NBR found to have defamed Steven Joyce

A column written by Matthew Hooton and published in NBR in March 2018 has been found to have been defamatory. Hooton himself apologised for assertions he made and contributed to costs, but the publication itself claimed otherwise, held out and ended up in court and now on the losing end of a judgment.

Joyce did not seek financial damages, instead seeking a declaration NBR at it’s publisher Todd Scott had defamed him and also costs, which could be substantial, defamation cases can be legally very costly.

Newsroom: Joyce defamed, NBR and publisher must pay

A High Court judge took just one week to decide the business website NBR and its publisher had separately defamed former finance minister Steven Joyce – and to order them to pay the ex MP’s legal costs.

The case is unusual in two respects. First, NBR held out against Joyce despite the author of the column that defamed him, Matthew Hooton, having apologised, retracted his statements and paid Joyce $5000 in costs 18 months ago.

And second, its publisher was found to have defamed Joyce by tweeting comments related to the column and Hooton, one of the first defamations by Twitter by a public figure.

The column, published in March 2018, included claims that Joyce had won just four votes other than his own in the National Party leadership contest, that he had used his proxy Communications Minister Amy Adams to try to help his “friends at Chorus”, and that he could “blackmail” the new leader Simon Bridges.

Scott later tweeted that “sources are solid” and Hooton had retracted his column for reasons other than it having been incorrect.

During the preliminary phases of the case, the parties went to judicial mediation under the Defamation Act. They heard from Justice Pheroze Jagose that the passages of the Hooton column could carry defamatory meanings – it could be taken by an ordinary reader to have accused Joyce of unethical and improper behaviour in pursuit of his own political ends.

He recommended NBR consider conceding and publishing a correction. It declined to do so.

Now, after a two-day hearing in the High Court at Auckland, Justice Jagose has found both NBR and Scott did defame Joyce.

JOYCE v HOOTON [2019] NZHC 3356 [17 DECEMBER 2019]

[1] The plaintiff (“Mr Joyce”) seeks declaratory and indemnity costs relief under s 24 of the Defamation Act 1992 (the “Act”) against the second defendant (“Fourth Estate”), which publishes The National Business Review (“NBR”) in print and website formats. Relief pleaded for my recommendation of a s 26 correction was not pursued.

[2] Mr Joyce alleges two specific passages in a NBR article titled “Joyce sacking first test of Bridges’ leadership” (and, in its print format, subtitled “National MPs have finally been allowed to express what they really think of the party’s unelected strategist”), published on 2 March 2018, are defamatory of him.

[37] I emphasise my meanings are the passages both imputed Mr Joyce’s preparedness to engage in poor conduct “in pursuit of his (rather than his party’s) political objectives”. They are not imputations of his poor conduct more generally. The limitation springs from the subject matter of Mr Hooton’s column. Their distinction from Mr Joyce’s pursuit of what may be his party’s political objectives also is important; even untrue allegations of sharp party-political conduct may not be defamatory.18 Although that is to find meanings divergent from those Mr Joyce pleads, their circumscription is less injurious than claimed by him, and I thus am free to find those lesser meanings established.19 Nonetheless, they are meanings of sufficient seriousness, of Mr Joyce’s significant and self-serving impropriety, to climb above defamation law’s disregard of trivialities.[41] Mr Joyce pleads against Mr Scott his three tweets “were intended, and would be reasonably understood to mean” the two passages were:

true, or not materially different from the truth;

retracted by [Mr Hooton] for reasons other than that they were untrue; responsibly and properly published by [Fourth Estate].

Mr Joyce pleads the tweets “accordingly amounted to a republication of the [passages’] defamatory imputations”.

[42] The pleading is of an innuendo: the tweets were “used in a defamatory sense other than [their] natural and ordinary meaning”.

