Tax is likely to be a key election issue

There have been major distractions in politics over the last two weeks, with the fall of Andrew Little followed by the euphoric rise of Jacinda Ardern, plus the self destruction of the Greens which included the end of two MPs and the effective end of Metiria Turei’s political career.

Amongst that earlier this week there were two polls that showed a shrink in support for the greens and NZ First, and the likely return of a head to head battle between National and Labour.

And in a debate on The Nation yesterday between Steven Joyce and Grant Robertson the battle lines were drawn.

Robertson: So, under Labour’s package, every family earning $62,000 or less will be better off than under National’s package. What I don’t want is for Steven and me to get a $1000 tax cut when we’ve got families living in cars and garages, when we’ve got a health system that’s not coping. What we’re saying is we’ll get the money to the families in need, but we’ll get the money that Steven wants to give to us as tax cuts – to wealthy people like us – we’ll get that money, and we’ll make sure it’s invested in public services that have been run down.

Joyce: Well, it’s not actually about me – or about Grant, actually. It’s about those people who are on the median wage who are currently facing a 30-cent-in-the-dollar tax rate, and we have to change that. And the only way we change that is shifting the thresholds. Now, Grant’s allergic to actually reducing taxes and allergic to adjusting thresholds. He’s about increasing taxes.

Labour have pushed the anti-tax cut for rich people since National’s tax cut package was announced in the budget in May.

But it doesn’t just reduce tax or ‘rich people’, it reduces tax for all workers who pay PAYE:

Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000. This provides a tax reduction of $11 a week to people earning $22,000 or more rising to $20 per week for anyone earning $52,000 or more.

https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2017/family-incomes-package/index.htm

That’s $1,000 less tax per year for everyone earning over $52,000 (affecting ‘rich people’ of course but also the majority in wage earners).

Of all the polices announced this one directly affects me the most. Labour would scrap it, and that has to be a significant factor in deciding who to vote for.

More on possible tax changes;

Lisa Owen: Capital gains tax — are you ruling it out in the first term absolutely, if you’re in in the first term?

Robertson: We’ve got a tax working group. I can’t pre-empt what they’re going to come back and decide.

Lisa Owen: So you can’t rule it out? Could come in the first term?

Robertson: I can’t pre-empt what that group says, but here’s the important point — right now today we have something called the bright-line test that the National Party brought in. It says that if you sell a house that’s not your family home within two years, you’ll pay tax on it. Steven has a form of capital gains tax.

Lisa Owen: I’ll give you the chance to talk about your policy, Mr Robertson. So a capital gains tax is still on the table? You’re not taking it off?

Robertson: What we’re going to the election with is a commitment that if you sell a property that is not your family home within five years, you’ll be taxed for that.

Robertson clearly avoiding stating a position on a Capital Gains tax, something he has favoured in the past but Little took off the table. It appears to be under consideration again.

Joyce: I think there’s a problem there for the Labour Party, because they’re dodgy on tax. They’re refusing to say about the capital gains, they’ve mentioned a water tax last week, but they won’t tell us how much it is, and then, of course, they’ve got a regional fuel tax they won’t talk about where it goes beyond Auckland.

Expect National to hammer the uncertainty over what additional taxes a Labour government could implement.

Labour are trying to avoid details by deferring to a future tax working group (on CGT) and an ‘expert panel’ (on water taxes).

Lisa Owen: So top tax rate — can you rule out lining yourselves up with the Greens and having 40 cents over 150 grand? Are you going to go for that?

Robertson: No, I don’t think we will be going for that, but what we will do…

Lisa Owen: …but you are not ruling out raising that tax rate.

Robertson: I’m not ruling it in; I’m not ruling it out.

On a water tax:

Lisa Owen: What about your water levy? What’s that going to be?

Robertson: The water levy? Look, what we’ve said there is for every thousand litres of water that’s used in irrigation, perhaps one or two cents.

Lisa Owen: One or two cents. There you go, Mr Joyce. That’s not going to make a huge difference, is it?

Joyce: This is the problem is that he’s not telling.

Robertson: One or two cents, Steven. How big a difference?

Joyce: Well, hang on. Don’t ask me; ask the farmers, because I’ve seen some figures that even at those levels, you’re talking about 50,000 a year per farm. So I think it’s beholden on the Labour Party to actually come a bit more clean on their tax stuff, because they’re being very dodgy.

Robertson: We’ve been completely upfront.

Joyce: You haven’t, actually. So you’ve got a water tax that you won’t tell anybody—

On the Panel discussion on The Nation:

Patrick Gower: I actually think that Grant Robertson probably got in a few more jabs in…however in terms of actual overall damage I think some of the talk about tax there that Steven Joyce, in terms of long term damage beyond the debate, in terms of that capital gains tax is back on the table.

The capital games tax is back baby. Labour were going to go to the next election with that, but that could come in next term.

Lisa Owen: Jane, are they doing themselves a disservice by not putting numbers on stuff now.

Jane Clifton: Absolutely. They’re their own worst enemy. This week alone with the water tax issue, because finally we’ve got a figure for irrigators and wineries and so on of one to two cents, although David Parker said three.

…but yeah, just get your ducks in a row, announce them all, don’t leave room for speculation about $18 cabbages and $70 on a bottle of wine…

The Newshub video cut Gower off at the end, but he pointed out a significant power shift in Labour. When Andrew little took over the leadership in 2014 he put a number of Labour policies on ice, including the CGT.

But with Little dropping to the ranks and Ardern taking over the leadership Gower said that this meant also a significant rise in influence of Robertson – he and Ardern have been close allies for a long time. We are already seeing glimpses of what that may change in Labours tax policies.

Gower followed up on Twitter:

So expect tax to be a prominent issue in the election.

It may have a significant effect on the outcome of the election. Labour will need to be much better prepared for the inevitable attacks from National.

Ardern will need to be well prepared for the leaders’ debates with Bill English. She will likely have a ready response to a ‘show me the money’ type line (Key used that to devastating effect against Phil Goff in 2011), but she is likely to get challenged over and over if she remains vague of what taxes a Labour government may impose or increase.

And tax could also have a significant impact on the outcome of coalition negotiations. Both Labour and National will have to try and find enough partners to support their tax (and spending) plans.

Personally a water tax or a CGT or a fuel tax in Auckland won’t affect me.

But I will be seriously taking into account whether National’s income tax cuts might be reversed or not when I decide who I will vote for.

The Nation – Jacinda Ardern transcript

Jacinda Ardern is an important part of Labour’s election campaign, being promoted alongside Andrew Little as his deputy leader.

She has previously said she has no ambition to be Prime Minister.

Today in an interview on The Nation she effectively said that being Deputy Prime Minister doesn’t matter to her. She said it would be a fantastic outcome if she’s a minister but not deputy.

My relative position actually doesn’t matter to me. If we’re in government, that matters to me.

So if I’m not deputy prime minister, but I’m a minister, that is fantastic. That means that we’ve won, and we’ve got a progressive government.

When asked about the Social Development portfolio she said her ambition is to be Minister for Children.

Children. I’m happy to say that I would very much like to be the Minister for Children. I’m very happy to say that.

For Labour’s no 2 that is not a very big ambition.

Anne Tolley is ranked 10 in National’s Cabinet, and is Minister of both Social Development and Children, as well as Local Government.

The interview on The Nation, and the transcript:

Lisa Owen: Well, it’s nine weeks out from the election, and Labour’s released its alternative budget, saying it would scrap National’s tax cuts and put those billions into social services. But could Labour’s plans to cut immigration and the spending plans of its potential coalition partners through a spanner in the works? Well, Labour’s deputy leader, Jacinda Ardern, joins me now. Good morning.

Jacinda Ardern: Good morning.

Lisa Owen: You’ve got fiscal responsibilities rules, and this was party to help show that you are financially sound, financially as sound as National. But does that mean that your alternative budget has turned out, well, a bit same-same, inoffensive but not bold, not enough to make people change?

Jacinda Ardern: No. I would really dispute that. I think what we’ve presented to the public, to voters, is a really clear choice this election. We’ve rejected the idea from National that we can afford tax cuts right now when we have a situation where, for instance, the Salvation Army is telling us we’ve got the worst homelessness that they have ever seen, kids doing homework in cars, people not able to access health services. The choice that we’re presenting to voters is we need to invest in those social services, reject the idea of $20 a week and make sure that New Zealand is the prosperous nation that gives a good start to every child.

Lisa Owen: So why not go bolder? You have nothing to lose, looking at the polls, so why not make a bigger, bolder statement?

Jacinda Ardern: Cancelling tax cuts and saying now is not the time for tax cuts, we’re investing in poverty, we’re reducing inequality is bold, and exactly the kind of boldness and courage that I think New Zealanders want to see from an alternative government.

Lisa Owen: So you feel you went far enough?

Jacinda Ardern: I think what we have done is bold. Certainly, when we put out the families package and our choice to cancel those tax cuts and instead invest in families, particularly families on low incomes, yeah, we got a lot of criticism for that. I think people acknowledged that was a big, stark difference to choose to reduce inequality and poverty, rather than what National have done, which some people interpreted as being a bit of an election bribe. Yeah, that was bold.

Lisa Owen: Okay, well, let’s take a closer look at your fiscal plan. It is based on the current Treasury projections for growth, which are around 3%. But economists that we’ve spoken to said that immigration makes up a huge chunk of that growth, counts for 1%-2%. Your party wants to take a breather on immigration, so that means knocking off a considerable amount of income. How are the numbers going to balance out?

Jacinda Ardern: An interesting point there. I mean, you’ve actually just pointed out that National’s plans for growth was immigration and the rebuild off the back of crises that New Zealand has experienced. Our view is that our growth should come off the back of investing in regional economic development, becoming a smarter economy through things like research and development tax credits. You know, innovating instead of just simply saying carte blanche that we shouldn’t worry about the strain on our infrastructure that immigration in and in of itself was an answer. It’s not an answer.

