Michael Cullen

Michael Cullen’s only legacy crumbles to dust

Cullen was generally regarded as a steady steward of the nation’s funds, although many who said so conveniently ignored the fact he did so during an economic boom time when he had no idea what to do with all the money coming out of the tax payer fountain.

Upon his departure, the purchase of KiwiRail at the blunt end of $2B was as cynical as it was an act of sabotage.

But all through this period, and until recently, people still thought kindly of him when talking about KiwiSaver.

That myth just fell apart too.

KiwiSaver tax credits cost more than $800 million a year but careful analysis by Treasury economists of the best data we have on household finances can find no evidence it has boosted the accumulation of wealth, a key objective of the scheme.

Research by David Law and Grant Scobie published by the Treasury examined data from Statistics New Zealand’s longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE).

Their first look at SoFIE found that between 2008 (the first “wave” of data after KiwiSaver was introduced in 2007) and 2010 (the last before it was discontinued) both members and non-members of KiwiSaver increased their savings, defined as net wealth or assets minus liabilities.

But non-members fared better than members, averaging an increase of $32,000 or twice that recorded by KiwiSaver members.

In English – people who avoided KiwiSaver and made their own arrangements are better off than the state-run semi-compulsory scheme that was supposed to save us (heh) from ourselves. Read more »

Cullen coached Cunliffe

I called the Leaders debate a marginal win for David Cunliffe.  Certainly, the TVNZ results weren’t representative of how the debate unfolded.   Key was over prepared.  He was driving hard to get get the messages out, and instead of being relaxed and showing us John Key, he appeared forced.

I bet the hand in his pocket was a fist most of the time.

But it turns out that John Key wasn’t just debating David Cunliffe

He spent much of his career taunting National’s front bench, famously dismissing John Key as a “rich prick” and developing a reputation as the sharpest politician of his generation.

So Sir Michael Cullen can scarcely have imagined he would later play the role of Key, charged with winding up and unsettling Labour’s leader in a hostile debate.

While critics are split on the outcome of Thursday night’s TVNZ leaders’ debate, most seemed surprised at how polished David Cunliffe was.

This was no accident. Labour viewed the importance of the first televised debate as second only to election day. It had half a million viewers, most seeing Cunliffe on an equal footing with the prime minister for the first time. Read more »

Labour’s hypocrisy over farm sales laid bare

The Labour party has come out saying they would block the sale of Lochinvar station in the Central North Island.

Never mind that it was previously owned by Americans, currently owned privately by Kiwis and now being sold in a private sale. No…they would block it.

Which is in stark contrast on how they handled the sale of the neighbouring station, Poronui, back in 2007.

Finance Minister Michael Cullen and the Minister for Land Information David Parker announced the sale of the American-owned Poronui Station today, to American company Westervelt Sporting Lodges Ltd.

Westervelt Sporting Lodges Ltd had applied to the Overseas Investment Office to purchase the 6500 hectare property, which borders the Kaimanawa Forest Park.

[…]

Michael Cullen said: “We welcome foreign investment that has real benefits for New Zealand. Westervelt plans to expand the hunting business and market the lodge more aggressively overseas, which will help our tourism profile.

“This is further proof that the process introduced by the Overseas Investment Act in 2005 to ensure land sales benefit New Zealand is working.”  Read more »

Hosking on his supposed bias

Mike Hosking writes about his supposed bias and completely destroys Cunliffe’s claims.

Right, where to start?

Last time I wrote in this esteemed organ, I proffered an idea or two as to why Labour wasn’t exactly breathing down National’s neck.

This drew a fair amount of feedback which is good, because if it didn’t, I’d be wondering why I’m even bothering to write these given I’ve got quite a bit of work on my plate these days and don’t really need extra.

One of the bits of feedback came from a Dr Michael Cullen, who for a period had his finger in the pie of running this place.

He made a good point, but I believe he also made a mistake in his reply.

The good point was the acceptance that people like me have opinions and should offer them, and when it comes to political debate this is no bad thing.

