‘Expert’ advice on informing victims’ parents questioned

Labour party officials defended their decision not to inform parents of the victims of the alleged sexual assaults at the Young Labour summer camp.

Stuff: Labour Party confirms sexual misconduct at camp – parents and police not told

Labour’s general secretary has defended not telling the police or parents about complaints teenagers were sexually assaulted at a summer camp last month.

Andrew Kirton, the Labour Party’s general secretary, said he stood by the way the party had handled the situation, which he said was done with a “victim-led” focus on the back of advice from a Wellington sexual violence charity.

Parents of the victims hadn’t been told about the incident because “we wanted to deal with the young people in the first instance,” Kirton said.

“We didn’t want to assume the young people involved had told their parents. They’re 16 so that had an impact on that decision and that was the advice we got.”

But the advice Kirton says he received is universal ‘best practice’.

I have received a copy of a professsional counselor’s advice on confidentially not being absolute when dealing with young people suffering trauma.

I have recently had a chance to catch up with the news regarding the sexual assault allegations perpetrated against 4 young people at the NZ Labour Party Youth Camp at Waihi, and I find myself feeling simply appalled by the role of the Counsellors in this saga.

In my professional practice opinion, gleaned from over 17,000 hours of practice, the decision by the so-called “experts” to not tell parents about what had happened to their children at the camp flies in the face of common sense and ethical decency.

This decision is also at odds with the evidence of what constitutes best practice.

There are a number of logical inconsistencies within the narrative of those who were charged with providing a safe environment for these young people – so many in fact as to risk eroding parental And caregiver confidence in the ability of the “experts” to actually make reasonable and rational decisions regarding people in crisis under their care.

This story is one of many to have emerged over time, under the mis-represented umbrella of “client confidentiality”.

Confidentiality (in any profession) is not absolute.

For Counsellors in this story to claim that confidentiality is absolute, is to incur an inconsistency with their own ethical Codes of Practice.

I know this, because I have had cause to review the Codes of Ethics for the six main Professional Associations that operate within the social service delivery space, a review that also included the Privacy Act 1993.

Every single one of the aforementioned documents accepts breach of confidentiality without client consent in four instances of disclosure: risk to self, risk to others, risk from others, and disclosure of illegal intent or action.

These breaches have particular significance for clients under the age of 17, which all of the alleged camp victims were.

Part of the informed consent process for clients in Counselling is for the Counsellor to advise clients at the beginning of the first session that some exceptions to confidentiality exist, prior to any disclosure being made.

Failure of the Counsellor to conduct an adequate informed consent process can result in the Counsellor adopting a level of responsibility for the client and families welfare that they have no right to claim in the absence of parental involvement and awareness (as has happened in this case).

Offering an illegitimate blanket of confidentiality also risks further alienating a young client from the enduring available support structures available within the family unit.

There is also a logical inconsistency in the reasons given by the experts not to tell the parents about what occurred in the camp, and it goes like this.

The experts in this saga claim that the alleged victims of the sexual assault were traumatised by the actions against them, yet it is these same traumatised minds that the experts choose to trust in terms of the victims (who are most likely fearful, confused, and in shock themselves) being able to make a reasonable decision about who to tell or not tell about what happened, because of the risk of re-traumatisation?!

This isn’t (as the experts claim) best practice – it’s rather professional abdication of a legitimate responsibility for the Counsellor to skillfully navigate the child towards their family so that the family can manage the issue at hand, with assistance from the Counsellor, if required.

The oft-repeated acclaimed rights of children and young people thus become misguided ideological nonsense when contrasted against the sanctity of the parent-child relationship which informs the right of parents to decide what is best for their children.

There is now a plethora of longitudinal population research studies that reveal that the higher order brain centres (e.g. the pre-frontal cortex, responsible for integrating sensory information and reasoning) don’t fully develop until the early-mid twenties.

To therefore assume (as the experts in this case have) that young people in crisis are capable of making a rational decision about what is best for them in the absence of parental or caregiver guidance is a classic example of present day ideology attempting to supersede historical and empirically revealed common sense.

Perhaps the lesson for the Counselling profession is this: when working with clients, and particularly younger clients, those who claim to be “helping” need to be very cautious of claiming a responsibility for a young person’s welfare or situation that is not theirs to claim.

A life may well eventually depend on the application of such professional discernment.

More on Labour advisers, lobbyists and conflicts of interest

A follow-up to Lobbyists and Labour advisers in Government – more coverage plus some interesting tweets.

The Spinoff: Conflict of interest concerns over lobbyist turned chief of Jacinda Ardern’s staff

The government lobbyist who served for several months as chief of staff to the prime minister as the new government took office says he didn’t do any work for the lobbying firm of which he is part-owner while working at the Beehive. Nor, he says, was he paid by the business.

In response to questions on potential conflicts of interest, GJ Thompson, who advised the prime minister for five months ending last Friday, told The Spinoff he “declared the potential conflict at the very outset” and that it was for the Department of Internal Affairs to manage any conflict.

Thompson did not directly respond, however, to questions put to him on why his name and personal telephone number remained on the front page of the lobbying firm’s website while he was in service at the apex of the new government, or what steps were taken to address any conflicts of interest.

hen Labour’s previous chief of staff, Neale Jones, left to become a lobbyist late last year, questions arose about conflicts of interest and the potential for disclosure of inside information.

But concerns over Jones’ move are dwarfed by those surrounding his replacement, GJ Thompson. Last Friday, Thompson concluded a five-month stint as Labour’s chief of staff. Before taking on the leading Labour position he was a partner at Thompson Lewis, the lobbying firm he founded in 2016. Having left the role, he has returned to Auckland and his firm to continue as a lobbyist.

His time advising Ardern leads in his promotional bio on the front page of the firm’s website, which boasts: “He spent five months as chief of staff to prime minister Jacinda Ardern, assisting the new government transition into the Beehive.” The firm’s blurb advertises its “strong political networks” and its partners’ “significant time in senior roles in Government and Opposition”.

The Spinoff got a limited response from the PM’s office and “no specific comment” apart from dates of employment from Ministerial Services.

The Spinoff asked Thompson about these circumstances and how any conflicts of interest were managed, including whether the disclosure was about his role at the firm generally, or relating to particular clients.

Thompson responded: “Your questions are best directed to DIA [the Department of Internal Affairs] given they were the employer. DIA manages any potential conflict of interest. I declared the potential conflict at the very outset of my short-term appointment.”

“While I was temporarily working as chief of staff, I took a leave of absence from Thompson Lewis and did not work for the business at all”, he said.

“Nor was I paid by the business. I stepped out of the business completely. My time in the Beehive was always on a temporary basis so we took careful steps to manage it.”

Thompson did not respond directly to questions from The Spinoff whether he had professional contact with his firm while he was chief of staff.

It remains unclear from the answers provided by Thompson, the prime minister’s office, and the Department of Internal Affairs whether Thompson disclosed his clients’ identities or simply that he was involved in Thompson Lewis, though that question was put directly to all three.

Without knowing who Thompson’s clients are, it would have been challenging for the department and the prime minister’s office to decide what steps should be taken to mitigate potential conflicts of interest, such as what information Thompson should have had access to, and whether he should have resigned his directorship of the firm.