Lisa Owen: But your numbers are built on the foundation of current immigration numbers and current growth projections. If you cut immigration, you might not have that money, and if you’re looking at a coalition with Winston Peters, who wants 10,000 immigrants a year, you could be looking at even less money, less growth in GDP.

Jacinda Ardern: I think if anyone looks at the immigration policy that we’ve set out, anyone who can demonstrate that they have a skill shortage in their area will not have a problem accessing migrant labour. That’s what we’ve been really clear on. So we won’t see, for instance—

Lisa Owen: I suppose it’s a bit different. What we’re talking about here is the GDP growth that is generated through population growth, and all through Treasury’s fiscal update in May, it talked about the fact that immigration is expected to underpin real GDP growth. Population is one of the key drivers in the economy, it says. Slowing immigration will risk slowing growth.

Jacinda Ardern: And what we’ve said is that, actually, we’ve got a plan around economic development that isn’t simply reliant on population growth that we can’t meet the needs of. So instead, and we’ve been really clear in the fiscal plan that we’ve presented, which I should add that BERL that endorsed as being absolutely correct, that we’ll be investing in making sure that we diversify our economy and continue to stimulate it, but instead of just relying on population growth, saying we will have things like research and development tax credits, things like our $200 million regional economic development. Things that will generate jobs in New Zealand, also diversify our economy and innovate within our economy. That’s the kind of growth that New Zealanders want to see, rather than just saying the only way to see growth in our economy is simply through unvetted immigration that doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of migrants as well. They’re coming into New Zealand without even having the housing and infrastructure to have a decent life.

Lisa Owen: You raised jobs, so let’s go there. Labour’s aiming to get unemployment down from 5% to 4%. In real terms, how many jobs is that and how are you going to do it?

Jacinda Ardern: Yeah, we are, and we’ve talked about some of the specific ideas that we’ve had. For instance—

Lisa Owen: Sorry, how many jobs will that be in real terms?

Jacinda Ardern: Well, we’ve said we want to drop it down to 4% as a target. I can’t give you the specific number that that generates.

Lisa Owen: So about 25,000.

Jacinda Ardern: We’ve set 4% as a target, but we are a party that believes in full employment. I want to make that point. But some of the ideas that we’ve already set out, like, for instance, in Gisborne, where we have a large amount of unprocessed timber going off shore. We want to invest in that area to create a timber-processing plant that creates prefabricated housing that then helps us deal with our other major crisis in New Zealand, which is the housing crisis. We’ve looked in Whanganui, for instance. They’ve got jobs that will be generated if they have work done on their port. We’ve said we’ll invest there. We’re looking for ways that we can invest in our regional economies to try and generate jobs — real jobs — that they know right now, if they had a little bit of a boost, would make a real difference.

Lisa Owen: And I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that job creation is a good thing, but under National, unemployment is on track to drop to 4.3% by 2021 anyway. So I suppose we’re circling back round—

Jacinda Ardern: And what specific plans—?

Lisa Owen: …we’re circling back round to the fact that your critics would say you’re not being that ambitious. We’re getting there anyway — 4.3%. You’re offering us 0.3%. Is that enough to motivate people to change, which is what you want them to do.

Jacinda Ardern: And as I say, we’ve set some targets, but, actually, we are a party, as I say, is ambitious enough to say that, actually, what we want is full employment. We will never be satisfied as long we have anyone—

Lisa Owen: But that’s not the target you’ve set in the short term. The target you’ve set is this, which is so close to National’s, it could be National’s.

Jacinda Ardern: We’ve set a target that allows us to make some projections around the kind of spending in investment in other areas. But, as I say, as much as we’ve got a number in this fiscal plan, our target is that as long as there is anyone who is unable to work because they cannot find employment, that isn’t supported, that doesn’t have the dignity of that work, we will not be satisfied. Yeah, we put a number on it. We believe in full employment. That’s bold. And I would love to hear Steven Joyce say the same thing.

Lisa Owen: You say you’re going to spend about $17 billion more than National over four years — 8 billion in health, I think it is; 4 billion in education; Super Fund payments. All of that means carrying a higher debt load for longer, which is a costly exercise. How much does a billion bucks cost you in interest?

Jacinda Ardern: Yeah, and let’s put that in perspective. Yeah, we’ve said that relative to what the government’s doing, we will take on a bit more debt. So our debt track will actually take us about two years to get down to where the government’s saying. But let me be really clear on what we’re borrowing on, because I think that’s actually the point.

Lisa Owen: No, but before we get to that, there is a price that you pay for that. So what is that price?

Jacinda Ardern: Well, on the market, of course it costs less for a government to borrow than it does an individual, right. But let me be clear on what we’re borrowing for. We’re talking $3 billion for the Super Fund. The return on the Super Fund, we’re looking at around—

Lisa Owen: Your fiscal plan says it’s about $10 million in interest a day, I think it was. So that’s an opportunity cost, isn’t it?

Jacinda Ardern: Let me just answer the question. Which is why we’re trying to get the debt track down to 20%, and we’ll be there at about two years later than the government. The reason we’ve said that we’re willing to wear those extra two years is this — we cannot sit by while children live in cars. We are not willing to have a country where we can get the debt track down at the same rate as the government, but people suffer. So we will borrow for KiwiBuild, but that’s the kind of borrowing that we need. That’s the kind of borrowing that is justified. The other borrowing — the most substantial other bit of borrowing — is so that we can restart contributions to the—

Lisa Owen: To the Super Fund?

Jacinda Ardern: To the Super, where, actually, we get a return of about 10%, which is well over what we’ll be paying and what we’re borrowing to do it. That is justifiable debt. And also, I have to say, we will not be lectured by Steven Joyce when it comes to debt. We left in office, after Labour, a debt net — Crown debt — that was at around 10%, and now we’re up around, what, 25%? We’ve got goals to bring that down, yes, but we have a track record that proves we will.

Lisa Owen: Okay. Let’s move on to the diverted profits tax, which was announced this week. Andrew Little says he’s going to claw back money from foreign corporates who are not paying their fair share of tax. So, what’s that going to be set at? What rate?

Yeah, well, we’ve originally started out by saying we’ve written to multinationals. We’ve told them that this is our intention if they don’t come to the table.

Lisa Owen: But how much are you going to after them for?

Jacinda Ardern: Well, at the moment, IRD’s predicted that we’re forgoing over, I believe, from three to four years, about $600 million. So our view is they’ve set a really unambitious target of collecting, you know, about $100 million. Our view is that we can do better than that through a diverted tax.

Lisa Owen: Yes. Using what percentage?

Jacinda Ardern: But that’s set by IRD, dependent on what—

Lisa Owen: But you have already accounted, in your fiscal plan, for gains of $200 million a year. That’s taken into your costings from this tax. So you must’ve used some figure to work that out.

Jacinda Ardern: Based on what IRD have predicted is the forgone tax revenue that we’re losing, the government’s then gone, ‘Actually, we think that we can only then recoup a certain percentage of that.’ Our view is we can recoup more of that by actually investing in IRD to be able to do that, so we’ve budgeted for investing in IRD to—

Lisa Owen: You can’t give me a ballpark of what the tax level would be? So, in Australia, it’s like—

Jacinda Ardern: Because the diverted tax regime is set by IRD, based on how much they think the company has forgone in revenues, so that then comes down to an IRD discretion.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, you’ve got $10 billion that’s unaccounted for spending in your budget — so, unallocated spending — looking at your potential coalition partners — New Zealand First and the Greens — what policies of those parties do you like and that you think would be worthy of consideration for unallocated funds?

Jacinda Ardern: And the reason we’ve done that is because all governments do that. That’s the way that you build a fiscal plan. Because, also, you have to take into account inflation adjustments for your spending.

Lisa Owen: But there’s obviously money in there, because you’re going to have to have friends in a government, and friends like their policies to be implemented. What policies do you like from the Greens and New Zealand First that you think are worthy of consideration?

Jacinda Ardern: I love this hypothetical, because, of course, this is talking through Labour forming a government afterwards. And, of course, that’s the position that we’re out there campaigning on, to be in that position to be able to do that. But, ultimately, as every election has generated, that’s the conversation you have after the election. We’ve put out a set of priorities—

Lisa Owen: So you don’t like any of their policies?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh, there are similarities in some of the policies.

Lisa Owen: So which ones do you like?

Jacinda Ardern: There’s some similarities in the Families Package and what the Greens have put out in theirs, because we’ve both targeted poverty alleviation and looking after middle income.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, but the Greens propose to spend more on a family package, so would you support some of their initiatives in spending more in those areas that they’ve suggested?

Jacinda Ardern: Oh, well, if you look, for instance, at what we’ve done with Best Start, which is about investing in children in their early years, they’ve got something that they’ve called a Child Benefit, and so there’s some similarities there.

Lisa Owen: But they are spending more, so is that a policy that you would support being implemented?

Jacinda Ardern: That’s all for negotiation. But even though they’ve spent more—

Lisa Owen: But voters want to know what exactly they’re voting for.

Yeah, and if they vote for Labour, they get our Families Package. If they vote for the Greens or any other party, then it comes down to a negotiation afterwards. But my simple message, Lisa, to any voter—

Lisa Owen: Let’s move on, because you, personally, want to eradicate child poverty — that’s what you’ve said — and the Children’s Commissioner says benefits should be tagged to wages, like Super. So why not commit to that? Why not make a bold move and commit to something like that?

Jacinda Ardern: Because the Children’s Commissioner has also talked about doing things like investing in the early years of a child’s life. In fact, we looked at some of the research and analysis, and it told us that, actually, the period of a child’s life where they experience the most persistent poverty is —

Lisa Owen: I know you’re giving a universal baby bonus in these winter payments. I’m asking you about this. Why not do that?

Jacinda Ardern: If you just let me finish. He also pointed out that, actually, if we increase the payments for those early years, that’s going to make a really big difference to those low-income families and those ones in poverty. So we prioritise that—

Lisa Owen: So you don’t think you need to tag benefits to wages, is that what you’re saying?

