‘I’d rip their throats out’ over the top

When I saw this via Stuff – ‘I’d rip their throats out’: Nats’ Judith Collins slams Labour’s handling of sex claims – I thought it sounded over the top and not good for building support for the new look National Party line up.

Judith Collins has hit out at the Labour Party for not telling the victims’ parents of the alleged assaults at the Young Labour summer camp.

On Friday, National Party MP Judith Collins told the AM Show if she were a parent she would expect to be told what had happened.

“I’d actually rip their throats out for doing that if it was my kid, I really would,” she said in reference to Labour not telling the parents.

Collins said the “culture of secrecy” bred abusive and coercive behaviour.

To me that sounds like an inappropriate expression, and it isn’t great regardless of it touching on something like a feeling many parents might have if they found out a political party had kept the abuse of their teenager secret from them.

But hang on a minute. here’s a Newshub report – ‘I’d rip their throats out’ – Judith Collins tears into Labour’s handling of Waihi camp incident

Judith Collins says parents of the kids allegedly sexually assaulted at a Labour Party youth event should have been told right away.

The Housing Minister admitted if it was one of his own children, he’d liked to have been told right away.

“It’s not a good situation. We’re not happy about it. I think we let these young people down,” Mr Twyford told host Duncan Garner.

Ms Collins, appearing alongside Mr Twyford, said there should never have been any question about what parents would have wanted.

“I’d actually rip their throats out for doing that, if it was my kid, I really would. Obviously not physically, but you might as well. That’s what I’d want to do.

“I cannot believe they’d sit there saying, ‘Let’s not widen the circle.’ Why not? This is the culture of secrecy that actually breeds this sort of behaviour.”

“Obviously not physically” puts quite a different complexion on Collins’ turn of phrase. I still don’t think ‘rip their throats out’ sounds very good, but it’s not dissimilar to ‘give them a kick up the bum’, albeit more impactful being less comon (I haven’t heard it before). She could have said something without violence connotations, like “I’d be bloody pissed off’, and ik think many parents would identify with that.

The partial reporting by Stuff was quite poor. It was written by Laura Walters.

Bridges shuffles National deck

With Bill English and Steven Joyce gone or going soon, and Simon Bridges now leading the national party, the Opposition  responsibilities and rankings have been announced.

New lineup (with movement from last ranking in brackets).

