Red Alert

Archive for November, 2011

Labour leadership

Posted by on November 29th, 2011

Phil Goff and Annette King have announced their intention to resign as leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party in a fortnight.

At some stage I will do a considered post to thank them and to highlight what I think are unreasonable expectations we place on political leaders in New Zealand.

There will almost certainly be a contest for both the leadership and deputy leadership.

Like most people I have a view, albeit preliminary. It is not the view ascribed to me by a colleague who thought they were anonymous when they spoke to the media.

I will be discussing the issue with Hutt South party members next week. Others are welcome to comment here or email me direct.

This blog gives the wider public a chance to express their views. It will be tightly moderated so please do your best to avoid editing or deletion. Remember we don’t moderate what you say but how you say it matters to us.

Most Labour MPs will read this. We will look for reasoning that is fresh rather than just names or copied comments.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on November 29th, 2011

POST-ELECTION ROUND-UP?: After an exhaustive few weeks of furious campaigning the election is over. Now, we sort through the results to look at what the hell happened and what the next three years will look like. What do the results mean for National, Labour, the Greens, ACT, United Future and New Zealand First? Speaking of New Zealand First—who predicted 8 MPs? Who made it in on the list? Who lost out? What coalition deals will we see? What will be the bottom line for these parties?

GET OUT THE VOTE: A million registered voters stayed out of the voting booths. Why? Who did it hurt the most? How can we get people more excited about their civic duty? And do we need to be doing more to get people to the polls? Is it time to make voting compulsory?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 30th of November. Our Panel: Green Party MP-Elect Holly Walker, Labour MP-Elect David Shearer, National MP-Elect Chris Tremain, and United Future Leader Peter Dunne.

At least MMP survived

Posted by on November 28th, 2011

A clear victory for MMP means we can now focus on the tweaking necessary to improve the system. My view is that a threshold reduction to 4% and an abolition of coat tailing are good debates to have. Could be but not necessarily linked.

I turned down an approach from the team pushing for change to support their badly run campaign. They knew I had supported FPP in the past, but were not aware that I had grown to accept MMP as a fairer system.

I’ve got a bit of shit from the right for my role in the Labour campaign. Fair enough.

But they didn’t cover themselves in glory either in fact major campaign losers were the crack team of Simon Lusk and Jordan Williams ably assisted by Whaleoil.

If there was a three strikes rule for political campaigners they would be jailed for life. As it is their fee quote must now be in almost two figures rather than the $30k they were previously quoting.

The record in just one election:

1. Destroyed Act by implementing hopeless coup.
2. Lost the MMP referendum they were running.
3. Winston back in off the Losers for Change publicity.

Filed under: act party, MMP

Your comments on the campaign

Posted by on November 27th, 2011

The campaign, and in fact the last three years, has been tough. It has been pretty clear right through that leading a government was going to be a big ask but at times we looked tantalisiing close.

I want to say thanks to Phil who worked relentlessly when an enormous amount of shit was thrown at him and to a campaign team consisting of candidates, managers and thousands of activists who worked their butts off.

We have lost some incredibly talented MPs. Some will be back. And our caucus has some brilliant new additions.

We did some things well. There is plenty of room for improvement.

There will be plenty of internal post match analysis. This is a place for you to have your say.


Posted by on November 25th, 2011

to everyone who has posted and commented on Red Alert since May 2009.

It’s an important forum for political discussion run by dedicated Labour politicians, committed to real, honest debates.

Red Alert has seen  some great ideas grow and innovative new ways of doing things. Policies have been developed and grown to fruition.

It’s been a collaboration between people and politicians.

Thanks to all colleagues for contributing and making it work. Thanks especially to Trevor and Grant for being the core Red Alert team and for their amazing work on our campaign.

Its been an intense campaign, and it has been great to have your support.

We have a simple message for tomorrow.

Vote for the future of all New Zealanders – vote to keep our assets, vote to end child poverty in NZ .  Two ticks for Labour.

The rules say no posts tomorrow

Posted by on November 25th, 2011

There will be no posts on Red Alert from midnight tonight until at least 7pm tomorrow.

No comments on Red Alert either.

The Electoral Act says:

it is an offence, at any time on election day before the close of the poll at 7pm, to publish any statement intended or likely to influence any elector as to the candidate or party or referendum option for whom the elector should or should not vote.
You can get more information from the Electoral Commission website

National for lease ? Caption contest.

