Q+A – Andrew Little on the intern problem

Andrew Little on Q+A this morning:

Labour leader Andrew Little gives his take on National’s handling of the Todd Barclay affair – plus Jessica Mutch will ask him about Labour’s treatment of foreign campaign volunteers.

Bill English is also being interviewed so their performances will be able to be compared.

Little doesn’t say that English should resign but has shown that he can’t be trusted. He questions English’s leadership.

Little says that if he had to deal with a Labour MP was being investigated by the police he would insist they cooperate with the police – something they aren’t required to do legally.

Little chose to switch to the intern scheme.

How many are staying? About 60.

He is pushing how he dealt with this compared to English.

He says it is an idea that started at the beginning of the year. He says people did things without authority.

He says that in May the Party (Head Office) became aware of problems and the links with Labour and stepped in to deal with it.

A fairly strong interview from Little. He and his advisers have decided to promote his dealing with the interns in comparison to English’s dealing with the Barclay stuff.

It will be worth looking more closely at what he has said – largely an unauthorised and maverick party scheme that got out of control.

A Marae spokesperson has also been interviewed. He was asked about expected numbers of interns – he says “about 80”. Not many more than that were involved, so the claims of a major oversubscription sounds fanciful.

Michelle Boag says that Little is disingenuous distancing Labour from the scheme and then claiming moral superiority coming in and sorting things out.

John Tamihere basically agrees with this.

Some quotes from the interview:

Little: You do have to step up and take responsibility straight away.

I was confronted with a situation that I was frankly horrified with in our party earlier this week when I heard about the complaints of those students, they way they were being treated. Found out they were here because people closely associated with the Labour Party had got them here and made promises to them.

I said the the party “We must take moral responsibility. We step in and we clean it up”.

We didn’t wait til a media story broke to respond.

That’s how it looks. Politik broke the story on Thursday morning. Perhaps the party had already stepped in.

We responded straight away. The story came out, um, but I but you take leadership is about taking responsibility and doing the right thing.

Jessica Mutch: But in this case was that the right thing to do? Because as we’ve seen this play out over the last few days, students have come out sticking up for the conditions in the marae, saying that they’ve enjoyed the programme. Do you feel like maybe if you’d taken a bit of time, stepped back, perhaps gone to the marae and assessed it for yourself, you may have been able to handle this another way instead of saying “look, we did this wrong”. Is that the right approach in this circumstance?

Little: The right approach was once we got notification of complaints, or the party didn’t, I was told about it, I said we get up there straight away. The general secretary Andrew Kirton and his team did an outstanding job, he was there on Monday…

That’s before the story broke.

…talked to the students, started getting things sorted out. The reality is some of them did want to have different arrangements, the vast majority have said look they want to stay, they’re excited by the programme, and they want to carry on doing it.

Jessica Mutch: How many are staying?

Little: Um, I don’t know what the final is. As of yesterday it was about 60 of the 85. I think they’re still working through some of the final ones. So um many of them will.

But many of them, it goes back to the story about when you’re confronted with something that you might find personally uncomfortable or embarrassing, it’s your personal feelings aren’t the issue, it’s when you’ve got people’s livelihoods at stake and their welfare at stake, you step in and do the right thing.

If you’re the head of an organisation, it’s not about you, it’s about the organisation, and if you’re the Prime Minister of a country, it’s about the country, it’s values and it’s standards.  That’s what you’ve got to stick up for, that’s what the Prime Minister’s role is about.

Jessica Mutch: Let’s talk about that then. How did it get out of control? Was it a lack of organisation on the part of Labour?

Little: No. This started out as an idea at the beginning of the year. I certainly became aware of it, um when it was raised with me. I said it’s a campaign issue, it’s a party issue, you’ve got to deal with it as a campaign issue.

Jessica Mutch: But it had Labour’s name on it though.

Little: And it did.