Jacinda Ardern: We haven’t done it in this package, but we have acknowledged that those families who are on constrained incomes, who are on benefits, are doing it tough. And those are the areas where kids are suffering. What we’ve done goes to those beneficiary families as well.

Lisa Owen: Yes, but this is a step further, I suppose. And you’ve also said in the past that you think that the Commissioner needs to have more power, and you don’t get more power just through money. You get more power by implementing his suggestions or ideas.

Jacinda Ardern: Indeed.

Lisa Owen: So why not go with this one? Why not go with a big, bold—?

Jacinda Ardern: What will give him more power is, actually, greater independence, the ability to speak freely. And we want him to do that. We want any Children’s Commissioner in the future to have the ability to hold us to account.

Lisa Owen: Okay, so you’re not prepared to take that on, then?

Jacinda Ardern: But, to be fair, everything that we did in this package — the Winter Energy Payment, the Best Start payment, the increases to the Family Tax Credit, all go to families on benefits. In fact, by doing what we’ve done, we’ve got a big boost—

Lisa Owen: You’ve said that, and viewers will get that, but really the question is about whether it’s enough of an incentive, if it’s bold enough, if it’s dynamic enough to get people to change — which is what you want them to do.

Jacinda Ardern: And what I would say is that those families we have targeted, in the most need, end up being thousands of dollars better off. And that would even do more, in some cases, than what the Children’s Commissioner has suggested.

Lisa Owen:  Sorry to interrupt, but we want to get to a couple of other things. You’ve made it clear that you’re not keen to be Prime Minister; it’s not on your radar. How likely do you think it is that you’re going to be deputy prime minister?

Jacinda Ardern: Do you know, for me, if we’re in the position where we’re negotiating those positions, then that’s where I want us to be.

Lisa Owen: Come on, how likely? How likely is it?

Jacinda Ardern: My relative position actually doesn’t matter to me. If we’re in government, that matters to me.

Lisa Owen: Is the reason—?

Jacinda Ardern: So if I’m not deputy prime minister, but I’m a minister, that is fantastic. That means that we’ve won, and we’ve got a progressive government.

Lisa Owen: So you’re prepared to give up the opportunity of that role if one of the people you’re in coalition with—?

Jacinda Ardern: Yeah, because, as I’ve said, it’s never been about me. If we are in a position to be in government, that’s what I want. I don’t care about my relative status in that government.

Lisa Owen: Okay, so would you rather it be a Green or Winston Peters who held that position?

Jacinda Ardern: I’m loving this negotiation that we’re conducting here, Lisa.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, well, voters want to know what they’re getting. All right, let’s be fair, they want to know what they’re getting. So I’m asking you what your thoughts are.

Jacinda Ardern: And I agree with you. Voters deserve, in an MMP environment, to know, which is why we have the MOU. We’ve indicated that we’re going to work with the Greens. New Zealand First is a wildcard for voters. They could go with either Labour or National. If people want to change the government, the clearest way to do that is with Labour. Beyond that—

Lisa Owen: So, Greens is your preference, then?

Jacinda Ardern: Yes. We’ve got an MOU with the Greens.

Lisa Owen: And Greens is your preference for deputy prime minister as well?

Jacinda Ardern: I’m not saying that. That’s words in my mouth. What I’m saying is that, ultimately, there’s a range of things that will be on the table, but for me, it doesn’t matter to me.

Lisa Owen: You’ve mentioned a ministerial portfolio. So, social development — is that one that you’d like?

Jacinda Ardern: Children. I’m happy to say that I would very much like to be the minister for children. I’m very happy to say that.

Lisa Owen: Just before we go, if something should happen, as Winston Peters suggests, and your polling goes down and your leader is out, if it is a decision between stepping up for your party or not, will you do that?

Jacinda Ardern: Andrew Little is taking us to the election.

Lisa Owen: What about after the election?

Jacinda Ardern: Andrew Little is taking us to the election for victory. There’s no Plan B.

Lisa Owen: All right. Thanks for joining us this morning. Nice to talk to you.

The Nation – Judith Collins

Judith Collins was interviewed on The Nation this morning. Their news item generated from the interview:

Interview.

Transcript:

Lisa Owen: Revenue Minister Judith Collins joins me now. Good morning.

Judith Collins: Good morning, Lisa.

Lisa Owen: Minister, why is it that corporate charities like Sanitarium, some Brethren charities, some iwis don’t pay tax on their income or profits?

Judith Collins: Well, some businesses, you could say, charities running certain businesses, they have to comply with the Charities Act, which was set up in 2003, from memory. And their activities are audited as such by the Charities Services, which is part of the Department of Internal Affairs, which is not my area. But Revenue, certainly, does investigate any instances where they believe people should be paying tax because of either their activities or because they’re not actually really engaged in charitable purposes.

Lisa Owen: Yeah. Do you think that it gives them an unfair advantage? Isn’t it anti-competitive that they’re not paying tax?

Judith Collins: I think it is significantly difficult for a lot of businesses if they’re dealing with any competitor who they believe isn’t paying their fair share of tax. And the problem with these questions is that Revenue doesn’t tell me about any individual cases, and you can imagine why; you wouldn’t really want the Minister of Revenue being involved in deciding who gets to pay tax and who doesn’t and knowing what’s– obviously because there are privacy provisions as well, under the law. But I think one of the issues is if anyone does believe that someone should be paying some tax and they’re not paying it and they’re rorting the system as such, they need to go to the charities.

Lisa Owen: I’m not talking about specific companies when I ask that. I’m talking more generally. But you do have, sort of, Brethren charities who own dairy and kiwifruit enterprises – huge, huge conglomerates – and they’re competing in a market against other businesses.

Judith Collins: Well, it all depends on what the money’s going to. For instance, if profits are going into charitable purposes, which is often religion or education or helping the poor – those are all charitable purposes – then they will obviously be meeting charitable purposes. So it’s a different thing if it’s going into things that are not charitable purposes; then there’s a possible breach of the law, and that means that the Charities Services and the Department of Internal Affairs should be notified.

Lisa Owen: But do you believe that simply spreading your religion or your religious word is enough to warrant a tax break?

Judith Collins: It’s not a matter of me believing it; it is the fact that that is the law.

Lisa Owen: It is the law, yeah.

Judith Collins: It’s been the law since the first Queen Elizabeth.

Lisa Owen: But do you think it’s a good law? Should it be the law?

Judith Collins: Well, let’s put it this way. I mean, I’ve often thought that there’s quite a lot of business that goes through charities, but that is the law. It has been there forever. That would mean that every church that’s involved in things like, for instance, some of the shops that people get– you know, obviously, they sell clothes and sell these other things – that they would then suddenly become subject to tax. We’ve got other things that we can do in tax, and actually, going after charities that are actually complying with the law and using their profits for charitable purposes, which is helping the poor, education, those sorts of things, that’s not the biggest priority I have right at the moment.

Lisa Owen: But what if they’re not doing those things in any great numbers? Because there is no legal requirement for them to give a certain amount of what they make to charity. It’s left up to them, isn’t it?

Judith Collins: Well, no, there’s the Charities Services part of the Department of Internal Affairs. And Inland Revenue tell me – and I believe them – that they are almost religious, actually, in their wish to get in every cent of tax dollars that they believe they should be getting in, and they work very closely with Charitable Services in Department of Internal Affairs to do that. So just because someone is operating a charity doesn’t mean to say every part of their business activities is tax-free because some of that money may be going for non-charitable purposes.

Lisa Owen: Right. But for example, I mean, there’s all sorts of ones that fall under the category of charities. Church of Scientology – their return for 2015, they brought in income of almost $2.5 million; grants paid out within New Zealand – zero. Another one – Salvation Army, by comparison, paid out $30 million in evangelical programmes, $57 million in community and training job programmes, $35 million in social and health programmes. You know, those are stark comparisons. And here we’ve got an iwi, Ngai Tahu – $533 million income; grants paid out in New Zealand – $12 million in the same year. So are all these charities created equal in terms of what they’re doing and the breaks that they’re eligible for?

Judith Collins: Well, I think, quite clearly, that not all are doing exactly the same as each other. But the fact is that if there are concerns, then the right people to go to are Charitable Services, the Department of Internal Affairs, which is another minister’s portfolio.

Lisa Owen: So you’re fine with how the law stands at the moment?

Judith Collins: No, I say that is the law, and at the moment, I’ve got other things that I’m doing.

Lisa Owen: But do you think it needs to be reviewed?

Judith Collins: I think it’s something that is clearly in a lot of people’s radar at the moment, but right at the moment, my big issues are dealing with things like child support but also dealing with things like multinational companies. That’s where my focus is right at the moment.

Lisa Owen: OK. And I want to get on to international companies. Australia has changed its rules around charities in 2014, and only income directly related to charitable activities that are paid out, you know, you get a tax break on that. So why couldn’t we just do the same here?

Judith Collins: Well, we don’t just do the same like that in New Zealand. We actually put out discussion documents and things.

Lisa Owen: But we like to be in line with our trading partners, don’t we?

Judith Collins: Well, in some cases. We have a very open tax system, and ours is much more simple than many other countries’, including our trading partners. We have a lot of trading partners. But in terms of the charities thing, it is certainly something that Charitable Services and Revenue look at, and it’s certainly something that I’ve asked for some advice on as to what is actually happening, what are the rules, what’s happening on it. But that’s actually for another time because I’ve got other issues I deal with.

Lisa Owen: OK. So, the advice you asked for, what prompted that? What concerned you that you want to–?

Judith Collins: Oh, because people like yourself– obviously not you personally in this one, but people like yourself who raised the issues. So I think it is important to know the extent of any issues.

Lisa Owen: So you are looking into it?

Judith Collins: Well, no, I’ve asked for some advice on it, and that advice is that at the moment, they don’t believe that it’s such the issue that people might think it is, and that is because they’re working so closely with Charitable Services.

Lisa Owen: So after petrol and multinationals, you might get to it?

Judith Collins: Well, we have to wait and see. I’d have to be back in the role, wouldn’t I, after an election?