Risks of corruption aside, political scientist Bryce Edwards, speaking to RNZ about his coverage of Thompson’s appointment, explained why he was concerned about changes in the lobbying industry: “There is increasing suspicion about what is basically a political class.”

“A lot of people — in especially the Wellington circles — that work in government departments, work in ministers’ offices, or are politicians, then work in the media, they work in PR, they work in lobbying. It’s all a bit too close, I think. It’s a very cohesive political class.”

Thompson told The Spinoff he has spent over 20 years as a journalist, working in parliament and for some of New Zealand’s largest companies. “During this time, I’ve developed long-standing contacts in media, politics and business.”

A fair question to ask. It does not appear to have been asked or answered at The Standard.

Some interesting responses to Manhire’s tweet:

“A relatively inexperienced outfit” does need “needs all the help they can get”, but not by compromising the integrity of political advice untainted by the interests of lobbyists paid to influence the Government.

Some responses from what I think are left leaning people:

Valedictory statement – Annette King

Annette King has been a very accomplished and widely respected MP and Minister. She has probably done more than anyone to help Labour survive the last nine years. If she had chosen to stand as leader she will probably have done better than any of Goff, Shearer, Cunliffe or Little.

She has mentored Jacinda Ardern and helped ready her for her big step up last week.

King has just given her valedictory statement in Parliament.

Hon ANNETTE KING (Labour—Rongotai): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I could not start before the grandson arrived.

Where to begin? It has been 33 years since I was first elected, 11 elections, nine leaders, 15 portfolios, 985 speeches in this House, so many debates, so many challenges, so many stories, and so much fun. I have often asked myself how Skinny Robinson from the small South Island town of Murchison ended up in a place like this. So like any good yarn you have got to start from the beginning. I joined the Labour Party in 1972 following the victory of Norman Kirk and the third Labour Government—a Government that was full of ideas, passion, and hope. I joined in Hamilton. I went to my first branch meeting, and I was immediately made the secretary. That is what happens in the Labour Party.

Throughout the 1970s I did most of my party work in Hamilton. I was instrumental in setting up a new branch in Hamilton East called the Trendy Leftie Club. It was called that because the Prime Minister of the day, Rob Muldoon, called everybody who was in the Labour Party a “Trendy Leftie”. For our inaugural meeting we invited the up-and-coming leftie of the day—Richard Prebble. [Interruption] It is possible to get things wrong in politics.

It was Richard Prebble, the then Minister of Railways, who, when I excitedly told him that the Waikanae Railway Station had just been painted, said: “Ah! That means we’re gonna close it.”, and he did. But my real political activism started in March 1974 when I joined around a thousand school dental nurses, in white starched uniforms, red cardigans, veils, and seemed stockings, and marched up Lambton Quay to Parliament in support of a pay claim. I was petrified. But I have never forgotten a carload of young blokes who called out as we passed them: “Hey, hey, you Waikato sheilas, best looking in the bunch.” I can tell you it put a real spring in our step that day. We had waited years for a pay rise. With the sport of Dan Long and the PSA we walked away that day with a 24.4 percent pay increase from Norm Kirk. Yes, it was great—an increase of $8,000 in today’s money. It was unprecedented at that time, and I can tell you that the silver fern railcar rocked and rolled its way back to Hamilton that night with the help of a few bottles of golden sherry.

I learnt from that day the value of leadership and courage—leadership from people like Maggie Morgan, Pam Horncy, and Sheila Brown. Pam and Maggie are those two who have dressed in that uniform up there tonight. It showed me the value of standing up and fighting for what you believe in and the value of belonging to a union. Now, 43 years on, I am ashamed we still do not have pay equity in New Zealand. Women have waited long enough. No more excuses, no more half-baked measures, no more litigation. It is time for us to once again lead on women’s issues. Our country used to be a leader. There is so much more that we need to do.

In 1981 I shifted to Wellington. I packed up my old Chevette, the TV, the dog, and my young daughter Amanda and I headed to new challenges. I joined the Mount Victoria branch of the Labour Party, and I was immediately made the Secretary. That is what happens in the Labour Party. It was there that I met the formidable Kath Kelly and her husband Pat. I also met Helen Kelly. She became my babysitter. One of the sadnesses for me is that I leave this place and Helen Kelly is not sitting here with us.

I worked on Fran Wilde’s campaign, and it was with her encouragement, along with Helen Clark, that I put my name in for the 1984 election. The Party had decided that we needed more women in Parliament, because we were sick of being tea ladies, Mr Joyce. We wanted to make policy, and we wanted to make decisions. Before the 1984 election, women made up 8 percent of Parliament—8 percent. It increased to 15 percent—the biggest increase ever. And 33 years on it is now 31 percent. That is not good enough. All political parties need to commit to making this place truly a House of Representatives.

I supported MMP, because I saw it as a way to achieve diversity and fairness in our voting system. It has changed the make-up of the House, but we have still got a long way to go. President Jim Anderton selected me for the seat of Horowhenua, but I never expected to win. I called myself the accidental MP. We had never held that seat before, and I was swept in on the popularity of David Lange with a majority of 447. We put together a fantastic campaign with 1 month to do it in—after the calling of the Schnapps election—for the 14 July, Bastille Day, and the result was a political revolution. The campaign was short; it was sharp, and it was furious. It was led by my long-time friend and campaign manager for all but one of my 11 campaigns, Lloyd Falck and his wife Marea. Lloyd, who is larger than life, was my Chief of Staff for nine years, and Marea my electorate secretary. I owe them so much.

It was during that campaign that I met the 8-year-old Darren Hughes. He was Lloyd’s neighbour, and, yes, he was already a political junkie, delivering my pamphlets. He will deny this, but both he and his brother Bryce curtseyed when they first met David Lange. [Interruption] Darren is one of the most talented people I have ever met, and this House is the poorer for him not being here.

They used to say the softest thing about Anne Hercus was her teeth, but she was the person who gave me my first break in Parliament after the 1984 election. She put me on her working party to establish the first ever Ministry of Women’s Affairs and she made me chair of the Social Welfare Committee. I was a real novice, up against the wily old fox Venn Young, who was the former Minister, and he gave me a real lesson in the art of politics. I quickly learnt you had to hold your nerve if you were going to survive in this place.

I was also put on the Finance and Expenditure Committee. I was the only woman, and I was scared stiff, because sitting opposite me was a line-up of heavy hitting former Minister’s led by Rob Muldoon. I did not open my mouth for 6 weeks. After a while I got enough courage to ask a question, and I cannot remember what it was, but I can still see Muldoon fixing me with that stare and saying: “Who’s she?” I quickly learnt you need a sense of humour if you are going to survive in this place. I did have an odd relationship with Muldoon. He was the person who said I had put the horror into Horowhenua. But just before the 1990 election I passed him in the old billiard room, and he grunted, and he said: “I hope you win.” He often got things wrong.

