Life and Politics

Occasional comment on politics and the media in New Zealand

Tag: Labour Party

Phil Goff gets his bounce

by Jake Quinn

Last night’s TV3 poll shows Labour up three and a half percent, while National are down nearly five.  More importantly for Mr Goff, he has finally risen above Helen Clark in the preferred Prime Minister rankings.

There is also good news for the Greens as they head back towards to eight percent mark after a few dangerously low polls in recent months.  National still maintain a commanding lead with fifty-five percent of the vote in this poll, but the narrowing will concern Mr Key, especially if the trend is confirmed or continued in further polls.

I would say that this small turn around is not just because of Phil Goff’s Nationhood speech (which succeeded in making him, rather than Key, the focus of much media comment), but rather because of National’s dubious dealings with the Maori Party over the ETS legislation, which is now law (and add to that a few thousand bikies disgruntled over proposed ACC levy hikes).

Folks might not really understand the intricacies of emissions trading, but they can spot a mongrel when its barking in their face, and Mr Goff’s speech did act to draw attention to the deal and its unsavory undertones of ‘dodgy deals with elite iwi’ which, expectedly, would be unpopular with the vast majority of kiwis.

Astonishingly*, there has been no en masse liberal leftist abandonment of Labour for the Greens as a result of Goff’s speech on race relations, or the caucus’ backing of it.  Who would have though.  I can only imagine that Lew and Idiot/Savant were not polled (or perhaps would have voted for the Greens anyway?).

With the trickle of negative press stories about New Zealand coming out of the COP 15 in Copenhagen and with one more attention grabbing excursion from the Leader of the Opposition in the new year period, we could almost be excused for expecting another poll like this to come our way soon.

* implies sarcasm


A week at the beach

by Jake Quinn

I’ve been on holiday in the Coromandel for a week.  Been fishing, swimming and drinking gin and tonic.  It’s been swell.  So not that interested in news, but I did try watching the occasional 6 o’clock TV bulletin which, unfortunatley, just made me want to self-harm.

But I have been keen to keep tabs on the fallout from Phil Goff’s speech (earlier in the week the Herald twisted the knife with this rather negative editorial). What was interesting was Linda Clark’s discussion on TV3’s Sunrise (the show, which I’ve never before bothered to watch, is so bad it makes me want to watch Paul Henry).

Linda made some interesting points (just try to ignore Oliver Driver and Carly Flynn laughing like teenagers and making sideways glances at each other as they try and read the news).

She basically defends Goff’s actions, making the point that he is from the “Ken” school of Labour as opposed to the “Marian” one.  Ken is the blue collar, mostly male and often pro-union, Labour voter, while Marian is the urban, liberal, mostly female voter who “tends to wear more expensive perfume” (like her, she admits).

Also worth noting has been up-and-coming political-commentator-of-the-left Andrew Campbell’s wee tanty in reaction to the Labour caucus’s decision to “close ranks” and back Goff and his speech this week.  To be fair to the caucus, there was no alternative.  As many have noted, the mere fact that the question was being asked isn’t good news – just ask Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez what that’s like.

Also this week, Wellington “insiders” Trans Tasman released their annual review of MP’s which saw Speaker Lockwood Smith go top, trumping even our god-like prime-awesomeness-minister, Mr Key.  Colin Espiner gives his take, but I prefer Danyl Mclauchlan’s. I have nothing to add.  Living in Hamilton means I really don’t have much of a clue about such things, I only know what I read in the paper. heh.

Finally, I’m not sure what to make of (or where to start with) this NZ Herald editorial which states the obvious over the section 59 repeal (that omg the sky hasn’t fallen in, and yes, people still smack their kids, but the real nasty ones won’t, just maybe, be able to get away with it so much anymore) but fails tremendously to note the incredible hypocrisy and irony, of it being written in, wait for it, the NZ Herald.

I basically just can’t be stuffed googling “Herald” and “Anti-smacking” to link to a zillion ridiculous articles which would make this point stronger, because I know you know they’re there and have read them.  I do though look forward to reading whatever James over at Editing the Herald has to say about that one (at time of writing he hasn’t found it).

