David Farrar’s conflict of interest

Written By: - Date published: 8:05 am, February 17th, 2010 - 170 comments
Categories: dpf - Tags:

In his NBR column a few weeks ago (subscriber-only) Matthew Hooton made a passing reference to David Farrar getting rich off National Party polling.

Shortly after that Fran O’Sullivan ran a piece about Farrar’s company impression polling on a couple of National’s front-benchers.

At the time I didn’t see it as a biggie. Everyone knows David is National’s pollster and that he’s the one that does their sensitive polling and has a lot of influence with National’s leadership. He claims he doesn’t but in a PR-driven government like this one the idea that the main pollster has no sway is so absurd as to be insulting.

So like I said, no biggie, but that’s National Party polling. Sure the taxpayer might have to foot the bill through parliamentary services but I’d rather that than have parties even more beholden to private funders than they already are.

But then I was told by a reliable source that it’s not just National Party contracts David’s getting rich on. It turns out his company, Curia, has also been paid around $9300 to poll on the issue of super city governance for internal affairs. That’s work that was not tendered out but handed to David without competition.

To be fair there is no legal requirement to tender work under $10k but when the company getting the contract is the same one that is the primary polling outfit for the reigning party and is wholly owned and operated by a high-profile party-political activist then a greater degree of transparency would be nice.

Add to that the fact that David was also likely to be running political polling on the issue for National and was engaged in spinning the Supercity on his high profile blog and certain questions of conflict of interest start to arise.

It was only by random chance that I found out this contract. It’s quite likely that David is doing other sub $10k polling for other ministries. He may well also be using the results of this polling to help hone the National Party’s spin on issues such as the Supercity.

In short David is analysing data gathered on the public sector’s dime and related to significant political issues while helping the National party develop strategy. Short of brain-wiping himself after every public sector poll I can’t see how he can avoid a conflict of interest.

I should also note that I was a little uncomfortable with the idea of outing David’s financial affairs until I remembered his claims that Paula Bennett was right to release the financial information of two solo mothers because they were gaining from taxpayer money, had made themselves public political actors and had already spoken out on the issue at hand. Turns out David’s ticked all three boxes himself on this one. Go figure.

170 comments on “David Farrar’s conflict of interest”

  1. lukas 1

    pfft.. 9.3K, who cares, that is not exactly going to make him rich! You kill your own story rather well though here… “there is no legal requirement to tender work under $10k”

  2. Chris 2

    Poll on SuperCity, k’ching! Poll on CCOs, k’ching! Poll on supercity idea in Wellington, k’ching! Poll on creation of super clinics, k’ching! Poll on privatision of high country estate, k’ching! Poll on opening DOC estate to vast mining, k’ching! so that’s what, 6x $9,500 for total of $57k – a healthy wage these days. And there’ll be more polls of this sort.

    • lukas 2.1

      Chris, speculation does little for your argument. You lack of basic business knowledge does even less.

      Let us say that Curia did get 6x $9.5K for six polls for $57K in total, how much of that goes on wages? How much on covering power, rent, computers, phone lines etc etc, that “healthy wage” has fast been cut in half, then we take GST and tax off and there is little left.

      • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1

        I think you miss the point of the post Lukas.

        • lukas

          No, I can see the dog whistle there pretty clearly thanks PB.

          Can you help Chris out with some documentation or evidence to back up his claims that Curia has polled for the Government on those issues?

          • Pascal's bookie

            No, I can see the dog whistle there pretty clearly thanks PB.

            Nah, you’re just barking.

            Care to comment on the conflict of interest?

            • lukas

              “there is no legal requirement to tender work under $10k”

              • Pascal's bookie

                And that means conflicts of interest are ok then does it?

                Or did you not have a point?

              • lukas

                PB- couple of simple questions…

                what advantage is gained by National having Curia run these polls?

                Would you have preferred Data Research Ltd conduct these polls?

                Who conducts Labours internal polling now that DR Ltd has been exposed?

              • Pascal's bookie

                It’s in the post Lukas.

                In short David is analysing data gathered on the public sector’s dime and related to significant political issues while helping the National party develop strategy.

                I’m not sure of the relevance of your questions, but in general I think conflicts of interest should be avoided if at all possible, and fully disclosed where not.

              • Daveo

                Lukas. Labour’s polling is conducted by UMR, has been for years. “Data Research Ltd” was a misguided and frankly idiotic attempt to save money by Rick Barker. National has done similar things in the past.

                The conflict is this. National’s pollster is David Farrar. He does their polling, he analyses it, he reports on the results and he offers his advice for how they should respond to it. He’s doing the same work for the Department working on Supercity policy, a Department that is supposed to be independent from the Government of the day (public service neutrality, etc). Incidentally, he’s also shilling for the policy position of the Government of the day. There are conflicts of interest all over the place.

