Helen Clark

Time to turn the clock back on some of Clark’s labour market damage

National’s employment reform is causing the usual canned complaints.  We have petitions, and threats, and bleating from the usual corners.  National is stealing the tea break, didn’t you know?

Under the change, an employer would have to provide only “reasonable compensatory measures where an employee could not reasonably be provided with breaks”. That could be met by giving equivalent time off work.

Labour launched a petition against the move that drew 10,000 signatures in 24 hours. It hoped to boost that over Labour weekend.

Labour MP Andrew Little – who highlighted the law change during his first leadership pitch to party members – said it showed this was the most “niggardly and nasty” National Government there had been. “To begrudge anyone having a cuppa or a meal break during their working day goes against the grain. It’s a Kiwi tradition. Doing away with it is mean-spirited and unfair.”

Labour’s minority report from the select committee that considered the bill described it as a leap back to the failed 1990s model. They said it continued “the flawed logic” that employers, who already have control of their workplaces and an implied duty of employees to obey instructions, needed more statutory powers.

Healthy workplaces allow for flexibility.  Like working through lunch so you can leave earlier that day to go do something.   Or working through lunch for 4 days to take Friday afternoon off.   This is something that any normal functioning company and its employees work out automatically.   Everyone benefits.   Read more »

Michael Bassett on Dirty Politics

dr_michael_bassett_on_housing_affordability_1963419593

Michael Bassett is one of the smartest men in New Zealand politics.

This is what he has to say on ‘Dirty Politics.

Reading the New Zealand Herald and watching Parliament this week, one could be forgiven for thinking that the 2014 election hadn’t yet taken place. Left-leaning editorial writers and opposition parliamentarians have been busy re-hashing stories that grabbed them during the election campaign as though the voters hadn’t yet passed judgment. It’s worth reminding these people; an election occurred on 20 September, and they lost. The people have spoken. Voters told them that they had weighed up Nicky Hager’s “Dirty Politics” amongst other things and decided his book was either irrelevant to the current state of things, or was a pile of crap. “Dirty Politics” is a corpse, and there’s little sense now trying to resurrect it.
Why would these journalists and lefties, too many of whom are one and the same, want to revive Hager? A few, I guess, want something to keep bashing National with. They are angry at the election outcome. I keep being surprised at how many people believed until the numbers went up that a left coalition was still on the cards. Others possibly believe in St Nicky, and admire his chutzpah in using stolen emails for pecuniary gain. That, they seem to think, is “investigative journalism” at its finest.

It wasn’t and it will eventually be revealed for the large criminal political conspiracy that it was. Then the media will have a choice to make, and watching them make that choice will be delicious.

There will be others again, many of them young or naïve in the extreme, who actually believe Hager’s story. They have so little understanding of political processes in New Zealand or anywhere else that they think there was something new and especially sordid about Jason Ede acting as a conduit to bloggers, passing information, and discussing tactics designed to put National in a good light. Some won’t know about the methods used by the Labour government while Helen Clark was in office 1999-2008, when press releases and exaggerated criticism of opponents were filtered to “The Standard”, Labour’s electronic broadsheet. Nor will they know about the priming done by cabinet minister Ruth Dyson each morning of her email tree with sleaze that the government wanted to be widely disseminated. The Prime Minister knew all about it. I found out about it: some of Dyson’s stuff was inadvertently sent to me! Some journalists won’t know that throughout her career Helen Clark had a list of journalists she’d ring to exchange gossip. Sometimes she would only hint, other times she’d tell the person on the other end of the phone about what she planned to do to some on her own side who had incurred her wrath. Occasionally she’d plant an idea that the journalist would be encouraged to follow up, hopefully with devastating consequences. A few people in today’s press gallery were involved and are currently keeping their heads down. If John Key rang Cameron Slater in any capacity, what’s the difference? The Herald’s editor might like to tell us?

Read more »

Beware the cult of personality, and the legacy they leave

Over the past few days I have received more than a few random emails about a couple of posts where I dared to criticise John Key. I have also had some personal approaches.

