Dunedin’s problem MPs

There has been a poor record with Dunedin MPs this century.

David Benson-Pope asked to be relived of his portfolios in 2005 after he was accused of bullying as a teacher, resigned as a Minister in 2007 and was not selected to stand in his Dunedin South electorate in 2008.

Metiria Turei in 2017.

Clare Curran in 2018

David Clark lost portfolio and was demoted to the bottom of Cabinet in 2020 and would have been sacked as a minister altogether if not for the Covid-19 pandemic (his knowledge as Minister of Health was deemed important enough to retain him in a crisis).

David Benson-Pope was a Labour Member of Parliament for Dunedin South from 1999 to 2008, and a Cabinet Minister from 2005-2008.

May 2005: Benson-Pope steps down as bully inquiry looms

David Benson-Pope stood down from the Cabinet last night until an inquiry decides whether he administered cruel punishment to former pupils and assaulted one of them.

The allegations were raised again last night on TV3 after three of the five accusers identified themselves. One included a man who says that as a 14-year-old he had a tennis ball stuffed in his mouth. They were all students of Bayfield High School in Dunedin, where Mr Benson-Pope taught for 24 years. They say there are other witnesses to some of the alleged incidents.

The accusations against him include throwing tennis balls at students to keep them quiet, striking a pupil with the back of his hand and making the pupil’s nose bleed at a school camp, and caning a student hard enough to draw blood.

Mr Benson-Pope asked to be relieved of his portfolios, the compulsory education sector and fisheries.

Helen Clark referred to the allegations as “the start of what is a rather ugly election campaign, where a desperate and dateless Opposition will drag out whatever it can to smear the character of whoever they can”.

Benson-Pope was reelected in 2005, became a Minister in the next Labour-led government but had more problems, leading to his resignation as a Minister in 2007. From Wikipedia:

After a week of intense pressure focusing not only on the allegation that his staff had acted improperly, but also that he himself had misled Parliament, the media and his Prime Minister about his knowledge and involvement, Benson-Pope offered his resignation from Cabinet at noon on Friday 27 July 2007. Subsequent investigations by the State Services Commissioners Hunn and Prebble make it clear that neither the Minister nor his staff acted in any way inappropriately.

Prime Minister Helen Clark accepted the resignation, saying: “The way in which certain issues have been handled this week has led to a loss of credibility and on that basis I have accepted Mr Benson-Pope’s offer to stand aside”. An editorial commented “Not for the first time, he and the Government have been embarrassed less for what he has done than for his inability to simply say what he has done.”

Benson Pope sought the Labour nomination for Dunedin South for the 2008 election but was replaced by Clare Curran.

Metiria Turei was a Green list MP based in Dunedin North from 2002 to 2017, becoming Green co-leader in 2009. In the lead up to the 2017 election she admitted to benefit fraud over a period of three years in the early 1990s and after the Green Party plummeted in the polls she resigned as co-leader and withdrew from the Green list, stood in the Te Tai Tonga electorate only and failed to get back into Parliament. Wikipedia:

Turei resigned as co-leader of the Green Party and as a list candidate for the 2017 election on 9 August 2017, saying that the “scrutiny on [her] family has become unbearable.” She stated that her intention was to not return to Parliament after the election. Not being on the list meant that, if she failed to win the electorate of Te Tai Tonga where she was standing, she would not return to Parliament after the election. During August, the Green party fell in opinion polls to around the 5% threshold, below which there wouldn’t be representation in Parliament, and Labour’s new leader, Jacinda Ardern, generated such a turnaround that by the end of the month, Labour overtook National in the ratings.

“Metiria Turei’s spectacular own goal in admitting to benefit and electoral fraud not only effectively ended her career but also took down two of her colleagues, savaged a healthy poll rating and led to Labour’s changing of the guard and reversal of fortunes.”
— Clare de Lore, New Zealand Listener

Clare Curran took over in Dunedin South from Benson-Pope in 2008 and became a Cabinet Minister in the Labour led government in 2017. Wikipedia:

In late March 2018, Curran became the subject of media attention after it emerged that she had secretly met with Radio New Zealand broadcaster and senior manager Carol Hirschfeld on 5 December 2017 outside of parliamentary business. Curran initially claimed the meeting was coincidental but later admitted it had been pre-arranged. These revelations led to Hirschfeld’s resignation from her position as senior manager at Radio NZ. The meeting was related to the Labour-led government’s plans to expand public broadcasting through Radio New Zealand.

On 24 August 2018, Prime Minister Ardern dismissed Curran from the Cabinet after Curran acknowledged that she had kept a second meeting off the records. In February, Curran had met with tech entrepreneur Derek Handley at her Beehive office to discuss his interest in the vacant Chief Technology Officer role. Curran had failed to disclose the meeting in her ministerial diary and to inform staff or officials about it. Curran apologized to the Prime Minister for her actions and also resigned from her positions as Minister of Government Digital Services and Minister of Open Government. Curran kept her Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and associate ACC portfolios.