[52] I do not see Mr Scott’s joinder as disproportionate at all. As I have explained, Mr Joyce is seeking vindication not only from the article’s defamatory comments, but also from Mr Scott’s (first and third) tweets’ endorsement of their truth. Mr Joyce seeks declarations both Fourth Estate and Mr Scott are liable to him in defamation. The coincidence in time – of Mr Scott’s first tweet with the NBR’s replacement of the article on its website, with Mr Hooton’s apology – identifies the separate defamatory nature of Mr Scott’s endorsement. There can be no suggestion Fourth Estate is vicariously liable for Mr Scott’s tweets, or the resource committed by Mr Scott’s joinder otherwise is disproportionate to Mr Joyce’s interests in being vindicated also from their innuendo.

[60] I declare Fourth Estate and Mr Scott separately each are liable to Mr Joyce in defamation. I award Mr Joyce solicitor and client costs against separately each Fourth Estate and Mr Scott.

Newsroom:

Joyce told Newsroom Tuesday night he was pleased to be vindicated. “It was important to me to set the record straight. It was about restoring my reputation and being made whole again in terms of meeting my costs.”

He had not sued for financial damages, just the judge’s declaration that NBR and Scott had defamed him and the costs order.

He said: “I tried to operate with integrity in my political career and in a place where I tried my absolute best. It meant a lot to me to be able to restore that after what was a pretty vicious article.”

Asked if he now expected an apology from the NBR or Scott, Joyce said he had not sought that in the High Court hearing. “If they had apologised at any point earlier in the process and paid the costs, we would not have needed to be here now.”

While Hooton’s apology had been welcome, “it was really important that the publisher makes the restitution in terms of the apology”.

Scott’s tweets had undermined Hooton’s apology. “The court has decided that’s not okay …. It was clear and obvious, and the judge has taken it to be clear, that they were effectively a re-statement, that the original story was accurate.”

Joyce said his costs had been significant as they covered the initial complaint, the mediation, an earlier aborted trial and the trial last week.

With Hooton having conceded his column was defamatory and apologising it must have always been a difficult case for NBR to defend.

Hooton apologises to Steven Joyce

There were claims that retiring MP Steven Joyce threatened to take Matthew Hooton to court for defamation over Hooton’s final column in NBR in early March. It appears that Joyce may have progressed such a threat after Hooton issued a public apology to Joyce today.

On Facebook:

APOLOGY TO HON. STEVEN JOYCE

On 2 March 2018 a column I wrote was published in the print edition of the NBR and on the NBR’s website. It was titled: “Joyce sacking first test of Bridges’ leadership”.

This article could reasonably be understood to suggest that the Hon. Steven Joyce had engaged in unethical, dishonest and/or corrupt behaviour during his tenure as a Minister in the previous National Government.

Nothing in the column was intended to convey such suggestions, which would be untrue. I apologise to Mr Joyce for any harm caused as a consequence.

END

Also on Kiwiblog “Matthew Hooton has asked Kiwiblog to publish this”: Matthew Hooton apology to Hon Steven Joyce

I don’t know why it was required there, it could have been due to comments at the time, as I don’t recall Farrar posting anything critical of Joyce. He did post Joyce resigns

This is a big blow for National. Steven wasn’t just a top performer in the House, but had been an integral part of National’s strategy and campaign team for well over a decade. They will miss him.

There has been no post about this on Whale Oil yet, but that’s not unusual, it has become common for little reaction for stories of interest emerging during the day until the following morning.

It will be interesting to see whether a couple of posts at Whale Oil stay as they are – Slater may have tidied things up, or he may be a bit edgy about the possibility of more legal challenges.

An interesting reaction:

There has also been quite varied reactions to Scott on Twitter.

Steven Joyce leaving New National

Steven Joyce is retiring from Parliament. He has been a list MP since 2008, and has been a significant part of  National’s leadership along with John key and Bill English.

This isn’t a surprise after Joyce missed out on becoming leader after English’s retirement.

This leaves Simon Bridges to establish a ‘new generation’ leadership and a new look National Party before the 2020 election. That’s an opportunity that may or may not work out well, but they can have a go at it.

National:  Bridges pays tribute to Steven Joyce

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has thanked retiring MP Steven Joyce for his service to New Zealand and the National Party.

“Steven has made a huge contribution during his 15 year political career, including in the last decade in Parliament. In that time he has proven an exceptional minister, colleague, advisor and political strategist.