Apparently my audience will be affected negatively by criticising John Key. He also is the saviour of the National party and without him National would be stuffed.

Ignore the fact that he shamelessly used one of my private emails to conduct a personal hit on a friend, and ignore the fact that he thinks I should just accept it as “mo hard hard feelings”. I say ignore those because they have absolutely no bearing on my criticism of John Key.

I criticise him because I am alarmed that National is falling into the same traps that Helen Clark fell into.

The trap of creating a cult of personality.

Let me explain.

Labour’s current predicament has come about as a result of 15 years of a cult of personality in Helen Clark. Where she was the labour party and the Labour party was her. She purged the party of those who thought even a little differently. She populated caucus with sycophants, and she sacked good honest brokers in her office and replaced them with forelock tugging apparatchiks. She created the party in her image, the photoshopped one not the real you can break bottles on her face image.

When the public saw behind the photoshop they they recoiled. The party was destroyed in the 2008 election and she promptly departed for greener pastures.

But her legacy remains. Decidedly average MPs, middle manager types who were already promoted beyond their abilities. She left a caucus highly factionalised so there was no dominant faction unable to topple her. But the worst aspect was she left the party in the hands of hard left organisers who bizarrely think that the path to salvation is to be more hard left.

The funniest thing of all is there is still no one inside Labour who will ever hear a bad word said about Helen Clark.  Read more »

John Roughan on Labour’s leadership spill

John Roughan echoes my stance on Labour’s leadership problems and Helen Clark’s legacy.

But he discusses just precisely how if any one of the four mediocre people standing for leadership of the Labour party at the moment was elected that our economic policy, at least, wouldn’t change that much.

Labour’s leadership problems began with Helen Clark’s retirement announcement on the night her Government was defeated. The audible groan from Labour people in the hall that night was possibly not simply sorrow at her sudden departure. Seasoned members, as most seemed to be, might have sensed what would happen.

In need of a new leader quickly, the caucus elected the next most experienced minister still in its ranks, Phil Goff. When Goff went down to predictable defeat, he followed Clark’s example. It may seem the noble and proper thing to do, but it is not in a party’s interest. It is better that the defeated leader soldiers on, suffering the taunts and indignities of a lame duck, until a natural successor emerges from the pack.

To force the issue so soon after a devastating election defeat not only runs the high risk of choosing another poor leader, it increases the risk that the party will be destabilised in its policies and direction too. This might be exactly what returners from the Alliance desire.     Read more »

Why is it Kiwiblog has the best posts when Farrar is away?

Lifestyle, arts and travel blogger David Farrar is away again.

Kiwiblog has again reverted to a blog of David’s mid-life crisis and travels.

Not content with his own travel blogging, he also now has guest travel blog posts.

However he does have a guest post from Kiwi in America that is very good. Why is it Kiwiblog’s best posts are while he is away?

Regular readers of Kiwiblog will recall my lengthy essay posted on Easter Friday about the recent history of Labour; some of it based on my time as an activist there until the mid 90’s attempting to explain Labour’s present day conundrum.

In a nutshell it said that an attempt by the left of the party to seize permanent control of Labour after the massive post Rogernomics ructions under the leadership of Helen Clark, led to a gradual purging of activists from the centrist and right wings of the party. Clark, and her followers in the Head Office and regional hierarchies, ensured the selection of candidates in winnable electorate seats (and after the introduction of MMP, also the party list) that not only ensured she could topple then leader Mike Moore after the 1993 election but also cemented her power base inside Labour guaranteeing her an unchallenged 15 year reign as Labour’s leader. This handed power in the party to an increasingly narrow base of sector and interest groups such as academics, trade unions, progressive feminists and the rainbow coalition gradually driving out activists who were more likely to be white, male, socially conservative, small business owners and church going people of faith. After Labour’s 2008 election defeat, former members of the harder left New Labour Party, homeless after the dissolution of the Alliance, the demise of Anderton’s Progressives and the rise of the Greens, began to come back to Labour assisting in the movement of the party more to the left.

