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Posts Tagged ‘Rodney Hide’

Flying the Red-Green Banner of Resistance

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The Red Green Banner of Resistance

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May 31st was the day that many in the Labour and Green parties had so earnestly wanted to see – a formal declaration between the leadership of their respective parties for greater co-operation to remove National from power. For most (if not nearly all) of the rank-and-file membership, it was a no-brainer that the two parties – both similar in so many ways – would seek a more formal partnership.

The wonder is that it has taken so long to achieve.

When Labour undermined Hone Harawira’s chances of holding on to his  Te Tai Tokerau electorate, I wrote this prescient piece on 11 June 2014;

That is why the Left will lose on 20 September [2014].

Unless Labour radically changes tack and demonstrates to the public that they are more interested in working together with potential partners – than wrecking their chances at winning votes – voters will be put off. Telling the public that Labour “can work with other parties after the election” is not good enough. Labour must show it can do it.

Otherwise, as one quasi-fascist right-wing blogger put it, the public will perceive that “things are falling apart for the Labour Party“.  He may have a valid point.

Again, as Gordon Campbell stated,

 Labour may just be mule-headed enough – and tribally fixated on the FPP-era of politicking – to try and get rid of Harawira at all costs, and thereby torpedo one of its main chances of forming the next government.

At which Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish added;

 How not to win an election…

…Pretend that we still have a First Past the Post electoral system.”

It is supremely ironic that National – the champion of the Cult of Individualism – can work collectively and collegially with other political parties. But Labour – a party of the left, which espouses collective action for the greater good – is desperately and greedily scrabbling for votes for itself and attacking  potential allies.

That was written four and a half months out from the 2014 election.

After Labour’s disastrous drubbing at the 2014 election,  I penned this post-mortem on 26 September 2014;

The forces on the right are very united”,  said Josie Pagani, on TV3’s political panel. And she would be 100% correct.

This is one of the lessons that Labour should be taking from the 2014 elections; unity is strength.

National did not seek to destroy potential allies. With the exception of the Conservative Party, it actively supported them. Either with direct deal-making (Epsom and Ohariu), or with “nods-and-winks” (Maori Party).

Even with the Conservatives – though Key refused any actual deal-making, he did not go out of his way to under-mine Colin Craig’s party. Just in case they reached the 5% thresh-hold and thus became potentially useful to the Nats.

By contrast, Labour campaigned to destroy the Mana-Internet Party, and the Greens undermined Labour with it’s comment that Labour’s policies would have to be “independently audited” – a phrase picked up by Key and used to attack Cunliffe.

Key projected stability and co-operation on the Right.

The Left projected intense rivalry and a hatred of each other that was volcanic in intensity.

Who did Labour and the Greens think the public would vote for?

Ten things Labour and the Greens should consider in the coming days, weeks, months, and next three years.

A couple of weeks later, on 10 October 2014, I repeated my views;

Perhaps Labour’s worst mistake of all the above was constantly deriding the Mana-Internet alliance. The constant attacks on Hone Harawira and his Party signalled to the public that Labour was weak; full of self-doubt and lacking in self-confidence. Labour’s  desperation for votes was so dire that they were willing to attack and destroy a potential coalition ally, to cannibalise their electoral support.

That showed weakness.

And the public took note.

Contrast Labour’s treatment of Hone Harawira and Mana-Internet, with how John Key related to ACT, United Future, and the Maori Party: with confidence; courtesy; and collegiality.

When Key refused to make a deal with Colin Craig’s Conservative Party, he did so with professional courtesy. There was never any rancor  involved, and despite refusing any Epsom-like deal, Key still left National’s options wide open to work with the Conservatives.

Key even flip-flopped on his previous hand-on-heart promise never to entertain any coalition deal-making with Winston Peters;

I don’t see a place for a Winston Peters-led New Zealand First in a government that I lead.” – John Key,  2 February 2011

When the public looked at Key, they saw a politician who said categorically he would be prepared to work with anyone.

The public liked that. The public want politicians to work together for the good of the country. Key not only said as much – he demonstrated it by working with parties as disparate as ACT, the Maori Party, United Future, and the Greens (though the latter not in any formal coalition agreement).

When the public looked at Labour, they saw a left wing party willing to consume another left wing party, to further their own selfish agenda.

Key showed collegiality and co-operation.

Labour exuded desperation.

Whoever leads the Labour Party after 18 November – take note.

It appears that Labour, belatedly, has finally taken note. Specifically, they have taken note of 21st Century Realpolitik in New Zealand;

  • We are no longer operating under First Past the Post
  • John Key is very adept at fostering good relationships with potential coalition allies
  • Labour either ignored potential coalition allies, or – in Mana-Internet’s case – actively destroyed it
  • Post FPP, National is still a monolithic  party of the Right simply because it has successfully become a political vehicle for religious conservatives, urban neo-liberals,  rural conservatives, and other assorted right-wingers
  • Post FPP, the Left is fractured because ideologies are wider ranging, and because many perceive Labour as still carrying baggage from it’s Rogernomics days and do not trust the Labour Party (whereas the Green Party has a pristine, untarnished reputation, free of dirty baggage from past betrayals of the electorate)

Adding to Labour’s woeful performance is it’s constant habit of  replacing their leader almost like we change the oil in our motorcars. As I wrote on 10 October, 2014, after Cunliffe was dumped as party leader;

Changing the leader, post-election. Does that mean Labour never had confidence in Cunliffe in the first place, and this his appointment was a mistake? Does that mean Cunliffe’s replacement may also be a mistake? Does it mean Labour has 100% confidence in their new Leader – until they don’t? So… why should the public have confidence in Labour’s new choice of a new Leader, when s/he may be temporary?