                I’m sure you’re a nice guy Lukas, but you don’t seem to understand the issues at play here. After all, you seemed to think at first it was an issue about tendering, as if a $10,001 contract would be a conflict of interest but $9,999 was no big deal.

              • lukas

                “I’m not sure of the relevance of your questions, but in general I think conflicts of interest should be avoided if at all possible, and fully disclosed where not.”

                So did the company that conducts Labours internal polling ever conduct a poll for Internal Affairs?

                “Lukas. Labour’s polling is conducted by UMR, has been for years. “Data Research Ltd’ was a misguided and frankly idiotic attempt to save money by Rick Barker. National has done similar things in the past.”

                So, the question remains… did DR Ltd ever conduct polling for Internal Affairs?

                “The conflict is this. National’s pollster is David Farrar. He does their polling, he analyses it, he reports on the results and he offers his advice for how they should respond to it.”

                Just like any other polling company would for any political party.

                “He’s doing the same work for the Department working on Supercity policy, a Department that is supposed to be independent from the Government of the day (public service neutrality, etc). Incidentally, he’s also shilling for the policy position of the Government of the day. There are conflicts of interest all over the place.”

                You and I can both see or request the poll results, questions and recommendations. If they were that biased I am sure Labour would have picked up on it by now! Just because his personal position is in favour of a particular direction, it does not mean the results of his polling will be skewed that way any more than if UMR were to call me today and ask for my position on the Super City… incidentally, I believe it was UMR that did call me about it sometime last year, they did not disclose who they were polling for…hmmm.

              • Pascal's bookie

                >So did the company that conducts Labours internal polling ever conduct a poll for Internal Affairs?

                Fuck knows. But someone recently said, “speculation does little for your argument”.

                You could always OIA it and get back to us.

                Any thoughts on conflicts of interest?

              • lukas

                “But someone recently said, “speculation does little for your argument’.”

                The difference being, I asked it as a question rather than stating unknowns as facts.

              • Lanthanide

                Ahh, the good old “Labour did it” (or in this case, *might have* done it), so therefore it’s ok if National do it too.

                No, it really isn’t. No one should do it.

                Next excuse please.

              • lukas

                “Ahh, the good old “Labour did it’ (or in this case, *might have* done it), so therefore it’s ok if National do it too.”

                In this case we just know from a “reliable source” that Curia *might be* doing the polling… do you think IB will elaborate on how that source knows?

              • George.com

                There are at least 2 arguments (blue herrings) in defence of Farrar here. The contract is under 10k and labour may have done it themselves.

                Neither blue herring however satisfactorily dispell the question mark of a conflict of interest over the Public Service-Farrar-National contract.

                On the question however of ‘labour might have done it’. The answers is simple.

                One, had Labour been found doing this the right wing would have been howling for blood so they need to pull in their heads and get off their moralising high horses.

                Second, National campaigned on a ‘higher standard’ of behaviour. If they are doing the same as labour might have, they have failed in their election pledge.

                The potential conflict of interest however still remains.


            • Pascal's bookie


              • Akldnut

                soph·ist (sfst)
                a. One skilled in elaborate and devious argumentation.
                b. A scholar or thinker

                mmmm….. I don’t think so!

              • Lanthanide


                In modern usage, sophism, sophist, and sophistry are derogatory terms, due to the influence of many past philosophers.

                A sophism is taken as a specious argument used for deceiving someone. It might be crafted to seem logical while actually being wrong, or it might use difficult words and complicated sentences to intimidate the audience into agreeing, or it might appeal to the audience’s prejudices and emotions rather than logic, i.e. raising doubts towards the one asserting, rather than his assertion. The goal of a sophism is often to make the audience believe the writer or speaker to be smarter than he or she actually is, e.g., accusing another of sophistry for using persuasion techniques.

                A sophist is a user of sophisms, i.e., an insincere person trying to confuse or deceive people. Sophists will try to persuade the audience while paying little attention to whether their argument is logical and factual.

                Sophistry means making heavy use of sophisms. The word can be applied to a particular text or speech riddled with sophisms.

                captcha: learn

        • Chris

          He has indeed missed the point.

          I’m very aware of rent, power, phone, wages, insurance and don’t bloody ask me about my ACC levies this year!


          • lukas

            “I’m very aware of rent, power, phone, wages, insurance and don’t bloody ask me about my ACC levies this year!”

            See, I don’t think you are given this comment… “so that’s what, 6x $9,500 for total of $57k a healthy wage these days. “

  3. Pascal's bookie 3

    Does his NBR column replace the ‘cronywatch’ one they used to have?

  4. Gosman 4

    So is the asertion here that the Minister of Internal affairs directed the Department to employ Curia?

    If so then do you have any evidence that this is the case?

    If not then was are you saying that the Internal Affairs, (and possibly other Ministries as well), has ditched political neutrality and is now activiely supporting the National party behind the scenes?