Now where is my sun lounger. Yes, I am aware that is 12:26 am.

Party unity, Nationhood speech and Foreshore and Seabed repeal

by Jake Quinn

An interesting piece by Vernon Small in today’s Dominion Post suggests that Labour MP’s will be ‘taking it’ to Goff, over his recent nationhood speech, at next week’s Caucus meeting.

Small notes that “Discontent, especially on the Left of the party, has centred around Mr Goff’s comments on the foreshore and seabed policy”, which Goff has signalled Labour will now oppose the repeal of.

One can’t imagine that much discontent, I mean these are the MPs that voted for the legislation in the first place. (I do wonder however, what Party President Mr Little will be thinking, having unilaterally announced that Maori should “have their day in court” at this year’s Labour Party Conference).

It is clear why certain MPs feel the need to publically take a stand on these issues (particularly the speech); as Farrar notes, “Grant [Robertson] will just be doing his job as a local MP. Wellington Central is a very liberal seat, and Labour activists there are very liberal. I have no doubt Grant will have been bombarded by supporters asking what the fuck is going on”. Indeed.  It would be fair to say that similar sentiments have resonated from a few Labourites around Auckland University.

While they’re on the topic next week, Goff might like to remind his MPs that such discussions are best undertaken in caucus however, and not in the Dominion Post.  The image of party unity is important to staving off leadership discussions, and as many have noted, the lack of descent dissent from the party and its MP’s was the hallmark of Clark’s years.

That said however, Goff has made it quite clear that he wishes to have a different managerial style from Helen (which has, for instance, lead to the creation of the Labour MP’s succesful blog Red Alert).  The question remains though: will Goff’s hands-off style work during what is a pretty serious rebuilding phase for Labour.

Nationhood, take two

by Jake Quinn

I figured I’d let this one settle over night, because at first glance a speech titled Nationhood about race relations by the Leader of the Labour Party (yes, the Labour Party), couched in the langauge of “where one New Zealander is turned against another, Maori against Pakeha” seemed like some kind of strange horrible alternative universe nightmare.

Idiot/Savant was typically excersied: “Today in Palmerston North (of course), Labour leader Phil Goff gave a speech to Grey Power (of course) attacking the government for dealing with the Maori Party, “reopening” Treaty settlements, and revisiting the Foreshore and Seabed Act. While carefully caveated (of course), the underlying message was loud and clear: “National is in bed with the bloody Maaris“.

While Lew over at Kiwipolitio was similarly displeased: “Perhaps this speech is an attempt by Phil Goff to reclaim the term and concept of “Nationhood” from the clutches of rampant colonialism. If so, it is an abject failure. It compounds Labour’s cynical appeasement of National’s race-war stance in 2003 with a reactionary, resentful re-assertion of the same principles before which Labour cowered in 2004.”

However, rather than just parroting the howls of outrage from the left, I decided to actually read the thing.

Firstly, the decision to backtrack on ‘consensus building’ over the upcoming Foreshore and Seabed Act repeal is a wise one, politically. National has squandered large quantities of its political capital over the ETS.  For that reason, there will now be far more suspicion, than there would have otherwise been, about National’s handling of F&S Act repeal.  It therefore makes a lot of sense to ask the question “what is so wrong about the status quo, and can we really trust National to improve it when they’ve just been caught red-handed doing dodgy deals and selling out to a few rich iwi over the ETS?”

The speech also rightly – and repeatedly – points out the outrage that is the massive transfer of wealth from ordinary taxpayers to the big polluters via the ETS, by providing so many free allocations to the emitting sectors.  This is a hard message to sell the public however, who much more easily understand “National will reduce the price of petrol and power compared to Labour” (even if it’s actually just the govt subsidizing that reduction).

The message that New Zealand pays its liability no matter what, and that if polluters have to pay it, it might actually go down, is a hard one to sell, but Goff keeps trying.