This trend culminated in the amendment to Labour’s Constitution at its 2012 Annual Conference giving 40% of the vote for Party Leader to the party membership and 20% to the affiliated unions leaving only 40% in the hands of the Parliamentary caucus. This new formula enabled David Cunliffe to win the first full leadership primary in 2013 despite having only minority support in caucus – the first time this had ever happened in Labour’s history. The result of his elevation to the leadership was Labour’s third successive and even more disastrous defeat.

When you drive out of the party its more centrist activists, you leave a vacuum that has been filled by harder left activists. When these same activists, alongside the more traditionally left wing trade union leadership, have control of the party’s candidate selections, its policy formation and now the election of its leader, over time you end up with a party, candidates and policies that no longer appeal to middle NZ and a party that is no longer the broad church it used to be. The party may be truer to its left wing principles but it now produces candidates, policies and campaigning rhetoric out of step with the aspirations of floating middle NZ voters that decide elections. National’s moderate centrist direction under John Key has become the natural repository for various key demographic groups that once used to strongly vote Labour and accordingly, Labour has ended up falling further behind National in each subsequent election post its 2008 defeat culminating in its second lowest vote this election since its formation in 1916!

Labour is now undertaking yet another review of why it was defeated and another likely more bruising leadership primary.

Read more »

A house divided, and a house that will fall

quote-a-house-divided-against-itself-cannot-stand-abraham-lincoln-112610

Labour’s leadership contender says Labour’s house is divided.

Well duh!

We’ve known that since Helen Clark departed, and so have the voters. It doesn’t take a rocket scientists to see it.

Labour’s acting leader David Parker has confirmed that he will be entering a bid for the Party leadership.

Announcing his bid in Auckland this afternoon, Mr Parker said he will restore the party’s focus, passion and drive so it can become a unifying force for New Zealanders.

He said he had been approached by New Zealanders “from all walks of life” in the past 10 days asking him to stand.

“In less than two years the New Zealand Labour Party will mark its centenary – its 100th birthday.

“I am simply not prepared to let this milestone become a tombstone.

“A tombstone for a once great party that once did great things for New Zealand.”

If successful in his bid, Mr Parker said he would review all of Labour’s policies.

“We lost badly and I get it.”

Mr Parker said Labour needed to get its house in order.

“History teaches us a house divided against itself cannot stand.

“All of us claim to be able to unite the caucus and the party.

“From unity comes strength. Unity also brings confidence – and success.

“I believe I am that leader.”

Read more »

Tracy Watkins needs to stop drinking the gallery Koolaid

The problem with the Press Gallery is they are generally actually out of touch with what actually happens in politics.

Preferring to talk about factions and plans and conspiracies when none actually exists. They are particularly tits at these prognostications with the National aprty.

We often see stories about faction wars inside National when none exists. We know they don;t exists because if there were factions then i’d be in one of them and if there was a war there would be bodies floating down political rivers.

Tracy Watkins embarks on another gallery fantasy…that political parties groom future leaders.

Helen Clark’s mistake in being too slow to rejuvenate her caucus left a very deep impression on Key. He has been far more proactive, creating an expectation that there is no room in the caucus for seat warmers.

The departure of a slew of National MPs at the last election is evidence of his more ruthless approach, as is his approach to Cabinet reshuffles.

For the first time that anyone can remember Key has made a practice of demoting ministers for performance issues, rather than the more traditional route of sacking minister’s only when they have transgressed.  This has given him room to constantly renew his Cabinet. Key rang the changes with a reshuffle which he hopes will mitigate the effects of third-termitis.

Elevating the likes of Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges up the Cabinet rankings also shows Key has a succession plan in place – along with Steven Joyce, they are being looked to as the next generation of National leaders. Will the drive for renewal reach even higher to the leadership and deputy leadership?

Read more »

Should NZ get involved against ISIS?

There are many commenting now on whether or not NZ should get involved in the fight against ISIS.