  5. gitmo 5

    Persons in Wellington troughing on the taxpayer well I’m just shocked ……… not.

    Even the stuff that goes out via GETS is often just a token of contestability some people can game the trough better than others c’est la vie.

    Better to bitch about what the money’s being wasted I’d posit.

    • Marty G 5.1

      ah, the old ‘it’s corrupt but I don’t care’ play

    • Chris 5.2

      Lot’s of people ‘game the trough’ in all sorts of ways – David F’s gaming behaviour is pretty much the same as the gaming behaviour beneficiaries engage in – it’s just that David F’s covers his in ‘private enterprise’ morality.

      It’s just that when you lose the ethics of gaming the trough that you run into trouble. Let’s just say that The Standard is David F’s best friend right now.

  6. Zaphod Beeblebrox 6

    The fact that he’s so well known, and upfront about his allegiences actually counts him in a big way when tendering for government work. I’d be much more worried about contracts handled out for peole who we aren’t openly aware of their allegiences but who donate to parties and have informal chats with ministers etc…

    He’s unlikely to ever land a really big contract simply because it would be so politically hot.

    One advantage of living in a small country.

  7. Daveo 7

    It’s not about the size of the contract, it’s about the conflict of interest.

    For the benefit of the righties, this is the crucial point:

    “Add to that the fact that David was also likely to be running political polling on the issue for National and was engaged in spinning the Supercity on his high profile blog and certain questions of conflict of interest start to arise.”

    He’s polling for the Department of Internal Affairs on the Supercity at the same time as he’s polling for (and no doubt advising) the ruling party on the Supercity. At the same time as that he’s promoting the ruling party’s position on the Supercity in public, including on his high profile blog.

    That’s the conflict of interest. Not whether it was $9,300 or $10,300.

    • Tigger 7.1

      The right doesn’t appear to understand the term ‘conflict of interest’. Just look at Key and the mining shares…

  8. vto 8

    I may be missing something, but any polling done for a govt dept must be publicly available I imagine. As such does the issue of misuse of that polling not disappear?

    just being the devils advocate…

    • Marty G 8.1

      it could be oia-ed. That was the plan last I heard.

      • Pascal's bookie 8.1.1

        …but you can’t oia Curia’s work for the National Party, and unless you knew about it, why would you oia govt depts to see if they had done polling on issues…

  9. randal 9

    $9999 may not be much for someone like david farrar but it would be a heck of a lot for a solo mother say if it is okay to mention them these days without being shouted down but $9999 X 10 IS A HUNDRED GRAND AND NOT TO BE SNEEZED AT BY ANYONE.
    and furthermore and especailly to lookiss the question is not how much labour paid but how much dpf is getting.

    • lukas 9.1

      Randal, where did you get the x10 from? Making things up again?

      Have you ever run a business?
      Have you ever been employed by someone?
      Do you realise that income is not the same as profit in a business?

      • Lanthanide 9.1.1

        Do you have a point?

        It seems to be that because it’s not 100% profit, it’s ok. Which is actually missing the entire point of this discussion – he shouldn’t be getting even 1 cent in this manner.

        • lukas

          Just for clarification, do you also wish to exclude the following people from earning money from working for the Government…

          William Grafton, Alice Kan, Andrea Kan, Stephen Mills, John Utting, Stephen Dudding and Gavin White?

          • IrishBill

            Strikes me that’s enough people to be able to run public sector and political polling with a reasonable separation of the two. When there’s only one person doing the analysis I’m not so sure.

            • lukas

              Are you aware of how many people are doing the analysis at Curia?

              • IrishBill

                As far as I’m aware it’s just DPF.

              • Crikey, and with his number skills

              • lukas

                “As far as I’m aware it’s just DPF.”

                So there could be a number of analysts running the numbers.

              • Lanthanide

                Unlikely, given that $9,300 would not go very far in paying wages of multiple people.

              • Gosman


                “Curia currently employs 38 staff. We provide a friendly work environment and have an experienced team. We pay above market rates and have low staff turnover.”

                So how do you know it is only David Farrar doing the analysis out of that total of 38 people?

              • lukas

                “Unlikely, given that $9,300 would not go very far in paying wages of multiple people.”

                Keep up Lanthanide, according to both Randal and Chris, Curia is making anywhere from 57-100K…

                So, because you know from IB’s source that Curia might be doing one poll for Internal Affairs worth 9.3K, you know that DPF is the only analyst at Curia… cool.

              • Gosman

                Anyone got anything to support IrishBill’s view that of the 38 people employed at Curia David Farrar is the only one actually doing data analysis?

                • lprent

                  You’re talking absolute bullshit. It is a market research company doing phone polling. Almost all of the people employed there will be phoners and phone supervisors. It is a SMALL workforce for a phone canvassing company (and I’ve seen a few).

                  It would not surprise me that in the 38 nominal employees, there are only a few people employed fulltime, and even fewer doing analysis.