On 5 September 2018, Curran “appeared flustered” and “stumbled over her answers” when answering questions during question time from opposition National MP Melissa Lee regarding Curran’s use of a personal Gmail account for Ministerial use.[34] Two days later Curran resigned as a Minister of Broadcasting and Associate Minister of ACC, saying she could “no longer endure the relentless pressure I’ve been under”.

On 27 August 2019, Curran announced that she would be retiring from Parliament and not seek election at the 2020 general election.

David Clark became Labour MP for Dunedin North in 2011. He became a Cabinet Minister in the incoming Labour-led government in 2017. As Minister of Health he had a key role dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. New Zealand was put into lockdown on Thursday 26 March. A week later it was revealed that Clark had driven to a mountain bike park for a ride during the lockdown, a marginal action under the lockdown rules.

Clark avoided interviews and said little for four days until he revealed that in the first weekend of the lockdown he had driven 20 km with his family to a beach, which clearly breached the rules and the repeated requests from Prime Minister Ardern.  Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark:

“Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.

“But right now, my priority is our collective fight against COVID-19. We cannot afford massive disruption in the health sector or to our response. For that reason, and that reason alone, Dr Clark will maintain his role.

“But he does need to pay a price. He broke the rules.

“While he maintains his Health portfolio, I am stripping him of his role as Associate Finance Minister and demoting him to the bottom of our Cabinet rankings.

Journalists see his ministerial career at least as untenable after the Covid-crisis, or after the next election. Asked after this if he would stand for reelection Clark has been non-committal.

That’s a poor record from Dunedin based MPs over the past 15 years.

It hasn’t been all bad.

Pete Hodgson was Labour MP for Dunedin North from 1990 to 2011 And was a Cabinet Minister in the Clark led government from 1999 to 2008, including as Minister of Health. He is now working on behalf of Clark managing the Dunedin Hospital rebuild.

Michael Woodhouse has been National list MP for Dunedin North from 2008 to the present, became a Minister outside Cabinet in 2013 in the Key Government and served various ministerial roles through to 2017.

Current senior Ministers in the Ardern Government Grant Robertson and David Parker are based elsewhere now but have strong connections to Dunedin.

Politician scores for 2018

It’s that time of year when political journalists rate the politicians on their performances.

Tracy Watkins: After a huge year in politics, one politician stands out

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern 9.5

I think that’s very generous. Ardern has done well at some things – especially her public performances and her rapport with journalists – but despite Watykins’ gushing, I think Ardern still has a lot to prove. As has her Government. That it didn’t turn to custard in it’s first year is an achievement, but just. I’d give Ardern a 7.5 but she will need to sort out quite a bit next year.

  • Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters 8.5

Also generous. Peters did an adequate job when standing in as Acting PM, and hasn’t dragged the Government down – yet. But he has also been smarmy, cantankerous and cranky at times. I think he deserves a pass mark but little more.

  • Finance Minister Grant Robertson 8.5

Helped substantially by a healthy economy he inherited Robertson has done pretty well so far so 8.5 is deserved.

  • Deputy Labour Leader Kelvin Davis 5.0

It’s true that Davis has been terrible as a deputy leader, but he was plonked there and although obviously a fish out of water he has been left in that position. It just doesn’t suit him.  But he has been doing a lot of good work out of the spotlight, in particularly he has helped prison numbers drop by 10%, averting a crisis. He seems to work well doing hard yards rather than floozing around with PR and the press. I’d give him a 7.5 for the parts of his job that matter.

  • Trade Minister David Parker 8.0

Parker seems to have done well in Trade – in particular, he switched Labour from opposed to ratifying the TPPA with barely a whimper from protesters who were going ballistic when the National Government nearly got it over the line. A rare commodity in Cabinet – experience.

  • Housing Minister Phil Twyford 6.5

He is also doing Transport. In major roles he is a big risk for Labour, and 6.5 seems ridiculous given Twyford looks like a dipstick out of his depth far too often.

  • Justice Minister Andrew Little 7.0

Little made some mistakes but has learnt from them, and generally seems to be doing a good job, including working towards some promising looking reforms.

  • Climate Change Minister James Shaw 7.0

It’s hard to know how well Shaw has been doing on Climate Change. He has been largely invisible. His year may be judged better after the outcome of the current COP24 climate conference in Poland is known. We are still lacking clarity on what his energy alternatives will look like in practice – phasing out fossil fuels as Shaw proposes leaves a big hole to fill, and that will need more than idealistic dreams. Shaw has also given little priority to leadership of the Greens, and it shows.  His party looks like two parts now, with three Ministers toiling away while the rest of the MPs still acting like they are Opposition activists still. I’d give him a 6.0 but he needs to start showing results.

