Conservative party – what happens next

Whale Oil has posted a copy of an emailed letter they claim was sent to all Conservative party members by the party Members Manager. It is on party letterhead, and opens:


In the past week there have been many things happening and many of you have had questions. I am now writing to you so that you are updated.

Colin and the Leadership

Last Friday in agreement with the Board Chairman, Colin stepped down as the leader. He did so that various allegations being made could be looked into further by the Board. He has an agreed written process which will involve the Board investigating the matter further.

In the meantime Colin and Helen have written out to you by post asking for your feedback. Colin will be making a decision around his future involvement in politics based on your feedback, so don’t forget to have your say.

There is no functioning Board at this stage. See below.

The letter seems to be promoting Craig’s interests.

The Board

Unfortunately the Board began to fracture and there have been a few disappointing moments as some (now ex) Board members went public with their opinions. This began a series of resignations from the Board. As at 5pm on Friday 26th June 2015, the Board was vacant with no elected members.

Mr Stringer

One Board member (Mr Stringer) was suspended from membership of the Party on Thursday afternoon after serious serious breaches of his obligations. If you are contacted by Mr Stringer please understand that he is suspended and has no standing in the party.

So Stringer is described as ‘suspended’ immediately (presumably for speaking out) but Craig, who has also spoken out (and has admitted breaching a confidentiality agreement) is awaiting due process and gets letters sent out that look like they are acting in his interests.

What happens next

The officers of the party (Membership Manager, Administration Manager,, and Party Secretary) will confer and agree on the best way forward. It is likely this will involve the election of a new Board. The constitution requires that an election of the Board be by postal ballot. We are currently taking further advice on this.

It appears that party officials have deemed the Board is defunct and they have assumed control of the party.

And it looks like the party officials are operating on behalf of Craig.

And Craig provides the money to pay the wages of the officials.

It looks like the money man calls the shots, and what happens next is being dictated by Craig (as the letter looks dictated by Craig).

Gates on climate change

As an aside in his (and Melinda’s) 2015 Gates Annual Letter Bill Gates addresses climate change.

It is fair to ask whether the progress we’re predicting will be stifled by climate change. The most dramatic problems caused by climate change are more than 15 years away, but the long-term threat is so serious that the world needs to move much more aggressively — right now — to develop energy sources that are cheaper, can deliver on demand, and emit zero carbon dioxide.

The next 15 years are a pivotal time when these energy sources need to be developed so they’ll be ready to deploy before the effects of climate change become severe. Bill is investing time in this work personally (not through our foundation) and will continue to speak out about it.

Regardless of the arguments about the degree of climate change we are causing and experiencing working as quickly as possible towards a low carbon energy future is something that has to happen and the sooner the better.

We should work on energy conservation to reduce energy needs.

And it makes sense to move as much and as quickly as possible towards more renable energy sources without crashing society.

Bill’s big bet

Bill and Melinda Gates have posted 2015 Gates Annual Letter and in it they bet that in the next 15 years the lives of poor people will improve more than at any time in history.

In many parts of the world, including New Zealand (especially New Zealand) it has never been as good for humans on average and as a whole. SOme people still struggle but even they have better healthcare, nutrition and education than ever in history.

Billions of people in many other parts of the world still have major problems with quality of life.

Our Big Bet For The Future

Forty years ago, Bill and his childhood friend Paul Allen bet that software and personal computers would change the way people around the world worked and played. This bet wasn’t exactly a wager. It was an opportunity to make computers personal and empower people through the magic of software. Some people thought they were nuts. But the bet turned out well.

Fifteen years ago, the two of us made a similar bet. We started our foundation in 2000 with the idea that by backing innovative work in health and education, we could help dramatically reduce inequity. The progress we’ve seen so far is very exciting — so exciting that we are doubling down on the bet we made 15 years ago, and picking ambitious goals for what’s possible 15 years from now.


The lives of people in poor countries will improve faster in the next 15 years than at any other time in history. And their lives will improve more than anyone else’s.

Obviously that doesn’t address the ‘poverty’ in New Zealand but addresses much bigger problems in much bigger populations.


We’re putting our credibility, time, and money behind this bet — and asking others to join us — because we think there has never been a better time to accelerate progress and have a big impact around the world.

Some will say we’re irrational to make this bet too. A skeptic would look at the world’s problems and conclude that things are only getting worse. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a handful of the worst-off countries will continue to struggle.

