NZ POLITICS DAILY: A new year revolution?

David Cunliffe (TVNZ)

Officially, politics isn’t happening at the moment – MPs are on holiday, political journalists haven’t really started writing serious news stories, and the public is taking a break from all things ideological.

Despite this, there are some interesting developments and stories that are well worth reading.

Chris Trotter certainly isn’t on holiday. In addition to his regular columns, he is also in the midst of a series of fascinating blogposts about the Labour Party leadership. The latest is entitled Behind The Mask: Who's Backing David Shearer - And Why? This post continues on from some other damning critiques: Who Is David Shearer? Revealing The Back-Story To The Back-Story, and The Lazarus Option

Obviously there are some in and around Labour who are still dissatisfied with David Shearer as leader and would like to see a challenge from David Cunliffe next month.
 
The Standard is the main place to view the ongoing angst about the leadership (as satirised by Scott Yorke in his posts, Who Should We Blame For the Black Caps? and The Post I Never Posted). A surprise advocate for Cunliffe is rightwing blogger Cathy Odgers, who reckons that Shearer needs to put his leadership up to the vote once and for all, and that a Cunliffe victory would revitalise New Zealand politics generally – see: Labour Struggles With One Direction. And from within the Labour activist base, it’s always useful to read blogger Robert Winter’s view – see, for example, Labour in the New Year and Trotter on Shearer
 
The Labour leadership will be very pleased with news that its latest ‘Kiwibuild’ policy is very popular – see Claire Trevett’s Housing plan a winner for Labour. But some on the left are complaining that Labour are prioritising the housing needs of middle income voters over those of the poor – see The Standard blogpost, State housing vs home ownership
 
Once the 2013 political year properly kicks off, Gordon Campbell forecasts that Winston Peters will be the key figure of the year because of his likely role as ‘king-maker’ after the next election: ‘Peters' plans and allegiances will be the subject of endless speculation throughout this year’ – see: Peters back in the spotlight. Other parliamentary predictions are made by Fairfax political journalists in Gallery game on: who will rise and fall in 2013
 
Undoubtedly the asset sales will play a central part in the political year, and news that the Opposition parties have collected enough signatures to trigger a referendum have been met by criticisms from a Herald editorial – Referendum a farce: we've voted already  – and from Chris Trotter: Mandate given at last election. A counter-view is provided by Green blogger David Kennedy in Chris Trotter and the Mandate Word
 
Issues of ethnicity, the Treaty, and Maori politics will surely play a big role once again in New Zealand this year.
 
One reason for this is the Government’s Constitutional Review, which will soon be in full swing and will raise some very contentious issues. Some interesting critiques of the Review have recently been voiced by Elizabeth Rata – see: Treaty no longer symbol of national unity, and David Round – see: Treaty 'rights' a trap in constitution plan. Radio NZ has also broadcast an in-depth discussion of the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in a written constitution – listen to Brent Edwards’ Outspoken on the Treaty of Waitangi. Related to this is news on public spending on the Treaty lawyers – see Ben Heather’s Treaty legal aid bill hits $79m in six years. Also in the economic-Iwi sphere, see the following interesting items: Isaac Davison’s Firing up Maori economic engine and Simon Day’s 'Pa Wars' hosts fire shots over Maori job
 
On a more political level, New Zealand could see a resurgence this year of Treaty-based protest inspired by Canadian activism – see Kurt Bayer’s Indigenous protest movement spread to NZ. At the parliamentary level, the obituaries are being prepared for the Maori Party – Chris Trotter’s analysis is interesting: Maori Party's founding tenets starting to unravel. A key issue for the Maori Party’s survival will be the ‘succession issue’ – dealt with in Kate Chapman’s Ratana unveiling for Turia's successor?, and also aggravated by Pita Sharples decision to stay on as a co-leader – see TVNZ’s Sharples defiantly says he won't stand down. Morgan Godfery provides his analysis in Sharples vs Flavell: the leadership edition
 
