National’s party list

National have announced their party list for the 2020 election in September. There is nothing remarkable about it. The top 20 are fairly similar to their current rankings.

National’s 2020 Party List:

1Judith CollinsPapakura
2Gerry BrownleeIlam
3Paul GoldsmithEpsom
4Simon BridgesTauranga
5Dr Shane RetiWhangarei
6Todd McClayRotorua
7Chris BishopHutt South
8Todd MullerBay of Plenty
9Louise UpstonTaupo
10Scott SimpsonCoromandel
11David BennettHamilton East
12Michael WoodhouseDunedin
13Nicola WillisWellington Central
14Jacqui DeanWaitaki
15Mark MitchellWhangaparaoa
16Melissa LeeMt Albert
17Andrew BaylyPort Waikato
18Dr Nick SmithNelson
19Maureen PughWest Coast-Tasman
20Barbara KurigerTaranaki-King Country
21Harete HipangoWhanganui
22Jonathan YoungNew Plymouth
23Tim MacindoeHamilton West
24Kanwaljit Singh BakshiPanmure-Otahuhu
25Paulo GarciaList
26Nancy LuList
27Dr Parmjeet ParmarMt Roskill
28Agnes LoheniMangere
29Dale StephensChristchurch Central
30Alfred NgaroTe Atatu
31Matt DooceyWaimakariri
32Stuart SmithKaikoura
33Lawrence YuleTukituki
34Denise LeeMaungakiekie
35Simon O’ConnorTamaki
36Brett HudsonOhariu
37Simeon BrownPakuranga
38Ian McKelvieRangitikei
39Erica StanfordEast Coast Bays
40Matt KingNorthland
41Chris PenkKaipara ki Mahurangi
42Tim van de MolenWaikato
43Dan BidoisNorthcote
44Jo HayesMana
45Katie NimonNapier
46Catherine ChuBanks Peninsula
47Hamish CampbellWigram
48David PattersonRongotai
49Lisa WhyteNew Lynn
50Rima NakhleTakanini
51Liam KernaghanTaieri
52Bala BeeramKelston
53Lincoln PlattChristchurch East
54William WoodPalmerston North
55Nuwi SamarakoneManurewa
56Mark CrofskeyRemutaka
57Jake BezzantUpper Harbour
58Mike ButterickWairarapa
59Tim CostleyOtaki
60Nicola GriggSelwyn
61Christopher LuxonBotany
62Joseph MooneySouthland
63Penny SimmondsInvercargill
64Tania TapsellEast Coast
65Simon WattsNorth Shore
66TBCAuckland Central
67TBCRangitata
68Adrienne PierceList
69Senthuran ArulananthamList
70Sang ChoList
71Rachel Afeaki-TaumoepeauList
72Trish CollettList
73Ava NealList
74Katrina BungardList
75Shelley PilkingtonList

Most list candidates and quite a few electorate candidates will be struggling to get in unless National’s support improves support markedly. An on polling National will do well to get half of that list into Parliament.

This term they got 56 MPs elected with 44.45% of the vote, but recent public polling ranged from 25-32%.

On current polling a number of candidates have no show of getting in unless they win their electorates.

Interesting to see Chris Luxon at 61. He is sometimes toured as a leaderr of the future, but after the Muller experience future caucuses should be cautious about parachuting in someone with little political or political media experience.

RNZ Leader interviews: Judith Collins – ‘I’m always very confident, particularly when I know I’m right’

Collins is still shy of a month into the job but in her media blitz she and her arched eyebrows are everywhere, along with the party slogan “Strong team, More Jobs, Better Economy”.

Is the tagline “strong team” verging on the comedic though, when you look back at the past few horror months for National: a rolling maul of resignations, sackings and leadership changes?

“Look at our front bench. Look at it,” Collins says in defence.

Stuff: National Party announces list of MPs and candidates for upcoming election

On National’s current polling, many of the party’s existing MPs could lose their seat in Parliament. MPs Alfred Ngaro and Jo Hayes appear to be at particular risk after being ranked down the list.

Two candidates – Nancy Lu and Dale Stephens – have entered the list above existing MPs. Lu, a high-flying accountant who was born in China, has been parachuted into 26 on the list.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow said that Lu had been placed so high on the list because she had the capabilities the party was looking for.

Collins said many of the promising new candidates in safe seats, such as Luxon, had been grouped together down the list.

Ngaro, who is running against Labour minister Phil Twyford in Te Atatū, has dropped from number 19 in the caucus list, to 30 on the list – the only MP to drop from the top 20.

“Alfred has a seat to win, and it is important that we also have renewal,” Collins said.

That’s hardly a vote of confidence in Ngaro. He was 3,180 votes behind Twyford last election. Twyford has been poor as a minister but should benefit from Labour riding high.

Most people will know little to nothing about most candidates on the list. Elections are won and lost on leadership and the top handful of known MPs and candidates.

Covid, politics and the election

The Government have been criticised for some time for using regular Covid media conferences to promote themselves leading up to the election.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern fronted important announcements, which was a significant reason for widespread public support of the lockdown. She earned strong public support of Government actions.

She was helped by the very competent media skills of the Director-general of Health, Ashley Bloomfield.

But for a while Ardern continued to do the media gigs with little of importance to say but an update of the daily totals and reminders of care that needed to be taken to minimise the opportunity for Covid to spread.

Criticism of her promoting herself and her Government and her party started to grow. Some of the news was not so good as new cases started to add up and a number of people escaped from isolation. Coincidentally or not she removed herself from the Covid front line most of the time.

At the same time Ardern replaced the inept Minister of Health David Clark with the far more competent and media savvy Chris Hipkins, who has been the regular Government Covid spokesperson since the beginning of July, along with Megan Woods.

It can be difficult to differentiate between dealing with Covid and competent government, but there is no doubt Labour’s election chances have been substantially enhanced by both their handling of Covid and their frequent public performances.