He is among an increasingly large number of people these days, if in fact not the majority, who have moved with the times and realise people who present the news often do so with accompanying commentary.

His mistake, in my view, was to then compare my role or job to that of Shane Taurima, and wonder what the difference was.

It’s important to point out here that I think Mr Cullen was suggesting I might have a certain established stance on various political matters, therefore assumptions are made on where I’m coming from.

Others have gone on in recent weeks to call that bias, but more on that in a moment.

In Cullen comparing what I do and its ensuing transparency to what Taurima did, is to shoot yourself in the foot.

What Taurima did was belong to a political party, stand for that party, raise money for that party and use taxpayer-funded facilities to do that fundraising, knowing it was explicitly against the rules and all the while running a journalistic unit that claimed neutrality.

In my opinion, Taurima was a moron.

Read more »

The Predictable Failure of David Cunliffe, Ctd

Cunliffe - Sh_t

The two most recent polls have shown what all of us known.

David Cunliffe has a poo fingered touch, everything he touches turns to poop.

This was entirely predictable.  Read more »

More from the Herald on The Cunliffe

The Herald has continued their series on “The Cunliffe”.

While last weeks effort would have made The Cunliffe happy I doubt he will be pleased with todays works, especially those by Claire Trevett.

He is fingered as a snitch:

Cunliffe describes that 1999 intake as the first political generation that had not been “scarred” by Rogernomics or the acrimony after it. But that first term also saw the start of the problem Cunliffe has struggled with since – his relations with his caucus colleagues.

Cunliffe and Tamihere gravitated towards each other, part of a group of junior MPs including Clayton Cosgrove and Damien O’Connor, and dubbed themselves the “Mods” – short for Modernisers. They met in each other’s offices for drinks and discussed policies and the direction Labour might take in the longer term, post-Clark. They decided to recruit others and Tamihere says Cunliffe returned with loyal Clarkists. Whether it was innocent or deliberate, he was seen to have dobbed them in.

Cunliffe denies it: “I certainly didn’t go telling tales on class mates. JT and I were in the middle of that group, not everybody agreed with everybody else and in the end it didn’t go that far. But I’d reject that I dobbed anyone in.”

Whatever happened, Cunliffe’s friendship with most in that grouping waned after that point. One onlooker at the time recalls Cunliffe as trying to be friends with everyone. “It was like high school kind of stuff. He’d walk in [to Parliament’s cafe] and go ‘g’day bro’ how you going?’ and JT would just look at him like one of the nerdy kids had come up to him in the playground.”

Tamihere says there was no big blow out and they did maintain a professional relationship. Asked about the Mods’ goals now, Tamihere laughs and says “well, you always go down there with those heady ideals.”
“He’s an extraordinarily talented chap but you never get to see the real David. You get to see the David that he thinks you want to see. And that’s his problem.

What Trevett didn’t mention, but my Labour source did, was that after ratting out the Mods to Clark H2 (Heather Simpson) summonsed each of them individually and gave them a dressing down. They were rinsed and it is something that Clayton Cosgrove has never forgotten and why he is the ex-officio leader of the ABCs.  Read more »

Comments of the Day

From Matthew Hooton to the whingers of the left:

What the left calls “the neoliberal experiment” the right believes is the most progressive set of policies ever to have been implemented in the history of the world, that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in China, South East Asia and (more slowly) India, as opposed to the alternative approach that has caused misery in much of South America and Europe.
We believe that everyone in New Zealand has gained from the post-1984 consensus and that a shift to what Cunliffe proposes would harm everyone in New Zealand.
We may of course be wrong.
But we believe this quite passionately.
So why would anyone surprised that people on the right are prepared to fight hard to stay in power?
Just like Helen Clark sent Mike Williams to Australia to find dirt on John Key (for the same motives).
To quote Michael Cullen, this is about power in NZ.
To quote Tana Umaga, it’s not tiddlywinks.
Is National meant to find evidence that Cunliffe is at best a hypocrite or at worst a liar and say “oh well, jolly good, let’s more on”?
Get into the real world.
Even if the most sinister explanations for this letter becoming public are true, its all fair enough in war, love and politics.
And it will get worse for Labour when the rumoured $300k issue emerges.