Lisa Owen: This week Labour said it’s going to crack down on multinationals not paying their fair share of tax.

Judith Collins: Oh, yeah. Bit late to the party, aren’t they?

Lisa Owen: But does anyone think that’s a bad idea?

Judith Collins: Well, I think we’ve already been doing that. I mean, earlier this year, Steven Joyce and myself released discussion documents on exactly that. And it’s called ‘BEPS’ or base erosion profit-shifting, and that’s some of the stuff that some multinationals have been undertaking in New Zealand and elsewhere.

Lisa Owen: So why aren’t your numbers as good as Labour’s? You’re talking about getting back between $50 million and $100 million a year over a period of time. Their projections are $200 million a year.

Judith Collins: Well, actually, it’s wrong, because the figure of $100 million was put in the budget for this budget year, and, of course, most of our measures that we’ve been consulting on and which I’ll be taking to– Steven and I will be taking to Cabinet in the next little while – we are looking for an announcement within the next month or so – those are obviously spread out over the next couple of years. So we will get to– we believe we will get to at least $300 million.

Lisa Owen: OK. So, diverted profits tax.

Judith Collins: Yes.

Lisa Owen: Why not have that? And I know you say we don’t like to follow all our trading partners.

Judith Collins: No, we don’t.

Lisa Owen: But you have said that we do like to be in line with some of our trading partners. And Australia has introduced a tax like this. The UK’s got one. We’re out of step, aren’t we?

Judith Collins: No, we’re actually in-step with the rest of the OECD. And in fact, recently I signed us up to a multilateral instrument, which is basically a massive treaty with 67 other countries – and I think now about 70; some more have added on to it now, over 70 – where we have actually signed up to a lot of the measures to actually deal with this very issues. Diverted profits tax is a very draconian measure. It basically says if we think you are doing anything to shift your tax liability, we’re just going to stick a 40% tax on what we think you should be paying. Now, that is a pretty harsh measure, which might sound great, but even Labour are saying they’re not expecting much of it. Australia are saying that they’re expecting–

Lisa Owen: So you’re ruling it out totally?

Judith Collins: No, Australia are saying that they’re expecting $100 million. In their size of their economy, you know, five, six times our size, we believe we can do better with what we’re doing – following the OECD and working with other countries. Because this is all around things like–

Lisa Owen: So we’re definitely not going to do it.

Judith Collins: No, no. What we’ve said is that we’re not ruling it out, but what we’re not doing is rushing into it. We believe we can get pretty much the same result or even better working with the OECD and working with all these other countries. Just imagine if Revenue decided that we were going to add this massive tax on to everything else that people have and then other countries…

Lisa Owen: You’re saying it will scare business away because other countries are not?

Judith Collins: …did the same to our companies. We are an exporting nation; we need to be very careful how we do these things. And what we don’t want to do is end up with a situation where we’re considered to be a difficult and dangerous place for businesses to operate in.

Lisa Owen: So are you not holding them to account simply because you fear retaliation?

Judith Collins: No. I’m holding them to account, but we think we can get a far better outcome working with the OECD, which, after all, when you’ve got 70-odd countries signed up to it all working together– And when you’re dealing with that, that’s a much stronger position, we believe, than simply adding on another tax, which we may never be able to collect.

Lisa Owen: OK. We talked earlier in the interview about being returned to government and what portfolio you might have.

Judith Collins: Well, who knows?

Lisa Owen: So let’s imagine for a minute that National gets a fourth term.

Judith Collins: That would be great.

Lisa Owen: What’s your dream portfolio?

Judith Collins: Whatever I’m given, actually.

Lisa Owen: Oh, come on. You’re more ambitious than that, aren’t you, Mrs Collins?

Judith Collins: I’ve actually always been very happy to be a minister in a National-led government. And every portfolio I’ve had, I’ve loved every one of them. And, you know, tax is something I just love, the Revenue area, I love the energy and resources, the ethnic communities – these are all really important. And as a former tax lawyer, I’m happy as anything in there.

Lisa Owen: So you don’t think you’ve got more to offer? There’s not more ambition? You’re number 15 in…

Judith Collins: I’ll tell you what, number 15 in government is a lot better than number 3 or 4 in opposition. I can tell you that, Lisa.

Lisa Owen: But is number 6, 7 and 8 in government better than number 15?

Judith Collins: Oh, look, you just do the role.

Lisa Owen: Are you more ambitious than that, minister? I mean, you were tagged as a future prime minister.

Judith Collins: By others. But my view is this – that just being in government and being able to actually do the best we can for New Zealanders is much better than saying where you’re ranked or whatever. I know some people get very excited about that. I’m not excited about that. I don’t get excited about that…

Lisa Owen: OK, so happy to stay where you are

Judith Collins: …because it doesn’t make any difference in terms of your ability to actually do what you have to do.

Lisa Owen: You heard it here – Judith Collins happy to stay where she is.

Judith Collins: I’m always a happy person.

Lisa Owen: All right.

The Nation – Peters and Pike River

This interview could be challenging for Lisa Owen. Winston Peters has been hinting at conspiracies and sort of promising revelations through the week, but he can be difficult to extract specific claims and details from.


Shared Prime Ministership: Peters says no one in NZ First is thinking about that.

He says our economy and our social structure is in serious trouble and that is all he and NZ First will be focussing on.

On Pike River: manned entry a coalition bottom line? His first response avoids that question. Asked again he says ‘for the umpteenth time I gave my word and I’m going to keep it”.

He then goes on the refer to a “massive cover up”. He says Pike River is a potential crime scene and wants ‘discovery”.

He says that citing the Health and Safety law is a cowards way of dealing with it. He says he can remove “all that”.

Would Labour and Greens come on board and ‘water down’ the health and Safety laws? He says they will now because they have been embarrassed.

Would Peters take responsibility? He slams Bill English’s and John Key’s behaviour as repugnant.

Peters says it must be safe because people have been 400 meters inside the mine access tunnel. That doesn’t necessarily mean going all the way in would be safe.

Immigration: what would they target to get a 10,000 target (down from the current 70,000). Doesn’t answer, shifts to “what stinks about the political system” – allowing international students to work. “Our policy is clear, either you are coming here to study” but not to work, but then it becomes unclear.

As well as having mine experience Peters also has dairy farm experience so thinks he knows how farms should be staffed.

He says he is not going to get done over by “people like you” and “alternative facts”.

Owens pushes him on immigration and employment. Peters insists he can cut immigration from around 70,000 to 10,000 by focussing on “high quality” immigrants

Peters says “we” will look at getting all 90,000 young unemployed people into work before looking at “your cheap solution” (immigration).

As usual those who like Peters will probably love him in this interview, and many others will rolled their eyeballs at the same old.

Fox versus Gietz on tobacco

Here’s the debate between Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Imperial Tobacco’s corporate affairs director Axel Gietz.

Gietz defended the right of tobacco companies to protect their brands, while Fox showed plenty of passion and a bit much personal attack in response.

Debate: Marama Fox, Axel Gietz on smoking

And here’s CNN coverage of the interview showing Fox attacking Gietz and then walking out of the debate (as it was winding up).

NZ MP walks off televised interview after blasting tobacco spokesman as a ‘peddler of death’

A New Zealand MP has walked out of the end of a televised debate with a tobacco company spokesman after he argued that Australia’s plain packaging rules did not affect the long term consumption of cigarettes.

Debate transcript:

Lisa Owen: But now it’s perfectly legal, yet it kills 5000 Kiwis a year. That’s why the Maori Party wants smoking in this country stubbed out by 2025. Right now the government’s calling for public submissions on its plans to introduce plain-pack cigarettes this year. The same move in Australia resulted in a legal throwdown with Big Tobacco but claims it does nothing to stop people lighting up. So who’s right? Well, joining me now to debate the issue is Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Imperial Tobacco’s corporate affairs director Axel Gietz, who has travelled from the UK specially to be on the show this morning. Welcome to you both. If I can start with you, Mr Gietz. Smoking kills around six million people around the globe a year. So to kick things off, is it a good thing to smoke?

Axel Gietz: Look, the fact that smoking leads to diseases has been known for more than 50 years. We’ve been printing health warnings in this country on our packs since 1973. You will not find one person on the streets of Auckland who won’t tell you it’s bad for you.

Owen: I’m asking you, is it bad for you? And is it a good thing to smoke?

Gietz: People make choices. 17% of the adult population in this country choose to smoke. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that 70% of the price of a packet of cigarettes is taxes. We don’t sell tobacco. We sell taxes. So as long as consumers want a perfectly legal product, fully knowing what it may or may not do to their health, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to buy and enjoy it.

Fox: Mr Gietz, you say that you print health warnings on the packages, but not by choice. You print them on there because we have forced you to do that under government regulation. The tobacco company didn’t come out and go, ‘Oh my goodness, my public service to the nation is to tell you that this is bad for you.’ You fought tooth and nail to not put warnings on to packaging, and you fight tooth and nail to resist every measure that governments have the sovereign right to put in their countries.

Gietz: We are not for one moment disputing the sovereign right of governments, of lawmakers, as parliamentarians are called.

Fox: Well, that’s not true. You do dispute it. You’ve joined the fight in Australia to take the Australian government to court. So you do dispute it. You’ve threatened the UK government that you may yet sue them. You’ve threatened our government that you may yet sue us.

Gietz: If I may, first of all, I think we all want laws that are intelligent, that are based on all the available evidence and that actually work.

Fox: That protect the health of our people.

Gietz: We perfectly support public health agendas. The point is – do the laws work, or do they not work?

Fox: Surely that’s hypocritical. You support public health agendas, and yet you peddle sticks of death to our people. Because that’s what they are. Let’s be clear. We’ve got 500,000 people in New Zealand who smoke. Half of them will die. Half of them will be sick. So you support public health? Surely that’s hypocritical.

Gietz: It’s not hypocritical at all. It’s a legal product consumed by 17% of your adult population.

Fox: That kills our people.

Owen: Mrs Fox, Mr Gietz is basically saying it’s free choice; you can choose. People don’t force you to smoke a cigarette, you make that choice.

