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Labour: the democratic reforms continue

Written By: - Date published: 8:31 am, February 20th, 2013 - 98 comments
Categories: democratic participation, labour - Tags:

The focus in recent months has been on the democratisation of the leadership process. But actually, a far more important change is coming.

Over the next few months, the party is going to roll out the draft policies and the proposed policy structure to a series of membership meetings. The new regional hub structure will also be explained. The meetings will help decide the mix of policies and also the way that policies are chosen to take to the voters at the next election. The indication is that policies the members favour will be compulsory for caucus to promote. That’s actually a far more important democratic change than tinkering with the talking heads.

The next conference will vote to endorse the new structure. It’s vital that all party members have a say in how far the change should go, so please attend your next branch and LEC meetings and push for greater membership control. Attend the Hub and Policy meetings in March and April, have your say and lobby in your branches, LEC’s and affiliates for conference delegates who will vote to cement members’ control over policy.

Because policy matters. Policy is what defines us, not photoshoots or soundbites. Policy makes elections worth winning.

Here’s my top three, readers are welcome to suggest others:

Wages: A minimum adult rate of $15, including apprentices. An immediate Living Wage at $18 plus for all workers employed by central or local Government and in industries subsidised by the taxpayer. Ryman Healthcare, I’m looking at you. Update the ERA to promote collective bargaining and lift minimum worker protections. Compulsory redundancy pay for all who lose their jobs in this way. An end to the 90 day fear based employment process.

Assets: An end to the privatisation program. All assets sold off by Dunnokeyo to be immediately returned to taxpayer ownership. Compensation at cost or market rate, whichever is the lower, paid over ten years. No interest or dividends payable.

Green economy: Make NZ the leader in green jobs in the way we led the world in anti-nuclear thinking. Make NZ the showcase for the future by moving away from polluting manufacturing and into a sustainable future. Make the dairy industry pay for the damage it’s already done to the environment and force farms to minimise future pollution or cease operating if they can’t.

– TRP

98 comments on “Labour: the democratic reforms continue”

  1. Socialist Paddy 1

    It is all very well to talk about democratic reforms TRP but you not only need to have the structure right but you also have to have the right culture.

    The current culture in the parliamentary party is very poor and needs to change. Until it does the best constitutional changes will not cure things.

    The caucus needs to be united and this A team and B team stuff has to go.

    All MPs have to be able to contribute. The party cannot afford to lose any more MPs of the calibre of Chauvel.

    And if a MP decides to exercise their democratic right not to pledge undying support to the leader then this should be respected.

    If the party gets this right it will heal. If it does not then it is in for a rough time.

  2. Tom Gould 2

    Isn’t the ‘policy platform’ that binds the caucus supposed to be a ‘high level’ document setting out policy directions and outcomes? What you suggest is much more prescriptive and much more micro, even to the point of targeting an individual employer. Surely that is not what was agreed?

    • Bunji 2.1

      It’s not meant to be prescriptive, but the level TRP is working at is about right. Some things are prescriptive because they’re simple ($15 min wage – although by next election I think Labour should be campaigning on a $16 min wage…).
      Other things like the modern awards system to create industry minimum wages and cross-employer collective agreements will have a lot of detail missing as to exactly how they’re going to work.

      Definitely needs to be a Policy Proposal for all govt employees and govt contracts to specify a Living Wage at Regional Conferences this year, to be added to the Policy Platform.

  3. chris73 3

    Assets: An end to the privatisation program. All assets sold off by Dunnokeyo to be immediately returned to taxpayer ownership. Compensation at cost or market rate, whichever is the lower, paid over ten years. No interest or dividends payable.

    – Being that John Key hasn’t sold any yet would you say that any assets sold by Labour (off the top of my head 9 billions worth) be returned? (Where possible of course…)

    • Polish Pride 3.1

      “would you say that any assets sold by Labour (off the top of my head 9 billions worth) be returned? (Where possible of course…)”

      Case by case basis dependant on the tactical and strategic benefits medium and long term respectively.

      • chris73 3.1.1

        You might say that but I cant see Labour agreeing to it, that’d be one helluva dead rat to swallow

        • felixviper 3.1.1.1

          Not so much a dead rat as a red herring.