“As a minister, Steven has played a major role in helping create a stronger New Zealand, particularly in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis.

“Among his many successes, he oversaw the rollout of the ambitious Ultra-Fast Broadband programme, ensuring New Zealand is one of the most digitally advanced economies in the world.

“As Science and Innovation Minister he worked with the private sector to substantially lift investment in R and D, helping pave the way for some of the world leading science and business initiatives we are seeing and benefiting from today.

“And as Transport Minister he helped make New Zealand’s roads safer and more resilient, through initiatives like the Roads of National Significance.

“He was someone both John Key and Bill English turned to for advice and to get things done. That meant he was given some tough tasks but he consistently rose to those challenges. And I will also continue to use him as a sounding board as the National Party looks to 2020.

“He played a major role in rebuilding the National Party, leading the past five elections and helping turn National into New Zealand’s largest and most popular political party.

“Steven is a huge loss to Parliament and to the National Party and I want to thank him for his immense contribution to New Zealand, and his wife Suzanne and their children for sharing them with us. We wish him all the best.”


One observation with reaction to this news – I am again shocked at how petty and nasty many people are in politics. Joyce has played a significant and successful role in governing New Zealand over the last decade. Some people just don’t seem to be able to help pissing all over people with different political leanings.

Joyce threatens NBR and Hooton

Another MP has threatened media and a political commentator with legal action, this time over critical claims in an NBR column by Matthew Hooton

Newshub: Steven Joyce threatens Matthew Hooton and NBR with legal action – reports

National’s finance spokesperson Steven Joyce is threatening the National Business Review (NBR) and Matthew Hooton with legal action, Newshub understands.

On Friday, NBR published a column in which Mr Hooton was highly critical of Mr Joyce.

A source told Newshub that NBR received an “aggressive” letter about the column, which said it has until 5pm on Monday to retract or apologise.

The NBR’s publisher Todd Scott says Mr Joyce won’t be getting either a retraction or an apology.

He told Newshub if Mr Joyce is successful in launching legal action, NBR will subpoena a number of senior National MPs including Simon Bridges and Amy Adams.

Hooton promoting his column:

In today’s NBR, I kindly provide some useful advice to the new National Party leader over his upcoming reshuffle, while dangerously commenting on his, Natalie and their kids’ magazine appeal.

The column is behind a paywall at NBR: Joyce sacking first test of bridges’ leadership

Opinion: National MPs have finally been allowed to express what they really think of the party’s unelected strategist.

That sounds like Hooton is trying to put pressure on Bridges and Joyce. Hooton is not elected either, and his motives are questionable given he is a professional lobbyist. He should disclose any client interest if there is any, or should state that this political activism is a personal crusade only.

This comes after NBR have (apparently) sacked Hooton as a columnist. A recent exchange between Fran O’Sullivan and NBR publisher and owner Todd Scott:

That debunks claims of a niche blogger with huge chips on both shoulders and his supposed ‘sources’.

UPDATE: From Hooton on Facebook:

Just on this NBR thing: I rang Todd Scott early on Saturday afternoon after seeing his tweets and he confirmed he didn’t want to run my weekly column anymore. That’s absolutely his prerogative. A weekly column is a privilege not a right, and it his newspaper and he can decide who writes in it.

He was very clear that he appreciated I had never once abused my position as a columnist by mixing my commentary role with my commercial activities, and that all he was wanting to do was protect the NBR brand from future allegations of that nature. Fair enough.

On the Joyce matter, he said he would back me and his editors to the hilt, and he has been as good as his word.

For what it’s worth, I think the NBR is now a far better business newspaper than when I joined it as a columnist nine years ago and that has much to do with the investment Todd has made in the first-class news team. Good luck for the future guys – and sorry Deborah LaHatte that, in nine years, I’m not sure I ever quite made deadline!

UPDATE 2: NZH – Steven Joyce claims NBR column ‘highly defamatory’

National Party MP Steven Joyce has confirmed he made a formal complaint to NBR about a column which was highly critical of him, saying it was “highly defamatory.”

