Posts tagged ‘John Key’

April 16, 2012

Door opened to paid parental leave?

by Pete George

Has the door that Bill English slammed shut on any chance of reasonable democratic process for the Paid Parental Leave bill been slightly opened by John Key? Key has overridden more extreme stances of English in the past.

Two Dunedin based MPs think so, Channel 9 interview Clare Curran and Metiria Turei.

This is after several reports from John Key while on his visit to Indonesia that suggest possible Parental Leave progress.

And Bryce Edwards has a detailed look at this and other reaction:

The parliamentary politics of the paid parental leave extension, the veto, and the manoeuvrings of the various parties are covered brilliantly in columns by John Armstrong (National’s veto plan shows up weakness) and Tracy Watkins (Belt tightening is not for babies).

Armstrong weighs up which parties are winning and losing on the issue, and argues that Labour has the most to win or lose from the debate: ‘If the political debate stays focused on the social benefits of paid parental leave, all well and good. If the debate becomes solely one of affordability, Labour has problems’.

Meanwhile Watkins thinks National has been the loser because the issue casts the party into the light of the ‘flinty conservatism which helped keep National out of power for nine years’. Watkins says the public knows all too well that when Bill English says it’s not affordable he really means ‘that extending paid parental leave is a low priority for National, compared with other things it wants more’.

Watkins thinks the reason National has clamped down so heavily on the issue is because it’s afraid that a compromise measure could be achieved on the issue by David Shearer, and that ‘would risk giving him a win on a similar scale to the one Helen Clark delivered Mr Key over smacking’.

This idea is backed up today by John Key acknowledging that ‘paid parental leave is likely to be a key issue at the 2014 election’ – see: Nats back parental leave, but will still veto. The issue is also intelligently discussed today on RNZ’s Nine to Noon Politics discussion (listen here).

It will be interesting to see how the PPL progresses.

March 21, 2012

Less local government requires more advocacy

by Pete George

Big government is suggesting what local government should and shouldn’t be doing. Some clarification and focus may help.

Councils must focus on local services: Key

Councils may have to bow to central government’s preference as far as some local activities go, with Prime Minister John Key today saying it was not a local body’s job to fund projects the Government had decided not to.

If local government – in our case Dunedin City Council and Otago regional Council – is the reduce the range of things it does and leave some things to the big government in Wellington .

If these changes are imposed on us we have to be better set up to gather our voices and lobby Wellington, to promote what we want in Wellington rather than sit back and accept whatever they might dish out.

These proposed changes make it more important than ever to establish a stronger Dunedin Voice.

February 16, 2012

Curran airs concerns about NZ On Air

by Pete George

The pre-election poverty documentary continues to raise questions, albeit struggling to be heard above the polinoise.

Opinion: Curran deserves better from Labour

(John Armstrong via ODT) … Foss continued to get an old-fashioned roasting for something not of his doing.

Foss had the bad luck to pick up a portfolio with a ticking time-bomb in John Key’s post-election reshuffle.

Mainly as a result of a sustained offensive in recent weeks by Labour MP Clare Curran, the appointment of Stephen McElrea, John Key’s National Party electorate chairman, to the board of New Zealand On Air is fast looking like one of the more politically stupid examples of political patronage.

Curran yesterday revealed that McElrea had lodged a complaint about the NZ On Air-funded documentary on child poverty screened on TV3 in the week before last year’s election.

Not only that. The complaint had been lodged before the screening, adding further fuel to Labour’s allegations of political interference.

Yesterday Curran asked whether McElrea’s political connection to the Prime Minister had been considered during the appointment process. Foss’ response was that all board appointments follow the standard due diligence process for Crown entities.

Having unsuccessfully sought to trip up Key for so long over relative trivia, Labour (finally) is making headway on something of real concern.

So why isn’t the party giving more priority to Curran’s questions? Yesterday she was bottom of the list. She deserves better.

I have an issue with the timing of the documentary, I don’t think it was good for the electoral process or for addressing the ‘poverty’ issues. The timing seemed more designed to influence the outcome of the election than to promote debate over the issues. But that’s not what this is about.

It’s quite possible that McElrea’s appointment was mostly due to what he could offer NZ On Air  (who you know does help), and it’s quite possible that he has generally contributed well.