The only other parliamentary party that goes through it’s leaders like I go through a pack of toilet-paper is ACT – and we don’t really want to be like ACT, do we?

Support for the formal  MoU was positive from Labour-leaning blogs such as The Standard, and grass-roots members generally seem to welcome what was an obvious strategic move by both parties.

Those who were ascerbic tended to be the Right Wing (for obvious reasons), and some cynical media for whom deep political analysis has long eluded them.

Peoples’ Exhibit #1

This asinine “tweet” from  Heather du Plessis-Allan had all the constructive insights of a rural long-drop made from decaying, moss-covered weatherboards;

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Heather du Plessis-Allan - Labour Green MoU - tweet - twitter

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It “hurt her eyes”! Oh, how jolly witty!

It received eleven “likes”. Out of 4.5 million New Zealanders.

Is this the new nadir of 21st century journalism in New Zealand? All I can say is; thank-the-gods-for-Radio-NZ.

’nuff said.

Some other media punditry was only marginally better. Either New Zealand’s political journalists have become too cynical; too jaded; too dismissive to offer constructive reporting and analysis of new events – or, perhaps, such new events are beyond their ken to fully understand.

Peoples’ Exhibit #2

This column from former ACT-leader Rodney Hide, published in the Herald on 5 June;

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Rodney Hide - Marriage of convenience - Labour Green MoU - nz herald

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– spoke more of the author, than the political event he was commentating on.

Hide’s piece is little more than some bitchy, snide derision dressed up as political commentary. However, the more one reads, the more one becomes acutely aware that – carrying the “marriage of convenience” metaphor a step further – Rodney Hide is positively purple with apoplectic jealousy.

Hide is the bachelorette who missed out on getting a rose, and he’s miffed!

Whatever Hide might say about the Greens, there are certain truths he cannot easily dismiss;

  1. The Green Party won 10.7% of the Party Vote in 2014. ACT won 0.69%.
  2. The Green Party won it’s votes through it’s own efforts. ACT’s sole MP won Epsom through a deal between National and John Banks in 2011, and later, David Seymour.
  3. The Green Party leadership has been stable since 2008. ACT has changed leaders five times since 2008. (The next change will see them officially run out of members, and they will have to start from Roger Douglas again.
  4. In the 1999 General Election, ACT won 9 seats and the Green won seven. A decade and a half  later, in the 2014 General Election, ACT had one MP (elected solely at the whim of the National Party) and the Greens have doubled their parliamentary representation with fourteen MPs.

So for Hide to sneer at the Labour-Green MoU is a bit rich, considering his own party is on terminal life-support, and survives purely at the pleasure of the National Party. When ACT’s usefulness to National has finished – the electoral plug will be pulled from the political respirator that keeps ACT’s brain-dead corpse “alive”.

ACT’s passing will be the point in our history when we mark the decline and demise of neo-liberalism in New Zealand. Future generations will view it as a mirror-image of the 1960s/70s youth counter-culture movement; cruel, self-centered, and full of hatred for those impoverished for whom the “free” market failed.

In the meantime, the Green Party will do what green things tend to do: grow.

And the jealous bitterness of Rodney Hide will consume him to his final days.

Peoples’  Exhibit #3

Winston Peters dismissed the Labour-Green MoU. He repeated his usual mantra;

“We do not like jack-ups or rigged arrangements behind the people’s back. We’ll go into this election, just ourselves and our policies seeking to change how this country is governed.”

And five days later on TVNZ’s Q+A;

@  0.46

“But the idea that you would go out there with a pre-arrangement on a deck of cards you’ve never read, we simply can’t see how that works.”

Which is deeply ironic, considering that;

(a) Prior to an election, Peters never discloses to the voting public whether he would coalesce with National or Labour,

(b) Once the election is over, Peters then negotiates in strict secrecy with both National and Labour – in effect, “behind the people’s back“.

In effect, a Party Vote for NZ First is akin to giving that political party a blank cheque; the voter has no way of knowing where that “cheque will be spent”. Will we get a National-led coalition? Or a Labour-led coalition?

At least with parties like ACT and the Greens, the voter has a good idea where a vote for either party will end up on the political spectrum.

With a vote for NZ First, you are effectively handing over to Peters your voting ballot-paper, un-ticked,  and he alone will decide whether to cast it for a National-led coalition or Labour-led coalition.

Peters’ derision of the MoU  was therefore wholly predictable.

Peters understands that a resurgent Labour-Green team poses a dire threat to NZ First’s chances of being “king maker”, post-2017 election. If closer co-operation between Labour and the Greens  results in electoral success and the birth of a new red-green coalition government, NZ First’s role as “king maker” would be scuttled.

In such a case a  vote for NZ First becomes a “wasted” vote.  He would be left isolated on the cross-benches, sniping impotently at Prime Minister Andrew Little, and his Deputy PM, Metiria Turei.

Another jilted political suitor who missed out on  a rose.

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Steven Joyce - green labour memorandum of understanding - twitter

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Evidence for the Defence

There is nothing preposterous about a closer  Labour-Green relationship.  It is no more absurd than the Liberal–National Coalition which has existed in Australia since early last century;

The Coalition, also known as the Liberal–National Coalition, is a political alliance of centre-right parties, which has existed in Australian politics in various forms since 1923.