Fox: And once you do, you are addicted. And they know that. The addiction is what continues our people to smoke. I ask our families who bury their members of their… their grandparents and their mothers and their fathers in the grounds every year, ‘Why do you still smoke?’ They are addicted. They don’t want their children to smoke. They don’t want their children to rise up and do the same dumb things and the dumb choices that they have made that have seen that they are now addicted. It is a lifelong addiction that we try to change.

Owen: Mr Gietz, what do you say to the families of those people that Marama Fox is talking about?

Gietz: Can I just address this that was said just now? There are more former smokers in the world today than current smokers. What you call addiction is a fact.

Fox: Because we are trying to help them do that.

Gietz: It is hard to give up.

Fox: That’s right.

Gietz: And every smoker has a certain threshold at which he or she is able to give up smoking. This is not the issue. The issue is that people choose to smoke.

Fox: No, it is the issue.

Gietz: And if they do so, as I said before, everybody at one point in their lives may find a reason why they want to stop. There are more former smokers than current smokers.

Fox: And there are more smokers of cigarettes who are buried in the ground. Look, for the last 27 years – 27 years – I have not attended a funeral of someone in our family, and I’ve attended numerous funerals, who has died of natural causes. We have the highest rates in the world of Maori women of COPD. We have the highest rates in New Zealand for SIDS, for diabetes, for all these cancers, and they are putting our people in the graveyard, and you and your companies are addicting people to cigarettes and telling us that it’s their free choice and that’s fine, ‘We’re going to profit off the death of your people.’

Owen: Mr Gietz, can I go back to my original question? What do you say to those families that Marama Fox is talking about – the ones who are burying their loved ones?

Gietz: Look, every kind of human suffering is tragic. There’s no doubt about that.

Fox: But you profit from it.

Gietz: We sell a product that creates diseases in smokers – not in every smoker. It’s on our website. Everybody knows it, but people still want to consume it.

Fox: And you still want to improve your profit margins, which is why you threaten to sue governments who have the sovereign right to make legislation to introduce things like plain packaging.

Gietz: Can I just address this, if I may? Because something comes into play here, which is our intellectual property. In our line of business, we have three types of assets. We have our people, we have our factories, and we have our brands. We spend a lot of time and effort and money to build these brands. We’re a fast-moving consumer-goods industry, so we cannot just sit back when one of these three key assets is taken away from us. Of course we will defend the right to use our brands. We own them.

Owen: Mr Gietz, will you defend that right in New Zealand? If we go ahead with plain packaging, are you going to take us to court as well?

Gietz: Well, let’s cross that bridge when we get there. For the moment, we’re discussing whether this law…

Fox: You have already threatened to take us to court.

Gietz: I have not. Whether this law is actually, as I said before, evidence based, intelligent and will work. And I am grateful…

Fox: In 2014, you threatened this government—

Owen: We’ll come to that in a minute, but I just want a clear answer to this. If we go ahead with plain packaging, can you rule out taking legal action against New Zealand?

Gietz: Of course I cannot rule anything out. As I said before, it’s our intellectual property. But any kind of lawsuit is always the last resort. Why do you think I’m here now? And I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate in public, to give our expertise to the decision-making process. Nobody will ever know more about our business than we do. We just want to make this contribution.

Owen: Mrs Fox, the point about intellectual property — this is a perfectly legal business. Why do you think we’ve got the right as a country to take that away from a perfectly legal business?

Fox: Because we are trying to save the lives of our people. We are trying to protect our children from growing up as orphans when their parents and their grandparents are buried in the ground, when we spend millions and millions of dollars, in fact, billions of dollars, in the health system trying to battle issues that are caused by smoking – smoking-related illnesses.

Owen: So I’m wondering where the line in the sand is, then. So do you go to KFC and McDonalds and Coca-Cola and say, ‘You too must have plain packaging because we’ve got an epidemic of diabetes and obesity.’

Fox: That’s right, and we have already come out and said that…

Where’s the line?

Fox: …we would like to introduce the sugar tax. We need to help and assist our nation grow healthy people. In fact, it’s about raising a generation of young people who do not have to in their adulthood make a choice of whether to give up. We want a smoke-free generation.

Owen: You would make KFC and McDonalds and Coke plain-pack as well if you could?

Fox: What I would like to do is to see the health of our people improved, and if that means excise tax on sugar, then we are fully prepared to do that. In fact, we would like to see that introduced. We introduced in New Zealand— actually, the Maori Party introduced hiding the cigarette advertising, putting the counters so our children could not see cigarettes being sold next to lollies.

Owen: Okay, well, let’s get to the heart of this. Does it work, Mr Gietz? Does it work to go to plain packaging? Does it discourage people from smoking? Does it make them give up?

Gietz: Well, we have one real-life example, which is Australia, that introduced plain packaging in December 2012. Now, Australia, being the pioneer, went through a process where a lot of people at certain points spoke of unintended consequences.

Fox: Mm-hm.

Gietz: ‘Oh, we didn’t realise this would happen,’ and I’m going to come onto these now. In the case of New Zealand, we would be speaking about foreseeable outcomes, because we have the experience from Australia. What’s happened in Australia? In Australia long-term consumption trends which are going down have not been impacted at all. It’s the same graph. It doesn’t fall off a cliff following December 2012.

Fox: Well, that’s not what the Australians show us.

Gietz: That’s number one.

Fox: They tell us that it’s dropped by 14% since the introduction of plain packaging.

Gietz: Well, I am quoting official government statistics.

Fox: And so am I.

Gietz: That’s all I can do. The second thing is that this was meant to primarily – primarily – fight underage smoking. Now, nobody wants people under the age of 18 to smoke. That’s for sure. But the question is – why do they start smoking?

Fox: Wait on.

Gietz: There are many many studies from around the globe that investigate what is it that triggers this interest in that first cigarette. Packaging doesn’t feature. What we’ve seen, however, is a growth in underage smoking by 30% in Australia since December 2012—

Owen: Okay—

Gietz: And if I may just finish, because there’s a cause and link here, we have also seen an increase in illicit trade in tobacco products…

Fox: In Australia?

Gietz: …by almost the same percent in Australia, absolutely.

Owen: We’ll come to the black market issues a bit later, but I just want to talk to you about the evidence that you’re producing there. An independent study that was commissioned by the Australian government says that it did lower the number of people smoking – 100,000 fewer people smoking as a result of plain packaging. That’s got to be good, hasn’t it?

Gietz: Long-term trends are stable, and you must not forget one other element in Australia, which is also already in place in this country. Australia in parallel to the introduction of plain packaging introduced annual tax hikes of 12.5% increases—

Owen: They did, but the research, Mr Gietz—

Gietz: What contributes what when even the long-term trends—

Owen: No, no, the research, Mr Gietz, took that into account.

Gietz: Even under these draconic circumstances—

Fox: Draconic?

Gietz: Draconic. Of course it’s draconic.

Fox: Are you kidding me? Look, you’re a doctor, and that seems to give you some sort of credibility when you work for Imperial Tobacco, but Dr Goebbels was also a doctor. And what I say to you is you are a doctor of death. You are peddling death and destruction and misery on our people.

Owen: All right, let’s keep to the topic at hand. So Mr Gietz is saying that it doesn’t work at all, it doesn’t discourage underage smokers at all.

Fox: That’s not true at all. Of course it discourages underage smokers. Why would Imperial Tobacco pay exorbitant prices to have their brands free right behind the counter, right next to the lollies in a shop? Why do you need to put them there? We had to get legislation into this country to hide that from our children. So if Imperial Tobacco thought that they were not peddling their brand of death to our young people, then they would not be fighting so hard to ensure that they can continue to profit off our death.

Owen: Isn’t that the biggest proof that it is working, because you are spending so much money trying to stop it? Big Tobacco is.

Gietz: No, of course we’re trying to stop it. I explained to you before, and I’m going through it in more detail now. Why do we need our brands? We need our brands to compete with other manufacturers in our industry sector. If the brands are taken away from us and the consumer can only go by price – we can only compete over price. What happens, and any economist will tell you that, is that there’s a downwards spiral. That’s what it’s called – downtrading.

Fox: But all tobacco companies—

Gietz: People go for the ever-cheaper—

Fox: All tobacco companies have the same—

Owen: Let him finish, Mrs Fox.

Gietz: Let me finish my sentence…

Owen: Let him finish.

Gietz: And my line of thought here. Ever-cheaper products are sought by consumers if price is the only point that we can compete on. Now let me tell you one thing. The cheapest product will always be peddled by the criminals because they don’t collect taxes for the government. Of course they have the cheapest product. The other thing, however, is that they sell to children, and that’s where the causal link comes into it. Cigarettes become more accessible and more affordable and therefore underage smoking has risen.

Fox: All right, can you answer a question.

Gietz: It’s as simple as that.

Fox: But here is a question, then. If you know and we can prove that a dairy in West Auckland is selling cigarettes to children illegally, will you remove your cigarettes from those shops?

Gietz: We will absolutely totally support any penalties for retailers that are caught selling to underage people.

Fox: But will Imperial Tobacco, knowing that—

Gietz: Of course we will. Of course we will.

Fox: So you would remove your products from the shops that can be proven to have been selling cigarettes to children?

Gietz: There must be degrees of penalties which should be enshrined in law, so as—

Fox: But if you don’t want them sold to children, you could pull them yourself.

Gietz: The first time they pay a fine, the second time they pay a higher fine, the third time we pull. Of course we do. We support any measures that are effective in fighting underage smoking.

Fox: What self-imposed measures have you got that will take cigarettes out of the hands of children where storekeepers are known to be selling them to those children?

Gietz: Well, let me repeat myself. Any—

Fox: Self-imposed.

Gietz: Any storekeeper that is caught selling these must be penalised, and this should be part of an intelligent law that works. The criminals, however, will never be penalised. They will sell—

Fox: Where’s your evidence in New Zealand of criminal behaviour in the black market selling of cigarettes?

Gietz: We are currently— Well, black market is always criminal and illegal by definition.