The state of the economy as well as the high unemployment rate will be the big issues of 2013 – which are addressed in Fran O'Sullivan’s It's high time the PM got serious on youth employment. O’Sullivan’s column has surprised many with her criticisms of the Government and her call for tax increases. See also Rod Oram’s John Key's big economic challenges
 
New Zealand’s political year will kick off in earnest when the media return to reporting in full on the politicians. This year’s coverage will change with the introduction of TVNZ’s replacement for Close Up at 7pm on weekdays, Seven Sharp. The announcement of the trio fronting the programme – see, Andrew Koubaridis’ Mulligan to add the comic touch – has led to various predictions for the show as well as reviews before the first broadcast – see Brian Edwards’s TVNZ exchanges current-affairs for a mess of pottage at 7pm and Martyn Bradbury’s Seven Sharp already looks blunt. David Farrar has also questioned the involvement of Labour-supporter Jessie Mulligan – see: Seven Sharp. Similarly, Cameron Slater complains that TV3’s Campbell Live is becoming a political advertisement for the Labour Party – see: John Campbell comes out of the closet. There is other behind-the-scenes news for state-owned media, with two important departures – see: William Mace’s TVNZ's head of news resigns after nine months and John Drinnan’s Radio NZ boss confirms exit, apologises
 
Other important or interesting recent political items include:
 
New Zealand has received yet another accolade – this time for ‘human freedom’ – see TVNZ’s NZ leads worldwide in human freedom. The most interesting reaction to the award comes from Danyl Mclauchlan (A brainfart on Freedom) who disapproves, and David Farrar (NZ most free country on earth) who celebrates and provides further details.
 
Judith Collins is coming across decidedly liberal in her decision announced today to allow prisoners to retain compensation received for ill-treatment – see Claire Trevett’s Collins backtracks on jail compo. She’s even receiving plaudits from arch-liberal law professor Andrew Geddis – see: In praise of Judith Collins
 
The country’s first spy drone has been purchased by the police, leading to concerns about privacy – see David Beatson’s Look out! The Drones are here – and we’re not ready and Toby Manhire’s NZ must act fast to control aerial spying devices. This issue comes on top of heightened public interest in state spying – see Chris Trotter’s Opening a can of worms. In addition, see No Right Turn’s Our military is spying on us
 
New Zealand’s public service comes in for some international attention in Max Rashbrooke’s Guardian article, Are UK public managers doomed to fail in the land of the Hobbit? Meanwhile the Ministry of Education is being criticised for contracting out some of its core functions and also increasing the pay at the top – see Kate Chapman’s More big pay packets at Education Ministry. The Ministry of Health is also in the firing line for providing poor policy advice to the Government – see RNZ’s Health Ministry told to lift performance
 
Paul Buchanan has – as always – been making interesting comments, this time about both anti-redhead prejudice (Acceptable bigotry) and the current visit by British foreign minister, William Hague (Hague's real mission: our SAS in Africa).
 
The policing of illegal drug use is an ongoing contentious issue. New figures from the Minister of Justice have re-opened the debate about the justice and effectiveness of the rules – see Ben Heather’s Petty drug users fill New Zealand jails. Also in response to this, see Will de Cleene’s The High Cost of Cannabis Prohibition, Mathew Grocott’s MP urges new approach to drugs, and Rosemary Mcleod’s Ostracise the pot smokers, not jail them
 
The taxpayer subsidies for the Hobbit film production is being questioned once again – see Kate Chapman’s Peters: Hobbit subsidy should be handed back. But New Zealander’s don’t appear to agree – see Isaac Davison’s The Hobbit: should we have paid? Gordon Campbell has also responded to the issue with a very thoughtful and nuanced blogpost, On the subsidies for The Hobbit
 