  1. Hon Simon Bridges (+4), Leader, National Security and Intelligence
  2. Hon Paula Bennett (-), Deputy Leader, Social Investment and Social Services,Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Women
  3. Hon Amy Adams (+3), Finance
  4. Hon Judith Collins (+5), Housing and Urban Development, Planning (RMA Reform)
  5. Hon Todd McClay (+8), Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism
  6. Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman (+1), Health, Sport and Recreation
  7. Hon Mark Mitchell (+14), Justice, Defence, Disarmament
  8. Jami-Lee Ross (+19),  Infrastructure, Transport
  9. Hon Paul Goldsmith (+5), Economic and Regional Development, Revenue,Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage
  10. Hon Nikki Kaye (+2), Education
  11. Hon Gerry Brownlee (-7), Shadow Leader of the House, GCSB, NZSIS,America’s Cup
  12. Hon Nathan Guy (-1),  Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety
  13. Hon Michael Woodhouse (-3),  Immigration, Workplace Relations and Safety, Deputy Shadow Leader of the House
  14. Hon Louise Upston (+1),  Social Development
  15. Hon Alfred Ngaro (+5), Children,Community and Voluntary Sector, Pacific Peoples
  16. Hon Christopher Finlayson QC (-8),  Shadow Attorney-General, Crown-Māori Relations, Pike River Re-entry
  17. Hon Scott Simpson (+9), Environment
  18. Hon Jacqui Dean (+5), Local Government, Small Business
  19. Melissa Lee (+12), Broadcasting, Communications and Digital, Media, Ethnic Communities
  20. Sarah Dowie (+19), Conservation
  21. Hon Anne Tolley (-5), Deputy Speaker
  22. Rt Hon David Carter (-5), State Owned Enterprises
  23. Hon David Bennett (+1), Corrections, Land Information, Associate Infrastructure
  24. Jonathan Young (+8),  Energy and Resources, Regional Development (North Island)
  25. Hon Maggie Barry ONZM (-6), Seniors, Veterans,  Associate Health
  26. Hon Dr Nick Smith (-8),  State Services (including Open Government), Electoral Law Reform
  27. Barbara Kuriger (+1), Nominee for Senior Whip
  28. Matt Doocey (+1), Mental Health, Nominee for Junior Whip
  29. Simon O’Connor (+5),  Customs, Associate Housing (Social), Associate Social Development
  30. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (-), Internal Affairs, Associate Justice
  31. Hon Tim Macindoe (-6), ACC, Associate Foreign Affairs and Trade
  32. Brett Hudson (+8),  Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Government Digital Services, Associate Transport
  33. Stuart Smith (+13), Earthquake Commission, Civil Defence, Viticulture
  34. Todd Muller (+8), Climate Change
  35. Dr Jian Yang (+1), Statistics, Associate Ethnic Communities
  36. Dr Parmjeet Parmar (+7),  Research, Science and Innovation, Associate Economic Development
  37. Nuk Korako (+4),  Māori Development, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  38. Chris Bishop (-), Police, Youth
  39. Ian McKelvie (-5), Fisheries, Racing
  40. Hon Nicky Wagner (-18), Arts, Culture and Heritage, Greater Christchurch Regeneration
  41. Andrew Bayly (+4), Building and Construction, Associate Finance
  42. Dr Shane Reti (+2), Data and Cybersecurity, Disability Issues, Associate Health
  43. Alastair Scott (+2), Forestry, Associate Finance
  44. Jo Hayes (-11),  Whānau Ora, Māori Education
  45. Simeon Brown, Associate Education
  46. Andrew Falloon, Regional Development (South Island)
  47. Harete Hipango, Māori Tourism
  48. Matt King, Rural Communities
  49. Denise Lee, Local Government (Auckland)
  50. Chris Penk, Courts
  51. Erica Stanford, Associate Environment
  52. Tim Van de Molen, Nominee for Third Whip
  53. Hamish Walker, Associate Agriculture
  54. Lawrence Yule, Horticulture
  55. Maureen Pugh, Associate Children
  56. Nicola Willis, Early Childhood Education

Judith Collins has been promoted to #4, meaning 3 of the top four MPs are female.

Alphabetical (apart from the two leaders):

Grandstanding pundits versus Simon Bridges

There have been some fairly bitter responses to the National caucus selection of Simon Bridges as their new party leader (and Leader of the Opposition).

Graham Adams at Noted: Bridges and Bennett: National’s B-Team

Noted that the headline frames the new team as inferior (b-team).

Bridges’ other big problem will be convincing the media he is the man for the job. The National caucus obviously took no notice of the many media commentators, both on the right and the left, who were certain that what the National Party needed was Judith Collins, and said so loudly.

Some ‘media commentators’ act more like political activists wanting to have an influence.

Mike HoskingBarry SoperCameron SlaterChris Trotter, Rachel Stewart and Heather du Plessis-Allan all rooted for Collins (although Hosking defected to the Steven Joyce camp late in the piece, possibly aware by then that he had backed the wrong horse, only to find he had switched to another dud).

The hostile reactions to Bridges’ accession suggest that some commentators may not like their lack of influence being so brutally revealed.

Barry Soper in particular seems to be annoyed that Bridges got the job.

Some of the media’s support for Collins, of course, was undoubtedly less about what she might do for the country than what she might do for the media.

Probably. These days controversy and click bait headlines seem more important than independent and balanced coverage.

Journalist grandstanding is a growing issue in political coverage.

Another media trends seems to be that political ‘reporters’ seem obsessed with predicting outcomes to show how good their sources and their political acumen is.

The hissy fits over Bridges’ selection (and Collins’ non selection) may be more than or alternate to “their lack of influence being so brutally revealed”, it may also be in part at least annoyance at their failure to get it right brutally revealed.