For the first 3 years I was seated next to Trevor Mallard. We have fought and scrapped with each other for over 33 years, but he is one of my oldest mates, and a passionate politician. I will always remember the day when we had shifted seats to sit behind the front bench for Trevor to speak. He was speaking with volume on full when his front teeth, which were attached to a plate in those days, flew out of his mouth and landed on Richard Prebble’s shoulder. He leant forward, he grabbed them, he put them back in his mouth, and he carried on speaking without taking a breath or hesitation.

It was a tradition back them for two new members to propose the Address and Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I was chosen to do the Address, and Jim Sutton, my old mate, was chosen to do the Reply. It was not till afterwards that Mike Moore told us there was another tradition: those who were chosen usually lost their seats—and we did, in 1990. But, as they say, we came back. We came back as the retreads of 1993!

The years between 1984 and 1990 were both distressing and exhilarating. We became a deeply divided caucus and party by the end of 1990. I am not going to dwell too long on those years, but the fourth Labour Government made some of the most significant changes seen in New Zealand—economic, social, and constitutional. Rapid and radical economic changes included removing agricultural subsidies, removing controls on foreign exchange, introducing GST, removing import tariffs, corporatising many of our State assets, and much more. It took my dear old dad years to forgive the changes we made to the Post Office, a place he had worked for 40 years, and it was not until Kiwibank was opened that he felt his money was safe again. There were changes that were needed, but not enough thought was given to the consequences on families and communities, and some of those consequences are still with us today.

But there are highlights I do want to remember. Homosexual law reform, 1986—I believe one of the most courageous politicians in this House was Fran Wilde. She withstood the vilest of campaigns against her and her family, and I was proud to stand with those who voted in support of reform. I was told that I was going to lose my rural seat in the 1987 election if I voted for reform; I increased my majority. I learnt that you can only ever vote with your conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscience in your electorate. The old adage “To thine own self be true” comes to mind. And there are many more reforms that are needed in this area, particularly for transgender people, who continue to be discriminated against.

You know, we too often forget some of the reforms of the fourth Labour Government, over-shadowed by those economic changes. They were reforms such as the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act—thank you, Dr Cullen; fully abolishing the death penalty; this one is amazing—making rape in marriage a criminal offence; the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act; Homestart to help people buy their first home—what a novel idea; Treaty claims dating back to 1840; and, of course, nuclear-free New Zealand. Today the nuclear-free policy is owned by all New Zealanders, something most people are proud of. I believe that our nuclear-free stance, the failure of Britain and the US to condemn the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour, and our refusal to send troops to Iraq without a UN mandate were some of the actions that have led to New Zealand having a more independent foreign policy today.

A little-known story, however, is the part I played in restoring diplomatic relations with France after the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. After the 1987 election Peter Dunne and I were made parliamentary under-secretaries. Cabinet decided that we needed to get our relationship with France back on a better footing. It decided to send the lowliest ranked member of the executive—me—to reopen dialogue. I was dispatched to Paris to meet their Minister of Foreign Affairs. She spoke in French, I spoke in English, and I have not a clue what we talked about. But the message was clear: New Zealand was giving France a silent one-finger salute—I will not do it—while at the same time showing we had forgiven, but not forgotten.

In 1989 I was elected to Lange’s Cabinet. That lasted 7 days before David Lange resigned. I do not think I was the reason. I became a Minister in Geoffrey Palmer’s Cabinet, and later Mike Moore’s. I had responsibility for immigration, youth affairs, employment, and the Minister assisting the Prime Minister with responsibility for caucus relations. Dark clouds were already gathering over the caucus, and as a peacemaker I turned out to be an absolute failure.

As Minister of Employment I had to front up to the media every month to announce the increase in unemployment figures, and they were rising at an alarming rate. It was a political nightmare. You Ministers have it easy these days! But from my one year in that role came one of the highlights of my political career: the setting up of the community employment development unit, the brainchild of Garry Moore and a number of other fantastic community development workers, including the late Parekura Horomia. It was an agency that was outside the Department of Labour, and I have to say it caused the then Secretary of Labour a lot of angst. But many of the economic and job opportunities that started under that policy endure today—think Whale Watch Kaikōura.

In 1990 I lost the Horowhenua seat by 624 votes. There is nothing more devastating to a politician’s ego than to be defeated at an election—rejected by your constituents. But on reflection, it did me good. With the help of Steve Maharey, who had just been elected to Parliament, I got a job as the CEO of the Palmerston North Enterprise Board, a business and economic development agency. I learnt the value of small business as a generator of jobs in New Zealand, and I met two people very influential in the next steps of my political career who are now lifelong friends: John Harvey, who became my press secretary, and his wife Dr Judy McGregor, someone who has fought for equal opportunities all her adult life. They took over the publicity for my re-election in Miramar in 1993. Their bumper stickers remain the best I ever had: “Miramar Needs A King”. The other one was “A King for Miramar”, and they worked, because I won the seat back for Labour at that election.

John and I had many adventures in my 9 years as a Minister in Helen Clark’s Cabinet, like the time John convinced me, when I was Minister of Racing, to ride a horse out the front of Parliament dressed as a jockey—by now I was hardly Skinny Robinson. Several of us, including Helen Clark, Darren Hughes, Rick Barker, Damien O’Connor, and Paul Swain, owned a race horse during the 3 years I was Minister; it was called Bowen Arrow. It was well-named because it could only run straight and it was scared of corners. The damn thing never won a race until we got rid of it.

The 5th Labour Government—1999 to 2008—brought the next set of progressive reforms in New Zealand, many of which endure today. I must credit Helen Clark for the many opportunities and challenges she gave me over the 9 years I was in her Government and Cabinet: Health for 6 years, Transport, Police, State Services, Justice, and Food Safety. I must thank Michael Cullen for giving me funding in every one of those portfolios. In fact, my colleagues used to say “follow the money when I got a new portfolio. Not only was Michael an outstanding Minister of Finance, he has a keen sense for the ridiculous. He often used to send me little notes in the House. I have kept them all, and most of them are not for publication, but I will always remember the one he sent me on the day I was authorising the irradiation of peanuts. It read: “nuts to be irradiated, Labour Women’s Council happy”.

I held the Food Safety portfolio for 9 years and the work undertaken by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), Andrew McKenzie, and his staff was world leading. I regret that the Government dismantled the agency at a time when the rest of the world was responding to consumer demand for food safety, transparency, and independence from food producers. I hope there will be a re-think by the new Government.

The Health portfolio remains my passion and my greatest challenge. People often say that health is a hospital pass; actually, it was a privilege. The people who work in health are the most committed of any I have ever met. We have had some outstanding leaders in medicine, in nursing, in midwifery, and in many of the allied health services. I was fortunate to have an outstanding Director-General, Dr Karen Poutasi, and a strong Ministry of Health to advise me. After we came into Government we set out to tackle the inequities in health that had emerged after the health experiment of the 1990s. We were becoming a “care-less” society. With the help of my associate Ministers Ruth Dyson, Steve Chadwick, and Tariana Turia, we set in motion many reforms to re-establish a public health system focusing on preventing disease.

We developed long-term strategies such as the Primary Health Care Strategy, which endures today—well, at least in name. It set out the direction to make primary healthcare services more accessible and effective, particularly for those who historically had missed out on such services. It focused on both financial and non-financial barriers, and it needs to happen again.

