Labour MPs change minds about Chinese expert submissions

A quick change of stance after Labour MPs block China expert from speaking at select committee.

RNZ: Labour MPs backtrack on Anne-Marie Brady committee decision

Labour MPs have backtracked on their decision to block China expert Anne-Marie Brady from speaking at Parliament after push-back from the Opposition.

Professor Brady had asked to address MPs about foreign interference in elections as part of a justice committee inquiry, but the request was turned down yesterday when the four Labour MPs voted against it.

A government spokesperson said the committee chair, Labour MP Raymond Huo, had a rethink overnight and the committee would briefly reopen submissions to the public later this year.

Mr Huo declined to be interviewed by RNZ, but in a written statement he said he “welcomed” new submissions.

He said yesterday’s decision to block Prof Brady was “purely procedural” and denied he had shifted stance under pressure.

“That’s my own initiative,” Mr Huo said.

However, just hours earlier Mr Huo made no mention of that position in a separate statement sent to RNZ.

“As Committee Chair, I am satisfied that the correct procedure has been followed and that the [intelligence] agencies will keep the committee well informed about any issues of foreign interference that may arise,” he said.

Public attention seems to have had an effect.

Committee member and National MP Nick Smith yesterday called for the committee to reconsider, saying Parliament should hear from New Zealand’s most published academic around the risks of overseas interference in elections.

Dr Smith this afternoon told RNZ he was pleased Mr Huo had had a “change of heart”, but said it was only because he had spoken out.

“It’s blatantly obvious that the Beehive has recognised that silencing an academic on as issue as sensitive as protecting New Zealand from foreign interference was a really bad look and they’ve had to reconsider.”

Newsroom: Govt set to U-turn on Brady block

Committee chairman and Labour MP Raymond Huo, who has featured in Brady’s work for his supposed ties to Chinese government representatives, defended the decision on Thursday, saying it was “purely procedural” given the close of public submissions.

However, a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newsroom that Huo had reconsidered the Labour MPs’ original decision upon reflection.

He would discuss the inquiry at the committee next week, with a view to reopening it to public submissions from Brady and others.

While the decision to prevent Brady from speaking had been procedurally correct, the spokesman said there was merit in hearing from her and any others who wished to submit on the issue of foreign interference.

Neither Ardern nor anyone in her office had spoken to Huo about the committee’s initial decision, the spokesman said.

Jacinda Ardern said on 1 News tonight that the Labour MPs had had a change of mind and she thought that was a wise change of position, but kept a distance from that change of stance.

Justice committee fails to report back on waka jumping bill

Greens copped a lot of flak after they announced they would vote for the ‘waka jumping’ bill to keep NZ First happy, despite being strongly opposed throughout the party’s history. See Why the Greens threw their integrity overboard

But they aren’t the only ones divided over the bill.

Stuff: Justice committee fails to report back on Waka Jumping bill

National’s Nick Smith says Labour MPs on a select committee inspecting the Waka Jumping bill refused to consider amendments because Winston Peters wanted it to pass unamended.

Labour and National MPs are bitterly blaming each other for the failure of the select committee to report back on Monday.

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill would allow party leaders to expel MPs from their party from Parliament, if they could get the approval of two thirds of their caucus. List MPs would be expelled for good and replaced by the next person on the list while electorate MPs would be able to compete in by-elections.

The Justice Select Committee was due to report back on the controversial bill on Monday but failed to do so. The committee is evenly split between National and Labour MPs, and would need to pass a majority vote to send the bill back to the House with a report attached.

As a result the bill will go back to the House without any recommendations from the select committee.

That should make it even harder for the Greens to justify voting for it, but they seem to have already capitulated.

“The Labour members of the committee made plain that they were under directives as part of the agreement with Winston [Peters] for the bill to not be amended,” Smith said.

“They said it just that way: ‘No. Winston won’t agree to that.”

