someone’s payroll.

The impact on people like me who cop the abuse is neither here nor there; what should worry Labour supporters is that an ethos that delegitimises dissent makes reform impossible – and that, without reform, the party’s future looks very bleak indeed.

I also think Labour’s future looks bleak. If they do manage to cobble together a National beating coalition after the 2017 election I think it would be a miracle if they survived in Government longer than a single term – if they manage to last that long.

Quin pointed to examples of the inclination towards personal attack:

So you can see why I might feel a tad hurt by Curran’s digs, since I went out of my way during the plagiarism episode to avoid disparaging her. (Curran also honed in on the Josie Pagani for retweeting my article: “Josie,” she snarled, “why are you so anti-Labour?”).

I saw that exchange between Pagani and Curran and it’s a good illustration of one of Quin’s points.

As for a number of MPs who don’t like criticism I get this when I try to view Curran on Twitter:

You are blocked from following @clarecurranmp and viewing @clarecurranmp’s Tweets.

But Josie Pagani is more open to engagement so it’s easy to see what happened via her.

Labour’s position on TPP undermines all international agreements, from climate change to human rights. Phil Quin:

another piece of fiction by the very bitter Phil Quinn. Why are you so anti-Labour Josie?

another piece of fiction by the very bitter Phil Quinn. Why are you so anti-Labour Josie?” Nice Clare-try engaging in issues

gee Josie. All you do is bag Labour at every turn.

: gee Josie. All you do is bag Labour at every turn.” Your ‘unity’, also collective denial. I want a Labour gov

could have fooled me. Our position clear & principled on the But we haven’t seen the text so reliant on briefings & leaks

Reaction outside a few Labour MPs has suggested their position is far from clear and principled.

Other reactions were mixed.

No you don’t you want a neoliberal national light government.

Pagani don’t give a shit about anything or anybody that isn’t Pagani.

A modern and successful party allows discussion, disagreement and debate surely?

And all Labour does is bag everything in sight and not.

one would of thought so we need new energy , new ideas and new talent

Away from the smug trolls, honestly, & with respect would be nice.

I’m all for that. Sick of snide remarks. I accept Phil’s got the right to make his points.

As Quin said in his post – “Is it possible to overdose on irony?”

Clare Curran for Dunedin mayoralty?

The ODT has a story about rumours that Labour MP Clare Curran may stand for the Dunedin mayoralty.

Mayoral hopes verified, denied

The fog of war is descending as Dunedin’s mayoral aspirants jockey for position a year out from local body elections.

While some candidates are already putting their hands up for the top job, including Cr Andrew Whiley, others, including sitting Mayor Dave Cull, are continuing to play their cards close to their chests.

But that hasn’t stopped the rumour mill kicking into high gear in Dunedin. Much of the early attention is focused on one woman _ Clare Curran.

Ms Curran, Labour’s sitting Dunedin South MP, has been linked to a tilt for the Dunedin mayoralty by a variety of sources speaking to the Otago Daily Times.

She sounds like an unlikely candidate for Mayor.

The rumour is said to have come from inside Ms Curran’s office, although she vehemently denied the ”mischievous” suggestion when contacted.

”You will not see my name on the ballot paper next [local body] election.

”I’m the MP for Dunedin South. I’ve got a job.”

As far as political denials go that’s a strongish one.

Political commentator Bryce Edwards, of the University of Otago’s politics department, said a mayoral bid by Ms Curran ”sounds unbelievable”, but Labour was ”going through some quite serious reorganisation”.

Declining support for Labour in Dunedin South during the last two general elections could ”absolutely” mean Ms Curran was a candidate for change, as the party looked to renew itself, he believed.

”No doubt there will be some MPs that are having pressure applied to them to move on. It’s entirely feasible Clare Curran is one of those people.

”Questions are being asked within Labour about the ability of incumbent MPs to hold their party vote up. That’s the real measure that the party is judging all of their incumbents on.”

Ms Curran’s name recognition and profile would give her ”a strong shot” at Dunedin’s mayoralty, and she would also follow in the footsteps of some prominent Labour colleagues, Dr Edwards said.

It needs more than name recognition, although David Benson-Pope was elected to council in 2011, presumably more on name than reputation as a failed MP.

Curran just seems like an unlikely mayor to me.

But her future in Labour doesn’t look great.

Members’ bills

Three new Members’ bills were drawn today.

