Clutha- Southland and the stark contrast in NZ politics

Written By: - Date published: 4:08 pm, April 30th, 2014 - 79 comments
Categories: election 2014, labour, national - Tags: ,

Craig David Doctor Tobacco

Bunji last night commented on National’s odd selection in Clutha Southland.  This guest post from Ad investigates matters in some more detail.

What’s interesting about the Nat’s Clutha- Southland selection and some of the media it’s provoking is the way it presents a microcosm of the wider electoral contest, and the stark contrast emerging between a government deep in the pockets (or is that the pants) of dodgy capital, and an opposition ready to see the damage 30 years of neoliberalism has done, and step in to minimise and undo that harm, especially where it’s marginalised our most vulnerable people.

The Queenstown Mirror front page is calling it the Doctor vs the Tobacco Company Man. But The two candidates’ bios take you straight into the heart of Left and Right politics and the kinds of actors who have come to advance these causes.

Todd Barclay at 23 (apparently his age was misreported at first), in case you’ve missed it, is a young man whose work since leaving university consists almost entirely of working in cabinet minister’s offices and as a corporate lobbyist for Philip Morris, the big tobacco people. Factual experience and the effects of policy don’t matter in this world: what matters is the ability to access cabinet ministers and make sure policies don’t affect your corporate’s bottom line. At 23, Todd is already a mid-career insider in this game, personally well connected, increasingly versed in the arts of influence, and, no doubt, of corporate campaign contributions. As he himself put it yesterday, Todd “took the [Philip Morris lobbyist] job to give me the experience I needed to enter politics”. Indeed, says Todd, “It taught me some very valuable skills really, in the corporate sector and taught me about how corporates operate in New Zealand.” So, perhaps he won’t be funding his campaign with sausage sizzles. And he already seems a little confused by the experience, doublespeaking about questions (or not questions?) of ethics: “Obviously, fairly, there is a question around my ethics, with regards to working for a tobacco company [but]…I don’t believe it does call into question my ethics, my views are strong, and they’re against smoking. I don’t encourage people to smoke, but it is a job”. No doubt being a Nat MP, where those same skills will be handy, will also be ‘a job’, subject to similar ethical quandaries.

On the other hand, Labour’s candidate is Liz Craig, twenty five years working as a doctor and in public health, researching and addressing issues in New Zealand and Australia. She’s been a leader in the tracking the effects of child poverty, and in advocating for action to give kids a better start in life. Liz confesses that “Of all the child health issues I’ve reported on over the past 10 years, the one that saddens me the most (and there are many) is the 40-60 babies we are losing each year from Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI or cot death). Behind these deaths is the bigger puppeteer of nicotine addiction, and the role smoking in pregnancy plays in increasing the risk of SUDI. ” Liz with others kicked off the monitoring of child health in the early 2000s, going door to door to DHBs to sign them up for their own child health reports. Over the years she and her team have produced literally thousands of graphs and hundreds of reports pulling together data, showing how kids from the worst off neighbourhoods have worse health outcomes, worse educational outcomes, worse lifecourse outcomes across the board. Labour’s turn to addressing child poverty and giving kids a Best Start was built from the outset on this evidence, and on the policy necessities which flowed straight it. You’ll see Liz acknowledged in the front of all the major reports of the period, from the Public Health Advisory Committee’s 2010 report The Best Start in Life: Achieving effective action on child health and wellbeing, to the Children’s Commissioner’s 2008 report A Fair Go for All Children: Actions to Address Child Poverty in New Zealand.

The good people of Clutha-Southland know too well the harm bad substances and under-priced alcohol do in rural and small town New Zealand. Sad then that their 16,000 seat majority electorate turns out to be just the place to put a young Nat candidate who will be well placed to deliver, for years to come, to lobbyist interests with unprecedented access to levers of policy. And focussed, like English’s attention always was, in Wellington, not Dipton or Balclutha.

Cheering, then, that Labour are putting up someone who in her day job has been confronted daily with the harm caused New Zealand children by things this lobbyists’ government has long failed to rein in: problem gambling, supercheap alcohol, legal highs, and poverty. And with the gumption to organise, from a low base, to pull together evidence and policy which, to be sure, no corporates were lining up to pay for promoting.

