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In praise of David Cunliffe

Written By: - Date published: 11:25 am, December 5th, 2011 - 131 comments
Categories: david cunliffe, david shearer, Economy, energy - Tags:

I enjoyed Jenny’s piece the other day on David Shearer’s leadership abilities. His skill at taking the ball and running with it, and doing what he thinks is right. I want to similarly praise David Cunliffe for his leadership in economic thinking. God knows we need someone who gets the problems and the solutions. Cunliffe brings that understanding in droves.

I’m a Green voter but I’m under no illusion that in the next leftwing government, there will be a Labour Prime Minister and Labour’s outlook will be crucial to shaping how the government faces problems.

Watching Q+A, first the Davids contesting the Labour leadership and then the global economic crisis, I was struck by how inter-related the issues are. It’s clear National has no new ideas for the economy. What’s they’re doing now, they planned 5 years ago – tax cuts 1st term, asset sales 2nd. Labour needs to lead the new economic thinking, as it always has done. So which David would do it?

I think either Shearer or Cunliffe will be an excellent PM come 2014. Unlike David Parker, both of them have that spark that makes them PM material. But I’m looking for more than the ability to win the Prime Ministership. I’m looking for someone with big ideas for once they get there. What I’m looking for is a leader who gets the big problems facing the country and at least knows the directions we have to look in for solutions.

On Q+A, the talking heads wisely intoned that new thinking is needed. They talked about how any economic change in New Zealand needs to be led by the government – the builder of infrastructure, 35% of the economy, and the only player with the access to the big amounts of capital needed to undertake really big projects. And then 2 of the 3 (Jon Johansson and John Tamihere) endorsed Shearer for the leadership (Helen Kelly abstained).

I find it surprising that people are talking about Shearer as the face of change. In fact, he is the old guard’s man now they’ve realised Parker couldn’t win. I’m concerned that Shearer would be led by the people who put him there – who have proven good at keeping their own power but don’t have a stellar record on new thinking, or on winning elections. With only 2 and a half years in the job (Key had had 4) Shearer’s clearly still green and doesn’t seem to providing much in the way of new thinking.

Now, check out this from Cunliffe in a debate with English last month:

“let’s get real, we can’t dig enough coal, we can’t milk enough cows to lift New Zealand’s income to the level we need to aspire to. The bigger game is investing in clean technology in transitioning to a low-carbon, highly-efficient future. We face fossil fuel shortages, we face oil shortages around the world, and that will put up the price of energy in New Zealand. Energy in New Zealand should be abundant. We are 80-odd percent renewable in our electricity system that Bill English wants to sell to foreign multi-nationals. We’re headed to 90% and I think we should aim for 100%. And we would be one of the luckiest countries in t he world if we could do that and add in more smarts and technology. But being an extractive, low-wage, low-value economy is taking New Zealand in the wrong direction. And, what’s worse, National’s paving the road to obscurity by selling down our assets”

Cunliffe was the only senior politician talking about the actual economic/energy realities we are facing (and placing the problem with asset sales within its true strategic context).

When you look at Labour’s big policies at the last election – capital gains tax, superannuation reform, savings, monetary police, R&D – they’re all about the long-term, fixing big problems because that’s what government ought to bloody well do, and they’re all from the finance spokesperson. Cunliffe is actually the face of change.

Cunliffe’s problem is that it’s not just the old guard backing Shearer – various members of the Labour Ulterior, press gallery figures, and the Right have put their names behind him too. I guess the worry is that merely getting the big job might disappoint enough expectations, confound enough narratives, to put Cunliffe on the backfoot and written-off by the media from day 1.

I don’t know. What I care about is a sustainable and fair economy. Cunliffe’s the one thinking about how to get us there. Whoever gets the leadership, Cunliffe needs to have a big role in setting Labour’s direction.

Because in 2014, we’re going to be another 3 years past peak oil, we’re going to be in another faux recovery after another oil spike/financial crisis recession, we’re going to have lost another 135,000 people to Australia at last year’s rate, Christchurch will probably be hollowing out rather than rebuilding, we’re going to be poorer and more indebted as a nation, and we’re going to need someone who can look past the worn out neoliberal and Keynesian playbooks for answers.

131 comments on “In praise of David Cunliffe”

  1. Timemaster 1

    Did anyone else just hear John Pagani bagging Cunliffe on Nine to Noon? If it’s anything to do with rumours he’s planning to work for Shearer, he should bloody well say so.

    • Agreed Timemaster.  Pagani is part of the old guard, Goff’s speechwriter.  

      I said in the post about denationalizing that Pagani is scaremongering about Cunliffe.  He said in a recent post, applying the most possible spin, that Cunliffe has talked about “forced” renationalisation of the power company shares.