Fox: In New Zealand?

Gietz: We are currently talking about the experience in Australia and about the fact that—

Owen: Do you have any evidence relating to New Zealand, Mr Gietz, because the customs department and the police say there’s no indication of organised crime being involved in the illicit tobacco trade here.

Gietz: Yet.. Australia is an isolated continent with a lot of blue water around it. They never needed it. Yeah, they never needed to fight this. It didn’t exist. Last October the Australian Minister for Immigration and Protection of Borders announced with great fanfare that he was putting in place for the first time in history a special task force dedicated to nothing else but fighting, as you call them, the organised crime syndicates

Grant Robertson interview

Lisa Own interviewed Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson on The Nation yesterday. It will be repeated at 10:00 am Sunday but here is the interview online.

Interview: Grant Robertson

Is it time to invest or to borrow to pay for infrastructure? Lisa Owen asks Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson what he’d do in Bill English’s place.

Transcript (provided via Newshub by able.co.nz):

Lisa Owen: Labour’s finance spokesperson, Grant Robertson, reckons economic success should include social as well as fiscal surpluses, but with Bill English promising a growth to 2018 of 3 percent, unemployment to 4 percent and surplus peaking at 6.7 billion, those fiscals are looking pretty good. Let’s find out what Grant Robertson makes of that. Good morning.

Grant Robertson: Good morning, Lisa.

You might not like how they’re sharing out the pie, but, come on, the pie looks pretty good, doesn’t it?

Oh, look, we have to be a bit careful with some of those numbers. When you look at the growth numbers, if you do them on a per-person basis, it’s flat. The economy is actually not growing on a per-person basis. Unemployment has gone up. We’ve got 144,000 people out of work at the moment. A place you’re familiar with in Gisborne — one in 10 people out of work there. So you can look at the top-line numbers and say, ‘Yep, sure, the economy’s growing,’ but in the end if people aren’t getting a share in that prosperity, what’s the point in it?

Well, let’s look at some numbers more closely. The government brought forward spending from 2017 to keep pace with immigration. So Labour’s crunched the numbers. Are we keeping up with health and education spending per person?

No, we’re not. If we look at education, for instance, in the 2016-17 year, per pupil, there’s actually going to be an $85 reduction in funding in our education system, and that will mean parents pay, because parents are already meeting a greater cost of their children’s education — 10 times the rate of inflation; that’s how much the so-called voluntary donations have gone up. So, no, we’re not. In health, we’re looking at a shortfall this year of maybe around $50B— $50M, sorry. That’s part of a $1.7B cut effectively in health.

But the thing is Bill English would say, ‘So what?’ to that. He would say, as he just said, you’re just wanting to shovel more money at a problem to show you care, and that doesn’t work. Results are what matter, not the amount that you spend.

Well, I certainly wouldn’t be saying, ‘So what?’ to the elderly constituent in my electorate who’s been waiting for a hip operation for about three years now in constant pain. And University of Otago did a study recently that said that someone who was on a level of pain six years ago and would’ve got an operation doesn’t get an operation today. So these results are not there.

Okay. He also sent a very clear message there about Auckland’s housing challenge. It’s the Council’s fault. Don’t expect concessions to help raise money for infrastructure. So I’m wondering, where should the money come from, do you think?

I think the Auckland Council and Aucklanders generally would be quite surprised to learn today they’re an independent country, because that’s what it sounded like when Bill English was talking today. There’s a joint responsibility to sort this out, and it’s not as if this problem emerged this week or last week. This is something the Auckland Council and the government should have been working on together for a very long period of time, and I think Bill English shoving away constantly every problem to the Auckland Council is unacceptable.

So would you undertake right now then, to Labour if they were in government, to pay for Auckland’s infrastructure?

I think we’ve got to work together with Auckland to pay for the infrastructure. There’s no point throwing around a blame game and elbowing each other in the ribs to say who is responsible. Clearly, the government has a share responsibility here. We have already said that we want to do a massive state-led affordable-house-building programme. That’s KiwiBuild. We think that’s essential. That’s where central government can come on board. We can borrow money more cheaply than the central government level.

But can you even do KiwiBuild, because the one thing that people don’t seem to be addressing is that we don’t have enough builders and plumbers and tradies. So is it even possible?

Absolutely, it’s possible. Certainly, we’ve got people who’ve been employed in the Christchurch rebuild who will now be available, but we should be training more people, and we can do that right now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re proposing the three years free post-secondary school training and education is to keep that momentum going. We want to make sure there’s more apprentices. We’re prepared to take the money that people get for being on the dole and pay that as a subsidy towards employers to take on more apprentices.

Yeah, but apprentices don’t come online for years.

In the building sector, you can get them in there and get them helping out right away, but, yeah, look, we will have to work hard to find that labour, but we have to do it. Fundamentally, getting affordable housing is the core of getting our communities strong. You’ve got— You’ve been running stories about all the people who are moving around from school to school to school; that’s because they don’t have a home to live in. If we actually put housing first, we can build strong communities, and from that we can get better economic growth, we get better society.

The Prime Minister hinted at the fact that Auckland Council should sell off assets — should they?

Well, in my own view, no. Auckland Council have to make its own decisions about that, but that to me is an incredibly short-sighted way of solving a much bigger problem than that — that is solved as a partnership between Auckland City and the government. I have to say, the way Bill English was talking and behaving in that interview with you is a sign of failure. If he’s at war with the Auckland Council, then Aucklanders are being failed by the government.

Well, Bill English has chosen to pay down debt, rather than spend more on infrastructure in the Budget, but I’m a little bit confused about your stance, because in your speech, in your pre-Budget speech, you said, ‘It was concerning that National hadn’t put much of a debt in New Zealand’s debt,’ then on the other hand you said, ‘It’s also time to invest.’ So which is it?

Well, the concerning bit is the fact that they haven’t managed to grow their economy in real terms over the last eight years, so that’s why. We’re not— We’ve got a massive problem with productivity in New Zealand. We are still creaking along in that regard. But what I’m saying, and it’s not just me — it’s also the Reserve Bank Governor, Graeme Wheeler, is saying — is we do need more infrastructure spending. That is a way of helping kick-start a sluggish economy.

So would you borrow to do that?

You’d have to borrow some of that initially, yes, absolutely, but that’s the problem right now today is that we need the economy to get going. It’s flat. GDP is flat. Graeme Wheeler, other economists are saying, ‘Let’s get a bit more infrastructure spending,’ and we’ve got to be very careful about the government’s numbers on infrastructure in the Budget as well. They were claiming $2.1B’s worth of spending. That includes nearly $1B on the IRD’s computer system. I don’t think that’s what most New Zealanders would call infrastructure.

Right.

And Bill English’s comments to you — he needs to be very careful about what he was saying there, because the actual new spend on infrastructure is going down at a time where we need more.

All right, there’s a few things I want to get through before we run out of time. You want to restart the Tax Working Group. That’s a Trojan Horse for more taxes, isn’t it?

No, it’s a vehicle for making sure we get a tax system that deals with the fundamental challenge in our economy, and that— No, no, let me finish.

It’s a vehicle for Labour to get new taxes without being honest with the constituency, and saying, ‘You’re going to get more taxes under Labour.’

Absolutely not. It’s a way of making sure that we balance up our tax system. So we’re going to be very specific for that working group about what its mandate is. Its mandate is to get a better balance in the system between incentives to invest in a productive economy and speculation. We have far too much speculation in our economy.

So when it tells you we need a capital gains tax, what are you going to do then?

Well, we’ll look very seriously at that, and that’s why we’re doing it. One of the things about being in opposition—

So there will be, either way you do it, there will be more new taxes under Labour?

We don’t know that until we see what happens, but what we do want is a better balance in the tax system. At the moment, when workers go to work, every day they pay their taxes. When people are speculating, for instance in the housing market, they can get away with it. We need to look at what the best way to deal with that is. We’ll bring the experts in, but they will have a specific mandate to make sure that we start addressing some of the fundamental structural problems in our economy.

Okay, last election you promised not to go beyond National’s spending limits. Is that still your commitment?

We have to wait until we see what they’ve got, but we will run a disciplined budget, but we’ve got priorities, Lisa, and our priorities are health, housing and education, and every New Zealander today can see the problems there. And I think it’s irresponsible of Bill English not to address them.

But the thing is when you look at the things you want to invest in, you already committed KiwiBuild $1.5B up front as an investment, tertiary ed. $1.2B by 2025. You’ve pledged to catch up healthcare and education. Man, that adds up.

It adds up, but it adds up to making sure that New Zealanders get a decent start in life and the opportunity to make the choices that they want. These are investments, Lisa. We’ve got to stop seeing people getting a tertiary education as a cost; it’s an investment.

John Key’s saying that we can afford $3B in tax cuts. Is that the red light for you to have more wiggle room in your spending to spend more— to say you’ll spend more?

What I’m interested in doing is investing to make sure that people get good housing, an education system and a health system that works for them, and that we’ve got the infrastructure to build the decent jobs all over New Zealand. That will be my focus.

All right, before we go, Andrew Little is on single digits when it comes to the preferred Prime Minister stakes — 8.9 percent. Are you happy with that?

Andrew’s not happy with that. The point is he’s doing a good job. He’s brought our team together incredibly well over the last year. We’ve got a focus now on education, health and housing—

8.9 percent is a good job? New Zealanders aren’t seeing a good job.

Look, I can’t take responsibility for the polls. What I know is the guy that I work with every day is working hard. He’s got the vision to say, ‘We need to focus on health, education, housing, building up jobs around New Zealand,’ and I think he’s doing a good job.

8.9 percent is not going to make him Prime Minister, though, so could you challenge him before the next election?

Absolutely not.

Categorical no?

Categorically not. Andrew’s doing a good job.

Anjum Rahman on ‘jihadi brides’

Anjum Rahman from the Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand was interviewed on The Nation about the ‘Jihadi brides’ issue. She spoke very well and provides a worthwhile perspective.