          The right-wing Labour govt of the 80s might not have got away with ripping off that nine billion if there had been an opposition willing to stand up and make the kind of commitment that Labour made over ACC in 99 and should be making now over the energy assets.

          • chris73 3.1.1.1.1

            Speaking of red herrings…

            My memory of what labour said they’d do prior to the election doesn’t run that far back so maybe you (or someone) can let me know but did labour say they were going to sell assets before they were elected?

            • felixviper 3.1.1.1.1.1

              No, it was a highly unprincipled right-wing govt but that’s beside the point.

              Even if National hadn’t signaled asset sales before the election I’d still expect Labour to announce that they’d take them back.

    • Te Reo Putake 3.2

      Tom, Bill and Bad12, the first cut draft policy document is available on the LP website. An updated version is to be presented in the hub/policy meetings. It confirms that there are two linked, but seperate processes; one to determine who decides policy (us!) and one to decide what that policy should be (us, again!). However, as I read it, caucus will be allowed to determine the election manifesto. Which means they will probably decide which policies to highlight, promote and put in election propaganda. I can foresee some tensions around that aspect of the process ;)

      https://www.labour.org.nz/sites/labour.org.nz/files/2012-Draft-Policy-Platform-final.pdf

    • Murray Olsen 3.3

      I would agree with that. We either oppose the sales on a principled basis or on the unprincipled basis that we don’t like the salesman.

  4. Bill 4

    It’s the structure that’s crucial TRP. Individual policies are kind of incidental if the structure stifles the impact of any input from members.

    I notice your post indicates that a proposed structure will be presented to members. That’s top down ‘managerialism’ and just doesn’t auger well for developing a culture that is meaningfully democratic. Given that the structure has been been developed from ‘on high’, I’d expect a lot of ‘checks and balances’ to be embedded ensuring power and control ultimately resides within caucus.

    I’d like to be wrong. But any heirarchically structured organisation that reforms from above generally sees to it that effective power remains where that power ‘ought’ to remain – in the upper echelons.

    • Polish Pride 4.1

      Perhaps you need to take a leaf from Icelands reform and have a group of representatives voted by the party whose job it is to impartially put together a proposal for membership to vote on. There should be a period (6 months) where anyone can submit their ideas to the representatives and the representatives must consider those ideas and how they would work under a new system. It needs to be an open and transparent process for all to see and vote/provide feedback on along the way.

      • Bunji 4.1.1

        The structure hasn’t been created by caucus…

        Labour’s NZ Council (a group of representatives voted by the party yearly, there since Labour’s inception) oversee the process, and appointed a group who did a tour of the country having meetings with members and getting their feedback through every avenue possible about how the party should be structured, would processes it should follow. They came up with proposals, that were shared for feedback a couple of times before the vote on final proposals at Conference in November. A slightly different group’s work continues on selection (electorate & list) as that was too tricky to get agreement on in the initial timeframe.

        So not from on high and very much the open process you describe.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Candidate selection processes need to be revamped, democratised and made transparent. The current fast track of Labour Staffer, Labour Candidate, Labour MP is making caucus both narrow, unrepresentative and a privileged in-crowd clique. Which truly exacerbates the Team A, Team B stuff that Paddy mentions.

    • Ron 5.1

      I don’t think any political party in NZ has a truly democratic candidate selection process. Even the Greens are into promoting people that have worked in the back office to preferred candidate position

      • outofbed 5.1.1

        Hm examples?

      • George D 5.1.2

        The Greens list selection process is about as democratic as you can make it. The list is ranked by the membership (any person who has been a member more than 6 months), and that list is subsequently zippered by sex, with minor adjustment to ensure that there’s fair geographic and Maori/Pakeha representation. (After 30 on the list people are ranked alphabetically).

        If people who’ve worked in the back office are nominated, it’s because they’ve connected with the party and made an impression as people with abilities. It’s not a perfect system; nothing ever will be, and to be sure the membership will have its biases and blindspots. But the claim that the caucus or leadership are responsible for stacking the list is completely incorrect.