Jessica Mutch: It was called 2017 Labour Campaign Fellowship.

Little: Yeah because people closely associated with the Labour Party were involved. Without without approval or authority or any mandate they went ahead and did stuff.

McCarten was supposed to be working for Little in the Labour Leader’s office in Auckland. See from last September:  Andrew Little: nothing wrong with taxpayers footing the bill for his Auckland guru Matt McCarten

Labour leader Andrew Little says his adviser Matt McCarten’s taxpayer-funded salary is within the rules because McCarten will be doing “outreach” work for Little rather than campaign work.

He denied he was trying to use taxpayer funds for campaign-related work, saying party work would be done by party workers in the same office rather than McCarten and other Parliamentary-funded staff.

It looks like either McCarten was doing campaigning withoiut Little’s knowledge, or with Little’s knowledge. I’m not sure which is more shonky.

Other people with @labour.org.nz email addresses were advertising the programme. Little is implying he wasn’t aware of what was going on. Back to Q+A:

Little: The next I became aware was about May this year when the party was getting messages from students about to arr… within days of arriving, um, ah, the party stepped in straight away…

But Little said the party stepped in straight away last Monday.

Little: …to people associated with it saying what is going on, there’s no approval for this, this is not the party thing.

The party was given assurances, “we’ve got funding, we’ve got a programme sorted out, nothing to worry about’.

An unapproved unauthorised programme under Labour’s name that Little and the Labour Head Office knew nothing about was nothing to worry about?

Jessica Mutch: But then there was something to worry about.

Little: There was, yeah, we got the complaints this week and the minute that happened, because we were aware that the Labour Party name was associated with it.

It’s not about legal technicalities. I take a very dim view of those who hide behind legality and say it is moral responsibility that is the most important thing.

So from what he says Little was happy to let an unauthorised programme that was using Labour’s name and was being run not just by Labour Party personnel but by McCarten who was supposed to be Little’s main man in Auckland to continue until complaints started being made on Monday.

McCarten says he left his Labour job in May. Was that when Little found out what his Auckland organiser was up to?

Jessica Mutch: But Matt McCarten has been a bit of a fall guy for you guys this week, he’s been mentioned a lot, taking responsibility for this, have you talked to about that in the last few days?

Little: I haven’t personally spoken to him about it. And yeah he has been involved in it.

Jessica Mutch: Is he the fall guy?

Little: I don’t know what you mean about fall guy.

Jessica Mutch: Has he taken responsibility for how this played out?

Little: Well I haven’t spoke to him, um, ah I’m sure others have, I haven’t spoken to him.

Sounds like he knows about others talking to him and doesn’t want to go there.

Little: My priority, and I said to the party right from the outset, when we got those complaints last week, the priority is the well being of those young people, that’s what we focus on now. That’s what this week has been about.

Diversion from McCarten, who seems to have been running a rogue programme that Little knew about in May.

Little: Next week and the weeks that follow there are still questions to be answered, we’ll get on top of all that.

A lot of questions that could do with answers, something Little seems to be avoiding.

Jessica Mutch: Why not use New Zealanders for this kind of work?

Little: We have thousands of New Zealanders in our campaign. We’ve got the most campaign activists signed up to our campaign.

Jessica Mutch: But why use foreign students coming in, or interns coming in?

Little: We’ve been part of, and actually the National Party will have too, part of international political internship programmes for donkeys years. We’ve had people, very small numbers, involved in our campaigns in the past.

We’ve sent young Labour people, the National Party sends young National people off to the United States, to Australia, to the UK, to participate in internship programmes that means they get to see a campaign, get to know about   another country and it’s political systems.

That happens world wide. That’s what this was a part of. It got way beyond people’s ability to control. We’ve stepped in to take over.

So it was a normal campaign programme that Little had heard an idea at the start of the year, had found out more about it in May, but the party is just stepping in to take over now. Something doesn’t add up here.