      Regrettably this not quite what David said.  He has talked about how he would “look to buy back the assets”.   On Q&A he said the following:

      “SoE partial privatisation no.  I don’t stand for a paler shade of blue.  I want to look down the barrel and say this, if the Government is going to precious state assets then we will not rule out renationalising some of them.

      Espinar:  ”You would buy them back?”

      Cunliffe:  ”We should look very hard at that.”

      Note that Cunliffe only committed to look to buy the assets back.  And I agree use of regulatory powers could affect return on the assets.

      Good spin by Pagani though.  Cameron must be giving him lessons. 

    • the sprout 1.2

      Pagani is the essence of the failed old guard. he played a big part in Goff’s failure

      • pollywog 1.2.1

        …and hes got a stupid beardy thing in his blogger pic on stuff.

        • John Pagani

          Cheers. I’ve got a stupid beardy thing in real life. My children say it makes me look like a goat.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        he played a big part in Goff’s failure

        Yep, he was the idiot telling Goff that Labour should be more like NAct and it’s what Goff did and it’s that, IMO, that led to another 10% of the population not voting.

        • Anne

          Agreed. They tried to mould Goff after Key’s personna – even down to the ‘smile and waves’. Key got away with it, Goff came across as cheesy and insincere. I found it excruciatingly embarrassing. Phil should never have allowed it to happen.

        • John Pagani

          I don’t think I ever said ‘be more like NAct’, although a few people said that’s what I said.

          I did point out that the reason National is popular is that a lot of people like some things they do, and we need to recognise that.

          We can’t pretend we can simply package things better.

          Labour’s values are popular, but we need to ask why people are rejecting Labour, and to me you don’t get very far by analysing rejection as only a matter of presentation. I don’t believe most voters are being fooled.

          But that’s not the same as bending policy to whatever is popular, or adopting their policy platform.

          • Colonial Viper

            I don’t believe most voters are being fooled.

            Really? Explain to me how so many people who earn less than $60,000 p.a. are voting National (and against their own best interests) without “being fooled?

      • John Pagani 1.2.3

        By the way, just to clarify – was it you who wrote the day before the election that you were voting for NZ First?

        • the sprout

          that’ right John. can’t say i enjoyed it but i’m glad i did.
          i guess just like you, i can’t say i’ve always voted for Labour.
          unlike you though, i’ve never cost them votes either.

    • Cactus Kate 1.3

      Pagani attended the Hooton corporate function for Shearer on the Sunday yes.

      • Conditional 1.3.1

        That’s interesting. Pagani and Shearer…any other supposed “lefties” you spoke to at the do?

      • Damos 1.3.2

        So this is interesting… Shearer is clearly not ready right? He goes to this party, writes his speech on the plane (cute) and then he is in boots and all. I don’t like Mallard much, so my string of logic says, Shearer is the interim candidate and in a year when the polls haven’t shifted much, Shearer falls on his sword for … Robertson? 

        Why is Robertson on this right-wing ticket do you think? Cunliffe seems pretty left and progressive, I thought that’s where Robertson was too, or am I wrong?

        So many questions!!  

    • John Pagani 1.4

      Hi. I don’t believe I ‘bagged Cunliffe’, and I wouldn’t because I rate the guy highly.

      I criticised the position on renationalising assets, because I think it’s important and it’s my job. I also had a different take on the debates.

      And – I’m not planning to work for anyone other than my existing clients, but if you know someone who wants to offer me work, I would be delighted to hear from them.

      • daveo 1.4.1

        But your existing clients are mainly the Labour leader’s office aren’t “they”, John?

        • John Pagani


          [Deleted…badgering commentors to ‘out’ themselves is not acceptable. See your comment below….RL]

          My existing clients are people who work hard to save the lives of other people, people who are working in corners of the globe to end poverty, and people who are trying hard to make a better world. Among others.

          • Colonial Viper

            Yeah, and Lloyd Blankfein said he’s doing God’s Work, through Goldman Sachs.

            [And that was unhelpful CV. It’s poor form not to accept what people say about themselves on face value, unless you have evidence to the contrary….RL]

            • Colonial Viper

              Fair enough comment RL, it must be my cynicism taking off.

              Bear in mind I’m not doubting the veracity of John’s statement, from a certain point of view.

              Because when I read John’s claims he could very well be working as PR for Monsanto, Exxon Mobil or Lockheed Martin based on his comment. Each one of those multinationals has a conceivable moral justification in making those exact same claims: that they are indeed saving lives, ending poverty and “trying hard to make a better world” (at a price). Selling GM crop seeds, over-priced fuel to hospitals in third world countries or making cruise missiles to blow up ‘terrorists’.

      • mickysavage 1.4.2

        John you seem to be “mistaken” on Cunliffe’s position on renationalisation. Care to address this?