        For electorates, the local branch nominates a person, and that person is then reviewed by the national executive which checks their suitability as a representative of the party. Where the electorate is considered ‘strategic’, there’s a five person panel with 2 nominated by the electorate, 1 nominated by the province, and two by the executive. In the last decade this wasn’t much of an issue, but if the Greens are serious about electorates in the 2010s, then it will take on more importance. So, not quite as open to the ‘general’ membership as the list process, but given that the executive are considered to be representative and are all in party elected positions, you expect that they will represent the wishes of the party.

    • AmaKiwi 5.3

      ALL Green members decide their list by postal ballot. Labour should, too.

      We are not stupid. We understand the need for balance. We know which MPs are too valuable to lose even if they haven’t been around since the beginning of time. We know who the screw-ups are.

      Who would join an organization where they have no say in the choosing the leadership?

  6. bad12 6

    Definitely what CV says and it would be nice to believe that the Labour Caucus could be made to enact Legislation put forward by the membership,

    The Caucus seems to have far too much say in the selection of candidates and this has all the look of some form of system of patronage,

    As far as Labour Party policy goes, and me not being a member, i have THIS to say,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki.org/wiki/Third_Labour_Government_Of_New_Zealand

    My view is that Labour need not a whole raft of ‘new’ policy, Labour need go directly back to where the last ‘true’ Labour Government were befor the Neo-Liberal rot set in…

    • Polish Pride 6.1

      See I don’t think they do need to go back at all. Its a new world with a new set of problems (or in many cases the same set to be fair).
      Forget the problems, this only leads to tinkering or solutions that at best resolve some problems while creating others (at best!)
      What they need to do is start with a blank slate. Work out the New Zealand that they want to see and once that has been determined, develop policy to get us from where we are today to the vision they have.
      If they can show how their policy does this they will be 5 steps ahead of the other parties. They need to provide a vsion of a future that will resonate with the voter. One that the voter can see as their own and that they will not only vote for but a vision that they will defend in the face of anything that opposes it because it has become there own.

      • The Fan Club 6.1.1

        Realistically, renationalisation of MOM assets isn’t going to happen in anything more than a “as time and money allow” sense. Why? Because a future Labour government will have many competing demands on the fisc. Will renationalisation of assets be the best and most effective way of promoting Labour’s overarching goals? I dunno, it will depend on market conditions, on the regulatory framework, on the economic conditions, etc.

        In general if you wanna have a fight with caucus over anything, my advice is to go hard on the whole return-to-surplus issue.

        • felixviper 6.1.1.1

          “Realistically, renationalisation of MOM assets isn’t going to happen in anything more than a “as time and money allow” sense. Why? “

          Whatevs. They could be taken back without compensation if such an intention were loudly and clearly signaled.

          And ps, don’t call them “MOM” assets or readers will think you’re a National party concern trool like they did last time.

        • bad12 6.1.1.2

          You are of course correct, the Slippery lead National government will have by November 2014 borrowed us all into a small mountain of debt around the $60 Billion mark,

          The Kiwi$ if it continues on it’s current trajectory, which is pretty much assured as the US are currently printing and spending upon ‘infrastructure’ US $40 Billion a month thus constantly devaluing the US$ whilst driving other currencies higher in value,

          Slippery is not only going to leave the Treasury basket empty, he and the Finance Minister with the acres of space between His ears will be attempting to abandon the Treasury benches leaving the Nation as close to a ‘basket case’ as they possibly can…

          • bad12 6.1.1.2.1

            Lolz, the second paragraph should end with: will be nudging a value against the US$ of 90+ cents…

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.3

          Realistically, renationalisation of MOM assets isn’t going to happen in anything more than a “as time and money allow” sense. Why? Because a future Labour government will have many competing demands on the fisc.

          If the government takes over the printing of money and stops the banks from creating it then the government doesn’t have that problem. They can buy back the assets the day they come into power and all that would happen would be a slight decrease in the value of the $NZ on the forex.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.3.1

            Well, and then a rapid collapse in the rest of the value of the NZD as international traders realised that we had a for-real socialist government installed.

          • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.3.2

            I’ll add that our immediate vulnerability to a much lower NZD – say US60c – is an immediate rise in petrol and diesel prices. Maybe equivalent to a 35c/L increase for petrol?

            • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.3.2.1

              Yep, at which point we start work on utilising our resources to build up local infrastructure so that we don’t need to import fuel, i.e, we start building wind turbines/solar power and electrify rail.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.2

        See I don’t think they do need to go back at all. Its a new world with a new set of problems (or in many cases the same set to be fair).