Jessica Mutch: The marae has had some bad PR over this. Is that fair?

Little: No, totally unfair. That is a good marae. It’s well set up. It’s got good facilities, um it’s got fantastic leadership…

Jessica Mutch: So how did this happen them, why are the students complaining?

Little: Well the students did complain, that’s just a fact, you get the complaints, you deal with it.

And look I’m not one of those people that goes around quibbling about ‘well it’s only one person, two people or three people”, there’s a complaint, you get stuck in, you get involved, you find out, you deal with the people, you know, saying there were things wrong. You’ve got to deal with it. That’s what taking responsibility is about.

And even if it is embarrassing, as it was for us, ah you’ve got to step in and do the right thing at the right time and that’s what we did.

So Labour has dealt with, or is dealing with, the student complaints.

But there is a lot more to this than Little is wanting to talk about.

He said “We didn’t wait til a media story broke to respond.” But he is avoiding responding to bigger questions than a few disillusioned foreign students.

Like what did Little’s supposedly main man in Auckland run an unauthorised programme under Labour’s name and then suddenly quit when a few foreign students complained?

Video here: https://www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/q-and-a


Q+A – Bill English

Bill English on Q+A this morning:

Prime Minister Bill English fronts up to an interview with Political editor Corin Dann after a difficult week for National. Will the Todd Barclay scandal impact his leadership too?

Andrew Little is also being interviewed so their performances will be able to be compared.

English was steady and steadfast, similar to yesterday on The Nation.

The interview was recorded on Friday night so no wonder it was similar. Q+A moans about him not doing it live but Michelle Boag says that English is putting a priority on National’s conference this weekend.

I don’t think much was gained again from pushing him on the Barclay saga.

John Tamihere says that he has not come out of it squeaky clean but he’s basically an honest politician with honest intent who got caught out being “frugal with the truth”.

I’ll post video when it becomes available.

Q+A: Gareth Morgan and TOP

“Economist and reluctant politician, Dr Gareth Morgan, talks to Corin Dann about what The Opportunities Party is offering – can he cut through to voters?”

In this week’s Colmar Brunton poll TOP got 1% support (rounded, CB haven’t published their detailed results yet). That’s a start but a long way from the 5% they need to make the threshold. UPDATE: Corin Dann says 1.5%

TOP look like being the wild card in September’s election. They are targeting the ‘not status quo’ vote.

“You cannot build transparency on anything but a foundation of fairness”

A lot to take out of this and it will take time to go over it.

But in short Morgan is passionate about taking a different approach to politics, and promoting non-partisan research based policies. He is listening and learning what people want outside of the political bubble.

The panel discussion was interesting. Matt McCarten totally doesn’t get it. Jennifer Curtin gets a bit of it but is a long way from understanding the real difference. Fran O’Sullivan had a bit more of an idea about Morgan’s differences and strengths.

I am growing on the idea that TOP is the only real credible alternative to the status quo politics we are being weighed down with.

The panel are wrong about where TOP votes may come from. They can potentially get votes from across the spectrum, they can attract people who want politics done differently, done sensibly backed by solid research.

Can TOP look like getting close to 5%?

I think the key is in getting a leader who can share Morgan’s passion and logical approach but unlike Morgan wants  a political career in reforming New Zealand democracy.

Video: Gareth Morgan and TOP’s election campaign

Q+A: the influence of technology giants

Thirty years ago IBM was the technology giant. Then with the advent of micro computers – personal and business computers – Microsoft took over as the dominant technology company.

The Internet has changed things markedly this century. Now some of the most dominant technology companies harnessed the Internet and now dominate revenue, marketing, news and opinion.

On Q+A this morning:

US author Jonathan Taplin on the technology giants who are changing the world – why he says it’s time to rein them in.


Q+A: NZ First

Q+A are promoting the same old media Winston as kingmaker meme this morning:

NZ First looks set to be kingmaker again this election – where does Winston Peters draw his support? Whena Owen looks at who his voters are and why they support him.