The column last Friday was by right-wing commentator Matthew Hooton following Joyce’s unsuccessful bid for the leadership of the National Party.

Joyce said the column was “highly defamatory and includes a significant number of factual inaccuracies”.

It is understood the letter from Joyce’s lawyers sought a retraction and apology.

NBR has not yet agreed to do either and it is understood any legal action Joyce took would be defended, including calling National MPs to give evidence in court should it get that far.

Politicians throwing around legal demands and threats are at risk of ‘the Streisand Effect’, drawing far more attention to critical comments than would otherwise have happened – and NBR is a low circulation publication behind a paywall.

This can hardly help Joyce in his political career that must be at a crossroads after his unsuccessful bid for leadership.

It’s hard to see this turning out well.

Joyce makes it 5 leadership contenders

So that gives the National caucus five candidates to choose from for their next leader:

  • Judith Collins
  • Amy Adams
  • Simon Bridges
  • Mark Mitchell
  • Steven Joyce

Mitchell is just being interviewed by Duncan Garner. Some time has been spent on the Marriage Equality bill – Mitchell voted  against it. He explained that on conscience votes he goes to his electorate to get their views, polls the electorate, and votes according to the majority conscience of his electorate.

When pressed he made it clear he supports the Marriage Equality legislation and would personally vote for it. So that suggests he voted against his own conscience and for what he thought his electorate preferred.

RNZ on Joyce:

Steven Joyce has confirmed he is in the mix to be the next National Party leader.

Mr Joyce said last week he had been canvassing support among the caucus and party members before deciding whether to take a tilt.

He was National’s campaign manager and a Finance Minster in the previous government.

So not much other than confirmation that he has joined the contest so far. I think Joyce is very capable and astute, and speaks well, but represents ‘same old’ for the National Party, risking being stuck in the past, by perception  at least.

Update:  Joyce confirms National leadership tilt

Steven Joyce has this morning confirmed he will contest the National Party leadership.

Joyce told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking he would become the fifth candidate to replace Bill English.

Joyce said he had lots of colleagues and regular New Zealanders telling him to put his name forward.

“My view is it has always been about the National Party, it’s not about me personally.”

Joyce trusted that he would have support in caucus.

“There are some people that are going to absolutely support you and some people that will probably support you, it all depends on how it goes out.”

Joyce believed the race was more important than any individual.

“It’s all about the future of New Zealand. It’s not about me,” he told Hosking.

“I worry about the current crowd. I don’t think they have a plan and where they have got a plan it will take us backwards.”

“It’s time to step up, if I believe in what I do believe in.”

Joyce called the generational change argument “entertaining” – and noted that there was only 15 years between the five candidates for leader.

Joyce said he got on well with rival candidates Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, Amy Adams and Mark Mitchell – and said that they would all bring different strengths to the role.

He would probably do ok, but National need more than ok, they need to forge a new future for the party.

National leadership speculation in full swing

There hasn’t been much change to the list of National leadership contenders – Jonathan Coleman has confirmed he won’t stand, Steven Joyce and mark Mitchell are reported to be interested but haven’t yet confirmed either way, so Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins remain the current confirmed contenders.

There’s a lot of pundit positing for various candidates, which is unlikely to influence the MPs in National’s caucus who will make the decision, so is more like attempts to be seen as able to guess who the winner will be before it is announced.

Bryce Edwards tweeted:

A notable omission from the endorsement list is himself, given his clearly stated preference:

I’m not going to endorse or pick any of them, I’m still quite ambivalent about who I’d like to see lead National, I don’t care very much who gets the job. But here’s some musings.

Amy Adams – seems to have been a very capable Minister who managed a large workload in the last Government. I’m not sure she has the media appeal that, unfortunately, seems to be demanded by media.

Simon Bridges – he is rated by some, and his relative youth may help against Ardern, but I haven’t seen he has what it needs yet. Perhaps he could rise to the position, but that is a risk.