        It’s the same set of problems that the world had in the 19th century and that the unions and other social enterprises fought to curtail. It’s a set of problems that comes directly from free-market capitalism and the only way to address those problems is to restrict capitalism. Labour refuses to do this and I’m not sure that even a member led Labour party would do it.

        What they need to do is start with a blank slate. Work out the New Zealand that they want to see and once that has been determined, develop policy to get us from where we are today to the vision they have.

        Yep, and that’s true of all parties but the most important thing is for parties to then promote their vision. I suspect that National would have problems with this as their vision really is for a few people living well and everyone else living in poverty, bowing and scraping to those who are living well.

  7. Te Reo Putake 7

    Tom, Bill and Bad12, the first cut draft policy document is available on the LP website. An updated version is to be presented in the hub/policy meetings. It confirms that there are two linked, but seperate processes; one to determine who decides policy (us!) and one to decide what that policy should be (us, again!). However, as I read it, caucus will be allowed to determine the election manifesto. Which means they will probably decide which policies to highlight, promote and put in election propaganda. I can foresee some tensions around that aspect of the process ;)

    https://www.labour.org.nz/sites/labour.org.nz/files/2012-Draft-Policy-Platform-final.pdf

    • bad12 7.1

      Lolz TRP, the Caucus has an ‘out clause’ where it can simply ignore the work of the Party in putting forward policy by leaving such out of the manifesto and thus having the ability to say that they have no mandate for any specific policy not in the manifesto,

      Hopefully the above is a worse case scenario…

      • Te Reo Putake 7.1.1

        Hence the need to get party members involved so that when it gets to the next conference for endorsement it has as little wriggle room as possible. And no disrespect to caucus, but it must be made clear to those MP’s that they work for Labour Party members, not the other way round.

    • Bill 7.2

      As far as I can see there is absolutely no mention of what any internal democratic structures might look like – no mention of how different parts of the party might interact – no mention of any mechanisms for the excercise of power or mechanisms to ensure accountability. It’s basically just a ‘feel good’ document outlining the broad policy directions of a future Labour Party.

      Where did you see mention of members deciding and determining policy? And where did you see an explanation of any proposed mechanisms that might enable members to decide and determine policy?

      • The Fan Club 7.2.1

        Rules 146 et seq in the party constitution set this out in excruciating detail Bill.

        • Bill 7.2.1.1

          Cheers TFC. I’ll come back to this. But on first blush there is still no mechanism for members to directly affect policy and a hell of a lot of appointed (not elected) decision making bodies that are not subject to any obvious member controlled systems of accountability.

          • The Fan Club 7.2.1.1.1

            The Policy Council has a massive majority of members elected by the r&f. The Policy Committees established by the Council have majorities of r&f members.

            Regional and Annual Conferences are democratic bodies.

            I’m actually struggling to think of an appointed body in the whole system.

            • Bill 7.2.1.1.1.1

              The Policy Council has 12 members. 5 elected from ‘constituent orgs’, 2 elected from and by Te Kaunihera Maori and 5 appointed from and by caucus.

              The Policy Council then appoints the various Policy Committees from nominations received (no vote).

              The policy Council’s main focus is to rspond to the Parliamentary Labour Party (caucus?) and the NZ Council.

              Haven’t seen how Sector Councils come into beng and I’m running late. Suffice to say there is a glaring democratic deficit in that there constitution. But as I said initially, i’ll come back to this when I’ve more time to read things more thorughly.

              • Bill

                There are no democratic mechanisms for detemining the members of Te Kaunihera Maori, Special Advisory Committees or Sector Councils. Seems that’s left up to the New Zealand Council.

                • The Fan Club

                  No, the policy council has far more than 12 members. There’s five caucus, five elected at large, two (elected) from TKM, and then one elected by each sector (i.e Women’s, Youth, Affiliates, Pacific, etc.)

                  The appointment of policy committees is inevitable, given the need to ensure skills and equity.

                  The democratic methods for determining the members of sector councils are left up to the sectors, in their capacity as self-organising and self-controlling bodies.