But it does look like he has become involved in something he shouldn’t have.

Having someone so closely associated with the Prime Minister appointed to anything that could be political is a risk.

And if that person is seen to be using their position to try and influence something politiclly controversial then it’s not a good look.

One of Curran’s problems with trying to deal to this is that Labour grizzles and opposes and nitpicks far too much. It can be difficult to see the difference between overdone opposition white noise and legitimate red flags. And her timing doesn’t help, with the new Labour front bench trying to establish their credentials as the real opposition.

If Labour picked fights that are justified and of legitimate concern and didn’t flail with so much ineffectual political flotsam they would be far more effective as an opposition party. And they would have more time to contribute positively – to Parliament and to their own party.

February 8, 2012

Clark Day just the beginning

by Pete George

David Clark got good coverage of his first day in parliament due to his private memeber’s bill being drawn from the ballot.

Plans to ‘Monday-ise’ holidays progress

(ODT) First-term Labour MP David Clark this afternoon had his Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and Anzac Day) Amendment Bill drawn from the members’ bill ballot, lucking it out over 38 other MPs to take one of two members’ bill spots on Parliament’s business agenda.

Mr Clark’s bill would ensure that if Waitangi Day and Anzac Day fell on either a Saturday or Sunday in the future, the following Monday would be a public holiday.

Lucky draw ensuring good publicity to ensure he won’t be one of the forgotten (or never known) backbenchers.

Hola! Hola! Holiday

(Red Alert) Today is my first regular day as a sitting MP.  Somewhat improbably, a member’s bill in my name has been drawn from the ballot.

I’m pleased to be able to champion the Bill.  It aims to ensure hard working kiwis get the holidays they deserve. My thanks to Grant Robertson who developed the bill originally.

The good news is that families may be entitled to a day off for each and every Public Holiday – before the year is out.

It corrects for an anomaly that happens roughly twice every seven years.  When this glitch happens, New Zealanders miss out on the usual full complement of 11 public holidays

Bill backs Anzac, Waitangi holidays
Plans to ‘Monday-ise’ holidays progress‎ New Zealand Herald
Waitangi, Anzac holidays may be ‘Mondayised’‎ TVNZ
Bill could see more annual holidays‎ Newstalk ZB

Good coverage for a new MP with a bill that should be widely popular, except for a few quibbles from employers who will have to pay for it.

Prime Minister John Key said the National Party caucus would have to discuss whether to support a law change.

“When it was an issue last year I said I’d get some advice on it, I haven’t actually seen that advice yet,” he said.

It won’t be a priority for National  but maybe they won’t whip the caucus on it.

Looking forward to seeing what David will do for us next, this is just getting warmed up in parliament.

Presumably David knows a bit about statistics, I hope he made it clear to his colleagues that the odds of drawing his bill (2/38 or 1/17) are a bit better than the best odds of winning anything in Lotto (1/274, Strike 2 and 2/363, division 6)

February 1, 2012

Assets a political liability?

by Pete George

Polls showed that significant numbers of people viewed asset sales negatively, but the poll that counted, the election, suggested that wasn’t strong opposition to National’s most significant new policy (unless voters just thought Labour’s policies were even worse).

There has been a small number of very vocal strongly opposing voices. Apart from that it’s difficult to measure the degree of opposition.

The Maori Party is playing politics over the proposed sales. Their timing is odd – perhaps suspicious – as they could have negotiated on this in their Confidence and Supply agreement. If they renege on that, especially this early in the term, it will reflect poorly on them.

Maori Party considers options

(TV3) The Maori Party is considering ministerial advice on a problem with asset sales that threatens its support agreement with the government. Co-leaders Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia met Finance Minister Bill English late Tuesday after raising serious concerns about the way the government is handling the partial sale of four state-owned power companies.

The companies are going to be removed from the State-owned Enterprises Act and will not be covered by the treaty clauses in the legislation. The Maori Party says that amounts to the government saying the Treaty of Waitangi does not exist, which could mean the end of its confidence and supply agreement.

Treaty clause complicates asset sales

(ODT) Maori political leaders are urging iwi to object strongly to suggestions the Government will not include protection of Treaty of Waitangi rights in planned legislation on partial state asset sales.