The Coalition is composed of the Liberal Party of Australia (formerly the United Australia Party, the Nationalist Party of Australia and the Commonwealth Liberal Party) and the National Party of Australia (formerly named the Country Party and the National Country Party), as well as the Liberal National Party (LNP) in Queensland and the Country Liberal Party (CLP) in the Northern Territory.

And coalitions in Europe are the norm.

So what was the fuss about the “living arrangement” between Labour and the Greens?

Summing up for the Jury

At the moment, the public sees the National-Maori Party-Dunne-ACT coalition, and understand it. But one thing that voters want to know is; what would an alternative to a National-led government look like?

Far from negotiating this Memorandum from a position of weakness, as some have suggested, it is instead a well-executed strategy. As Andrew Little said with simple clarity;

“Voters want to know that there are opposition parties who are capable of working together, can work strongly together and can offer stability and certainty. And that’s what this agreement is about, that’s what we will demonstrate.

Up-coming polls will show whether the voters like what they see.

And on election day next year, the verdict will be delivered.

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References

Green Party: Memorandum of Understanding

Gordon Campbell: Gordon Campbell on the rise of Laila Harré

Imperator Fish: How to win an election

Fairfax media: Greens eye bigger supluses

TVNZ News: No deal – Key leaves Colin Craig out in the cold

Fairfax media: Possible coalition line-ups after election

TVNZ News: Winston Peters not grabbing John Key’s olive branch

NZ Herald: PM rules out any NZ First deal

Twitter: Heather du Plessis-Allan

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide: Marriage of convenience

Wikipedia: New Zealand general election, 2014

NZ Herald: Political cups of tea shared

Wikipedia: ACT Party Leadership

Wikipedia: 1999 General Election

Wikipedia: 2014 General Election

Fairfax media: Labour and Green leaders announce closer co-operation agreement

TVNZ: Q+A – Winston Peters interview (video)

Twitter: Steven Joyce

Wikipedia: Coalition (Australia)

Radio NZ: NZ First labels Labour-Green deal ‘worthless’

Other bloggers

Boots Theory: On the M.O.U.

Pundit: In which universe will Winston Peters become PM?

The Standard: Labour Green announcement – working together to change the government

The Standard: Why is it that?

The Standard: Labour Green MOU well received in poll

Previous related blogposts

A Study in Party Stability

The secret of National’s success – revealed

Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over

2014 Election – Post-mortem Up-date

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 June 2016.

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Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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Either Rodney Hide is taking the piss, or Karma has well and truly caught up with one of the National Government’s previous political flunkies;

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NZ Herald - Rodney Hide - ACT - Why am I under investigation - SIS - GCSB - surveillance - police state - nothing to hide nothing to fear

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In case the story mysteriously disappears, here is the full text, from the NZ Herald;

The state apparently has me under covert investigation.

It began two weeks ago. My Christchurch friends and colleagues were served, some at home, some at work. They were summonsed by a senior insolvency officer who explained they could be apprehended should they refuse. Such notices are a detention, an arrest without charge.

The guys are motor mechanics, engineers and motor engineers.

They turn up the following Wednesday as ordered, each at separate times. The deputy official assignee swears their oath.

They are interrogated by private investigators from a firm called InDepth Forensics, Hamilton.

I have the recordings.

On Thursday I email and ring the PI firm. “Why are you investigating me?” They hang up.

I email and leave messages for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment manager Mandy McDonald.

She won’t return my calls.

On Friday I go to the MBIE office in Christchurch. The boss can’t answer my questions: she doesn’t know what’s happening. She says she will speak to her solicitor and get back to me. She doesn’t.

I ring Minister Steven Joyce’s office. I make no progress.

I return to MBIE’s office on Monday. I’m refused an appointment. I’m told the deputy official assignee “only administered the oath”. But the deputy official assignee signed the recording as “interviewer”. I’m asked to leave. I refuse.

I wait quietly in the foyer for 2 hours.

Joyce’s staffer emails: But because the “Official Assignee [is] an independent body, and also under Hon [Paul] Goldsmith’s responsibilities, I do not think I can assist you further.”

Goldsmith is in Paris explaining how he’s making “it easier for businesses to increase productivity and innovate”.

I ring the Institute of Private Investigators. Useless. I email the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority. Ditto.

I complain to the Privacy Commissioner. I don’t hear back.

I provide a two-page summary for local MP Nicky Wagner. She rings. Finally someone is taking my complaint seriously.

On Tuesday I drop in a letter to the Christchurch MBIE. Now there’s security. The guard tells me he’s there to see his girlfriend. I tease him.

Keith’s still there an hour later. He admits he has been called because of me. He wants to know if I will be back.

Tuesday night. Wagner must have kicked butt. Mandy McDonald sends a clearly hurried email. She assures me I am not under investigation. It’s taken nearly a week.

But why the questioning under the detention powers?

The next day I get a letter from another MBIE staffer warning me that reporting the content of their examinations of my friends and colleagues would render me liable to a year in prison plus a $5000 fine. But, according to the email from McDonald, I’m reporting a non-investigation.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, Rodders. That’s what John Banks kept telling us. That’s what John Key kept telling us. So obviously, the extension to the powers of the GCSB, SIS, and other government departments – which was supported by ACT – should be a non-issue, right?

