Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington 6/5/2002

Richard Prebble's Letter from Wellington 06 May 2002


RICHARD PREBBLE'S
Letter from Wellington

Monday, 06 May 2002


A Mood Change

There's an old saying in politics that you win first in the House. The first sign a government is losing is when it can't win debates in Parliament. Labour has been on top in Parliament since about 1998, when National found it couldn't defend Tuku Morgan and its other coalition allies.

The last three weeks have been a nightmare for Labour in the House, with the PM's art forgeries, Anderton's party hopping and then Maori TV hiring a fraudster. National's performance has improved. It came up with the tactic of giving every question to Bill English, all on Helen Clark's forgery. Clark's method of answering tough questions is not to answer.

English had the opportunity to ask Clark 15 questions. Her replies changed from "every MP does it" to "I've been told an ex-MP may have done it once". While English is not a great Parliamentary performer, neither is Clark. She rarely speaks in Parliament. Her only reply to criticism is to refer to Labour's poll rating. It's a dangerous argument because those who live by polling, die by it.

By the end of three weeks, Labour strategists were shielding Clark by having her away at question time. In the jungle of politics, when the head of the pack can't beat off challengers, the whole pack is in trouble.

Anderton's Misery

The Alliance split means Jim's team now only gets a question twice a week. The Opposition, by not directing questions at Anderton but instead forcing Labour to defend the indefensible, have made Anderton sit and listen. His silent misery is shown on TV most nights.

Is It Official?

The Speaker has told Parliament that if Anderton has left the Alliance, then under the Electoral Integrity Act he is out. But the Speaker says he has received no official advice.

Is the Alliance website an official document? The website now states: "... Jim Anderton and his conservative faction (have) defected..." If the Speaker sees it, is it all over for Jim? Every MP knows that Anderton has broken the Electoral Integrity Act. A letter from Laila Harre would see him out of Parliament. The coalition has lost its moral authority.

A good "opinion poll" of Parliament is MPs' attendance in the House. Government backbenchers are now noticeable by their absence. Labour doesn't want six more months of verbal punishment - another reason Clark wants an early election.

Q & A on MMP

At great expense, the Electoral Commission in March published a 19-page question and answer booklet on MMP. The Letter thinks it needs recalling and reprinting. We quote from page 16 - "Question: Are electorate MPs and list MPs able to change parties while staying in Parliament?" Answer: "A change of electoral law passed at the end of 2001 provides that the seat of an electorate MP (except one elected as an independent) or a list MP, becomes vacant if he or she ceases to be a member of the political party for which he or she was elected to Parliament. A by-election will be held to fill a vacant electorate seat, and a vacant list seat will be filled by a replacement from the party list."

National's List Anguish

National MPs are furious with Michelle Boag for leaking the party's list (known by insiders as "Michelle's whiteboard") and that list MPs Vernon, Hasler, Young, Neill, Tolley and Anae are ranked below former NZ First waka-jumper Tau Henare.

By-Elections, Worst Case

Within the National Party there is considerable sympathy for Brian Neeson. He has won a constituency for National in West Auckland, against the odds, for 12 years. His sacking was an outrageous manipulation of National's rules, which say there must be a panel of 60. If an electorate has 900 members, the locals select all the panel. Helensville has just 600 members, so the regional chairman picked 20 of the panel, bringing in delegates from North Shore and Epsom. All 20 ring-in delegates voted against Neeson and he was narrowly defeated.

Neeson has a legal opinion that his sacking was unconstitutional.

Warren Kyd

Clevedon MP Warren Kyd is in the same position as Neeson. Party members in his electorate overwhelmingly support him, but Clevedon also has only about 600 members. The Letter notes that National's leaked list has Judith Collins as selected for Clevedon. Kyd says if his selection is stacked, as Neeson's was, he will go to court.

A Billion Dollar Steal

The Alliance may have fractured but the party is about to take control of the ASB Trust, which has about $1 billion of investments. The trustees are appointed by the Minister of Finance. There's been a convention to appoint trustees from both sides of the political spectrum, and some with commercial experience.

The Alliance has been targeting trustee appointments. Since 1999, seven new left-wing appointments have been made - none with experience of financial markets or investment, or directorship of a public company. The last directors with commercial experience - Judith Bassett and Hans Sorrenson - are about to be replaced.

This government's appointments have been highly political - Matt McCarten, Brian Lythe from the PM's LEC, and Patrick Snedden, an elected member of the District Health Board. Existing trustees recommended deputy-chairman Ross Finlayson for the chairman's job, but Labour's new appointees blocked it and are believed to support Snedden.

The trust has given out $300 million since 1988, in a non-political way, and has never been controversial. Last year, Jim Anderton's Ministry of Economic Development made a grab for funds to finance "partnerships".

As the Alliance has gained a disproportionate number of appointments on the trust board, from this month our discredited Deputy PM will have effective control over $1b of Auckland's assets. Every loony left-wing proposal is likely to be funded. And you thought Maori TV was a shambles.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>

 

Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election