                  Now prove me wrong….

                  • Gosman

                    Why don’t one of you simple go and ask David Farrar about all this, including who does his analysis, instead of throwing around all sorts of allegations based on nothing more than some casual conversations and what you ‘think’ (I use the term loosely) might be occuring?

              • lukas

                “Anyone got anything to support IrishBill’s view that of the 38 people employed at Curia David Farrar is the only one actually doing data analysis?”

                He heard from a “reliable unnamed source” whilst at the corner dairy.

                • lprent

                  Which means you still have no idea of any information refuting Irish’s proposition…. A bit weak. In fact really weak.

                  • Gosman


                    IrishBill made the allegation that David Farrar does all the analysis of the data for Curia himself.

                    Now you seem to be big on Scientific concepts lprent so when someone makes a claim where does the burden of proof fall upon usually?

                    All I have done is point out that Curia is not a small one man operation as suggested by some.

                    • The Voice of Reason

                      Hmmm, who’s the union for call centre workers? The EPMU? Perhaps they should look at a recruitment drive at Curia. Presumably Farrar has them all on the minimum wage, so they’d probably be ripe for the picking.

                      No matter how many people Curia employ to make the calls that bring in the data, the analysis is done by Farrar. It is his insight that the Nats (and the suck ups at IA ) are paying for out of our tax dollars.

                    • lukas []

                      Oh the “presumptions” you chaps make…. “Presumably Farrar has them all on the minimum wage, so they’d probably be ripe for the picking.”

                      Simple to check really…from http://www.curia.co.nz/aboutus.html

                      “We pay above market rates and have low staff turnover.”

                      Incidentally, don’t you think if he was making as much money as Randal and co seem to think he is on the tax payers, he would update and upgrade the site… references to NZ Idol…. ???

                    • don’t worry Lukas, it’ll all come out in the inquiry

                    • Outofbed []

                      He doesn’t need to upgrade his site
                      not with all those tax payer funded contracts an all

                    • The Voice of Reason []

                      Thanks, Lukas. I did look it up and found this interesting paragraph:

                      “David, a member of the Market Research Society of New Zealand, has over ten years experience in all aspects of polling. He has managed everything from question design to results analysis for over 200 polls, including a significant number for recent New Zealand Prime Ministers.”

                      In the last ten years there have only been 2 PM’s and I bet he didn’t do a lot of work for H1. Sloppy John isn’t recent, he’s current. And even if ‘over ten years’ means eleven or twelve years that’s still only 3 possible PM’s including Clark and Key. Neither Shipley nor Bolger were in politics in the last decade, so the chances of them using his services are pretty slim. I can’t think of any other ‘recent’ PM’s who are politically active.

                      So if he’s bullshitting on his companies website, how accurate is his polling? And how can he be trusted with taxpayer money?

                    • Hoist, meet petard 😆

                    • lukas []

                      I would guess that he is referring to Shipley there, it is public knowledge that DPF worked for/with her.

                    • felix []

                      How many PMs is that? (supposed to be in reply to lukas, sorry)

                    • lukas []

                      Key, Shipley and possibly Bolger (not 100% sure on him). If you visit the site you will notice that it has not been updated for a while (there are references to Ben in NZ Idol, can’t recall when NZ idol last aired but I am pretty sure that it hasn’t been around for a couple of years).

                    • Most revealing and encouraging how much effort Gosman (21 comments and counting) and Lukas (23 comments and counting) are spending trying to put this fire out.

                    • Gosman []


                      I love a good argument based on nothing more than insinuation and innuendo.

                      Perhaps I am really David Farrar in disguise, or perhaps I’m one of his 37 telephone operators based in Manilla, or perhaps I’m IrishBills ‘mysterious’ inside source for all this information.


                    • I’m not sure that having a website unchanged since 2004 is anything to proud of Lukas! But it does eliminate Key from the reckoning, so its Shipley and, maybe, Bolger. Doesn’t change the fact that he claims, here in 2010, to have worked for recent PM’s when, clearly, thats bollocks.

                      Accuracy is a vital part of polling and so is ethical behaviour. This from the MSRNZ/AMRO website:

                      “AMRO member companies co-operate in compiling industry data, establishing professional and ethical standards for the industry and in communicating with the users of research as well as the general public.’

                      Funnily enough, despite the Curia website making the claim that they are a member of the above organisation, the list of members doesn’t include Curia. Curia-ser and curia-ser.

                    • make sure you get a screengrab of that site before it changes tonight

                    • Gosman []

                      You guy’s are truly, truly sad.

                      Have you checked to see if perhaps David Farrar may have blogged about this work for Internal Affairs he did for Curia or are you afraid that you might get rabies or some other communicable disease from Kiwiblog?

                    • Don’t be coy. If he’s blogged on it, provide a link.

                    • how many fires do you plan on starting today Gosman?

