Labour nominate Peters, but pick Greens as first cab

Yesterday Andrew Little announced he was nominating Winston Peters to replace David Shearer on the intelligence and security committee, leaving Greens out but apparently with their support for Peters.

Little also said that Greens would be the first party he would call after the election “if the numbers go our way”.

Stuff: Little signals Greens will be ‘first cab off the rank’ in post-election talks

Labour is to treat the Greens as “first cab off the rank” for post election talks in a signal it is firming up its plans to work in coalition with its allied party.

But in an Opposition two-step Labour leader Andrew Little on Thursday first announced he was nominating Peters for the intelligence and security committee – with the Greens support.

He said the fact the Greens had agreed to Peters replacing David Shearer as an Opposition representative on the intelligence and security committee “showed they have a maturity about forging relationships beyond just the Labour Party”.

The Greens were keen to have their representative replace him on the committee but they will endorse Peters, who has been a member of the committee in the past.

Greens have previously been miffed that they have been excluded from the committee.

John Key and Bill English have said that the Greens anti-intelligence stances make then incompatible with the committee.

Earlier this month, English said he was not comfortable with a Green MP being on the committee.

“They’ve got a deep-seated hostility to any intelligence apparatus at all, which is not a responsible attitude, and we wouldn’t want to foster it,” he said.

But Little, who is pushing for wider party representation on the committee, at the time said he would be very comfortable with the Greens being on it.

It looks like the Greens and Labour have decided it isn’t a fight worth having at this stage of election year.

Little…

…then made it clear that in a “quid pro quo” the Greens would be the first cab off the rank and the first party to receive a call if Labour was able to build a government after the September 23 election.

“After September 23 and if the numbers go our way and I am in the privileged position of putting together a government they are the first phone call I will make. No question about it,” he said.

“We haven’t spent the last many-a-year now formally strengthening our relationship and working out common ground … for it to mean nothing at all when it comes to a general election.”

The Memorandum of understanding expires on election day but it would be remarkable if Labour didn’t at least start post election talks with the Greens. Peters may not like this if he feels he holds the balance of power.

He said there were no guarantees, and the numbers would dictate what will happen.

What if NZ First gets more numbers (MPs) than the Greens, something that is a real possibility?

“They will be the first party I will talk to to interpret what the numbers might be and what that means. It’s a commitment that the relationship does mean something after the election.”

But it’s very likely that the numbers will mean Labour would have to talk to NZ First and convince them to join them in a coalition. The Greens are already a virtual certainty, NZ First is likely to be the party with bargaining power.

But would he be prepared to leave the Greens out of government if Winston Peters insisted and Labour needed NZ First to govern?

“I think that is unlikely.”

That’s a weak ruling out. And considering how Little far more strongly claimed there wasn’t going to be a deputy leadership change a day before it was announced, in an obvious bid to improve Labour’s numbers, the numbers game has no rules in politics.

 

Intelligence and Security Committee Report

The Intelligence and Security Committee has reported back on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

The committee (by majority) recommends that the Bill be passed, outlining proposed amendments.

The amendments include the request by Act’s John Banks but the seven amendments agreed to with United Future’s Peter Dunne will be dealt with by separate Supplementary Order Papers.

A quick look reveals a number of clarifications and closing up of gaps in the bill.

It will take time to have a good look at the combined Committee and Dunne changes and whether they address the widely discussed shortcomings of the original version of the bill.

It includes minority reports from Labour and the Greens.

 

Split vote on Intelligence and Security Committee

Unusually a vote of the Intelligence and Security Committee public has been made public.

@RusselNorman

historic moment. I can tell you something that happened on the Intelligence and Security Cttee tonite: I moved a motion for an inquiry into appt process for Fletcher. Key recused himself. Vote was tied 2 each so motion lost. That’s it.

It was agreed by the committee’s chair (the Prime Minister) that the vote could be disclosed.

It’s not hard to work out how the vote was split (between Dunne, Banks, Shearer, Norman).

Shearer and Norman could be painting themselves into a corner on this, putting petty party politics before serious security matters.

The Auditor General has already ruled that an inquiry into Fletcher’s appointment is unnecessary – see Auditor-General will not investigate GCSB appointment:

 The Auditor General has turned down Labour’s request to investigate the appointment of Ian Fletcher as head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, saying the Prime Minister was entitled to have “considerable discretion” over how the appointment was made.

Labour had asked the Auditor General to investigate it after Mr Key confirmed he had sounded out Ian Fletcher – a childhood family friend – for the post himself before directing him to speak to the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

However, the Auditor General said that the Prime Minister had responsibility for the appointment and, unlike chief executives of other government departments, there was no specific process set out in making that appointment.

“The person appointed serves at the Prime Minister’s pleasure. As with many other ministerial appointments, the responsible Minister therefore has considerable discretion about how appointments are made. He or she is accountable to Parliament and the public in the usual way for those decisions.”

Last week State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said Mr Key had done nothing wrong.

The Intelligence and Security Committee and the security services of the country require a high degree of secrecy which in turn requires a high degree of bipartisan responsibility from the MPs on the committee.

Shearer and Norman seem to put more effort into attempting political point scoring on things they have already failed at.

Today Winston Peters agreed to back Government changes to GCSB law and oversight, leaving Labour and Greens out on a limb on this issue.