  • National Leader Simon Bridges 6.5

Generous. He has had internal party problems (Jami-lee Ross in particular). And he continues to fail to impress with his presentation – more cringe than charisma. And he has made some poor policy and attack decisions. I’d give him a 5 for surviving as leader but he has a lot to learn and a lot of improvements to make if he is to succeed.

  • Deputy Paula Bennett 6.5

I’m not sure what Bennett has done apart from transform her physical appearance. I haven’t seen enough of actual political achievements to think of an appropriate number.

  • Finance spokeswoman Amy Adams 6.0

Probably a fair score, competent but unremarkable. She has a difficult job criticising the Government on finance with the economy going well.

  • Housing spokeswoman Judith Collins 8.0

Really? Collins works with media and social media well, but she got nowhere near a serious challenge to Bridges, and she symbolises leadership-coup-in-waiting, probably intentionally, which is not good for National.

  • Justice spokesman Mark Mitchell: 8.0
  • Michael Woodhouse 8.0
  • Paul Goldsmith 7.5

They have adapted from Government to Opposition better than most.

  • Jami-lee Ross 1.0

Generous. I guess he is still an MP, but in name only, he is still on sick leave.

Party front bench ratings:

  • National 7.5
  • Labour 6

Probably fair. Too many of the Labour front bench are struggling. Watkins didn’t rate Megan Woods, Chris Hipkins, Carmel Sepuloni, David Clark, Nanaia Mahuta, Stuart Nash.

I’ll give a special mention to two rooky back benchers who have taken to quite different roles very capably.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has done a lot of hard work, especially on drug law reform, and unlike some of her colleagues hasn’t been looking like an out of place activist. A very promising list MP.

National MP Hamish Walker scored the safe Clutha-Southland electorate that had been very controversial last term when Todd Barclay proved unsuitable as an MP. In contrast Walker has been doing the hard yards in the largest electorate in the country working on things that matter to his constituents. He is a model first term electorate MP – work hard locally and keep out of the national spotlight while you learn the ropes.

 

 

 

Parliament – ‘anti-Māori’ and racism implications

The referencing of referencing family of MPs, plus hints of and MP being ‘anti-Māori,r arose in an exchange in Parliament today, in relation to the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner. There’s co clear conclusion (to me) but some interesting discussion.

It came out of this primary question:

8. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does her Government expect high standards from all Government departments and Ministers?

It starts at 2:36…

Chris Bishop: Does she have confidence in her Government’s professional independence from Mr Haumaha when her police Minister gives him a shout-out in his workout videos, her Deputy Prime Minister attended a celebration on a marae for his appointment as assistant commissioner, her foreign affairs under-secretary has whānau links to him, and he was previously announced as a candidate for New Zealand First?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Sorry, I am going to go back to that question and not require but ask the member to think very carefully about rewording it. We have had a tradition in this House, wherever possible, of not including the actions of family members—certainly within question time. I’d ask the member to reflect on his question and, if he agrees with me that that is unhealthy, to rephrase it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely we have to have some accuracy in the questioning in this House. Mr Bishop began by talking about what, in effect, is an allegation of witness tampering. So the real issue, sir, for you to judge is: who is this witness who is being tampered that he talked about? The fact is the person is not a witness. The person may be a complainant, and there’s a huge difference. He’s putting the two together quite naively and mistakenly and getting away with it in the House when he should be stopped.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I think if we had the degree of exactitude that the Deputy Prime Minister is advocating, we’d have quite a few members on both sides of the House who wouldn’t be able to answer or ask a single question. Mr Bishop—going back to where we were at.

Chris Bishop: Did the panel convened by the State Services Commission to interview the short-listed candidates for the job of the Deputy Commissioner of Police recommend that Mr Haumaha be the preferred candidate for the job?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m not going to get into elements of an issue that is now being independently assessed by an independent inquirer.

Hon Paula Bennett: When the Prime Minister just previously said, as she did yesterday, that, actually, he cannot be either stood down or on garden leave because it would be the decision of the commissioner and that she can’t do it, is she aware that under section 13 of the Policing Act, the deputy commissioner’s role is a statutory appointment that holds office at the pleasure of the Governor-General on the advice of her, the Prime Minister, and that she has the power to act?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That includes them acting in that role of employment. What the member was asking about was whether I had the ability to stand someone down when there had been no formal process, and we’re undertaking an inquiry to ensure natural justice provisions apply, because the threshold test here is incredibly high. If the member is asking about gardening leave or temporary stand downs, that threshold, of course, is very different, and that is employment matter for the Commissioner of Police.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise an issue that is troubling a number of us on this side of the House: the regularity with which those of us who enjoy Māori ancestry—and I direct your attention to Speakers’ rulings 39/4-5. I accept in the roundhouse of politics it is tough, but I am particularly irked by the allegation that Mr Bishop made, enjoying private briefings from dissolute elements in the police force, that he has labelled those of us, essentially, by talking about Fletcher Tabuteau and Winston Peters, as somehow not passing the test of parliamentary probity. And I’d invite you to reflect on it, because it will lead to a substantial bout of disorder from the House. Now, I’m not suggesting that Mr Bishop is anti-Māori, and, quite frankly, I don’t care if he is, but it is an important principle, with the number of Māori in the House—whether they’re urban Māori or broader traditional Māori—that you contemplate that situation, because we’re not going to put up with it for one more day.