National party leadership contest

After a lot of initial media attention the contest to become the next National Party leader and Leader of the Opposition seems to have become more of an in-house affair. This isn’t surprising given that the contenders only need to convince enough of the 56 National MPs top vote for them.

It is now expected no deal will be done and it will go to a vote in Caucus next Tuesday.

Most indications point to Amy Adams and Simon Bridges being the front runners, but both short of a majority.

Judith Collins seems to be popular amongst party members, or at least has successfully created that impression, but has few supporters in caucus.

Steven Joyce may have some powerful allies, but too few.

Mark Mitchell must have a hard task, unless his aim was to raise his profile with an eye to the future.

There is no point in trying to out-Ardern Jacinda Ardern. Her situation in rising to leadership was quite different, and her mastery of media muppets is unlikely to be matched. In addition, none of the candidates looks likely to become pregnant.

However National should be mindful of the fact that Ardern has pulled quite a bit of female support from other parties, including National.

Joyce and Mitchell are unlikely to swing that back. I have no idea whether Bridges would attract female votes but I doubt it.

Collins may get some female support but deter others.

And the Slater effect shouldn’t be underestimated. Collins has been associated with Slater in the past, and that led to a major hiccup in her political career – Slater ended up limiting the damage by claiming he had ’embellished’ stories that looked bad for Collins.

Mitchell used his services to get nominated for a safe electorate but now distances himself – however his inclusion in the leadership race has revived ‘Dirty Politics’ claims. Most of the wider public probably know or care little about Slater, but it is likely all of the 56 National MPs are well aware of his past, and his personal agendas and feuds. He looks politically toxic.

That leaves Adams. She could compete with Ardern as a successful female politician, but she can also differentiate on experience in actually achieving things. She was a high performing Minister in the last Government.

Any of Joyce, Bridges or Mitchell could provide a good balance as deputy to Adams. Joyce is way ahead on experience there, but if National want to show they are intent on rebuilding and looking forward one of the other two may be a better bet.

Adams as leader and Collins as a strong deputy would be an interesting combination, if they could work together. A double female team may be a step too far for National though.

Much may depend on how well the new leader can manage the National caucus, and keep it from splitting into factions. The MPs who choose will be wanting someone they feel they can prosper under.

Most predict at least two votes will be required, and possibly more until a clear leader is decided on.

National leadership – safe option or risk?

National support stayed remarkably high throughout their three terms in government, barely changing when John Key stood down and Bill English took over. This was partly due to the performance of National – voters tend to prefer steady, sound and predictable governance – and partly due to the weakness of the Opposition, especially Labour’s failure to find a leader who appealed, until Jacinda Ardern took over.

Labour chose steady but uninspiring Phil Goff after Helen Clark lost in 2008 and resigned, and made no real progress for three years. They then flirted with more radical options, David Shearer then David Cunliffe, but the former failed to rise to the occasion and the latter was too flawed (and disliked). They went back to steady but uninspiring with Andrew Little and were tanking leading into last year’s election, until Ardern took over and turned things around dramatically.

Now National is in Opposition ‘steady as she goes’ may not be such a good option.

They may feel that ‘same old’ will maintain their support and get them back into government in 2020, but Ardern has changed to whole political vibe. Unless Ardern and Labour stuff up badly National with ‘same old’ may find it very difficult to appeal sufficiently.

Running a ‘same old’ style leader and party against a first term government is high risk for National. The last time a government only lasted one term was 1972-75, when Labour failed to survive after Norm Kirk died in office.

Steven Joyce hasn’t put his hat in the leadership ring yet, but as he worked closely alongside Key and English, he would be seen as ‘same old’. He is reasonable competent but is unlikely to inspire, so I think he would be a high risk option.

There are a couple of ‘change a bit’ options standing, Amy Adams and Simon Bridges. Both promise to be a change, Bridges claiming to be a generational change to try to compete head to head with Ardern. Both would probably be safe-ish choices for National, but safe is going to struggle to compete. Neither looks likely to wow the voters, and that would be a problem for a first term Opposition struggling for attention.