                  Seriously, can I suggest that if you don’t know how sector councils* are organised, it’s probably best to avoid pronouncing dogmatically about the Party?

                  * for those that aren’t anoraks, probably some of the most powerful institutional structures within the Party after NZ Council, Policy Council & caucus.

                  • Bill

                    I’m not pronouncing anything dogmatic at all. I was pointed in the directon of the constitution and I’ve (admittedly quickly) scanned the clauses you referred to looking for democratic mechanisms. Can’t see much of anything there. But seeing as how I’ve obviously missed something, would you care to, for example, explain the ‘democratic methods’ employed to select Sector Council members? I’m all ears and eyes.

                    It’ll be tomorrow before I have time to give proper attention to the clauses you signposted. But in the meantime, I’d appreciate an explanation of the substantive democratic processes you alude to that my quick ‘once over’ has missed.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      TFC has outlined a process where the ordinary party member has fuck all say over 95% of the make up of NZ Council.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Generally sectors will elect their representative at their AGM, which is normally held on Sector Day at Conference. The details of that election will be up to the Sector, but it will be a fair, democratic election. I’m not entirely sure where on Earth CV is going with his rant about NZ Council, which is of course (a) a different body and (b) substantially elected democratically.

                    • Bill

                      Jeezus wept tfc! You just said the selection process is up to the Sector…or those of the Sector who attend conference and that they have no set democratic mechanisms. You think that…by any stretch of the imagination..stacks up against a need for democracy? (hint – transparency, inclusiveness, accountability, dispersal of decision making powers etc)

                    • Anne

                      You think that…by any stretch of the imagination..stacks up against a need for democracy? (hint – transparency, inclusiveness, accountability, dispersal of decision making powers etc)

                      TFC is a robot Bill. Robots don’t know about such things.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Bill, as I said, the Sectors will have their own practices and procedures on how their democratic AGM elects the Sector council. They will be consistent with the rules on the democratic election of officers provided in the Constitution, but obviously the Women’s Sector will have different practices to the Affiliates Sector to the Youth Sector, because they are different groups of people in different circumstances.

                      Sectors generally provide for some form of proxy voting for members not at conference. In general it’s not a major issue.

                      If you don’t see how “sectors elect sector councils” is democratic, I don’t know what you want. How would you do it Bill? How would you let the Women’s Sector choose their representative to the Policy Council (and extra prizes for explaining why a guy should be setting those rules.)

                    • Colonial Viper

                      According to TFC’s definition of “democracy”, the fact that the President of China is voted in by the 25 people who make up the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, makes that position “democratic”.

                      Too bad on the other 1.5B Chinese citizens who got, you know, zero say.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Are you actually comparing the Rainbow (or Women’s, or Youth, or Affiliate, or …) Sector to the Politburo?

                      And let’s be clear, the right of sectors to exist is fundamental to the ability of historically oppressed groups to organise for their goals.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I’m making a point that 8 people selecting a delegate on a sector conference call does not a “democratic” process make.

                      And let’s be clear, the right of sectors to exist is fundamental to the ability of historically oppressed groups to organise for their goals.

                      You must point me to the chair of the beneficiaries sector in the Labour Party then.

                    • The Fan Club

                      CV, I don’t know what cowboy bullshit you put up with in your sector, but in the sectors I am involved with, we have a full, open, and democratic AGM, and this slandering of sectors is entirely consistent with a retrograde masculinist, workerist, homophobic political position that fails to see the importance of affinity groups in political action.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      this slandering of sectors is entirely consistent with a retrograde masculinist, workerist, homophobic political position that fails to see the importance of affinity groups

                      Hey, didn’t you hear from your Leader? There is absolutely room in the Labour Party for homophobes.

                      So fuck off with your poncy gender emasculated pol-sci prejudices.