Hon Paula Bennett: As one of those Māori, there is actually also a convention that we express our conflicts of interest for our whānau and particularly when we are looking at making statutory appointments, and this side of the House has a right to question that.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, yes, I would have made the same point that the Hon Paula Bennett has made, because what Mr Jones is effectively doing is saying that if there is a statutory appointment that involves someone who identifies as being a Māori New Zealander, then that process can’t be questioned and nor can anything that would make the suitability of that person appropriate for that. But further than that, sir, you sat there while Mr Jones referred to another member of this House, effectively, as having some racial bias, and that’s a completely unacceptable thing for him to do.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The allegation that someone is a cousin and therefore is biased in the choice of someone in a governmental job is so demonstrably false when the person doesn’t go to the lengths to describe how far removed that relationship might be. If he were Scottish or Māori, he might understand that this would include 7,500 people. But no such attempt is made. It’s the insinuation that because that relationship, distant though it might be, nevertheless corrupts the member’s mind in being impartial, and that’s unfair.

Mr SPEAKER: I am in a position to rule. Members may have forgotten that I intervened on Mr Bishop’s question and asked him to reword it, because I thought the tone of it was not consistent with the way that we have gone as a country over the last number of decades. He reflected on that and, despite the opportunity, decided not to repeat the question in that form and I want to thank him for that.

There are a lot of elements of judgment in this. I, of course, don’t want to indicate that people cannot be questioned where there are seen to be untoward influences and of course that is the case, but what I did indicate was that I thought it was particularly important where family matters are being brought into account that people are either very specific or very careful and not general in allegations.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Precedent in rulings in this House are very important, because they do guide the House. I’d ask that you have a look back through, I think, the mid-part of 2015 when a then prominent member of the Opposition, now a very, very prominent member of this House, was asking questions of a Minister of the then Government that related directly to a family member. Those questions were allowed, they stood, and they went on for quite some days. When you’ve gone back over those transcripts and perhaps reflected on the wisdom of the course of action taken by the prominent Opposition member, now a very prominent member of Parliament, could you perhaps bring down a ruling that brings all of these things together. I think the general allegation made against the Parliament by Mr Jones today that it is somehow racially selective to bring up an issue that relates to the appointment of a person who is of New Zealand Māori descent is a very, very backward step for this Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER: I don’t feel any need to bring back a considered ruling on it. I think the matter is pretty clear. Speaker’s ruling 41/1 makes it clear that people should avoid referring to MPs families in their private capacities. It is all right to refer to family members who have official roles, and that is a ruling of long standing. It is also all right where there is a clear intersection of the public business of an MP and a Minister and the actions of a family member, and that is an area of longstanding ruling where there is a suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on the part of a Minister in favour of a family member—that is the subject of questioning in the House and will always continue to be.

 

ACT second in attempt to attract some support

NZ First, ACT second? That’s how it looks with new ACT policy announced at their annual conference today, but while taking on NZ First policies may have attracted a bit of media attention the party needs to find a way of attracting more supporters than they got to their conference.

The policy is to reduce the number of MPs to 100, reduce the number of electorates and scrap the Maori seats.

I guess that would give ACT a chance of improving their power in Parliament fro  1/120 to 1/100, but with National out of power it is closer to 0/0.

If Seymour’s member’s bill got drawn (a long shot) and made it through Parliament (I doubt there’s any chance of that this term) it would then go to a referendum.


ACT will deliver fewer politicians

ACT is drawing a line in the sand on the size of government with a new bill aimed at rolling back the the state.

Party Leader David Seymour today revealed his Smaller Government Bill which will reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs, limit the size of the Executive to 20 Ministers, and remove the Maori seats.

“The growth in government over the past two decades has not delivered better outcomes for New Zealand. We need smaller, smarter government”, says Mr Seymour.

“New Zealand has too many politicians for its size. Our Government costs more and delivers less than it did 20 years ago.

“The Smaller Government Bill will cut the size of Parliament 100 MPs, bringing us into line with other developed countries.

“It will also restrict the number of high-paid Ministers to 20. Our Executive is far too big – currently standing at 31 people.

“Almost half of the Government MPs hold a position in the Executive. We have too many pointless ministerial portfolios. They are not improving the lives of New Zealanders and this bill will do away with them.