AnjumRahmanTheNation

(It’s worth noting that Anjum Rahman is dressed differently to how I’d ever dress. So is Lisa Owen. Both sounded much like many Kiwis.)

Lisa Owen: At the time that this story broke, what impact did it have on the Muslim community?

Anjum Rahman: Well, it put a spotlight on the community, and a negative spotlight. The way that this was reported – media reports – certainly I’ve seen one article from Radio New Zealand that specifically said ‘Minister Finlayson has said women leaving from New Zealand’.

So that was that assumption in the public arena, which immediately placed suspicion on the women in our community and our community in general.

It put the spotlight on our community, how this plays out in terms of talkback radio, social media as well as real –life experiences for kids at school, for women, you know, going out in public. It causes damage; it really does.

Lisa Owen: So what do you make of this new information that the Prime Minister knew six months prior to making these statements, that none of these women have left from New Zealand?

Anjum Rahman:: I think it’s upsetting to not have had that information in the public sphere because we work really hard with our community.

Our organisation has a lot of events, and we put effort, especially into our young people, to build up this Kiwi-Muslim identity. And we had a big national youth camp for young Muslim women in December last year, and we’re putting a lot of effort into this, and we need that effort to be recognised; we need some engagement to be happening.

We’re as concerned about security as anybody else. We’re also New Zealand citizens, and our Prime Minister is also responsible for us and our safety.

Lisa Owen: Why do you think he didn’t correct that misperception?

Anjum Rahman: I can’t read what was in the Prime Minister’s mind. All I can say is that we would really like him to recognise the impact that this has on us and to be careful that with the way that he’s presenting information, and that should any such thing happen in the future, that they provide the full, correct information and engage with the community beforehand to ensure that we have some level of protection.

I mean, in Australia, just three days ago, three Muslim women were attacked by a gang, had their hijabs ripped off, were punched, physically beaten. And that’s very close to here.

And for us, that’s a real fear. I mean, at this youth camp, we ensured that there were three police officers present because we don’t feel safe.

Lisa Owen: So was it irresponsible for the Prime Minister not to correct that information?

Anjum Rahman: I think that he should have corrected it, yes.

Lisa Owen: So what do you want from him now? Do you want an apology?

Anjum Rahman: I think we want to work with the Government. I think we’re looking at the bigger picture. I mean, this is a topic of the day, but we want to look at the bigger picture. We want to work towards security for all New Zealanders as well as security for our community, our women, our children. So we need proper engagement on that.

We’d like to work with the agencies involved as well. We’d like them to get to know us, and we know that Ms Kitteridge hasn’t met with our organisation at all. We got no briefings; we’ve had no information. And that makes it really difficult to deal with if she’s like this.

Lisa Owen: Metiria Turei has raised the fact that she’s heard the SIS is out knocking on doors. Do you know anything about that? Has this come as a surprise to you?

Rahman: I know that the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations was due to meet with her during this past week. That was at his request, and it took about two to three months to get that meeting scheduled. I’m not aware of what you’ve just said.

Lisa Owen: So you believe that there was a meeting this week between Rebecca Kitteridge and the president?

Anjum Rahman: I understand so, but she certainly hasn’t—or no one from the organisation has contacted our organisation. I spoke to him two weeks ago when this news first came out, and he said, ‘Oh, got a meeting scheduled.’

Lisa Owen: Right. What about the Prime Minister? Because, you see, when we spoke to him on The Nation, he said he’d met with Muslim leaders, he thought, and he’d probably been to a mosque in the last year, he thought, as well. So has he spoken to you in the last year?

Anjum Rahman: He hasn’t spoken with anyone from our organisation. Again, also, the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations was elected as a new president around May or June last year and has never spoken to Mr Key.

If he has spoken to community leaders, I’m not sure who he has spoken to, whether they were localised in Auckland, but it doesn’t appear to be the national leadership. But we haven’t had any engagement either.

The Government has a duty to do what it reasonably can to protect New Zealand from international threats of terrorism, and specifically from threats from radical groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

The Government also has a duty to protect New Zealanders from persecution.

So does the media. While they put the spotlight on John Key and the Government they could do with carefully considering their own role in this.

Interview (video) at NewsHub: Turei: Key misled public over jihadi brides

Transcript from Scoop: Lisa Owen interviews Metiria Turei and Anjum Rahman

Website: Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand

Vision of IWCNZ:

Muslim women aspiring to achieve their full potential through participation and collaboration in community life in Aotearoa New Zealand with the guidance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

Included in their Principles:

  • To promote their spiritual values through understanding, acceptance, education, interaction, respect, and cultural awareness – paving a pathway to a safe and respectful environment.

  • IWCNZ shall seek to avoid any practices that are contrary to Islam and thus will endeavor to promote a platform of unity, peace, love, respect, humanity, and kinship.

 

Metiria Turei on ‘jihadi brides’

The Nation interviewed Metiria Turei yesterday: Turei: Key misled public over jihadi brides.  She accused John Key of ‘lying by omission’.

The Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the Prime Minister John Key the so-called Kiwi “jihadi brides” left from Australia, not New Zealand, six months before the first claims were made – and failed to correct the record after the story became public.

On 8 December John Key said “in my view no question that have been one or two people that have left and it would appear on all of the factors that we know that they are going as Jihadist brides”.

At the time the news was presented as “Kiwi women are joining the Islamic State to become Jihadi brides”.

Last Month (17 March) it was revealed that while they were New Zealanders travelling on New Zealand passports they had left from Australia.

Key said “whether someone leaves from Australia, from New Zealand, could leave from New Zealand, might leave from New Zealand , in my mind they are all New Zealanders.

I don’t think it has been revealed how long they had been in Australia before leaving for the Middle East.

Key has said he doesn’t think he owes New Zealand Muslim women an apology.

Turei claims that Key ‘lied by omission’ – that could be seen as a lame political accusation, all politicians could be accused of lying by not revealing everything they know. She also said she had new information.

Metiria Turei: So we have found out, the green party has found out that John Key knew in May of last year that no New Zealand women had left New Zealand to go to Iraq or Syria. He had been told that one New Zealand woman from elsewhere, from Australia, had gone, but there was no information about why she had gone, and certainly it was very clear that this New Zealand woman had not left from New Zealand.

He and Chris Finlayson both knew that as a fact, and yet at the Select Committee in later on in the year in November he made it seem to the whole country that there were New Zealand women leaving New Zealand, radicalised to become the wives of Islamic fighters.

It was completely untrue and he knew it in November when he was at that select committee meeting.

Lisa Owen: So just to be clear, you’re saying he spoke at the select committee, and when he gave interviews after the select committee, he’d known for six months that none of the so called Jihadi brides  had actually left from this country.

Metiria Turei: Well that’s right, he allowed New Zealand to think that there were increasing numbers of women in New Zealand being radicalised in New Zealand and leaving to marry Islamic fighters.

He had no information on which to make that assumption, and that is lying by omission.

That is a Prime Minister who is scaremongering, and driving up fear and suspicion, about what is actually a very vulnerable group of  New Zealanders in the current circumstances

Key may be guilty of overstating the situation, and allowing media to overstate the situation uncorrected.

Turei could be overstating her case a tad as well.

Lisa Owen: So you’re saying our Prime Minister lied.

Metiria Turei: Yes. Our Prime Minister lied to the country. He could have clarified at the Select Committee that these were, they may have been New Zealand women but they were leaving from Australia, he could have clarified immediately after the Select Committee when he was asked about it by the media, and he could have clarified it in all the time between November and March this year when he was finally found out that these women weren’t leaving from New Zealand. There is not that radicalisation happening here.

But that’s not certain either.

Lisa Owen: But the thing is, nothing the Prime Minister said was untrue, so tell me why he’s wrong.

Metiria Turei: Well but this is where you get to lying by omission. You know he’s the Prime Minister, he has a responsibility to make sure New Zealanders have accurate information about what is a incredibly serious issue.

The issues of terrorism, of Islamic State, the fear of radicalisation, we see the bombings and things on the news, people are really concerned about this stuff. And rightly so. So he has a responsibility to make sure that we have accurate and transparent information, and he deliberately kept information from New Zealanders in order, in order to drive up fear and suspicion amongst us, amongst our own communities, about each other.

Turei is doing what she has accused Key of doing. She hasn’t proven Key deliberately kept information from us. She hasn’t proven Key has deliberately tried to drive up fear and suspicion.

But Turei appears to be deliberately trying to drive up suspicion about Key’s actions (or inactions) and motives.

They play an interview response from Key two weeks ago:

John Key: There’s nothing to correct. The point is not about where they leave from. The point is are they New Zealanders. If they’re New Zealanders under the New Zealand intelligence law the only salient point is are they New Zealanders.

Back to yesterday:

Lisa Owen: Nothing to correct he says. Your response?

Metiria Turei: He’s absolutely wrong. He allowed New Zealanders to think there were Muslim women in New Zealand being radicalised and leaving here to marry Islamic fighters. He, that was wrong. That information is completely wrong. He should have been clear about that.

I think Turei is taking this too far. It’s fair to question why Key didn’t provide clarification and more details. But it’s a big step from that to say he was “completely wrong”. It was the media and Turei who seem to have got it wrong based on incomplete information.

Lisa Owen: We don’t know where they were radicalised though.

Metiria Turei: We don’t know if they were. We don’t know, even Rebecca Kitteridge, head of the SIS, said she doesn’t, they don’t know why the women from Australia  were leaving to go to Iraq and Syria.

So there’s a lack of detail known, but Turei claims that Key was “completely wrong” and “lying by omission”. He can’t say what he doesn’t know.

Metiria Turei: We do know that there are people who may be going to visit their families for example and then come home.

I think it’s safe to assume very few if any people would want to go to Syria to visit their families at present. “We know that” and “who may be” is meaningless.

Metiria Turei: There’s no evidence, he had no evidence that they were radicalised or going to marry Islamic fighters.

Lisa Owen: But we know that they are New Zealand women.

Metiria Turei: They are women who hold the New Zealand passport. They as far as we know they are domiciled in Australia.

