Little versus Cunliffe

One of the biggest talking points on the left  of the Labour reshuffle announced yesterday was the demotion of David Cunliffe from 14 to 28, and what looks to be a humiliating appointment by his leader Andrew Little.

Cunliffe led Labour in an embarrasing election defeat last year. He then sort of stood down but stood for the leadership again.

Little beat him in the leadership contest, and punished Cunliffe with a ranking of 14, appointing him to these spokesperson roles in 2014:

  • Regional Development
  • Tertiary Education
  •  Innovation
  •  Research & Development
  •  Science & Technology
  •  Associate Economic Development

Yesterday Little ranked at 28 (out of 32 MPs) with these roles:

  • Disarmament
  • Research and Development
  • Science and Innovation
  • Land Information
  • Associate Education (Tertiary) Spokesperson
  • Undersecretary to the Leader on Superannuation Issues.

Some similar roles but he has been dropped to Associate level on tertiary education. Chris Hipkins being given  Spokesperson for Tertiary Education may gall Cunliffe (which may be what was intended).

Claire Trevett comments on that last role of Undersecretary to the Leader in Andrew Little takes bull by the horns in Labour reshuffle:

After successive leaders tip toed around the issue of David Cunliffe, Little has finally been brave enough to take the bull by the horns and simply dump him down the rankings with little hope of any return flight.

The dumping has come with some glitter attached but all up, that simply makes it the proverbial polished turd.

Mr Cunliffe has effectively gone from being the leader to the ignominy of being an Under Secretary to the leader. It will mean Mr Cunliffe is charged with the “spade work” in developing options for the party’s policy on superannuation and reporting on those to Mr Little directly.

Mr Little insisted that under-secretary role was meaningful and a show of confidence in Mr Cunliffe. He managed to avoid answering the question of whether it was a signal Mr Cunliffe should call time.

In a comment by Northsider in Labour’s reshuffle announced today at The Standard it apears that Cunliffe supporters have also taken a hit.

Lees-Galloway supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
Shearer? ABC
Parker? ABC
Wall supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.
Cosgrove? ABC
Nash? ABC and a owned by RWNJs.
Mahuta supported Cunliffe and is getting punished.

You may think that there is a pattern here, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

(ABC = the Anyone But Cunliffe club)

As leader Cunliffe struggled to get support in the Labour caucus but he had a strong niche of support amongst left wing activists.

It may not be helpful to Labour’s chances of rebuilding to have politically smacked them in the face along with Cunliffe.

And Chris Trotter also comments on Cunliffe’s enforced slide at The Daily Blog in Puppet On A String? Has Andrew Little become the plaything of Labour’s dominant factions?

Consigning David Cunliffe to the rear of the battlefield, and replacing Nanaia Mahuta with Kelvin Davis do not strike me as the decisions of a wise general. (Although they may be those of a panicky one.)

As a number of right-wing commentators have already pointed out, the treatment of Cunliffe is as wasteful of the man’s talent as it is self-indulgently vindictive.

It is interesting to speculate about how Cunliffe’s supporters in the broader Labour Party will respond to Little’s brutal treatment of him.

Some will recall the statespersonship of Helen Clark, who judiciously divided up the top jobs between her friends – and foes. Others will recall with some bitterness the assurances given to them by the Labour hierarchy at the party’s recent conference.

The bitter divisions of the past had been healed, they said. Caucus and party were now working together, they said.

Yeah, Right.

Cunliffe is down and seems to have been shown the way out of Labour’s caucus by Little.

Time will tell how that plays out with a small but very vocal pro-Cunliffe support base.



Fiasco in Parliament over Christmas Island

Most of the attention is on John Key over his remarks aimed at Kelvin Davis and Labour foir “backing rapists” – I think thaty was way out of line from key but more on that later – but there’s a number of aspects to this.

The ex criminals, including New Zealand citizens, awaiting deportation who sent to Christmas Island and held their by Australia doesn’t look flash, and it isn’t. Retained without any charges remote from any possible contact with family or lawyers looks crap, and with Australias convict past they should know better and treat people better, regardless of their background.

This was brewing here anyway, but it became much more volatile with the uprising over the last few days.

It’s worth noting this tweet exchange prior to Parliament sitting today.

The twinning erosion of democracy marches on unabated under National, as independent media voices take refuge at RNZ

Kevin Retweeted David Cunliffe

So what will MPS from T opposition do about it ? we have a biased speaker in T house &T opp let him get away with it

Leftwing needs to pull head out of arse, unite as block & file OUT OF CHAMBERS at every biased speaker ruling

10:31 am
David Cunliffe Retweeted ⒶctivistsⒶotearoa

Breach of standing orders to criticise Speaker. Which is why I don’t.