                      Now, when it is convenient, could you please tell me how I can get in touch with Labour’s ‘Beneficiary Sector’. You know that “affinity group” with the Labour sectors structure which organises for “political action” to defend the “historically oppressed” group of beneficiaries.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Probably worth adding I doubt CV is involved in any serious way with a sector, and this fantasy that sector reps (not delegates) are elected on tiny conference calls is pretty daft. It’s just a bitterness that the manly men don’t get to boss around the uppity Women/Rainbow/Pasifika sectors.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Yep, back to the why-do-womens-get-all-these-rights game. Hey, I’d vote to establish a Beneficiaries Sector, probably. (It’d be a bit weird, because I don’t know how you’d handle the fact that people enter and leave that group swiftly, and it’d be a Sector defined in large part by a desire to leave it, but whatever, who cares.) But I don’t see why you see the existence of sectors as an issue; if you think there should be more, advocate for that, don’t attack the Women’s or Rainbow or Kirk Sector.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      lol

                      sure, but let’s keep talking about the Historically Oppressed, and where Labour’s Beneficiary Sector is.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      if you think there should be more, advocate for that, don’t attack the Women’s or Rainbow or Kirk Sector.

                      Just quote where I attacked any of those sectors you mention, TFC. You know, just to show that you’re not a disingenuous evasive red herring merchant.

              • Bunji

                You’ve missed the 1 member elected from and by each sector (Women, Affiliates, Seniors, Youth, Rural, Pacific, Ethnic, Rainbow, Kirk (disability), etc) – TKM is just a special case because they get 2 instead of 1. And as of last conference those elected by sectors / members cannot be MPs. So ends up with a large majority of members, and more than 12 people.

                The Policy Council reports to the caucus and NZ Council, yes: NZ Council as the elected governing body of the party, and caucus as the folk tasked with implementing it.

                Sector councils have to get a large amount of support from members around the country to get a proposal to NZ council, which then must be endorsed, and then voted on at Conference. They will have a vote for their Policy Council rep within the sector (joining an appropriate sector is easy, but I think you’re only a voting member on 1?)

                • The Fan Club

                  Bunji — you are a member of as many sectors as you are eligible to be a member of, and can exercise voting rights in all of them.

                  The Policy Council doesn’t just report to caucus & NZ Council: it also reports to Regions and to Annual Conference. It’s misleading to think of the Policy Council as somehow subordinate to caucus & NZ Council; in it’s sphere of competence it is superior to them.

                  • Bunji

                    Ah, is it just branches of a LEC I’m thinking of with voting rights? Good to know.

                    Yes, reporting doesn’t mean subordinate, true & yes regional & annual conference. Thanks.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Branches you have to pick 2 & no more. But no one ever checks except for around contested selection time.

                      (For instance, I think caucus reports to Policy Council on progress when we’re in government. Certainly the Council writes a report on that matter that goes to Conference in those years.)

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.2

        And importantly, how can members make a determination that caucus is going off track with a particular policy in Government, and what steps happen then?

    • The Fan Club 7.3

      The process to determine how policy is written has, formally, already occurred. The next issue is operationalising the Constitution’s fine guarantees. The Manifesto is unlikely to be written by caucus; the bulk of it will be written by the Policy Committees and Policy Council in partnership with spokespeople.

      • Colonial Viper 7.3.1

        The process to determine how policy is written has, formally, already occurred.

        So, an example of a highly democratic and widely consulted over process then. Is Conference supposed to rubber stamp this later this year?

        • The Fan Club 7.3.1.1

          It went to conference last year! I mean really.

          • Colonial Viper 7.3.1.1.1

            Bull-fucking-shit. The policy platform was presented as a scant overview and no details of how it was to work were voted on.

            • The Fan Club 7.3.1.1.1.1

              What on earth are you talking about CV? It was a major part of the reform package.

              • Colonial Viper

                yeah whatever you say.

                • The Fan Club

                  No I mean really, Jordan Carter was basically shopping around a fucking book about how it would work and no-one was interested in talking to him about it, except for the fucking Temuka Seniors branch or some such who were trying to get out of paying their subs.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    yeah i guess you could call that a consultative process.

                    • The Fan Club

                      Yeah such a top down arsehole, fuck the whole lot of them for ramming this “binding platform” and “membership driven policy” and “no more remits disappearing into a dark hole” crap down our throats!

                    • Colonial Viper

                      So what was the consultative process which led to the outcome of “determine how policy is written has, formally, already occurred.”

                      It all happened at Conference you say? It seems like figuring out how policy is decided in the Labour party might be important. How many hours was given to the discussion of the policy platform concept at Conference?