Judith Collins – I really think she looks the best prepared and most capable of the bunch, and could be a very good contrast to Ardern, but she will need to get the support of the caucus, something she has failed to do in the past, and one of her biggest impediments is the rash of dirt mongering against her opponents and promotion of her at Whale Oil – the risk of her being connected to that, justified or not, may be causing some MPs some concern.

Should they stand:

Steven Joyce – in some ways he has been a very capable lieutenant to Key and English, has made misjudgements in the last two campaigns (Northland and general election). If National want to rejuvenate and set a new course into the political future Joyce is not the one, that will count against him unless National MPs think more of same old is what they want.

Mark Mitchell – seen as a dark horse candidate that few of the public will know. He has seemed ok to me in the little I have seen of him, but too little to judge. He would certainly be a breath of fresh leadership, and would contrast with Ardern, but will be hammered for his military contracting past, just like Key was hammered (to little effect) on his money market past.

Whoever takes over will have two years to build their profile and support before heading into the 2020 campaign – presuming the current lasts that long (the odds must be it will).

It’s worth keeping an eye on Kiwiblog. So far David Farrar has done individual posts on Collins and Mitchell. They could make a good looking leadership team, and Labour have shown that two geographically imbalanced (Auckland or north) leaders doesn’t seem to matter any more.

Political carols

Excerpts from Toby Manhire: Walking in a Winston Wonderland

We Three Things:

Jacinda Ardern solo:
Just a kid from Moh-orrinsville
Keen to help out Andy Little
It’s not hubris, to just do this
Truth is that I quite like Bill
*
James Shaw solo:
Great Together, I believe in
Speak the truth – that’s how we win
Metiria, great co-leader
Popped into recycling bin
*
Winston Peters solo:
Had enough? Too right they had
Status quo was very bad
Need a deadline? Watch it, Sunshine
Covfefe, believe me, sad!

We Wish you a Merry Christmas
Feat Bill English

We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And would just note in passing that the National Party won more votes than anyone and yet is not in government which a lot of ordinary New Zealanders will find surprising as they approach their Happy New Year.

Gareth the Red Mo’ed Reindeer
As sung by Gareth Morgan

Gareth the Red Mo’ed Reindeer
Had a very small ego
But all the lipsticked reindeers
Were a bunch of thick bozos

Fiscal Spells
As sung by Steven Joyce

O! Fiscal spells, fiscal spells
Fiscal hole, OK?
O what fun it is to ride
When you’re running the campaign.

Little Drummer Boy
As sung by Andrew Little

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
Just a new deputy, pa rum pum pum pum
Must replace Annette King, pa rum pum pum pum
Anyway you know what happened after that and it’s all fine now.

Mārie Te Pō
As sung by Don Brash

Mārie te pō, tapu te pō
Marino, marama
Ko te Whāea, me te Tama
Tama tino, tapu rā
Moe mai i te aio
Moe mai i te aio.

Google doesn’t translate that well, but it is obviously

Silent night, holy night, calm, bright etc.

Whāea is mother, Tama is boy/sun but no sign of a virgin there.

 

Pointless points of order

The Opposition risks losing credibility and effectiveness in Question Time by raising far too many pointless Points of Order. Not just barking at every car, but also barking at cars that don’t exists, are making a mess of the best opportunity for the Opposition to hold the Government to account in Parliament.

In Thursday’s Question Time Michael Woodhouse was first in Q1. Then in Q3:

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Just on behalf of the Opposition, we just understand that they’ve had a bad week and they need to encourage themselves today with a bit of a handclap.

Mr SPEAKER: And Paula Bennett, that was not a point of order, and seeing we’re in question time, the National Party will lose two supplementary questions.

It didn’t end there:

Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the answer to the previous supplementary question, the Minister himself raised these matters and—

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and the fact that one member breaches the Standing Orders and I didn’t intervene is not a reason for someone else.

Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: The member’s not going to—especially after the ruling that I’ve just given—dispute what I’m going to say.

Hon Steven Joyce: I just want to clarify if I could—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no.

