Red Alert

Archive for April, 2012

What Key said as Oppo leader – contrast with his action today

Posted by on April 30th, 2012

Key on Peters and Clark

“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.

“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.

“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister.

Doyle on Banks’ memory

Posted by on April 30th, 2012


Filed under: humour

Back Benches this week

Posted by on April 30th, 2012

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics.

POLITICAL ROUNDUP: This week has been full of political hot topics…the state of the parties, the state of their donations and dealings with the police. The Government is still riding high in the polls? So are the Greens. Meanwhile, Labour is trying to make a dent in their approval ratings. Do they have a problem of style vs. substance? Meanwhile, ACT’s John Banks is in hot water for campaign contributions. Do we need full disclosure over contributions to politicians and/or political parties? Is it a matter for police?

SEX OFFENDERS REGISTRY: Does New Zealand need a sex offender registry? Will a registry prevent new sex offenses? Or will a list merely stigmatise people who have served their time? In recent weeks, we’ve seen stories about convicted sex offenders—one a teacher, the other a school bus driver. Would a registry prevent that? Are we just naming and shaming? Are sex offenders different—do they ever serve their time? Does the proposed sex offenders registry go far enough? Do we need full public disclosure? How would you feel if a paedophile moved in next door?

A TIME TO DIE: Should we be able to decide when it’s time to die? New poll shows more of us support voluntary euthanasia. Labour’s Maryan Street as a “End of Life Choice Bill” would allow Kiwis to say when and how they die. But opponents say allowing euthanasia would lead to abuse. The bill has failed to pass twice before—but are we now more open to change? Should there be limits on who can determine their death? Perhaps reserved for the terminally ill?

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 2nd of May, 9:05pm and on TVNZ7.

The Panel: Green Party MP Denise Roche, Labour MP Phil Twyford, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell and National MP Maggie Barry.

Economic development ideas

Posted by on April 29th, 2012

During the recess I have been working to fill out some ideas around economic development.

These personal views build on caucus discussions and our 2011 manifesto, and take on board feedback from party and business circles as I have been listening and engaging over the last few months.

This oped, published in the Herald on Friday, argues for lifting sustainable economic growth through a more ‘can do’, positive partnership with between government and business. It argues for a clear and credible strategy that integrates economy-wide, sector-driven and regional initiaitives. It warns of the dangers of the kind of one-off ‘deals’ with indvidual corporates now so typical of National.

This speech, delivered today to a meeting hosted by the New Lynn Women’s Branch of the NZLP, goes back to first principles. It argues that, post GFC, the “invisible hand” of neoliberal economics has failed, that New Zealand cannot cut or sell our way out of a hole, and that Labour must therefore present a clear alternative economic approach to the current government based on our own enduring values.

Hope you enjoy them.

Thanks Needle

Posted by on April 28th, 2012

Fred Allen died today.

His exploits as a soldier, All Black (every game as Captain), and unbeaten All Black coach are well recorded elsewhere.

I was lucky to spend a bit of time with him over the last couple of decades. He was always up for a chat about sport and/or politics. And right up to the RWC celebrations he was as sharp as his nickname.

And his advice certainly could not be described as politically correct, notwithstanding his praise of our first elected woman PM, nor gentle, despite him being a gentleman.

We are a better country because of him. Thanks Fred.

Filed under: sport

A few sad words on Workers Memorial Day

Posted by on April 28th, 2012

It’s six months since Charanpereet Singh Dhaliwai, aged just 21 died from head injuries after a horrific assault on the job.

He was on his first night working as a security guard watching over the Fulton Hogan site in West Auckland, and he was working alone.

He’s just one on a shameful list of workplace deaths and injuries as we mourn our workplace toll on Workers Memorial Day today.

Every year, I hope things will be better and we will see a different approach to protecting workers who go to work, expecting to return home safely to their families at the end of the day.

So what’s the government’s plan?

MOBIE – that’s the unfortunate acronym for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which will incorporate the Department of Labour and its Health and Safety roles from 1 July this year.

The least the government could have done was to wait until the Royal Commission on Pike River Mine reports back in September, because there are likely to be significant recommendations for change to protecting the health and safety of workers in New Zealand.  I think our treatment of health and safety has become so negligent we should be considering whether we need a standalone agency.

An announcement from the government that they are putting the merger of the health and safety functions into MOBIE on hold pending major change to tackling our death and injury rates on the job would have been a nice message for the families and workmates mourning today.

Won’t happen though.

Postscript : Sincere condolences to the family and workmates of Herman Curry, bus driver, who died at work in Friday night.

