Leaked property data a breach of privacy?

Labour won’t say if the leaked prioperty data they used was obtained legitimately, but claim it was leaked by a whistle blower.

Newstalk ZB’s political editor on Twitter:

Asked Labour if it obtained it’s real estate data legitimately. @PhilTwyford says he can’t answer that question.

Twyford says info supplied by a whistle blower & legal advice sought before it was released.

If it was leaked illegally it could be serious for Labour, they will struggle to justify there was sufficient public interest, especially considering the lack of definitive conclusions from the questionable data analysis.

NZ Herald reports Editor: Labour’s claims racistMeanwhile, Barfoot & Thompson chief executive Wendy Alexander said the company would start its own investigation to identify if it was the source of the leaked data. Barfoot sells one-third of Auckland properties and managing director Peter Thompson said if the data did belong to the firm it had been given illegally.

“We don’t know whether it’s our information. We’re just seeking advice on any steps we need to be taking if it is our data. That’s all I’m prepared to say.”

Mr Thompson released a detailed memo to all staff yesterday, warning they must not disclose any internal figures and must act in the interest of their vendors.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said people could lodge a complaint to the commission for possible breach of information.

“If the source of the home buying data is established, people who think their personal information has been included can make a complaint to my office and we will look into it.”

Meanwhile Andrew Little continues to defend the use of the data, despite admitting the use of it was “a bit crude’.

It has been more than a bit crude from Labour.

Will the royal tour influence the election?

I don’t see why it would, but some see it as yet another thing stacked against their election chances. Some typical comments on this at The Standard:


The only comment I would like to make about the visit by the Windsors is this. I understood a constitutional monarch was not allowed to get involved in politics. Black Rod and all that medieval crap. Why is it then they are opening the controversial Velodrome in Cambridge hosted by Wardell (he will get a knighthood for playing at life) where 80% of the ratepayers were against having rate payers money used to fund it, but the regional council aided and abetted by Keys pack of shits ignored what the ratepayers said and went ahead with it.

I think this sets a precedent, the Royals are being used politically by Key during an election year.


We knew that from the day it was announced they were coming.

But there were challenges to these views:


How are they being used politically? There are no conventions in New Zealand about royal visits in election year. Visits in 1981 and 2002 were both within 6 months of the elections in those years.

In 2002, the Queen visited Team New Zealand. Many on the Left and the Right had opposed funding for the Americas Cup. Was that the “royals being used politically” by the then Labour Government? No, of course not.


Labour has never been averse to the royal effect. Although Clark did break protocol and wear slacks to a dinner with the queen…

Felix Marwick, Chief Political Reporter at Newstalk ZB, sums up my views well in The Soap Box: Royal tour a complete waste… 

 A colossal waste of time, energy, and money. 

I’m sorry, as a Republican, I just can’t develop any enthusiasm or regard for the Royal Visit that kicks off in Wellington today and will run until the middle next week. 

Their Royal Highnesses, better known to the tabloid savvy as Wills and Kate along with their son Prince George, will be dominating the news agenda for the next 10 days as their rather mundane trip around the country will be breathlessly reported on 24 seven. 

Forgive me if I’m not terribly enthusiastic about any of this. 

I’ve never been enthusiastic about about royal visits. I doubt I would have been regardless but my view wasn’t helped by a Queen Mother visit while I was at school. I was part of a small town turnout (Cromwell) where we lined the main street with planned meet, greet and speeches.

But the motorcade was running a couple of hours late and didn’t have time to stop. I can’t even remember if we waited long enough for the cars to whiz by, I don’t remember actually seeing anything so I may have had to go to catch the school bus home.

And when we went to the ‘pictures’ we were supposed to stand for “God Save the Queen” at the start – not being in to gods or queens I always thought that was weird. As I got older it became a chance to defy authority (custom) by remaining seated.

But the thought of having to follow the scions of aristocratic privilege around the country as they partake in such earth shattering events as riding in jet boats, visiting a police college, and yachting on Auckland harbour, bores me to tears. 