Really, Rodney, you’ve been part of the growth of the Surveillance State in this country and now you complain that you’re being surveilled?

Really?

Well, my little cherubic,  Right Wing mate, you oughtn’t. It was inevitable really. After all, in the early days of the USSR, the nascent totalitarian State’s security arm (Cheka/NKVD/KGB) devoured many of the high-ranking Communist Party officials. They fell foul to their own pernicious State power.

Welcome to reality.

When Dear Leader’s security thugs throw you in jail for whatever transgression you’ve incurred against the State, remember to remind your   cell-mates that you were partially responsible for the following laws increasing the power of the State;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Eventually, it all catches up with those in power – an intimate lesson Rodney has learned.

I bet he never thought it would happen to him?

Karma. I love that gal.

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References

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide – Why am I under investigation?

Additional

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Parliament: Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

Nigella Lawson, GCSB, Christchurch re-build, and Malcolm Burgess on Campbell Live

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Toru)

The “man ban”; animal testing; GCSB Bill; and compulsory miltary training

David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

TV3 – Campbell Live’s GCSB Public Vote

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 April 2015.

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Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event (part rua)

24 February 2013 3 comments

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Continued from: Nothing quite sez Rich Man’s Conference than this event

I’ve always believed that the Left’s ability for in-fighting and self-mutilation is without peer. Our ability to attack each other – whilst the barbarian hordes of neo-liberals run rampant through our societies – is without peer, I’ve thought. (The self-destruction of the Alliance Party, in 2001,  was a recent example of this.)

But, nah.

I was wrong.

There are times when the Right can be equally adept when it comes to bouts of masocistic self-harm.

The recent ACT conference at Alan Gibbs’ farm-estate at Kaukapakapa, about 50kms north of Auckland, was an eye-opener.

First of all, the choice of holding a Party conference at an isolated Rich White Man’s farm-estate, complete with bizarre multi-million dollar “art” and a private zoo…

Pray tell, ACT Party – precisely what message were you thinking of sending to the public of New Zealand?

That ACT chooses to be isolated from the rest of society, and stand apart from other New Zealanders?

That ACT is a Rich White Man’s Party?

That ACT surrounds itself with the trappings of an eccentric millionaire (who is absent from New Zealand most of the year), whilst unemployment, child poverty, and growing wealth-income divide worsens?

If those were the messages – consider them received and understood.

Secondly – who let the clowns out, ha, ha-ha, ha!

Rodney Hides “performance” on Saturday, 23 February was gob-smacking.

It’s pretty fair to say that I am no friend of ACT or the Right Wing in general.  But even I was embarressed at Hide’s weird behaviour in front of media cameras, and felt truly sorry for all those ACT Party activists who work their butts off at elections.

But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself. The ‘action’ rolls from 0:40 to 1:30 on TV3’s video,

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ACT 2013 conference_rodney hide_gibbs farms_hates unions

Source

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That kind of bizarre, blokey ‘humour’ might be fine amongst friends and colleagues, away from the public eye. But televised to the entire nation, the message it sends me is,

  1. Rodney Hide doesn’t give a sh*t anymore
  2. Rodney Hide just gave the metaphorical “fingers” to the whole country
  3. Arrogance and inappropriate ‘humour’ is a bad mix – especially in public.

By the way. It may escape folks attention, but Hide’s outburst against TV3 was the height of irony.

ACT is a Party that supports free enterprise and business.

Mediaworks (TV3’s parent body) is privately owned business.

ACT supports businesses because they are supposedly more efficient than the State.

TV3’s journalists are highly effective at their profession.

So what’s the problem between ACT and a business such as TV3?

If TV3’s journos are doing well at investigating and probing politicians and their Parties – then that’s free enterprise doing what it ought to; providing a service to consumers; selling advertising; and returning a profit to shareholders.

Anyone would think that ACT is hostile to free enterprise.

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ACT. Auckland. Chooks. Roosting.

19 July 2012 8 comments

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This is Stephen Franks,

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Stephen Franks was an ACT MP from 1999 to 2005, and later stood (unsuccessfully) for the Wellington Central electorate in 2008.

See: Wikipedia Stephen Franks

Stephen Franks is also an occassional guest on Jim Mora’s Afternoon Panel on Radio NZ, where Franks occassionally espouses his neo-liberal, free market ideology.

This is John Banks,

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But he’s not important.

This is Rodney Hide. He is central to this story,

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Rodney Hide was an ACT MP from 1996 to 2011, and led the party from 2004 onward, until he was replaced in a bizarre coup d’état by Don Brash, in April last year.

See: Wikipedia Rodney Hide

See: Wikipedia Don Brash

During his role as Minister for Local Affairs, Rodney Hide oversaw the forced amalgamation of several city and district councils.  By 2010, several councils were merged into one, “supercity” – Auckland Council.

This amalgamation was enabled by Parliamentary legislation  (Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009), and which was passed under urgency.

See: Auckland super city bill passed by parliament

Though quite why it was considered “urgent” has never been satisfactorily explained by National or ACT. Were they expecting Auckland to be beamed aboard a flying saucer and carried away into outer space?!

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In fact, when Rodney Hide first presented the amalgamation Bill to Parliament on 15 December 2009, he was quite enthusiastic about it,

The importance of local government to the growth and prosperity of Auckland should not be underestimated. Good governance enables civic leaders to think regionally, plan strategically, and act decisively. Governance arrangements affect the ability to solve the larger and longer-term challenges effectively.