In terms of the rousing rhetoric on race relations, it is ever-present throughout the speech (although, Gordon Campbell doesn’t seemed too phased). Fair enough on the Hone stuff, as we’ve said earlier, Goff is within his rights to attack Hone (and by association Key) hard on this, but Goff has taken a few steps further, picked up on Shane Jones’ publicly tested lines from the last few weeks, and streaked down the beach with them.

Goff said: “I reject strongly the allegation the Prime Minister made that anyone who has concerns about this deal is playing the race card. Race is a red herring in this deal. It’s about subsidies for big corporations, and I am not going to shy away from saying so.”

The irony of Goff saying that race is a red herring, in a speech titled Nationhood (Don Brash’s infamous Orewa speech of 2004, where he talked about Maori having “a birthright to the upper hand”, was also titled Nationhood) which is then slapped up for the website against a picture of a (supposedly threatened?) kiwi beach is self-evident.

The interesting thing to watch now will be the reactions from Labour party people.  I can’t imagine Young Labour supporting this speech and could see them going as far as speaking out publicly on it.

At the end of the day I’m not comfortable with much of the rhetoric in it, and definitely think the title was cynical, but the speech has many an important message, with many a valid point.  And you too should read it.

Update: Eddie at The Standard calls it “stupid and wrong on so many levels”, MP Grant Robertson give his take, and DimPost calls it “essentially the same speech [as Brash’s] with the same title, updated for contemporary issues.”

Update 2: Parekura has just issued a statement saying ““Phil’s my mate. I’ve known him for more than 20 years and he isn’t a racist”, in response to the Maori Party’s one, where they say they are deeply offended by Goff’s comments yesterday.

Should parliamentary staffers be fair game?

by Jake Quinn

A few issues doing the rounds at the moment, most of which disappoint, and a few of which I will blog on today.  In order of importance, beginning with the least important (the other one will be Goff’s Nationhood speech).

Charles Chauvel, who I will begin by saying has been particularly strong for Labour in the House and with his media lines on the ETS amendment legislation in the past week, partakes in some rather less inspiring antics with this blog post on redalert.

He posts the Facebook page of an Act staffer who jokes that he “is booked for 8 nights in the Abel Tasman National Park…before Minister Brownlee rips it ip.” Which is actually kind of funny. Hell, it’s the kind of thing I might write, if I was fortunate enough to possess such wit.

It is not the first time Charles has posted comments from parliamentary staffers on Labour’s blog (or used their names in the House).  As an ex-parliamentary staffer, and hopefully a future one, I do not find this precedent particularly encouraging.  In saying that, I am reasonably careful, at least I try to be, in what I write on platforms such as Facebook or this blog for that matter.  However, it would be nice to know that people aren’t sniffing around waiting for a badly timed joke.

Humour transplant’s for Labour have been suggested and Charles’ biggest National Party voting fan is understandably disheartened.  On the bright side, Trevor Mallard used the comments thread of the post to say he: “would have come down on the other side of the judgement call Charles made. If staff members enter the debate themselves – make more traditional public statements, attack other parties then they are fair game. But they don’t have the house to answer back as we do as politicians. Them being stupid not enough reason for having a go.” – Good on you Trevor.

Hone to stay, a win for the Maori Party

by Jake Quinn

Dr Sharples says the Maori Party “would not push out Mr Harawira if he refused to leave and continued to be backed by his electorate“.  This is the most sensible outcome for the future of the party and a defeat for the special interests that would have been better served by the removal of the strongest activist voice from within it.

The decision to keep Hone on is a win win for the party because he’s now been sufficiently chastised (as was suggested as being necessary here) which appeases the media who have had their fill of blood, but keeps in the whare a popular (in certain key constituencies) and high-profile MP.

Importantly, this stifles, for now at least, the potential of another Maori focused party being established by Hone, which would have had the potential to split the Maori vote between the pragmatists and the ideologs – to both movements’ disadvantage.

The losers from Hone’s return are Labour and National.  National lose because their coalition partner would have been oh-so-more amenable without Mr Harawira to deal with.  Labour lose because an imploding Maori Party would have increased the likelihood of them taking back the Maori Seats at future elections.