Carmel Sepuloni’s Social Security (Pathway to Work) Amendment Bill

This bill removes the disincentives to engage in part-time work by lifting the threshold of how much persons can earn before their benefit is reduced by abatement rates.

Dr Russel Norman’s Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill

This Bill will direct public fund managers to divest from companies directly involved in the exploration, mining, and production of fossil fuels

Clare Curran’s Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill

This bill amends the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013, establishing a Technical Advisory Board to which matters must be referred in instances where the Minister will be required to exercise his or her discretion or prescribe an additional area of specified security interest.

Labour and interference with Maori TV

Reported at Maori Television: Ihaka takes up Senior Communications Advisor role:

Putting Māori Members of Parliament (MPs) at the forefront of important New Zealand politics is Jodi Ihaka’s plan, as she was recently appointed the Labour Party’s new Senior Communications Advisor (Māori).

“I’m really excited to use my communication skills in such an important Māori advisory capacity.  I have loved my time at Whakaata Māori (Māori Television) and have nothing but respect for the Māori journalists on Te Kāea and Native Affairs,” says Ihaka.

The position sees Ihaka take on a key advisory role to Labour leader, Andrew Little as well as Māori MPs including Kelvin Davis, Peeni Henare, Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Nanaia Mahuta and Adrian Rurawhe.

Of Te Aupōuri and Ngāti Porou descent, Ihaka says her grandparents were staunch Labour supporters and taking up this role means she is making a call about her own political affiliations.

Just days ago, the Native Affairs journalist was getting story leads from Senior Labour MPs and will now play the role of cheerleader, camp mother, and all consuming communicator.

That’s one way of interfering, pinching one of their top journalists. But that’s not what Labour is complaining about.

3 News reports: Labour claims interference with Maori TV:

Labour is accusing a minister’s office of editorial interference in Maori TV.

Clare Curran has released copies of emails Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s press secretary sent to a producer.

In one of them, Hinerangi Barr questioned the purpose of a panel debate on the Maori welfare delivery programme Whanau Ora.

“I don’t think the issue will be covered in any depth if you have NZ First on it, for example,” she told associate producer Kelvin McDonald.

In another email to Mr McDonald, Ms Barr said: “I’m just not convinced that you’ll enlighten your viewers by having a panel of politicians talking about Whanau Ora.”

Mr McDonald had asked Mr Flavell to appear on the programme with representatives of other political parties.

Mr Flavell had agreed to take part.

However, the minister met Maori TV’s chief executive Paora Maxwell on May 20 and later that day the programme was cancelled.

Ms Curran questioned Mr Flavell in Parliament yesterday about the meeting, and Mr Flavell said the programme hadn’t been discussed.

He said the meeting had been in his diary since February.

Ms Curran believes the Maori Television Service Act has been breached.

It states: “The responsible minister, or any person acting on behalf of or at the direction of any minister… must not direct the service or any director, officer or employee of the service in respect of the preparation or presentation of current affairs programming.”

“Just days ago, the Native Affairs journalist was getting story leads from Senior Labour MPs” – one could wonder whether Labour MPs were getting story leads from Native Affairs journalists.

Curran questions Flavell in Parliament yesterday:

[Sitting date: 17 June 2015. Volume:706;Page:14. Text is subject to correction.]

10. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister for Māori Development : When he met with the Chief Executive of Māori Television in May, did he or his office discuss the planned Native Affairs debate on Whānau Ora?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. In answer to the question: no. I met with the chief executive officer of Māori Television once in May 2015. The meeting itself had been confirmed in my diary since February 2015, when I believe I had my first meeting with him. I did not discuss, and do not discuss, planned news items or editorial decisions, as those are matters for the staff of Māori Television to consider.

Clare Curran : Did his press secretary question the format and offer alternative suggestions for a proposed Native Affairsdebate regarding Whānau Ora, which was to have occurred on Māori Television on 1 June 2015?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I am advised that my media secretary had communications with the associate producer of Māori Television to clarify the purpose of the panel and, having been told by Māori Television that it was to discuss Whānau Ora and its details, she questioned whether a panel of MPs, including MPs from New Zealand First—who have clearly never understood in any detail what it is all about—would achieve the stated purpose.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is well known that a Minister cannot seek to answer and lay out the policy of another political party, particularly when it is so demonstrably false.

Mr SPEAKER : I just want to rule on the point made by the Rt Hon Winston Peters, because he is right on this occasion. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! When answering a question, it just does not help the order of the House to take the opportunity to criticise in any way another political party.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : The questioner asked about discussions that might have occurred with my press secretary—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The Minister will now resume his seat. I have no problem with that part of the answer. The part that caused a little disruption in the House was the reference to whether or not another political party understood the purposes of Whānau Ora. That was not helpful and is not actually in accordance with the Standing Orders.