                    • The Fan Club

                      OK CV. First, the working group was put together. Then there were the consultation meetings. And then there was a draft put out for discussion, and then there were Regional Conferences, and then finally it went before Annual Conference, where it was in fact amended, in particular by the Women’s Sector.

  8. aerobubble 8

    Key’s legacy. In order to fore-fill the kiwi dream of owning a home, on buying a new empty lot, the new ritual must be carried out… …repeat these words… …in order to protect us from abusive arbitrary government, and instill fear of bureaucratic nightmares, we here by dig and build this post box so that we may not lose our shirts like so many in ChCh. NZ is an Earthquake prone country
    can you dig it. Campbell live should every show have a new lot, with a new post box on it, until the government relents and agrees that its astonishing arbitrary demand of 50% of value (without any mention of why 50%) is done away with. Councils lost huge amounts of empty land they had not
    sold, and government self-insurance covers their losses, but Key’s gvt decided that private citizens could take a 50% shower, for what reason? That it look good as spin?

  9. Ron 9

    We need more positive policies. I cannot see any future Government agreeing to buy back former Government departments SOE’s etc and if they were inclined there are probably better ones to consider .
    Ministry of Works would be a good place to start. The so called crown sprouts would be better all back in a DSIR department.
    Housing should be a government Department not an SOE and it should have a minister that would be held accountable to ensuring that Housing was given the priority it deserves.
    And while on this subject we have the Casino fiasco handing to Shearer and instead of saying it should be dumped he waffles about having another go at calling for tenders etc.
    The problem is that Casino’s are unhealthy and we do not need them in New Zealand.
    Instead of shuffling the chairs on the Convention Centre/Casino business we need to hold and urgent Royal Commission to decide do NZ want or need such activities and if we do to what level and who should run it.
    That would be statesman like, for a leader, but instead Shearer waffles and gives every indication that if he was Prime Minister his policy would be very much like John Key’s policy and we do not need more right wing government

  10. vto 10

    This is a must pour moi..

    Foreign ownership: Ban all foreign ownership of land. Limit leases or other similar instrutments to, say 20-30 years.

    Foreign investment can continue, which is of course an entirely different beast, though always deceptively mixed up with foreign ownership of land by dishonest politicians. Policy could be brought in over a time period to alleviate some of the adjustment back.

  11. Actions speak louder than words,so far the labour caucus actions have not given a signal
    that they will respect the membership in any way,manner or form.
    So those ‘meetings’ will only be a phantom gesture, a slight recognition for those present, once
    the meetings are over,it will be business as usual,same shit different day.
    Many want and desire the labour party to return to being a genuine force for the left after the hi-jacking 30 yrs ago, however that is not possible under the current administration.
    Right wing commenters are still commending Shearer and light blue labour,because they
    know their future and prospects will be secure for another 3yrs after 2014.
    Unless there is a humungus change in caucus thinking patterns,then my votes will be
    Green.

  12. saarbo 12

    Good post and I like the look of your top 3 TRP.

    But I think “tinkering with the talking heads” is also critical to ensure we have the best chance in 2014.

  13. Ennui in Requiem 13

    Labour and the rest of the political sphere as we know it today, including the readers of this blog by and large still believe in a past paradigm, such as expanding energy supplies, everlasting growth, infinite resources. I don’t have a lot of faith that Labour et al will even have a clue about reality even when stared in the face by economic collapse etc: they will want to put it “back on track”, just like yesterday.

    And yesterdays gone: so my unexpected (as in dont expect it to happen) wish list for Labour policy:
    * The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse Response Committee to “plan” (remember that quaint pre Roger notion, replete with visible hands attached to real people) for:
    * economic contraction and equitable sharing of the pain, particularly feeding, housing and health.
    * energy contraction and alternative infrastructural refitting.
    * ecosystem crisis response (including climate change).
    * defense…..yes its going to be a period of a lot of hot wars and epidemics etc.

  14. michael 14

    I see no evidence that the caucus is interested in the views of party members. The caucus holds the power and it will not relinquish one iota of it unless it is forced to. The caucus prefers “focus groups” as its primary mode of calibrating the acceptability of its policies, and publicy-funded spin. This is not democracy by any definition.

