David Garrett

Shock for Andrew Little in latest INCITE|Curia poll


In our latest edition of INCITE: Politics which will be released today there is a catastrophic result for Andrew Little in our monthly INCITE|Curia polling.

Exclusive to us?Curia looks again at how New Zealanders think our political leaders are doing. This is the only public poll in New Zealand that reports on approval of party leaders.

We asked 1,000 New Zealanders ?Do you approve or disapprove of the way John Key/Andrew Little is handling his job as Prime Minister/Leader of the Opposition??

And the results are devastating. Andrew Little has slumped 12 points while John Key has increased slightly by 1%.

It is clear that last months results were a ‘dead cat’ bounce and Andrew Little is now back under the pump for his lack of performance.

Full details are only available to subscribers. ? Read more »

INCITE: Politics – March edition out now

This month’s?INCITE: Politics?examines closely the problems currently besetting the Labour party and attempts to look at solutions for them.

We start off as usual with our exclusive polling from David Farrar’s Curia. David Farrar is the best pollster in New Zealand and is becoming as recognised for his polling as Nate Silver in the US. Once again his polling shows Andrew Little is in big trouble with him continuing his net approval ratings in the negatives, some 20-plus points behind John Key. ? Read more »

INCITE: Politics March edition due shortly


Simon and I have compiled a bumper INCITE: Politics this month.

We are just completing the final polling andeverything else is edited and ready to go. We await the numbers.

Our focus has been on what it will take for Labour to rebuild. We have columns from both Simon and myself as well as a column from Phil Quin. Formerly one of Labour’s best advisors, Quin has been all but essentially sidelined from the party for daring to have opinions.

We also have columns from Willie Jackson, David Garrett, Jock Anderson and, of course, our exclusive polling on net approval ratings of the leaders. Has Andrew Little improved? What has happened with John Key’s approvals? ? Read more »

Comments about INCITE: Politics


The following comments have been made about INCITE: Politics.

From long time reader Jude:

I have subscribed for a year and am really enjoying reading Incite.
I actually looked at what mysky sub covered and cancelled little add ons that we rarely watched.The movie channel, Soho and Rialto all now cancelled saving $42 dollars a month that I happily use to cover sub for Incite.
Well done Cam and team for a very worth while product!

Read more »

INCITE: Politics launches today


Today is the day and shortly the first editions of INCITE: Politics will begin landing in people’s inboxes.

Little in trouble?-?David Farrar writes about the fundamental problem for Andrew Little, his negative approval rating, and contrasts it with the very popular John Key.

The Route to Victory?-?Simon Lusk considers the potential routes to victory and the relative institutional strengths of both the Labour and the National parties in the 2017 election.

Ten Questions?-?Winston Peters takes the time to give some thoughtful answers to some important political questions.

Politician of the Year?-?Review our choice for the inaugural INCITE: Politics Politician of the year.

The Advent of the Media Party?-?Cam Slater writes about why the media have moved from neutral, dispassionate observers to players in the political game, and why the public no longer trusts them.

Pundits & Media – ?Cam Slater?s view on the New Zealand media, with a counter view from Simon Lusk. ?? Read more »

Rodney Hide on 3 Strikes

Rodney Hide writes in?the?NBR:

Some 135-plus New Zealanders are walking about today not bashed, beaten or worse, thanks to the Three Strikes legislation. It?s a good result.? Another 135 fewer people are in prison.? That too, is a good result.

The numbers aren?t mine but lawyer Graeme Edgeler?s, who, while opposing Three Strikes, nonetheless has the intellectual integrity to gather up the data and report that, yes, the law is having the hoped-for deterrent effect.

Three Strikes is a dramatic example of the economics of crime and punishment. Do would-be criminals weigh the costs and benefits of crime? Are they rational? Does the risk of being caught, convicted and the extent of expected punishment enter their decision-making?

Crime experts say No. Economists say Yes.

Read more »

Duplicity and Hypocrisy from Mallard and Faafoi

I found it interesting to hear Labour’s Police spokesman Kris Faafoi backing Trevor Mallard’s bullying of senior police officers at select committee.

Labour certainly pulled no punches when David Garrett questioned prison officers about their suitability for the job.

In fact Clayton Cosgrove took it so seriously he laid a privileges complaint against Garrett:

RNZ -?Sept 04 2009?- ACT MP David Garrett says he is not surprised the Speaker of the House has decided not to uphold two privileges complaints against him. In the first complaint, Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove accused Mr Garrett of bullying submitters at a Parliamentary select committee…? ? Read more »

Guest Post – David Garrett

The continuation of David Garrett’s guest posts on the Rise and Fall of the Act Party.