Andrea Vance has an opinion piece in the Sunday Star-Times about the issue where she takes the side of the cowards and insists parliament must debate the issue.

This of course plays into the hands of the jihadists and Islamists, who don’t ever have to worry about the niceties of a parliamentary democracy.

In 2001, Helen Clark took a resolution to Parliament to supply SAS troops to the War on Terror which passed 112-7. In fact the offer was made in Washington a month earlier, and Clark insisted the approval of Parliament was not necessary, but she wanted troops to know they “had the full support of MPs.” It was the beginning of the end of New Zealand’s ”independent foreign policy.”

New Zealand faces a tough choice. Stand by impotently as many more hostages are murdered by a network of death? Or join another US-led crusade in a Muslim country?

With one foot in the West and one in the East, and vying for a seat on the UN Security Council, it must be remembered that not all nations choose the US as their global policeman.

In the last two decades, Iraq has not been far off the military radar. Military intervention to eliminate weapons of mass destruction was built on a fallacy, years of slaughter failed to remove the threat of terrorism or install democracy.

The conflict in Afghanistan also saw mission creep. Initial action was targeted at taking out Osama Bin Laden and dismantling Al Qaeda, but became a protracted quest to implement democracy and destroy the Taleban. Key admitted New Zealand paid a ”heavy price” – the death of 10 soldiers.

The latest strikes on Iraq have been condemned worldwide for lacking strategy and tactics. All the warning signs are that taking on ISIS will be a long, bloody war, with complex and unpredictable consequences.

At the very least all this is worthy of a parliamentary debate.

Read more »

Waitangi National Trust busted in a lie

The Waitangi National Trust has found themselves in a spot of bother.

They decided to start charging Kiwis again for access to the Treat Grounds at Waitangi and have mounted a PR campaign to justify it.

Lazy media have bought their cry of poverty…like the Herald.

Visitors to the splendid Treaty grounds at Waitangi probably assume the taxpayers of New Zealand happily pay for the facilities there. What could be a more worthy or natural public expense than the preservation of that place? In fact, it is run by a private trust with income from the estate of a former Governor-General, Lord Bledisloe, supplemented by a charge to visitors.

Fortunately the grounds are not completely fenced and it is possible to reach the historic site for no charge, but the convenient entrance has always carried a fee. The entrance has been made attractive and informational, taking visitors through a building containing displays. The $12 door charge caused no audible outrage from the public, but in 2008 Helen Clark’s Government argued, quite rightly, that New Zealanders should not have to pay. The Waitangi National Trust agreed and made entry free for everyone except overseas tourists who would be charged $25 to cover the lost income.

In recent years the trust has struggled to cover its costs, blaming a decline in tourism following the Global Financial Crisis.

Read more »

Herald Editorial on the Greens

The Herald editorial takes some time today to look into the The Greens and their lack lustre election campaign.

Another disappointing election for the Greens ought to be prompting some serious thinking within the party about why it is in politics and where it is going. The second question is easier. The party is going nowhere on its present political settings. It has been around for nearly 25 years with members in Parliament for the past 18 years. In all of that time it has never been part of a government. When it looks around the chamber in the new Parliament, it may notice it is the only party of the seven that has never had a ministerial seat.

The reason is obvious. The Greens position their policies to the left of Labour, which means they are compatible only with a Labour Government. But given a choice between coalition partners of the centre or a party to its extreme, a governing party will reach for the centre, as Helen Clark did when she preferred Peter Dunne and Winston Peters to the Greens.

Their positioning on the left also means that their vote rises when Labour’s falls, and they suffer when Labour does well.

They are weak when Labour is in power and stronger when Labour is out. That is why this election must have been a particular blow. Labour sank to its lowest share of the vote in 92 years, yet the Greens’ share did not rise. Their hopes of attaining 15 per cent were dashed. They remain a party supported by about 10 per cent of voters.

The Greens have positioned themselves as a left wing social justice party, not a centre representative environment party. They have lost their core branding.   Read more »