There are many challenges in health, and I urge the incoming Government to address as soon as possible the growing crisis in mental health. Mental health has always been the Cinderella of health. What we are seeing now is a repeat of the 1990s, which led to the Mason inquiry and the need to double funding, train, and increase the mental health workforce.

One regret I do have is we still do not have affordable dental care for adult New Zealanders. Dr Clark, I expect you to deliver that.

I was fortunate to attend the annual World Health Assembly for 6 years, and a lasting achievement was New Zealand being one of the leaders for the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control—a set of policies that have helped to save millions of lives around the world. I married Ray in 2000, and I took him with me on my first assembly in Geneva. Rodney Hide, the perk-buster turned perk-taker, labelled it a “golden honeymoon in the Mediterranean”. Ray’s response was that if Rodney thought that listening to dozens of speeches on the evil of smoking was erotic, he had a very strange life indeed.

It is often said that bricks and mortar are not important, but I can tell you that they are when it comes to hospitals and health centres. We set out to rebuild hospitals from Kaitāia to Invercargill, many of them under threat of closure. Murchison was to be closed, and I got a phone call from Dad. He said: “You can’t close Murchison. I was born there, you were born there, and so was your sister.” It was rebuilt under my gentle guidance, and I got to open it as Minister of Police.

I do have to admit to one major failure in the health portfolio—and I am sure Hekia Parata will relate to this. Helen Clark told me that as Minister of Health, I had to talk to Parekura Horomia and convince him to lose weight. I went to Pare’s office and I said: “The Prime Minister said you need to lose weight. You’ve got to go on a diet.” His response was unprintable. I said: “You’ve got to join Weight Watchers, Pare.” There was another outburst of bad language, and then he said: “OK, OK. I’ll join, but only if I can do it by correspondence.” The impossible we did immediately, but I have to say miracles took a little longer.

The Police portfolio brought some particular challenges: the Bazley report into historical police conduct; the recruitment and training of 1,200 extra police, as per our agreement with New Zealand First; an increase in pay for police officers—and Greg O’Connor was a skilled and relentless union negotiator; he will go well in this place—and the passage of the new Policing Act. We have an outstanding police service in New Zealand, and many of the changes in attitude and practice were led by Howard Broad, Rob Pope, and Lyn Provost, three commissioners who brought vision and ideas and what I called head and heart. [

There was one thing I was not prepared for as Minister of Police, and it was a bad case of shaver’s rash that I got after 100 UK recruits kissed me on the cheek at the police college, when I welcomed them to New Zealand. It was the closest I ever got to an operational matter. My one regret is the manner in which the Urewera raids of 2007 were carried out. Although the Minister of Police has no involvement in operational matters, I have gone to Tūhoe and I have made my peace with their people.

In 2008, we were back in Opposition and I had two stints as deputy, first with Phil Goff and then Andrew. Phil Goff is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. He is the original “Energizer bunny”. I left him in charge of the health portfolio when I went overseas, but I only did it once. My staff begged me to never do it again. He demanded everything that was on the internet for every oral question that was asked. We sat together in this House for 20 years, and we are good mates.

Andrew—Andrew, you brought unity to our caucus and renewal to our front bench. Look at this line up. The average age is 47 years—I have not added what the Government’s is. But I have to tell you it is brimming with talent. And Andrew, you have ensured our next caucus will be made up to close to 50 percent women.

Jacinda, I am so proud of you. I have a feeling that you are going to lead the party for years to come, and you are going to be one of our most loved and effective leaders and Prime Ministers.

I have been privileged to represent the Miramar-Rongotai electorate for 24 years, including the Chatham Islands, a unique part of New Zealand. The Chatham Islands are very independent, and proud of their islands, and they are also very innovative. They were asked to provide land for a nuclear test monitoring station by the UN as part of the international Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. They responded that the only land available was at the airport, 20 minutes from town, and, unfortunately, there was no reticulated power there. There is now, and half the cost was paid by the UN.

My electorate is one of the most diverse in New Zealand and a sanctuary to new settlers and refugees from many parts of the world, and I have been proud of New Zealand’s commitment to receiving UNHCR mandated refugees. They make a fantastic contribution to New Zealand. In 2001, our Government welcomed 40 unaccompanied minors from the ship Tampa, to New Zealand. They had been rejected by Australia. That was a proud moment. I want the next incoming Government to make us proud again—double the refugee quota

Rongotai is the home of creativity, ideas, and jobs arising from the film industry—old factories were turned into studios and workshops. I say to my colleagues opposite, it was the fifth Labour Government that kick started the film industry in Wellington, contrary to popular propaganda.

Rongotai is the home of social housing. If any Government wants a good model, look no further than the partnership between our Government and the Wellington City Council, which resulted in warm, dry, affordable apartments for the most vulnerable citizens.

I leave this seat with a sense of achievement—Wellington has only had to wait 50 years for its new hospital—but also with a sense of sadness. But it is tempered by the fact that Paul Eagle will become the next member of Parliament for Rongotai.

Hon Christopher Finlayson: What about me?

Hon ANNETTE KING: I know my cousin Chris Finlayson would want a recount if he was to win.

Many things have changed in the intervening 33 years. The bars have all but disappeared. The all-night sittings have gone. Gambling schools have closed—although I still owe Jim Sutton $60. Time-wasting procedures in this House have been done away with. The Parliament now sits more days of the year, and Bellamy’s food is healthier. When I arrived, we were offered two roasts a day, and I set about putting salads on the menu. Muldoon went on TV and he complained. He said “There’s this woman in Parliament, and she’s put salad on the menu, and it’s not good for you.” And there are now enough toilets for women. That was not always the case. This is a better place for members, for their families, and for staff.

So in conclusion, it is time for me to go. I had 15 years in Government and 15 years in Opposition. I have now been informed that I am the longest-serving woman member of Parliament. That officially makes me the “Grannie Annie” of the House. The people I have met, the places I have been, the chances to make a difference—it has been a privilege.

It is time to acknowledge and thank those who have been with me over 33 years. To the Labour Party—you gave me the chance to be an MP. I would not be here without you. To members and supporters—thank you, particularly my Labour electorate committee chairs Peter Noble; the late Mike Herne; Peter Franks; the longest serving of them all; and Eileen Brown. To my electorate staff—the formidable late Tilly Hunter, Marea Falck, Robin Boldarin, Bill Nairn, and Sophia Shanks. My patient and talented parliamentary team—Jennifer Rose, Emma Williams, and Angela Bray, who made today possible. I could not have done it without you, Ange. They all have one thing in common: they know my PIN number, and they know where to find things that I have lost. And Jenny happens to know my bra size. She was once dispatched on urgent public business to buy me a new one.

My loyal friends, who have stuck with me even when I forgotten to phone them, and my four closest are here today—Mary, Jenny, Marie, and Liz. My family—Dad, who is now 95-years-old, who will be watching. I hope I have done you proud, Dad. My late Mum, who loved politics—she watched everything I did and said, and she would phone and tell me whether she liked what I was wearing, or whether I had enough curl in my hair. I hope it looks all right today, Mum.

To my two wonderful sisters, Raelene and Pauline, and their husbands, Bill and Pete—they were forced to work on all my campaigns.