                      David Farrar’s conflict of interest

                    • Still there Gosman? 🙁
                      Don’t run away now, we’re having so much fun!

                    • Gosman []

                      What is your point here ‘the sprout’?

                      Is it that there must be something behind all this because someone on a Labour Party blog has posted similar ridiculous comments to yours?

                      Just because you have other people agreeing with your position doesn’t make it somehow less silly and it is nonsensical to claim it does.

                    • The Voice of Reason []

                      People who agree with Sprout’s position: lots. People who agree with Gosman’s position: … Hello, anyone out there? Helloooooooooooo?

                      Still waiting for you to provide the link to Farrar’s post on his work for Internal Affairs or were you hoping it’d just magic itself into existance?

                    • logie97 []

                      wow. readers of this site must have noted that most postings have around 50 comments. Mention the Penguin here, or question his behaviour, and his lapdogs swell those numbers to Kiwiblog size – 160 and rising. David Farrar opines on everything from education standards, to the Rugby World Cup and now seems to have a ‘comfortably-too-regular” spot on the Panel on Afternoons on RNZ”. (One wonders whether Crosby/Textor have helped organise this.) David Farrar courts comment. He therefore deserves all the scrutiny he attracts.

                    • Marty G []

                      We typically don’t have the 100+ threads that Farrar gets but we have about as many comments over all. We’ve had 340 today, he’s had 350.

                    • Whoops, I withdraw the last paragraph. Found an entry under Farrar.

                    • felix []

                      So which is it, lukas – a current website which refers to Key as PM or a 2-years-out-of-date one which doesn’t?

                    • BLiP []

                      Wouldn’t it have been good to have that paid parental leave Labour had up the pipeline for right about now?

                      (No personal offence intended – just having a wee dig. Hope mum and the baby are both doing well. Have you chosen a name . . . not John, I hope)

                    • lukas []

                      heh! I work for myself so that is not an issue… the young one is my temporary sales manager, just don’t tell the labour inspector! Yeah, we’ve called him Micah, both Mum and bub are well and my sleep is not too disturbed 😀

                    • lprent

                      Irish asked a question, as far as I can see from moderating comments (where I often don’t see context).

                      You’re making the assertion that he is not the only analyst – so prove it.

                    • Gosman []

                      Irishbill did not ask a question he was responding to one and made a claim.

                      “Are you aware of how many people are doing the analysis at Curia?” – Lukas

                      “As far as I’m aware it’s just DPF.” – IrishBill

                      I think it is fair to ask why IrishBill feels that David Farrar is the only analyst at Curia given the above exchange.

                    • The Voice of Reason []

                      IB said ‘as far as he is aware’, Gosman. If you are aware of any analysts other than the bullshitter Farrar on the payroll, please spill.

                      It would not surprise me if he does have one or two other people helping sift through the data. Maybe a stat student or two for a few hours, something like that. But his website says he’s the one doing the analysis. Not that his website can be trusted, natch.

                      Pretty obviously, the majority of the staff in outgoing call centres like his are the telephone staff making the calls. And while Curia is based in Welly, there is nothing to suggest that those workers are employed here in New Zealand. Not hard to pay ‘above market rates’ in Manila or Bombay, eh?.

                    • Gosman []

                      So where on his website does it state he’s the ONLY one doing the analysis?

                      Just because IrishBill qualified his statement by adding ‘As far as I am aware’ doesn’t excuse him from being pulled up on making statements such as the one he made. Just take the following comment below:

                      ‘Anybody who votes for a left leaning party is Satan’s spawn, as far as I am aware’

                      Now I’m pretty sure you would agree that statement is completely unsubstantiated (largely anyway ;-)), much like IrishBill’s comments on Curia.

                    • IrishBill []

                      I was told by a reliable source last year that Farrar was the only one doing the analysis (this may have changed but I doubt it). I’ve also seen the companies office records that show curia is being run out of David’s apartment which inclines me to think he does the work at home by himself.

                      Put words in my mouth again and you’re banned for a month.

                    • Gosman []

                      Ummmmmmm…..what words have I supposedly put in your mouth other than tongue in cheek and advertised as such?

                      BTW I would suggest your ‘sources’ are not as reliable as you think they are. Of course this all could be cleared up if someone took the time to FIND OUT.

              • Well I do so look forward to all of these questions being brought out in the open for a nice honest and transparent public accountability session.

                Won’t that be excellent Lukas and Gosman!

                I’m sure your government and its mates have nothing to hide.

  10. Pat 10

    Farrar should run Kiwiblog anonomously. Call himself Zeus or Rachel or Aussie-Dave. Conflict of interest solved.

    • Tigger 10.1

      He could never do that. It’s clear he thrives on putting himself into the equation. Why else would KB be full of posts about what boobies he thinks are pretty or what he did on his overseas holiday?

      • IrishBill 10.1.1

        The conflict of interest isn’t so much because of his blog as his position as National’s chief pollster.