“Battle of the Babes”

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

OK, the Herald has sunk to a new low.

Not only will two 20-something females potentially be contesting Auckland Central at the next election, but Steve Crow will be moderating the Herald-sponsored electorate debate. The candidate’s policy platforms will play second fiddle to how they look in a bikini, but rest assured, the hard-hitting questions will still be allowed.

Excuse me while I vomit. Both Kaye and Ardern are very capable candidates, yet the Herald has trivialized the contest down to ‘babes’. If ever there was any doubt, this confirms that the Herald’s target demographic is the average 14 year-old Grammar boy.

The Labour selection in Auckland Central will have a list of potential candidates as long as my arm, but personally, I think the more interesting contest will be Waitakere. Former MP (now list MP) Lynne Pillay has announced that she will be retiring at the next election and Auckland Central-based Phil Twyford has announced he will be seeking selection. Another candidate has announced to the Labour Electorate Committee (which I attend as an interloper from Helensville) that he will be seeking selection as well, although I’m not sure this is public at the moment.

I have a real problem with carpet-baggers, and while I personally quite like Phil, I’m not sure the people of Waitakere will be quite so forgiving. Having said that, I understand Pillay was living in Central Auckland when she won, and, according to the Register of Financial Interests (pg 9), Paula Bennett doesn’t own any property in West Auckland, only a townhouse in Mt Eden (proud to be a Westie, eh?).

It’ll be fun to watch the positioning over the next few months before the selections early next year.

An actual Auckland Central strategy?

by Jake Quinn

National's Nikki Kaye and Labour's Jacinda Ardern

With the news that Phil Twyford will be now be seeking Labour’s Waitakere nomination for 2011, Jacinda Ardern is now free to publicly state her intention to seek the Auckland Central nomination.

Jacinda, formerly of Morrinsville in the Waikato, raised eyebrows earlier in the year by taking up residence in Auckland Central.  After all, Twyford, who had just suffered the inconvenience of having been pushed aside for David Shearer in Mouth Albert, had already set up shop next to Nikki Kaye’s Auckland Central electorate office and was therefore assumed to be the front-runner for Labour’s candidacy.

Some serious discussions must have gone on as to what kind of candidate would be the most likely to actually beat Kaye, who is widely seen to be doing quite well locally and who, naturally, receives a constant trickle of positive press coverage from her mates at the Herald and the city’s various glamour and gossip pages.

I imagine Jacinda would have the leadership’s and probably even some members of the party hierarchy’s (the Labour Party Council’s) support for the move, and has no doubt spent the last few months cozying up to the various local electorate committee members who would provide the only other possible resistance to her move.

I’d say confirming Jacinda’s nomination is unlikely to be as controversial as some might suggest (although I’m sure many people will put their names forward).  Thus, talk of others providing stiff competition might be misguided.  In any case, I’d say Jacinda’s wide-ranging support would probably be enough to see her shake off the possible internal opponents.

In the same way that every other CBD seat goes to Labour, Auckland Central is a natural seat for the party.  Winning it back needs to be an absolute top priority for Labour and having Jacinda as their candidate is the best way to ensure that happens.

When the 2011 election rolls around, Auckland Central voters will be able to ask “hey, these two candidates are both hard-working, intelligent, bushy-tailed young up-and-comers, so what separates them?”

Well, that’s the thing, I’m sure they both like to think of themselves as ‘pro-environment urban-liberals’, but only one of them can really say it with a straight face – and that’s the difference.

What Kaye tirelessly presents to the electorate, or at least tries to, Ardern actually is.

Conspiracies and race-cards

by Jake Quinn

Chris Trotter conjures up an interesting conspiracy theory.  His character plays the role of a fictional journalist asking the curly ones about HoneHarawira’s email leaker, Mr Buddy Mikaere.  The central question being, what, if anything, does Mr Mikaere have to gain from Hone departing the Maori Party (and how this might be related to his leaking of said email)?

