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NZ POLITICS DAILY: Some things you might have missed

Featuring Colin Craig, Bob Jones, National's Nanny State, more.

Bryce Edwards
Sat, 28 Dec 2013
A round-up of some important and interesting items in the mainstream media and blogosphere that you might have missed over the last few weeks.
Len Brown
Everyone seems to have turned against Auckland Mayor Len Brown and, crucially, this includes the political left – see Simon Wilson’s Len Brown: gone by Christmas?, Matt McCarten’s Only selflessness can save Brown and Selwyn Manning’s Len Old Friend: This Is Why You Must Stand Down. Lawyer Catriona MacLennon says that what Brown did, and some other men in power do, ‘constitutes sexual harassment and discrimination’ – see: Use of power to get sex ensures equality a myth. And, of course, the Herald came out with its front page editorial Brown must go for the good of the Super City, which they’ve followed up with Brown digs in over council bid to make him pay for conduct review.
The most interesting analysis from the weekend of Brown’s position is Colin Espiner’s Super-city's weakest link. See also Colin Espiner and Sarah Harvey’s Councillor: Mayoral inquiry bill huge. These items look at the problems in holding politicians to account, and what might come next. Also looking to the future are John Roughan in City's visionary now a bad joke and Fran O'Sullivan in Mayor's dealings with SkyCity need inquiry
Colin Craig and the Conservatives
Colin Craig and his Conservative Party are getting some serious attention at the moment. The following items are all must-reads if you want to understand the man and the party that might determine who governs at the end of next year: Audrey Young’s Inside the mind of Colin Craig, Tim Watkin’s The Colin Craig factor & the myth of religion, Gordon Campbell’s The Blank Slate Boy, Stephen Mills’ Conservative Party prospects, and TV3’s 14-minute video Colin Craig: The man who could be kingmaker. Some good points are also made by Danyl McLauchlan in his blogpost, I can see the Sea of Tranquility from my house! For an amusing look at Craig, see Robbie Ellis and Andrew Grenon’s Colin Craig Says Words – The Opera.
ACT Party and the political right
The outcome of next year’s election might also depend on what happens on the right of National. Can the Act Party be resurrected or will it be replaced by a new version? At the centre of some of these questions is Matthew Hooton, who says he’s having a ‘summer of reflection’ on the issue – see his NBR column, On forming a new party on the right (paywalled). But Chris Trotter doesn’t think a new party will be created or potentially successful – see: “Putting the Neo back in Neo-Liberal”: Matthew Hooton goes in search of a new Bob Jones. For more useful discussion on the issue, see Rob Hosking’s Colin Craig, Act and the phantom new liberal party (paywalled), Greg Presland’s The new right wing party, and Eric Crampton’s Party time
But there’s still some signs of life in the old Act Party, with a fresh new leadership contender to replace John Banks – see Tova O’Brien’s 2-minute item on the wannabe Act leader and Epsom MP: Philosopher contemplates ACT leadership role. Others are calling for Rodney Hide to return to the fold, but this isn’t supported by founder Roger Douglas – see Audrey Young’s Act needs new leadership, says Douglas. See also, Danyl McLauchlan’s No future for you
New MPs and candidates
The National Party is in rejuvenation mode at the moment, with many departures being announced and replacements happening. For instance, David Farrar points out that with National’s latest list MP coming into Parliament (Joanne Hayes), ‘the number of MPs in Parliament of Maori descent is a record 25 out of 121, or 21% of Parliament’, and National has the highest amount, with nine – see: Shanks to retire in January
Labour has chosen Adrian Rurahe as its candidate for Te Tai Hauauru and they will be looking for a strong showing against the Maori Party’s Chris McKenzie – see Laurel Stowell’s Rurawhe Labour's hope in 2014 poll. Relating to the Maori Party’s selection of McKenzie, who has been working in Parliament for Tariana Turia, Adam Bennett has put together a must-read article about MPs who have been recruited by parties from within the parliamentary complex – see: From back office to front bench. Phil Goff explains why this trend is a positive one, while ex-MP Stephen Franks says it’s a ‘worrying rise of a self-interested political class’.
New Zealand politics doesn’t have a strong track record of sportspeople becoming successful politicians, but David Tua is currently in the spotlight, and he’s been talking to parties as diverse as the Conservatives and Mana, but looks more likely to end up standing for the Maori Party – see Michael Fox’s Maori Party courts David Tua and Audrey Young’s Maori Party wants Tua to stand
Chris Trotter thinks that Labour needs a huge renewal, particularly to get rid of the ‘old guard’ that he says is holding back David Cunliffe’s attempt to refashion the party – see his strongly worded blogpost, A Sort of Victory: Is Labour’s Old Guard Undermining Cunliffe’s Lurch to the Left?