Hon Steven Joyce: —in a general sense, if I could, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member can’t. I want to make absolutely clear that there is no such thing and no ability in our Standing Orders to have a point of clarification, or to do the sort of interrogation that I believe the member was going to start, as to what the Standing Orders are. When I have ruled, that is the end of the matter.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you now ruling that if a Minister introduces some new material into an answer, that cannot be used in a subsequent supplementary?

Mr SPEAKER: I want to apologise to the House for not stopping the Minister earlier and ruling it out. I should’ve; I didn’t, and I am ruling that irrelevant material introduced in either a supplementary question or in an answer does not give licence for further extension of things that are outside the relevance question for that question.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is it his view and position that the coalition Government came to the view that an expanded, visionary, forward-looking economic programme was far more likely to deliver justice to the people of this country, rather than voting for something because there’s nothing else on offer?

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Yes, I do. I mean—

Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Peters has just raised the election campaign and voting again, which is the very thing you ruled out in my supplementary question.

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, he actually referred to the, the substance of his question was around the policy of the coalition Government.

This all detracted from a question originally aimed at making an important point about the scrapping of tax cuts.

Q5 – point of order from Judith Collins.

Q6 – two from Simon Bridges, one from Nathan Guy. Plus:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. We’ve only got a limited time for questions in this House. [Interruption] Sir, can I be heard in silence. It’s a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Absolutely, because all points of order are to be heard in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. We’ve only got a limited time for questions in this House, and affording someone in this time to think up what he wants to ask next is not part of the procedure of this House.

Mr SPEAKER: My view is that there are a number of members who take a little time either preparing in their minds or getting the questions out. Frankly, I’d rather have thought-out questions than many of them that we get.

Q8 Points of Order:

  • Carmel Sepuloni – 1
  • Simon Bridges – 3
  • Gerry Brownlee – 3
  • Winston Peters – 1

Q9 Points of Order:

  • Brett Hudson – 2
  • Gerry Brownlee – 2
  • Nikki Kaye – 1
  • Chris Hipkins – 1

Q11 Points of Order:

  • Nick Smith – 4
  • Simon Bridges – 1
  • Gerry Brownlee – 1

Hon Simon Bridges: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to raise the point of order—it’s highly unusual. The member’s calling for it, so we haven’t moved on. I’m just—I’m clearly seeking to understand what’s gone on here.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, and to make it absolutely clear, the number of supplementary questions are entirely at my discretion. I have decided, because of the interjection from Dr Smith, I will not allow any further Government or Opposition supplementaries on this question. I’m not taking away—if the members want to use them on the next question, they can, but not on this one, because of Dr Smith’s behaviour.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think there are some very important questions that should be asked in this. I’m sorry that you’ve taken this. One of the new pieces of information that the Minister managed to give the House was the new collaborative way that the Government wants to work with all sectors, to see if they can meet the target, and I think it would have been appropriate if there had been an opportunity to ask him if he’ll put out a list of suitable species for home gardeners to put on their list of tree plantings to help the Government with their target.

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry; as a result of that frivolous point of order, another one of the supplementary questions for the National Party has been lost.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It’s a very reasonable request. When the Government’s most important flagship programme is around these billion trees—

Mr SPEAKER: No, Dr Nick Smith will resume his seat. He will resume his seat now. I have ruled that we are moving on to question 12 because of an inappropriate interjection by Dr Nick Smith when he had been called for a supplementary. If Dr Nick Smith intervenes again, on that question, it will result in further loss of supplementary questions to the National Party.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What was the comment that I made, that, as a consequence, has—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat.

Q12 Points of Order:

  • Steven Joyce – 3
  • Simon Bridges – 6
  • Parmjeet Parmar – 1

Some of the Points of Order were reasonable, but many were frivolous or seemed pointless – in other words, a waste of time and an unnecessary and counter productive diversion.

Question Time concluded with:

Hon Steven Joyce: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Again, I was listening very carefully to that answer—before the gratuitous bit—and I’m sorry, but in a previous supplementary the Minister has been asked, “What proportion will be the Government—

Mr SPEAKER: The member will resume his seat. I’ve ruled that it’s been addressed. In fact, I’ve stopped her for over-addressing it.

Hon Member: Supplementary question?