Totter’s character asks: “Who is this man? What does he do? Who does he rub noses with? Did he have anything to gain by becoming involved in the Harawira controversy? Who, if anyone, did he talk to before releasing the offending e-mails?”

Trotter’s theory, as I read it, goes a little like; Maori Party supports Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) legislation and in return gets Foreshore & Seabed Act repeal plus ETS sweeteners for Maori (exclusive tree planting rights on DOC land etc), and Mikaere benefits in some way because of his role representing Iwi in such dealings and Hone is the only man who could possibly stand in his way… or something like that.

It could be totally off the mark.  But who would know.

David Farrar then draws our attention to the reasonably legitimate accusation from Colin Espiner that Phil Goff has played the race-card not once, but twice, in the last week.

Espiner writes: “Twice in the past week, Goff has played the race card, albeit carefully, by suggesting first that there was one rule for Harawira over his comments about white mo-fos and another rule for other MPs, and then raising the prospect that National’s proposed settlement with iwi over the ETS was based on ethnicity.”

It most certainly doesn’t resemble Brash’s despicable “birth-right to the upper hand” version of the tactic, but sounds like a mild dog whistle none the less. (That’s if it’s possible for a mild one to exist, I mean they either hear it or they don’t, right?)

Not many around here (based on this kind of logic), but plenty of folks are mightily peeved by Hone’s words, and his direct attack on Goff (saying he should be shot for his involvement in passing the Foreshore and Seabed Act) could be seen to have given the Labour leader legitimate cause to enter the fray. However, he should be very careful, as David suggests,with how he treads this line.  Going blue-collar on motorbikes is one thing, but let us not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Update: I just saw Patrick Gower’s bit in the Herald yesterday where he congratulates Goff for using Brash-like language (one law for all, bludged off the tax payer) and where he says Michael Law’s thinks Goff is “becoming relevant again”.

Sigh. Caucus next week should be interesting.

Oh, and the Standard likes it.  How odd (I’m not being sarcastic, I actually find it odd).

Greens not hot on Goff’s apologies

by Jake Quinn

It’s funny watching the Greens (and many on the left) get their knickers in a twist over Phil Goff’s apologising for the ‘nanny-state-isms’ of the last Labour government. They say in bowing to pressure and conceding defeat over light bulbs and shower heads that Goff is handing victory to the right. Jeanette has an open letter to Phil Goff.  She says “Even using their term, “nanny state” fails politics 101 – never repeat your opponent’s terms of abuse.”

Phil’s actions could be an exception to the rule in this case. If you asked the tens of thousands of voters who abandoned Labour at the 2008 election why they didn’t vote for Labour most would answer in one of two ways: Either the “it’s time for a change” line, or the “Labour got too nanny state” one.  So the nanny state argument, a brutally successful tool devised by National, was won on election night.

So how do you come back from that? Do you pretend that the sentiment didn’t exist and keep trying to argue the merits of your initial position? Or do you say, bugger it, maybe we should have incentivised those energy efficient products rather than trying to ban the alternatives.

Sometimes in politics you have to concede defeat. Yes water efficient shower heads are a bloody good idea, especially if you can’t even tell the difference because of how well they’re designed. And yes, efficient bulbs are a bloody good idea too; they save money, power and with the newer flashier ones coming though, you can get the orange-light-effect so many people love about the old ones.

But, a ban is a ban is a ban. And when you’re party is on the ropes for banning too many things, you’re a fool to throw petrol on the fire (as Labour ending up doing).

So when you do, it is the right thing to do to man up and say sorry. Not sorry because the light bulbs or shower heads are crap, but sorry because it was stupid to try and force them on people sick to death of being told what to do. They should have instead just heavily subsided the things, requiring no ban, and people would have lapped them up.

All in all the Greens will be feeling pretty positive about the new niche they can now fill. With Labour hunting the working class tradition left ‘Waitakere man‘ vote, the urban liberal is free to flirt with Met and the Sues’. And in the end, if it works for Labour and they summon back some of those voting blokes they lost, (while the Greens pick up some of Labour’s more liberal academic types) it’s all about more votes for the left.

