By-election or general election?

When news came out that David Shearer was likely to resign from his Mt Albert electorate to take up a UN job Andrew Little suggested an early general election would be more appropriate than a by-election.

One News: Little calls for early election instead of Mt Albert by-election brought by David Shearer’s expected move to UN role

Labour leader Andrew Little says his party is “ready to go” and that a General Election should be held in mid-winter 2017, instead of a by-election that would be triggered if Labour MP David Shearer takes up a new job at the UN.

Labour Leader Andrew Little said today it was his preference for a General Election to be held mid-winter in 2017 instead of later in the year.

General elections are not supposed to be scheduled at the convenience of a party leader.  It would be ludicrous if an Opposition MP resigning before the end of their term justified interfering with the normal 3 year term, which is short enough as it is.

But after new Prime Minister Bill English announced a Mt Albert by-election date (25 February) acting Labour leader Annette King continued asking for an early election. She posted this PR yesterday:

National no-show gutless, but Labour is ready

Labour is ready and keen to talk about the problems facing electors in Mt Albert despite the gutless decision of Bill English not to front a National candidate there, says Labour Deputy Leader Annette King.

“English is running scared from his first test as a leader. He clearly doesn’t want another bloody nose after the Mt Roskill defeat.

“We are more than ready for another contest and relish the chance to talk to people in Mt Albert about how Labour can help them deal with the problems around rising crime, health, public transport and housing affordability.

“We take nothing for granted and will be seeking a mandate for Labour’s new candidate in Mt Albert. As we showed in Mt Roskill, we are ready to fight a by-election and a general election.

“The easiest solution really is for Bill English to do everyone a favour. For tens of thousands of Kiwis a change of government can’t come soon enough so let’s save the cost of a by-election and bring forward the general election,” says Annette King.

The easiest solution would be for Labour to not dump so many leaders who then find better jobs outside Parliament. Already this year Phil Goff has resigned and David Cunliffe has indicated he will resign as soon as he can avoid precipitating a by-election. With David Shearer that’s all three post-Helen Clark ex-leaders jumping ship.

Labour want an early election so they can try to beat Bill English before he can establish himself as Prime Minister.

Or they want a by-election so they can benefit from a taxpayer funded campaign opportunity to kick off their election year.

Someone as experienced as King promoting this pathetic bull is ridiculous. Perhaps her influence is one of the reasons Labour has become a party of whinging and negativity.

It’s a bit rich of King to grizzle about National deciding not to stand a candidate in Mt Albert just after announcing she has decided not to stand in her Rongotai electorate in the general election, giving her leader Little an opportunity to win a safe seat.

General elections should only be called if it becomes impossible for the Government to continue governing effectively. King must know this, yet she barks at a by-election, and barks for a general election.

David Shearer’s valedictory

David Shearer left the United Nations to take over Helen Clark’s Mt Albert electorate 2009 but it wasn’t his first attempt to get into Parliament. He stood for Labour as a list-only candidate in 1999 (position  62 so well out of contention), and contested the Whangerei electorate in 2002 (doing well but still 3,000 votes short of Phil Heatley in a fairly safe National seat).

When Phil Goff resigned as Labour leader in 2011 Shearer was selected to take over. He struggled to adapt to the role of Leader of the Opposition, not being a natural politician and not learning the rote ropes. He was undermined by some in the Labour caucus, and gave up and resigned in 2013, stating “My sense is I no longer have the full confidence of many of my caucus colleagues”.

He continued in Parliament down the ranks, at 13 until his resignation this week  from Parliament. He has a new UN job trying to sort out a dire situation in South Sudan.

He has been referred to as the best Foreign Minister New Zealand didn’t have, and also as the best Prime Minister New Zealand didn’t have, but he didn’t really fit into the political mould.

Shearer gave his valedictory speech in parliament yesterday.

Draft transcript:


Mr SPEAKER: In accordance with Standing Order 360(3), I call on David Shearer to make his valedictory statement. I understand it is the wish of the House to suspend for the dinner break at the conclusion of the statement.