Really not much new from this item, neither from the panel discussion.

Same old wily Winston.

Same old media promoting him as kingmaker.


Q+A – Little tries again

Andrew Little followed up his interview on The Nation yesterday with an interview in NZ Q+A this morning.

We will cross live to Wellington to talk with Labour Party leader Andrew from the Party’s Election Year Congress.

Will anything more come out of this than Little’s practiced campaign recitals?

Are you pleased with where Labour is at? Avoids question and recites. He is “feeling very confident?

Enough money to fight the election? He thinks they are doing very well, the bulk from “ordinary Kiwis making small contributions”.

Immigration: policy announcement in a few weeks. “We need a breather, slow down and get it right”.

He is “totally confident” he could work with Winston Peters on immigration. Switches to same talking points.

Calling charter schools another name? Still says they are going to repeal the charter school legislation. They will talk to existing partnership schools.

Will Labour keep existing partnerships open? He says he doesn’t know individual school situations?

Will current schools continue? Diverts again.

Little is getting better at divert and recite, he hardly addressed any question directly.

The panel discussion was a bit disappointing – why did they have two Labour people on the panel? Josie Pagani and Mike Williams both said that it was by far the best interview for Little.

Bill English doesn’t exactly ooze charisma, but he has an in depth knowledge of a wide range of issues and policies.

Unless Little learns a lot more, gets some policies he can promote in detail, and learns to think on his feet he is at risk of being run all over in leaders’ debates.

Q+A: pay equity settlement

Many more in the wings, like social workers (deserved) and health clerical workers (an an equity basis maybe but not so much of a responsibility/stress basis).

Mental health works and early child workers also on the list.

“There’s a lot stopping people from joining unions”.

Unions are not allowed to be in work places promoting themselves. Some employers deter union involvement.

Calling for “real money, real resources” out of the next Government despite the fiscal responsibility agreement between Labour and the Greens – the PSA will be pushing for significantly more spending on a number of things.

Q+A: is our defence future fit?

Greens are generally against defence spending, Andrew Little has said that Labour will reduce spending on defence, and our fleet of defence helicopters has just been grounded after an engine failure in one of them.

And is Gerry Brownlee soon to shift to Minister of Foreign Affairs? He could do that and retain Defence, at least until the election.

Worried about developments in North Korea? Not particularly worried.

Whether New Zealand got involved would have to be a decision made if that time arises.

North Korea has an “evil regime”. [That’s what North Korea says about the US.]

No comment on whether he will be named the new Foreign Minister tomorrow. It is not for him to announce it.

On Hit & Run – Brownlee is comfortable with how it was handled. Five days to react? It takes time to investigate sudden outlandish accusations. He thinks there is no need for further investigation.

There’s something new on this from David Fisher: Hit & Run: NZDF never carried out investigation into civilian deaths

Most people who noticed Hit & Run have moved on and forgotten it.

Q+A suggest new Labour deputy

Yesterday @NZQandA tweeted:


Just a mistake?

Or was someone getting ahead of themselves?

That was deleted and replaced by:

But not before some responses:


Q+A: disengagement from politics

NZ Q+A this morning interviews  Max Harris about the state of New Zealand politics, including looking at how to re-engage voters.

How do we re-engage voters who are turned off NZ politics? Is it time for a new kind of politics to tackle the challenges NZ faces? Max Harris, a NZ Rhodes scholar, looks at these questions in his new book, The New Zealand Project.

Also, Whena Owen hits Wellington’s popular Cuba Mall to ask those disengaged from NZ politics – why?

Maybe most people never were very engaged in politics.

Interview:  Is it time for a new kind of politics? (10:08)

“Our reporter Whena Owen went to Wellington’s Cuba Street to talk with disengaged voters”:  Re-engaging disengaged voters (2:16)