“The bill will also remove the Maori seats. New Zealand is a modern, diverse democracy. There is simply no longer a place for one group of people to be treated differently under the law.

“We now have 27 Maori MPs, 20 of whom were elected through the general roll. Even without the seven Maori seats, Maori would still be proportionately represented in Parliament.

“Our plan would also require all parliamentary candidates to stand in an electorate, and all elected list MPs would be required to open an office in the electorate in which they stood.

“List MPs serve an important function in our democracy, but they should be required to serve New Zealanders and solve real problems, not just collect a salary and spend their time in a Wellington office.

“New Zealand needs smaller, smarter government. ACT is the only party with a practical workable solutions for achieving just that”, says Mr Seymour.

National caucus retreat

National MPs are heading to a two day retreat in Tauranga to ‘build on policies’. Note that it is ‘a retreat’ and not ‘retreat’.

It’s a long way out from the next election to be building on policies, they have plenty of time and opportunity to do that. I expect they will spend some time on their strategies as an Opposition party as well.

RNZ: Nats retreat a chance to build on policies – English

The getaway in Tauranga – the party’s first since its election loss – is a chance for MPs to take stock of their performance and plan for the year ahead.

 

In a statement, Mr English said the retreat would focus on “building on the policies which received such significant support at the election” and devising new policies.

“[The] National Party will continue to outline a clear plan and direction to make that happen as we attempt to earn the right to govern again in 2020.

“By contrast, the new government has just spent five days in Waitangi and not presented a single specific idea on how to improve the lives of New Zealanders – a pattern which has quickly emerged since October.”

He said National was Parliament’s largest party and its “most popular”.

Mr English said last week he did not expect any leadership discussion over the two-day meeting.

“If anything, a bit of a burst of speculation like this has probably hardened up support,” he said.

There appears to be a bit of political mischief involved in the ‘speculation’.

It comes after a series of reports last week that some in the party were agitating for a change in command.

While leader Bill English appeared on safe ground, some National MPs privately told RNZ there was discontent about deputy Paula Bennett.

Some MPs met last night at the home of local MP Simon Bridges for a BBQ ahead of the retreat at Trinity Wharf Hotel. It’s understood the dinner was organised by Mrs Bennett.

 

A political BBQ is often associated, rightly or wrongly, with flaming of leaders.

I doubt there will be any serious challenges to English while he chooses to remain in charge, but Barry Soper continues to stoke things along for someone.

Newstalk ZB: Resignations predicted from National

There are expected to be resignations from National Party MPs in the near future, as turmoil in the party continues.

Turmoil? It would have been a big surprise if some National MPs didn’t resign this term.

Newstalkzb Political editor Barry Soper says that alongside MPs will be at least four candidates who’re next on the party list.

“That would strongly indicate that MPs are planning to resign, with former speaker David Carter and former Treaty negotiations minister Chris Finlayson the most likely,” he says.

Or it could simply indicate the prudent inclusion of peeople on the list who are likely to become MPs over the next two and a half years.

The caucuses annual photograph, planned for early March, has also been postponed, a further sign, Soper says, of impending resignations.

Really? Soper seems to be trying to read tea leaves, forgetting that tea bags took over decades ago.

Soper says that there seems to be a refusal amongst party insiders to accept they lost the election.

Are they calling for a recount? Are they calling for renegotiations of a coalition? Are they calling for the impeachment of Jacinda Ardern?  Are National MPs trying to sit on the wrong side of the House?

I have often seen claims of “a refusal amongst party insiders to accept they lost the election”, but with no evidence.

“Until they get over the loss and their dislike of Winston Peters, the party will find it hard to move on and analyse how they blew it by alienating the New Zealand First leader.

National successfully alienated Peters in 2014, and unsuccessfully tried to bury NZ First in 2017. You win some and lose some in politics.

Any party that has been in power for nine years has some difficulty ‘moving on’ and getting used to being relatively irrelevant and powerless – Labour took nearly nine years after their loss in 2008.

The impression I got was that English and National looked resigned to losing power once Peters became pivotal in deciding who would lead the government last year, as if they viewed it as there time was up. And there may have been some relief that they dodged a bullet.

They have a lot of work to do to establish themselves as an effective opposition and prepare themselves for the next election.

However in the main National’s future is reliant on the performance of the current Government. If Ardern and peters do reasonably well, and the Greens hang in there, it will be their election to win or lose in 2020, and National won’t be able to do much about it, no matter who their leader is.

The retreat in Tauranga is a small step on their way to holding things together until they get another shot at taking over.

 

National Opposition spokesperson roles

Bill English has announced the roles for MPs in the National Opposition.


National Party Leader Bill English has unveiled a strong Opposition team which will hold the Government to account and ensure it does not squander the opportunities New Zealanders have created for our country in recent years.