Two candidates, two parties, two Kiwi futures. The next generation of a deepening relationship with dodgy corporate interests, vs a clear, experienced, evidence based commitment to improving Kiwi families’ futures, organised on the smell of a red rag.

Here’s to a serious upset in Clutha Southland. And, yes, beyond.

A link to a short Liz Craig bio can be found on her campaign site https://www.facebook.com/lizforcluthasouthland

Guest post by Ad

79 comments on “Clutha- Southland and the stark contrast in NZ politics”

  1. DIA 1

    Turns out they lied about his age he’s still 23, isn’t 24 until June or something.

    • Chrissy 1.1

      Now why would they do that: it can only have been deliberate. Someone sitting down saying, shit, we need to lie about his age. THAT is a contrast that says more about these people than the fact that he’s young. They are happy to lie to us right upfront about something clear and basic.

      • Chrissy 1.1.1

        I mean, it’s not a good first foot forward, is it? First thing you do for your candidate is lie about something.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.1.1

          He seems to be the sort of person who should be stacking the shelves as a trainee manager at Countdown

  2. swimbetweentheflags 2

    Could we be seeing the right’s longer term MMP strategy unfolding in Clutha-Southland?

    Maybe they’ve opened the door for an existing minor right wing party to fill the vaccuum created by this selection and thereby secure a long term ally with a safe seat?

    Or maybe an entirely new right wing party is about to pop up and aim itself at this southern electorate, with National strategists fully complicit?

    Granted these theories are a little outlandish, but you never know what’s really at play here.

  3. Red Rosa 3

    Maybe even the true-blue Nats down there will walk away from this one.

    A greater contrast could not be imagined.

    The Labour candidate looks like a genuine caring person, with a great track record

    There must be some unease, surely, among even the most blinkered National Party members, about selecting a poison-peddler? Just a tad of doubt? The slightest twinge of social conscience?

    But then again, maybe not. It’s all about money, and power. And the slick presentation.

    • chrissy 3.1

      And now the Dom Post’s editorial is joining the bandwagon against this selection.

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/editorials/9996252/Editorial-Tobacco-stain-on-would-be-MP

      “Above all, he says his “greatest sympathies go out” to the victims of the industry he worked for. There is no way that he can square these contradictions or give a moral justification for his activity”.

      “This is not just a job, but a job that aids and abets an industry that kills. And this job does define him, because he presumably took it up voluntarily.”

      Ouch

      • Rosie 3.1.1

        Yes, that was ouchy chrissy. Check out the comments too. Among the usual RWNJ rubbish to be found on the stuffed site lies a gem.

        In response to this:

        “The same goes for another would-be National MP, Chris Bishop, who seeks the nomination for Hutt South. He used to be a tobacco lobbyist too, and apparently thinks he can justify this career choice on libertarian grounds. He can’t.”

        A character called LeClerc states:

        “2 tobacco company promoters and TPP on the horizon is not a coincidence
        Does the grooming of these people start at the Young Nat’s club
        It has to be, otherwise their CV would eliminate them from selection from day 1”

  4. chrissy 4

    Southland Times editorial yesterday would have stung a bit: after all it’s Todd’s hometown paper.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/southland-times/opinion/9986445/From-deadly-smoke-to-nice-safe-seat

    “The extent to which his electorate will be willing to set aside this poisonous background remains to be seen. It’s up to Clutha-Southland voters to determine what significance, if any, to afford the fact that Barclay chose that career move, however temporarily. But it must be said that for a man barely in his mid-20s, he has a past to live down.

    “In the meantime that hoary old line that a gumboot could get elected in Clutha-Southland if it was a National gumboot should be revisited on the basis that a gumboot would have a more benign public safety record”.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Not entirely surprised by that editorial. The good burghers of Clutha Southland vote blue overwhelmingly, but they also want an MP who can get things done for them. Going from the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister to a young’un smelling like he was handpicked by Caesar, and who has a track record which would easily fit on a ciggy paper is not going to impress them.