The major Government party has always had a significant advantage in election campaigns. They have far more media exposure – even more so during the Covid pandemic – and they have money to dish out to appear generous too voters – and there is a lot more of that at the moment dealing with Covid and the economic impact.

So Labour are benefiting, and are no doubt milking it a bit with the election in mind. It has been suggested that there won’t be any Pacific Island bubble until after the election so as to not risk adverse publicity during the campaign. This may be a bit cynical but is fairly normal politics, albeit in abnormal times.

Polls show that Labour has benefited from Ardern’s popularity and the relative success of keeping control of Covid – and the publicity for doing that.

This has put Labours main opponent, National, in a difficult situation (made quite a bit more difficult by their leadership changes and MPs behaving badly). It has been hard for them to criticise the Covid response, and hard for them to promote anything better as an alternative.

National have been effectively been sidelined by circumstances, self inflicted wounds and by Ardern in particular doing so well in the eyes of most of us.

Judith Collins has had a mixed start as leader. She is better than Bridges and much better than Muller, but those were low bars.

She is much better handling media – but she is far from perfect with that. Both her occasional flippancy and trying to appear to be tough don’t come across very well.

And she hasn’t been helped by a bit of bumbling by her deputy, Gerry Brownlee. While the Government Covid response is inextricably linked with politics, Opposition politicising of it has major risks for National.

Covid is too important and poses too many risks political point scoring.

Today’s ODT editorial warns both Labour and National: Leave health response to experts

The ongoing public health response to the global pandemic must not become fodder for the election campaign. It is far too important for that.

Clarity and certainty are paramount as our communities meet the Covid-19 threat. Mixed messages from all and sundry may make us vulnerable.

The election campaign has started. Now, we should expect to get all the information we need about the Covid-19 health response from the public servants managing it.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield, unsullied by the need to seek re-election, remains the primary source of key health messages. He is the most qualified to explain where-to next.

So particularly now the campaign proper has kicked off politicians should butt out unless something out of the ordinary needs to be addressed.

National Party Covid-19 border response spokesman Gerry Brownlee cast a light on the potential for mixing messages with his latest foray into the practical response.

Yesterday, he pondered the Ministry of Health’s latest guidance urging people to have masks ready in case the country has to return to Level 2.

The announcement came out of the blue and he had ‘‘seen very little evidence that would back up the reason for it’’, he said.

‘‘Why is it now when we have 94 days now with no community transmission and apparently secure borders that they’re suddenly wanting to bring this up,’’ he asked.

‘‘I think it’s a bit of a squirrel running up a tree so that we’re not looking at the teetering employment situation.’’

That and other things Brownlee has said don’t help Collins or National’s cause. National could learn from Labour, who mostly keep deputy Kelvin Davis out of the spotlight.

Dr Bloomfield this week warned community transmission was inevitable — our border may eventually be breached — and people should not be complacent. Epidemiologists continue to say the same thing. This all meant the guidance had to change, eventually.

Such readily available information helped explain the ‘‘why now’’ of the announcement, but if it caused distraction, it was generated by politicians.

Not just by politicians. Political axe grinders have claimed Bloomfield and particularly the Government are ‘scaremongering’ and trying to raise fear in the public for political purposes.

Our health advisers are apolitical public servants. It is a very serious thing to suggest they would issue an important health advisory to benefit the Government.

But in this case, health advisers were not left alone in the advising. As has been the case since lockdown, a senior minister shared the daily announcement spotlight. Minister of Health Chris Hipkins amplified the advice, in a simple act that some considered enough to infer a political motivation.

Whether it was right or wrong to do so — though we suggest it was wrong — is almost beside the point. The point is, politicians must opt for absolute care during the election campaign.

They must spend the next few weeks letting health officials make and restate official health announcements. They should defer to them, and let them explain the need for masks, sanitiser and quarantine.

But will they? Ardern focussed on the Covid response in her Adjournment Debate – Jacinda Ardern speech, and appears to be openly campaigning on Covid competence and control.

And all that leaves Collins and National is to try to attract attention with alternatives but without appearing too negative. They have a way to go to work that out, and a long way to go to suggest they deserve to run the government.

Otherwise Ardern and Labour will cruise to victory virtually untouchable, as they appear to be doing now.

Adjournment debate – Judith Collins

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Leader of the Opposition): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Firstly, I’d like to turn to acknowledge those who are here today and I wish to start—not to end—with thanks. Those thanks are to yourself, Mr Speaker, for the job you do, even though sometimes I’m sure it’s quite difficult—we certainly find it quite difficult, actually. Can I also thank all the other parliamentarians who are here and for those who have decided to leave us at the end of this term, thank you for your contribution—

Hon Chris Hipkins: Too many to name.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: —and to helping making this such a good place. Of course there’s a lot of members of the Labour Party, as the Hon Chris Hipkins is just mentioning, who will be leaving. They may not be planning it, but they’ll be going their way home. Thank you very much.

Can I also thank all of the National team. Thank you, team; it’s about time. It’s about time. Thank you for putting your faith in me and thank you, particularly, to the Hon Simon Bridges and Todd Muller for the support that they have been able to give me in helping us through to this transition. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

Can I also take the opportunity to thank all those who work in Parliament and around the precinct. Can I particularly thank the Clerk of the House, the Office of the Clerk staff, the Table Office, the Bills Office, Hansard, select committee staff, the messengers, security, the catering and, particularly, the cleaning staff who often work in hours when we are not here. Can I thank the amazing team at the library and all of my staff who I must say recently have grown to such an enormous number I can’t remember everyone’s names, but that comes with the office.

Can I thank everybody who has kept Parliament running through the COVID-19 lockdowns making sure that we could actually have some form of democracy, even though it seemed extremely limited at the time. And a big thank you to the National Party team, then led by the Hon Simon Bridges, who made sure that there was actually an Opposition voice despite the best efforts for there to be otherwise. So thank you for everybody for doing that.