“New Zealand is doing well, with low unemployment, thousands of jobs being created every month, strong public services and New Zealanders getting ahead,” Mr English says.

“That’s a direct result of the hard work and dedication of New Zealanders who have operated confidently with the support of a clear and consistent economic plan and a government focused on achieving measurable results.

“We will be pushing the new Government to maintain that success and that focus.

“Today I am announcing our Opposition lineup which makes the most use of our dedicated and talented caucus. We are the largest Opposition Party New Zealand has ever seen, and the largest party in Parliament. We will ensure we make those numbers count.

“I have ensured we make the most of the experience and knowledge of our former ministers, while also utilising the talents of our large caucus who are passionate about New Zealand’s future.

“All but the latest intake of MPs have been allocated portfolios. Those MPs will be given time to understand Parliamentary processes and work alongside our spokespeople, and be allocated portfolios in due course.

“We will be a strong and loyal Opposition. We are ambitious for New Zealand – and we remain committed to building a stronger, more confident and more prosperous nation.

“We will work tirelessly to ensure New Zealand continues to succeed and New Zealanders continue to get ahead, while holding the current Government to account on any decisions that place that progress at risk.”

National Party Spokesperson Allocations 2 November 2017

Spokesperson for Associate roles
Rt Hon Bill English
Leader of the Opposition
National Security
Hon Paula Bennett
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Children
Women
Social Investment
Hon Steven Joyce Finance
Infrastructure
Hon Gerry Brownlee Foreign Affairs
Fisheries
Land Information
Hon Simon Bridges Shadow Leader of the House
Economic and Regional Development
Immigration
Hon Amy Adams Justice
Workplace Relations and Safety (incl Pike River)
Hon Jonathan Coleman Health
Sport and Recreation
Hon Christopher Finlayson Shadow Attorney General
Commerce
GCSB
NZSIS
Hon Judith Collins Transport
Revenue
Hon Michael Woodhouse Housing
Social Housing
Hon Nathan Guy Primary Industries
Hon Nikki Kaye Education
Hon Todd McClay Trade
State Services
Hon Paul Goldsmith Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment
Arts, Culture and Heritage
Hon Louise Upston Social Development
Hon Anne Tolley Nomination for Deputy Speaker
Rt Hon David Carter State Owned Enterprises
Hon Nick Smith Forestry
Aquaculture
Hon Maggie Barry Conservation
Hon Alfred Ngaro Courts
Community and Voluntary Sector
Pacific Peoples
Hon Mark Mitchell Defence
Hon Nicky Wagner Disability Issues
Hon Jacqui Dean Tourism
Small Business
Hon David Bennett Food Safety
Racing
Associate Immigration
Hon Tim Macindoe ACC
Hon Scott Simpson Environment
Planning
Jami-Lee Ross Senior Whip
Local Government
Associate Transport
Barbara Kuriger Biosecurity
Rural Communities
Junior Whip
Matt Doocey Greater Christchurch Regeneration
Mental Health
Third Whip
Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi Internal Affairs Associate Police
Melissa Lee Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media
Ethnic Affairs
Jonathan Young Energy and Resources
Joanne Hayes Whānau Ora Associate Children
Ian McKelvie Seniors
Veterans
Simon O’Connor Corrections
Jian Yang Statistics Associate Ethnic Affairs
Andrew Bayly Building Regulation Associate Commerce
Chris Bishop Police
Youth
Sarah Dowie Early Childhood Education
Brett Hudson ICT
Government Digital Services
Nuk Korako Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
Māori Development
Todd Muller Climate Change
Crown/Māori Relations
Parmjeet Parmar Science and Innovation
Shane Reti Data Associate Health
Alastair Scott Customs Associate Regional Development
Stuart Smith Civil Defence
Earthquake Commission

Portfolio allocations with images: National_Party_Portfolios.pdf


That’s 46 of the 56 National MPs who have been given spokesperson roles.

Barclay absent on full pay

Stuff tries to keep the Barclay story going:  He’s making $3000 a week but no-one knows if Todd Barclay will ever return to Parliament

It remains unclear whether embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay will return to Parliament before retiring at the election in September.

Barclay has been absent from the House and select committees since he announced he would stand down in June over further revelations about his alleged illegal taping of a staff-member.

Parliament is currently in recess but will sit for a further four weeks prior to the election. Barclay is the deputy chair of both the Education and Science and Primary Production select committees.

Senior whip Jami-Lee Ross and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie are travelling to Queenstown on Tuesday to meet with Barclay.

Ross said he would likely be talking to Barclay about whether he was coming back to Parliament or not.

“I don’t know if he’s made a decision yet. I’m sure that will come up in the conversation – we’ll discuss if and when he does come back to Parliament.”

 

The young MP, who usually has a busy schedule, hasn’t been spotted at a single public event – even when other National MPs have visited the electorate.