DAVID SHEARER (Labour—Mt Albert): Tēnā koutou katoa. The last valedictory statement in this House was delivered by my friend Phil Goff. He seems to have started something of a trend, but our speeches are going to be somewhat different. Phil’s lasted almost 30 minutes—1 minute for every year he spend in Parliament. So, following his lead, mine is going to be short and sweet.

I would like to start by congratulating Bill English and Paula Bennett—Bill proved this week that perseverance certainly does pay—and I wish them both my very best wishes. Good on them. I would also like to acknowledge and thank John Key for his service to New Zealand. I believe he showed courage in standing aside when he did.

You know, it is worthwhile looking back over your maiden speech when you depart, and comparing the ambition at that time my achievements do look a bit lean. I have not been in Government, I was not in Cabinet, and I did not even get to be Prime Minister. As the song goes: “Regrets, I’ve had a few.” But the goal is always to leave maybe with a few regrets but without bitterness. That is how I leave today, because, in so many ways, my political journey has been immensely satisfying.

First, it has been a privilege to be a member for Mt Albert. It is a real joy to both live in my community and contribute to it. I have given many forgotten and forgettable speeches in my time, but I do remember the people who have come into my office seeking support and who I have been able to try to help out. Voters in Mt Albert sit all over the political spectrum, yet they took me to heart as their MP. But there is always the odd exception. I remember standing outside Edendale School one day at 3 o’clock, as you do, handing out leaflets. A woman walked by and muttered something insulting as she went to pick up her child. She came past me again, tugging her 6-year-old boy behind her as she walked, and he looked up and waved: “Hello, David Shearer!” Sadly, I will be out of here before he gets to be voting age. To the people of Mt Albert: thank you for your support. Sorry to cut out so early compared to my predecessors.

Being an MP is an extraordinary vantage point to see and understand your own country. I have been privileged to meet many great people. I have particularly enjoyed—because it has been new to me—the access to businesses, to scientists, and to innovators that many people in New Zealand never get to meet. We have such wonderful talent out there.

The reason for my attachment to the Labour Party is quite heartfelt and very simple: over the past century no other institution has more shaped New Zealand and how we see ourselves as people. We take its boldness and its achievements for granted. But my fascination has always been with what went through the minds of those leaders before their landmark decisions, before they launched into the unknown. How did Michael Joseph Savage feel before pioneering the social safety net for New Zealanders, in a world where it had never existed before? What was Kirk thinking before deciding to send a frigate into Mururoa Atoll? Or those who sought to take a risk to settle Māori grievances right back to 1840? The Waitangi Tribunal is, I want to say, an institution that has been extraordinarily healing our country. It is simultaneously a truth commission, drafts history, acknowledges wrong, and compensates for loss. I actually think we should export it; the world needs it more than anything else.

But those nation-shaping decisions and others relied on courageous people who stood up in spite of what the polls said or the focus groups. They were big and they were visionary and occurred under Labour. They were about being progressive. So if I could make one teeny-weeny, wafer-thin criticism of this Government with such immense political capital: I think it could have been more ambitious.

Our economy still resembles the 1960s. My first speech I remember as Labour leader focused on our need to broaden our economy beyond primary products. Other like-sized countries—Denmark, Singapore, Israel, and, Mr Brownlee, even Finland—have overtaken us. Our science, technological, and creative endeavours still await the step change they deserve. It is perhaps actually our biggest challenge in this country.

My second speech as leader advocated a living wage. I think the debates over tax cuts miss the point. The most fundamental way to address inequality is actually to lift wages. Right now our taxes, effectively, subsidise those who choose to pay low wages. A woman stopped me in the street a couple of weeks ago and said she had returned to New Zealand 5 years ago and was struggling to get her small business going—”I’d have made more money buying a house in Sandringham.”, she said. Yes, I do believe we need a capital gains tax. We now spend more on pensioners than on educating our young. Yes, I do think we need to address the age and cost of retirement. Average prices of houses in Mt Albert exceeded $1 million—actually quite a long time ago. Yes, I do think it is time for the Government to get in and build houses.