To my new family, gained when I married Ray: Christopher, Daniel, Ben, their partners, and my four step-grandchildren who do call me Grannie Annie.

To my daughter Amanda: I am so proud of you, darling. I hope you have forgiven me for the times I put politics ahead of you. You married a good Ozzie bloke, Tim. He is my favourite son-in-law, and you gave me my grandson William, the most beautiful boy in the world.

And, finally, to my husband and lover, Ray: after 18 years, yes, we are still on our honeymoon. When I told you on our first date I never intended to marry again, you replied: “I didn’t know I’d asked you.” We have been laughing ever since. I think I am the only person who asked to look at your teeth before I would marry you. You are my best friend.

Finally, to my colleagues—people often think politicians dislike each other. It is not true. I have liked and respected many colleagues from all side of politics—many I call friends who have made life in this place enjoyable, fun, and, at times, challenging. I respect those who have the courage to put themselves forward in an election, to be open to scrutiny and criticism, and to be accessible. Where else in the world would you meet your MP at the fish and chip shop on a Friday night in their slippers. I do believe people come here wanting to make our country a better place.

I cannot finish without a special mention to my Wellington colleagues, Grant, “Chippie”, Kris, and Trevor. We have been a great team, and I am sorry, Peter, but we intend to paint the whole of Wellington red at this election—

Hon Member: Dreams are free.

Hon ANNETTE KING: —ha, ha—and with a good tail wind we want to take Wairarapa as well.

Finally, to the fantastic staff who make this place work: thank you. As MPs we are so well served by caring and professional people.

A person who exemplifies commitment to this place by our staff is Sheryl Grace, our Senior Security Officer, who is retiring in September after 38 years of service—congratulations, and thank you, Sheryl, wherever you are.

So, Mr Speaker, it is goodbye from me—over and out.


Bread and Roses sung

Labour’s surge

Labour’s turnaround from a floundering mess of a party to a vibrant, confident and genuine contender in the election has been as dramatic as the Green crash.

Metiria Turei’s beneficiary mission gamble precipitated a crash in Labour’s support, but unlike the Greens they acted quickly and positively by installing Jacinda Ardern as leader.

Ardern stepped up with aplomb, aided by an adoring media. This instantly revitalised Labour, and caused many voters to quickly reassess their options.

Two polls have shown how much despair in Labour has changed to hope and enthusiasm.

Two poll results yesterday put numbers on an obvious turn around in support.

  • Newshub/Reid Research 33.1% (up 9.0)
  • UMR (Labour’s internal poll) 36% (up 13)

This only just covers the emergence of Ardern and the resurgence in Labour. It could be an initial surge that settles back, or it could be a snapshot in an ongoing trend upwards.

National have barely moved in both polls (44.45 and 43%), with most of the swing coming from the crashing Greens and also from NZ First – the attraction of Winston Peters as a protest or ‘no decent option’ vote seems to have diminished.

Ardern and Labour still have to campaign well, and Ardern will have to measure up in the leaders’ debates, which now look likely to be just head to head with Bill English. It is an interesting contrast.

Ardern has the advantage of looking young and fresh, but she will have to show she has a good grasp of the key issues, particularly economic matters and costings of Labour’s policies.

English is a contrast, generally regarded as steady and reliable and he has a very good knowledge of policies and issues. He also has a healthy economy to promote as a success.

Two weeks ago the election looked like National versus the rest.

But for the first time in years it now looks a real fight, a contrast between one strong party and one revitalised party. Voters have a lot to consider over the next month or so.

Labour have vitality and momentum and could easily improve more, as long as they don’t make any major mistakes. Keeping Kelvin Davis out of the spotlight could be a good idea.

However this has already been a fast changing and volatile campaign so anything could happen. And National could as easily trip up as Labour.

Labour’s predictable predicament

The Labour Party is in a dire situation. Dropping to 24% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll was bad, but Andrew Little admitting he had offered to step down, and no one else being prepared to step up, could be the death knell of their chances this election, and possible the death knell of the party.

This situation was predictable a long time ago. Last December I posted Is Labour a 19% party?

Colmar Brunton’s recent poll had Labour on 28%, and the just released Roy Morgan poll has them on 23%. One is bad, the other is an awful result.

But is it a surprise?

Andrew Little has failed to impress – this interview with RNZ yesterday is unfortunately typical, fumbles and bumbles interspersed with a few tired slogans.

That hasn’t changed.

‘True Labour’ seems to be a rapidly narrowing (but poorly defined) brand. The only thing that seems to be consistent is spraying those who walk away from the party with bitterness.

Shane Jones. Phil Goff. Clayton Cosgrove. David Cunliffe. Gone or going. There are calls for David Shearer to go as well as he is not seem as ‘true Labour’ by some on the left.

Josie Pagani and Phil Quin are often lambasted for not being ‘Labour’ enough, as are many people who get abused on Twitter, Facebook and The Standard.

 Is Labour heading for 20%? Little and the Labourites who remain seem happy burn off support as they turn the party to ashes.

It looks increasingly like New Zealand will remain dominated by a single party, with a few smaller ones yapping from the sidelines.

What will it take for the penny to drop within Labour? 19%?

The penny dropped for Little after last week’s 24% poll, with 19% or less distinctly possible now.

The Standard (where I’m not allowed to comment again) The Standard had largely given up on Labour and has driven away many people who could have supported Labour for years.

In reaction to yesterday’s poll result there was some lame protestation at The Standard, until ‘Sanctuary’ laid  things out things out brutally…

It isn’t just this poll. Labour are drifting to utter catastrophe. It is all well and good to talk about the undecided vote, but given the lack of inspiration and passion so far in this election campaign from Labour they’ll probably just not vote at all. I reckon we are heading towards a 65% turn out max.

What is it about neoliberalism that turns Labour PLPs into technocratic, out-of-touch, smug and entitled collections of careerists? They are too fucking arrogant to see what should be obvious – they are in deep trouble and need to PANIC, completely rethink their whole fundamental approach to politics and just… just fucking grow some balls and show us they believe in something other than muggins turn.

Their policy so far has been too technocratic and timid, full of thickets of ifs and buts and maybes. They’re thinking seems stuck in 1990s, wedded to neoliberal economic orthodoxy and, frankly, their main tactic at the moment appears to be relying on National losing.

The Labour caucus is – yet again – completely missing in action, 54 days out from the election. The current crop of Labour politicians are completely useless at politics.

The Greens have outflanked them on the left, exploiting the Corbyn-Sanders effect and showing they might actually understand ordinary folks problems.

NZ First is killing them in the provinces. There vote is is 3-4% higher than this poll, mark my words.



Playing musical cheers with the leadership is no good. The next losers up will be Gracinda, and they are lackadasical middle class careerists. All they represent is the inept PLP and their own technocratic ambitions. Little has got a useless caucus that is lazy and politically clueless. Labour has to re-think everything from the ground up, including how and who they select to be MPs, what they stand for and what the party exists to do.