Yesterday John Key described Education Minister Hekia Parata as ‘one of National's top communicators’ and said ‘she's been one of the smoothest communicators we've actually had’ – see Claire Trevett’s Parata's job safe in shuffle. Scott Yorke wonders whether the PM’s later reflection on that statement had anything to do with his subsequent fainting and hospitalisation – see: Falling over. For further details on John Key’s health – see: John Key faints at restaurant. Meanwhile, John Armstrong wonders whether the Government is now ‘stuck with a lame-duck minister’ – see: Keeping minister on a gamble for Key
 
Political scientist Claire Robinson received all sorts of flack last year for her very interesting research into image bias in newspapers during the 2011 general election. She’s now responded by cataloging and responding to the criticism – see: Only now getting around to my rebuttal
 
Have New Zealanders become Australia’s slave labour? Chris Trotter argues today that ‘Kiwis living in Australia’ face significant injustice, but this suits New Zealand’s ruling class – see: Facing a future as Australia's poor relations
 
Whatever happened to all those alleged breaches of electoral law at the last election? The Electoral Commission referred 94 cases to the police – but apparently the police are still investigating 89 of these – see RNZ’s Scores of alleged electoral law breaches unresolved
 
How big is the gap between the rich and poor in New Zealand? A new study suggests that the top 1% of earners receive 9% of the national income, but this figure is more egalitarian than for many countries – see Newswire’s The rich Down Under share more – study
 
The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Chris Finlayson, provides the public with his own evaluation of the art on display at Parliament – see Claire Trevett’s Tour Parliament's $12m art as main man turns critic
 
Audrey Young is producing an interesting Q+A series on backbench MPs – so far you can read about Chris HipkinsEugenie SageMaggie BarryTodd McClayTe Ururoa Flavell, and Gareth Hughes.
 
Finally, for more information on where our politicians are holidaying, see Bevan Hurley’s Politicians lying low over holidays in some favourite Kiwi spots and Michael Field’s Beaching it: The PMs' summer tradition
 
Bryce Edwards
 
Today's content:
 
Labour Party
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): Trotter on Shearer. (Heh.)
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): Trotter on Shearer
Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate): Labour Struggles With One Direction
Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate): Labour - The Working Class Party
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Who Should We Blame For the Black Caps?
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): The Post I Never Posted
Trevor Mallard (Red Alert): Labour’s Summer School: the place to be
Robert Winter (Idle thoughts): Labour in the New Year
Ideologically Impure: An apology to David Shearer
Pete George (Your NZ): Dictating Labour democracy
 
Public service
No Right Turn: The cost of cuts
Shane Cowlishaw and Kelsey Fletcher (Stuff): Charm school for ACC staff
Adam Bennett (Herald): Lips diplomatically sealed, but...
 
Housing
Claire Trevett (Herald): Housing plan a winner for Labour
Mike Smith (The Standard):Labour’s popular housing policy
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): The idiocy of ‘keeping your powder dry’
James Ihaka (Herald):When a state house was for life
 
Health
Nicole Mathewson (Stuff): Pharmacy overrun after keeping fees low
Martin Johnston (Herald): Govt eyes cuts to elective surgery
 
Asset sales
Olivia Wannan (Stuff): Asset sales petition gets its numbers
Morgan Godfery (Maui St): Fisking the Herald
Chris Trotter (Stuff): Mandate given at last election
David Kennedy (Local bodies): Chris Trotter and the Mandate Word
 
The 2013 political year
Gordon Campbell (Stuff): Peters back in the spotlight
Murial Newman (NZCPR): 2013 - Parliament, politics, people
The Standard: 2013 – the policy year
 
Treaty and Maori politics
Morgan Godfery (Maui St): #IdleNoMore
Peter Calder (Herald): Tangata whenua walk different path
Karl du Fresne: Peter? Are you there?
Isaac Davison (Herald): Firing up Maori economic engine
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff):Iwi in negotiations over radio claim
 
Media
Andrew Koubaridis (Herald): Mulligan to add the comic touch
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Seven Sharp
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): Seven Sharp already looks blunt
Steven Cowan (Against the current): Loyal cheerleader
Pete George (Your NZ): The impact of political blogs
Pete George (Your NZ): The political impact of Kiwiblog
Martyn Bradbury (Tumeke): The future of RNZ
 