Previous installments: Part one, Part two.

Decline and fall ? Part III

In April 2011 Rodney Hide told Don Brash ?he would support Brash as leader of ACT, thus putting to an end what was in effect a hostile takeover, and the public washing of dirty laundry which was ?by then occurring almost ?daily. ?Things came to a head rather quickly, which meant the ?setup? the day after the leadership change ?was odd, to say the least.

Brash was the leader of a party he had joined two days before, but had no seat in the House. Rodney and John Boscawen were both MP?s and? Ministers of the Crown. ?Brash wanted Rodney gone ? from parliament if not the earth ? because Brash ?viewed Hide as ?toxic?, and the proximate cause of all of ACT?s problems. In his imagined perfect world, Hide would ?simply disappear, and be replaced as MP for Epsom ?by John Banks, a man who did not seem any kind of ?fit? with many of ACT?s ?principles.

However, Hide had the confidence of the Prime Minister, and was also committed to being the ?best MP for Epsom?, a position he had won and then held at two successive ?general elections. He saw no reason to resign from either position, and in my view he was quite justified in ?seeing ?things that way. Whether one agreed or disagreed with Hide?s strategic view, there had never been any question of his competence or work rate, either as a Minister or an MP.


ACT MP John Boscawen looks on at a press conference after the first ACT Party Caucus Meeting on May 3, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. ?(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The situation was ripe for the kind of shambles that is now ironically being played out a year or so later ? an ongoing and unwelcome distraction for the government, and daily further ignominy for ACT. Thankfully for all concerned, fate had delivered ??John Boscawen as Deputy Leader of the Party, ?a man disliked by no-one important, and trusted by anyone who mattered? as an honest broker.

One could write another book ? albeit an ?unsaleable one ?? on the machinations which occurred in an attempt ?to resolve the apparent impasse. When the smoke cleared, Brash had agreed not to continue trying to rid himself of Hide ?by lunch time?, Hide had agreed to step down at the 2014 election, Boscawen became the leader of the parliamentary caucus, and the bit players continued their roles.

While all this was happening,? back at party HQ Brash was selling the idea of his mate Banks succeeding Hide as candidate and then MP for Epsom. ?Those with much longer track records in ACT than me remain puzzled how Brash convinced the Board to accept Banks as the vehicle for bringing Brash himself, and presumably one or two others into parliament at the 2014 election.

Everyone else has a theory, so here?s mine. Brash had promised the Board two things if he was leader of the Party. First,? that he would bring in large sums of money which would not be forthcoming if Hide remained. Second, he would increase the Party?s vote at the election later in the year to at least 15%. It is hugely ironic given the public perception of ACT as ?the rich pricks party? that in the first quarter of 2011 it was as usual broke, and scrabbling to pay the bills.

We now know that the party managed to raise and spend almost $1.3 million at the 2011 election. Presumably, ?some of that money had begun to flow in ?as soon as Brash became leader. If so, it? seems credible ?to assume that the Board were persuaded that Brash was indeed? the new messiah ? after all he had pulled off a coup that had seemed laughable only weeks before, and his promises of being able to deliver money were coming to fruition. Surely a party vote of? 15% – Brash apparently thought it would be more like? 40% – was as deliverable as the money? ?As long as ?they followed the prescription of the good doctor.

So Banks was confirmed as MP in waiting in Epsom, and the train clattered on, its couplings increasingly strained, but still in one piece. For a while, it must have seemed that the storm clouds had cleared, and after November 2011, there would be a solid ACT caucus of Brash, Banks, John Boscawen and two or three others. Senior ACToids have apparently always been very optimistic.

Then, a new bombshell. John Boscawen announced he would not contest the election and would retire from politics ?to spend more time with his family?, a well used political clich? normally employed to cover up something sinister. Since John is unmarried and has no children, it was assumed by the feverish media that the real reason for John?s decision must surely be something else. Wrong again. John meant exactly what he said, and knowing him as I do, I wouldn?t be surprised if someone had to explain to him ?what the cliche normally meant.

For me, the next seemingly inexplicable decision was to abandon the Party?s law and order focus completely in favour of education and the usual ?market forces and deregulation? economic policies. This despite the Party having achieved a major victory in the ?three strikes? legislation, and ?for that and other reasons, having the tacit support of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, probably New Zealand?s most effective lobby group.