But we think the next 15 years will see major breakthroughs for most people in poor countries. They will be living longer and in better health. They will have unprecedented opportunities to get an education, eat nutritious food, and benefit from mobile banking. These breakthroughs will be driven by innovation in technology — ranging from new vaccines and hardier crops to much cheaper smartphones and tablets — and by innovations that help deliver those things to more people.

The rich world will keep getting exciting new advances too, but the improvements in the lives of the poor will be far more fundamental — the basics of a healthy, productive life. It’s great that more people in rich countries will be able to watch movies on super hi-resolution screens. It’s even better that more parents in poor countries will know their children aren’t going to die.

If the rich in the world doubled their riches it would affect them far less significantly thatn if the poorest in the world doubled theirs.

A small improvement for the poorest can make a big difference to their lives.

Note that ‘rich’ is a very general term, and ‘poverty’ definitions can be misleading. For example in straight financial terms a solo parent in South Auckland with six kids is richer than someone graduating from university with a medical, dental or law degree and a large student loan.

A rural peasant in China or a subsistence farmer in Africa can have more net assets than a business entepreneur up to their eyeballs in debt but rolling in an opulent lifestyle.

But improvements with basics like safe water, adequate food and reasonable healthcare can make a huge difference to many millions of very poor people.

The letter links to five topics: We’re excited to see how much better the world will be in 15 years. Here are some of the breakthroughs we see coming.


Childe disease will go down, and more diseases will be wiped out


Africa will be able to feed itself.


Mobile banking will help the poor transform their lives.


Better software will revolutionize learning.


A call for global citizens

Another Letter from Cunliffe

This is an emailed letter reportedly just sent out from David Cunliffe to Labour supporters:

It’s been a tough couple of days for everyone in Labour, but I have been greatly heartened by the messages of support that my Caucus and I have received from members and supporters.

As I’ve stated in many media interviews over the last 24 hours, I stand by my word and we will not be distracted from our mission to help build a better New Zealand for everyone.

What has been made very clear by our opponents is that this will be a tough election campaign. They would like nothing more than for this election to focus on smears and insinuations. However I have immense faith in the people of New Zealand to recognise what really matters in this election and to vote for positive change.

That’s positive change that only a Labour-led government can deliver. It means making sure every New Zealander has the opportunity for a secure, well-paid job, that every Kiwi has a warm dry home and has home-ownership in reach, and that our kids are given all of the opportunities they need to thrive and prosper.

Our party has been galvanised by recent events. National’s attempts to destabilize us have failed – our Caucus has been unified and resolute and party activists have stayed on the front foot making phone calls, knocking on doors and getting Labour’s message out to the public.

We know that we have a hard road ahead of us, but we also know that this election is shaping up to be down to the wire and that every vote will count. We cannot afford, New Zealand cannot afford, for us to be distracted from our duty of making real fundamental change for good.

I know we can do it this September. Together.

Kia kaha,

David Cunliffe
Labour Leader

PS, we’re preparing for the biggest, best Congress ever. There are
still tickets available. To reserve your seat, click here. Link etc

There’s little more in that than a repeat of his “poor me” claims and yet more repeats of his failing campaign talking points.

Cunliffe fiddles


Disagreeing with Russel Norman’s lawyer

Russel Norman is using lawyer Stephen Price to represent him against Colin Craig’s defamation threat.

It’s interesting that Price has chosen to go public over this, or Norman has chosen to go public with Price’s letter/s.

Lawyers’ letters fly as Craig threatens Norman with libel suit

Mr Price says Mr Norman’s comments were obviously not intended to be taken literally, and notes it is not claimed they were received that way.

“They were colourful political rhetoric, delivered to a crowd with a particular interest in diversity issues,” Mr Price says.

“Dr Norman’s brief speech was one of several by politicians of different stripes. His comments were made in the context of an analysis of the MMP implications of a vote for the National government, and a discussion of the importance of minority rights.

“This context colours the way the words were understood, and illustrates that they were plainly genuine political discussion.”

Mr Price says Mr Craig’s lawyer suggests the comments were taken to mean that the Conservative leader holds sexist, derogatory and offensive views about women and gay men.

But Mr Price says it seems more natural to interpret them as a colloquial suggestion that Mr Craig’s attitudes to women and gay people are outdated and disrespectful.

I beg to differ on that Mr Price.

