Labour’s candidates for 2014

While recently I’ve been more interested in what’s been happening with Labor’s preselections for next year’s Victorian state election, the New Zealand Labour Party has also quietly started getting together its candidates for next year’s New Zealand general election.

As much as I can from afar, I hope to cover the candidate selection. If any aspiring Labour candidates want to publish a guest post, I’m happy to host it. And if anyone has any information on how the process is going and names that are coming up, please let me know.

After sending a tweet asking if the details of NZ Labour’s nomination process were on the party website, a kind volunteer emailed me the 2014 Candidate Nomination Pack.

It sets out (most of) the dates for the selections:

…we resolved to supercede all previous decisions on early selections, and to act on nominations for Parliamentary electorates and the Party List in 2014 as follows:

A to open nominations for the Labour Party list for the 2014 General Election on Monday 7th October 2013, closing Wednesday 30th April 2014;
B to open nominations for general electorates in the South and West Auckland, and Canterbury hub areas, and for any newly created electorates, following the initial iteration of the boundary review, by end November 2013;
C to open nominations for all other current Labour-held electorates on Monday 7th October 2013, closing Monday 31st March 2014; and
D to open nominations for all remaining current electorates on Monday 7th October 2013, closing on Friday 6th December 2013, subject to:

an adequate campaign plan being provided to me by Friday 8th November 2013;

a suitable candidate or candidates being available for nomination, to be reviewed by Friday 15th November; and

there being no significant boundary-related issues raised after the initial iteration of the boundary review.

The closing date would otherwise be liable to extension.

Interestingly, there is no listed closing date for group B, which opened in late November (but that date wasn’t specified either). Which is rather odd given that specific dates for group C & D electorates are listed, in fact last Friday was the closing date for nominations for group D electorates. If anyone has any information about who nominated for a group D electorate I’d be more than welcome to hear!


Returning officers

The Australian Labor Party often gets a bad rap when it comes to internal democracy, words like “faceless men” are used so often they become meaningless. I’ve been in Australia for less than two months however, and there are some aspects of ALP internal democracy that I think we could learn from in New Zealand.

The one that has really surprised me has been the party’s returning officers. From what I can tell (and I might be wrong, their rules are just as Byzantine as those in NZ), each party branch, from an electorate level right up to the federal executive, has to have a returning officer as a special officer – separate to the rest of the executive. They tend to be long-standing esteemed and very neutral party members. This is quite unlike New Zealand where the returning officer is the relevant secretary, or in the case of national-level elections, such as the leadership, the General Secretary. Given political positions, such as the General Secretary, are inherently going to have skin in the game – removing them from this vitally important role seems like a no-brainer.

As I said, I have no idea how they go about appointing their returning officers, but from what I can tell both sides of the factional divide in Australia think that it is one of the better parts of their system.

Should Joe Hockey be looking up to Bill English?

My new local cafe stocks a range of newspapers, and I’ve been finding myself reading things like the Australian Financial Review (Australia’s equivalent of New Zealand’s NBR). Yesterday I almost spat out my morning coffee while reading an incredible op-ed from Jennifer Hewett.

She spent several hundred words extolling the economic skills of Bill English, claiming that the New Zealand economy should be the envy of Australia.

I have to give her credit for originality – it’s certainly not a line of logic I’d heard before.

My friend and fellow ex-pat New Zealander, Marcus Ganley, has written an excellent piece for Crikey pulling the op-ed apart. Read his full post here.

While National have got the treasury’s books on a path to surplus (made far easier due to the strong fiscal management of the 5th Labour government), they’ve done it at the expense of actually looking after the economy. Growth has been stifled and unemployment is simply too high.

As Marcus says…

Taking the size of the economy in 2008 (when the National Party was elected) as the base, the New Zealand economy is 1.18 times bigger today. This compares with Australia, where the 2013 economy is 1.25 times bigger than in 2008. Growth under the previous New Zealand government averaged just under 3.5% per year.
Under Clark’s government from 1999 to 2008, unemployment in New Zealand was continually below Australia’s. From 2005 to 2007, unemployment in New Zealand was below 4%. In 2005, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development statistics unemployment was in New Zealand was 1.2 percentage points lower than Australia. This has changed completely under the National Party. On the latest OECD figures unemployment in New Zealand is nearly 1.7 percentage points higher in New Zealand than Australia. At the same time, the wage gap between Australia and New Zealand has increased by nearly $NZ90 per week since the election of the National Party government.
At its essence government is about priorities. Strong fiscal management is important. It ensures government services are sustainable and avoids placing undue burden on future generations for the services provided today. However, fiscal management is not everything. Before heaping too much praise on New Zealand’s National Party, it is worth looking at the economy as a whole.
If Joe Hockey took the time to visit New Zealand, I can’t say he’d be impressed with our economy. It’s a country full of empty shop fronts, low value exports and dire unemployment.

Colin and Russel crash land on planet fluoride

It seems that New Zealand Conservative Party leader Colin Craig is the candidate who just keeps on giving. He is “undecided” if planes are flying overhead and spraying mind control chemicals (chemtrails for those of you oblivious to the New World Order), “not sure” whether NASA have landed on the moon, and thinks fluoridation is dangerous and mass medication. He has been ridiculed relentlessly by tweeters and the media. The left will no doubt make an issue of Craig’s more alternative perspectives in 2014, but for some issues it could be an issue of pots calling the kettle black, or Green.

In April the Green Party adopted their new health policy, which includes the following:


The Greens want Councils to enable residents to “opt-out” of having fluoride, and seem supportive of the Anti-Fluoride Brigade arguments of dental fluorosis and mass medication. Just to be clear, this has nothing to do with whitening strips, we received a few confused emails about this.

Historically the Greens have supported local referenda to decide the issue  an idea sure to be popular with binding referendum fan Colin Craig. While Labour has recently shown how a policy process driven by members can be very positive (see the Policy Platform), the Greens are showing their policy, like that of the Conservatives, is developed by a party of conspiracy theorists.

Perhaps the Conservative Party and the Greens have more in common than expected and we could see an anti-science coalition. While David Cunliffe was quick to rule out working with Colin Craig after yesterday morning’s moon landing fiasco, if he’s in a bind come 2014, it would seem the Greens and the Conservatives might have more in common than he might expect…