I believe in free-trade agreements because we will always have greater opportunities and strategic leverage being connected than being disconnected at the bottom of the Pacific. Free trade can concentrate wealth though, and it is the job of Governments to ensure that prosperity is shared and that inequality is addressed. If there is one thing that Brexit and the US elections have shown us, it is that Governments can no longer sit back in their sort of laissez-faire splendour, as they have done for the last two generations.

Leader of the Opposition is the toughest job in politics. I can tell you that without doing it, nobody knows quite how tough it is. And, of course, everyone around you is the world’s expert on what you should be doing. So Andrew, I wish you all the very best. I think you the possess the personal qualities that this job needs.

For me, the Labour leadership was a highlight and, ultimately, obviously, a huge disappointment. It is a huge privilege now to have my photo on the caucus room wall, alongside many of my heroes. And I am not going to go into the whys and the hows of what happened—there is a whole cottage industry of people out there who can do that—but I want to thank the people who did put their faith in me and stood by me. Sadly, I think we were at our best at the end.

To Fran Mold, my chief of staff, in particular, who was fiercely protective of me and who has become a good friend, I am particularly grateful. But there are other people I want to acknowledge and thank. The staff around Parliament always show incredible courtesy and friendliness, and I thank them. A special acknowledgment to the staff of our world-class Parliamentary Library, which I use so much—they are great. To those journalists dedicated to actually reporting the news, thank you. You serve us well. [Interruption] Claire Trevett said she is putting a few people together tomorrow night, just as a sort of a farewell. I thank you for that, Claire.

Thank you to my parliamentary colleagues. I wish you every success next year. It is time for a Labour Government to go boldly, as our forebears have done. And remember, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I will be with you in spirit.

A special mention goes to Damien O’Connor, who came up to me during the 2011 leadership contest and asked whether I was going to stand. I said I was not sure I would get more than one vote, and he said: “Oh, I’ll vote for you.”, and so I threw in my name. In these contests, you understand, two votes are vastly superior to just the one.

To my electorate committee—Phil Harrington, Carol Symington, Dave Fowler, Jan Marie, and others who stood by me and did not waver, I owe you a great debt of gratitude. To my staff I also want to offer my thanks—to Raewyn Tate, my first executive assistant. I will miss Hannah Sperber’s warmth, her fine mind, and her wonderful sense of humour. Therese Colgan came to me after working with Helen Clark—baptism by fire. Five foot, nothing, of Irish descent, she is passionate and she is tough with a huge heart, and she has made a difference in the lives of so many in my electorate.

Alec McLean, who is here in the gallery today, worked for Muldoon before the Beehive was built. He has worked for Sir Don McKinnon, for Helen Clark, and for many others. When I became leader, he took a pay cut and joined me from the Governor-General’s office, and when I stepped down, he took another pay cut and came with me. Apart from his clear lack of financial acumen, it has been great working with him, and I thank him. He retires with my departure, and I thank you, Alec, for your service, not just to me but to Parliament in general.

I am blessed with a handful of true friends and a tight family. I want to thank my brother, Alan, and my sister, Gillian, and my friends Mark and Cam for always being there.

My daughter, when she was about 11, said to me: “Why are people so nasty and rude to you?”. I said “I think it’s because I’m a politician.”, and she said: “They should remember that you’re a human being, as well.” It is tough for kids to see their parents attacked through the media, and it is impossible to hide it from them. When I came into Parliament, my kids, Vetya and Anastasia, were at school, and today they are young adults, and I am immensely proud of them. My wife, Anuschka, has simply been my rock, and I thank her.

Many years ago, some friends and I followed the Nile River on a boat down to Juba in the south of Sudan, and from there we paid a Somali truck driver to take us for 4 days across the south of Sudan and into Kenya. At one of the stops we were in the back of the truck and we were peeling mangos and throwing the skins and some stale bread we had not eaten over the side, and a dozen kids below us were fighting, we found, over our rubbish. It was probably the only food that they had had that day. It had a profound effect on me. It spurred me into humanitarian work around the world, and I have been privileged to work side by side with some wonderfully dedicated people.

So when I received a call a couple of weeks ago offering a position in the same region, I did not hesitate. It was, in many ways for me, completing the circle. My hope, as always, is that I can make something of a difference. And, wouldn’t you believe it? When I was in New York last week, I remembered I had a bank account there.

