Labour moves into local body politics

The Labour Party are at least looking in to becoming more closely involved in local body politics.

It’s impossible to avoid questions about Phil Goff’s bid to become Auckland mayor while remaining a Labour MP.

Further to this the Taxpayers’ Union has raised the issue of whether Labour is using taxpayer funds set up an Auckland office “to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns” – see REVEALED: SPEAKER’S WARNING TO LABOUR ON TAXPAYER FUNDED CAMPAIGNING

The concerns raised with the Speaker came after an email was sent by Paul Chalmers, the Project Manager at Labour House, to Labour’s Auckland supporters detailing how Andrew Little had opened an Auckland office that will be “the centre of the Labour and progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns.”

“It appears that Andrew Little and his MPs are pooling together taxpayer resources to open a campaign office in central Auckland for the Party and Phil Goff’s campaign for the Auckland mayoralty,” says Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams.

The Speaker has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service will be monitoring Mr Little’s spending and has written to him setting out the rules for taxpayer funded out-of-Parliament offices.

Mr Williams says, “We’ve expressed concern before that Mr Goff intends to be paid as an MP in Wellington, while he is campaigning for a new job in Auckland. This letter from the Speaker suggests that he too is concerned with MP’s taxpayer funded resources being misused for political purposes in Auckland.”

The original email, and the correspondence between the Speaker and the Taxpayers’ Union is available here.

But it’s not just in Auckland that Labour are looking at local body campaigns.

Palmerston North:

Party politics enters Palmerston North City Council election campaign

Party politics could be about to become a feature of the Palmerston North City Council.

The Labour Party is seeking to endorse councillor candidates at October’s local body elections.

Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway and Labour electorate committee chairwoman Lorna Johnson said the prospect had been considered for some time.

Lees-Galloway said the abolition of wards in 2013 had made it inevitable that many potential candidates would need support to campaign across the whole city.

“We think it will help get more diversity on the council.

“We want to add to the council, not dominate it.”

Why is an MP involved?

And Dunedin:

Councillors split over Labour ticket prospect

Councillors have divided into camps over the prospect of more party politics inside the Dunedin City Council.

Some city councillors welcomed the prospect when contacted by the Otago Daily Timesyesterday, saying any initiative that helped quality candidates to step forward should be encouraged.

But others warned any councillor elected under a national political party’s banner risked being beholden to Wellington, ahead of the city’s electors and ratepayers.

The divergent views came after it was confirmed the Labour Party was considering a “Local Labour” ticket to promote candidates for DCC council seats, and possibly the mayoralty, in October’s local body elections.

Cr Andrew Noone said he would not object to the initiative if constituents were calling for it, but “I feel it’s being driven not by the local community”.

The test would be whether Labour-aligned councillors made decisions based on evidence and advice from council staff, “or whether they do it on the basis of Labour Party policy”.

Other councillors welcomed the initiative, including Cr David Benson-Pope – a former Labour-aligned councillor and Cabinet minister – who said he was considering joining the ticket after running as an independent in 2013.

Not surprising to see Benson-Pope keen on a Labour ticket.

Is Labour looking at a more prominent involvement in local body politics elsewhere in the country?

 

 

DCC votes to be Green climate lobbyists

The infiltration of Green national politics into local body government took a worrying turn yesterday. Dunedin City Council has voted in four climate change resolutions:

• Urge the Government to adopt a tougher carbon emissions target.

• Support the Government in that goal by reducing Dunedin’s carbon emissions.

• Join the international ”Compact of Mayors” agreement to measure and reduce emissions across Dunedin.

• Ask the Government to place a moratorium on deep sea oil and gas exploration.

It looks like there is a big dollop of Green Party national politics in those resolutions, with the Dunedin City Council voting to allow themselves to be Government lobbiests on issues of national and international interest.

The resolutions were brought before the council by Crs Jinty MacTavish and Aaron Hawkins.

I don’t think McTavish is officially in the Green Party but is closely aligned with more extreme Green policies, and has been influential in promoting Green policies and practices at a local body level.

Hawkins stood as a Green Party candidate in 2013 local body elections when he became a councillor.

The ODT reports in Council says yes to climate change resolutions that there was some opposition:

Cr Andrew Noone said Dunedin would be better off ”walking the talk” than telling the Government what to do.

Cr John Bezett said the issue was one for central Government, and Dunedin was ”wasting our time” giving its opinion.

Cr Andrew Whiley said climate change was a problem needing to be addressed first and foremost by the world’s biggest polluters, including China and India.

Both there was more support in a fairly left leaning council:

But that view was rejected by Cr Richard Thomson, who said grass-roots pressure was what drove governments to make big decisions.

Cr David Benson-Pope brought cheers from the gallery for his speech on why Dunedin had to take a stand.

”Like it or not, colleagues, we are part of our community. In fact, we are supposed to be some of the carriers of the moral leadership.”

”There was no question what thousands of New Zealanders thought about the issue during the weekend’s climate change marches,” he said.

”They think this community needs to move.

”I agree with them, and I’m not reluctant to … tell the Government it’s time that they got real and re-established a degree of political integrity and moral fibre on this issue.”

Benson-Pope has a Labour rather than a Green background. He was an MP from 1999-2008.From 2005-2007 he was Minister for the Environment in the Clark Government.

Unusually for a setting MP he was not selected by his party to stand again for Dunedin South in 2008. It seems like he still has a hankering for being involved in national politics.

I’m not surprised with this Green politicking in Dunedin, the Greening and Lefting of the council was an issue of concern raised in the 2013 election.

I would rather the Dunedin council put more effort into administering and improving Dunedin for their rate payers rather than delving into Green national politics.

UPDATE: In other news in the ODT today things that don’t seem to matter so much to DCC councillors:

Queenstown-Lakes also fared well in the number of dwelling consents issued in October with 96, up from 65 in September and by far the highest for the past 12 months.

Central Otago had 19 dwellings consented, up from 16 and again the highest total for the past 12 months.

Dunedin slumped to 19 dwelling consents in October from 25 in September.

That’s depressing enough, but more so given the headline: New year looks good for Otago builders.  Not so much for Dunedin builders.