Michael Cullen

Claire Trevett on the ClusterTruck

Claire Trevett’s column today explores Labour’s idiocy with their clustertruck policy.

Former Labour Finance Minister Michael Cullen’s 2006 prophecy of “jam tomorrow” will come to fruition today, although it may not quite be the kind of jam people were hoping for.

It will be a traffic jam.

Realising there are votes to be gained from angry holidaymakers stuck in traffic for hours, Labour took measures to try to harvest them this week by releasing a groundbreaking holidaymakers’ transport policy.

Labour has long been driven by a drive to reduce inequality. So it announced it would drop the need to register caravans and trailers and cut road user charges for motorhomes and campervans.

The coup de grace of the policy was the ban on trucks from using the right-hand lane on three or four lane motorways – an attempt to peg into the futile rage that swamps drivers whose aims are thwarted by said trucks.

As “Kiwi families” loaded up their surfboards and fishing rods, David Cunliffe’s Caravan of Love was here to help. “Fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane.”

Cunliffe declared, “Kiwis are sweating the small stuff too much.”  Read more »

Manufacturing Clark’s history

Helen Clark does so like to re-visit and re-edit her history, aided and abetted by an unquestioning and ill-informed media.

She has recently given a nice soft cosy interview to Channel Nine in Australia where this claim was made:

Having led the Labour Party without barely a whisper of a coup for six years in opposition and then nine years as Prime Minister, human resources at the UN could hardly argue that credential.

Oh rly?

Is that what she told the hapless Channel Nine reporter? I don’t see where he’d have got it from otherwise… he wouldn’t have the background knowledge of NZ politics.

And then Fairfax repeat it unquestioningly… probably because there isn’t anyone there who’s older than 12.

I’m sure readers don’t really need reminding, but if you do:

Fifteen years ago, Helen Clark stared down a party coup mounted by her eventual successor, Phil Goff. But her victory came at a huge price for Labour. Phil Quin, one of the plotters, offers an insider’s account.

About six weeks before Helen Clark finally cemented her grip on NZ Labour – one which she maintains to this day, even in absentia – I had finally convinced Phil Goff to topple her.

[...]  Read more »

Cunliffe’s truthfulness under siege

Corporate shill Matthew Hooton comments on the growing belief that David Cunliffe at beast talks out of both sides of his mouth and at worst is an inveterate liar.

Unless he lifts his standards, David Cunliffe’s truthfulness risks becoming a major issue.

Politicians are usually believed to lie and often don’t help themselves.

Under questioning in 2011, John Key claimed Standard & Poor’s said a credit downgrade was more likely under Labour. But Standard & Poor’s denied commenting on an individual party. Similarly, Mr Key’s off-the-cuff accounts of how he appointed his spy boss stretch credibility.

However, when it comes to formal speeches and other written documents, politicians usually take extraordinary steps to ensure their truthfulness.

Under Jim Bolger, a staffer would take draft speeches around the Beehive requiring signatures against every sentence.

For Helen Clark, Heather Simpson checked every word personally.

Since then, on only a very few occasions have Mr Key’s staff had to clarify statements he has made at his weekly press conferences. I am unaware of any errors in his formal speeches.

Similarly – despite précising thousands of pages of detail – there has never been an error in any of Bill English’s five Budget speeches, nor in Michael Cullen’s nine.

In contrast, David Cunliffe appears unable to accurately represent a fairly straightforward children’s policy in his most high-profile speech of the year, instead struggling with the truth.   Read more »

Services to Hairdressing?

Michael Cullen got a gong for services to the Australian Shareholders Association (Railway sub branch) which to be frank was a bit of a shocker but this is on a whole other level.

He is the architect of David Cameron’s eye-catching shift to the left.

But critics have questioned why Lino Carbosiero, the hairdresser responsible for the Prime Minister’s side parting, has been given an MBE.

The crimper to the stars, who has also styled Madonna, Adele, Sir Paul McCartney and Amanda Holden, was recognised for ‘services to hairdressing’ in the New Year’s Honours last week.

His Twitter page is now full of congratulations from colleagues calling him ‘an inspiration to the industry’.

It is understood that he was not nominated for the honour by the PM.   Read more »

Wonders will never cease, Herald editorial gets something right

The NZ Herald editorial is bang on the money this morning:

Justice Minister Judith Collins will not be endearing herself to some of her legal colleagues now in the judiciary, but she is right. The judges’ long service leave entitlement negotiated with the previous Government is “generous”. She might have used a stronger word were it not for the restraint that parliamentarians and judges are supposed to exercise when commenting on the work of the other.

“Excessive” would be a better description of the perk that gives judges five months leave every five years, in addition to the seven weeks’ holiday they have every year. The deal was done for District Court judges five years ago but has only now come to public notice thanks to Ms Collins’ determination to find out why, despite falling crime rates, the courts remain so slow.

“Troughing” is a another word. I wonder who 5 years ago set that landmine up?

Labour’s Attorney General, Sir Michael Cullen, cannot recollect the reason he agreed to extend the judges long service leave from 65 to 100 days in a package of conditions negotiated in 2008, Labour’s last year of office.