At the moment, they stand for nothing and the PLP is full of under performing chumps like Ruth Dyson (remember her?) Jenny Salesa (who? never heard from her once, unforgivable when there are only 31 MPs) Megan Woods (Ever heard from her either? No? Me neither. Pathetically ineffectual on Canterbury issues and climate change), David Parker (last spotted in 2015 and heading for the exit), Trevor fucking Mallard (a burnt out political joke, it is a disgrace he occupies a valuable seat), Poto Williams (useless at scoring hits on the government, but that is OK because as far as i can tell, she was mainly selected to be spokesperson for political correctness and guardian of identity politics), Clare “vanishing majority” Curren, David Clarke, the invisible man in a caucus of hopeless invisible MPs, etc etc.

Labour has a caucus where six of their MPs are from Maori seats, and apart from Kelvin Davis none of them appear to do anything to justify their existence to the wider electorate. Given that these MPs represent fully 20% of the PLP, this is unacceptable. They need to pull their weight a lot more.

Labour only has 31 MPs. Only a handful seem to do anything, but with 31 MPs they ALL need to be working bloody hard. the rest are taking the piss out of their supporters and one can justly suspect they are lazy mofos in the best paying job they are ever likely to hold.

…and there was little argument to this from the stragglers left at The Standard.

Since Helen Clark and Michael Cullen left parliament and the party in 2009 went through three leaders before Andrew Little took over, each of them failing to inspire. Little has been disappointing to say the least.

But as Sanctuary says, Labour’s problems go much deeper than a string of hapless leaders.

Most Labour MPs have not been performing anywhere near a credible level. Most of them are unheard of most of the time.

The Labour Party has also been hopeless. Their lack of ability to fund raise has been both a symptom and a cause of their problems.

The McCarten intern fiasco showed either a party out of control or a party having no clue – and the media went very easy on them, choosing to obsess over the death of a National backbencher’s career and largely ignoring the death of what was once the main opposition party.

I’ve kept a close watch on The Standard for many years. It is the main representative of the Labour Party in the blogosphere. Actually that’s not correct.

The Standard was the main online voice of Labour, but they have abused and driven away a lot of support over the years. They have become as lame and hapless as the Labour Party, to the extent that they have become dominated by a Weka, a Green Party supporter intent on deterring or shutting down anything deemed to be not left wing enough.

Even the bloody Standard gave up championing Labour years ago. Most of their posts are anti-National and anti-Government, only a small proportion are pro-Labour and there are probably as many pro-Green now.  But this is just a symptom of a bigger, wider problem.

I keep getting banned at The Standard, and I have voted Labour more than any other party, up until 2008.

My local MP David Clark and the other Dunedin MP Clare Curran both block me on Twitter. @NZLabour also blocks me on Twitter.

The Labour Party has been withering away over the last nine years. Actually, since Labour won their second term in 2002 they have lost vote share every election. That’s fifteen years.

Andrew Little just happens to be it’s leader during what could well be it’s death rattle. Unless a miracle occurs Labour looks lost already, not just in this year’s election but as a political force. They have become a political farce.

All the Colmar Brunton poll has done is prompt Little to publicly admit defeat, but he, Labour MPs and the party have been in a slow death spiral for yonks.

The way things are looking Labour may end up doing well if they get 19% in September.

TRP Adviser 21 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

The Greens are not 100% pure, the NZ Labour Party has woken from its slumbers and, sorry, Shane, NZ First is still a one-man band.

Metiria Turei’s announcement that she bent the benefit rules was not in itself a particularly shocking revelation. I mean, who hasn’t indulged in some creative accounting, some under the table tax avoidance or some pilfered office supplies?

Paula Bennett, that’s who!

Yes, it turns out that the Sainted Paula led a life of bleak austerity and blind obedience while a beneficiary and it never so much as crossed her mind to forget a flatty or two, get into a relationship without applying for permission from WINZ or start her fledgling property portfolio without fudging the figures.

So those of you thinking that Turei’s mea culpa was actually aimed at embarrassing the Deputy Prime Minister a mere week after a Facebook poster was threatened with legal action for allegedly defaming her should be ashamed of yourselves. Ashamed I say!

The Labour Party has finally come up with a policy that genuinely challenges National. Pitching themselves as the party that will spend our tax dollars on health, education and families rather than tax cuts for the well-off is genius stuff.

Ok, it’s not Sanders or Corbyn level radicalism, but it makes it really simple for voters. If you care for your country, you’ll be voting Labour this election. If you are that self-centred that $20 off your top tier tax bill is more of a priority, then you’ll keep voting National as usual. You heartless bastard.

Well done Labour. More of this, please.

Welcome to NZ First, Shane Jones. Please take a seat at the back and stop talking. In fact, stop anything that resembles a sign of independent thought and just remember this is Winston’s Party and he’ll make up any damn policy he likes any time he likes.

Winston’s brain fart on holding a referendum on the maori seats has backfired beautifully. He’s had to back track on who might vote in the referendum, hinting that it might be just those on the maori roll who get to decide. Then flip flopping on that, because he belatedly realised that maori roll voters had already made up their mind.

Being on the maori roll is a conscious decision. Nobody already on that roll is going to vote to do away with the maori seats. Nobody.

Ok, Winston might gain a redneck vote or two by bashing maori, but he seems to have forgotten that he gets a fair few party votes from those seven seats. Maybe not so much now.

I guess he’ll still get the tick from Shane Jones, who is, ya know, actually on the maori roll. But the message to the newest Peters protégé is clear; you’re not even in my thoughts, big fulla.


Unions using interns

The Labour Party got most of the limited attention given by the media to the intern issue. This is because it was clearly a Labour Party scheme – Andrew Kirton eventually acknowledged it was an ‘Auckland Labour Party’ scheme, but that isn’t a separate party.

But unions were intertwined.

Andrew Little has a union background but claims to have had no knowledge of the scheme, apart from hearing about the idea at the start of the year, and finding out an unauthorised scheme was  up and running in May, and then finding out in mid-June it had got out of control so he stepped in as soon as he knew. Or something.

Matt McCarten has been what someone described as a ‘voluntary scapegoat’. He certainly seems to have been a major player in the scheme, while working for Andrew Little in Auckland, while Little knew nothing about it apart from what he knew.

Before being recruited by David Cunliffe as the Labour leader’s chief of staff in 2014 McCarten was secretary of the Unite union since 2005.

Despite working for Labour for three years McCarten still seems to have kept his @unite.co.nz email address. He registered the movementforchange.org.nz domain using it on 15 May, when he was still working for Little. And he registered it under a Unite Union office address.

McCarten registered campaignforchange.org.nz five days later using Little’s Auckland office address (postal and physical).

Unions were a major part of the plans for financing the intern scheme. A document obtained by Newshub had details (this is claimed to be an unfulfilled plan):


This refers to contracts with the Unite and First unions.

The project was said to be managed by “the project manager in paertnership with the Labour Party, CTU (Council of Trade Unions) and AUSA (Auckland University Students’ Association).

The document detailed three parts to the campaign:


So an aim was to recruit and support volunteers for union GOTV (get out the vote) campaigns. Unions were involved in trying to get votes for Labour last election too. I’m not sure that all their union members would be happy with that.