Key confident Maori Party will stay

(ODT) The Maori Party’s suggestion that it might walk out on its relationship with National has been played down by the Prime Minister.

That is mostly ‘up north’ stuff.

How will the partial sale programme affect Dunedin?

  • Pay more for power?
  • Encourage more power saving, alternate energy and energy efficiencies?
  • Investment opportunities (private or via Kiwisaver accounts)?

Are asset sales something we should be debating here? Or is it not a priority issue?

December 21, 2011

Dont take the mickey with Mr Whippy

by Pete George

Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse has been ‘elected’ senior party whip by the National caucus. This was an expected promotion which is a good start to Michael’s second term in parliament.

National’s Whips Elected

The National Party Caucus this morning elected Michael Woodhouse as its new senior whip.

National’s whips Woodhouse and Upston

List MP Michael Woodhouse will become National’s senior whip and Taupo MP Louise Upston becomes junior whip.

Woodhouse and Upston were elected at National’s caucus meeting this morning.

Prime Minister John Key said both were hard-working MPs.

“I am confident they will do a good job in their new roles. I congratulate both of them.”

The ODT has a photo (not online yet) of the whips “dragging” the speaker to his seat at the opening of parliament yesterday.


Whips are members of Parliament who are organisers and administrators of the members in each of the political parties in the House.


  • prepare lists of members from their party to speak in debates
  • make sure that members of their party are in the House when needed
  • negotiate with other whips on House business
  • cast votes on behalf of their parties during a party vote.

All parliamentary political parties have people carrying out the role of whips. The Green Party prefers to call the person a musterer.

Congratulations to Michael. Organising MPs could be a ‘herding cats’ sort of challenge but he takes the role with a well disciplined National caucus.

December 15, 2011

Cross party poverty

by Pete George

Impoverished  cross party co-operation on major issues seems to be continuing this term. It’s early weeks, maybe this will change with a more sensible approach from all parties over time, with the help of public pressure.

Key rejects call for cross-party poverty group

Labour leader David Shearer’s wish to be included in a ministerial poverty committee is unlikely to come true.

In the formal announcement about Labour’s leadership yesterday, Mr Shearer said he did not want to see the gap between the rich and poor grow further, and wanted to be part of the Government’s proposed poverty committee.

However, when asked about the idea today, Mr Key did not seem keen.

“I’m more than happy for David Shearer to be a part of the ministerial committee if he’s happy to give the Government confidence and supply,” he said.

I’d be much happier if the best MPs worked on the issues that their qualificatioins and experience could contribute most to.

It seems nuts to me that our partisan political practice means up to half of our elected representatives are sidelined on important issues.

‘Poverty’ (I don’t like that term, I think it’s in-apt) was one of the major issues in the election campaign in Dunedin.

I hope at least here all MPs and constituents can work together on how to deal with too many people really struggling, alongside a closely related issue, employment and business development in Dunedin. I think we’re up to it.

Government won’t give us jobs, and don’t have money to dish out. We need to work together and explore how we can better ourselves.

December 13, 2011

New National lineup

by Pete George

The new National cabinet lineup has been announced, dominated by tweaks rather than surprises.

Business-friendly front bench names

Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced a business-friendly line-up of front bench Cabinet ministers, with the six top-ranked MPs set to drive the economy forward from their allocated portfolios.

The closest MP to Dunedin is Bill English from neighbouring Clutha-Southland who is still at #2 and still Minister of Finance, but he seems to be more of a Wellington politician than a champion of the provinces.

Front bench `freshened up’ – Key

John Key has not only “freshened up” National’s front bench, as he put it at a press conference this afternoon, he has modernised it.

Editorial: Freshness and experience in Key’s Cabinet

With the deal-making done and an “action plan” in place, John Key has the foundations for a second term of significant reform. What the Prime Minister also needs, however, is a Cabinet that will drive that change, rather than settle for managing what has already been achieved.

Another MP in close proximity to sneak into the tail of the promotions is from just north of the Waitaki and would appear to be a part of the apparent aim to promote women into more prominence within National.

Rangitata MP Jo Goodhew becomes a minister outside cabinet for Community and Voluntary Sector, Senior Citizens and Women’s Affairs.