It seems odd that NZ First are forcing Labour to support this bill unchanged when it appears to be important only to Winston Peters, in contrast to Peters giving up so easily on a popular policy for NZ First voters – see Government has reneged on immigration ‘promises’.

Peters makes a big thing of letting ‘the people’ decide, for example on cannabis legislation.

But on the waka jumping bill he seems to be against the justice committee from addressing issues in his bill.

Labour MP and chair of the committee Raymond Huo said Smith was “throwing his toys” and could have put comments like that in a minority report had he allowed a report to be sent back.

Huo said by holding back the report Smith was letting down his party and the submitters whose voices would now be lost.

“He has not just let his party down but also the general public, including those submitters,” Huo said.

“The Justice Committee is a very busy committee. We have enjoyed a strong level of collegiality, until, very frankly the arrival of Nick Smith,” Huo said.

Or the arrival of the Winston waka jumping bill?

 

 

Labour MP files defamation papers

Another political defamation  case, this time Labour MP Raymond Huo , who has filed papers against People’s Party president Steven Ching and his wife Ailian Su.

NZH:  Raymond Huo says he was falsely accused of corruption & criminal record

Labour MP Raymond Huo claims he was the target of a nasty campaign leading up to the election that falsely accused him of having a criminal record and then asking police to wipe it.

Huo’s lawyer Kalev Crossland filed defamation documents in the Auckland High Court last week against People’s Party president Steven Ching and his wife Ailian Su, who he says spread false material damaging to Huo.

Crossland, who said the papers would be served this week, claimed that Ching and Su republished material in the lead-up to the election on popular Chinese social media app WeChat – a popular platform with broad reach in the Auckland Chinese community.

The court file says that the materials falsely accused Huo of dishonesty, corruption, having a criminal record, and that he was behind media stories questioning the Chinese military background of National MP Dr Jian Yang.

It further states that Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, when he was Labour Party leader, went with Huo to a police station and asked “Police Officer S” to delete Huo’s criminal record.

Goff told the Herald there was no truth to the story.

Huo is seeking a declaration of defamation and legal costs. He questioned who authored the material, suggesting it was designed to boost the popularity of Ching as well as divert attention away from the media spotlight on Dr Yang’s background.

Crossland said he asked Ching and Su to provide evidence of the claims, “which they didn’t and they couldn’t because none of it was true”.

“This was done very strategically in the lead-up to the election. If you’ve got a question mark over you, even if it’s not true, it might tip them away from voting for Raymond. It was a really nasty thing to have done.

“Many clients would seek aggravated damages, but Raymond just wants his name cleared.”

Court documents say: “The plaintiff’s reputation has been seriously damaged, and the plaintiff and his family has suffered considerable distress and embarrassment and, due to the permanent nature of online publication, will continue to have his reputation damaged.”

Attempts were made to ‘cease and desist’ but presumably were not successful/

Huo sent cease-and-desist letters to Ching and Su after the material surfaced. Ching and Su subsequently issued a press release saying they did not write the material, though they found the contents interesting and they had shared it among friends.

Ching told the Herald he did not write the material, nor did he know who had written it, and legal action against him and his wife was “not fair”.

It’s sad to see politics played out in the courts.

Chinese voter poll shows similar trends

A poll of 1300 Chinese voters shows strong support for national but also shows similar trends to general polls.

  • National 71.1% (down 2.4)
  • Labour 21.6% (up 5.8)

This is from NZ Herald with a silly headline: Poll: National will be back in Government if Chinese voters had their way

They don’t give any other party results but say that NZ First was down 2.4% and Act was down 2.0%.

The results are based on responses from 1300 Chinese New Zealanders who were eligible to vote in the September 23 election.

The WTV-Trace Research Chinese Poll is backed by local Asian media company World TV, and conducted by Trace Research Ltd, an independent market research consultancy.

Labour MP Raymond Huo has had a griizzle about the polling.