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

Mr SPEAKER : Is this is a fresh point of order?

Hon David Cunliffe : Yes, it is a completely separate point of order.

Mr SPEAKER : I will hear it.

Hon David Cunliffe : There was a degree of to and fro across the across benches, which made it difficult for members here to hear the Minister’s initial reply. I wonder if it would be possible for the Minister to repeat his reply to the previous supplementary question.

Mr SPEAKER : If the member is saying that he did not hear that—I heard most of the answer without any difficulty—I have got to accept the member’s word. Would the Minister please re-give his answer without the part that caused some difficulty in the last answer.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I will do my best. In answer to the question: I am advised that my media secretary had communications with the associate producer of Māori Television in order to clarify what the purpose of the panel was, and, having been told by Māori Television that it was to discuss in detail what Whānau Ora was about, she questioned whether a panel of MPs, including New Zealand First—for those are the statements—would achieve the stated purpose. The note continues in the same discussion thread with Māori Television. My media secretary confirmed also that I was happy to be interviewed on the Whānau Ora story, and that is because I do not shirk my responsibilities and I would have no difficulty in answering questions about the value of Whānau Ora, because it has benefited so many families’ lives throughout the country.

Clare Curran : I seek leave to table emails dated 14 May 2015 and 19 May 2015 between the Minister’s press secretary and a Māori Television associate producer, which offer alternative suggestions for the format and which question the need for New Zealand First to appear in the proposed Native Affairs debate regarding Whānau Ora that was to occur—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I think the document has now been described more than adequately. Leave is sought to table this particular email. Is there any objection? There is.

Clare Curran : When he told the Māori Affairs Committee this morning that neither he nor his office expressed a view about what should be screened or who should be approached to comment on Māori Television, why did he not admit then that his own press secretary had indeed engaged in an email discussion with a Native Affairs producer about what should be screened and who should be approached to comment?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : It is pretty simple: I did not believe that the communications between my press secretary and, indeed, Māori Television did what the member has just said.

Clare Curran : Is it correct that on the afternoon of 20 May 2015, just after he met with the chief executive officer of Māori Television, Paora Maxwell, the planned debate regarding Whānau Ora was cancelled?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : That is very insightful. Yes, it was cancelled. We were notified on that date, having also told Māori Television on the 14th that I was prepared to appear on that programme.

Clare Curran : I seek leave to table an email dated 20 May 2015 at 3.13 p.m. from the producer of Native Affairs stating that the proposed debate on Whānau Ora had been—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. The email has been described adequately. I am putting the leave. Leave is sought to table it. Is there any objection? There is.

Clare Curran : I seek leave to table an email from Paora Maxwell dated 22 May 2015 showing that he met with the Minister for Māori Development on Wednesday 20 May.

Mr SPEAKER : Leave is sought to table that particular email. Is there any objection? There is objection. [Interruption] Order! If the member wants to ask a supplementary question, get on with it.

Clare Curran : Can he assure this House unequivocally that he has complied with section 10 of the Māori Television Service (Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori) Act, which states that a “Minister, or any person acting by or on behalf of or at the direction of any Minister … must not direct the Service … in respect of … the preparation or presentation of current affairs programmes”?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Absolutely.

Clare Curran : Did he post a tweet on 8 June in response to Graham Cameron that he had never been invited to talk to theNative Affairs programme about the Whānau Ora programme?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : I am not sure, but I think I did post a tweet and confirm that I had not been invited. The communication that the member has talked about was through my press secretary. It had not arrived to me, and I stand by what I said.

Clare Curran : I seek leave to table a copy of the 8 June tweet by the Minister in response to Graham Cameron.

Mr SPEAKER : Leave is sought to table that particular information. Is there any objection? There is objection. [Interruption] Order! A member on this side is trying to ask a supplementary question.

Clare Curran : Is he concerned about the claims of continued editorial interference with the Native Affairsprogramme, including stories on Whānau Ora and Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust; and if he is concerned and is not a party to this editorial interference, as he claims, why has he not investigated these allegations or raised them with the chief executive officer and chair of Māori Television?

Mr SPEAKER : The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell—any of those three supplementary questions.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL : Those issues are matters for both the board and the chief executive; they are not the prerogative of the Minister.