Grant Robertson

Government proud of small reduction in government employees. It’s not good enough

The government is trying to reduce troughers and bureaucrats and has made a good start…but it is nowhere near good enough.

Decimation would be a target to aim for.

The number of backroom bureaucrats is at its lowest since a cap was set in 2012.

State Services Minister Paula Bennett says there were 35,632 full time staff at the end of June, 474 fewer than in December.

“This latest result is 843 under the cap set by the Government in 2012, and the lowest since it was introduced,” she said today.

“The Government has made it a focus to cut unnecessary bureaucracy and waste and target expenditure where it will deliver measurable results.”    Read more »

Trotter on Labour’s coming shuffle of the deck chairs

Chris Trotter returns to sensibility and explores the shuffling of the deck chairs on the sinking ship Labour.

SOMETIME THIS WEEK (the date keeps changing) Andrew Little will announce his Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. The refreshed line-up of senior Opposition spokespeople will be the electorate’s best guide as to who will be doing what in the next Labour-led government. Barring unforeseen circumstances, and unforgiveable cock-ups, Little’s promotions, reappointments and demotions will be the last such exercise before the 2017 General Election.

Very few New Zealanders will pay much attention to Little’s final choices. Labour’s ranks, thinned by successive and increasingly severe defeats, contains nobody upon whose shoulders the burden of the electorate’s hopes has  yet descended.

Labour has a talent pool as shallow as a carpark puddle in the heat of summer. I was discussing this yesterday at lunch with the boys at church. They looked at National caucus and at Labour’s and came to the conclusion that even if a plane crashed with most of National’s cabinet aboard, there would still be capable people left in caucus to run the show. If Labour’s front two benches got cleaned out who would be left with any skills?    Read more »

Just what Labour needs, a deputy who doesn’t know what she wants to do

Labour’s conference has turned into a travesty, with Andrew Little unwilling to say whether or not Labour supports free trade, Phil Twyford going all Stalinist on housing, and the nanny state policies making a return with Labour’s wish to tax Watties’ tomato sauce.

Now Annette King, Andrew Little’s chosen deputy isn’t quite sure what she wants to do after 2017.

Labour MP Annette King says she hasn’t decided what she’ll do for the next general election.

Ms King is the MP for Rongotai, deputy leader of Labour and their spokeswoman for health.

There’s been speculation the 68-year-old may not stand at the 2017 general election or will run on the party list, creating an opportunity for a new electorate MP.

“That’s a decision I’ve yet to make,” Ms King told TVNZ’s Q&A program today.    Read more »

Judith Collins on work ethic and winning

Judith Collins has a column in the Sunday Star-Times today that mocks Labour for hating on John Key being with the All Blacks as they won the World Cup.

She then gets into the mechanics of winning where hard work beats natural talent.

Which then segues into discussing the missing talent of Andrew Little and also his missing work ethic.

We’ve seen the will to win in our Prime Minister. We saw it in Helen Clark. We don’t see it in the current leader of the Opposition, Andrew Little. That’s his problem. So far, I’ve seen nothing that tells me that Little is really serious.

Last weekend we had the Rugby World Cup final. This weekend, it is the Labour Party Conference. I’m sure the usual platitudes will result. They’re all behind the leader, all united, no factions, everything’s great. Except it’s not.

Andrew Little made a strategic error in handing over his Labour Party voters to Winston Peters in Northland. Sure, the result left National groggy – for a while. Sure, it took away a crucial vote for real Resource Management reform, but who are the losers in that? It’s all Kiwis and particularly people in Northland who want to see an even more vibrant economy.

I’m no fan of Winston Peters. He’s got the talent but not the work ethic. Tales of his unwillingness to read the fine print abound. That’s why his goal is 7 per cdent of the party vote not 50 per cent. But, right now, he is a more effective Leader of the Opposition than Andrew Little.

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Robertson comes out swinging with his handbag

Grant Robertson adds his considerable weight to the stupid of Labour:

National’s drive for surplus has meant less investment in critical areas like health, education, housing and transport – yet John Key told Parliament today he wants the money for cycleways, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Government’s belated surplus has been partly achieved by dropping spending by $235m in education, $97m on housing and community development, $52m in health and over $300m on transport and communications.

“These are critical areas. Too many students are failing NCEA, dilapidated state houses are making people sick, patients are waiting far too long in hospital emergency departments and regional roads and internet services are in desperate need of upgrades.  Read more »

Rob Hosking on Jacinda Ardern and her flakiness

Rob Hosking adds further comment on Jacinda Ardern and all of her fanbois and fangurlz out there rushing to defend the princess.

The piece I wrote on Saturday did not even mention any supposed attractiveness for that very reason (the ‘pretty vacant’ url was inserted by a head of digital who had been thrashing the Sex Pistols a bit much).