The appointment of a 25 year old university student as Justice Spokesman, and the concurrent? release of some totally silly policies led quickly ?to Garth McVicar publicly telling his supporters that ACT had lost its way, and urging them to consider which other party best articulated SST?s goals. This was a not-so-subtle steer in the direction of the fledging Conservatives. The result?? ACT got ?a lower Party vote than the Mana Party, and the Conservatives ? which none of the pundits ?had? taken ?seriously ? got 2.8%, ?six months after being formed. Coincidence? Who knows.

Then three months after the worst election result in its history, the Banks fiasco. A week is certainly a long time in politics, and who knows what the coming ?sitting week will bring. Every political columnist has a theory or a prediction. The end of the week could see anything from Banks resigning from parliament ? which in my view is unlikely ? to the vultures in the mainstream media finding some new sideshow upon which to demonstrate how far the fourth estate has fallen since the likes of Ian Templeton or even Barry Soper began their careers as political journalists.

I understand that much of the debacle surrounding Banks stems from his refusal to take advice ? which must surely have been to? STFU and keep his head down. As Rodney Hide noted last Sunday, Banks is a politician from another era. He was used to Ministers giving press conferences ? from which they might exclude journos they didn?t like. He was used to ?a time when journalists called Ministers ?Mister? and wouldn?t dream of chasing ?them through building lobbies thrusting microphones up their noses. He must think he has mysteriously found himself elected to ?a foreign and not the New Zealand parliament. As they say, the past is another country.

Can ACT survive all this? Who knows.? Hide and others have pointed out that ACT has been written off many times, but Phoenix like, somehow always rises again. For what it is worth, I doubt it can survive the collective ?blows inflicted on it which I have traversed in these three posts.? Even if it does manage to stay alive to? contest the next election, if the Conservative Party can avoid being branded ?just another bunch of God botherers? and do significantly better than ACT in 2014,? I believe, with some sadness, that? would indeed be the final ACT, and the end of a remarkable story.

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Guest Post – David Garrett

Decline and Fall? Part II

As the clich? has it, a week is a long time in politics. There may never have been?? at least in New Zealand ? a better example of that maxim than the week of 13?to 19 September 2010. I began the week giving a speech on ?three strikes? to a?Rotary Club in East Auckland on the Monday evening. The ?three strikes? law?had passed, and I was doing everything I could to communicate to voters that?it was a major policy win for ACT. By the following Friday, I had resigned from?the ACT caucus in disgrace, and was on the run in the South Island, trying to?shield my children from the howling dogs in the media who were trying to find us.

The reason for my downfall has been written about ad nauseum ? including?by me ? and there is little point going over old ground here. Suffice it to say if?Rodney?s trip to Europe was the first large nail in ACT?s coffin, for those whose?agenda was personal aggrandizement rather than the interests of the party, my?downfall was a godsend.

To the best of my knowledge, my friend Roger Douglas never joined the ?Hide?brought Garrett into the party and therefore it?s all his fault? bandwagon, although?he certainly would not have been unhappy that Rodney was once again having?to endure a grilling from both the media and those in the Party who were?determined that he should be replaced.


WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 03: ACT MP Heather Roy talks to media after the first ACT Party Caucus Meeting on May 3, 2011 in Wellington (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Heather Roy however suddenly developed a serious case of amnesia about?what had been discussed in my office in Albany when I disclosed the details?of my sorry scam 27 years before. Following her own agenda, she was at?the front of the ?it?s all Hide?s fault? pack of baying hounds determined that my?downfall would quickly be followed by Hide?s.

Following my resignation, I was largely out of the loop, but I record my?everlasting gratitude to John Boscawen, who continued to extol my virtues and?my achievement with ?three strikes?, and was personally a great support to me?and my family during the worst crisis of our lives. John Boscawen?s decision to?leave politics immediately prior to the 2011 election was another mortal blow to?the ACT Party. John is one of those rare people who no-one dislikes, but who?also holds firmly to his principles, and is totally unafraid to stand out from the?herd. I am very honoured to count him among my few true friends.

The real problem for Rodney following my departure was my replacement, Hilary?Calvert, a long time ACT stalwart from Dunedin. From my limited acquaintance?with her, Hilary is a delightful woman, but she quickly became known for a series?of gaffes, and she provided even better sport for the left leaning media than I had?been. More importantly, whereas with me the ACT caucus was firmly 3 -2 behind?Rodney as leader, Hilary?s loyalties were soon revealed to be far less committed.

When the end came for Rodney seven months after her arrival, Hilary?s support?for Don Brash over Rodney became decisive.