The only reason any of this has any consequence whatsoever is because of who they are. Descendants of a royal lineage whose relevance to New Zealand lessens with every passing year. 

What do we really get out of this trip other than a hefty expenses bill that’ll no doubt run into the millions of dollars? 

Not a lot. Rich people look at stuff. And by the way they have a baby. There’s your headline. 

Look, I’m sure the royal couple are lovely people. And I have a certain sympathy for their life in a gilded cage, always under the microscope, and never being able to say anything controversial. Thought the trappings of wealth and aristocracy probably aren’t a bad compensation. 

But what, in the quantum of human affairs do they contribute to New Zealand other than represent a vestigial tie to our colonial past. Bar symbolism this visit is an expensive waste of time, has limited news value, and does little, if anything, for the country. 

My ancestors, and I know I’m not alone in this, came to New Zealand to get away from Britain’s oppressive class system. To escape the poverty trap that constrained those who were not of the right social class. So why are we celebrating and endorsing the royals when they represent the very system our great great grand parents escaped from? 

I’ve got nothing personal against the royals but they’re an expensive irrelevance and we really should be looking forwards, not backwards. 

If they want to visit, that’s fine. But let them carry the tab. I’m almost positive they can afford it.   

I know it’s not a waste of time for a sizable number of people who enjoy celebrity visits. But I don’t care about it, apart from the saturation of media coverage I’ll have to try and avoid.

Back to the original question – I see no reason whatsoever how this tour will influence the election that’s four and a half months away, except that it might give us a short reprieve from politicians electioneering, they may want to avoid making fools of themselves in the international media spotlight.

Waitangi settlement size perspective

It’s common to see complaints about how much money is being “handed out” to Maori in Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Felix Marwick at Newstalk ZB  puts the size of the  claims in perspective in Food for thought over Waitangi Day:

Waitangi Day last week sparked the usual tired debates that we see every year when it comes to race relations.

Waitangi also becomes a focus for arguments over the treaty settlement process. Some of the arguments have value, but a lot are really based on ignorance, racism, and an urge to score cheap political points.

So let’s put it in context; since 1992 the Crown has settled around a billion dollars worth of claims – that’s around 50 million dollars a year in value.
Currently the Government is borrowing 78 million dollars a month as part of its fiscal policy. And last year it spent 10.2 billion dollars on superannuation alone.

That’s 10 times to totality of all the money spent on Treaty deals. So in terms of what the Government is doing settlement costs are a very small drop in a very large bucket.

It’s something to think about if our National Day makes you want to lose your rag.

Rag losers tend to not think things through very much.

Local body politics “so damn tedious”

Newstalk ZB’s chief political reporter Felix Marwick is less than impressed with the local body elections –  Political Report: Local body election so damn tedious

The reason people don’t give a damn about local body politics is probably because it’s so damn tedious and so damn nebulous. It appears, on the surface, to be a succession of beige candidates with beige ideals. Figuring out exactly what they stand for is a task beyond us mere mortals.

I don’t mean to dump on those who’ve taken the time to put themselves forward for office. It’s a thankless task and they deserve respect for giving it a go. But for whatever reason, local body politics has all the appearance of being dull, distant, and divorced from the realities of most peoples’ lives.

Yes, mostly thankless. And even more tedious than the national politics that Felix usually reports on.

In the last Local Body elections my sentiments were similar to Felix’s, so I decided to do something about it.

Ironically I campaigned on making local body politics more relevant for people, but no one was listening.

Actually some people did listen and want to do something about it with me, so we will. For those who can be bothered engaging.

(Arm)Strong advice for David Shearer

Another couple of demoralising pundit opinions on David Shearer’s leadership.

Felix Marwick takes a measured look in Leadership back under the spotlight.

And John Armstrong is more blunt in 90 days to save Shearer’s bacon.

But Armstrong also offers some very good advice to Shearer.