Politics, for some, is the book of their life. For me, it has been a chapter. At one point I hoped it might have been multiple chapters. It is time for me to start a new chapter.

So, with that, I will say goodbye. I have enjoyed my time here immensely, and I enjoyed most of all, I think, the comradeship that I have had across all of the parties. I wish you all and your families well for the Christmas break and the holidays, and whoever wins next year—and no prizes for guessing, obviously, who I will be backing—take care of my country for me. And, for God’s sake, be bold. Thank you.

David Shearer to leave Parliament?

It is being reported that David Shearer is likely to quit Parliament and work for the UN gain.

This will excite the left of Labour who considered him right wing. It will further deplete the Labour’s moderate.centrist wing, with Shane Jones and Phil Goff already gone and Clayton Cosgrove going.

It may also mean another by-election, in Shearer’s Mt Albert electorate. That could be a challenge for National and the new Prime Minister.

Or some are saying it could sort of justify an early election.

Stuff: David Shearer reportedly to lead UN mission in South Sudan, quit Parliament

Labour MP David Shearer is reportedly close to resigning from Parliament to take on the tough assignment of leading the United Nations mission in strife-torn South Sudan.

A recommendation for Shearer’s appointment has been put before the UN Security Council by outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, NZME reported.

The appointment is expected to be approved this week, after which the Security Council’s 15 members have two days to object.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Shearer had the Government’s strong support: “It’s a huge deal”.

“This is the toughest peace-keeping assignment on the planet. It is a difficult and dangerous place.”

So it looks likely but not confirmed.

McCully promoting this story now, before it’s a done deal? The timing is very suspicious.

There was a report yesterday that John Key could head the IMF but that was old and debunked – Key says he isn’t interested.


Possible by-elections

There’s a couple of probable and several more possible by-elections in store before next year’s election (NBR’s Rob Hosking has suggested John Key should call an early election for later this year but I don’t see that happening).

It’s expected that Phil Goff will win the Auckland mayoralty so a Mt Roskill by-election seems very likely.

Maurice Williamson has just been appointed Consul-General in Los Angeles. Williamson had already indicated he would retire at the next election but now a by-election in his Pakuranga electorate looks possible, but RNZ says that “his start date is expected to be set late enough to avoid triggering a by-election”.

There has been speculation (but no definite sign) that Nanaia Mahuta may resign from Parliament. If she does that well before next year’s election then there would be a by-election in her Hauraki-Waikato electorate.

If the Auditor General comes down hard on Murray McCully over the Saudi sheep deal then McCully may bring forward his exit from his East Coast Bays electorate (he has announced he will step down at the next election).

It ‘has been rumoured’ (according to Matthew Hooton) that David Shearer might be offered ‘a senior appointment’ and leave his Mt Albert electorate. Shearer is at odds with Labour leader Andrew Little, regarded as too right wing.

Hooton is also speculating that Stuart Nash, another non-left Labour MP, may jump to the NZ First waka (there has been alternate party speculation and rumour with Nash for years). That would put his Napier seat up for grabs (I think that’s unlikely before the next general election).


Shearer on Syria and Turkey etc

David Shearer posted on Facebook:

Overnight, Turkey crossed the border into Syria: that’s a major escalation.

New York Times: Turkey, Sending More Tanks Into Syria, Steps Up Pressure on Kurds

BBC: Turkey warns Syrian Kurds to withdraw east of Euphrates

CNN: Why Turkey sending tanks into Syria is significantTurkish authorities have been pressed into taking action against ISIS by the surge of suicide bombings in Turkey, as well as the terror group’s use of safe houses and “informal” financial services on Turkish soil. But Turkey is anxious that ISIS’ vulnerability could provide an opportunity for their “other” enemy in northern Syria — the Kurdish YPG militia — who have taken several villages near Jarablus recently.

Syria, Iraq, Turkey, ISIS, the Kurds, Russia, USA, France – it’s very complicated.