More on money:


But when this document was published unions distanced themselves. Newshub:  Labour’s botched intern scheme planned on union funding

Council of Trade Unions (CTU):

CTU national secretary Sam Huggard says the plan was never shared with them, and the CTU actually turned down a request to manage the interns.

“We’ve never seen this document and the CTU was not involved as described. I presume this was an early proposal document of some sort,” he told Newshub.

“Matt [McCarten] asked CTU to run the worker aspect of Campaign for Change on the 12th of May this year, but we declined.”

Note “the CTU was not involved as described”. That doesn’t rule out being involved, it leaves many possibilities.

The document describes “member recruitment contracts” with the Unite and First unions.

First Union:

Robert Reid, General Secretary of First Union, said it had not provided any funding: “There’d been discussions but no formal request.”

Unite Union:

Gerard Hehir, Secretary of Unite, said: “We had some discussions with Matt but there was no funding and no promises.”

Neither ruled out a contract or agreement for them to pay on recruitment results.

Despite Hehir’s statement there (that Newshub article was dated 23 June 2017) on the same day NZ Herald reported in Mystery funder behind Labour intern programme – and party doesn’t know who quotes Unite’s National Director Mike:

“Matt is ambitious, and where there is a will there is a way is often his attitude. He may have tried to reach too far in this case. We thought there were positives and are a little bit sorry to see it’s all fallen on its face.”

Treen said the union had taken part in the programme and planned to use the interns for a programme to enrol Unite members, but had not provided any direct funding.

So Unite and First both say there was no direct (up front) funding but Treen says Unite planned to use foreign students to recruit union members with the proceeds to be channelled into funding a Labour party election campaign.

Reid and Hehir may have been technically correct if they hadn’t yet handed over any money to Labour’s campaign.

This suggests a plan for unions to use foreign workers to recruit for them, with the bounty going to Labour, rather than using New Zealand workers earning wages for themselves.

Unite Union’s Mike Treen said unpaid interns were common around the world. “It’s stupid to call it ’employment.’ I know the difference between people being taken advantage of and volunteers and being looking to be political agents in the long term. It was probably a very useful experience for many.”

It may be common use to use unpaid interns to campaign for political parties, but is it common to use unpaid interns to work on union recruitment at the same time?

The document refers to Unite/First contracts to “recruit 800 additional members – $40,000”.  That’s $50 per recruited member.

This sounds like an odd campaign – targeting people trying to get them to vote for Labour and join a union at the same time.  It’s either just a crazy mixed up scheme, or it could be a way of trying disguise campaign donations to Labour as commission for services rendered – by foreign volunteers.

Andrew Little said “Somebody had an idea earlier this year that we could get some people down here from other parts of the world. It looks to me like it’s gotten wildly out of control and people have found they can’t manage it” – Intern scheme got ‘wildly out of control’ – Little.

McCarten’s plans as “fantasy world stuff” and an “embarrassment” – see McCarten may have left Labour in debt after intern scheme (27 June)

In this I think Little’s comments are credible. I can imagine he might have turned a blind eye to McCarten bringing in foreign interns to campaign for Labour, but I can’t imagine him or Labour’s head office agreeing to including union recruitment in the same scheme.

But the Labour Party in Auckland seems to have been very much involved in the scheme, possibly with some Little/Head Office plausible deniability distancing from  the machinations of the scheme.

Auckland Labour’s NZ Council representative Paul Chalmers (also with a union background) has “stood down” from his party responsibilities so the inference is that he was involved with McCarten and at least Treen on this.

A bad look for some Auckland unions and the Labour in Auckland at least.

There are plenty of questions still unanswered by Little and Kirton.

Balance in the Newsroom?

Newsroom have been praised for their investigative journalism after a series of revelations and articles on the Todd Barclay issue.

Questions have also been raised over their possible collusion with a dirty politics campaign, seemingly not just designed on damaging Todd Barclay.

After he has lost his political career over it the attention turned to Bill English, who was placed a very difficult position by drip fed Newsroom revelations. English was strongly criticised for not being open about things, but there was a confidential employment agreement involved, and also a secret recording that it would have been illegal to reveal existed let alone the contents.

There was the potential to bring down English, bring down the Government, and swing the election (that could still be a consequence).

It is very important that media holds power to account, and holds elected people and Governments to account. But media have power of their own, and that also needs to be held to account.

Newsroom are an Auckland based media organisation. They must have put considerable resources into a story about as far from Auckland as you can get, in Clutha-Southland.

There is a big contrast between their handling of the southern story and the other big political story of the past couple of weeks where it was important to hold another bunch of politicians to account – the Labour Party Fellowship/intern story. This is very much an Auckland story.

Newsroom is new and relatively small, so can’t be expected to cover every story in depth, but some balance should be expected.

Integrity and truthfulness of leading politicians were involved in both the Barclay and intern stories.

How did their coverage of the two stories compare?

On the National/Barclay Story:

  • Politicians, police, and the payout
  • Todd Barclay’s file of denial 19 June
  • Barclay payout raises questions over leader’s fund 19 June
  • Setbacks derail National’s election plan 23 June
  • Todd Barclay responds: ‘I did nothing wrong’
  • Barclay sorry for ‘misleading’ comments
  • Police to review Todd Barclay case
  • Privacy Commissioner may probe Barclay claims
  • Allegations Barclay invented complaints
  • Fall from grace for Baby of the House
  • How Barclay’s career went up in smoke
  • PM accused of cover-up
  • Hughes stonewalls Dickson questions
  • Barclay affair: What the board knew
  • English: Barclay offered to play rec
  • Officials knew details of Barclay tapes

On the Labour/intern story

  • Labour under fire over volunteer ‘hypocrisy’

No investigations on their own turf, no investigation about funding of the scheme, no questions about Andrew Little’s  integrity and truthfulness. Little slammed English’s morals while claiming the high ground over the interns, but media has barely touched on his lack of openness and on his varying and vague explanations.

Perhaps Newsroom are doing an in depth investigation and will publish soon.

Perhaps the Auckland Labour Party and the New Zealand Labour Party will still be held to account.

Labour’s minimum wage policy

Yesterday Labour announced their workplace policy which included a modest bump in the minimum wage, from the current $15.75 an hour to $16.50.

There has revived arguments over the effectiveness of a higher minimum wage.

Andrew Little says it is just a start.

Maori Television: Promise of minimum wage hike “a start” – Labour

It’s more of a stroll to the dairy than a hike.

The Labour Party promises a boost to the minimum wage as part of its Workplace Relations Package announced today. It says the working class is missing out on economic prosperity, but will $30 extra a week make a real difference?

Labour promises and extra 75-cents an hour, in its first 100 days if elected.

Party leader Andrew Little says, “It’s a start. We’ve still got a heap of work to do in getting people onto the living wage, we’ve got a heap of work to do to get our employment framework in place with the fair pay agreements and every other device we can use.”

Little says in addition to this Labour would increase the minimum wage year-on-year like it had done while in government.

“Starting with the immediate increase to $16.50 an hour in our first one hundred days [we would then] work towards a long term goal of two-thirds of the average wage.

But there is debate over what the overall effects of a higher minimum wage can be.

Chrism56 cites a new study from the US:

Here is proof of what will be the effect of Labour’s minimum wage policy – more unemployment.