      • chrissy 4.1.1

        yes well put. I think he will be keen to perform for them, though, and doubtless Bill English was failing to deliver for them: he famously declined, i hear, to bend road funding rules to accommodate them!

        • RedBaronCV 4.1.1.1

          Or to summarise a local – the trouble with Billy boy is that we weren’t getting enough [roads and hospitals and other services]. A large number of locals were spitting tacks about mining Mt Aspiring national park too.

          • Ad 4.1.1.1.1

            Are we expecting Minister Smith to hold fire on the monorail decision until after the election? Few in Te Anau support it at least, from what I saw and heard.

    • Red Rosa 4.2

      Ouch!

      +1

    • Ad 4.3

      One useful side effect of such coverage is to leave a nasty taste in the mouth of the citizen.

      Liz may not necessarily overturn a 16,000 majority this time, but simply showing a quality candidate with her values in the right place who is loyal to the south may be enough for the voters’ pen to waver when it comes to the party vote. That could be the more important result here.

      • Liz Nash 4.3.1

        If I ever meet anyone that votes for that young man instead of Liz Craig I will be able to judge them instantly and will walk away. No conversation, business or interaction of any kind. New Zealand deserves better. More, the best people, not the greedy powerful ones.

    • NickS 4.4

      Lawl, that is a beautiful line, but yes, it’s somewhat odd that National would think standing someone this young and blank in a rural electorate.

  5. karol 5

    I can’t find anything on Todd Barclay’s political values, or why he wants to get into politics: what he hopes to achieve – other than he wants to get into politics and figured Philip Morris would give him some excellent experience.

    Is he a younger John key who wants to fast track into power? Someone who wants power for power’s sake?

    It’s clear where Liz Craig is coming from in terms of political values and aims.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      other than he wants to get into politics and figured Philip Morris would give him some excellent experience.

      Slightly backwards IMO. Clayton won’t have figured anything out. Clayton’s sponsors and patrons on the other hand figured that Philip Morris would give him some excellent experience and would have helped organise that job for him. It would always have been done with a view to him standing for Parliament (probably 2017 when he would have been 27) but for various unknown reasons (perhaps English wanting to step aside early) the timetable has been moved up.

  6. Curtis Omelvena 6

    When this guy announced he’s running I’m now not only wanting to increase Labour’s vote to 10,000 but actually win this seat and keep this guy out of parliament and ensure Liz get’s in!

  7. Ant 7

    National are probably planning a reality television show based around him.

    • Ad 7.1

      TV1 could do worse than have a good chat with both candidates and check them out, side by side. See if there’s depth and effectiveness to either of them beneath the headlines. Would be fun to watch.

      • David 7.1.1

        If not TV1 then Campbell live. Certainly the ODT and/ or the Southland Times, as well as radio and tv in that part of the world? You are right, AD: these two between them do embody a lot of what this election should be about, anyway!

    • Stuart Munro 7.2

      Dancing with the steers?

  8. Rodel 8

    Todd Barclay
    Has to be the oxymoronic quote of election 2014…..or is it just moronic?

    “‘Obviously, fairly, there is a question around my ethics, with regards to working for a tobacco company [but]…I don’t believe it does call into question my ethics,…..”

    Oh, that’s OK then…Wot?

    • ffloyd 8.1

      He’s been studying the John key speech pattern.

    • Hayden 8.2

      I’m alive because I knew there were risks involved taking on that particular client.

      You know, any contractor willing to work on that Death Star knew the risks. If they were killed, it was their own fault. A roofer listens to this… (taps his heart) not his wallet.

      Clerks

  9. RedBaronCV 9

    Given the tory boy, does this mean that Clutha Southland is now officially cougar country?

  10. David 10

    Come on, let’s not forget this guy’s spent around 3 years in Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee’s offices, with all the joy and sense of executive efficacy that must have brought him! And he’s clearly fleeing fast now too from his brief lobbyist dalliance, with just the blue suit on his back (choking up, ‘I don’t condone smoking!’) and vague, untraceable promises of highly conditional financial support from his old employer.