It is understood he was even absent from a National Party fundraiser in Queenstown on Friday, which deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett attended.

Barclay was active on Twitter up until June 19.

Since then, nothing.

Not many jobs allow you to keep getting paid while not working. In this case Barclay is very generously paid.

At least he doesn’t seem to be clocking up travel expenses.

This doesn’t look good, he should either be working as an MP or he should resign.

But comparatively, how bad is this?

How much value do taxpayers get out of back bench Government MPs? Especially list MPs?

How much value do we get out of opposition MPs?

John Key and David Cunliffe resigned as soon as they could while avoiding triggering a by-election. They aren’t being paid, but they have left their electorates unrepresented.

How many MPs are spending a lot if not most of their time campaigning? Working for their re-election and not working for the country?

Winston Peters spends a lot of time and money on a leader’s salary campaigning all over the country.

The Green co-leaders and most if not all Green MPs went to Nelson on Sunday to launch their election campaign. Perhaps they all paid for their own travel (presumably not by bicycle) and accommodation.

Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern have been campaigning for months. Who is paying for that?

Who paid for Matt McCarten’s salary while he set up a ‘non-partisan’ campaign using foreign students? And the other Labour staffers’ salaries? Has Stuff investigated that yet?

Barclay’s situation seems farcical, but his skiving off on full salary is not a lot more wasteful than a lot of Parliamentary expenses.

Labour’s Maori MPs opt off list

Just last week Labour’s Maori MPs seemed at odds with leader Andrew Little over their wishes about their placement on this year’s party list. See Little versus Maori MPs on list placement.

During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.

“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”

When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.

But:

The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.

The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.

These MPs seem to have suddenly decided to jump on board with their leader, in fact they have now said they don’t want to be on the list at all.

Andrew Little yesterday: Māori MPs backed to win seats

The Labour Party is backing a request from its Māori seat MPs to stand as electorate MPs only, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“We’re confident our outstanding Māori electorate MPs will win their seats.

“We take nothing for granted and our MPs will be working hard to win the trust of voters. But we’re very confident they’ll make the case this coming election given the strength of our plans and Labour’s record of delivering for Māori in government.”

Under Labour Party rules a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances.

“This is a statement of Labour’s intent,” says Labour Party President Nigel Haworth.

So “special circumstances” seems to mean simply if Labour considers it a good campaign tactic.

“We back our Māori electorate MPs 100 per cent to win their seats which is why the Party agreed to the waiver. They’re an excellent group of MPs who have Labour values and Maori aspirations in the forefront of all their work.”

Māori Vice-President Tane Phillips said the decision to grant the waiver underlined how important it was for Labour to secure all the Māori seats.

“We have a strong Māori team who have worked hard to promote what matters to Māori. They are looking for a mandate so we can really start making a difference for Māori in government.”

Andrew Little says the decision was a direct challenge by the Māori MPs to the Māori Party.

“The Māori Party has failed Māori during the nine years they have been shackled to National.

“They have neglected their people for too long, thinking that the crumbs that fall off the Cabinet table are all that matters. What matters to Labour is making a positive difference for Māori.

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

That was followed soon after by Kelvin Davis in Labour’s Māori MPs show strength

All of Labour’s Māori electorate members of Parliament have opted out of being on the list, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

“We approached the party and asked to stay off the list as a show of strength, unity and confidence in our ability to build on the success that we enjoyed at the last election.

“Labour winning six of the seven Māori electorate seats was Māori showing us we’re the preferred political party to address Māori issues. The numbers were in our favour and we’re looking to improve.

“Our election strategy is about showing how the Māori Party has failed Māori during nine years of being tethered to National’s waka.

“We back ourselves to help Māori make progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education.

“Labour has five Māori MPs in the Shadow Cabinet and we’re all up to prove why we should have the party vote.

“We’re determined to show we’re an integral part of the Labour movement. We’re committed to working together to show how Māori will be much better served with a strong Labour Māori voice in Cabinet,” says Kelvin Davis.

This could be a smart and gutsy move, but it could just as easily backfire.

It is a clear attempt to try and have the Maori Party dumped from Parliament. Labour is claiming to be the sole party necessary to represent Maori interests. I don’t know where the growing Green Maori caucus fits in there.

Maori voters have proven to be good at tactical voting, far more so  than most general electorates. They have shifted support to NZ First in the 1990s, then back to Labour, then went with the Maori Party when they split, and has been shifting back to Labour.

Stuff: Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

The move is designed to increase Maori representation in the Labour caucus and could boost the chances of more Maori getting in on the list, such as broadcaster Willie Jackson and Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime, if they get winnable list spots.

The only thing that will boost the chances of non-electorate Maori MPs is if they are placed on the list in relation to non-Maori who are unlikely to win electorates.

Only three Labour list MPs made it into Parliament after the last election, with Little only just making the cut.