Keep our assets. Sign the petition.

Posted by on April 27th, 2012

Labour is supporting the community campaign Keep Our Assets which aims to force a citizens initiated referendum (CIR) on asset sales. The campaign includes a range of community groups and political parties and is led by Grey Power and the CTU. We need your help in supporting this campaign.

In order to get for a CIR we first need to get the signatures of 10% of the voting population. That amounts to a bit more than 300,000 signatures. It is a lot, but on this issue there is no doubt that the public is on our side.

The Clerk of parliament has approved the referendum question. It is:

Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?

Labour has created a website to support the campaign.  This is a great chance to put the government under pressure and to remind New Zealanders that the future of their power companies and airline is at stake.

Most Kiwis want to keep our assets in NZ hands. If you agree please sign the petition. You can download it here and circulate to everyone you know, and you can sign up to the campaign here.

You can make a difference.

Money talks

Posted by on April 27th, 2012

Today we learn that the government caved into another demand from Sir Peter Jackson and Warner Bros which involved bending immigration rules in their favour.

In 2010, Peter Jackson told Government Ministers that Warners were worried about our employment law, because the distinction between “contractors” and “employees” established five years earlier in the Bryson case required employers to treat him as an employee.

Bryson was not an actor, yet we changed the law because Warners said so and in doing so, removed rights for a whole category of workers.

Turns out, it was just one of their demands.

Official Information finally released, shows that the government was only too happy to fall into line with other concerns, such as the alleged visa “blockages” for overseas performers.

And hey presto : changes have been made. And they don’t only apply to actors – they apply to everyone working in the industry.

I seem to recall John Key saying this was about New Zealand jobs.

But secret deals in immigration processes like this completely undermine our immigration systems and are unfair to Kiwi workers.

The integrity of our immigration system stands or falls on transparency, but this latest revelation adds to a trend of giving privileges to the better off and a willingness to bend the rules when money is involved.

Update: You can view the OIA request here.

Progress in international justice

Posted by on April 27th, 2012

The former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

This is the first time since the Nuremberg trials of former Nazi leaders in 1946 that a country’s leader has been held to account for crimes of this nature. It’s an historic and landmark decision.  It sends a message that the international community can track down and bring to justice tyrants who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It tells those who act in this way that they cannot do so with impunity. While this verdict is welcome, it was a long time coming and there is still a long way to go.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently on trial and former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo is in ICC custody.

However there are dozens of other current and former leaders whose actions justify trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity who continue to be beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court and war crimes tribunals.

Taylor’s conviction is good sign, but there is still much to be done.

Slow Jam with the President

Posted by on April 26th, 2012

Barack Obama and Jimmy Fallon in fine form last night in this sketch from Jimmy’s Late Night show. Fallon has a regular ‘slow jam’ segment, and has Obama as his special guest on this one. Very funny, and great work from the President. The issue here is a proposal to increase the rate of interest on student loans, which the President is opposing. As he says

Now is not the time to make school more expensive for our young people

Let’s hope Steven Joyce is listening to that come Budget time.

Red Alert Radio (Auckland)

Posted by on April 25th, 2012

Auckland Labour MPs are now broadcasting every Thursday morning, with Red Alert Radio via PlanetFM (104.6)

We aim to provide in-depth interviews you may not hear anywhere else.  So far, there have been two broadcasts with many more ahead.

Tomorrow morning at 9.05, you can listen to an interview with Alastair Duncan, joint advocate for the Oceania workers about the state of Aged Care in New Zealand.

If you have topics you would like to hear more about, and suggestions for who you would like us to interview, happy to hear from you.

Just say that you have a problem with PBS Mike Hosking…

Posted by on April 25th, 2012

Best not to beat around the bush and try to come up with this or that justification. When challenged about his recent on air rant against TVNZ 7, Mike Hosking took to Twitter to justify himself.

Thankfully, the statisticians pushed back.

It’s extraordinary when one argument is blown out of the water, how there’s an immediate switch to another argument. It would be best if Mike just said he doesn’t like public television broadcasting and be done with it.

Throng again has taken him to task.

The multiple positions of Mike Hosking

  • By
  • 25 Apr 2012
    After Mike Hosking’s initial rant that stated that the size of TVNZ7′s audience didn’t justify its existence, he then moved to Twitter to defend his comments.  However he went from saying the numbers weren’t big enough, to that they needed to outrate whatever else it was up against to, to that it didn’t actually matter how well it rated because he just doesn’t like public broadcasting.
@publicaddress @nztv @hoskingonzb do let me know what the numbers problem isI can’t workbout what you mean ?