  11. Gosman 11

    Once again, as I had no luck getting a reply the first time.

    Is the asertion here that the Minister of Internal affairs directed the Department to employ Curia?

    If so then where is the evidence, (not asertion) that this is the case?

    If not then is the implication thay at least Internal Affairs, (and possibly other Ministries as well), has ditched political neutrality and is now activiely supporting the National party behind the scenes?

    • Pascal's bookie 11.1

      AFAICT the assertion is that there is a conflict of interest.

    • IrishBill 11.2

      Firstly, don’t demand answers like a child our you’ll be put on the naughty step like one.

      Secondly, no. The assertion here is that Farrar was doing work for internal affairs that creates a conflict of interest with his party political role. How he got that work can only be speculated on.

      • Gosman 11.2.1

        So are there rules against people having this conflict of interest?

        If not then do you want the Government to put them in place?

        • IrishBill

          I don’t really care. I’ve brought the matter to the attention of our readers and now they can make up their own minds. You do have a mind of your own don’t you gosman?

    • lprent 11.3

      Is the asertion here that the Minister of Internal affairs directed the Department to employ Curia?

      I thought that the post was quite clear – no-one knows. There is no requirement to tender. What is the purchase decision process when it isn’t put out for tender?

      But what is interesting is that a lot of less than $10k contracts can add up and there appears to be no real way to know what is going on. Irish was suggesting that this is an area that requires some more transparency particularly in this case. David also does political polling for the main governing party. I’d be concerned (amongst other things) with the possibility of contra deals.

      So it is really up to the people letting the contracts to show that no such deals are being made. Seems reasonable to me.

  12. big bruv 12

    Where was the concern for this type of behaviour when Clark was running the country?

    • Tigger 12.1

      Farrar doing research work for a Labour led government wouldn’t be a conflict of interest…

    • Bright Red 12.2

      so, you’re concerned now, eh? BB. good to see.

    • lprent 12.3

      Point to an example…

      • Jared 12.3.1

        Its a nice line to run, although the same level of scrutiny was never placed on Labour when they were in power. The right blogosphere doesn’t have ardent activists like the standard, they have bloggers like Farrar and Cactus Kate, but they didn’t usually spend their time trying to dig any info they could on labour to the same extent. I.e expenses, and I should note that Phil Goff while critical of Bill English for double dipping told the public that he was in the process of selling his apartment he was renting out in Wellington yet a quick search of Mansfield Towers Limited on the companies register and the percuniary interests register shows he is still a shareholding tenant and has been for quite some time while still claiming an allowance for a property from Parliamentary Services afaik. Double dipping much? Infact Trev Mallard banned me from RedAlert for even broaching the topic, I had to get Chris Hipkins to unban me, yet they were and still are happy to attack Bill English.

  13. ghostwhowalksnz 13

    Just under the $10,000 limit . How convenient.
    I bet the bid was structured that way – amount many others.

    Pardon me for asking , but what is ‘internal Affairs’ doing in local Body matters. There is a Ministry of Local Government for this.

  14. Chris Diack 14

    What a beat up.

    The workers electronic paper attacking someone for trying to earn a living.

    Here are the known facts:

    1. Mr Farrar runs a business (Curia) as a pollster.

    2. One client is the National Party. This is notorious.

    3. Another client appears to the DIA.

    Where is the conflict?

    Is the Standard suggesting that any pollster who does work for a political party cannot get government contracts? If that’s the case then that would have previously ruled out UMR, Labour’s pollster which is a good polling company.

    Surely the issue is the quality of the work not which other clients a polling company might have?

    Why is the Standard attacking the Minister of Internal Affairs why would he be polling on the new Auckland Council?

    Surely Curia would be doing work for the Local Government unit of the DIA and the Minister of Local Government is Rodney Hide.

    Again where is the conflict of interest?

    • IrishBill 14.1

      Aren’t you the guy that tried to steal the labour party’s house? May I politely suggest you’re in no position to lecture on ethics or conflict of interest.

    • After the continuous beat ups the right engaged in over the past few years it it a bit rich to say that there is nothing in this story.

      So that Chris understands I will rephrase in simple terms.

      It seems that Farrar is being paid to do market research by a Government Department and the information is being used by the nats for political purposes. Our hard earned tax dollars are paying for party political research.


  15. And there’s Jenny Shipley and Michelle Boag’s (who is also John Bank’s campaign advisor) company Momentum doing all the recruiting for the Supercity upper management.
    More jobs for the mates.
    More seriously anti-democratic conflict of interest.
    This is one corrupt administration.

    • Gosman 15.1

      Are you claiming that someone has broken the law or even breached some sort of ethics rules?

      • the sprout 15.1.1

        What do you think?
        You’d be fine with that kind of arrangement if it was a Labour government hiring a former Labour PM and a currently politically active former Party President to recruit local body executives for the county’s biggest city while it undergoes one of the most momentous guttings of its democratic processes?
        You’d be squaling like a stuck pig because it stinks.