If the opposition parties walked en masses it would be heard loud and clear. Just need to do it.

11:40 am
David Cunliffe Retweeted jocey


For the first time in17 years I voluntarily left Question Time in protest. Key saying “Labour supports sex offenders” over 501s is outrage

Cunliffe appeared to be one of the first to leave the Chamber.

Prior to this, as John Key was walking to Parliament, Kelvin Davis approached him, got in his face and ‘yelled’ at him according to NZ Herald in John Key accuses Labour of ‘backing rapists’:

Labour MP Kelvin Davis shouted at Mr Key on the way into the House, accusing him of inaction in helping New Zealand detainees in Australia.

“Prime Minister, you’re gutless,” Mr Davis yelled as Mr Key walked past.

That wasn’t a good look from Davis. It can be assumed it was deliberate provocation just prior to Question Time in Parliament.

I don’t know what Davis expects Key or the New Zealand Government to do. The Austrlian Government is doing what it wants to do, and no matter how bad a look there is probably little more New Zealand can do about it.

Under questioning by Labour leader Andrew Little, Mr Key went on a furious offensive.

In an angry attack, he said: “Some of the [detainees] are rapists, some of them are child molesters, and some of them are murderers.

“These are the people that the Labour Party are saying are more important to support than New Zealanders who deserve protecting when they come back here.

“Mr Davis, if you want to put yourself on the side of sex offenders, go ahead my son, but we’ll defend New Zealanders.”

When Mr Little questioned why New Zealand did not demand more action from Australia, Mr Key launched another attack.

“You back the rapists,” the Prime Minister said, before being cut off by the Speaker.

Again, what does Little expect Key or the Government to do? They can’t force Australi into doing things differently. It would be like Samoa or Fiji trying to tell New Zealand what to do.

This all sparked a furore in Parliament and on social media. Labolur’s Chris Hipkins tried to pass a mition of no confidence against the speaker for not insisting that Key withdraw and apologise.

I think an apology would be appriopriate from Key but Hipkins didn’t follow correct procedure and that was rejected.

This is likely to rage for a while. More than a few people would do well to pause and consider the whole situation, and what in practical terms can be done about it here.

Key is probably calculating on public support for not doing more to get ex convicts to New Zealand more quickly. The Government only recently proposed how they would deal with New Zedalanders deported back here.

On 3 News in Distant riot causes unrest at home Patrick Gower caused more unrest at home (at least on Twitter):

The Kiwis are known as ‘501s’ after section 501, the hard-line law forcing them out of Australia because of previous criminal convictions.

Now they are trapped while they are processed.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised the detainees could get out and back to New Zealand “quickly”, though Mr Key today revealed quickly could actually mean weeks.

“What the Labour Party is saying is ‘to hell with the rest of New Zealanders – these people should be put on a commercial aircraft and dispatched to New Zealand’. Well you back the rapists and I’ll back New Zealand,” said Mr Key.

Gower used some fairly strong terms to describe detainees. He gave some details:

Crimes for which New Zealanders are awaiting deportation:

  • Child sex offences (including pornography) – 34
  • Murder (including manslaughter) – 22
  • Rape, sex offences – 16
  • Assault (including grievous bodily harm) – 121
  • Theft, robbery (including armed), breaking and entering – 83
  • Drug offences – 64

The accuracy of these numbers is being disputed on Twitter.

More than a few in New Zealand will be happy to see some of them staying on Christmas Island, something that Key isa probably banking on.

10.11.15 – Question 1 – Andrew Little to the Prime Minister

What action, if any, has he taken to follow up on his statement to Malcolm Turnbull regarding New Zealand-born Australian detainees on Christmas Island, “I think, in the spirit of mateship, there should be some compassion shown”?

Contrasting views on Cunliffe speech

David gave a speech yesterday in Parliament’s General Debate. There have been two contrasting posts on this:

‘Notices and Features’ at The Standard: David Cunliffe on the state of the media in New Zealand

Ir wasn’t exactly on the state of the media, it did mention the media a bit but was more a reflection on the state of Cunliffe feeling sorry for himself and for Labour and looking for something else to blame.

There’s some fairly mixed comments. Here is one of the more complimentary:

David Cunliffe is correct in every aspect in what he delivered in that speech.
Well done.