Read more »

Trotter on the budget

Chris Trotter provides some useful thinking on the politics of the budget.

Sadly, David Cunliffe and his finance spokesperson, David Parker, failed to land a single solid blow on English’s creation. Cunliffe described it as the “Fudge-it Budget” (only to have the Prime Minister gleefully remind him that Rodney Hide had already given that name to Michael Cullen’s 2002 Budget). Parker’s response was typically wonkish: a perverse mixture of praise (for the $372 million “surplus”) and impenetrable – at least for the average punter – fiscal detail.

Not that we should be too hard on poor old Labour. What are they supposed to do when their enemies so shamelessly steal their policies? For the “true believers” at both ends of the political spectrum such behaviour is unconscionable. Whatever happened to principle!

But, like “Kiwi Keith” Holyoake before him, John Key is by no means averse to appropriating his opponent’s ideas – if that is what it takes to hold National’s vote together. That’s because Key remembers what the ideological hard-liners of his caucus (and Act) appear to have forgotten. That the purpose of the National Party is to bar the door to the House of Power and prevent the Labour Party from entering. Or, should Labour somehow manage to gain entry, to do whatever it takes to evict them. National’s first – and last – principle has always been: “Hold on to power at all costs, and don’t, under any circumstances, let Labour win!”

It’s what makes good National Party opposition leaders so ruthless and good National Party prime ministers so accommodating. It is also why it takes a special kind of Labour leader to summon the tremendous force required to make it through the door.   Read more »

Cunliffe making stuff up on TV3’s Firstline

On Firstline yesterday David Cunliffe gave us all a demonstration in weapons grade making stuff up.

At 3:00 he says that:

“The Prime Minister is responsible for the lowest standards of Ministerial conduct that I can remember in my time in Parliament, bar none”.

What about Labour’s Taito Phillip Field, the only ever MP found guilty of corruption?

When he was in the dock, David Cunliffe, Helen Clark and Michael Cullen all went into bat for him saying that “all Taito is guilty of is working hard for his constituents”.

Cunliffe even defended him multiple times in the house.

Lockwood Smith, at the time, issued this press release:

National Party Immigration spokesman Lockwood Smith says the Labour Government has “stooped to a new low” with its efforts to avoid accountability over the Taito Phillip Field fiasco.

“The Immigration Minister, David Cunliffe, is now refusing to answer legitimate questions about warning notes and telephone calls by Immigration Department staff to the Minister’s office.

“Those messages focused on the fact that Thai overstayers, who were later given visas on special Ministerial direction, were working for Taito Phillip Field while he was advocating on their behalf.    Read more »

Does Labour actually understand what it is they are trying to fix with their new ‘big tool’

We already know that David Parker appears to have plagiarised his new ‘big tool’ plan from Michael Cullen.

We also know that Cullens plans were slated at the time by Matt Nolan.

But since Labour is intent on running this Cullen plan Matt Nolan also questions whether or not they understand the problems that theya re trying to solve.

Labour has put a bunch of thought into its discussion on monetary policy – and there is certainly nothing wrong with discussing the issues and putting out a policy document, in fact there is a lot right with that.  Furthermore, over their entire document they recognise this is a multi-faceted issue we need to be careful with, I appreciate that a lot.

However, there are still a few glaring issues with the way they discuss monetary policy:

  1. They keep mixing “monetary” policy with longer-term “fiscal” policy.  It is not the RBNZ’s role to determine longer-term fiscal policy – this is undemocratic.
  2. On that note – the “external balance” is not an RBNZ target, and nothing they are suggesting actually helps that.  This is a general issue with medium-long term savings-investment imbalances, and we need to neatly define what the welfare relevant “problem” is before we go swinging around policy and reducing the ability to “judge” the Bank by giving it piles of targets.     Read more »