Don Brash ? in many respects a most unlikely politician ? had led National in?2005, and but for the debacle involving the Exclusive Brethren church, probably?would have led National to victory in the election that year. There is certainly no?doubt that his ?Orewa? speeches about ?one law for all? ? another long time ACT?policy ? were directly responsible for the National Party virtually doubling their?vote as compared with the previous election in 2002. The quite brilliant John?Ansell billboards ? the best of them the now legendary ?Kiwi not iwi? series -?reflected the concerns of middle New Zealand, and expressed in visual sound?bites what Brash had articulated in much more detail in the speeches.

Following National?s defeat by a whisker in 2005, Brash was quickly replaced?as leader by John Key, and Don largely disappeared off the political radar ??although I do recall him not infrequently coming into the chamber and watching?the proceedings from beside the Speaker?s chair, as all former MP?s are entitled?to do. Clearly ?the Don? was not finished with politics.

At one time, Brash was known among ACT insiders as ?ACT?s tenth MP?. His?sympathies were and clearly always had been in favour of the free market,?limited government, a hard line on law and order, and no laws favouring one?race of New Zealander over others ? all key ACT policies. That notwithstanding,?during February and March 2011, as it appeared more and more obvious that?he would challenge Rodney for the leadership, no-one anywhere on the political?spectrum could quite believe it. Political souffl?s rarely rise twice ? particularly in?two different parties.

Two who did rise a second time were Brash ? albeit fleetingly ? and Peters.

Leaving aside differences in political principles and beliefs, the contrast between?the wily, suave and teflon coated Peters and the bumbling Brash could not be?more stark. That is the main reason no-one in ACT ? or the media ? initially took?Brash seriously.

But by early 2011, ACT?s poll support was dismal, and major backers had?deserted the Party. Brash promised that he would rejuvenate the Party?s?fortunes ? both in financial terms and in the polls. There is no doubt he truly?believed that the 40% odd support National had gained in 2005 was down to him?personally, and that were he to be leader, ACT?s support among voters would?leap dramatically.


AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - APRIL 28: Dr Don Brash speaks to the media after ACT leader Rodney Hide resigned.

As the ?Mr Magoo? like Brash managed one astonishing and unexpected?triumph after another in his drive for the leadership of ACT, the tide against Hide?became stronger and stronger. Hilary Calvert ? whose vote in support of Hide?was crucial ? changed sides a number of times. Eventually, even the loyal and?stalwart John Boscawen came to believe that Rodney ought to step down for the?good of the Party.

I firmly believe Rodney Hide always had the good of the Party ? and the country?? paramount in his mind. Although he has been accused of ?selling out for the?baubles of office?, I am convinced that is not the case. As a recent interview with?the reptilian Guyon Espiner makes clear, once Rodney saw the writing clearly?on the wall, he did his best to assist Brash carry off his coup ? although he?did draw the line when Brash asked him where he should park his car before?administering the coup de grace at ACT headquarters in Newmarket, before a?phalanx of eager reporters and their cameras

I watched that press conference from a back room, and after it was over, saw?Rodney take Brash into a private meeting with then Chief of Staff Peter Keenan?to discuss the mechanics of the handover. I was astounded at Hide?s dignity and?apparent good humour, when a lesser man would, at the very least, have simply?walked off and left Brash to it.

And so Dr Don Brash ? who joined ACT on the day of the coup which made him?leader ? took over the reins of the party, firmly convinced that in short order he?would deliver not the 15% of the vote which he publicly claimed, but the 40% he?truly believed would defect from National and follow him to ACT. The third four?inch nail in the ACT coffin – the first two being Rodney?s disastrous trip, and my?departure in disgrace – was nailed home.

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Guest Post – David Garrett

David Garrett phoned me about his series of guest posts. We disagree on his end hypothesis, but since I am not one to only publish echo chamber views here is his guest post about what he believes is the demise of the ACT party. There are two more parts.

Decline and Fall ? the final ACT? (Part I)

The ACT party was formed by two former Ministers from opposite sides of the political divide ? Derek Quigley and Roger Douglas. Both men had demonstrated that they were willing to think outside the political square in order to find ?a better way? to improve the lives of all New Zealanders than had hitherto been offered by the two main parties. Both had also shown ?they were not prepared to always toe the party line regardless of how silly or pointless they personally saw that ?line to be.

At its height, ACT had nine MP?s, the best of which were superb ? like Richard Prebble ? and others whose names are now ?virtually unknown. While in opposition, ACT MP?s could do little to change things. Ironically, arguably their most effective action ? Rodney?s ?perk busting?, which led to the revelation that ?Labour? Speaker Jonathon hunt spent more than $20,000 on taxis in a year ? later came back to haunt Rodney and ACT, and arguably begin the possibly terminal decline of the Party. Whether the decline is ?terminal presently remains to be seen.