National List MP Jian Yang is believed to be the Chinese MP who would be the one to most effectively serve the Chinese community in the next three years on 44.8 per cent, followed by Labour’s Raymond Huo on 18.8 per cent.

Huo has written to the University of Auckland questioning the vadility of the poll, saying it “may not be robust enough to prevent it from some systemic abuse”.

“It appears to be nothing more than an online opinion survey ‘based primarily on the Chinese social media WeChat’ which is said to have more than 700 million subscribers worldwide,” he said in a letter to Professor Jenny Dixon, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor

Huo said the poll had been taken seriously because of Herald reports and its association with the University of Auckland, where Dr Zhu, is an honorary research fellow.

A university spokeswoman said the poll was carried out by an independent market research company and the university’s involvement was limited to a member of staff who helped proofread the Chinese-to-English translation of the results.

Zhu said Huo could “rest assured” that there were mechanisms in place to exclude those who are not based in New Zealand.

Zhu said it was common for elections to “bring out partisanship”.

Polls also.

Two stand aside for Huo

It has been suggested this would happen for some time but now the way has publicy been cleared for Raymond Huo to return to Parliament should Jacinda Ardern win this week’s Mt Albert by-election.

Huo lost his seat in Parliament  in 2014 because he was three short of the list cut-off.

Andrew Little just made the final cut at 11 on the list (electorate MPs are ranked lower but get in automatically).

There were two other ex-list MPs who were placed higher than Huo at 21 who missed the cut, Maryan Street (15) and (Moana Mackey (17).

It was a bit embarrassing for Labour to have no Asian MPs, particularly when they launched their infamous Chinese surname attack.

After the Mt Albert by-election was confirmed Mackey said she wasn’t interested in returning to Parliament.

Gisborne Herald: Moana Mackey rules out return to the Beehive

FORMER Gisborne-based Labour list MP Moana Mackey has countered conjecture she is contemplating a return to politics.

Ms Mackey said she wanted to pre-empt speculation she was planning a return to parliament following the decision of current list MP Jacinda Ardern to seek the party’s candidacy in the Mt Albert by-election.

Ms Mackey said she had always kept Labour leader Andrew Little informed and previously told him she had no desire to return to Parliament if a list place came up on the Labour list.

“I have to say I really appreciated him getting in touch with me earlier this week, in light of David Shearer’s decision, and I confirmed that was still my position.

That was in December. Interesting that Little contacted her as soon as the by-election was confirmed.

Street has taken a lot longer but has now also indicated she won’t return. From Street on Facebook:

I am happy to confirm that I will not be taking up a place in Parliament as a List MP after the Mt Albert by-election. This will pave the way for the return of Raymond Huo to Parliament, something I fully support.

I have thought long and hard about this choice and have decided that I can be just as effective on issues dear to me outside Parliament as inside – perhaps even more so.

Besides which, I have discovered weekends.

The campaign for a law change to allow End of Life Choice has gained a powerful momentum with the petition in my name to Parliament’s Health Select Committee, where submissions are still being heard. I am heartened that it has become an issue with wide support throughout the community and across the entire political spectrum. I look forward to advancing that campaign further.

My very best wishes go to Jacinda Ardern and Raymond Huo.

So the way is now clear for Huo. I haven’t seen any indication of his intentions but presume he is interested in returning.

Choosing a pig-like mayor?

Chinese born former Labour MP Raymond Huo (2008-2014) tweeted:

@RaymondHuo

Is this real? “Not afraid of divine opponents but a mayor like a pig. Choose wisely…” (Not a verbatim translation)

PalinoChineseHoarding.jpg

Keith Ng picked up on this and did some further translating.

Keith Ng Retweeted Raymond Huo

More verbatim translation: “Not afraid of a god-like opponent, most afraid of choosing a pig-like mayor make a smart choice; vote mayor, vote John Palino”

There’s not really any room for misinterpretation on the “god-like opponent” or “pig-like mayor”.