Not yet announced is an expected promotion (but outside cabinet) for Dunedin MP Michael Woodhouse, as suggested by John Key last week.

Woodhouse set for chief whip

Michael Woodhouse looks set to become the highest-ranked National MP from Dunedin in the history of the party when, as expected, he becomes chief whip next Tuesday.

If this happens it will be a good step up for Michael, and good for Dunedin. He will be hoping to be able to progress further into a cabinet position before Labour take back the government reins. If National win again in 2014 presumably with some of their old guard retired the openings should be there.

December 10, 2011

Key been

by Pete George

Electioneering visits are expected during a campaign but it was good to get a visit from the Prime Minister after the election.

Prime Minister John Key visits Dunedin

Prime Minister John Key was in Dunedin this morning and spoke with 9 Local News about the Charter Schools system announced earlier this week. Key says the reason he never mentioned Charter Schools before the election was because it’s an Act Party idea.
While Key was here he attended a National Party lunch event and gave Dunedin members a deserved attention for their campaign efforts.
It will be interesting to see if Michael Woodhouse gets deserved attention for his efforts over the past three years.

Promotion likely for Woodhouse

Dunedin-based National Party list MP Michael Woodhouse is tipped for a promotion early next week when Prime Minister John Key announces his new line-up of cabinet ministers.

While Mr Woodhouse will not be a cabinet minister in at least the early part of the next term of Parliament, he is likely to be assisting senior ministers in their portfolios, perhaps as a parliamentary secretary.

“I think you will see a promotion, in my view, for Michael. I think Michael is hugely talented but we need to take him through a pathway where he isn’t rushed through the process and sees him as a strategically long-term player,” Mr Key said.
That sounds like an incremental rise in responsibility. It’s good for Dunedin if a local MP is an integral part of the current government.
Beyond the competiveness of the campaign we need to look at what all MPs can do for us in Dunedin regardless of what party they are from.
December 9, 2011

Leader’s day in Dunedin

by Pete George

The Labour leader’s roadshow arrives in for a Dunedin tonight, and John Key is also visiting the city today and will be attending a National Party regional meeting and luncheon, that will be enjoyed by local supporters still buzzing after a good local campaign.

Otago connection could make Cunliffe the favourite in Dunedin

The Labour leadership roadshow rolls into Dunedin tonight as contenders David Cunliffe and David Shearer meet party members to present their credentials to lead the party in a process of rejuvenation.

A large number of supporters are expected to attend the meeting in Sidey Hall, Caversham, tonight after 200 attended the meeting in Hamilton, 200 in Palmerston and 400 in Wellington. The MPs were talking to Christchurch supporters last night and expected to address 1000 supporters in Auckland on Sunday.

New Dunedin North MP David Clark told the Otago Daily Times he had been “swallowed up” by calls and emails about the contest and the support for each contender.

The selection process has been a good way to keep interest in the party and in politics high. Hopefully this can be encouraged to continue.

Mr Cunliffe  said research and development funding should be steered towards Dunedin.

“Its future is not in smokestacks, but in knowledge. You have a marvellous hinterland with horticulture and other land-based industries.

“My vision is for the South to be the best it can be.”

Tonight, Mr Cunliffe will also tell party members the odds need to be tilted towards regional industries, and that he still cannot understand why Hillside was not allowed to tender to build rail wagons.

Cunliffe is saying the right sort of things but that would have to be compared to what he says in each region he has visited, it gives the impression there could be a touch of poli-palaver.

Mr Shearer said his message tonight would be, “We are all New Zealanders and we need to be outward-looking.

“There is a tendency after a big defeat to look inward at ourselves but we must do exactly the opposite, going against our instincts to force ourselves to look outwards.”

Mr Shearer went to the University of Canterbury and said he had lost many good friends to Otago.

And that’s very general, hard to know what sort empathy Shearer would end up for the provinces.

Mr Cunliffe is likely to receive the majority of support in Dunedin given his background as a University of Otago graduate and his belief Dunedin should become a major centre of learning for New Zealand.

Majority of support in Dunedin means nothing unless it translates into caucus votes. The pundits who have been trying to count votes don’t seem to know what way they expect David Clark and Clare Curran to vote.


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