    Liz Craig by contrast has the firm foothold of years of generating hard statistics and evidence based policy, and buckets of clear conviction that she is in fact, doing good, and on the side of light. As well no doubt as whispered and genuine the entire public health lobby (the ones that can speak out, ungagged by Todd’s mates contract clauses), if not the entire health and medical professions, and several armies of angels. Liz knows that the Labour party’s child policy, if implemented, would actually see positive change in just the areas she is interested in, less kids in hospital, better housed, less stressed, doing better at school.

    Whereas poor Todd looks likely to be quite unable to escape the dark side and its grim uncertainties and moral sloughs and quicksands. He faces years of being pestered by the lesser class of farmers fucking up Southland Rivers to let them carry on with their evil ways until they realise their capital gains and can finally pay down their epic dairy conversion debt and retire to Cromwell. In 20 years time, he’ll be able to look out across the Dairy-ed and Dammed and Fracked and Lignited out expanse of Clutha Southland, hear the wind howling through the dead willows beside the Mataura river, watching the corpse of the last Brown trout in the whole system float belly up into Fouveaux Strait, knowing he personally made a real contribution to its desolation.

    • fender 10.1

      “…. 3 years in Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee’s offices….”

      Yes he does look rather plastic… and thin!

      As others have said, this kid is not qualified to even be considered as an MP, it’s ridiculous to the point of being some kind of joke.

  11. Dan1 11

    Look to Kaikoura as well for another outstanding Labour candidate, Janette Walker, who has led the charge, very successfully nationally, against the banking rort of swaps that has affected so many rural folk.
    The local Nats, especially in North Canterbury, are also very unhappy at the way Colin King was rolled. It is quite likely that they will give their party vote to National but would far prefer the personable Janette with her proven track record of fighting for things rural.

    • Ad 11.1

      Expand on that. What’s her cv? What kind of person is she opposing?

      • DS 11.1.1

        Having met Colin King, he struck me as a harmless mediocrity. He wasn’t the most magical pixie in the forest, but he wasn’t an electoral liability either; I’m not sure about the Nats’ motivations there.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          They’ll be looking to slide in a younger, hard core neoliberal with no remorse and no conscience. National has been consistently sidelining or removing their middle of the road (generally ineffective but also mostly harmless) MPs.

          • Ant 11.1.1.1.1

            Maybe that’s why this guy has been chucked in early, he’s recovered faster than expected from his operation to remove the part of the brain that feels empathy.

            • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1.1.1

              They also want younger people who have no historical context or concept of the NZ which could have been as recently as 30 years ago. Makes for a better self-centred ambitious careerist.

      • David 11.1.2

        what sort of issues is King/ the Nats promoting in that part of the world? and what matters to Labour voters there?

  12. DS 12

    My reaction was one of “surely the Nats had better choices available?” This is Clutha-Southland; the electorate is two parts, both of them blue, so there should have been plenty of less toxic options.

    Not that Barclay is going to lose. That electorate was one of four where National won the party vote in 2002, and would vote for Stalin if he was the National candidate. More realistic is to consider how this affects turnout and list votes.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      My reaction was one of “surely the Nats had better choices available?”

      Exactly. There will be plenty of old time National Party members who will not be happy with Barclay as the choice…including some who would’ve thought themselves in with a chance for the candidacy.

  13. Traveler 13

    According to information about Todd Barclay on Kiwiblog, he resigned his current position with Philip Morris on Sunday.

    He states above that he took this job to “give me the experience I needed to enter politics” and that “It taught me some very valuable skills really, in the corporate sector and taught me about how corporates operate in New Zealand.”

    He’s already using PR speak in early campaign mode. His recent employer’s culture means that he’s probably going to carry a pro-tobacco stance into Parliament if elected, despite his claims about being against smoking.

    The statement “my views are strong, and they’re against smoking. I don’t encourage people to smoke” is laughable. By taking the Philip Morris job, defending their commercial interests, that’s what he was doing – encouraging people to smoke.

    I hope 16,000+ voters seek clarification on his stance, because with the NZ government set to enact plain packaging for tobacco, his stance will most likely produce a conflict of interest for him and the National Party. He needs to be asked if he supports the NZ legislative position in support of the Australian government, OR his recent employer. He cannot do both.