Little and other current MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard will be list only and may not be keen on having Willie Jackson placed above them.

The PM’s response:

“Prime Minister Bill English described it as “negative political move” because it was designed to eliminate the Maori Party from Parliament.”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11822366

Ironically given Labour’s claims of promoting Maori interests National have chosen to give the Maori Party a place in government even though they didn’t need them.

The best way of maximising Maori representation in Parliament would actually be to vote for Labour MPs in the Maori electorates, and party vote for the Maori Party to increase the number of their MPs.

It will be fascinating to see how Maori vote in the September election.

And it will be interesting if the outcome means that Labour would require the support of the Maori party to form the next government.

Trusted groups – details and trends

The headlines yesterday about a Institute for Governance and Policy Studies survey on trust – Not trusted: bloggers, MPs, media – not surprisingly lacked detail.

This shows a lot more complexity than was reported:

TrustSurvey

Bunching a couple of totals like little trust/no trust does not come close to giving the whole picture.

The changes in trust levels are also of interest:

TrustSurveyChanges

Dirty politics revelations may have played a part in the reducing trust in bloggers (particularly Cameron Slater/Whale Oil) and also perhaps politicians – and possible also media.

Local government and corporation trends are also quite negative.

But why are charities and churches trending towards less trust?

Perhaps people are becoming more distrustful generally. Is this to do with relentless attacks and focussing on negatives in media and online?

The published survey conclusions:

There are two key questions that our survey cannot answer here: first, what people mean when they interpret and use the word “trust”; second, why they feel the way that they do. This is the research agenda that the IGPS will follow in the months and years ahead.

As we have previously stated this report is intended to ask a question rather than posit an answer – what is the current state of play in New Zealand around public trust? To that end the research suggests some potentially serious issues.

Our research findings are a significant contrast to those of some previous reports. In stark contrast to the OECD, for example, our findings suggest that, politically, New Zealand is not a high-trust nation. Obviously we must be cautious here; the survey only presents a snapshot and is the baseline for which future studies can assess whether or not the situation is improving or deteriorating, but even with that caveat in mind our findings also suggest that trust in political institutions and the media has been lowered over the last three years.

Perhaps a more radical theme, even if it is again fairly tentative at this stage, is that New Zealand is a country divided over public trust. Relatively well-off white men are more trusting of government than those with lower incomes, the Māori and Pasifika communities, and also women. Such a pattern is not to be taken lightly. It indicates that there are possible social ruptures about not only how government is perceived but who it is perceived to be serving. As such our findings also appear to confirm previous findings that levels of institutional trust among the Māori community may have been overestimated.

Of course, at a radical level, none of the above may be a problem and a lack of trust may be a sign of a healthy democracy. Some may ask, why should we trust those in power anyway? In order to better understand these arguments we will need to undertake a much deeper level of research needs because what may appear to be a trust issue may be something even more complex and fundamental about New Zealand society in the 21st century.

No matter what our perspectives, however, one thing is for certain – New Zealand needs to talk about trust. We hope that this report can kickstart an important national conversation that can be conducted in a constructive and respectful way. IGPS will work with anybody who is interested in pursuing this agenda further and we sincerely hope you find the research of interest.

Source (PDF): Who do we trust survey March 2016

Attacks may reduce public access

Tracey Watkins at Stuff points out the obvious – if angry people keep physically attacking politicians and their (our) property the public will probably have less access to our MPs.

It already happens to an extent – a couple of years ago I could just walk in to one of my local MP’s office, now they have to keep it locked even when someone is there because of protester behaviour (that recently included graffiti attacks).

Watkins reminds of the obvious in Politicians are people too and warns of “a black day for everyone” if safety means less public access to our politicians.

But suddenly it’s no longer enough to talk. People feel compelled to chuck stuff at our pollies to make a point. Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce copped a dildo in the face. Gerry Brownlee got a load of brown stuff tipped over his head. Even Key got a faceful of glitter.

Funny? Not really. It’s nasty, it could eventually get dangerous and no matter what your politics no politician deserves to be hated so much it’s okay to throw stuff at them. They’re not cartoon characters, they are real people. Heckle them, ear bash them, vote against them. But in every day life it’s not normal to biff something at people just because we disagree with them.

Of course it’s not new to chuck stuff at politicians. ACT MP John Boscawen wore a lamington on his head. Don Brash had mud biffed at him at Waitangi. Former finance minister Sir Michael Cullen had eggs thrown at him by a bunch of angry West Coasters.  And former ACT leader John Banks had some particularly nasty stuff thrown his way.

But in today’s heightened security awareness, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the latest incidents will force a rethink about the ease with which the public can access our politicians. And that would be a black day for everyone, MPs and public alike.

It’s good to see that some journalists are now recognising the potential problems of dangerous behaviour that media coverage might encourage.