Posted by on November 24th, 2011


Paul Quinn pointing out that businesses are going under in the Hutt and unemployment is up 50%. And more of it to come by voting National.

Or a suggestion that Key is available to highest bidder but only on a short term basis.

Let’s suggest captions.


Posted by on November 24th, 2011

It is clear what the National party considers important. It has made much of social welfare reform and forcing people into work regardless of the circumstances or costs incurred. It has promised to further reduce public sector jobs in spite of promises before the last election to cap not cut those jobs. BUT have they got the guts to push the receivers of the Crafer Farms to cut their losses and sell to Landcorp so the farms can remain in NZ ownership. OR do they have the guts to tell the receivers of Pike River Mine to commit to action and recover the bodies from the mine before the sale of the mine takes place.

The National Government is too gutless to take on it’s mates with money but happy to kick around those who are so often trapped by circumstances. It’s always a question of priorities and we can see clearly theirs. New Zealanders should be outraged. The bodies of the dead miners can be recovered but the families have no power to push ahead with action. It is all in the hands of two Johns, John Fisk and John Key. It’s about time they both got “dear John” letters so New Zealand can be a better place and get our priorities sorted.

Lockouts, layoffs and livelihoods

Posted by on November 23rd, 2011

The lockout of more than 100 workers at ANZCO CMP Meatworks in Marton is now in its second month over the employer’s demand for 20% paycuts and increased workloads. Efforts by the workers’ union to reach a compromise so far have been rejected. The local community, food-banks and workers from around the country, many of whom are already struggling from the impact of cost of living increases,are digging deep to help these workers feed their families. That can’t carry on. Families are hurting, the local economy is suffering and New Zealand’s international reputation is being affected.

Predictably, there’s been silence from the Minister of Labour and John Key in this very serious situation, and they’ve left their hapless and inexperienced Rangitikei candidate to deal with it.

Then there’s the almost daily announcements of lay-offs. Today it’s Milton Woollen Mills. Yesterday, it was Sleepyhead.

The National Party Industrial Relations policy for this election will encourage more of the hard-line tactics being used by ANZCO CMP. They want to give employers the right to veto multi-employer collective agreements, refuse to conclude collective bargaining, and put workers on individual agreements when they start work.

National’s priorities for early legislation, announced today, include cutting pay for young workers and privatising the ACC work account. How sad is that?

The last time a National government tried these race to the bottom ideas, the wage gap with Australia grew enormously, workers lost long-held conditions, low pay became endemic in many important industries and we lost a generation of skilled workers.

John Key insists that he will build a brighter future (actually, I thought he promised that last election).

There’s no brighter future for laid off or locked out workers, or those who only got a 25 cents increase in the minimum wage this year.

Clear choice Saturday.

Asset Sales- Information the public should have

Posted by on November 23rd, 2011

In Parliament as the election loomed John Key and Bill English frequently told us that “Mum and Dad investors would be at the front of the queue” and that 85-90% of the assets would stay in New Zealand hands. I can remember asking (well, shouting) as to how they could guarantee this, what were they going to do to make it happen.

It seems now that despite saying, as Tony Ryall did that “all the advice” is that this can be done, they did not actually ask their economic advisors in Treasury. Instead they relied on the advice of Ministerial advisors and some mates in the financial sector.

Now we only know this morsel of information because the Ombudsmen forced the National Party to release it. TVNZ has been fighting since August to get this information released. What the Ombudsmen has not done is force them to release the five briefing papers that they do have around the planned asset sales.

There are always judgement calls about releasing this kind of information. But the public interest in the days leading up to the election should dictate that the information is released. John Key has said he will take the election result as a mandate to sell our assets. Asset sales are the defining issue of this election, and the public of New Zealand deserve to have all the information when they make their decision.

Time off to vote

Posted by on November 23rd, 2011


It was great to see this sign when I popped into Astoria Cafe in Wellington earlier today. Good on them for making sure that their employees have the chance to go out and vote. Not everyone knows that there are legal requirements for employers to give employees time to go and vote if they are working on election day.