Update: head here for an interesting analysis of events by former senior advisor to Helen Clark, Rob Salmond (Like his former boss, Rob is now based in the US). Rob has a simple message for Labour’s top brass: Keep it simple.

Phil is right: Labour’s message needs to be simple and clear. By 2011, everyone needs to know that Labour is for improving quality of life for all in New Zealand by pushing lower-level living standards higher. Full stop. Elections are won with a very small number of clear and well-developed ideas, not with a plethora of ideas in various stages of development. Floating very public trial balloons about exciting things like the legal threshold for party representation undermines that clear and simple message.

So what should Labour say now? How about: “MMP can of course be modified, and we can talk about that later. But in order to improve MMP first you need to keep MMP, which the people will decide on soon. Labour’s focus is not on the electoral system right now. It is on improving quality of life for all New Zealanders…”

Earth to Labour: You’re in Opposition Now

by Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

Message to Phil, Annette and co: you’re no longer the party of Government so you don’t need to act like it any more.

With a comprehensive line of attack against the National/ACT RMA reforms (loved the Auckland Chainsaw Massacre, by the way) and growing understanding and opposition to what the reforms were actually going to mean to Aucklanders (especially in Waitakere), Labour had a chance to take a stand against the government. And, after loosing the last election to a “time for a change” party that had framed itself as Labour-lite, Labour needs to take every opportunity it can to differentiate itself from the Government.

But no. Labour had to be the party of compromise. Someone in the Leader of the Opposition’s office has been watching Obama and the health care debate and thought they’d be able to reach across the partisan divide. Labour agreed with the majority of the Bill so thought they’d vote for it, despite National refusing separate votes on the points which Labour disagreed with (such as the chopping down of trees).

So the headlines yesterday morning were:

  • National passes RMA reform with the support of Labour.
  • Nikki Kaye was the only MP who actually questioned Nick Smith on the proposals.

Sorry Labour, you got played.

National doesn’t need your votes, the legislation was going to pass regardless of how you voted, and you’ve just given a stick that you could have used to beat them with to them so they can beat you with it.

And as for Nikki Kaye, that was just to quell the upraising (something John Key has encouraged, no less) in Auckland regarding proposed changes – “yeah, Nikki Kaye is standing up for Auckland Central – she’s even questioning her own party’s Ministers!”

Not to mention that Labour should have voted against the bill simply on process – passing this under urgancy is an attack on democracy.

And then David Cunliffe states that the only way to stop this is to vote National out in 2011 and Labour will change the RMA back before it comes into law in 2012. Only, every Labour candidate at the next election who tries to use that line on the hustings will be reminded that Labour voted for the reforms. Checkmate.

While opposing government provisions for the sake of it is a little disingenuous, parties of opposition are supposed offer an alternative to the government – that’s what they’re there for. I suggest that Phil and Annette go have a cup of tea with the Greens – they’re proffessionals at being in opposition (being the only party currently in Parliament who have never been in Government).

Labour’s problem and what Goff can do to fix it

by Jake Quinn

Your party are languishing in the polls, your leader has been given the unfortunate nickname of ‘phil-in’ by the nasty bloggers and even the sympathetic media have written off your chances of re-election till atleast 2014.  So it is fair to say that you have a little while yet warming the timber on the shadow benches.  So what do you do?

You’ve got a decent long-serving man at the front of the pack, and he’s got an equally decent and long-serving women as his deputy.  You’ve got some good recruits coming through the ranks and a few of the newbies in particular are really making their mark (especially with new media and savvy campaign stuff). You could almost say that things were looking up.

You were in government for near-a-bloody-decade and about the worst thing their saying about your new leader is that he’s got a bit too much experience under his belt. That he hasn’t made his mark yet. “But he’s a career politician!” they scream. But what do they want? A bee-keeper? A subway sandwich artist? It really could be much worse. Really it could.