The Auckland region needs decisive leadership, robust infrastructure, and facilities and services to cater for its people.

The provisions of the two previous Acts and the proposals in this bill will deliver a united Auckland governance structure, strong regional governance, integrated decision-making, greater community engagement, and improved value for money.

See: Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill — First Reading

When the Bill was passed on it’s third and final Reading in the House,  on 2 June 2010, it passed 64 votes to 57. Those voting for it were,

  • 58  National MPs
  • 5 ACT MPs
  • 1 United Future MP (Peter Dunne)

Thus was born the Auckland  supercity, a creature of the ACT Party.

So it is a bit rich now, that the same Stephen Franks, ex-ACT MP, is gnashing his teeth and making great wailing noises about how the Auckland Council – now two years old, in law – is operating,

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Contrast Stephen Franks’ complaints, with that of his one-time Party Leader, Rodney Hide,

Stephen Franks: ” The law setting up the Super City deliberately created a presidential mayoralty and gave councillors no clear rights to information.

It certainly does not protect council officers who want to provide unbiased information to councillors against the wishes of their bosses, the chief executive and the mayor.

The law may have been drafted out of frustration with years of indecision fuelled by endless reporting and consultation as excuses for inaction. Perhaps the law’s designers chose to give elected dictatorship a go instead.

Amazingly till now there has been little publicised protest at the constitutional barbarity of this structure. Without clear rights to the same information available to the executive they must monitor, councillors become spare wheels.

“Carping critics” who are also unavoidably ignorant are in no position to maintain the safeguards of democratic control.

Some have called the Auckland governance structure the corporate model. If so it is a poor copy. The company model is robust about directors’ rights to oversee management. Directors have an almost unrestricted right to information from anywhere in the company. Even conflicts of interest create only a partial exception. ”

Rodney Hide:  ” The importance of local government to the growth and prosperity of Auckland should not be underestimated. Good governance enables civic leaders to think regionally, plan strategically, and act decisively. Governance arrangements affect the ability to solve the larger and longer-term challenges effectively.

The Auckland region needs decisive leadership, robust infrastructure, and facilities and services to cater for its people.

The provisions of the two previous Acts and the proposals in this bill will deliver a united Auckland governance structure, strong regional governance, integrated decision-making, greater community engagement, and improved value for money.

Just what is  Stephen Franks complaining about?

His Party voted for “decisive leadership” and “strong regional governance” – and he got it.

Why on Earth is he complaining bitterly that “perhaps the law’s designers chose to give elected dictatorship a go instead” – when it was the ACT Party,  his party, that drafted and sponsored the Bill in Parliament in 2009 and 2010?

If ever there was a case of chickens coming home to roost, then this is it.

And irony of ironies – Franks complimented Cr Cathy Casey for her outstanding attempts to instill some measure of democracy and transparency into the Auckland Council culture,

Councillor Casey has done what oppressed councillors do across the land, and asked the Auditor-General for help…

… Let’s hope Councillor Casey does not just wait for the Auditor-General fairy to give her x-ray vision. She could get alongside Councillors Fletcher, Wood and Cameron Brewer, who have been warning of this constitutional problem for some time, to get the upgrade under way. “

Ms Casey is a left-wing Councillor, having had close affiliation with the now-defunct Alliance Party.

In which case,  suggesting that Cr Casey  “get alongside ”  Councillors Fletcher and Cameron Brewer, simply beggars belief. Either  Mr Franks is woefully amnesiac like the current leader of ACT – or he is willfully mischievous.

Why, you ask?

Because Councillors Fletcher and Cameron Brewer are both members the National Party.  (Cr Wood is a member of the Citizens & Ratepayers group, which is linked to the National Party through it’s membership.)

See:   Blogpost – Right Way the Wrong Way

And the National Party supported ACT’s legislation to draft; table; and pass the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 – the law which created the supercity and it’s current governance model.

It is unclear why Franks believes that right wing city councillors ( Christine Fletcher, George Wood and Cameron Brewer) might work with left wing Cr Casey, when Fletcher, Wood, and Brewer support the Party that enabled the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 in the first place?!?!

If  Stephen Franks has a gripe about the legislation, he should take it up with the ACT Party – which presently consists of one man, John Banks.

But he better be quick about it. ACT is living on borrowed time, and  is soon to follow the dinosaur, mammoth, and moa, into extinction.

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Right Way the Wrong Way

31 March 2012 1 comment

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There is a war for the soul of Auckland.

The declaration for that war may have been made  in October 2010, when Len Brown was elected the first mayor of the new amalgamated supercity. Or in September 2009 when legislation forming the super-city was enacted. Or in November 2008, when ACT MP Rodney Hide – the author of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act – was elected to Parliament.

I call the date today; 30 March 2012, with a media statement released by Christine Fletcher of the so-called “Citizens & Ratepayer (C&R) group,

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Auckland To Become Unaffordable, Not More Liveable

Thursday, 29 March 2012, 2:18 pm
Press Release: Christine Fletcher

Auckland To Become Unaffordable, Not More Liveable

News that a majority of councillors voted not to include affordability in the context of costs imposed by council for the Auckland Plan will make Auckland unaffordable, said C&R Leader Christine Fletcher, and Cr Cameron Brewer, representing key independent councillors.