Hekia Parata
Claire Trevett (Herald): Parata's job safe in shuffle
Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): Parata safe in her job - Key
John Armstrong (Herald): Keeping minister on a gamble for Key
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): Too big to fail
 
John Key’s health
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): Falling over
 
Hobbit funding
Isaac Davison (Herald): The Hobbit: should we have paid?
Gordon Campbell (Scoop): On the subsidies for The Hobbit
 
Hague visit
Sarah Robson (Newswire): Shearer raises visa issues with Hague
Francesca Lee and Alan Wood (Stuff): Hague plugs UK role in rebuild
 
Dotcom
David Fisher (Herald):Dotcom comes out fighting
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): Kiwis bankroll new Dotcom site
 
The Economy
Brian Fallow (Herald): Kiwis renewing appetite for debt
Brian Fallow (Herald): Rebuild vital catalyst for growth
Adam Bennett (Herald): Plenty of ways to add value: Joyce
 
Freedom survey
Eric Crampton (Offsetting behaviour): Kiwi Freedom
Danyl Mclauchlan (Dim-Post): A brainfart on Freedom
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): NZ most free country on earth  
Russell Brown (Public Address): On Freedom
 
State spying
Chris Trotter (Stuff): Opening a can of worms
 
Gay marriage
Isaac Davison (Herald): MP slams polygamy claim on gay bill
Russell Brown (Public Address): The mathematics of marriage
 
Drugs
Mathew Grocott (Stuff): MP urges new approach to drugs
No Right Turn: Pure waste
Will de Cleene (Gonzo): Quotes from a drug war
Will de Cleene (Gonzo): The High Cost of Cannabis Prohibition
Rosemary Mcleod (Stuff): Ostracise the pot smokers, not jail them
 
Tobacco
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The OIA is for all  
No Right Turn: "Stalling tactics"
 
Helen Clark and poverty
Ele Ludemann (Homepaddock): Look at her record
 
Parliament / Backbench reviews
Audrey Young (Herald): Maggie's way
 
Other
Claire Robinson (Spinprofessor): Only now getting around to my rebuttal
Claire Trevett (Herald): Collins backtracks on jail compo
Andrew Geddis (Pundit): In praise of Judith Collins
The Southland Times: Editorial – The taxman cometh
Rachel Glucina (Herald): Collins packing a new punch
Julie Fairey (Herald): Pay fairly and all of society wins
Lawrence Gullery (Hawke's Bay Today): Tremain backs rail line closure
Neville Peat (Herald): Slow economy trampling environment
Steven Cowan (Against the current): Press propaganda
Fran O'Sullivan (Herald): Chinese eager to milk brand NZ
Claire Trevett (Herald): Bennett trumpets 5000 fewer on DPB
Conor English (Herald): Metro area needs to grow up and not out
CK Stead (Herald): Why judge was wrong on Bain
Amelia Wade (Herald): Cops on the wrong side of the law
Kelsey Fletcher (Stuff): Dropouts victims of counting blunder
Jacqui Stanford (Newstalk ZB): PM scores low on Family First 'value vote'
Karl du Fresne: 2012: year of the buffoon?

 

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2 Comments & Questions

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The standard debate on Labour leadership is primarily about policy rather than personality.
The question is whether the economic approach over the past three decades of both National and Labour are the right policies for the future.
The question is what policies will grow the incomes and prospects of most Kiwis.
That is what the debate inside the Labour Party is about.

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Why has Labour failed to catch the imagination of the public since Goff, King, Robertson, Mallard and now Shearer have taken over from Clark and Cullen?
Why have they failed to make in-roads to the polls, given the bumbling of the current National ministers?
A few set-piece speeches from Shearer only highlights the lack of passion politics in the current leadership.
The country is hungry for a major change in policy and a leadership approach that catches the imagination of the 800,000 who did not vote last time, the 100s of thousands who had to emigrate, the under-employed and all of us battlers.

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