  1. Shearer needs to relax. When he tries to sound forthright, he sounds uptight. He sounds like he does not believe what he is saying. He needs to choose the right words and let them make his point.
  2. Shearer should be delivering speeches which reveal exactly what he stands for. The public does not have the foggiest. The public might not turn up to hear him. But the media will.
  3. Shearer needs to relentlessly target the middle ground. That will at times mean taking conservative stances that annoy the Labour left. Too bad. The centre is where many conservative-minded Labour voters now sit.
  4. He needs to get his caucus talking about the issues which matter to the average person. Shearer’s biggest success has been Labour’s promise to build 100,000 affordable houses over 10 years. He needs to ask himself why that has been popular and replicate that across other portfolios.
  5. He needs to be more strategic when it comes to picking fights with National. But he needs to pick some fights with the Greens to show who is going to be the boss in any governing relationship.
  6. He needs to bang a few party heads together and take control of this year’s Labour conference so it becomes a platform for him rather than an embarrassment for the party.

Can Shearer re-invent himself and show some confidence and ability to repair a severely damaged Labour caucus?

And if not, as Marwick says, “will anyone in his caucus be prepared to take up the poisoned chalice that Labour’s leadership appears to have become”.

No records kept on Parliamentary spy data access!

A journalist has been told by Parliamentary Services that they don’t keep records of what spy data they have handed out.

But this reveals an alarming coverup or an extremely concerning laxity in record keeping.

It was recently revealed that Parliamentary Services gave security card movement data of MP Peter Dunne and journalist Andrea Vance  to David Henry as a part of his Kitteridge report leak inquiry.

Newstalk ZB political reporter Felix Marwick asked Parliamentary Services if they had ever released security card data involving him.

No record of monitoring Parliament access

The agency responsible for running Parliament says it keeps no records on occasions when it has accessed the way people at Parliament have used their security cards.

The monitoring of the cards became an issue in the Henry Inquiry into the leak of the Kitteridge report.

Then it emerged Parliamentary Services had passed on records relating to Fairfax reporter Andrea Vance’s movements, tracked by her security card, to the Henry Inquiry.

Newstalk ZB has asked if its reporters have had their data accessed in a similar way.

Parliamentary Services says it keeps no database of instances where swipe card data is retrieved following security incidents.

That’s an alarming situation where Parliamentary Services hands out what is in effect spy data on journalists but keeps no record of retrieving the data.

Unless it’s a massive fobbing off. Surely they must keep records of when they hand over security data.

If Parliamentary Services don’t keep records of who requests security data, who requests it, why it is requested, and who is given what data we should be very concerned.

In any case any retrieving of data must be logged and recorded. That surely is a basic necessity.

Who in Parliamentary services is able to access data? And what data? On what authority?

The appearance at the moment is of gross negligence and serious abuse of privacy.

Blog exclusive – Bill English on drought

This is an exclusive for YourNZ – about the media links in a minor story.


On Q+A this Sunday, NZ’s in the midst of a drought so how will it affect you and me and our pockets? We speak to the Finance Minister Bill English, and a climate scientist who says we have to no option but to adapt.

(story not yet online)

Stuff (Fairfax):

Finance Minister Bill English says the costs of the drought are headed toward $2 billion.

English said the Government was getting updated advice over the next few weeks from Treasury but the latest estimates indicated ”somewhere between one and two billion will be knocked off our national income”.

English told TVNZ’s Q+A the drought had potential to knock 30 per cent off New Zealand’s growth rate in a year.

NZ Herald:

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Bill English is now saying the estimated cost of the drought has gone up from $1 billion to $2 billion, Fairfax Media reports.

Newstalk ZB chief political reporter in Twitter:


just seen a Herald story referencing Bill English comments from a Fairfax story about comments the Minister made on @NZQandA #convoluted

YourNZ: The final convolution?

I watched Bill English on Q + A so didn’t need to read the Fairfax report on that, or the Herald report on that,so knew the story.

But when Felix  Marwick commented on the convolutions I responded “Sounds interesting, I must blog on your tweet on it.”

Felix replied “why? it’s hardly earth shattering. Just a bit quirky”

So here’s a bit more quirk to the convolutions. Exclusive to Your NZ.