Mike Hosking
@hoskingonzb More than happy to explain: if 5 people listen to your show per week, that doesn’t mean 1 person listens per day


Throng NZ

Read the rest here

Reflections on ANZAC morning

Posted by on April 25th, 2012

600-Poppy 3D
I am just back from another moving and respectful Dawn Service here in Wellington. Right around the country tens of thousands of New Zealanders have been doing the same thing. I have reflected on the journey around ANZAC Day for me on Red Alert before. To me it is a day to remember, reflect and to hope for a peaceful future.

This morning the spouse of one of the diplomats at the service said that what she loved about the New Zealand services was that it could be relaxed and at the same time so moving. It is true here in Wellington that people wander up stand where and as they wish. There are a few seats, a small official party, but otherwise its a fully egalitarian event. The cup of tea afterwards at the Pipitea Marae is even more so.

Nice changes have been evident in recent years. I like that we now sing the Australian anthem along with the New Zealand one. I love that some of the remaining WW2 veterans are the ones who really belt out the Maori version of our anthem.

The parade has fewer veterans, but more family members. The crowd gets bigger, but the atmosphere does not change. I guess its kind of hard to change the dawn.

But most of all what I love is that it is a true community occasion, with all the generations represented. Wandering around as the day began to lighten up this morning I ran into families of all shapes and sizes. One boy said it was so early, he felt like it was really late. I know what he meant! Others were engaged in conversations about what different bits of the day meant. Others were taking the time to stroll through the grounds of Parliament and soak up another part of our history.

There was a small political element today that was not shied away from. The Wellington President of the RSA noted at the cuppa afterwards that this may have been the last service for The 7th battalion band who perform at ANZAC events in the region, and numerous other community events. They have had their very modest funding taken away. The penny pinching means that 7 of the 10 military bands around New Zealand will cease to exist from later this year. This is sad and wrong. There was some talk today that the band might continue to do ANZAC services without the backing of the military or the government. I hope they do, but more than that I hope the government reconsiders.

But overall this is not a day for politics. I get why some people still have mixed feelings about ANZAC Day. But I take my lead from the veteran I mentioned in the post linked to above. For him he was remembering his mates. This is a chance for the whole country to remember our mates- the past generations who made sacrifices. And to hope that future generations never need to face such things. Lest we forget.

Time to debunk the anti TVNZ 7 arguments

Posted by on April 24th, 2012

Mike Hosking today joined the ranks of the elites who believe they can tell New Zealanders what they can and can’t watch on TV. He is pushing the government’s argument that nobody watches TVNZ7, so therefore it’s not needed. Former Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman, backed by some New Zealand Herald editorial, ran this line last year. Their claims were blown out of the water on Media 7 and by Russell Brown on Hard News.

The Herald eventually gracefully acknowledged the mistake. Coleman never did and Hosking now thinks he can pull the wool over people’s eyes. He forgets that there are some really clever professionals out there who can see through his spin.

Have a read of this on Throng

Mike Hosking: more people watch TVNZ7 than listen to me

Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking has become the latest media commentator to display their lack of understanding of how statistics work.

Originally, former broadcasting minister, Jonathan Coleman, produced a weekly audience figure of 200,000 viewers by dividing the monthly cumulative audience by four.  This figure was debunked on Media7 and explained by Throng’s Rachel Cunliffe that you don’t get a weekly cumulative figure simply by dividing a monthly figure by four.

The explanation Rachel gave was this simple.  If 4 people in your house watched TV in a month, does that mean that only 1 watched per week?  It could be that the weekly and monthly cumulative figures were closer to being the same.

Mike Hosking though has said:

Read the rest of it at Throng

Larry Ross – in memoriam

Posted by on April 24th, 2012

“Peacenik” is a word which will only resonate with a few, but Larry Ross’s work for the anti-nuclear movement resonated far and wide.

Born in 1927, Larry Ross died last week at the age of 84. He founded the NZ Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Committee in 1981. His work at local government level saw the establishment of 105 nuclear free zones across New Zealand. That work was pivotal in building an anti-nuclear movement which culminated in New Zealand’s nuclear-free status enshrined in the Nuclear Free Zone Act of 1987.

Larry’s contribution to the peace movement in New Zealand was extraordinary. His commitment to a nuclear-free world was absolute and he achieved more than one person could ever expect to achieve, by galvanising neighbourhood peace groups and working from the ground up to build a robust and effective anti-nuclear peace movement, expressed locally and globally.