As big a risk as Joyce, but for a very different reason, is Judith Collins. She would be likely to change the look of National significantly, and she would get much more media attention, both positive and negative. She has already got much more media attention than Bridges and Adams, and on top of that seemed to be prepared and is running with a social media campaign as well.

Collins promises to shake up Ardern and the Government, and she would probably succeed to an extent. However she would also shake up the National caucus and party, something they may be reluctant to allow. It is reported that Collins isn’t in favour with senior National MPs, still. It has also been reported that she has been working the back benches, but may not have swung many of them yet. There are also a big unknown, the allegiances of their new MPs.

Collins is in the category of high risk and possible high reward or crash and burn. I’d be tempted to give her a crack to break to first term opposition hoodoo, but the National caucus that chooses a new leader may be too cautious and too timid.

Labour took risks with each of their five leaders in Opposition, and finally hit the jackpot with Ardern in a high risk leadership switch just before the election (albeit aided in a significant way by Winston Peters and NZ First).

Any new choice of leader is a risk. As always the actual leadership qualities of each of the candidates is unknown until one of them takes over.

It is also unknown in advance how united or factionalised the caucus will be under a new leader. Successful leaders minimise factional friction by looking decisive, by being successful in scoring hits against the Government, and scoring good poll results.

National MPs have to make a choice on the level of risk they are prepared to take. Being too conservative is probably as big a risk as being too radical, if not more, because conservative Oppositions tend to be ignored by voters in first term.

National leadership speculation in full swing

There hasn’t been much change to the list of National leadership contenders – Jonathan Coleman has confirmed he won’t stand, Steven Joyce and mark Mitchell are reported to be interested but haven’t yet confirmed either way, so Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins remain the current confirmed contenders.

There’s a lot of pundit positing for various candidates, which is unlikely to influence the MPs in National’s caucus who will make the decision, so is more like attempts to be seen as able to guess who the winner will be before it is announced.

Bryce Edwards tweeted:

A notable omission from the endorsement list is himself, given his clearly stated preference:

I’m not going to endorse or pick any of them, I’m still quite ambivalent about who I’d like to see lead National, I don’t care very much who gets the job. But here’s some musings.

Amy Adams – seems to have been a very capable Minister who managed a large workload in the last Government. I’m not sure she has the media appeal that, unfortunately, seems to be demanded by media.

Simon Bridges – he is rated by some, and his relative youth may help against Ardern, but I haven’t seen he has what it needs yet. Perhaps he could rise to the position, but that is a risk.

Judith Collins – I really think she looks the best prepared and most capable of the bunch, and could be a very good contrast to Ardern, but she will need to get the support of the caucus, something she has failed to do in the past, and one of her biggest impediments is the rash of dirt mongering against her opponents and promotion of her at Whale Oil – the risk of her being connected to that, justified or not, may be causing some MPs some concern.

Should they stand:

Steven Joyce – in some ways he has been a very capable lieutenant to Key and English, has made misjudgements in the last two campaigns (Northland and general election). If National want to rejuvenate and set a new course into the political future Joyce is not the one, that will count against him unless National MPs think more of same old is what they want.

Mark Mitchell – seen as a dark horse candidate that few of the public will know. He has seemed ok to me in the little I have seen of him, but too little to judge. He would certainly be a breath of fresh leadership, and would contrast with Ardern, but will be hammered for his military contracting past, just like Key was hammered (to little effect) on his money market past.

Whoever takes over will have two years to build their profile and support before heading into the 2020 campaign – presuming the current lasts that long (the odds must be it will).

It’s worth keeping an eye on Kiwiblog. So far David Farrar has done individual posts on Collins and Mitchell. They could make a good looking leadership team, and Labour have shown that two geographically imbalanced (Auckland or north) leaders doesn’t seem to matter any more.

Three National leadership contenders so far

So far Judith Collins, Amy Adams and Simon Bridges have put themselves forward for leadership of the National Party (and therefore Leader of the Opposition).

As well as that, Mark Mitchell, Jonathan Coleman and Steven Joyce have indicated they are considering standing.

They will all no doubt be canvassing for support – National leaders are chosen by their caucus, so the National MPS, some of whom have just become MPs, will decide on their leader (and deputy leader).