The relevant bit of the law is S162 of the Electoral Act. The guts is that if a person has not had a reasonable opportunity to vote before starting work the employer has to let them go from 3pm for that purpose, and they can not deduct their pay. If they have to be there after 3pm, reasonable arrangements should be made for the employee to be able to take the time to vote. Most employers are aware of this, and are flexible, but its important people know their rights. And the right to vote is one not to be messed with.

Also worth noting that advance voting is available around the country over the next few days if for any reason you are not going to be able to get to the polls on Saturday. The details are here, just click on your electorate.

Filed under: Elections

Monday debate highlights

Posted by on November 23rd, 2011

To make a donation to finance the Friday push click here.

this is what Craig Foss says is – Campaigning at Tommo’s round-a-bout Hastings.

Posted by on November 22nd, 2011

Craig Foss


so the campaign to which no one came :)

Filed under: national

Back Benches this week – the righties take over ?

Posted by on November 22nd, 2011

GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES: The Campaign is less than a week away. What have been the highs & lows of this campaign? Who has been effective in getting their message across? Who has failed? What have been the big issues? How would you rate each of the campaigns? Which party has surprised you?

TEMPEST IN A TEACUP: There have been a few scandals in this campaign—with New Zealand even getting their own Tea Party. We will be discussing the scandals—the tea-gate? The damaged hoardings and the carpetbaggers. How much of an impact will they have on the results? And were the “scandals” really scandals?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 23RD of November. Our Panel: David Farrar of, Victoria University Lecturer Ana Gilling, Morgan Godfery of, and Mark Unsworth of Saunders Unsworth.

His vision of a grey country

Posted by on November 22nd, 2011

Jordan Carter is a Wellington-based List candidate

John Key’s rather wooden performances in the leaders’ debates so far, are consistent with his vision for New Zealand.  A country painted bright grey, where everyone is “ambushus” for — well, nothing much really, except power in Key’s case.

Through the whole election campaign, Labour has stood up for New Zealand and the country we can be:  a place where everyone can work at a decent job on decent wages, where the environment is clean and protected, and where we respect and look after each other, rather than creating false divides between Kiwis.

The policy framework we have rolled out is a plan that will tackle long-standing problems the country faces.  It’ll fix the things that hold us back: unfair taxes, biased investment into speculation, a lack of skilled and trained workers, housing shortages and so on.

But it’s the frank appeal to what it means to be a New Zealander that is exciting about Labour’s campaign.

Stopping asset sales is part of that, but think back to the other bits of recent political history: “gone by lunchtime” on New Zealand’s nuclear free (Brash, who Key is trying to disinter from his political grave); the effort to get mining done on Schedule 4 lands; the attacks on people on benefits; the pegging in of people’s rights at work; the “it’s not a priority” message to diverse communities all around New Zealand.

Their whole effort is to diminish and undermine the things that make us who we are, and to turn us into a privatised, corporatised bunch of Klingons who are only consumers, never citizens, and where to have a different ambition or even a different opinion is to be something other than “mainstream”.

National and John Key are running a grey campaign and their vision of our country is grey to match.  They are avoiding the tough issues, have no plan to change the economy or protect our environment, and just haven’t got what it takes to let every New Zealander get ahead — and to look after the people who can’t.

There is more to us than that. We are a better country than that.  We don’t need a bright grey future. We need one where everyone can fly.

Out of the mouths of babes

Posted by on November 22nd, 2011

I did some street corner meetings in Corstorphine and Concord last night. Up on the hill above South Dunedin. Traditional working class, lots of state housing. Low income, struggling families. Elderly.

The day before a street corner meeting we leaflet the area to let people know we’re coming. So they are prepared when a politician turns up with a microphone on their corner.

Amazing crowds turned out to listen to me and I finished a lot later than I’d planned as people wanted to share their stories and ask advice and express their concerns about the effect of current government policies on them now and their fears for the future,

Then a woman called Fiona came up to me. In her 30s, on a stick. An injury and she’s battling with ACC over her eligibility. She said her daughter Gracia had made something for me. It’s the first time I’ve been given such a treasure. Gracia, aged 7 is highly politically aware and bamboozles her mother with the questions she asks. I had never met her or her mum before.

This is what Gracia gave me.

Take note John Key. She’s our future.

Gracia photo compressed

Housing letter

Posted by on November 22nd, 2011

Nats and their mouthpieces are upset. Hooton raving, whale lost direction and beached and even the penguin making an idiot of himself.