I’ve just heard the Prime Minister make what I think is going to be one of those speeches that we’re going to look on and we’re going to say, “Well, that was very interesting, wasn’t it?”, because she is going to be more famous than usual and that is going to be because she will be a one-term Labour leader. And that is what I’m here to tell her today. I’m here to tell her today that the last one was Bill Rowling and, good for her, she’s about to join him.

Now, I think it is really important that when we look at our energised and extremely, extremely united team, which is full of extraordinary talent—

Hon Phil Twyford: Where are they? Where have they gone?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I look instead, I look instead—Phil Twyford’s asking, “Where have they gone?” Well, Phil Twyford, he’s clearly one of the best performers of Jacinda Ardern’s Government, now promoted to No. 4. Well, what does that say about the rest of them? What does it say about the rest of them when they’ve got Phil Twyford at No. 4 and he’s ahead of Dr Megan Woods and Chris Hipkins and just about everybody else. What does that say and what does it say about the excellent work of the Hon Kelvin Davis at No. 2. Isn’t that amazing, wonderful—when there’s so much talent, so much talent.

Let’s just have a look at what, though, is facing New Zealand. This is going to be an extremely important election because it’s about who is going to be best able to manage what has been described by the New Zealand Reserve Bank as the biggest economic downturn in 160 years. That is even older than our dear friend Rt Hon Winston Peters. That is 160 years and what did I just hear from the Prime Minister, the leader of the Labour Party? What I hear from the leader of the Labour Party: a whole lot of pixie dust and talking about how everything’s just going to be fine. That’s what I heard. An awful lot of dust; dust—that was all it was.

Let’s just look at this. Let’s look at the numbers that Jacinda Ardern did not wish to say. Let’s look at the 212,000 New Zealanders who are now receiving the unemployment benefit—212,000 New Zealanders. Surely they need a bit better than being told, “It’s all fine. We’re in charge.” They need something better than that. And how about the 450,000 New Zealanders who are having to receive the wage subsidy? There are 450,000 New Zealanders whose jobs are being kept in place because of the $13 billion that the Government has borrowed in order to keep them in employment.

We agreed with it. We agreed with it because we had to do something. We had to do something. But in that time, in that time, a good finance Minister—a good finance Minister—would have thought of a plan to take us out of it, because it’s really easy to close the border. It’s really easy to close the border and to say to people, “Well, we only live so far away for the rest of the world.” Of course, it’s easy to close the border. It’s easy to close down the economy.

The hard thing is to get that economy back going again, particularly when two of our biggest export markets, like international tourism and international education, have been, effectively, closed down. And who have got in charge from the Government to look after international tourism? Well, we’ve got the Hon Kelvin Davis, so what could go wrong? What could possibly go wrong? I can’t even remember who’s in charge of international education from that side because we’ve never heard of them.

So we’ve got the one shining light in the New Zealand economy, which is agriculture—agriculture, an industry that has been in a sector that has been bagged for years by that Government. They hated agriculture. Remember that? They put Damien O’Connor in charge, which shows you how much they thought of it. Absolutely hated it. Remember that, how the farmers with the dirty dairying—dirty dairying, all this sort of stuff. Now, suddenly, farmers are back being trendy. Now, suddenly, farmers are woke. Actually, thankfully, farmers will never be woke. They’ll always be on trend. And the trend is National. That’s where they’re going to be.

I want to say to this Government, “Resource Management Act (RMA) reform.” We’re getting rid of it. Now, suddenly, after three years, they say, “Oh, a working group told us it was a bad thing.” A working group told them it was a bad thing. I wrote to David Parker last year about this time and I said, “The two biggest parties in Parliament should agree on RMA reform. Let’s sort it out together.” He sent me back a letter on his letterhead with, basically, a one-fingered salute. That’s the sort of response you get from a Government like that—a nasty, nasty little response. So we will be getting rid of it. We will get rid of it. We will be putting in place an environmental standards Act and we will be putting in place a planning and development Act. And they will not be the same that that lot would—they’re entirely different.

I would like to say too, let’s just think about some of the shovel-ready projects we’ve been hearing about. Where are they? Where is this list? Poor old Phil Twyford—Hon Phil Twyford—and Shane Jones put out a letter, a press release, on April Fool’s Day this year saying out to the local councils, “Give us your shovel-ready list and we’ll get you the funding. We’ll be there with you. We’ll help you.” What’s happened to that shovel-ready list? Not much at all. Seventy-five percent of them haven’t been announced and dear old Shane Jones has gone and announced to us all the reason they’re not announced is it doesn’t quite work with either his schedule or the Prime Minister’s schedule. Well, that’s a bit of a shame, isn’t it?

How about getting people back into work? Not only do we have 212,000 people on the unemployment benefit at the moment we’ve got 200,000 highly skilled people, most in the construction area, who are underemployed. That means there’s not actually enough work for them. Why wouldn’t we have those people in work? They should not be reliant on a ministerial visit to tell them they’ve got a job. That is not good enough. That is absolutely washing your hands of the situation, Mr Jones.

And what are we going to do? Well, I’ll tell you what, we’re not going to stick up taxes, not like that party will. Why didn’t the Prime Minister talk to us about her secret tax list: the asset tax, the wealth tax, or, dare I say it, the death tax. I mean, having to pay a tax just because you die, that’s a terrible thing.

Now, let’s have a look at this little track record that she’s talked about: KiwiBuild. Wasn’t that good—KiwiBuild. She went to the last election promising 100,000 houses in 10 years, 16,000 the first term. How many have they got—380, oh, 385, apparently. How about roads? What happened there? They stopped. Electric cars—remember, they were going to electrify the fleet, the Government fleet. I understand they’ve got 45. They’ve got 45. And then we had light rail. Remember where that is—somewhere stuck on the ghost train up Mount Roskill.

And talk about New Zealand First—I know the Rt Hon Winston Peters wants to talk. He’ll tell you he’s a handbrake on them. No, he’s not. He’s the enabler. There’s only one reason the Greens are in Government, and that’s because Mr Peters went their way.