Heh, I wondered where that came from.

I don’t give a damn if she looks like Angelina Jolie or the Elephant Man.

What I do give a damn about is the vapid, substance-free politics Ms Ardern has offered so far.

Her joint run for Labour’s leadership last year, with friend and colleague Grant Robertson, was an empty void. The only thing the two offered was being a “new generation” of politicians – itself one of the oldest cliches in democratic politics.

While pledging that one was born after 1970 is a promise more likely to be kept than most other political promises, that is about all that can be said for it.    Read more »

Vernon Small: “Jacinda Ardern is A political heavy-weight”

Vernon Small seems to be able to see things that the rest of us can’t.

A few Woman’s Day covers may improve name recognition for a poll, but they’re setting the poor little girl up for a big big fall.   

Wait until the next preferred PM poll.  Rating her as the fourth most preferred leader of this country, as a political journalist, should be a sacking offence.

Do we still have to be debating the appropriateness of male media mouths calling senior politicians – or anyone else for that matter – “a pretty little thing”?

That was Graham Lowe’s “acute” summary of Labour front bencher Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday morning – though he did also note she was “smart”, presented the right image, and would in fact “look good” as a future prime minister.

Nothing wrong with saying she looked good – it is something anyone might say about any politician. But “pretty little thing”? Please.

Lest we forget, in a new poll Ardern is running fourth as preferred prime minister.

That rates her as voters’ choice behind three of the country’s most experienced and able political operators; Prime Minister John Key, her leader Andrew Little and the veteran Winston Peters.

She is also a front-runner to replace Annette King if, as scheduled, Labour elects a new deputy later this year.

That makes her much more than a “pretty little thing” – it makes her a political heavy weight, and throws her into contention as a future prime minister.

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An asset sale by other name would smell as sweet

National falls in the trap of making non-equivocal statements, like “no new taxes” and “no more asset sales”.

But then they have to start farting around the edges with semantics.  Oh no, that’s not an asset sale, it’s a sale of unused, erm… you know, things.  But it’s not an asset sale!

The Government is looking at raising money from the sale of unused land and under-utilised assets held by state-owned enterprises, Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed.

Treasury documents suggest about $2 billion could be raised and Labour says it’s a backdoor attempt to continue the asset sales programme.

“National promised before the election not to sell more assets,” Labour’s finance spokesman Grant Robertson said today.

“This paper indicates there is an extensive list of assets held by SOEs that are now on the chopping block.”     Read more »

Clare Curran chucked under the bus in Labour plagiarism scandal

Clare Curran has drawn the short straw for Labour’s plagiarism scandal, admitting it was her who cut/pasted whole paragraphs from other media to claim as their own thoughts and ideas.

Accusations of plagiarism have been levelled at Labour, with passages in the party’s flagship “Future of Work” document appearing to have been copied directly from the Economist.

In his first major speech as Labour leader, Andrew Little announced a commission to look at the future of work and prepare the economy for the impact on jobs and job security of automation and technology.

Led by finance spokesman Grant Robertson, the commission released its technology paper on Thursday which, after feedback, will help form its policies for the 2017 election campaign.


A team of independent expert advisers was helping 10 MPs to investigate themes including the impact of new technology and demands for greater workplace flexibility.

It’s understood the passages in question were contributed by the party’s ICT spokeswoman, Clare Curran, who has apologised.

“A large number of documents were used during the research for this paper, from many sources over a period of weeks and months.

“These paragraphs should have been cited in the final text and I apologise for the oversight. The document has been updated on our website.”

Robertson did not immediately return calls for comment.

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Good news, Grant Robertson has discovered how to steal ideas and cut/paste them into policy

Grant Robertson is the person responsible for Labour’s much vaunted “Future of Work” policy initiative.

Phil Quin, though, has discovered that he is simply cut/pasting exact phrases from news organisations because they sound about what Labour wants to say.

I have reviewed one small section of Labour’s Future of Work discussion paper, and uncovered three clear cases of plagiarism. I can only imagine other such instances are rife throughout the document.

The section in question is titled “Emerging Challenges and Opportunities”.  In total, the section comprises just over 1,200 words.  Among them, a straightforward Google search uncovered three occasions where the drafters of the report directly lifted whole sentences and paragraphs from articles in the Economist and Business Insider.

Labour wrote:

Complex tasks such as programming a computer or writing a legal brief can now be divided in component parts and subcontracted to specialists around the world.

On January 5th this year, in an article titled “Workers on Tap”, the Economist reported:

Complex tasks, such as programming a computer or writing a legal brief, can now be divided into their component parts—and subcontracted to specialists around the world.

Labour went on to write:   Read more »