Rest in that peace you worked so hard for Larry. The NZ Labour Party salutes you and your years of commitment. Our thought and condolences go to Larry’s family and loved ones.

Sticking up for your city

Posted by on April 22nd, 2012

It’s one of the main jobs of any member of parliament to stick up for your patch. You are elected by a constituency and they want and expect you to defend them and promote their rights. I don’t think constituents expect to get a better deal than anyone else in the grand scheme of things, but they don’t want to be treated with contempt and disrespect.

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone that I’ve come out fighting over the extraordinary, but probably predictable decision by Kiwirail to put the Hillside workshops up for sale. In Saturday’s Otago Daily Times I was quite forthright in expressing my views. I used some rather unladylike language and had to ring my mum the day before to warn her.

I stand by what I said. I think the government (and Kiwirail) have pissed on Dunedin. I think many Dunedin-ites agree. Saturday’s ODT editorial seems to agree too though in more polite terms.

I think that the only way we’re going to sort things is for Dunedin people to take control ourselves. And to have a future Labour government backing rail.

I’ll do my best to help find a buyer for Hillside. I’ll continue to take the fight to parliament and I’ll remain a thorn in the side of this government and the local National List MP Michael Woodhouse who has seriously let down the people of Dunedin in the pursuit of his own career. I’ll advocate for the need for and the importance of this industry to remain in public hands, and indeed to just bloody remain in our country.

When I took this job on I understood that there are times when sticking up for your city is more important than towing toeing a party line that you don’t agree with and which is going to hurt your city. It’s a judgement to be rarely exercised. Sometimes the greater good is more important than a local issue. But every MP should have the right and the responsibility to stand up for their city. This was one of those times. Woodhouse didn’t even think about it.

He blocked a select committee hearing on the petition signed last year by nearly 14,000 people (mostly from Dunedin) calling on the government to save the Hillside and Woburn (Hutt) workshops. He has never been held accountable for refusing to allow the people of Dunedin, the Hillside workers and their union to have a say before a parliamentary committee. He should be.

His government is negligent, disingenuous and downright liars about their responsibilities for Kiwirail and its decision and their knowledge of those decisions. As my colleague David Parker has said; if the KiwiRail board had made the same announcement without telling a Labour government, the board would have been sacked. It is just nonsense and untrue for shareholding Ministers to say they didn’t know Kiwirail’s direction and decisions. And it is very clear that they don’t oppose Kiwirail’s decision to sell Hillside.

There’s more at stake than the nearly 130 jobs, the loss of wages, taxes, skills and the more than 137 year history of a competent and valued rail manufacturing plant to the city of Dunedin. There are more than 70 engineering businesses clustered around Hillside. It’s the backbone of our city. It’s becoming more high tech. It’s a hugely important part of our local and regional economy.

This government doesn’t give a stuff. They allowed (and encouraged) it to be run down and now it’s being sold because Kiwirail says it’s not viable. Kiwirail deliberately made it unviable.

I ask you this. How is that that contracts have been handed to the Chinese to build rail wagons that are dubious in quality, when those same wagons could have been built here? They may have cost a bit more, but the workmanship would have been assured, the maintenance would have been less and have been more easily accomplished, and the people who built the wagons would have been earning decent wages and paying taxes in the New Zealand economy.

Kiwirail, and the government, has blocked any independent scrutiny of the dodgy process in awarding those contracts to China North Rail and the quality issues associated with the Chinese wagons. It’s time for some sunlight on both.

It is not false economy to manufacture in your own country. It’s our productive economy. I’d stand up for manufacturing jobs any day against paying for more pokie machines that create immeasurable social harm and are part of a mates deal to an organisation that will profit, might create a few more service economy jobs, but is unlikely add much more real value to our economy.

And I reckon that’s worth sticking up for.

Murdo MacMillan, a Labour man

Posted by on April 21st, 2012

The Labour whanau was out in force on Friday in Wellington to farewell Murdo MacMillan who passed away this week. I imagine most political parties have someone like Murdo. The behind the scenes guy who just makes things happen. Murdo gave his adult life to the party as a member, organizer and Assistant General Secretary.

In my early days with the the Party I sought out Murdo for advice and guidance. He seemed to know everyone and everything, and was willing to share it.

At the funeral today we heard from his family that Murdo lived his life in line with his values. Inclusive, caring, with absolute adherence to his sense of fairness and justice.

More than anything Murdo always put Labour, our values and purpose ahead of himself. He never forgot why he was there. That’s something we could all do with remembering.