It’s good to see a number of people offering their services.

A number of others have ruled out standing.

Personally I don’t care who takes over the leadership. I have an open mind about it, and it’s up to the party to take a punt on it’s future.

From my experience it’s very difficult to judge how someone will measure up as a leader until they have been a leader for some months. This was apparent in the procession of leaders that Labour had. Bill English also showed that someone who failed as a leader can learn from that and have another go and do a very creditable job.

All I hope is that whoever National chooses to lead them does a good job, revitalises National and provide a good Opposition to the Government without getting bogged down by petty partisan bickering. Picking fights wisely is important.

It may be next week before we know the full line up of hopefuls. May the best person come forward and win.

Meaningless but mean leadership speculation

Supposed issues over the leadership of Bill English was very suspiciously leaked on the day he was due to give a big ‘state of the nation speech’ earlier this week, and of course the media thrashed it.

There were the inevitable denials, and inevitable media claims that denials mean the opposite.

Leadership speculation is one of the great blood sports of politics – and is often dirty, whether orchestrated by people with their own leadership ambitions, or by opponents trying to create mischief.

Bill English appears to be secure as National Party leader at the moment, but it hasn’t stopped the speculation and stoking of a what appears to have been a non-story.

Every MP ‘absolutely stands behind the leader’ – until that leader’s position is in jeopardy. It is political suicide not absolutely appearing to stand by your leader.

Political journalists love intrigue, especially over leadership, so are a major (and willing) part of the game.

National’s campaign on roading

The National Opposition has revved up early in the political year with a campaign on roading. Over the last two days they have launched a number of press releases and petitions:

National Party launches bid to save highway projects

The National Party has today launched a series of petitions aimed at saving regional highway projects at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams…

MPs launch bid to save road of national significance

National MPs Todd Muller, MP for Bay of Plenty and Scott Simpson, MP for Coromandel have today launched a campaign to ensure the Katikati to Tauranga four-lane Road of National Significance proceeds as planned by the previous National Government.

Four-lanes crucial to Canterbury growth

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon has today launched a petition aimed at saving plans to extend State Highway 1 between Christchurch and Ashburton to four lanes.

Tauranga to Hamilton expressway extension at risk

National’s petition to extend the Waikato Expressway from Cambridge to Tirau and from Cambridge to the Kaimai Range was launched today, announced MPs for Tauranga and Hamilton East…

Napier to Hastings Expressway at risk

MP for Tukituki Lawrence Yule has today launched a petition aimed at saving the project that would ensure the four laning of the Napier to Hastings Expressway…

Waimak MP backs petition to save motorway project

MP for Waimakariri Matt Doocey says the Christchurch Northern Motorway from Belfast to Pegasus should not be put at risk while the Government attempts to divert billions of dollars…

Petition launched to support East-West Link

National MPs Denise Lee, Simeon Brown and Jami-Lee Ross have today launched a petition to gather support for the East-West Link which is now uncertain under the new Government.

Until now the Government has seemed to be on holiday, but this has dragged Minister of Transport Phil Twyford into the new year in a hurry. He has responded in part.

ODT: Transport concerns unfounded: minister

Suggesting the Government was not going ahead with roading projects which do not exist is misleading, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Phil Twyford says.

Responding to National Party transport spokeswoman Judith Collins claims the Government was diverting financing, Mr Twyford’s spokeswoman said the New Zealand Transport Agency had advised funding for road upgrades could not be redirected into rail.

“National’s concerns are unfounded. The Mill Rd Corridor upgrade is an Auckland Transport project and planning is continuing.

“The Labour-led Government has not altered any existing roading projects except Auckland’s East-West link and officials are working to identify a lower-cost, better-value option.”

Mr Twyford’s spokeswoman said it was important to note the other “highway projects” referred to in National’s petition did not exist.

They were election campaign promises made by National in August last year and never costed or funded.

“To suggest the Government isn’t going ahead with projects that don’t exist is misleading. And to suggest non-existing funding be diverted into rail is nonsensical.”

National’s spokesperson for Transport, Judith Collins, is coordinating the petitions.

