Incumbent favouritism in first election debate

Favouritism for incumbent parties is a feature of the first election year debate, with parties that haven’t been in Parliament excluded. The Mana Party makes the cut due to having been in the privileged party club before Hone Harawira lost his electorate in 2014.

NZ Herald: The Conservative Party says exclusion from political debate ‘unfair’

The Conservative Party says it is miffed about being kicked off the lineup for the first political debate of election year.

The University of Auckland Debating Society is hosting the debate on Thursday, and representatives from National, Labour, Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party, United Future and Mana will take part.

The Conservative Party was originally invited in November, but the invitation was withdrawn on Friday.

The society’s president Callum Lo said the organisation did not expect so many parties to respond, and it had decided to limit participatation to parties which were in, or had been, in Parliament.

That meant there was no room for the Conservatives or The Opportunities Party.

That’s a bit stink. It’s hard enough getting a new party going with the ridiculously high MMP threshold of 5% being a very high hurdle.

Non Parliamentary parties don’t have the free travel and accommodation, support staff and name recognition advantages that incumbent parties have.

And the media make it very difficult for them to get exposure when they continue to be biased against newcomers.

Baker said his party’s exclusion was “a wee bit unjust” given the Conservatives had polled fifth-highest in the last election, and higher than four other parties being represented at the debate.

The Conservatives got 3.97% of the party vote in 2014, more than the Maori Party, ACT, United Future and Internet Mana combined.

Sure they will struggle to get anywhere near the sane result this year without Colin Craig’s money but it shouldn’t be for organisers to filter parties from debate exposure.

And it is a kick in the teeth to be invited well in advance and then dumped a week before the debate.

“The lineup had become quite bloated,” Lo said. “We had 11 or 12 people and for an hour and a half debate we were looking at only around eight minutes per person.”

So they choose format convenience over democratic fairness.

This is common incumbence favouritism.

Grant Robertson’s ‘same milk’ accusation refuted

Grant Robertson has claimed that “same milk”, “milk from the same supplier” and “the same two litre bottles” was given different Chinese border control treatment, with Oravida milk accepted while Ruima Food milk was rejected.

Corrie Den Haring, general manager of Green Valley Dairies who supplies the milk to both the companies, says the milk products involved were not the same, and he is “not aware of any favouritism”.

Robertson continued his ‘holding to account’ of Judith Collins yesterday on Oravida. Most of the media focus was on the drama and the pressure on Collins, for example Judith Collins survives torrid session in Parliament and Collins survives bruising barrage.

Much less emphasis is being put on holding Grant Robertson to account for his accusations. Before Question Time he put out a media release:

Same milk, different friends, different result
Grant Robertson | 6 May 2014

There is further evidence Judith Collins’ assistance of Oravida resulted in her husband’s company getting its milk into China, Labour MP Grant Robertson says.

“Documents show that Oravida had its milk shipment accepted by Chinese border control in December, while milk from the same supplier exported by a different company was rejected.

“Oravida’s fresh milk supplier Green Valley Dairies also supplies the same two litre bottles to Guangzhou Ruima Food Limited, simply with a different label.

“However, Guangzhou Ruima Food’s fresh milk shipment in December was rejected by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

“Judith Collins’ intervention was designed to benefit Oravida.

“Evidence is building of a correlation between the Minister’s October dinner with a Chinese border control official in Beijing and later visit to Oravida’s Shanghai office, and her husband’s company’s export issues disappearing.”

However tagged on to the end of a Herald article Embattled Collins digs in for long haul which also pushes the pressure on Collins is this:

Meanwhile, Corrie Den Haring, general manager of Green Valley Dairies which supplies milk to both Oravida and Ruimi, said Mr Robertson’s initial attack about Oravida receiving preferential treatment from Chinese authorities was wide of the mark.

“It is not the same two-litre bottles simply with a different label,” he told National Radio. Ruimi’s milk was a flavoured or extra-calcium product which required extra testing at the border. Delays meant the milk was too old for sale and was destroyed.

I had to search Radio NZ to find this, it isn’t currently featured on their Political News page.

Dairy company refutes Labour’s claims ( 3′ 18″ )

Labour is claiming it has further evidence that Judith Collins’s help for Oravida resulted in it getting its milk into China, while other companies missed out.

From Checkpoint on 06 May 2014

Transcript:

Mary Wilson: Green Valley’s general manager Corrie Den Haring refutes what Labour says.

Corrie Den Haring: It is not the same two litre bottles just simply with a different label. First of all Ruimi Food’s was taking what’s called enriched milk. They were taking flavoured milk, particularly strawberry and chocolate milks as well as standard white milk in various bottled formats.

Oravida at that stage were simply taking two litre milk with their label on it.

Some products going to Ruimi Foods in Guangzhou were blocked, and that was through extra testing that was done, namely the strawberryv chocolate and calcium milks that actually took longer than the shelf life of the product.

Mary Wilson: The milk shipment that was rejected was rejected because the testing process took so long that milk was off by the time it got through the process.

Corrie Den Haring: That’s correct, so that the shelf life of the milk only effectively has ten days once it’s in China. Some of these testing took I think up to eight days and if any product has less than I think thirty percent or fifty percent of it’s available shelf life then it’s rejected at border, and that is recorded by the Chinese border inspectorate as being a failure.

Mary Wilson: Why wasn’t Oravida’s milk then subject to the same testing over the same time frame?

Corrie Den Haring: Because they were testing for different, partly for different issues, so in and around the flavoured milks there was a question mark around some of the flavourings and some of the potential colourings, whether they actually met a fresh milk specification, and also in the calcium they were checking the levels of calcium within the milk which obviously take a lot longer time period than the standard testing being carried out.

Mary Wilson: But some of that testing surely should have applied to Oravida’s milk?

Corrie Den Haring: They weren’t taking any of the flavoured milks or any of the calcium milks, they were taking the standard fresh milk which simply have a micro-biological testing programme attached to them.

Mary Wilson: So you’re saying this is merely a technical issue, it has got nothing to do with favouritism?

Corrie Den Haring:I’m not aware of any favouritism and I don’t see any evidence from the position that Green Valley has in supplying product that the same level of orders were coming through, the same demand was coming through.

The same level of, one could argue,  frustration in and around some of the testing regimes that were being implemented at that stage, and we saw no difference between the two businesses.

The fact that Ruimi Food had some product rejected was for other reasons other than favouritism that we can see from this end.

Grant Robertson has been asked if he has any evidence contrary to this.