Minimum Wage Increases, Wages, and Low-Wage Employment: Evidence from Seattle
Ekaterina Jardim, Mark C. Long, Robert Plotnick, Emma van Inwegen, Jacob Vigdor, Hilary Wething

NBER Working Paper No. 23532
Issued in June 2017

This paper evaluates the wage, employment, and hours effects of the first and second phase-in of the Seattle Minimum Wage Ordinance, which raised the minimum wage from $9.47 to $11 per hour in 2015 and to $13 per hour in 2016.

Using a variety of methods to analyze employment in all sectors paying below a specified real hourly rate, we conclude that the second wage increase to $13 reduced hours worked in low-wage jobs by around 9 percent, while hourly wages in such jobs increased by around 3 percent.

Consequently, total payroll fell for such jobs, implying that the minimum wage ordinance lowered low-wage employees’ earnings by an average of $125 per month in 2016. Evidence attributes more modest effects to the first wage increase. We estimate an effect of zero when analyzing employment in the restaurant industry at all wage levels, comparable to many prior studies.

Washington Post: A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals

When Seattle officials voted three years ago to incrementally boost the city’s minimum wage up to $15 an hour, they’d hoped to improve the lives of low-income workers. Yet according to a major new study that could force economists to reassess past research on the issue, the hike has had the opposite effect.

The city is gradually increasing the hourly minimum to $15 over several years. Already, though, some employers have not been able to afford the increased minimums. They’ve cut their payrolls, putting off new hiring, reducing hours or letting their workers go, the study found.

The costs to low-wage workers in Seattle outweighed the benefits by a ratio of three to one, according to the study, conducted by a group of economists at the University of Washington who were commissioned by the city.

On the whole, the study estimates, the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.

The paper’s conclusions contradict years of research on the minimum wage. Many past studies, by contrast, have found that the benefits of increases for low-wage workers exceed the costs in terms of reduced employment — often by a factor of four or five to one.

The situation in New Zealand is different to that in Seattle and the US. How a small increase would affect take home pay for low waged workers is difficult to predict.


‘Auckland Labour Party’ responsible for intern scheme

The ‘Auckland Labour Party’ has now been named by Labour Party general secretary Andrew Kirton as responsible along with Matt McCarten for the intern scheme.

Kirton has also said that “it started off as a Labour Party project”. So Kirton, and one would expect Labour’s leader Andrew Little, would have known more about the scheme than they have admitted.

When the Labour intern story broke it was obvious that Little and Kirton were not being open about what they knew about the scheme.

Little has said he had heard about the scheme as an idea at the start of the year, has admitted finding out it was running as an unapproved scheme in May, and he says he stepped in when they started getting complaints around Monday last week (but there are variations in that story too).

Matt McCarten quickly became the scapegoat. He was employed (by Parliamentary Services) to work for Andrew Little in Auckland, and no campaign work was allowed. However it is clear that McCarten has spent some time (months) working on the intern scheme aimed at campaigning for Labour.

The scheme was advertised overseas in February as a “Labour Party Fellowship”, with @labour.org.nz email addresses for contact. It became ”Movement for Change” in May and changed soon afterwards to “Campaign for Change”.  With McCarten leaving his Labour job it seems there was an attempt to distance the scheme from the party.

Little in particular has talked as though it was not a Labour Party scheme.

But that position was untenable. Other Labour Party people were connected with the scheme.

Earlier this week it was reported that Labour’s Auckland/Northland Representative on their NZ Council, Paul Chalmers, had stood down. Stuff on Tuesday (27 June): Two on Labour’s intern programme may have broken immigration rules as council member stands down:

Labour Leader Andrew Little on Tuesday said Paul Chalmers, who was connected with the scheme, had voluntarily stood down over the weekend “and he is not involved in the governing council of the party at this point”.

Chalmers is still named on Labour’s website as an Auckland/Northland representative.

Little said it was also possible the party would have to cover some of the costs of the plan masterminded by Little’s former chief of staff Matt McCarten, who more recently was Little’s Auckland organiser but stood down from that role in mid May when his contract ended and was not renewed.

An eight month contract terminated four months before the election seems odd.

Also on Tuesday in an RNZ interview Little’s story was starting to wobble over what he knew and who was responsible. From More details emerge of Labour’s intern scheme:

Suzy Ferguson: Are you saying you don’t know where this money’s coming from?

Little: I don’t know any details about the organisation of it apart from what we now know, I think 85 young people here staying on a marae, and helping out in various parts of the Auckland campaign. Beyond that I don’t know, I’m not sure if the party knows or knew at the time, and we’re in the process now of getting the detail about the organisation behind it.

Suzy Ferguson: …are you saying you don’t know where the thick end of two hundred grand has come from?

Little: Well, um, no one in the party is responsible for what Matt and others, and let’s be fair, it wasn’t Matt alone, there were at least four people involved in driving this, three on the party side…

Suzy Ferguson: …while this was being done Matt McCarten was in the pay of the Labour Party wasn’t he.

Little: Um, he was the, he was my, he was the director of the Auckland office, um, which is funded out of the Leader’s office, my office, um he was working for me (a) to open and run the office and (b) to run my Auckland programme, outreach programme.

Suzy Ferguson: Ok, so he’s working for you, but you’re saying you didn’t know what he was doing, you didn’t know about this?

Little: I didn’t know about this. I didn’t know the extent to which he was organising stuff.

That didn’t sound convincing.

Even more details emerged yesterday. Newshub ‘It’s not a good look’ – Labour fronts up on intern visa problems

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton told The AM Show it’s “not a good look,” but said as soon as he heard of the programme’s problems, he stepped in to sort it out.

“My team arrived on Tuesday to sort out this programme of Matt McCarten’s and the Auckland Labour Party.”

“It’s been a bit of an effort but we’re getting on top of it now. The young volunteers are now really excited to get out and learn about MMP environments across the country.

“It started off as a Labour Party project – not too dissimilar to what we’ve done in the past. The problem with this though was it was expanded out quite significantly by Matt McCarten with support from the Auckland Labour Party.

“[It] got out of control, the management got out of control, and that’s why we stepped in straight away.”

So after about a week of trying to distance Labour from the intern scheme Kirton has admitted that it was an “Auckland Labour Party” programme, along with McCarten who was effectively Little’s chief of staff in Auckland.

Little and Kirton appear to have been somewhat frugal with the truth over the last week.

They have either deliberately misled and lied about the extent of their knowledge of the scheme, or the Labour Party in Auckland and Little’s Auckland employee were running an unauthorised scheme without telling them anything about it and without them finding out about it until last week. Or the week before. Or in May, depending on which explanation you listen to.

A number of Labour’s Auckland MPs and candidates have been involved with the interns in their campaigning – seeLinks between interns and Labour from April.

Alongside Little’s claimed lack of knowledge of the scheme it is also curious that deputy leader Jacinda Ardern, Auckland based and with a special interest in young people and getting them out to vote, seems to also have had no knowledge of an international and local student get out the vote campaign in her own city.

Labour still have major questions to answer about who the mysterious anonymous donor was, and why McCarten and possible other Labour staffers were running a campaign scheme when their employment terms didn’t allow that.