Ms Collins launched national petitions yesterday aimed at saving national regional highway projects.

Regional highway projects were at risk because of the Government’s obsession with Auckland trams, she said.

Ms Collins said the Transport Minister now had several of those projects under review.

”That’s not good enough. Our regional communities deserve them and the National Party is committed to fighting for them.”

Twyford has a lot on his ministerial plates -n he has already been put under the Housing spotlight. It looks likke being a busy year for him.

Finlayson: negotiations ‘essentially a fraud’

Chris Finlayson, who was Attorney General  in the last government and is now Shadow Attorney General, was scathing of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and the coalition negotiations in his Address in Reply speech in Parliament yesterday.

He says that “the negotiations after the general election were essentially a fraud”, and that National has “dodged a bullet”.

From draft Hansard:

I do want to comment a little bit on the campaign. I normally stand up and say here that it’s great to be back, but it’s kind of good to be back.

I would much rather be on the other side than where I am here, but I have to say I’m in that category in the National Party that said we dodged a bullet, because while I have some regard for some of my New Zealand First parliamentary colleagues, I have absolutely no regard for the Rt Hon Winston Peters, and I have had no regard for him from the time I acted for the National Party caucus in the early 1990s, when he was removed from the caucus for disloyalty.

Old habits don’t change very quickly. He has made absolutely no contribution to New Zealand, in my view, and it is becoming abundantly clear, as Judith Collins said recently, that the negotiations after the general election were essentially a fraud.

So I believe we’ve dodged a bullet, and I’m very happy that the National Party conducted itself with propriety and dignity.

Last week from Newshub: Winston Peters ‘not genuine’ in coalition talks – Judith Collins

Judith Collins says the post-election negotiations between her party and Winston Peters appear to have been a fraud.

It was revealed on Thursday the New Zealand First leader’s legal action against journalists, the head of the Ministry of Social Development, a number of National MPs and their staff was filed the day before the General Election, which was held on September 23.

Ms Collins told The AM Show on Friday morning it now appears Mr Peters was playing the National Party, and never intended to sign a coalition agreement with them.

“At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.”

“I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision,” said Ms Collins.

“I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation. Was he being genuine, or was it just a play?”

I think voters are owed an explanation, but I doubt that Peters will give a straight answer.

The first call in Court on Peters’ legal action was on Monday. Stuff – Winston Peters’ lawyers aim sights at journalists involved in leak:

The NZ First leader’s legal team served court papers last week on nine people including former National Party government ministers, journalists and a government department chief executive over the leak which occurred in the leadup to this year’s election.

Peters’ lawyers are requesting documents from the parties named in the legal action to try and get to the bottom of where the leak came from, and who was involved.

The first call for Peters’ case was heard in front of Justice Anne Hinton on Monday morning at the High Court in Auckland. It was a largely procedural hearing, with all parties represented by lawyers.

Peter’s legal counsel Brian Henry told the court some of the journalists who were leaked the story may have been politically motivated, and not neutral reporters.

Newsroom co-editor Tim Murphy and Newshub journalist Lloyd Burr were both served documents as they knew about the leak before it became public.

“The situation is about an illegal act, not dirty politics. When it comes to the journalists, it is our understanding some of the journalists were not ‘journalists’ but political agents,” Henry said.

“This was a political set up from woah to go,” he said.

Henry said they were considering challenging the pair’s journalistic privilege.

Justice Hinton told Peters’ lawyer they will need to file documents with the court detailing exactly what they are alleging against the parties involved.

Justice Hinton set down a hearing for March next year where it will be ruled if the parties will need to disclose the documents.

In a statement on Monday morning, the National Party said: “The National Party people named all continue to refute any suggestion they had any involvement in the leak of this information and will be responding accordingly.”

With this action planned since before the election coalition between NZ first and National seems an unlikely outcome of negotiations, or if it had happened it would have started with a degree of tension and toxicity.

On making his announcement after extended negotiations Peters had claimed that the decision to support a Labour led Government was made 15 minutes before making the announcement.

Perhaps that refers to a decision on something like ‘will we accept what Labour has offered us or push for more?’.