I interpreted Norman’s comments – when I first heard them as broadcast on TV news the day of the Big Gay Out – as stating that Craig though women should stay at home and work in the kitchen, and that Craig thought that homosexuals should hide their sexuality from society.

I didn’t think anything like what Price claims is a “more natural” interpretation.

I was well aware of Craig’s past comments on homosexuality and women, and I didn’t think Normans comments represented them anywhere near accurately.

My natural interpretation was that Norman was trying to exaggerate Craig’s attitudes and his intent was to misrepresent to Craig to damage his political credibility.

Norman hasn’t received Craig’s letter

Media seem to have been advised about Colin Craig’s defamation letter to Russel Norman, and one journalist has posted an image of the letter, but according to Stuff Norman claims to have not received the letter:

But a spokesman from Norman’s office said they had not yet received the letter.

Norman was yet to respond publicly over the legal action but was in discussions over it.

The spokesman said it was “disappointing” to hear about the letter through the media.   

The letter is dated today and says “by email”, listing Norman’s parliamentary email address, so it if was sent before Craig went public then Norman’s mailbox should have received it.

It seems a bit quick off the mark for Craig to go public about it though. It would be decent to at least give Norman time to respond.

But this is probably more political point making and  publicity seeking than a genuine legal action.

Copy of letter here:  Colin Craig versus Russel Norman

UPDATE: Felix Marwick from Newstalk ZB has different information:

@PeteDGeorge we got the info from the Greens first @ColinCraigNZ @RusselNorman

So that’s conflicting stories.

Longstone’s letter

Outgoing CEO of the Ministry of Education asnd Secretary of Education Lesley Longstone’s letter to staff prior to the announcement of her resignation:

Dear colleague, at noon today Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner, will be announcing my resignation from the position of Chief Executive of the Ministry of Education and Secretary for Education. This has been an extremely difficult decision for me and one that I want you to understand.

2012 was, without doubt, a very challenging year for the ministry. The extent of change has been great and in more than a few cases, controversial.

At the same time, we can look back proudly on a number of achievements that would not have been possible without the commitment and hard work of so many talented people working here in the ministry. I know that so many of you have gone the extra mile and I am so grateful for the support I have had over the past year.

Just to re-cap some of those achievements: continuing increases in participation in early childhood education, the reporting to parents of National Standards data for the first time and continued improvement, particularly for our priority groups, in NCEA outcomes.

The changes to the Resource Teachers Learning and Behaviour service and the expansion of Positive Behaviour for Learning programmes offer real promise to some of our more needy learners and the development of the intensive wrap-around service offers new opportunities for children with special needs to be supported to learn in their home communities.

We have spoken out about the social inequity inherent in our education system and begun to re-focus the work of the Ministry and our support for ECE services, schools and other providers on those children and young people who are not realising their potential.

The development of new pathways to support transitions from school to tertiary study or work is a very significant achievement. We have begun to build better links with communities, iwi and social sector agencies, to ensure that in focussing on these young people we bring everyone to the table that has a contribution to make.

These are important foundations that will position us well to achieve the Government’s Better Public Service goals for education and vulnerable children.

Internally, we have re-structured and appointed four new Regional Directors. We have established task forces to drive ahead on our key outcomes and are working ever closer with other agencies in the education sector as well as the wider social and economic sectors. I am very pleased to have made four new appointments to the Leadership Team, bringing in different areas of expertise to complement those of existing members and strengthening our leadership of the Ministry going forward. With our regional change programme in its early stages we are poised to make significant change to our service delivery model, designed to support better outcomes for learners and a more streamlined service offering for providers.

But despite our best endeavours, and I do really appreciate the efforts of those involved in these areas, not everything in 2012 has gone smoothly and there has been real disquiet relating to a range of issues including Budget 2012 proposals, Christchurch and Novopay. The accumulation of these and other things has led to deterioration in relationships with a number of important stakeholders.

This isn’t a sustainable position and following very careful thought and discussion, Iain and I have decided that the best interests of the ministry would be served bythe appointment of a new chief executive unencumbered by the difficulties of the past 6 months who is able to focus on, and re-build those relationships.

I hope that you will see and embrace this as the opportunity it is. I will return from my Christmas break on 22 January and will continue in my role until 8 February next year when a new interim Chief Executive will be appointed.

All that really remains is for me to thank you for your support over the past year or so and to hope that you, like me, will find real peace in the Christmas season. I look forward to thanking as many of you as I can personally, before I depart and I hope you will welcome Peter in the same generous way as you welcomed me.