The conflict in Syria is complicated, it’s horrific – almost daily there are serious breaches of humanitarian law including the bombing of hospitals. It’s something NZ is trying to lead on in the UN Security Council, sadly without much success.

Given the conflict has gone on for such a long time it can sometimes be hard to remember how it began. I’d recommend this backgrounder from the BBC:

Syria: The story of the conflict

More than 250,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four-and-a-half years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other – as well as jihadist militants from so-called Islamic State. This is the story of the civil war so far, in eight short chapters.

Q & A – US Politics, Shearer, Nauru, Mahe

This morning on Q & A:

talks with Derek Shearer a former Bill Clinton advisor and US ambassador

And then talks about what NZ’s response should be to the

Leaked files detailing abuse of asylum seekers on Nauru speaks to a fmr aid worker abt what she saw

The Nauru revelations look awful, and it makes Australian handling of asylum seekers look awful.

Guardian: The Nauru files: cache of 2,000 leaked reports reveal scale of abuse of children in Australian offshore detention:

Exclusive: The largest cache of documents to be leaked from within Australia’s asylum seeker detention regime details assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm


I don’t know what New Zealand can do about it but some condemnation wouldn’t go amiss.

Also we’ll have the latest from | We will talk to defending Olympic champion + more

It will be good to see Mahe but I have no idea why Q & A devote some of their time to Olympic coverage when there is so much coverage elsewhere.

Little trying to forbid MPs associating

Andrew Little is trying to control who Labour MPs can associate with, but not very successfully.

Newstalk ZB: Labour MPs forbidden from associating with “right-wing” Wellington mayoral candidate

Wellington Mayoral candidate Nick Leggett appears to be public enemy number one for the Labour Party as its MPs are forbidden from associating with him.

Labour Leader Andrew Little has pulled rank, preventing MP Stuart Nash from speaking at an event where Mr Leggett was also speaking.

Mr Little said the event was for right-wingers who have routinely sought to undermine the Labour Party and it’s not right for a Labour MP to share a platform with people who do that.

And he’s making it clear he considers Nick Leggett, a former Labour Party member, a right-winger.

“His campaign manager is well-known ACT party identity. We know that there’s money from the right-wing that has gone into his campaign. He’s a right-wing candidate.”

This is stupid. Is Little going to stop Labour MPs and candidates from associating with right wingers and people who try to ‘undermine’ Labour during next year’s election as well as this year’s local body elections?

However, Leggett is laughing off suggestions he’s right wing.

Mr Leggett said he’s standing as an independent and doesn’t believe there’s a place for party politics in local government.

“I’ve got people that have worked on my campaign from all parts of the political spectrum, mainly Labour and National obviously. That’s local government, you unite around good ideas for the communities that you live in.”

Labour has endorsed current deputy mayor Justin Lester for the position.

Little doesn’t think it’s a good idea though. If Labour candidate Justin Lester wins the Wellington mayoralty will Little try to tell him who he can’t associate with? Councillors who until recently were members of the Labour Party?

And it gets stupider.

When it was pointed out to Little that David Shearer had attended the same function, Little said: “I’m saying it is not right for Labour MPs to be associated with events like that and with people who seek to undermine the Labour Party.”

Shearer attended – as any MP should be able to – but Nash was prevented from associating with Shearer and others by Little.

Will Little try to stop Labour MPs from associating with right wingers and people who try to undermine Labour in Parliament?

A blame and inflame campaign

David Shearer posted this on Facebook:


There’s currently 340 comments, ranging from this:

Meegan Edwards What a blatant waste of taxpayers money once again. I’m sure they would rather be elsewhere too. Paula Bennet is a self righteous unpleasant user who is where she is not because of hard work but because she got a hand up…and then some. Disgusting human.


Jonathan Taylor Good man. Show these cowards for what they are. If she needs body guards she needs to hire them. Members of the public would struggle to get that kind of protection. I wonder what dairy owners think when they know the respond times for serious crime then see this.


Mark Unsworth I have huge respect for David Shearer but that comment was total nonsense .David’s caucus colleague Phil Goff needed a similar police presence when he was Minister of Education and bravely faced protestors at Vic University.His former leader Helen Clark needed the same at Waitangi. Were they out of touch ? No- just doing their job

Jared Gibbs Also I doubt very much that the minsters themselves organise their own security detail.