Where the hell is the Media in not high lighting these facts ?

Democracy , how the hell can we say that this country is still a democracy when it is obvious it is not.
We are being controlled by a slimy few from the inner National Party.

Never, ever has there been a more devious Govt.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: The Cunliffe conspiracy theory on why he lost.

David Cunliffe gave a speech last in Parliament’s general debate which sounded more like a blog post on a left wing blog.

It didn’t take long for it to become a speech posted on a left wing blog.

Farrar points out a few errors and questionable claims.

Don’t expect a speech like that from Cunliffe at Labour’s conference.

If you want to waste five minutes of your life listen to the speech:

What now for Andrew Little?

Andrew Little started his leadership of Labour last year obviously a bit rough around the edges but showing promise as leading a new approach by Labour, hopefully on the way to recovery after a disastrous election – actually after three poor election results.

But something seems to have happened to Little during the summer break. He appears to have been sucked into the party machine and spat out as a strategy leading puppet.

This looks similar to the destruction of David Shearer as a new style leader.

Like Shearer Little looks uncomfortable in his role.

The Chinese surname strategy has gone down badly on the left. There’s been comments like ‘if Little keeps digging it won’t be long before he comes out in China and he can check out the speculators for himself”.

It’s difficult to know if Little is having trouble fitting into the role of leading, or if he’s struggling with a party strategist imposed role.

Matthew Hooton claims the Chinese surname thing is a carefully planned strategy orchestrated by Matt McCarten, including Little’s reaction at yesterday’s press stand-up – see Little buckles under pressure as he and Twyford keep digging.

Whatever – Little looks like he is struggling with his role as Labour’s leader.

Following Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe.

There’s more than a hint that Labour’s problem may not be several individuals. The party seems fundamentally flawed.

Can Little break the cycle and forge and actually lead the party? The signs aren’t looking great.

Improving tax compliance on capital gains

In the past Labour MPs have repeatedly claimed and implied that property speculators don’t have to pay tax on capital gains. A year ago then leader David Cunliffe and finance spokesperson David Parker both pushed this fallacy. From Cunliffe and Parker repeat claims on property speculation:

David Cunliffe in a speech to Young Labour:

We have too many children who are getting sick because they live in cold, damp, cramped houses with black mould growing up the walls. Sometimes owned by speculators who just push the rent up while getting rich on tax-free capital gains.

David Parker on The Nation:

“You need to tax the speculators….capital gains tax”
“Loan to valuation ratios would not be needed if they were taxing speculators and building affordable homes.”
“National Party, despite the fact that we had 40 percent house inflation, they’re not doing anything about it. Not taxing speculators…”

Presuming they must have known that IRD does pursue compliance on taxing the capital gains of speculators this looked dishonest.

It’s good to see that Andrew Little seems to be either more informed or more honest. He recently suggesting that the Reserve Bank target speculators as reported in Focus on spec buyers: Little

 Mr Little said the Government must take action on property speculators who were damaging the housing market.

Mr Little is known to not favour the introduction of a capital gains tax, something Labour had campaigned on in the last two elections and lost.

Mr Little said there were several options the Government could take to prevent property speculators building up large housing portfolios and pushing up house prices.

First home buyers, or those who wanted a rental property for retirement, were being shut out of the market by lending restrictions that should be targeted at property speculators who sometimes owned 10 to 20 houses and sat on them, he said.

”The solution needs to focus on Auckland. There is no point in a family trying to buy a house in Wanganui, where prices are dropping, being subject to lending restrictions designed to lower house price inflation.”

Another solution could be those buying multiple properties needing a higher level of equity for subsequent purchases, he said.

But the most important action was to build more houses to increase supply.

He’s on the same page as National in seeing the need to increase the supply of houses. And I’d expect him to agree with Bill English in his approach in IRD to clamp down on speculators.

Finance Minister Bill English yesterday rejected calls by the Reserve Bank to remove tax incentives for investment housing, which the bank has blamed for rising house prices in Auckland. But he said there was an ongoing discussion about whether the Inland Revenue Department could be doing more to enforce existing rules on property trading.

Mr English said there was already a tax in place for people who bought property with the aim of reselling it.

And with real estate agents and buyers reporting high levels of trading activity in Auckland, “there is a question of whether that should give rise to further enforcement activity”.

Speculators are already taxed, when the IRD can determine that they have been speculating.

At present, speculators have to declare that they are buying a house with the intention of reselling it. They are then taxed on the sale.