So let’s just say this. The Prime Minister may wish to give us all a “sweetness and light” talk, but actually it’s time for reality. The New Zealand people need to know they have a Government that needs to know what to do. And this Government on this side does. And my message, my final message, to the people of New Zealand is this: there’s one way to take charge of life—two ticks blue.

Ardern – from ‘transformative’ to conservative

In the 2017 election campaign and after taking over as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promoted herself as ‘transformative’, she promised a major focus on climate change describing it as ‘the nuclear free issue of her time’, and she promised to put a priority on dealing with child poverty.

This election Ardern is promoting as little as possible apart from her record as a manager of crises, in particular the largely successful management of the Covid pandemic.

NZ Herald: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warns voters not to expect big Labour Party policies this election

Speaking to RNZ this morning, Ardern said voters should not expect a “large-scale range of policies” from Labour this election.

“What we will be doing over this election period is adding some additional aspects [of policy],” she said.

“But I would flag to voters not to expect to see the large scale manifestos that are a significant departure from what we are doing.”

Instead, she said her “big focus” was on the Covid-19 recovery.

“Ultimately, what needs to be done, we are already rolling out.”

At the last election, Labour campaigned on a number of big-ticket policies, such as building 100,000 KiwiBuild homes in 10 years, fees-free tertiary education and extending paid parental leave.

Ardern this morning suggested that new policy ideas on this type of scale were off the table for Labour this election.

Politically this is understandable – going buy recent polls Ardern and Labour could sleep walk to victory next month, and it’s quite possible they will be able to rule alone.

Last election Ardern and Labour made ‘promises’ they couldn’t keep.

This election they seem determined to make no promises despite them having a much better chance of keeping them.

Her main opponent, Judith Collins, is goading Ardern on her lack of policies.

Stuff: Judith Collins slams Jacinda Ardern for lack of election policy

National leader Judith Collins has attacked Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for announcing almost no policy ahead of September’s election, accusing the prime minister of “hiding”.

Collins said Ardern was “incapable of delivering anything but slogans” and promised to have a “rolling maul” of policies herself.

“What we’re seeing [from Labour] is no policy at all. We’re going to have a rolling maul of policies ahead of the election,” Collins said.

“Hiding away is never a way to win an election.”

Ardern was asked about the relative lack of policy at her post-Cabinet press conference on Monday.

She said the next three years had been somewhat “predetermined” by Covid-19, meaning her Government’s plan to get through the economic impact of that crisis would form much of Labour’s policy.

“We have already laid out a very significant plan, including a very significant investment regime, as part of our plan on Covid recovery and rebuild,” Ardern said.

Labour’s approach is working for now, but will it sustain high levels of support through the campaign?

They have been criticised,with some justification, for not delivering on major policies this term, like housing, tax (CGT), social welfare reform, child poverty.

Now criticism of their lack of policies is gathering steam.

And most genuine concern about her approach is not coming from political opponents on right.

Bernard Hickey at Newsroom: A second term PM for crises and the status quo

Where once she campaigned as a transformer, Jacinda Ardern will ask for a second term as simply a manager of the post-1989 tax and welfare status quo, and of the Covid-19 recovery. That’s despite having the potential political power to govern without the moderating ‘hand brake’ of New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

In political circles, it is known as the ‘low target’ strategy: offer little obvious change from the status quo to give your opponent few clear pain points to target you on the grounds you want to ‘hurt’ one part of the electorate or another. It is essentially a conservative strategy, often employed by conservative parties in government. 

This week Jacinda Ardern revealed herself as a small ‘c’ conservative, focused on maintaining the current shape and (historically and comparatively small) size of government, but with a friendlier face. She confirmed Labour had no plans for major new spending or tax or welfare reform in the last full post-Cabinet news conference of her first term. Instead, voters should look at the Government’s current achievements, its plans for Covid-19 recovery and Budget 2020’s debt track as an indicator of ‘steady-as-she-goes’. There is no more. That is it. 

After months of wondering if she was about to flex her new and larger political muscles to pull a big policy rabbit out of the hat, she tapped the hat, turned it upside down, asked us to peer inside at the emptiness, and put it back down on the table: a popular magician without a trick who doesn’t harm rabbits.

Ardern’s only obvious ambition is winning, despite being in a strong position to promote progressive transformation type initiatives.

It is giving Collins and National a chance of clawing back some support so they don’t lose too badly.

It is giving the Greens the most opportunity. They say that for real transformation and significant change, especially on climate change and social issues, a decent Green vote will put them in a strong balance of power position.

Time will tell whether this campaign strategy will hold up through the campaign.

Hooton leaves Leader of the Opposition office

Well known PR strategist/lobbyist and political commentator Matthew Hooton raised political eyebrows when he promoted Todd Muller’s bid for National leadership – he told RNZ “I gave him personal support as a friend” – and then took on a job in the office of the the Leader of the Opposition when Muller took over on 22 May.

He stayed on when Judith Collins took over from Muller on 14 July, but Hooton has now announced he is going “back to family and other interests in Auckland”

He made this statement on Facebook:

Well, I spent yesterday thinking about whether I could do another seven weeks commuting to Wellington, decided I didn’t want to, slept on it, and called Judith Collins this morning to say I wanted to finish in Wellington and get back to family and other interests in Auckland.

Judith was very gracious. (She’s as tough as I knew she was but I didn’t realise she is also kind and also very funny until she took over a couple of weeks ago.) I thanked her and Gerry Brownlee for the opportunity and support they had given me, especially after Todd Muller’s demise, and said I think they now have a terrific team who has a good chance of winning the election, or at least can ensure the National Party will remain a broad church after 19 September.

But I said it was time for me to move on now. I can’t justify the impact on my family and other personal and professional responsibilities for another seven weeks. Cathy Wood seems quite pleased!

I’m pleased to have contributed to getting some of National’s basic messaging done, including the standard stump speech, and also to have helped kickstart the A-to-Z policy process again. I still think the Te Puna speech I wrote for Todd was pretty good.