I’m disappointed with this from Shearer. He should know that the Police decide what protection MPs require and provide it accordingly.

It is an ugly but essential sign of our democracy that MPs are seen to need Police protection.

Shearer is adding to a blame and inflame campaign against Bennett that has resulted so far in the claimed need for police protection – I don’t know who else was at the meeting and what it was about, nor whether the protection was specifically for Bennett.

Pat Allen I used to think Shearer was smart and had potential. But now I think he’s stupid. Doesn’t he see the correlation between his statement and Donald trumps promotion of violence. He should be condemning the people who threaten his fellow politicians, not blaming the politicians, whoever they are.

Blaming and inflaming can contribute to mad people doing bad things, like what happened in Orlando.

Newshub in March: Paula Bennett condemns Facebook shooting threat

Despite a violent social media post calling for her death, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says she doesn’t want to have constant police protection while out in public. 

Ms Bennett today revealed someone on her Facebook page said she should be shot dead at her next public outing.

The post in question says: “People own guns out there i dare any1 2 shoot the b**** dead at hr next public appearance [sic].”

The person goes on to say they hope the Prime Minister is standing behind her so it’s “2 birds 1 bullet”.

It’s very sad to see this sort of thing in New Zealand politics, and Shearer should be well aware of the risks.

Newshub yesterday: Why the extra security for Paula Bennett and Nick Smith?

In an unusual move, a police bodyguard provided close protection for Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett and Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith at a public meeting in Auckland on Monday night.

The plainclothes police officers stood beside the ministers as they addressed the crowd at the housing meeting in Blockhouse Bay.

Usually only the Prime Minister requires the protection of the Diplomatic Protection Squad and his ministers travel freely.

Prime Minister John Key says the amount of police and security at the event was “standard”.

“When we have public meetings sometimes if the issue is particularly hot and we’re aware through social media you’re likely to get a significant number of protesters then the police attend those meetings and that’s a logical thing to do.”

But it’s not just the former Labour leader who is taking cheap political shots over police protection.

But Labour leader Andrew Little says security detail was required because the Government has angered the community over its failure to address the housing crisis.

“Ministers have been doing community meetings since time immemorial and last night they turned up with a security detail. Nick Smith did not speak without a security person being there within spitting distance of him.

“That tells you ministers are under siege, people are angry, they are concerned and they hold this Government responsible.”

Little is also guilty of excusing and legitimising the threat and blaming the Ministers.

It’s very sad to see the need for police protection for our Ministers.

And it’s sad to see Little and Shearer indulging in what looks like a blame and inflame campaign.

Little still mixed on TPPA

Andrew Little still seems to have mixed positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Patrick Gower:

So Little is loudly saying he is opposed to the TPP one minute, and then the next minute he’s quietly admitting he’d vote for the good bits. It is a Jekyll and Hyde show where Little is Jane Kelsey one minute and Phil Goff the next.

He tried to gloss over the Goff/Shearer/Helen Clark/et al elephant in Labour’s TPPA room in his ‘State of the nation’ speech yesterday:

I’d also like to acknowledge Phil Goff.

It’s funny, Phil seems to be at every gathering in Auckland with more than three people for some reason. Phil, this is going to be a big year for Auckland, and I know you’ll do a fantastic job as Mayor.

Little  may be looking forward to Goff resigning from Parliament if he wins the mayoralty, so he doesn’t figure in next year’s election lead up.

He addressed the TPPA directly later in his speech.

The truth is, this government has given up on the future.

They’ve been selling us short.

There’s no better example of this than the TPP agreement the government will sign next week at Sky City.

You know, over the summer, I managed to work my way through large parts of that agreement.

It wasn’t the breeziest of summer reading, I’ll say that much.

But what the text of the TPP makes very clear is that this Government has traded away our democratic rights.

Under the TPP, our democracy is under threat.

New Zealand’s parliament will be constrained in its ability to pass laws in our — your, mine, our kids’ interests.