Government film subsidies
The Government’s latest film subsidy decision has become an ideological lightening rod for those wanting to discuss New Zealand’s political-economic direction. For a good examination of exactly how the latest decision came about, see Adam Dudding’s Behind the scenes of film U-turn. There’s plenty of quality discussion about the rights and wrongs of the decision – the best of which are Pattrick Smellie’s When is a subsidy not a subsidy? When it's yours, Gordon Campbell’s On the new level of film industry incentives, and the Press editorial No reason to favour movies.  The topic also makes for great political satire – see Toby Manhire’s Bright blue future lurks inside Pandora's box.
The central lesson of this Government’s film subsidy decision is just how ideologically pragmatic National is at the moment. This is the subject of Peter Lyons’ So long as you catch the mouse .... Brian Easton’s latest Listener column, Shock of the new (paywalled), also points out that the Government is ‘not neo-liberal’: ‘The present Government is pro-business. Business is only neo-liberal – demanding it be left alone – when it is not asking for government assistance. It seeks help often. Fiscal considerations aside, this Government, faced with such requests, says “yes, yes, yes”.’ He complains there is a lack of vision on all sides: ‘With an election next year, we can expect the Government to be cheering dressed-up non-achievements as the Opposition whinges about bureaucratic failures that would be just as likely to happen on its watch’.
John Tamihere
RadioLive’s part in the ‘Roast busters’ controversy was played out and had been partly resolved with the announcement of a new show hosted by Willie Jackson and Alison Mau, but John Tamihere has reignited publicity around the debacle with news that he is threatening legal proceedings against his former employer– see Kathryn Powley’s Tamihere unrepentant over Amy. See also Andrew Geddes’ First they came for John Tamihere, and I did not speak out
Asset sales referendum results
The final asset sales referendum figures were characterised by David Farrar as the following: Not Vote 54.93%, Vote No 30.30%, and Vote Yes 14.59% - see: Final CIR results. With so much criticism of the actual referendum mechanism, Brian Rudman argues in favour of an alternative in: A better way to discover what the voters think. For an entirely different view, see Steve Baron’s Give our referendums bite for a taste of real democracy
EQC and Christchurch
The Earthquake Commission has been officially told off for breaching the Privacy and Official Information acts. Two blog posts have the strongest condemnations – see No Right Turn’s EQC: A massive government failure and Chris Boys’ EQC time for a rebuild? There are other important issues for the rebuild though – see John McCrone’s Is the rebuild worsening poverty in Christchurch?
Bob Jones and suicide
Bob Jones’ New Zealand Herald columns continue to cause outrage. The latest one, Handout culture should be starved to death was particularly controversial, with Jones recalling his success in persuading a protester to kill himself. The offending paragraph was eventually removed from the Herald online, but the Wanganui Chronicle newspaper still has the original column online – see: Too many feel entitled to ask us to help fund their schemes
The latest census results have been sidelined while more sensational political stories have taken centre stage over the last month. But there are some fascinating changes going on in New Zealand, reflected in the census information. Issues of ethnicity are always interesting and often highly contentious, and the most important items on this are Brendan Manning’s More ethnicities than the world's countries, David Farrar’s NZ by ethnicity, and Philip Burdon’s Born a Kiwi – still seen as a foreigner.
New Zealand is no longer a predominantly Christian country according to the latest Census figures – see Ben Heather’s Census points to non-religious NZ, David Farrar’s NZ by religion, No Right Turn’s Not a Christian country, and Chris Trotter’s God and country part ways. A struggle continues over the state’s decisions about what to officially count as a religion – see Eric Crampton’s Jedi Truth and TVNZ’s Jedi, spaghetti faiths rejected in census
Teuila Fuatai reports survey evidence that Most Kiwis happy with their job – research. One socialist searches for some answers to the notion that workers are being more exploited but happier – see Phil Duncan’s A strange paradox – can NZ workers really be happy with this crap?
The Environment
How is New Zealand’s fight against climate change going? Not well according to Brian Fallow – see: A year on, climate policy still a disgrace
The Economy
China has finally become New Zealand’s biggest export market, overtaking Australia, and dairy products make up 63% of those exports – see James Weir’s China now NZ's top export market
NZ in Afghanistan
Most people probably think that the New Zealand military has left Afghanistan, but there are still ‘27 military personnel, including three SAS soldiers’ there, and the Government has just decided to extend New Zealand’s presence there until the end of next year – see Michael Fox’s Longer Afghanistan stay for NZ troops.