“The Mayor has set out a vision for Auckland as most liveable city – but his vision will actually hurt the ability of people, especially those on fixed incomes like the retired to stay in their homes. Already massive rates rises are coming, and future generations of Aucklanders will suffer too. When you add the prospect of higher regulatory fees, toll roads to pay for the Mayor’s rail plans, and user-pays rubbish, it’s going to get very expensive to live in Auckland,” said Cr Brewer.

“We all agree that the Auckland Plan is a far-reaching, profound document for our city. But without the principle of affordability to help guide it, it sends a message that rates and fees will be massively hiked to pay for all the big ideas within. That’s wrong – there are many people who simply can’t afford big rises in rates and fees,” said Cr Fletcher.

“C&R along with key independents proposed an amendment by way of addition that the Auckland Plan does have regard to affordability as a principle. It was defeated 12-9. City Vision, Labour and the left have embarked on a 30 year program of spending, but only providing a 10 year long term plan for budgeting”, said Cr Fletcher.

“It is especially disappointing that Cr Penny Webster, the Chairman of Finance from Rodney District, has abandoned her duties to be fiscally responsible, and voted for this big spending plan without appropriate fiscal prudence. I guess it’s easy for Len Brown to spend billions of dollars when he’s got a Penny in his pocket”, said Cr Fletcher.

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Councillors who voted to support an affordability principle in the Auckland Plan include:

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Chris Fletcher (Leader C&R)

George wood (Deputy leader C&R)

Des Morrison (C&R)

Dick Quax (C&R)

Noelene Raffills (C&R)

plus the following independent councillors:

 Cameron Brewer

Calum Penrose

Sharon Stewart

Sir John Walker

ENDS

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Firstly, a bit about the C&R group.

C&R states on it’s website that they “are not affiliated with any central government political party“.  However a cursory examination of that claim yields some interesting revelations.

Citizens and Ratepayers leadership consists of the following individuals;

Councillor Chris Fletcher, Caucus Leader

Ms Fletcher was an ex-National Party MP, serving three consecutive terms in Parliament, from 1990 to 1999. Ms Fletcher held  Ministerial roles of Local Government, Women’s, Cultural and Youth Affairs

Mark Brickell, President

Mr Brickell served as electorate campaign manager for National MP and Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, in last year’s general election.

Alastair Bell, Vice President

Mr Bell has been a Board Member of the National Party since 2009, to present. He was a senior advisor to Prime Minister  Jenny Shipley, from  1999 to 2000.

Edgar Henson, Vice President

Mr Henson managed ACT’s election campaign in 2008. He will be attending ACT’s Annual Conference & AGM on 21 April.

Leigh Morrow, Treasurer / Secretary

National Party supporter in last year’s general election, according to this entry on Ms Morrow’s Facebook page,

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Jim Stevens, Corporate Services / Administrator

(No party affiliation found.)

As the above information  shows, C&R is anything but a neutral entity. It is an unofficial arm – a political ‘creature’ – of the National Party. The NZ Herald article, “Ex-National MPs deluging Citizens & Ratepayers card “, also recognised C&R as such.

As for the so-called “independent” Councillors who also appended their name to the 29 March Media Release, above,

Cameron Brewer

Mr Brewer was a one-time National Party candidate for the Tamaki Electorate.

Calum Penrose

Mr Penrose is a centre-right Councillor who endorsed National MP Judith Collins in last year’s election campaign.

Sir John Walker

Sir John Walker is a centre-right Councillor who also endorsed National MP Judith Collins in last year’s election campaign.

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Why does all this matter?

Because the Media Release issued by C&R on 29 March is the first shot fired in a campaign by right wing city Councillors – many with Party affiliations to National or ACT –  to unseat Len Brown at the next local body elections.

For C&R and their fellow-travellers, the election campaign has begun in earnest, and expect either Christine Fletcher or Cameron Brewer to be nominated as the Right’s mayoral candidate. Expect the coming campaign to be nasty, as Cr Fletcher’s comments indicated,

It is especially disappointing that Cr Penny Webster, the Chairman of Finance from Rodney District, has abandoned her duties to be fiscally responsible, and voted for this big spending plan without appropriate fiscal prudence. I guess it’s easy for Len Brown to spend billions of dollars when he’s got a Penny in his pocket.”

Cr Webster was not impressed, as she made her feelings known in a Radio NZ/Morning Report  interview on 30 March,

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http://www.radionz.co.nz/audio/remote-player?id=2514238

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Cr Cathy Casey – not one to suffer fools or right wingers who bend the truth to suit their hidden agendas, replied on her Facebook page,

This C&R media release yesterday was online yesterday by 2pm while the Governing Body was still in session. It caused mayhem when it was discovered! It must have been written ahead of time therefore the amendment and speeches by Councillor Fletcher and Councillor Cameron Brewer were clear political posturing. Radio NZ has just said it will be reporting on it on Morning Report after 8am this morning.

It was pointed out yesterday to Councillors Fletcher and Brewer that there is already an affordability principle in the Auckland Plan (p.19) “Make the best use of every dollar spent.” It states that we will “act prudently and commit to projects and initiatives that achieve the best value result without compromising quality, affordability, or stifling creativity and innovation. Focus on achieving long-term benefits and intergenerational equity.”

This is party politics of the worst kind! ” – 30 March

It appears that right wingers in Auckland Council are getting up to mischief?

An interesting exchange then took place on Facebook between Cr Casey and at least two C&R members

Cr Cathey Casey:  “ Hi George Wood, You are a member C&R so I presume you signed off this media release?