  14. Jimmie 14

    I’m a Nat supporter and I’m not that impressed with Barclay as a choice.

    Apart from the dubious distinction of having his only work experience working as a flunky for a tobacco company I think he is at the wrong stage of life to be an effective MP.

    What has he done? 3 years at uni and 2 years wearing a suit? Where is his life experience, years of building a good work ethic, experience the struggles of jugging a mortgage, bills, relationship,(and kids?) Has he built his own business, owned his own farm, made his mark helping with a charity or mission?

    I’m not really a labour supporter in any way at all but if I was based down south I would think of throwing an electorate vote to the Dr.

    I reckon political parties should have an informal ban on candidates under the age of 30 – just not enough life experience and personal development to be much of a law maker.

    Not a good choice by the Nats at all – the last thing Parliament needs is another juvenile trougher setting up for life.

    • Rodel 14.1

      Jimmie.I’m not a nat supporter but appreciative of your thoughtful analysis.

    • DS 14.2

      I’m not a Nat, but I agree with the sentiment. I also have no problem with older MPs either – I like my politicians to have had a bit of life experience.

    • weka 14.3

      Marilyn Waring was only 23 when she became an MP. It’s not Barclay’s age that’s the problem, it’s who he is.

      • Colonial Viper 14.3.1

        Barclays age is half the problem. He’s not going to turn out to be any kind of Waring IMO, and he’s being gifted a very safe blue National seat which is very interesting in itself.

        • weka 14.3.1.1

          Are you suggesting he may improve with age?

          Agreed about the interesting thing being that he is being gifted that seat.

          • Colonial Viper 14.3.1.1.1

            Unfortunately you can’t develop decent life experience within the Thorndon Bubble. You just end up entrenched and enured in the Thorndon Bubble perspective.

          • RedLogix 14.3.1.1.2

            Marilyn was a remarkable young woman – by contrast most young men in their 20’s are useless dorks who’ll believe any crap their told.

            I know I was at that age.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 14.3.1.1.2.1

              Don’t worry, he knows how corporate lobbying works.

  15. George D 15

    The third candidate is a youth-worker/teacher named Rachael Goldsmith, with the Greens. She’s running for the party vote, so I hope she and Liz can team to prevent this ash butt from entering Parliament.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Rachael Goldsmith also ran in 2011 for the Greens in CS; they did really well in the electorate and I appreciated her contribution to the community debates that were held.

      • George 15.1.1

        Yeah, she’s a good person. Won’t be the MP for CS via this route, but contributes substantially.

        • Rachael Goldsmith 15.1.1.1

          Thank you George, I appreciate your, and other’s support. The focus at the moment is on these two as they are battling for the candidate vote, but I’m already working on the party vote and the media will catch up when they are ready! I just wanted to correct you on my occupation. I work in tertiary student support, and I am otherwise a full time volunteer with various organisations, party office holding roles and blogging at http://thedailyblog.co.nz/category/bloggers/rachael-goldsmith/

  16. McFlock 16

    has this … boy even held a job for a year, let alone 3?

    Uni at 18, grad at 21.
    23 now.
    In 2 or 3 years he’s been 6 months in pr, 8 months tobacco, how many months in 3 separate minister’s offices… can he even hold a job?

    • felix 16.1

      Guess we’ll find out when they make him Minister of Health.

      • Ad 16.1.1

        I tell you who would be interesting as Minister of Health: Dr Liz Craig.
        Qualified medical doctor with both clinical and community health experience, renowned medical researcher, epidemiological specialist, more degrees than can fit on a business card, huge public health pedigree, and brought up two boys in her spare time.

        I know it’s a bit pointed, but Labour can either have candidates refreshing Labour like Dr Craig, or Labour’s southern List can keep putting Claire Curran up there.

        • Not a PS Staffer 16.1.1.1

          Yes Liz would make an excellent Minister of Health or Social Welfare: after she has served a full parliamentary apprenticeship.

          History is littered with eviidence of Grand Failures promoted to minister before they have been forged in the fires of parliment for one or more terms. Shane Jones got into Parliament too easily, got a ministerial role too easily and became an overinflated prat as a result.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 16.2

      Did anybody even know he was in the office?