Mr SPEAKER: No, the National Party has run out of supplementary questions.

Trevor Mallard is making a real effort to allow an effective Question Time. The Opposition are running a real risk of blowing it.

Politics 101 – pick your battles wisely, and make sure they are battles you have a good chance of winning.

Now a $20bn hole accusation

Steven Joyce’s accusation of a $11 billion ‘fiscal hole’ livened up campaign debate. he was widely criticised but didn’t back down.

Now the Government is reversing the hole blame.

RNZ: Govt accuses National of leaving $20bn hole

The government has accused National of leaving it with a $20 billion bill which has not specifically been included in future budgets.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson told Parliament this afternoon that National failed to put aside the money for its promised big ticket Defence Force upgrade.

“As one commentator has said, the National Government never accurately costed it and made no provision in any of its long-term forecasts to pay for it.

“This is far from providing certainty.”

Government officials are now reviewing the programme to look for better value for money, he said.

“This is the responsible thing to do given the mess left by the previous government,” Mr Robertson said.

Robertson seems to be preparing the ground for either a cut back to spending on the Defence Force upgrade, or justifying larger than promised spending and deficits. Or both.

But his predecessor Steven Joyce denied National had left behind a fiscal hole.

He said the $20 billion of promised spending stretched over 15 years and could be paid for out of nearly $110 billion of unallocated capital funding over that same time period.

“There’s plenty of room in the long term forecasts.”

Mr Joyce said it was a desperate ploy to divert attention from Mr Robertson’s plan to ramp up debt.

“I think the Labour Party might be tilting at windmills to suggest this somehow leaves a fiscal hole.”

Expect this fiscal punching and counter punching to continue, but the crunch will come when Robertson presents his first budget next year. Then we should see the actual fiscal situation as affected by new Government policies and spending, for the short term at least

Did Steven Joyce fail economic papers?

I’ve often seen it claimed that Steven Joyce failed economic papers. This came up again on Twitter on Monday:

This circulated on Facebook:

A version of the meme which claims to show Steven Joyce's university transcript from the 1980s. Image/Facebook

The claims seem to have become somewhat embellished. He got a fail mark in one, and did not complete or withdrew from seven economic papers.

Joyce in a 2014 n interview with Victoria University’s student magazine Salient:

“I went to Massey University, from 1981 to 1985 in Palmerston North. I did a vet intermediate and didn’t quite make the cut for vet school so I did a zoology degree for two years,” he told the magazine.

“In the first three years I passed all my papers, I was very excited. And then I started in student radio. In my fourth year I was doing economics papers. I sat six and passed three.

“In my fifth year I enrolled for three and passed none. By that time I was fully into radio.”

That doesn’t quite match the student record – which is incomplete, it doesn’t show results from 1981 to 1983.

It was also was checked out by NZ Herald in September: Finance Minister Steven Joyce confirms he dropped out of uni economics papers

The Herald put written questions to Joyce, including whether the grades affected his ability to be finance minister.

His press secretary replied only that “Minister Joyce started but then withdrew from those papers because he was starting his radio company”.

Joyce and several friends, including More FM’s Jeremy Corbett, started New Plymouth radio station Energy FM in 1987.

He went on to develop a commercial radio empire and made $6 million when it was sold to CanWest.

Further details from Wikipedia:

After leaving university Joyce and a group of friends (including radio presenter Jeremy Corbett) started their own radio station, Energy FM, in New Plymouth.[4][5] With business partners, he built up RadioWorks over the next seventeen years, both organically and by acquisition, to a network of 22 radio stations and 650 staff. He retired as Managing Director of RadioWorks in April 2001, when CanWest purchased it, Joyce receiving $6 million for the sale.[5]

After RadioWorks he joined the New Zealand National Party, working as their campaign manager in both the 2005 and the 2008 general elections. He also served as CEO of Jasons Travel Media for two years until 2008.

That kind of suggests a lack of economic papers did not prevent Joyce from substantial commercial success. He became a list MP in 2008 when John Key led National into Government.

How important are economic qualifications for Minister of Finance?