George Wood:  ” No Cathy, the role of making media releases is delegated to the leader of C&R, Cr Fletcher, and in this case the leader of the independent councillors that work with C&R, Cr Cameron Brewer has also had input to this document. “

Interesting that a nominally “independent” councillor and a de facto National Party councillor are working together on what appears to be very clear stategy.

The FB conversation continued,

Cr Cathy Casey:  ” Hi George, So now that you’ve read it what do you think of the content and the fact that it was sent out of the meeting at 2pm, two hours before we had even completed our deliberations on the Auckland Plan?

At which point another C&R member jumped in, with a rather weak attempt at derision and deflection,

Michael Williams: ” Big deal. Affordability is a huge issue. That’s the point here. Why protest against someone saying that?

Cr Cathy Casey:  ” Hi Michael, You are a member of C&R, are you are saying the process engaged in by Councillors Fletcher and Brewer on your behalf yesterday is kosher? And that it is okay for C&R to publicly malign Councillor Penny Webster?

Williams then responded with the usual “no biggie” approach,

Michael Williams:  ” There’s always a bit of rough and tumble in politics. If we all checked each others press releases nothing would get anything published.   Individual members have to take personal responsibility for what they say in public and how they say it.  As for C&R, we all agree that Affordability is a key issue.

Cr Casey persevered,

Cathy Casey: ” Hi Michael, Maybe I wasn’t clear. Let me try again. As a member of C&R, are you are saying the process engaged in by Councillors Fletcher and Brewer on your behalf yesterday is kosher? YES or NO And that it is okay for C&R to publicly malign Councillor Penny Webster? YES or NO. ”

Michael Williams: ”  I see your angle, you are inviting me to take sides against a member of my own team.”

Well, actually, no – I thought Cr Casey was asking a perfectly responsible, straight-forward question. At this point it should be made clear that Michael Williams is a C&R member as well as the Chairperson of the Auckland Council’s  Howick Local Board. In which case, Cr Casey had just cause to be asking Williams these questions – especially considering he had voluntarily joined the conversation on Cr Casey’s FB page.

Cr Casey continued,

Cr Cathy Casey: ” Hi Michael, Depends on whether it is a YES or a NO. I am inviting you to bring some integrity into the way your own team does its political busness. I note in the release Councillor George Wood is listed as “Deputy Leader, C&R” but he says he had no input. ”

Michael Williams:  ” Life is not Black and White Cathy. “

?!?! And the point of that statement was —?

Obviously by now, Williams is having difficulty answering a straight question with a commensurately straight answer.

By this time others have entered the conversation, and they are not happy with C&R’s obfuscation.

Cr Casey continues to push her line of questioning,

Cr Cathey Casey: ” Still waiting for an answer from George Wood too. Dick Quax is also a member of C&R. Dick do you support the process of sending out a media release during the council meeting yesterday? Do you support the content of the media release especially in relation to remarks about Penny Webster?

Williams then responded with a deflection-non-sequitur combo,

Michael Williams: ”  You people should read your own posts, they are every bit as offensive as the throw away comment you are referring to. “

Which is laughable, as Williams earlier had stated, ” There’s always a bit of rough and tumble in politics.”  Evidently “rough and tumble” is ok if it’s from the Right – but a naughty no-no if it comes from anyone else. Damn, I keep forgetting their funny rules and ways…

Williams did not respond, but C&R Deputy Leader George Wood did,

George Wood:  ” ‎… the situation really is that C&R and other like minded councillors are spending hours of time working through the myriad of issues around affordability and the make up of the 10 year budgets. It is no easy task but we are getting explanations to specific questions. We also went out to the community through radio adverts and have been getting good feedback. We are running things along the lines of how we did things when I was mayor of North Shore City although I’m more in an opposition role. Things seem to be progressing well. “

That statement is interesting in it’s own right, and raises several more questions,

  1. If ” C&R and other like minded councillors are spending hours of time working through the myriad of issues around affordability and the make up of the 10 year budgets  ”  – then why are they issuing vitriolic Media Releases – and abusing other councillors in the process? What is the gain in such actions?
  2. It is no easy task but we are getting explanations to specific questions. ” – What questions?  The ones asked above seemed fairly straight forward. Does it require a collective mind-set from the entire C&R Team to respond to simple questions on a social media?!
  3. We also went out to the community through radio adverts and have been getting good feedback. ” – ??? Is that normal Council procedure, for factions in the Council to pursue ad hoc means to seek public feedback on issues? Surely there are more professional, traditional means of seeking responses from the public. In fact, I’m certain of it – they are usually called “Making a Submission to the Draft Annual Plan”!
  4. I was mayor of North Shore City although I’m more in an opposition role. ” Why are you in an “opposition” role, Mr Wood? Do you consider the Auckland Council to be Parliament?  And just what are you ‘opposing’?

The FB conversation ended with Mr Wood’s posted statement.

But it does in no way end the matter of C&R’s unprovoked, ad hominem slur against Cr Penny Webster, suggesting that she is “in the pocket of the mayor”.

One can only assume that the Right Wing in Auckland are starting to panic. They have lost another ‘battle’ in the ports industrial dispute, and the National Government is under siege from multiple directions from scandals, cronyism, and unpopular ideologically-based  policies.

It is not a happy time to be a right winger.

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As I started this piece with; there is a war for the soul of Auckland.