So, for all the doers and workers in political parties, I pay my respects to Murdo MacMillan, a true Labour man. Rest in peace kind and gentle man.

Living Wage – an idea whose time has come?

Posted by on April 20th, 2012

Who described the Living Wage as “an idea whose time has come?”

David Cameron, Conservative British PM – that’s who.

The Living Wage concept has caught on in the UK and the US and it was great to hear David Shearer put Labour’s name to it yesterday.

Everyone wants to know who, how, how much and when. But the Living Wage concept isn’t just about having a policy on paper. It’s about a movement, where communities organise to persuade the people, politicians, the council and business that paying a living wage is the right thing to do.

A Living Wage is the level of income necessary to provide acceptable standard of living for a person and their family.

It’s different to the legal minimum wage, which provides a floor below which wages must not fall, but the minimum wage is not tied to a recognised standard of living. It’s a politically decided standard, that rises or falls depending on who is in government.  Labour remains committed to lifting the minimum wage (at this stage to $15 an hour), but we can do better.

We need to get to a point where there is agreement about what is fair and what families should be expected to live on.

In the UK, London Citizens have been organising for ten years, bringing together community groups, faith based organisations, businesses, trade unions and politicians. In 2011, Citizens UK, (the nationwide equivalent of London Citizens) launched the Living Wage Foundation to respond to a growing interest in other cities.

The Living Wage  was an election issue in the 2004 London Council elections, and London Mayor, “Red” Ken Livingstone established a dedictaed Living Wage Unit within the Greater London Authority in 2004. Boris Johnson, the conservative Mayor who followed him has continued the Unit and now all of London’s councils pay all workers, including directly employed, contracted or temporary workers at least the London Living Wage or above.

This year’s London Olympics will be the first Living Wage Olympics in history. Imagine that.

Governments can lead by applying a Living Wage to everyone who works for the State Sector. Councils can do the same on the basis that wherever public money is used to purchase goods or services, low wages should not be the competitive factor. In the US Living Wage Ordinances apply this principal.

The current London Living Wage of £8.30 an hour would roughly equate to roughly NZ$16-17 an hour. This took into account the prices of staple items in the family shopping basket, along with relativities with the median income, to estimate a ‘poverty threshold wage’, and then added a 15% margin on top to give some protection against unforeseen events.

Of course such an example can only broadly indicative – but it demonstrates just why a Living Wage, not just a Minimum Wage is needed.

I’m confident that a Living Wage movement will develop in New Zealand and the hows, the whats, the whos, the how muches, and all the rest of it will gather force before the next election. It will need political support, and Labour’s David Shearer has given it.

I’m not given to quoting conservatives, but as David Cameron said, it’s an idea whose time has come.

Doyle on casino cronyism

Posted by on April 20th, 2012

cards we've been dealt

Filed under: Crony watch

Gaylene Preston on remembering the war

Posted by on April 20th, 2012

Every year around ANZAC Day the North Shore Labour Electorate Committee puts on the Jack Lyon Memorial Lecture.  Jack Lyon was a Labour MP in the First Labour Governnent and the Member for Waitemata which back then covered the North Shore. He gave up his seat in Parliament and volunteered to fight in World War Two. He was killed by German fire in the evacuation of Crete. Jack Lyon was a left wing social democrat, and an internationalist who gave his life fighting fascism.

This year’s speaker is celebrated film maker Gaylene Preston. Gaylene will show excerpts from two of her recent films and talk about how we remember the war, and what exactly we are trying to remember. War Stories Our Mothers Never Told Us, and Home By Christmas (trailer above) were inspired by Gaylene’s parents’ stories of their wartime experience. Home By Christmas with the wonderful Tony Barry playing Gaylene’s Dad, brings to life the Kiwi wartime experience; the young man heading off to fight and his family left behind to wait. War Stories is pure oral history, with Kiwi women telling moving and often hilarious stories of their war.

The Jack Lyon lecture series is a way to remember and celebrate what Jack Lyon stood for, and what he died for.  Each year the lecture deals with a different aspect of war and peace and national identity.  The inaugural speaker was Hon Bob Tizard who served in WW2 and later as a Cabinet Minister in the 3rd and 4th Labour Governments. The next year military historian Glyn Harper talked about the battles of the Western Front and how WW1 shaped modern New Zealand. Last year Moriori leader Maui Solomon talked about the ancient peace culture of the Moriori.

If you want to come along and hear Gaylene Preston tell war stories, book your ticket ($20) by emailing or phone 09 445 6178. The event is at 5pm this Sunday 22 April, 1st floor, 7 The Strand, Takapuna.