We don’t know that. I don’t think Turei knows that.

Metiria Turei: We don’t know how long they’ve been living in Australia. It could be for years and years. John Key allowed New Zealanders to think there was…

Lisa Owen: It could have been for five minutes. or it could be in transit heading off.

If the SIS wanted to know this it would be easy for them to find out when they last left New Zealand.

Lisa Owen: Do we not have reason to be concerned though, that these are women, New Zealand passports,  heading off to areas where there is this conflict going on?

Metiria Turei: We need to know more information. This is the problem. This is what John Key’s statement does. It creates more questions, and more fear and concern, and then will not provide accurate to address those.

Turei seems to be claiming there is insufficient information known, but that Key is not providing enough information. Information that isn’t known?

Metiria Turei: This is why that select committee, that committee that John Key was on, needs a much broader  representation from Parliamentarians, like the Greens, like other political parties, so we can question and get this information out from Ministers and from the SIS, because everybody deserves to know more and to have more accurate information. John key didn’t provide it.

Information that Turei says the head of the SIS and John Key don’t have. So how would more members on the committee find out more?

It looks like the Greens would love to be on the Security Select Committee. Is that the reason for Turei’s indignation on this? Accusing Key of lying by omission is not going to help her case to be put on the committee.

A committee that is bound by security and secrecy to not reveal everything.

Lisa Owen: Wo wo wo who’s responsibility was it to correct the misinformation though, because you said that Mr Finlayson knew, and of course Rebecca Kitteridge knew, so who’s to blame, should Rebecca Kitteridge have spoken up?

Metiria Turei: She should, ah she may well have been blind sided at that Select Committee, and John Key certainly threw her under a bus when he told you actually that she was the first person to raise Jihadi brides. He lied about that as well.

It was Kitteridge who was being questioned by the Select Committee, not Key.

Metiria Turei:But John Key knew, Rebecca Kitteridge knew, and Chris Finlayson all knew that these women were not leaving from New Zealand, and at any time they could have told us and they did not. We had to go and, radio New Zealand had to go and find that information, the Greens have been going out to find that information, accurate information for new Zealanders.

But the main issue, still, is that there is very limited information publicly known.

Lisa Owen:But aren’t the spy agencies being more open than ever with us now?

Metiria Turei: Well no, actually no they’re not.

I think she’s wrong on that. We can argue about whether they tell us enough or not, but there’s certainly more openness now than ever before.

Metiria Turei:You know I have reports of SIS agents going to people’s homes and telling them that they are being watched, frightening people. I’m investigating that now because I think that’s very serious. Communities, all our communities in New Zealand need to feel safe. Safe because we are getting accurate information.

Making information about who the SIS are watching public won’t help people feel safe.

Does Turei not want the SIS to watch or investigate anyone? That’s what they are supposed to do, within reason and within the law, to help keep us safe.

Metiria Turei: Safe because we are getting accurate information. Safe because the agencies are doing a proper job. Safe because there’s a place to go if we have concerns. At the moment John Key is driving up fear and suspicion, and that makes it unsafe for everyone.

Except that key hasn’t kept bringing this issue up. Turei is promoting a fear and suspicion about ‘fear and suspicions’.

I think that most people in New Zealand don’t care much about what is happening in Syria and Iraq as long as it stays in Syria and Iraq.

Most New Zealanders probably don’t care whether a very small number of people leave from Australia on New Zealand passports headed for Syria or Iraq.

It looks to me like Turei is too busy promoting her own political agenda and is failing to ask important questions. One could say she is failing by omission.

If it’s known that women are leaving Australia on New Zealand passports for Syria or Iraq then I hope that our SIS is capable of finding out when those women were last in New Zealand.

It’s also worth considering whether it’s in the public interest in knowing what the SIS is doing, who they are watching and what the inter-country movements of people they are watching are.

Should we be given snippets of information, like the New Zealand women travelling to Syria and Iraq?

Should we be given no information and hope that our Security Intelligence Service is doing what it can, responsibly, to keep us safe?

Should the Greens have an MP on the Security and Intelligence Committee?

I think they are much more important questions than quibbling about whether Key omitted to reveal information when one of the complaints is that insufficient information is known.

Slater versus Craig and Mr X…

It’s not surprising to see Cameron Slater making the most of the revelation that Colin Craig was the Mr X in the Dirty Politics booklet attacking Slate that was delivered to letter boxes around the country. Fair enough, Craig makes himself an easy target.

Interesting that the first post on this at Whale Oil was The Nation skewers Colin Craig for his subterfuge over Mr X at 8:30 am this morning, nearly 24 hours after The Nation skewered Craig. Whale Oil has often been slow in reacting to breaking news lately.

That post almost entirely comprises a transcript of of the interview at The Nation. That looks certainly to have been copied and pasted from my Colin Craig’s ‘Mr X’ post from yesterday, incorrect spelling and punctuation included.

It’s interesting to see that Slater follows and reads Your NZ, and not surprising to see he takes content without attribution. That’s not how a journalist should operate.

Later today posted under ‘Cameron Slater’ (as has often been pointed out, it’s never certain who has written these posts) is Analysing Mr X and Colin Craig.

This post hammers Craig’s “well known literary device”.

There’s also som interesting comments from “Cameron Slater’ that are worth pointing out and keeping on record.

These words will haunt Colin Craig now it is revealed that he is Mr X. He is going to have to explain to the court how his own statements here can be true and at the same time claim that he has been defamed…

This is going to lead to an easy claim of malice…

Unfazed people don’t go about causing lawsuits.

His idiocy and foolishness are now going to cost him. He has made stuff up, he has done so out of malice, and the very thing he was complaining about he has now partaken in. But the thing is he got busted. This was all a subterfuge, done in order to garner sympathy, but all based on a  pretence, a lie and falsehoods.

A liar, a flake and a political retard.

Colin Craig likes to quote the bible:

flasewitnessand George Washington:

washingtonWhen it comes to truth he should take heed of those words, and I will quote another famous person..John in Chapter 8:32:

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Fair enough for ‘Cameron Slater’ to throw this at Craig, but there could be a certain amount of irony involved.

Craig may not be the only one who has been playing at ‘Mr X’ type subterfuge.

The Nation: Little and Labour repeating failed strategies

On The Nation yesterday (replayed today Sunday on TV3 at 10 am) Labour leader Andrew Little was interviewed by Lisa Owen.It was followed by a panel discussion.

Lisa Owen wraps up the political week with former Green candidate Marama Davidson, Victoria University political scientist Jon Johansson & rightb wing commentator and PR consultant Matthew Hooton.

TheNationPanelAug2015

Here are comments on the interview from the discussion.

Owen: We heard from Andrew little there, and is he looking like a Prime Minister in waiting?

Hooton: I think he’s really struggling on the transition from being a union leader to being a Parliamentary leader and a potential Prime Minister. On every issue he addressed he ended up waffling, on every single topic that came up except possibly on the Health and Safety issue where he probably was a bit stronger because it’s his background.

But whether it was the TPP, mining, or even whether Winston Peters might be Prime Minister in a Labour led Government, he waffled.

Johansson: Well I mean one, he’s experiencing what is being experienced on both sides of politics now, which is the real problem post MMP from a leadership perspective is being the Opposition leader.

And where I was very interested in his comments today was they have not moved on from this sitting back passive sitting back role in terms of promoting relationships with other parties.

Now given the numbers Labour simply cannot form a Government without coalition partners, and we all understand that, and I think the lesson I most learnt from the last three years up to 2014 is it takes three years, a full three years of effort, to get a message through to the New Zealand electorate that I am a credible alternative and this is what it’s going to look like, this is who I’m going to share power with, and these are some broad strokes of what we’re going to do.

None of that today. They’re not interested in that. And so for me if they replayed that ad, National’s successful ad with the rowing boat, what has changed?  Absolutely nothing.

LabourRowboat

Except that Winston Peters now sees himself sitting on in the middle of the boat with a megaphone too.

Owen: Well the thing is if you look at that speech he gave recently you could have thought that on Green policy, you would have thought if you didn’t know it was him you could have thought it was Metiria Turei delivering that speech. So in some ways are they moving towards the Greens, and then in other ways policy wise moving towards Winston Peters?

Davidson: There is policy compatibility with the Greens and Labour and one of the substance things, he had a hard interview for sure Andrew Little, but one of the substance points I picked out is that he is maintaining working hard with good relationships across the Opposition party, Labour and Greens continue to work well together

And in terms of coalition partners just as Jon was highlighting most New Zealanders actually choose Greens ahead of other parties to be as their most preferred coalition partner.

Davidson usually seems more intent on promoting the Greens rather than analysing the issue under discussion. And the Greens virtually rule out considering a coalition with National.

Owen: If that’s the case though what Jon’s saying though is he’s not being up front and saying it out loud is he.

Johansson: All I think is why would any voter who is tired of John Key and his Goverment, what is the alternative which they are turning to? It is not being presented to them. They don’t know actually what the next would look like if they want to move away from a National led Government.

Hooton: It was a terrible interview by Andrew Little and i don’t think it was an unreasonable interview, he was asked about the major policy issues of the day and he had no answers on any of them. So, you know, he’s just simply not there yet. Your three year rule (to Johansson) has got two years to go.

Owen: Is it too soon though to be lining yourself up with…

Johansson: No. Because they should have demonstrated to themselves the failed strategy of the last three years shouldn’t be projected onto the next three years. They’re replicating a failed strategy.

That’s fairly damning from Johansson, but Little or someone within Labour needs to take urgent and serious note. Johansson is not Mike Hosking or Paul Henry or Matthew Hooton.

It looks like Labour are repeating past failed strategies. It looks like Little is repeating the mistakes of past leaders.

It looks like Labour are trying to row their boat sideways into a strong current and are ignoring advice to turn things around a bit.

I’m not anti Labour. I’d like to think that at some stage in the future I might seriously consider voting for Labour again (the last time I voted for them was in 2005).

But I’m anti incompetence.

Link to video: Interview: Labour Leader Andrew Little