As someone familiar with academic “sabbaticals”, Sir Michael supposed judges would spend the time catching up with developments in their field. The Chief District Court Judge, Jan-Marie Doogue, justifies the leave as recognition of increased jurisdiction and complexity of the work of district courts these days. She says it brings the judges’ terms and conditions closer to those of the High Court and similar international jurisdictions.  Read more »

Fran O’Sullivan on Labour and Air New Zealand

Fran O’Sullivan holds Labour and David Cunliffe to account over their silly scare-mongering over Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand has frequently been a political football for politicians of all stripes who have wanted to calibrate its operations towards spurious “national interest” grounds which owe more to politics than this country’s future.

So it was no surprise that this week Labour politicians claimed all sorts of calamities potentially face the airline – including another financial disaster on the scale of the 2001 bankruptcy (yes, I’m thinking of you, David Cunliffe) – simply because the Government has reduced its stake. It is an absurdity.

It sure was.

There has been a lot of political hogwash about the sell-down by the National-led Government and the underlying philosophy of the mixed-ownership model.

But in essence, Labour invented the mixed-ownership model with its 1980s privatisation of the Bank of New Zealand and its later recapitalisation of the airline in 2001 which put it in the box seat with an 82 per cent stake (later reduced to 76 per cent after a rights issue).

It’s also worth recalling that the Clark Government wanted Air NZ to form an alliance with Qantas a decade ago, which would have resulted in the Government’s stake being reduced to 64 per cent. No Labour politician – including Cunliffe – raised a squawk then about how allowing another player onto the Air NZ share registry would result in the airline heading towards the knacker’s yard, though arguably (and in hindsight) given Qantas’ subsequent fortunes that prospect would have held more water than the subjects of this week’s politicking.    Read more »

Another legacy business dying a death by a thousand cuts

NZ Post is another legacy business that is dying slowly but surely.

We should have sold it off like the poms did while the going was good.

New Zealand Post says it will reduce its work force by up to 2000 staff as part of a strategy to reshape the business over the next five years.

Chairman Michael Cullen announced the news at a press conference on a restructure that will result in street deliveries being cut back to three days a week in urban areas.

Cycle-based posties will be replaced by a walking and vehicle service in a change designed to “literally lighten the load” for staff who would increasingly be dealing with parcels.

Chief executive Brian Roche said most posties used bikes, and accepted the changes were likely to be unpopular.   Read more »

Cunliffe lies on Tax

David Cunliffe is becoming something of a liar in his quest to lurch left.

In the Q+A debate he stated:

DAVID I’d raise the top tax rate, and I would also bring in a capital gains tax. And I would also close tax evasion and avoidance loopholes. Of the hundred wealthiest New Zealanders, the IRD says less than half of them are even paying the top tax rate.
What we did last time round was 39 cents with a pretty high threshold of $150,000, so we weren’t hitting middle New Zealand. We had a top rate for the wealthiest. We’ve got to be very careful to make sure that the trust rate is at or close to the top marginal personal rate, because we don’t want to create an avoidance-

This is a lie.  Read more »

Kiwirail vs Skycity

Fran O’Sullivan looks at two deals…Michael Cullen’s buy back of Kiwirail off Toll Holdings and John Key’s SkyCity deal. One cost the taxpayers truckloads of cash and the other cost the taxpayers nothing.

First the Kiwirail deal.

When Michael Cullen bought “the train set” back from hard-nosed Australian transport operators Toll Holdings in 2008, Australian wags labelled it the Sale of the Century.

The former Labour Finance Minister wrote a cheque for $665 million to acquire Toll NZ’s rail and Cook Strait ferry operations and relaunched the business as KiwiRail in a patriotic fanfare at Wellington Railway Station. Toll had placed its book value for the assets at only $430 million. Naturally, Toll was feted by Australian analysts and the sharemarket which regarded the Kiwi assets as “a dog” and couldn’t believe the price the Kiwis were paying.

Hidden costs soon emerged (as well as preferential undertakings to Toll) and the “dollars out” cost became $690 million.

By the following April, the rail assets that the taxpayer had stumped up $690 million for were revalued at $349 million by Treasury – an upfront loss to the taxpayer of $321 million.   Read more »

Hooton on Shearer and that fateful BBQ

Matthew Hooton calls for Shearer to go but not before analysing why Labour and David Shearer are so tits.

I blame myself, and the NBR.

The morning after the last election, I hosted a party including most of the major political commentators, along with strategists from Labour, Mana and the Greens.

We were provisioned with a dozen cases of Veuve Clicquot won by a friend in an NBR competition.

The first guests arrived around ten and the first cork was popped shortly before.

Soon after lunch, someone decided it would be a good idea to invite David Cunliffe and David Shearer to resolve who should replace Phil Goff.

Texts were duly despatched.  Mr Cunliffe declined.  Mr Shearer turned up.

To those who had enjoyed five hours of sun and wine, Mr Shearer seemed stunningly articulate.

We were impressed with his stories from the Middle East, his assessment of where Labour’s campaign had gone wrong, and his understanding that his party needed to aggressively seek new personnel as National had in the 2000s.  Plus we liked him.  He had shown up to the party.

Within a week – and before Labour had got around to its leadership roadshow – all the political columnists and talkback hosts who spent the afternoon with him had publicly endorsed him.

Some in Labour allege a right-wing conspiracy but, if anything, the balance of those at the party was to the left.

There was no right-wing conspiracy.  But there was certainly impaired judgement – by those at the party and by Mr Cunliffe for his no-show.   Read more »