They could be saying that he’s tired, corrupt or incompetent. Each of these accusations far more damaging than what the Labour senior lot are currently facing and none of which you could tag on Phil-the honest, competent, energizer bunny-Goff.

So your annual conference is on the weekend. This is Goff’s chance. If he hum-drums this one the media ridicule will continue for another year and the un-engaged electorate will continuing twiddle their thumbs. All the while lending their phone-poll support to the smiley fella in the shiny suit. Why? Because people like to back a winner.

So he and his colleagues have got to do something and it has got to be bold. It is not a leadership coup though – that would do more harm than good right now. The BBQ’s at Trevs are most definitely off (you do not even want to see anyone filling up gas bottles).

But he has to do something that differentiates him and his party from the last lot. He has got to give Audrey, Verny, Guyon et al something to work with. Give them something bold on Saturday or they’ll crucify you come Sunday.

So what will it be? Because it’s fair to say that a photo-op beating children is probably not advised (if one wanted to distance Labour from the Bradford law change) nor is a policy to introduce super-wasteful shower heads going to be a winner.

So we wait and see. Be watching out for any ‘Trevor strategy’. With his populist blog posts on redalert of late he’s been generating a lot of interest (criticising the court decision to not send the Wellington makatu man-slaughterers to prison and now saying school kids should back their school mates in fights with other schools).

Whatever you do this weekend Phil, please ensure that it does not include too much ‘going forward’ or ‘touching base’.

[UPDATE: He’s on the right track today! Reaction here and here.]

Labour tables Maori seats SOP, Boscowen gets lucky

by Jake Quinn

Labour has used its ‘Maori Caucus’ to table an amendment guaranteeing Maori seats on the new Auckland council, based on the model observed in Parliament:

The Supplementary Order Paper, lodged by Mita Ririnui, proposes that Maori seats on the council be established in the same way as the Maori seats in Parliament.

This means the number of Maori seats on the new council would be allocated according to the number of Maori on the Maori roll, Parekura Horomia said.

They draw on the experience of Maori seats in the Bay of Plenty (which are widely seen as effective) as an example:

“I introduced a similar piece of legislation in 2001, establishing Maori seats on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council which now has three Maori seats. It was pleasing to see yesterday that the Environment Bay of Plenty Chairman John Cronin said the Maori seats there were working well,” Mita Ririnui says.

In other news (and in a swift bout of terrible timing), John Boscawen’s member’s bill has been drawn today.  The bill aims to define the level and nature of force which it will be acceptable in ‘correcting’ children.  The ballot has displayed an eerie ability to pick extraordinarily relevant (in terms of timing) bills in the last few months. 

The timing of this one could be pretty serious though, if National decides to go with it.  John Key has thus far stared the smackers down by not making any changes to the assault on children legislation, may his principled and rational stance continue.

Maori seats: the question for Labour

by Jake Quinn

If you were in charge of Labour strategy, would you:

Put out a press statement titled “If Labour were the Government, Maori would have got their seats“.  Thus pointing out the clear difference to Maori of voting Labour instead of Maori Party at the next election.  But running the risk of being accused of being opportunist or worse a hypocrite (thinking back to its handling of the Foreshore and Seabed, abandoning ‘closing the gaps’, or removing some references to the Treaty post-Orewa).

Or would you stay quite quiet, bide your time and hope that Key’s governing situation goes pear shaped under the pressure of squabbling coalition children.  Knowing that if the Maori Party pulled the plug, National would be pulled away from the centre (where Key desperately wants it, for vote-retaining reasons) or if Hide pulled the plug that National would be trapped with the Maori Party having to support their entire work programme.

So Labour are advertising on Kiwiblog now

by Jake Quinn

Heh, I really should be doing some work but I couldn’t let this one slide.  Care of Ads by Scoop, Labour MP Phil Twyford’s Not Yours To Sell campaign ad is now appearing on Kiwiblog, which could be described as ‘not really a Labour supporting website’.  It is made all the better care of the opening sentence from the post in picture titled Labour and unions “one of the reasons I am not a Labour fan…”.