I will watch with great interest to see how it all unfolds over the next seven weeks. Ideally what would have been spent on my fees can now be redirected to the much more important cost centre of boosting Facebook posts!

So to all the team down in Wellington, all the very very best for the next seven weeks – and hopefully the next nine years.

And you may be hearing from me here and there sooner than you may think.It certainly has been another very interesting life experience, these last nine weeks.

And I will try to renew the resolution that I made when I got back from London last year never to visit Wellington again!

Response from Cathy Wood:

Thanks for listening to my pleas ❤️🙏🏼 Solo-mumming/full-time work was ok when you were doing philosophy in London but it’s not ok for Wellington politics!

Hooton:

 Probably should have listened nine weeks ago!

Judith Collins:

Matthew, Thank you very much for all your excellent work and sage advice. We are now in a great place. Judith

Hooton:

Thanks Judith. It has been a whole lot of fun in a very bizarre way!

Megan Campbell:

Enjoyed working with you, Matthew. Thanks for your advice, contribution and friendship.

Hooton:

Same Megan. But let’s not quite do this again! 😄

No doubt people of different political leanings will make of this whatever they like, but regardless, this moving on by Hooton is likely to make little difference to the election campaign.

Eyebrow raising ‘joke’ not funny for Collins

It is more than eyebrow raising when a party leader claims that making false claims is a joke. If what Judith Collins was really trying to joke it was dumb, silly, ill-considered.

Now she has left herself open to all manner of questions about her honesty and her mannerisms.

RNZ: Judith Collins claims prison escapes false statement a ‘joke’

During yesterday’s visit to Palmerston North, Judith Collins made the comment during two speeches – comparing her record to the government’s in managing the quarantine facilities.

“We’ve got the Prime Minister telling us we’re going to have regional lockdowns if we’re not good little people, well I’ll tell you what, all she has to do is sort out a quarantine, stop people from escaping and it wouldn’t be that hard,” Collins said.

“When I was Minister of Corrections nobody escaped.”

Officials figures reveal, in fact, more than 20 people escaped during her stint as minister.

“There was the odd one who might have popped out but they all got caught,” she told reporters this morning.

She dismissed any suggestion she had been misleading the public with her comment.

“I think you might want to understand a joke when you hear it”, she said, when asked why she had said something that was clearly untrue.

“I think you want to get your Monty Python right.”

When will the public know when she’s joking, reporters asked. “When my eyebrows go up.”

One reporter was told by Collins to “bone up on your comedy skills” when he asked to explain why her joke about prisoners escaping was funny.

I think this is very poor from Collins. She has had a difficult enough start to her leadership due to the poor behaviour of MPs (and Michelle Boag), but this is self inflicted nonsense that risks locking the perception that she is unsuited to leading National to recovery.

Parliamentary Code of Conduct

There have been attempts to have a Parliamentary Code of Conduct for years. This is from 2007: A Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament- is the time ever right?

Greens, UnitedFuture, Māori and ACT signed that proposed code of conduct for MPs. But the time wasn’t right for Labour and National who refused to cooperate.

But times have changed. This term a number of disgraced MPs have led to the conduct of MPs becoming an election issue, with three MPs pulling out of re-election in the last couple of weeks due to very poor conduct.

Speaker Trevor Mallard, who has serious conduct issues himself in the past, is now promoting a Code of Conduct and an independent watchdog.

(Mallard has a battling staffer conduct in the courts at the moment after he outed them for alleged exual assault at Parliament, and they started defamation proceedings against him – see Speaker Trevor Mallard loses suppression argument in defamation claim)

He is now addressing MP behaviour.

Stuff: Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard to MPs: ‘Behave or I’ll out you’

Exasperated Speaker Trevor Mallard has issued a stern warning to MPs, threatening to go public with their bad behaviour if they won’t appoint a complaints’ watchdog.

After a year of MPs wrangling over a code of conduct, Mallard has released the one-page document, urging the parties to sign up.

And he says if they can’t agree to establish an independent commissioner to investigate complaints, he’ll go public with the names of repeat offenders. “People have got to own their actions, basically,” he told Stuff.

“Some people are good but not everybody,” he said. “And then we have another group of people who probably just don’t get the fact that they are treating people badly. It is partly generational, but not only.

“And they are, what I would describe as, repeat offenders who I regularly get reports back … about how they treat other people around the buildings or officials.

“I’ll work with the Whips and talk to people, but I am only going to do it once. If things have been taken up with you, either with me or via the Whips, and you do it again then you can’t expect people not to make that public.”

“I find it really hard to believe. I want to make it clear, it is not only MPs. There are some staff members who treat other staff members appallingly. And there are MPs who treat other MPs appallingly.

“Our history has been one of not embarrassing either the institution or our party. I think we live a decade or two behind most workplaces.”

Before the recent disgraces Parliament has already been found badly wanting as far as behaviour goes.

In a sweeping review released last May, consultant Debbie Francis identified a systemic bullying and harassment problem within the corridors of power.

She recommended an Independent Commission for Parliamentary Conduct, to receive and investigate complaints or disclosures about MPs, as well as “a shared Parliamentary Workplace Code of Conduct”.

A cross party group of MPs, and two union representatives, have been working for more than a year on implementing Francis’ 85 recommendations. It is unlikely to get agreement on the establishment of a Commissioner, and caucuses are yet to give approval on the code.

Mallard said: “In my opinion, the party system or myself [as Speaker], neither of those work particularly well. What I’d really like to do is have someone independent who makes final decisions on whether people are outed or not. I would prefer that not to be my decision.”

It makes sense to have someone independent of MPs and parties overseeing their behaviour – actually I think it is essential, as long as they are given decent powers to deal with bad behaviour.

Of course some have tried to avoid accountability by turning on Mallard because of his past indiscretions.

Mallard has been working to make Parliament a kinder, gentler environment, with family-friendly policies. But his efforts are occasionally dismissed because of his own reputation as an enfant-terrible of politics.