    • Te Reo Putake 14.1

      Hard to argue with your analysis, Michael. But the point of the post is that the membership have a historic opportunity to tilt the balance away from caucus and towards party wide democracy. When members determine policy, caucus have to either promote that policy or get out of the way. That change alone may be enough to make some MP’s consider their future and we may find that some of the drop kicks, drongos and deadwood that are holding us back might take the hint and shoot through.

      The March/April meetings, regional conferences and the next NZ conference will determine whether we really do take our party back. I’m hoping that we will go into the next election with policies that are widely supported in the party and vote winning on the campaign trail. And with a caucus team committed to delivering for the good of the party and the good of the country.

      • Michael 14.1.1

        BTDT and stopped being an active member of the NZLP c2002, once it became clear to me that the caucus would not honour its pre-election promises to the people (eg interest still charged on student loans; market rents still charged for most HNZ tenancies; increases in NZ Super clawed back but extra hoops for disability allowance, etc, etc). Most activists I knew from those days also stopped (with the exception of those who calculated they stood a chance of becoming MPs, of course. Self-interested careerism rules in the NZLP). The NZLP has a proud tradition, and some real accomplishments in the fight for social justice. However, those at its apex no longer care about those at its base. Until that changes, the NZLP is not fit for office.

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1

          After 90 years, the NZLP has become part of the mainstream capitalist status quo that it sought to disrupt and replace in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Ah well.

        • Te Reo Putake 14.1.1.2

          Well, it’s about to change, Michael. You sound like the kind of person we need in the party right here, right now. You’re clearly a politically minded person, or else you wouldn’t be posting here. For less than the price of a beer, you could be helping to make the LP democratic, progressive and relevant for our times. Hope you’ll consider joining again, we really do need you.

          • Arfamo 14.1.1.2.1

            It needs to change. The time is right now. Things are going to get worse for the average voter. Labour needs to abandon right wing economics, not fiddle at the margins. That means bringing in people who know how to cost and sell an alternative economic strategy to the voters.

  15. Afewknowthetruth 15

    What is required is not reform and reprioritising but a paradigm shift.-adopting appropriate paradigms for the age we live in. I see no indication that anyone in the Labour movement is ready to abandon redundant paradigms.

    Fighting hard to maintain unsustainable systems is wasted effort, yet that seems to be what Labour is about to embark on (yet again).

  16. AmaKiwi 16

    A model from the 20’s and 30’s which is oft ignored was the growth of co-operatives.

    Workers became owners. Profits were plowed back into the business or distributed to the worker/owners. Money did not go into the unproductive property investments. Overseas giants did not gobble up our best industries (hurting our balance of payments).

    The tax code is the key to reviving coops. That can be a Labour platform. It’s less contentious than a capital gains tax.

    I am NOT arguing against the capital gains tax. I am saying here is an additional savings/investment model which also directly benefits workers. But you have to make cooperatives attractive from a tax code point of view.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      NZ has billion dollar co-ops. But its generally National voters and rural types who value them.

    • Puddleglum 16.2

      I think that’s a very, very good idea.

      Supporting the establishment of worker cooperatives has many advantages: It provides a democratic form of workplace; it ‘trains’ people in self-management and provides a sense of economic self-efficacy that can then generalise to other issues; it politicises the population in the best sense of the word (i.e., people become more active and assume they have a right to determine what happens to them).

      • vto 16.2.1

        Agreed entirely.

        It is invaluable to note that as CV states above, the main proponents of cooperatoves (the collective social approach) are the right wing.

        And in simplest evidemce we offer – Fonterra. Foodstuffs.

        So next question must be … why doesn’t the National Party offer up the collectivist approach?

        • Colonial Viper 16.2.1.1

          Ravensdown, Paper Plus, CRT, Farmlands, the Co-operative Bank, SBS, Tatua, NZCU

        • Draco T Bastard 16.2.1.2

          It is invaluable to note that as CV states above, the main proponents of cooperatoves (the collective social approach) are the right wing.

          You’ll note that the only people who truly benefit from those cooperatives are the people at the top and everybody else is still kept at an exploitative level.

          • Colonial Viper 16.2.1.2.1

            That’s fairly untrue DTB. Farmers don’t belong to these organisations unless there is something in it for themselves.

            What is true is that the structure of most of these co-operatives can be improved via two factors:

            1) Decision making democracy.
            2) Employee ownership.

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