It is an absolute lie to say National is reviewing all state house tenancies. The policy clearly says only *new* tenancies will be placed on periodic review.

I’m going to accept Heatley’s word. He is the Minister after all. From Q + A.

  PHIL Well, yes, and the second step.  So the first step is for any new tenant from the 1st of July this year.  After the election if we’re re-elected, we’re going to be rolling this out for current tenants.  .

Eliminating Child Poverty- Labour’s Health Plan

Posted by on November 21st, 2011

Tomorrow night on TV3 there is a documentary about child poverty in New Zealand. I think every New Zealander should see it. It is a very real depiction of how life is for some of our most vulnerable families. The issues raised about child health and well being are ones we all have to take some responsibility for. Stuff has some preview of the content this morning.

More than 100 New Zealand children who died last year would probably have survived had they lived in Japan, Sweden or the Czech Republic, a new documentary shows….Last year, more than 25,000 children were admitted to hospital for respiratory infections. Doctors routinely treat cases of rheumatic fever and scabies – diseases now rare in Europe.

It is for these families that Labour has made eliminating child poverty our number one social policy priority. When it comes to avoidable hospital admissions (for issues like skin infections and respiratory illness) the National government has removed reducing them as a priority health target. This is wrong. They have increased by 5,000 between 2007 and 2010. The reason targeting these admissions is important is not only are they a proxy for how many children are in poverty, they are also an indication of lack of access to primary care as these infections should never get to hospital admission status.

Labour will restore the reduction of avoidable hospital admissions as a priority target. We will also make child health a priority by

  • enrolling all children with a Well Child provider before birth so that we have continuity of care for all babies
  • 24/7 free primary care for all under sixes (and we are funding this, unlike National)
  • enhanced B4School Checks and a mop up service at school for those who don’t get them
  • requiring District Health Boards to adopt child health implementation plans with nationally agreed measurable outcomes and targets that are monitored by the Ministry of Health.
  • developing systems during pregnancy to identify children who are vulnerable, and then ensure that the relevant levels of support are in place to support and optimise parenting.
  • strengthening the Health in Schools Programme, including social workers, starting with low decile schools, with the aim of expanding the programme to higher decile schools as resources allow.
  • 10 year plan to improve access and affordability of dental care, starting with a package of free dental services for pregnant women.

And the rest of the Childrens Policy agenda that we have released. You can find all the details here.

This is an issue that it is already past time to take decisive action. National do not seem prepared to do it, Labour is.

When Simon met Deb

Posted by on November 20th, 2011


There have been quite a few stories from the election  campaign of candidates not showing up to election meetings, but it seems to have been a particular problem in Tauranga.   I will hand over to Labour candidate Deborah Mahuta-Coyle to tell the story from up there.

We had heard on the grapevine that Simon Bridges wasn’t planning to front any candidates meetings during the election campaign. We shifted meeting dates, community groups offered to work within his availability- but after 6 cancelled candidates meetings in a row, people were angry their MP wasn’t fronting. They wrote into papers, some calling him arrogant, and many asked him to front up.

So me, Ian McLean from the Greens, Brendon Horan from NZFirst and Jayson Gardiner from Mana decided if Simon didn’t have time to come to us- we would go to him.

At 2pm today we as Tauranga Candidates arrived at one of Simons scheduled street corner meetings.

The look on Simons face when he saw us coming. He promptly turned his speaker phone on, and just yelled over us. Refused to even consider a short candidates meeting and only took questions from his supporters!

We clearly shook him up a bit as he yelled that Nationals tax system was fairer because drug dealers paid tax and when he claimed he had door knocked in a poorer area of Tauranga- a woman had him up about it and said in the last 3 years she hadn’t seen him once!

Our street corner meeting/ impromptu candidates meeting started with 5 national party supporters and ended up hosting over 30 people!

Simon scurried off as soon as he could- but I bet you he was worried at every street corner meeting after that one that we would turn up again.

Good on the other candidates for getting together on this one. Candidate meetings are time consuming, and we have a lot of them here in Wellington Central, but they are part of the democratic process. Even John Key managed to get to a couple of them, so surely Simon could have too?

Sell or keep?

Posted by on November 19th, 2011

Seven more sleeps until New Zealanders get to decide whether we sell or keep our assets.