After almost being wiped out in 2005, in 2008 ACT got its big chance ? five MP?s, and becoming a crucial support party to a centre right government led by National. In Rodney Hide, they had a leader who was certainly one of the smartest political operators in a generation.? In the ?three strikes? policy upon which ACT had campaigned strongly, they had a policy and ?draft legislation ?that could potentially be supported by? National ?? although the smart money at the time was that it would die in Select Committee ? but be recognized and promoted ?clearly as ACT and not National policy.

Unfortunately, the 2008 ACT caucus also contained the already germinating seeds of its own destruction in the form of Sir Roger Douglas and Heather Roy, a woman of limited intellect and even less personality, ?who had hitherto made no impact at all on? public consciousness. Sir Roger, who I came to regard as a friend, ?had a dislike of Rodney, the depth of which I did not understand, ?either ?then or now.

Roger fundamentally disagreed with the direction we took, which could be summarized as ?help keep the centre right in power, and take our wins and the credit for them when we can.? It was a view which I thought was the right one, and one in? which I supported Rodney from the first to the last. Because he disagreed with that course, Roger was determined to replace Rodney with Heather Roy ?as leader ? at least initially – ?and then, when he had gained enough experience, with John Boscawen.

Roy was always too stupid to realize that she was just a pawn, and that Roger?s promotion of her was merely a move in a longer game. Roy was supported in her delusions of ability by one Simon Ewing-Jarvie, a former army officer who became Roy?s most trusted confidante and advisor. Ewing-Jarvie also quickly became a major cause of friction between Roy and Rodney when the latter unearthed ? through his extensive network ? information which indicated that Ewing-Jarvie was likely to cause serious trouble, both to ?Roy ?personally and to ?the ACT Party.

From the first, Rodney made it crystal clear that we could not survive factionalism. I will never forget the first caucus meeting when he told us we were in the ?death zone of New Zealand politics?, and that no small party had survived intact once it had joined in government with a larger party; the Alliance Party perhaps being the best example ? until now ? of self destruction.

The first chance Roy and Roger got to try and remove Rodney was following Hide?s disastrous decision to use one of the very ?perks? he had campaigned so publicly against ?to take his then girlfriend with him on a Ministerial trip to the USA and Europe. The trip was entirely within the rules, but that was not the point. If in fact he ever really did, it took Rodney a very long time to ?get? that public perception was everything, and the fact that he had complied with the rules meant little or nothing ?to the public. Ironically, it is the same ?lesson John Banks is slowly learning now.

Roy could barely restrain her glee at the pressure Rodney faced over ?the trip?. Roger remained a smiling enigma throughout; John Boscawen and I supported Rodney without reservation ? at least in public. Once Rodney had ?made his mea culpa ?on television, there was never any doubt in John and my minds that he deserved our continuing support.? By the time the saga died down ? once the left aligned media had milked every last drop from it ?? the score was clearly ??Camp Hide ?1, Heather Roy and Roger 0.

The next major opportunity to remove Hide was of course following ?my own downfall, which was engineered to occur when Hide? ?Hide Huidwas out the country. By that time, I had unequivocally aligned myself with him, and at a party meeting open to the public, verbally slapped down a party member who was pushing for Hide?s replacement by Roy. A week or so later, all hell broke loose.

Ironically, I am one of the few members of ?team Rodney? who is by no means sure Roy was behind the leak which was to end my career, and? to? later become a major contributor ?to ?Hide?s downfall. I realized from the very first time Hide approached me to stand that ??the passport scam? was likely to emerge and cause serious trouble, both for me personally, and for ACT.

Hide took the view that the wrongdoing was so long ago ? I had committed the offence in 1984 ? that it would be of no consequence, and if it did emerge, they would ?handle it.? At a later meeting at my then office in Albany, I was asked whether I had skeletons in my closet. I am on record as replying that I did, ??? a big f?.rattling one?.

Those at that meeting were John Boscawen, Roger Douglas, an ACT board member, and Heather Roy. I explained what I had done and how, and repeated the truth: that I had no reason to do it, and at the time I simply saw it as a prank. To their ?great credit, other than Roy, none of the others at that meeting have ever denied that I made a full disclosure of what I had done so? long before, and its sequel in a court case three years earlier, ?in 2005.

Not long after that meeting in Albany I was offered list position number five after a former MP ?spat the dummy? at being offered a list place much lower than he thought he was worth.? The timebomb began ticking from that point.