For the Right Wing, there is unfinished business to settle; Rodney Hide’s Master Plan to privatise Auckland Council’s assets, and to strip away any services that the Right consider “non essential” or “non-core business”.

All this was supposed to have been taken care of soon after the founding of the supercity, Auckland Council. John Banks was to have been elected mayor; along with a bevy of barely-restrained free-marketeers; and with Central Government’s nodding agreement, the Firesale of the Century would have ensued. Anything not nailed down would have been flogged off to “mum and dad” investors (ie; corporate interests).

Except, it didn’t quite go the way things were planned.

Aucklanders elected a centre-left mayor, and C&R and their fellow travellers were a neutered minority.

Default to Plan B.

(There is always a Plan B.)

Port workers were due for a renegotiation of their Collective Employment Agreement (CEA). The Agreement had expired on 30 September 2011, and formal negotiations had been ongoing since 5 August 2011.

However, POAL Board and management were in no mood to settle, and plans were afoot to casualise the workforce. A secret POAL memo leaked to the Maritime Union confirmed suspicions that POAL management were up to no good.

The Port dispute worsened as management became more and more intransigent.  As the industrial dispute became a crisis, and workers were locked out, public pressure was brought to bear on Mayor Len Brown.

As the mayor elected on a centre-left platform, port workers; centre-left councillors; and many other Aucklanders looked to him to intervene and bring the crisis to a head. It was only after the 5,000+ strong street march on 10 March that Brown offered to mediate.

By then, the damage was done – Brown’s reputation and credibility with the Left had been shredded. He was seen as ineffectual at best – and kowtowing to the Right at worst.

The Left began openly discussing an alternative mayoral candidate to Brown for the next upcoming local body elections. Every left-wing blogger (including this blogger) expressed frustration at Brown’s inaction and wanted change. If Brown couldn’t stand up to the New Right – then by golly, we’ll find some who could!!

On 30 March, on his TV blog-show, “Citizen A”, Bomber Bradbury asked his panellists,

Will the Left stand a different candidate against Brown for the mayorlty, and if they would, who would it be?

Unfortunately for us, the Right were paying attention – very close attention – to what the left were openly debating on various blogs. To paraphrase H.G. Wells,

“And yet, across the gulf of the political divide, minds immeasurably greedier to ours regarded these assets  with envious eyes; and slowly, and surely, they drew their plans against us.”

You bet they did.

The Right are counting on the Left putting up an alternative candidate to Len Brown. And if Brown stands again – we end up splitting the centre-left vote.

End game result:  a C&R mayor sneaks through.

Or, if the Left does not engage an alternative candidate and simply turns our collective back on Brown – his vote will collapse (as it did for Labour generally, last year).

End game result: the C&R mayor’s support stays firm, and beats Brown at the ballot box.

The Left needs to be more clever abour this.

Instead of showing Len Brown the door, and all but guaranteeing a C&R victory for the mayorlty, we  may have no choice but to hang on to him. All passions aside – do we really want to see Cameron Brewer as mayor?!?!

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Holy Crap! Sweet mother of god - not BREWER!!!

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The best way to deal with this situation? We need to re-think our strategy.

Instead of dumping Brown – the Left must work damn hard to build on our electoral support in the community, and get more centre-left candidates elected! With more centre-left councillors, the Left will be in a stronger position to “support” and “encourage” Len Brown when it comes to those awkward “minty moments”.

‘Cos sure to goodness, getting rid of Brown and inadvertantly letting a centre-right mayor win office would be an own-goal of incredibly dumb proportions.

So, fellow Aucklanders. Take note of Cr Fletcher’s Media Release. Class war is upon us. Our mission – should we choose to accept it – is to be more cleverer than them.

Game on.

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Related Blogpost

Unfortunate Outrage?

Additional

Scoop.co.nz:  Auckland To Become Unaffordable, Not More Liveable

NZ Herald: C&R leader offers to quit after debate turns heated

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Newsflash! ACT Confirms List Positions! (But no one cares.)

ACT leader, Don Brash,  and Party President Chris Simmons, today announced their revised Party List.  As stated earlier, former leader Rodney Hide would not be standing for ACT again, after he was rolled earlier this year by Brash.

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Dr Brash & Mr Hide

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In a somewhat conciliatory speech, Brash stated,

““John Key is a capable and respected leader, who has seen New Zealand through some very difficult times and is generally taking the country in the right direction. But the big issue in this election is the economy. New Zealand is facing the worst economic outlook since 1984. The Government needs to go further and faster and take some tough decisions to safeguard the country and put it onto a path to genuine prosperity. There are a lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that.Source

It is interesting that Brash states, “the Government needs to go further and faster and take some tough decisions to safeguard the country and put it onto a path to genuine prosperity. There are a lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that.

Really?!

Well, if there are a “lot of people out there who would like to see the government do that” – they sure as hell ain’t voting ACT!

Nice try, Don. But no banana.

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+++ Updates +++

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Full Story

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And that, folks, is the “nail in the coffin” for the ACT Party.

Unless it can ‘crack’ the 5% MMP threshold, it has no hope of winning seats in Parliament after 26 November.

As an aside, this is yet another stark reminder that MMP is not a “free ride” for small parties into Parliament. Like the former Alliance and NZ First parties, and the semi-dead, “one-man-band” United Future Party – there is no guarantee that under MMP small parties can survive the feral environment that is Parliamentary.

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