  16. Chris Diack 16


    Breath deeply and think.

    First, the Nats have plenty of your taxes to pay for polling as does Labour. The advantage of this Parliamentary Service funded polling is that it remains private to the Parliamentary Unit of the Party concerned. The questions can be more pointed more focused on political leaders, ask about policy preferences and check on proposals for future policy.

    However in this case it appears to be a Government department getting the polling done. It’s not conceivably of much strategic value because you and every other political party can access the polling report.

    I suspect the poll is about what residents know and don’t know about the upcoming Auckland Council. It’s likely to be directed towards information deficiencies. It might be used to help shape a communications plan so that Aucklanders have a better idea of what is coming up.

    Accordingly the questions wont be politically pointed enough to provide much value to the Nats or anyone else for that matter.

    Again where is the conflict? A pollster has multiple clients some of whom regard the information provided as political sensitive. Again. So what?

    Where’s the conflict.

    Isn’t Farrar entitled to earn a living?

    • Gosman 16.1

      Apparently he’s not entitled to earn a living from any Government sources if he is a National Party supporter even if by doing so he breaches no current laws and/or regulations.

      • felix 16.1.1

        Any thoughts on the conflict of interest?

        • Gosman

          Are there some conflict of interest rules he has breached then?

          Would you like a Government to introduce them at some stage?

          So what exactly would these rules state, that if your company does work for a political party that you cannot do work for any State agency going forward?

          • felix

            Do you know what a “conflict of interest” is Gosman?

            • the sprout

              Clearly not.
              And despite his taste for PR-driven government, he doesn’t seem to be able to recognise PR poison. How sad.

            • Gosman

              Ummmmm….. I asked you if he has broken some sort of Conflict of Interest rules. There are many professions that have them e.g. this is why firms employ ‘Chinese walls’ for some activity. Has he breached any rules or regulations on conflict of interest here that you know of?

              If he has not, would you like a future Governemtn to set up some rules that would mean that what he does would breach some rules?

              Quite straightforward and simple set of questions for you there Felix so even you might be able to give me a straight answer.

              • felix

                Perhaps I’ll get back to about those distracting questions about rules after the rest of us have finished discussing the conflict of interest.

                Probably not though. I’m really only interested in the conflict of interest.

            • Pat

              Is this a new debating style? Should eveyone end their posts with a question? In which case if I provide an answer then logically I must have all the answers? Or since the questions are clearly just point-scoring, shouldn’t they be re-framed as statements so they don’t become annoying as fuck? And so the rest of us reading the thread don’t get a headache?

              • Gosman

                Do you normally have problems with answering questions or just the ones that you might have difficulty answering without look like a schmuck?

              • The Courts, of the judiciary and public opinion, will decide soon enough.
                Then you’ll have your answer Gos

          • lprent

            Gosman – who knows what the rules and procedures are. Isn’t it going to be interesting to find out. Isn’t it interesting that Irish found out via a social conversation.

  17. felix 17

    It doesn’t surprise me that some of the righties here can’t see conflicts of interest and potential for corruption – they just don’t know what to look for.

    Someone signs a picture for charity though, that’s corrupt, eh guys? That’s what corruption looks like, right?

    And who spent the last ten years convincing them that that’s what corruption looks like? Oh, yeah.

  18. Bill 18

    All is fair in love and (class) war…

  19. Daveski 19

    And in order to underline their commitment to transparency and open govt, the anonymous posters at the Standard agree to detail their party allegiances and sources of income.

    What’s interesting to me is that tactics of opposition that we so derided here prior to the election (that was only lost because of the NZH) are practised here regularly.

    That is personal attacks on the popular PM.

    Attacking those associated with the party.

    Hell, there’s even flip flops in Labour’s policies since they’ve been in opposition.

    So IB, you tell us who pays your wages and what party connections you have then perhaps we could discuss Farrar’s transparent links.

    • IrishBill 19.1

      Apart from a brief period on the dole as a young man a long time ago I’ve never been paid by the taxpayer either directly or indirectly. My affiliations are pretty clear. Your turn.

      • Daveski 19.1.1

        Ditto income.

        In terms of party allegiances, it varies with age and responsibility (and I could add wisdom :)).

        I did once vote for the Gordon Dinosaur Party which indicates dissatisfaction with all parties.

        My point is that Farrar is quite open with his affiliations nor is he anonymous which is in contrast with many of the attacks on him. Likewise, something that is transparent and legal is most likely not corruption.

    • Bright Red 19.2

      Please point out examples of “personal attacks” and explain why the popularity or otehrwise of the PM matters to the legitimacy of such attacks.

      • Daveski 19.2.1

        If I need to point out the personal attacks (without quotes please), you obviously need to read a little more wider. It’s politics and fair game but no different to the type of attacks on Clark which were derided here.

