Fran on Ports Crisis

Fran O’Sullivan has dusted off her word processor and tapped out her thoughts on the ports crisis:

It seems pretty obvious that the ports company has been determined to ensure productivity at its downtown Waitemata Harbour operations is markedly increased. Particularly in the vital area of crane productivity, where rival Port of Tauranga sub-contracts its container stevedoring work and boasts a superior performance to its Auckland competitor.

If the Maritime Union didn’t see this one coming, then they haven’t been paying much attention to the Ministry of Transport report on container productivity at New Zealand ports. Nor has the union been paying attention to the Productivity Commission which estimates exporters and importers spend upwards of $5 billion a year on freight and has forecasted annual trade could be boosted by $1.25 billion if transport costs were shaved by 10 per cent. There is a national interest issue at stake here.

That is her lead in to trying to understand why Len Brown spoke at all:

But what seemed to spark Brown’s decision to change course and involve himself in the Ports of Auckland stoush by supporting calls for greater union flexibility, is the risible suggestion, first spread in the blogosphere, that he was effectively in the pocket of the Maritime Union because it had chucked $2000 into his 2010 election campaign. Let’s face it, the union’s donation was completely out in the open; unlike the $499,000 which was folded into a single trust to hide the identity of others contributing to Brown’s campaign war chest. The insinuation should simply have been treated with the contempt it deserves.

She raises some interesting points. Just who exactly did contribute to Len’s campaign and why did he use a secret trust fund to hide it all? Thanks Fran for bringing that up.

This is why we need campaign reform so that all donations are public, and so that only natural persons can donate to political parties or candidates.

If it wasn’t for the fact that the Maritime Union donation was recorded publicly then no one would have been any wiser for Len’s silence as the dispute escalated. It is a perfect case as to why campaign donation reform is needed, and the perfect case as to why Simon powers dirty backroom deal with Labour was so abhorrant.


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  • Willsomers101

    Banks used a secret trust as well . What I thought was interesting that Banks raised far more than he spent ( 300K+). Could the spare money  have gone into a( later) wining election campaign ?

    • And his secret trust should be busted open too…the thing is he isn’t the Mayor, he lost…but donations should be transparent.

      • Willsomers101

        Along with National Party. There was a good reason …once. The NP regional  units had there own money earners,  Waikato with a small office building comes to mind. Come election time  the money would be passed on. Labour  may have the same  for old time electorates , say Onehunga where they  had bequests, beating the Bishop to the bedside.
        But nowdays the Trusts are established to hide the money. Then there are ‘bundlers’ like the Macmillan BMW ( and Tony Astle?) where they run a fundraiser or ask around  for contribs and then top that up and pass it on