TVNZ HAve the English interview online now:

Corin Dann interviews Bill English (13:05)

Political editor Corin Dann interviews the finance minister Bill English about the drought, the Budget

Trotter versus Marwick

Following on fronm the previous post, there’s been some discussion on Trotter’s blog Bowalley between him and NewsTalk ZB chief political reporter Felix Marwick –  from Running Dogs:

Felix Marwick said…

“Even from the Media Table, the animosity directed towards caucus members who spoke in favour of the rank-and-file’s resolutions (the most effective of whom, by far, was Lianne Dalziel) was unmistakeable.”

Really Chris?

I recall us being surprised (and for news purposes) quite happy that MPs and delegates were expressing the views that they were. Generally we’ve been excluded from such debates in the past.

I certainly don’t remember any of my colleagues expressing animosity at those that were critical of the hierarchy.

I do, however, recall you going and high fiving with delegates when the 40% caucus vote remit was passed. I also recall you telling a political editor to “get f**ked” when they joked that perhaps the remit should have had support of 60% of the conference.

And I do wonder how it’s consistent that the Shearer camp, which had been derided at the time by its critics inept and incompetent, suddenly became Machiavellian enough to co-opt the entire press gallery to their cause?

For the record; I do not give a flying bollock as to who leads the Labour Party. I, unlike you, am not a player in that game.

Felix Marwick
Chief Political Reporter
Newstalk ZB

Chris Trotter said…

Sorry Felix – badly worded.

I meant that the animosity was clearly visible from the media table which was quite a long way from some of the bitterest speeches.

And, yeah, I did speak harshly to Brent. I was really angry – and just didn’t get the joke. I’ll apologise personally the next time I run into him.

You have to remember I was a Labour Party man long before I was a political columnist – and although I haven’t been a member for more than 20 years, I was still disgusted at the way the caucus responded to the rank-and-file’s assertion of their rights.

Obviously there are different views on how things happened. Some were observers, some seem to have become quite agitated.

Shearer/’Voice of Reason’ rule out Labour leadership challenge

Going by the majority of comments at The Standard many party members want Labour leadership to go to a party decision next month. Word from the current leader is they won’t get that chance, David Shearer has virtually ruled out any chance of a challenge going any further than caucus.

On Saturday ‘Eddie’ launched a speculative play at The Standard – Shearer to put it to the vote…

Word around the traps is that David Shearer is going to use his state of the nation speech next weekend to announce that he will put his leadership to full membership vote in February.

Yesterday IrishBill quashed hope of that in Drive-by posting…

Unfortunately the source on Shearer’s plan to put his leadership to the party didn’t pan out so well. He’s confirmed to Vernon Small that he does not intend to let members vote (I’m not surprised).

This referred to a tweet from political journalist Vernon Small (Dominion), and there was another from Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB):

Vernon Small@VernonSmall

Stand easy Labour. Shearer says he will put leadership to caucus vote not straight to full electoral college.

Felix Marwick@felixmarwick

contrary to some speculation in the blogosphere David Shearer won’t be putting his leadership on the line for a partywide vote

Marwick expanded on this on Newstalk ZB:

Chances of Labour vote slim

The chances of the wider Labour party membership getting to vote on the party’s leadership look to be slim to none.

Left-aligned website The Standard has suggested current leader David Shearer might put his job on the line when it comes up for caucus consideration next month.

But Mr Shearer’s all but ruling that out indicating no-one else in the caucus is likely to put their name forward.

“I’m not expecting any problems at all.”

Mr Shearer says he’ll follow what is in the party’s constitution and won’t step outside the rules that are in place.

Of course any party leader would play down a chance of a challenge to their leadership.

But over past weeks at The Standard a Labour Party delegate has been saying frequently that there definitely won’t be any challenge. ‘Te Reo Putake’ (aka ‘Voice of Reason’) repeated this yesterday. In response to a party member saying…

Colonial Viper

Sigh. Is there a reason that Labour insists on doing everything the hard way? If caucus decides to give the members a say in February, it’s crucial that we get a full bodied Primary Process up and down the country.