“Like many people I have grown up. And my understanding of what is appropriate and acceptable has changed,” he said.

Trying to divert from accountability for behaviour now because of past crappy behaviour is bollocks, but it’s how some operate to try to remain untouchable.

The new code, which won’t be adopted until the next term even if agreed on by parties, says bullying and harassment are “unacceptable”. MPs will hold people to account for incidents and have a ”responsibility to speak up if we observe unacceptable behaviour, especially if we are in a position to help others.”

Code of Conduct here: Proposed Code of Conduct for MPs

Green Party will sign up to long overdue Code of Conduct

Green Party MPs will be signing up to a Parliamentary Code of Conduct, following its release from the Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard.

Green Party Workplace Relations spokesperson Jan Logie, who was on the Working Group for the Code of Conduct’s development, said:

“I welcome the timely release of the Code of Conduct for Parliament.

“The Green Party commit to signing up to it, so that our MPs and staff have guidance on best behaviour that keeps us all happy and thriving in our workplace.

“The Code of Conduct sets clear expectations on acceptable behaviours in Parliament. For too long this has not been clear, resulting in behaviours that have made people in Parliament feel unsafe, with an increased exposure to bullying and harassment.

“It has long been the case that Parliament, like other institutions, had work to do to ensure our spaces were free of harassment and bullying.

“What has been launched today is an important step in creating a workplace where everyone feels safe and valued.

“People deserve to have trust in Parliament. We look forward to the time when Parliament provides a positive example to the rest of the country.

“I remain focused on seeing the rest of the recommendations from the Debbie Francis review being acted upon.”

According to Stuff Labour then issued a statement claiming the caucus signed up to the code on June 30. “It did not disclose this to Stuff when asked about the code earlier this week”.

I can’t find a statement from Labour on the Code of Conduct. Given Jacinda Ardern’s promotion of niceness and kindness I expect they should be fully supportive of Mallard’s efforts.

National To Adopt Parliamentary Code Of Conduct

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins will recommend to her National Party caucus colleagues that the party signs up to Parliament’s code of conduct.

“The Francis Report and more recent situations have pointed to a lack of respect for the power imbalances that occur within the Parliamentary environment and in the behaviours of some Members of Parliament.

“Robust parliamentary debate will occasionally be needed in the interest of good democracy, but bullying, harassment and inappropriate behaviours should not be accepted in the parliamentary environment or elsewhere.

“I believe everyone who works at Parliament does so because they want to make this country a better place, even if we sometimes disagree on the best way to do that. But there should be no disagreement when it comes to treating people with dignity and respect.

“I will be recommending at National’s next caucus meeting that the party signs up to the code of conduct released by Speaker Trevor Mallard today.”

I can’t find anything from NZ First or the ACT Party., but this sounds promising with three major parties pledging support for a Code of Conduct.

All candidates standing for election should be acquainted with and pledge support for the Code of Conduct.

This won’t guarantee better MP behaviour, but it should help move them in a better direction at least.

I think that having senior MPs like Mallard and Judith Collins strongly promoting the Code of Conduct (and Collins has made it clear she will deal to anyone behaving badly), despite their histories of degrees of dishonourable conduct, is a positive sign that the winds of change are finally starting to reach into Parliament.

Praise for Collins and Ardern handling of Falloon issue

When the Andrew Falloon issue started to emerge there was a lot of mostly partisan premature piling on and criticism of Judith Collins especially and also Jacinda Ardern over how they handled the serious poor behaviour of Falloon but also his claimed mental health issues.

But I think both Collins and Ardern largely deserve praise for how they handled the revelations and potential problems for victims of Falloon’s sleazy attention as well as Falloon himself.

It’s common for people on social media demanding instant action and immediate sackings for any alleged transgression, but that is often based on scant facts, no appreciation of what is involved in dealing with serious problems, no thought for proper and fair processes, and no consideration for the time taken by busy politicians and their teams to do things.

A 19 year old victim took a complaint to the police early this month, who decided it didn’t warrant charges (yesterday police decided to have another look at multiple complaints). Then her parents sent information to Ardern last Wednesday, and Ardern’s office passed this on to Collins’ office on Friday, after first checking this course of action out with the victim. Considering it wasn’t an urgent situation and this seems fairly prompt.

Ardern seems to have acted properly and promptly, protecting the privacy and rights of the victim.

Collins’ office passed on the information to her on Saturday. She would have been in Wellington or Auckland, and Falloon in his electorate in South Canterbury. Collins demanded a meeting with Falloon as soon as was practical, which was Monday. She said it needed to be dealt with face to face, which I think was appropriate.

At the meeting Falloon only disclosed sending one inappropriate image to one woman to Collins, but even then she thought his behaviour warranted him ending his political career, and that afternoon Falloon put out a statement announcing he wouldn’t stand for re-election.

But the statement hinted there may be more, saying ““I have made a number of mistakes…”

By first thing Tuesday Collins had learned of more ‘mistakes’ and made it clear that Falloon should resign from Parliament immediately. This happened soon afterwards.

I think this is rapid action in appropriate time frames.

RNZ: National MP Andrew Falloon quits politics amid indecent image allegations

Yesterday it was revealed the Rangitata MP apparently sent an indecent image – not of himself – to a 19-year-old woman and had announced he would retire at the election.

This morning he wrote to Collins and Parliament’s Speaker Trevor Mallard to resign with immediate effect, after reports of the new claims emerged.

Collins said she spoke to the 19-year-old on the phone this morning, and protecting her confidentiality was of utmost importance.

Shortly before Falloon’s resignation, Collins told Morning Report she had been told of further allegations and could no longer trust the MPs story.

“I think he should resign from Parliament today, now that there are further statements and I can no longer trust his story. I believe that that would be the best thing for him ultimately. He is clearly now with his family and receiving professional assistance. It is I believe better for him, better for the young woman who is my first priority, and for Parliament, that he resigns.