The Death of Nelson Mandela
The death of Nelson Mandela caused quite a disturbance in domestic politics here. So many of the heavyweight commentators came out against John Key’s delegation decision – see, for example, Colin Espiner’s Put Minto on that plane, Patrick Gower’s Key has totally stuffed up Mandela delegation and Mark Sainsbury’s Learn a lesson from Mandela. But there wasn’t a total consensus, note Tahu Potiki’s NZ's delegation to wake was just about spot on
Then the vilification of Hone Harawira for going to South Africa, was strongly answered by Harawira with his open letter to Key – see: I cried, I danced, I said goodbye – how about you, John? But Key wasn’t the only one being mocked – see Steven Cowan’s Pita Sharples’ amazing celebrity bus tour. And for another lighter moment, see Toby Manhire’s HBO presents: The Commonwealth
For serious and insightful reflections on some of the issues surrounding Mandela and New Zealand’s relationship with apartheid South Africa, see Tim Watkin’s Memories of the '81 tour - what we remember, forget & honour, Helen Clark’s Nelson Mandela 1918 – 2013, and John Minto’s A great man but not a great president.
Human and animal rights
Is New Zealand meeting its international obligations in terms of refugees? Perhaps not according to Simon Day’s investigations – see: Hard road for NZ's asylum seekers and Scant help for refugees. Battery hens will be in cages for up two years longer, due to a government decision – see Radio NZ’s Battery cage deadline extended
Forestry workers safety
The politicisation of workplace safety is a new phenomenon – partly due to the backlash against the light-handed regulation that was found to have contributed to the Pike River mining tragedy. Forestry safety is the new focus and some strong opinions on this can be found in Duncan Garner’s The personal face of our national shame, Andrea Vance’s Forestry deaths demand an inquiry, and John Minto’s Capitalism is killing workers so let’s put health and safety in workers’ hands. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has adopted an economic nationalist approach to the sector – see Stacey Kirk’s Protect forestry workers: Labour
National’s Nanny state
The Labour Party’s electoral loss in 2008 was in part due to the perception that the Helen Clark Government had become strongly imbued with so-called political correctness, identity politics and had become ‘the nanny state’. But similar allegations of statism are being leveled at the current administration – see Isaac Davison’s She's back – return of the Nanny State and the Herald editorial, Govt should curb its love of regulation. For a very interesting discussion of some of these ideological issues, see Oliver Chan’s blogposts, The Nanny state: Don’t do that, don’t dooo thaaat! and The Manny state. See also Will de Cleene’s Kiwi Killjoys; 5 Fun Criminal Acts That Weren't Illegal
Finally, I’ve been quoted as calling for an (unusual) new leader for the Labour Party – see Scott Yorke’s Christmas political blogpost, Back in the day
Bryce Edwards
End of year
Peter Wilson (Newswire): Govt gets through bad year in good shape
Barry Soper (Newstalk ZB): The political year in review
Frank Macskasy (Daily Blog): 2013 – The Year that Was
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Predictions results
Liam Dann (Herald): Great year to be a Kiwi
Len Brown
Warren Seastrand (Taranaki Daily News): Lynch mob frenzy
David Fisher (Herald): Brewer denies journalist prompt
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Williams on Brown
Pete George (Your NZ): Herald hack hashes retraction
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Len’s spin weasels still in operation
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Found on the front steps of Parliament…
Inequality and child poverty
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): 10 years on the widows benefit
Vicki Anderson (Stuff): Rental home market is 'feral'
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): What happened to all the poverty?
Steven Cowan (Against the Current): No 'economic recovery’ for most of us
Frank Macskasy (Daily Blog): Confirmed: National welcomes low-wage economy
Moana Mackey (Daily Blog): Homelessness this Christmas
No Right Turn: National's New Zealand
Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Kids at risk of strep-throat rise
Labour Party
Patrick Leyland (Progress Report): Su’a William Sio: social media guru
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Labour’s secret candidates
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Cunliffe’s Christmas Message?
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Labour will not win the next election
National Party
Peter Wilson (Newswire): Govt gets through bad year in good shape
Glenn Conway (Stuff): Minister as monster a menu eyeful
Nicholas Jones (Herald): Leaky schools case settled
Lucy Townend (Stuff): Principals fear more pay errors
Maori politics
Winston Peters
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Peters right on this
Cameron Slater (Whaleoil): Winston says to embrace viral hits
Alcohol law reform
Martyn Bradbury
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Censorship from Bradbury
Karl du Fresne (Stuff): Black Marx for uni wowsers
Will de Cleene (gonzo): Trainspotting
The Standard: In the shadow of Savage
Kim Fulton (Westport News): Women value mining jobs
Peter O’Neill (Timaru Herald): Editorial: Digging into own pockets
Andrew Koubaridis (Herald): Officials bar almost 800 at border
Scott Yorke (Imperator Fish): A message from Santa Claus
Reading the Maps: Claiming Pandora
Pam Graham (Newswire): Accounting a cool investment story
Bryce Edwards
Sat, 28 Dec 2013
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NZ POLITICS DAILY: Some things you might have missed