In fact, on issues like labour laws, and environmental laws, our government is now obliged to give the governments of eleven other countries — and their big corporate players — a say on the laws we make.

New Zealand MPs will no longer be solely responsible to the people who elect them.

And I cannot accept that.

Labour has been a champion of free trade for decades. But we have never been asked to pay the price of the erosion of our democratic institutions.

Binding future parliaments, making our government accountable to politicians and corporations overseas instead of voters here at home?

That’s not free trade.

That’s special rules for the powerful and privileged at the expense of the voters of New Zealand.

Last week Goff and David Shearer made it clear that they have quite different views on the TPPA, publicly confirming their support. Shearer will have to apologise to the Labour caucus for breaking their collective responsibility. Goff had been given a pass by Little.

However after the speech journalists asked Little about the TPPA and he revealed that he was still not totally against it.

Patrick Gower reports:

In his speech, he talked up Labour’s opposition to the TPP to cheers from the party faithful. Then he came over to journalists and admitted Labour would support certain laws that put some parts of of the TPP into action, confirming Labour would vote for legislation that reduced tariffs for Kiwi exporters, which the official advice shows will be required.

So Little is loudly saying he is opposed to the TPP one minute, and then the next minute he’s quietly admitting he’d vote for the good bits. It is a Jekyll and Hyde show where Little is Jane Kelsey one minute and Phil Goff the next. It is a political con-job aimed at keeping his own supporters on side by opposing it while emotions are running high with the signing next week, but not wanting to get caught out as being against New Zealand exporters when the benefits kick in down the track.

If Little really opposed the TPP, he would refuse point-blank to vote for any legislation that enables it. Until he does that his position lacks credibility, and that means the TPP is quickly becoming a big problem for Little. He’s got MPs Goff and David Shearer going rogue with their public support but — unlike him at least they are up-front and easy to understand.

Little and Labour still have a big problem over their mixed messages and clash of support on the TPPA.



Censuring Shearer, Goff let off

Collective caucus responsibility imposed on David Shearer, breaking ranks is fine for Phil Goff.

Andrew Little says he will ensure David Shearer for expressing his support of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at the same time that Labour as a party swings to full anti-TPPA, but he is letting Goff off. This inconsistency is odd and could prove problematic for Little, now trying to deal with a split caucus.

NZ Herald reported last night (but dated 5:30 am this morning):

David Shearer to be censured over breaking Labour line on TPP

Labour MP David Shearer is set to be censured for breaking the Labour line on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after speaking out in support of the trade agreement.

Labour leader Andrew Little would not outline possible sanctions or comment on whether Mr Shearer could be stripped of his foreign affairs portfolio.

“There is a range of options. I don’t want to go into any of them, but it is important he understands, and that every caucus member understands, that caucus collective responsibility is real and it’s got to stand for something.”

“I’ve had one discussion with David so far just to ascertain the facts. I’m yet to have a further discussion with him about what happens now, but I think every caucus member knows caucus collective responsibility is utterly vital and there has to be some sort of consequence if that is breached.”

But Goff has been let off – why does caucus collective responsibility not apply to him?

Although fellow MP Phil Goff also spoke in support of the TPP, Mr Little said he had agreed Mr Goff could break ranks with the party because of his long-standing support for the trade agreement as Trade Minister when the talks kicked off.

Shearer has supported the TPPA for some time as well, As have other Labour MPs.

The treatment of Mr Shearer differs from that of Mr Goff, whose comments rubbished claims the TPP was an unacceptable infringement of New Zealand’s sovereignty — the very reason Labour is opposing it.

However, Mr Little has confirmed Mr Goff had a dispensation which allowed him to break the party line. Asked if he had told Mr Goff to at least stop speaking publicly on the issue, Mr Little said he had discussed it with Mr Goff and “I’m confident we have a shared understanding about that”.

He said most people recognised Mr Goff was the trade minister who initiated the negotiations and had a “deep-seated”view on it. Mr Goff is running for the Auckland mayoralty so no longer has a ranking within Labour’s caucus.

Shearer is currently ranked 13 and is MP for Mt Albert, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Associate Defence Spokesperson. Little can’t take his electorate off him.