“It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what was being alleged, what had been alleged by the young woman, and that I’ve now been advised by media that Andrew Falloon has now changed his story.”

“My first priority yesterday was the young woman who is now dealing with the terrible trauma and I’ve reached out to her and made it very clear that if there’s any assistance I can give I will do so.”

“It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what had been alleged.

“I am very concerned because I have today – it was very early this morning – received advice from media of other instances of this with at least another person.

“That indicates that it is unlikely to be a solitary incident.

“It may well be a pattern of behaviour – but the only thing I have to go on is the information from the media and I have not seen the evidence myself.

“But I do believe that with my priority being the young woman, and any other women who have received this sort of of pornographic imagery, that Andrew Falloon should today resign from Parliament.

“Obviously he has, from what he has said to me, significant mental health issues, however I am very very aware of the young woman involved, and any other women involved if this is a pattern of behaviour.”

Collins said: “If they have any [information] and they wish to provide it to me it would be treated with the utmost confidence… I would treat this extremely seriously”.

On Ardern’s involvement:

The initial correspondence had gone to the Prime Minister’s office on Wednesday. Jacinda Ardern said her office had handled the matter properly.

“I had a quick discussion with my office about the best way to handle it. The most important thing for us was that nothing happened without the permission of the person who had written. We sought permission for it to be shared with the [National Party] leader.”

Ardern said once that permission was granted the information was given to the National Party leader and that was the end of her office’s involvement.

“We shared it with the leader of the Opposition and that was the only place it was appropriate for it to be shared.”

That all sounds appropriate from both Collins and Ardern.

Later from RNZ: Judith Collins believes ex-MP Andrew Falloon ‘lied’ over indecent image message

National Party leader Judith Collins says it is “very obvious” disgraced ex-MP Andrew Falloon lied to her, the police and a lot of other people about inappropriate sexual messages to women.

Collins said police told her they were “likely” to reopen their first investigation in light of the new information and more women coming forward.

“I’ve also spoken to them about the safety of Andrew Falloon and they’re taking the matter very seriously.”

Collins is “absolutely appalled” by what she has been hearing.

She made contact with the 19-year-old and offered to speak to her and the young woman called her this morning.

“She’s very grateful the Prime Minister and I have taken seriously and dealt with the issue … she comes across to me as a very very nice young woman who is appalled by what has happened, and so am I.”

“I’ve acted very quickly, I had to confront Andrew Falloon face-to-face. This is not a matter to be dealt with by email or phone calls,” she says.

On Monday, Falloon told Collins he was being treated for serious mental health issues.

She said she had to take that seriously.

“Andrew Falloon is still a human being, and he has a family.”

“Since then his story has changed somewhat, quite significantly, more people have come forward to advise me they have also received similar communications – unwelcomed and uncalled for communications from Andrew Falloon.”

Collins has been criticised for allowing Falloon to ‘hide behind’ claims of mental health problems, but I think Collins had no option but to take this seriously. If she hadn’t and worse happened she would have been hammered by critics for not taking it seriously.

Falloon’s media statement referenced unresolved grief around three friends committing suicide when he was younger, and that another friend recently taking their own life had reopened those wounds.

He also addressed his mental health issues saying he needed to put his health and wellbeing first.

Collins said it was appropriate to be concerned about his safety and mental health.

“I know some people say you can hide behind this but I take mental health very seriously.

“If someone’s sitting in my office and telling me they have a serious mental health condition for which they’re receiving treatment I’ll take it seriously.”

Falloon was escorted to Wellington airport by chief whip Barbara Kuriger on Monday afternoon. Junior whip Matt Doocey – a mental health practitioner – took him from Chistchurch airport to his parents’ home in Ashburton.

“He is now, I understand, receiving mental health assistance at a level that it needs to be and I am obviously deeply concerned for the welfare of the young women involved,” Collins said.

That appears to have been handled very well.

Collins has now demanded that any other National MPs who have dirty laundry should front up and disclose it now. She has made it clear she has zero tolerance for bad behaviour from MPs, and has made it clear she will act decisively if anyone stuffs up.

The Falloon issue is bad for National right now, but Collins’ actions and stance should ensure an improvement in the future.

I think that Ardern handled her side of things properly, and Collins largely did likewise in very difficult circumstances.

The Falloon mess continues – he resigns from Parliament

I had a busy day yesterday and only saw the Andrew Falloon story gradually emerge in bits and pieces. Another political mess, and another young political career in tatters. Falloon is reported to have serious mental health issues, it’s not clear whether that contributed to his indiscretion or is as a result, possible a bit of both. His family life is likely under a lot of stress.

And this is another embarrassment for National and a serious blow to Judith Collins trying to present a unified team fighting the election.

The latest on this is Judith Collins saying ‘I can no longer trust his story”.

Reports say that Falloon sent a pornographic picture, not of himself, to a young woman (an 18 year old university student). Without context and detail it’s hard to judge how bad that is.

The  woman is likely also under pressure with all the publicity, even though she hasn’t been named.

Police investigated and decided it didn’t justify prosecuting.

Falloon announced he wouldn’t be standing for re-election in September, but Judith Collins says she can’t trust his story and suggests he should resign from Parliament today.

The statements.

Statement From Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon

“Today I spoke to National Party Leader Judith Collins to inform her I will not be contesting the upcoming election.

“As I noted in my maiden speech three years ago, when I was younger I lost three close friends to suicide. It was an extremely difficult period in my life. Unfortunately, recently, another friend took their own life, which has brought back much unresolved grief.

“I have made a number of mistakes and I apologise to those who have been affected.

“Recent events have compounded that situation and reminded me of the need to maintain my own health and wellbeing. I have again been receiving counselling.

“I want to thank Judith for her support during this time and I look forward to helping a new candidate in the Rangitata electorate in any way I can.

“I apologise for this disruption to my colleagues and to those I serve in Mid and South Canterbury.”

That is a sparse and vague statement.