      Seems to have started out in Englishs office ( probably as a favour to his old man who more than likely went to St Bedes with Dipton Bill)

      Then very quickly has been shunted around other ministers offices.

      • expatriot 16.2.1

        Bill English went to St Pats, didn’t he? Brownlee is the St Bede’s graduate.

  17. DS 17

    For what it’s worth, iPredict has a National win in Clutha-Southland at $0.92. That’s a drop from $0.98 before the selection.

  18. Richard McGrath 18

    “Cheering, then, that Labour are putting up someone who in her day job has been confronted daily with the harm caused New Zealand children by things this lobbyists’ government has long failed to rein in: problem gambling, supercheap alcohol, legal highs, and poverty.”

    Labour are putting up a TAB sports bookie in Wairarapa…

  19. RedBaronCV 19

    If the locals are smart they could use MMP and give their party vote to Nact as always and their candidate vote to anybody but Nact. Pick the best person for the locals.

    • Pete 19.1

      What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.

  20. Philj 20

    xox
    I heard from a county councillor that Lawrence Youll, ?Spokesperson for Local Government, that thirty per cent of councils had decreasing ratepayer numbers! These areas are struggling to provide services in Nationals heartland. Some roads down south are reverting to metal as they are cheaper to provide. Some Nats may start to wake up to what a brighter future really means to many rural communities.

  21. fisiani 21

    Everyone knows that the good people of Clutha Southland recognise that Todd Barclay had the support of 31+ out of 60 voting delegates at the conference. National voters are sensible people and do not have the kneejerk litmus paper evangelical attitudes shown above. They collectively saw Todd’s talent which will grow into ability. I hear that he is a tremendous orator and will be a strong voice for his community in the John Key 3rd 4th and 5th terms.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 21.1

      Those voices in your head are not your friends, Fisi.

    • toad 21.2

      Wondering what safe electorate the Nats will select a talented, young former meth dealer in?

    • Chrissy 21.3

      Todd will only grow according to the light and nutrition and experience he gathers. The thing, Fizz, about being in the environments he’s been in is that you’ve been doing it in a dark room full of horseshit where everything is poisoned by $ and nicotine (and addictive gambling, and legal highs, and RTDs, and fertilizer runoff). All that really blooms in that context is fungal, and/ or toxic. Or deep and rich in PR speak and composting fudginess. And from there he goes back into parliament. What’s he really going to learn- or orate- that’s of any value to the rest of us?

      The Labour gal, by contrast, has spent longer in health, medicine, public health, running organisations, observing patterns in health stats and policy, etc etc, than this boy has been alive. She’ll weigh the evidence, read the research, understand the policy, work the networks, stump up authoritatively, and deliver outcomes in the next three Labour govts that you and I will be grateful for for a long time. So who’s getting your vote, mate?

      • Chrissy 21.3.1

        The only light in the tunnels that boys been in are personal influence, campaign contributions and a long Party future. That’s the direction he’ll be growing in, mark my words.

  22. sabine 22

    might we want to look to the US where the Grand Ole Party “the Republicans” have been effectively patched over by the Tea Party Jihadists.

    if the kid gets in, he will be there for the next 20 years, at which stage he would be old enough to run for “higher’ office….The force is strong within this one.

    The largest issue that we have is that People are still voting against their best interest, but vote Party line, not for issues and reasons, but because tradition…it might kill their land, their animals, their lifelyhood, but hey we always voted for National etc etc.

    And quite frankly, maybe Labour could cut an TV ad to the tune off, Legalised Legal Highs, No Limit on Alcohol availability (i.e. higher prices for RTD’s n such), and instead of banning cigarettes as a Schedule A (most deadly of the all the known recreational drugs) they just increase the Taxes on and demand plain packaging. All this will help alleviate child poverty or create Jobs. Yeah, right Tui.

    As for the National supporter, you get what you vote for.

  23. It’s kind of funny – one candidate is young and has spent their entire working life in politics or lobbying, and the other works in a profession and has a wealth of experience. The funny bit is that, counter-intuitively, the callow yoof is the National candidate and the credible one is the Labour candidate.

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