        The popularity issue related to Key is one that many here have issues with, but not me.

        As an example of the problems the left have with their messages, on the one hand Key is the Do Nothing minister. On the other hand, Key has a secret agenda that half of the pages in the NZH support (that’s the bad half). The good pages pine for Clark’s return and miraculously on her reappearance, we will no longer have the worst recession since the 1930’s because National caused this recesssion (that’s part of their secret strategy) even tho they were in opposition. NZ has never gone into recession under Labour … that’s just another of the MSM/NZH/MTV conspiracies.

        • felix

          no different to the type of attacks on Clark which were derided here

          Oh you do make me laugh Daveski. You must mean all those attacks on Key’s family, his sexuality, his dentistry etc.


        • felix

          on the one hand Key is the Do Nothing minister. On the other hand, Key has a secret agenda

          Why is this so hard to fathom, Dave?

  20. felix 20

    Of course the elephant in the room is what the Nats really pay Farrar to do.

    • lukas 20.1

      You are not seriously suggesting on The Standard that a blogger is being paid by a political party are you? As far as I know, only Toad and Frog come into that category.

      • BLiP 20.1.1

        There are many forms of payment – some taxable, some not.

      • felix 20.1.2


        We know that Farrar is a blogger and we know he is paid by the Nats, so the answer to your question is uncontroversial.

        The controversial question is “what are they really paying him to do?”

      • lukas 20.1.3

        Both your comments would be funny if you weren’t being serious. Time to go see Trav for some hats boys.

      • The Voice of Reason 20.1.4

        You’re clearly having a bad day, Lukas. Farrar is pretty open about his paid links with his preferred party. I’d also suggest that there are a few others anonymously doing the same or similar. Tim Ellis springs to mind. He may not have a blog, but he is clearly fully employed to comment on blogs pushing the party line.

        But, to bring it back to the point of the post, which is the obvious conflict of interest, this seems to me to be a dodgy arrangement at best and pretty close to a bribe or backhander at worst.

        But whatever legality or otherwise, it’s clear that Farrar is a humbug and a hypocrite. Well done, IB.

        • felix

          I’d also suggest that there are a few others anonymously doing the same or similar.Tim Ellis springs to mind. He may not have a blog, but he is clearly fully employed to comment on blogs pushing the party line.

          I wonder how many of them work for Curia?

          • Gosman

            Apparently David Farrar does all the work at Curia according to IrishBill ;-).

            • IrishBill

              I’m pretty certain the 38 staff he claims are casual phone pollers (mostly young nats). According to the companies office his office address is also his home address so unless he’s got a whole lot of guys working out of his apartment I’d say he’s doing all of the analysis.

              • A mixture of young nats and some rather attractive school girls, the beauty of which is they never seem to understand the political sensitivity of what they are doing, and all too happy to talk about it to an inquiring pol sci student.

            • felix

              Irish didn’t say that. He said as far as he knew Farrar was doing all the analysis.

              I don’t recommend putting words in his mouth.

              edit: beat me to it.

              • Gosman

                Did you not notice the 😉 icon felix. My comment was tongue in cheek.

                I’ll try to telegraph that a little more clearly for you going forward 😉 .

                BTW I just made another tongue in cheek statement in the last sentence above.

              • felix

                Oh I got it. It’s just really stupid to base your attempt at wit on something which was never said.

                And doubly so if you realised it at the time.

  21. lukas 21

    “. He may not have a blog, but he is clearly fully employed to comment on blogs pushing the party line. ”

    A bit like Felix and BLiP, they seem to comment a fair amount.

  22. I’m not sure that having a website unchanged since 2004 is anything to proud of Lukas! But it does eliminate Key from the reckoning, so its Shipley and, maybe, Bolger. Doesn’t change the fact that he claims, here in 2010, to have worked for recent PM’s when, clearly, thats bollocks.

    Accuracy is a vital part of polling and so is ethical behaviour. This from the MSRNZ/AMRO website:

    “AMRO member companies co-operate in compiling industry data, establishing professional and ethical standards for the industry and in communicating with the users of research as well as the general public.”

    Funnily enough, despite the Curia website making the claim that they are a member of the above organisation, the list of members doesn’t include Curia. Curia-ser and curia-ser.

  23. BLiP 24

    I like to remind myself, from time to time, of Martin Luther’s description of the Curia – he said it was the synagogue of Satan.

  24. peterthepeasant 25

    Surely the whole point is Hooton and O’Sullivan “outing” Farrar?
    What is going on here?
    Those three in cahoots spells trouble.

  25. peterthepeasant 26

    When both Hooton AND O’Sullivan “out” Farrar something is being set up.
    Could be Farrar undercut them.

  26. peterthepeasant 27

    When both Hooton AND O’Sullivan “out” Farrar one has to suspect a
    “set up” or perhaps “sour grapes”.

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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago

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