Statement On Andrew Falloon

Hon Judith Collins

Leader of the National Party

“Andrew Fallon has advised me that he will not be standing for re-election.

“The National Party was advised of an issue relating to Andrew late on Friday afternoon and we have dealt with it this morning.

“Andrew is suffering from significant mental health issues and his privacy, and that of his family, must be respected.”

Information has emerged since then. Collins says she can’t trust his story and suggests he should resign from Parliament today.

RNZ: National MP Andrew Falloon to retire at election

Police investigated National MP Andrew Falloon after receiving a report he sent an unsolicited image to a young woman, but determined it did not meet the threshold for prosecution.

The National Party was notified on late Friday afternoon of an alcohol-related incident involving Falloon in which he behaved in a way “unbecoming of an MP”.

Falloon sat down with National Party leader Judith Collins early this morning and after their conversation, he agreed to step down at the election.

PM Ardern’s office received information

The incident relating to Falloon was first raised by an individual who contacted the office of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Her office passed on the correspondence to the office of Judith Collins, Leader of the Opposition, with that person’s permission.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said all correspondence was treated with confidentiality and all matters to do with Falloon’s resignation were a matter for Judith Collins.

At her weekly post-Cabinet briefing this afternoon, Ardern said her government had no more involvement and it was a matter for the National Party now.

She said she did not know, or seek to know, where the correspondence came from and nor did she seek to know the MP involved.

“The detail I had was reasonably limited,” she said.

NZ Herald – National MP Andrew Falloon quits after sex-text scandal: Message sent to university student

National MP Andrew Falloon’s explanation for the sex-text scandal that ended his political career is understood to be that acquaintances at a party sent the offensive message.

The Herald understands that Falloon’s version of events is that he was at a party several weeks ago and briefly left his phone unattended – and at that time acquaintances used it to send the sexual image in question.

The Herald understands the image was not of himself but was pornographic in nature.

Police confimed last night that an investigation began after receiving a report of an individual sending an “unsolicited image”.

Despite insisting he did not personally send the message, Falloon is believed to have offered his resignation and (Collins) accepted.

Sending harmful content is one of Collins’ zero-tolerance issues.

As Minister of Justice, Collins put up the Harmful Digital Communications legislation which primarily targeted cyber-bullying, and covered the sending of objectionable material.

This is bad news for the apparently unwilling recipient, it is bad news for Falloon, it is bad news for Collins, it is bad news for National, it is bad news for Parliament, and it is another blow to the image of our democracy.

And as usual with political stories their are partisan reactions from holier than thou to stinkier than shit.

It looks like there will be more to go on this story today.


More from RNZ – Judith Collins: National MP Andrew Falloon should resign today

Today Collins told Morning Report she thought Falloon should resign as she could no longer trust his story.

“I think he should resign from Parliament today, now that there are further statements and I can no longer trust his story. I believe that that would be the best thing for him ultimately. He is clearly now with his family and receiving professional assistance. It is I believe better for him, better for the young woman who is my first priority, and for Parliament, that he resigns.

“It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what was being alleged, what had been alleged by the young woman.”

Collins said she had not seen the image in question. But she said it was of a pornographic nature and not of a male.

“My first priority yesterday was the young woman who is now dealing with the terrible trauma and I’ve reached out to her and made it very clear that if there’s any assistance I can give I will do so.”

Police investigated Falloon after receiving the report, but determined it did not meet the threshold for prosecution.

“The Prime Minister’s office received complaints with detailed information on or before Wednesday last week. My office was advised late on Friday afternoon that there was the complaint and I was advised myself on Saturday,” Collins said.

She said she called Falloon to a meeting at her office in Parliament on Monday, and he offered his resignation.

The image had been described to Collins as “entirely inappropriate and a disgrace”.

Collins said the message was sent “about two or three weeks ago”.

“What I have been advised from the message that was sent to the Prime Minister was that the matter was referred to the New Zealand Police, the young woman and her parents.”

Collins’ first contact with Falloon about the issues was Monday.

“He advised me that he had significant mental health issues… and that has been an issue for some time.”

That was not known to Collins earlier, she said.

“I have no questions in my mind, no doubt that he did send that message. Any suggestion that he didn’t is simply wrong.”

He only knew the young woman in a professional sense, Collins said.

“It was clear to me yesterday that he was admitting what had been alleged.”

She also said it had been brought to her attention by media that there were other indiscretions by Falloon.

It is clear that Collins is not happy with him.


UPDATE:  RNZ report that Falloon has just resigned from Parliament, effectively immediately.

Collins: no reason for National to change ‘no deal’ with NZ First

Some time ago the National caucus decided they would rule out doing a coalition deal with NZ First after the election.  Todd Muller had indicated that hadn’t changed under his leadership, and now Judith Collins has done the same.

NZ First are launching their election campaign this weekend, but this may dampen their enthusiasm as it reduces their leverage as they can’t play Labour versus National.

Stuff:  Judith Collins says post-election deal with NZ First ‘not likely’

Speaking to media after putting up the billboards, she said had seen Winston Peters on Saturday morning and had “wished him well – but actually I’d rather we just won”.

She said it was “not likely” they would be in government together: “I don’t know if his party’s going to be there after the election”.

“It’s really important to understand the caucus has said that they don’t want to do a deal with Winston Peters. There is no reason that I know that we are going to change that.

“My view is I’m just not worried about him, or his party vote. I’m focused on the National Party vote.”

As that is a politician speaking it doesn’t rule out a deal categorically, but if Collins reneges on this she should be hammered.

Talking of hammering, that’s what has been happening to NZ First in polls, with recent polls putting Peters’ party around 1%.

In a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll this week David Seymour and Chloe Swarbrick polled higher than Peters. Winston is going to pull something out of the hat this campaign if he is going to save his party.

The poll was commissioned by The Project with Yabble, and the 500 respondents were asked: Thinking about all current MPs of any party, which one would you personally prefer to be Prime Minister?  The poll was conducted on July 15 and it has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. – Newshub