Colonial Viper is blog famous for being the party member identified and gagged by Clare Curran, but he is back commenting this year after his few weeks apparently enforced break.

Te Reo Putake

You’re dreaming, CV. Leaving aside that the whole thing was a fantasy anyway, who is going to pay for a “full bodied Primary Process up and down the country”. You? And given that Shearer is the only candidate, exactly who was he going to debate? An empty chair?

I hate to say I told you so, but the new democratic process is working according to the rules set by conference. And its working to Shearer’s advantage, which is clearly an unintended consequence for Camp Cunliffe.

Te Reo Putake
23 January 2013 at 7:39 pm

Er, no, they didn’t Elizabeth. The affiliates voted for a system that might get them a say. Might. If a particular set of circumstances came about. Which doesn’t appear to be happening this electoral cycle because Shearer has the numbers in caucus. That’s the democratic system affiliates voted for, and it’s working as designed.

In other words, the affiliates and party members might get a say – if Caucus lets them.  And they won’t.

Te Reo Putake has repeated similar frequently, and for that has been accused of being a head office mouthpiece (there’s been a lot of infighting amongst party members on The Standard). He has repeatedly made it clear that:

  • Shearer has the numbers (60%+) in caucus to prevent leadership going to a party decision
  • There is no one who will challenge for leadership.

It’s curious how one party delegate seems to know with certainty what the results of a future supposedly secret caucus ballot is going to be.

Of course it could be all bullshit and bluster. A common political tactic is to keep repeating something over and over and over so that eventually people believe it will be true – ex Labour president Mike Williams mentioned that tactic on Radio NZ (Nine to Noon) on Tuesday.

But it could also be an indication of how caucus ‘democracy’ works. Promises of rewards for compliance and threats of repercussions (bench rankings, assigned caucus responsibilities, poor party list placings) are all talked about.

Some at The Standard still hold hopes that wider party democracy as determined at last year’s conference will prevail. And a number of them say their views are shared by many more in the wider party.

Mike Williams also referred to people at The Standard as:

 “the wacko nutter who used to stand up at the Waikikamukau local meeting”

There’s a few nutters on blogs for sure, but to dismiss all with that put down shows extreme ignorance or it’s a deliberate insult. IrishBill posted:

Now I know we’ve had a few wacky posters here over the years such as Robinsod and that short lived conspiracy theorist, Batman, but the last time I checked most of us were slightly left of center social democrats and Labour party members.

If David Shearer and Te Reo Putake are correct and the ‘secret’ caucus ballot is already whipped into place and sewn up then the majority of Standard Labour Party members will be disappointed, further disillusioned, angry, angrier, despondent – and very vocal.

And this won’t be confined to The Standard, or the blogosphere, or social media. It will be out in the electorates, in the LECs (some Standard commenters are in LECs), and in the wider voting public.

The problem is not just what Shearer and his caucus supporters are doing – more importantly, it is how they are doing it.

They are seem as domineering, dismissive, out of touch, selfishly holding power by any means possible.

Shearer and Te Reo Putake may win the February battle. But the festering and discontent will remain.

If Shearer can’t win the support of the left of the political blogosphere then more and more voters might start to believe what the bloggers keep repeating and repeating – that they have no confidence in a Shearer led Labour winning enough support in the 2014 election.

Felix the splat

Felix Marwick is chief political reporter for Newstalk ZB. He thought things were winding down for the year. He reported in late this morning.

All retweets from me today. Sorry. Work capacity have been inhibited by a small matter of car vs bike.

Felix must be a sporty or a greeny.

intersection of chaytor and raroa

small asian man in a van

I’ve had better days


Felix splat

Maybe he’s a sporty greeny. Or a leprechaun on wheels.

every cloud has a silver lining. Today I’ve had some awesome drugs, and injuries mean I’m incapable of nappy duty for 6 weeks

I’ll be at the party, just have to get thru surgery tomorrow. Plus I only need 1 arm to drink

this explains the pic I posted earlier. And why I’ve been off work today

Good journo that he is he had the tape rolling.


I hope he recovers quickly. And bad luck for someone if there were any party stickers on the car.