The IRD scrutinises property transaction records to make sure people are complying with this rule. In particular, it looks at how quickly a house is sold and the number of houses a person is selling.

Figures released by the IRD showed that $52.4 million was collected in 2013/2014 from speculators or traders – either from one-off speculative transactions or patterns of dealing. This figure is expected to increase in 2014/15. The IRD has already collected $63.2 million.

So IRD are addressing speculation and their tax take is increasing.

Any potential changes to the IRD’s resources would be announced as part of the Budget on May 15.

That suggests that the rules are seen as sufficient but that more resources may be provided to improve compliance with tax on capital gains when speculating.

A Little lineup leaking

Andrew Little will announce Labour’s new line up this morning, but some key details seem to have been leaked. Is this the infamous Labour caucus sieve still at work, or are snippets deliberately being drip fed by Little?

Patrick Gower has tweeted that “word from inside Labour” is that Annette King will be Little’s deputy, Grant Robertson will get the Finance role and David Cunliffe won’t be on the front bench.

David Parker has already said he doesn’t want either the deputy nor finance roles and there was speculation he may quit Parliament after seeming to be hit hard by his leadership bid failure.

But the Herald ‘understands’ that Parker has been brought back “into the fold”.

Mr Little also said he had brought David Parker back into the fold after speculation last week that he could leave Parliament. After coming third in the leadership contest, Mr Parker said he did not want to retain the finance or deputy positions, which prompted questions about whether he would remain as an MP at all.

Mr Little said he had “a very good discussion” with Mr Parker and he was confident that the role he had been given would “meet his expectations”.

King as deputy would be good, she is one of Labour’s most respected old school MPs and has been acting as leader during the leadership contest. She was deputy leader under Phil Goff’s leadership from 2008 until she resigned after Labour’s defeat in 2011.

She would also help Little bridge the caucus divides.

Robertson in Finance is interesting. It is one of the most demanding and important roles. It is also a nod towards bridging divides, but keeping Robertson as busy as possible may also be a crafty move. Helen Clark did similar with Michael Cullen after beating him in a leadership contest.

Little said he would review his MPs’ portfolios after a year, and that he wanted his MPs to have at least two years’ experience in their roles before the general election.

“We’ve got three years … and we want the best going into 2017.

“So I’ve made the judgment that I’ve got a year to try some people out, to try some new things, try some new combinations and see how those work.”

“I think you’ll see that this reshuffle is about bringing the caucus together as a team.”

“Bringing the caucus together as a team” will be one of Little’s biggest challenges and a key responsibility of deputy King.

And if these details are unauthorised leaks and the leaking continues then the King should start beheading any offenders.

Gower: Cunliffe not on Labour’s front bench

Maybe Labour’s leaks haven’t been plugged yet.


Word from inside Labour that David Cunliffe has been ABCed. Not on Front Bench.

Or perhaps it’s a managed leak to get this news out prior to the main announcement tomorrow, to dilute the potential negative coverage.

UPDATE: more from  ·

Word from inside Labour is that Annette King is deputy and Grant Robertson has finance.

Word from inside Labour is that Little is his own man, kept Cunliffe back, wasn’t pressured by ABCs.

Stepping up in the Labour boat

Andrew Little – obviously he has to step up big time. He’s put himself forward as leader, he has been chosen, and he has a massive job to do.

Labour caucus – while Little has to work on uniting his Caucus all the MPs need to unite behind Little and contribute to recovering and rebuilding.

Past leaders – Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe have all had a go and failed. It is their duty to help Little succeed.

Grant Robertson – he ran a very close race and will be bitterly disappointed. He needs to take some time to get over it, then do his utmost to help Little and Labour succeed. He isn’t leading the party but he can and should take a significant role in leading the Caucus support of Little.

David Parker – has indicated he doesn’t want to be deputy and doesn’t want to be Minister of Finance. He may be disappointed and he may be hurting, but this is very disappointing. Parker thought he was good enough and committed enough to be Labour leader, so he must be big enough and committed enough to be a strong senior member of Little’s caucus. He go in on the Labour list for another three year stint, like all the other MPs he owes it to Labour to do his utmost repair the damage and rebuild.

Nanaia Mahuta – has been criticised for being low profile and insignificant in her EIGHTEEN YEARS as an MP for Labour. She felt she could take on the huge challenge of being party leader. She must step up and repay her party.

Andrew Little has taken on a huge challenge. His success will be partly up to him, and it will just as much be up to all other 31 Labour MPs in Parliament, as well as the Labour Party.