I don’t see how you can accidentally mistranslate something into god-like or pig-like.

I suspect he has a Chinese copywriter with very weird ideas, or a fairly weird sense of humour.

Weird for sure.

Raymond Huo and one hundred deaths

Raymond Huo has blogged at Red Alert on workplace deaths but has claimed numbers that are vague and seem to be grossly overstated.

A hundred deaths and $3.5bl a year and finally, Williamson admits we have a problem….

Posted by  on November 6th, 2012

The scale of the unsafe building practices revealed in a recent clampdown raises serious questions about why Maurice Williamson and his National-ACT Government have continued with such a nonchalant approach for so long.

While Building & Construction Minister Maurice Williamson finally admits there is a problem, this Government has had four years in office, and in the meantime, we’ve had an average of 100 deaths a year, with workplace injuries and fatalities reportedly costing New Zealand about $3.5 billion annually.

Translate that into the devastation caused to builders and their families, the lost productivity and the additional costs to ACC; these are not the standards we would expect of a developed nation.  Why should we accept that our construction workers are twice as likely to be killed or injured on the job, compared to workers on a site in the United Kingdom?

At the heart of the problem is this ‘hands off’ approach by a Government that imagines the market will sort somehow out its own problems.

It hasn’t worked in the mining industry, and it’s not working in the construction industry.

Labour believes we have to get back to having equal opportunities for all Kiwis; we do not accept that lowering our health and safety performance for some sectors is necessary for economic recovery.

With the Christchurch rebuild starting and the Government  now at least talkingabout the Auckland housing crisis, keeping workers safe must become a recognised priority for all parties involved.

Huo isn’t clear about whether he is claiming an average hundred deaths a year in the building industry or in total, but either way it seems like he is grossly overstating figures, and there seems to be no relationship between what he’s saying and the official figures over the four years of a “National-ACT” government.

According to OSH statistics the peak was in 2010 with 77 fatalities (including 29 at Pike River).  Last year there were less fatalities (41) than 2007 or 2008, and this year the indications are for a lower total – there are 20 confirmed deaths up to 24 August.

Construction had a peak of 18 deaths in 2009 and has dropped significantly since then.

I have asked Huo to indicate where he gets his figures from. I’ll report back if he responds.

Workplace fatalities 2007 – 2012

Industry 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011† 2012*
Accommodation and Food Services 1 0 1 0 0 1
Administrative and Support Services 1 0 0 0 0 0
Agriculture 15 19 10 19 15 8
Arts and Recreation Services 1 12 12 7 1 2
Construction 10 8 18 6 4 3
Education and Training 1 0 3 2 1 0
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services 2 0 1 3 3 0
Forestry 3 4 4 4 3 5
Health Care and Social Assistance 0 1 2 1 2 0
Manufacturing 4 3 10 1 3 1
Mining and extractives 1 0 0 29 1 0
Other Services 0 1 1 0 1 0
Public Administration and Safety 0 4 2 2 1 0
Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services 0 0 0 0 1 0
Transport, Postal and Warehousing 6 2 3 3 5 0
Wholesale Trade 0 0 1 0 0 0
Total 45 54 68 77 41 20

† 2011 figures are provisional and subject to change.

* 2012 figures are as at 8 August 2012. These figures are provisional and subject to change.

The statistics show the number of fatalities, notified to the Department of Labour under the Health and Safety in Employment (HSE) Act 1992. The statistics do not include: fatalities in the maritime or aviation sectors or due to work-related crashes on the road as these are investigated by Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority and the NZ Police respectively. Nor do they include fatalities from long latency diseases caused by exposure to hazardous substances.

http://www.osh.govt.nz/resources/stats/fatalities-summary.shtml

Update: Huo is quoting from this article from NZ Herald:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10844507

I’m seeking clarification from NZH.