Grant Robertson (current Minister of Finance, became an MP in 2008):

Studied politics at Otago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in 1995. His involvement in the campaign against user-pays education led him to become President of the Otago University Students Association, and later Vice President and then Co-President of the New Zealand University Students Association.

After leaving university, Grant joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and was also posted to the United Nations in New York. On his return to New Zealand he became an advisor to then-Minister of Environment Marian Hobbs, then to Prime Minister Helen Clark.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grant_Robertson

Bill English (Became an MP in 1990, Minister of Finance 2008-2016):

…completed an honours degree in English literature at Victoria University of Wellington.

From 1987 to 1989, he worked in Wellington as a policy analyst for the New Zealand Treasury.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_English

Michael Cullen (Became an MP in 1981, Minister if Finance 1999-2008):

…achieved an MA in history at Canterbury University. Receiving a Commonwealth Scholarshiphe then gained a PhD in social and economic history from the University of Edinburgh. From 1971 to 1981 he was a lecturer at Otago University, with a term as a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University from 1975 to 1976.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Cullen_(politician)

Bill Birch (Became an MP in 1972, Minister of Finance 1993-1999):

He was trained as a surveyor, and established a business in Pukekohe, a small town south of Auckland.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Birch

Ruth Richardson (Became an MP in 1981, Minister of Finance 1990-1993):

Richardson gained a law degree with honours from the University of Canterbury. After graduating, she worked for the Department of Justice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Richardson

Roger Douglas (Became an MP in 1969, Minister of Finance 1984-1988):

He gained a degree in accountancy from the University of Auckland in 1957. Afterwards, he was hired by Bremworth Carpets in South Auckland as company secretary. He married and moved to Mangere in 1961, becoming President of the Manukau Labour Electorate Committee. He began to run the Bremworth division individually after the company’s sale to UEB in the mid-1960s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Douglas

Robert Muldoon (Became an MP in 1960, Minister of Finance 1975-1984):

He left school at age 15, finding work at Fletcher Construction and then the Auckland Electric Power Board as an arrears clerk. He studied accountancy by correspondence.

Many Ministers don’t have relevant education for their portfolios. For example from the current Cabinet:

Kelvin Davis – Minister for Crown/Māori Relations, Corrections, and Tourism:

He obtained a Diploma of Teaching from Auckland College of Education (1985–1987) and taught at Koru School in Mangere (1988–1990), Bay of Islands Intermediate School in Kawakawa (1991–1993), before becoming principal of Karetu School (1994–1998). He then held employment with the Education Advisory Service (1998–1999) and the education improvement and development project Te Putahitanga Matauranga (2000). He was then principal of Kaitaia Intermediate School from 2001 to 2007.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_Davis_(politician)

Phil Twyford – Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport:

After studying politics at Auckland University, Phil worked as a journalist and union organiser before becoming the founding Executive Director of Oxfam New Zealand. Phil’s strong belief in justice led to him becoming Oxfam’s Global Advocacy Director, based in Washington DC.

http://www.labour.org.nz/philtwyford

Dr David Clark – Minister of Health:

Clark undertook university study at the University of Otago and Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen. He completed degrees in German and theology before a PhD on the work of German/New Zealand refugee and existentialist thinker Helmut Herbert Hermann Rex.

Ordained in 1997, Clark is a Presbyterian minister.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Clark_(New_Zealand_politician)

Dr Megan Woods:

Worked as a Business Manager at Plant & Food Research. She holds a PhD in New Zealand History from the University of Canterbury.

http://www.labour.org.nz/meganwoods

Chris Hipkins:

Completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and Criminology at Victoria University.

After completing his study, Chris worked in the industry training sector. Before becoming an MP he also worked at parliament, first as Senior Advisor to two Education Ministers and later in the office of the then Prime Minister Helen Clark.

http://www.labour.org.nz/chrishipkins

Prime Ministers appoint MPs to ministerial roles based on much more than their academic background.

“Literally failed eight economic papers” is either deliberate dirty politics or a lazy attack line, and is a factual failure.

There was nothing dramatic or controversial in Joyce’s only budget as Minister of Finance in 2017.