If they all don’t out in the effort and work together they will live down to National’s expectations (this was a multi-party dig but it could be applied to Labour’s past performance on their own):

LabourRowboatOr this will be the Labour boat:


The joke going around Labour

Tracey Watkins writes at Stuff – Labour misses points-scoring chances – where she mentions a joke in Labour circles.

There’s a joke doing the rounds in the Labour Party as it prepares to name a new leader next week.

If it was up to the fans, Buck Shelford would still be captaining the All Blacks, the joke goes.

Not all MPs will find that funny.

Mickey Savage and Norm Kirk can’t be brought back. There has been ongoing suggestions to bring back Helen but she seems to be committed to United Nations having left behind Divided Labour.

But the joke touches on something that is quite serious.

Labour’s leadership primary is hugely popular with its grassroots – demonstrated by the 3000-strong turnout at meet-the-candidate meetings across the country.

But it has not done the Labour caucus or the next Labour leader any favours. It was the grassroots who imposed their “Buck Shelford” on the caucus last time round over the MPs vehemently-held belief that David Cunliffe was unelectable.

We will find out what leader the grassroots and the union affiliates impose on caucus this time.

This is a major challenge for the leadership contenders – to appeal enough to the vocal activists in the party, to the remaining diehard members, to the unions and to caucus enough to be chosen, but then to become attractive to a much wider constituency, to become electable.

Cunliffe won because he spoke the language of the activists and in the process committed Labour to a course that had no allure to the swathes of middle New Zealand the party wants to woo.

One of Cunliffe’s major failings was that he spoke the language of each audience he was facing, and that language kept changing as much as his audiences.

His lack of consistency and widely perceived lack of authenticity was a major handicap.

Twelve months later, here we go again, though with one important difference: there is no Cunliffe in the mix.

It will be important that Labour’s new leader can widen their appeal without being a traffic light chameleon, expanding on their in-house campaign principles without flashing too much of a different colour each time the traffic changes.

Labour’s lack of rebuilding over the past six years has been a sad political joke.

The party needs to choose a new leader who can seriously attack their problems while being seen to have an ordinary person sense of humour.

Can a shitty Shearer stay?

David Shearer obviously still feels very hard done by and blames David Cunliffe for his difficulties as leader and his subsequent demise.

Is there room for both of them in the Labour caucus? Shearer says Cunliffe should resign.

After Shearer announced he wouldn’t contest the Labour leadership – I don’t think he was ever a serious contender considering his negative attitude to the job – he seemed to take every media opportunity he could get to lash out at Cunliffe and Labour.

I think this was ill-considered and destabilising at a time that Labour has to start to look like it can work together positively.

Shearer lobbed a hand grenade riddled with year old ill feeling into the leadership debate. He put personal bitterness before his party.

Most of Shearer’s lashing out has been directed at David Cunliffe – ironically at the same time that Cunliffe withdrew from the leadership contest. Old scores being unsettled.

Stuff reported David Shearer comes out swinging:

Earlier today, Shearer launched a bitter broadside at Cunliffe, his supporters, Labour’s brand and union influence in the leadership contest.

Shearer said that when he was leader, Cunliffe and his colleagues “undermined and white-anted me”.

Confusingly Shearer said he thought Cunliffe should have stayed in the leadership contest but now he has pulled out he should quit Parliament.

Talking to reporters before Labour’s caucus meeting – and after ruling out of another tilt at the top job – Shearer said it would have been better if Cunliffe had stood for leader, rather than pull out yesterday.

That would have presented a cleaner break and enabled everyone to get behind the new leader.

Now Cunliffe should quit Parliament, Shearer said.

Cunliffe’s response sounded far more reasonable.

But Cunliffe said he “rejected and refuted” the claims.

“It is simply untrue. There is no substance or truth in the allegation I white-anted him,” he said.

“I had no knowledge at all of the moves to replace him. … It was not done by my friends.”

Cunliffe said he wished Shearer well for his future and hoped all his colleagues would respect each other and put the best interests of the party first.

Right now Shearer is nowhere near respect and the party’s best interests.

Can Shearer and Cunliffe co-exist in the same caucus, with one and possibly both harbouring resentment at being ousted from leadership?

Cunliffe is currently the one making the right noises but can he be trusted? He hasn’t had much support from the Labour caucus and will have less now.

If Cunliffe remains in Parliament will Shearer quit?

This doesn’t bode well for Labour and will present major ongoing challenges for their soon to be chosen new leader.