  2. Bored 2

    How the fekk did it get to this stage? We have the media (MSM) driving some imagined two headed race for Labour Party leadership with “opposing factions”……

    We also have David versus David….plus supporting deputies and cast….who is shagging this cat? The MSM or the Labour caucus?

  3. Damos 3

    Pagani? Lol, he’s the guy that steered them towards trying to win back white, middle-class men, you know, that Labour strong-hold.  If he and Mallard are backing David Shearer, then I feel bad for him as he won’t last long with their knives around. 

    Let’s all be honest, we like David Shearer, nice guy and clearly has talent to burn, but if he were honest, on day one… can he take on National? He may appear like John Key, the bloke, but if Key isn’t there in two years and it’s Joyce then the media will crucify Shearer and so will National.

    My fear is that if Shearer becomes the leader because everyone thinks he’s so neat-o and Mallard is pulling all the strings with Pagani doing the communication… not only will David Shearer get knifed (and that must not happen because he is too worthwhile), Labour loses AGAIN and not just lose but lucky to be past 20% of the party vote. 

    I just don’t understand why they’ve spent so long trying to stop David Cunliffe from being leader, clearly he is much more left than they like but it’s not about you Trevor, or Pagani, it’s about us and I will tell you something, it’s not wonderful out here.  

    • Anthony 3.1

      So it’s probably the same couple of eggs that had Phil Goff trying to emulate John Key at the start of his term.

      Doesn’t sound too inspiring.

    • the sprout 3.2

      well put damos

    • John Pagani 3.3

      I don’t believe I have ever suggested Labour should identify its target voter as “trying to win back white, middle-class men”, although I am not opposed to white middle class men voting Labour.

      That is not the way I would ever identify a target vote.

  4. One of the biggest claimed risks with Shearer is that he will be told by others what what to do too much.

    This contrasts with the risk that Cunliffe will not listen to others enough. He’s already stating things that I’d have thought should be up to the caucus and party as well as the new leader, like who deputy is and whether to buying back assets.

    Would it make sense to appoint a temporary leader, review the past three years and the election campaign, decide on how the whole party wants to move forward, and then choose appropriate leadership?

    There’s a risk that new leadership won’t be compatible with subsequent new direction, unless that is merely dictated by leader..

    • No Pete and you are wrong.  You should give the benefit of your wisdom to the follicled one.  He needs all the help he can get.

      • pollywog 4.1.1

        Must be something in the swill at parliament that makes it hard to pull their snouts out of the trough once they’re in.

      • Pete George 4.1.2

        What if Labour have a thorough party and policy review and decide CGT is fading in favour around the world and is the wrong approach, fiscally and electorally, but Cunliffe still insists it’s what he as leader wants to keep promoting?

        Or are you suggesting the Labour caucus should just choose one person now and meekly follow the leader? Hard to know what you’re arguing becasue you don’t, all you seem to do is keep attacking the messengers you’re told to.

    • mikesh 4.2

      He said only that he would “look hard at renationalizing”. I suspect he was making no promises because such a course would need caucus support. However I feel sure he is committed to it in his own mind.

    • felix 4.3

      Can’t say I entirely disagree with Pete George.

      This whole thing is being done a bit bloody hastily for my liking. I’d much rather this fight happen in few months time after a lot more sober contemplation by all concerned.

  5. Peter 5

    Yes, I must concur with James on this. I have discussed peak oil and energy with many Labour MPs, and so far, in my view only Cunliffe gets the urgency of this issue. Hell, Michael Cullen once admonished me publicly for even bringing it up…

    As energy is critical to everything, it is for this reason that I back him for the leadership over Shearer.

    I am seeing a rather large anti-Cunliffe knocking machine emerging within the media, and the ex-Labour staffer commentariat. This is worrying if it’s being directed. One of the less pleasant legacies of the post-Rogernomics Labour party (and one that was necessary at the time) is Labour’s ability to just keep soldiering on, and ignore the need for change. It might have made sense when Prebble’s men were still hiding in every LEC, waiting for the chance to select their own, but that time has well and truly past.

    This post showcasing some of Cunliffe’s many abilities is therefore timely, and probably overdue.

    If New Zealand stands any chance at all (and on the numbers and sheer resiliency of this place, it does) it needs leaders who get energy. It is, after all, energy that determines the range of all possibilities, especially in a depleted future.

    I don’t want a leader who seems nice, even if they have contributed massively in rough spots overseas. I want a leader who gets New Zealand and its challenges first.

    There is only one choice then.

    • seeker 5.1

      @Peter 12.04am

      “As energy is critical to everything, it is for this reason that I back him for the leadership over Shearer”

      I think the Brits wish they had someone who ‘gets energy’. This from the Guardian yesterday:

      “For his part, Osborne has made it clear that short-term expediency motivates his actions: we cannot save the planet until we have saved our economy, he argues. This view is straightforward but mistaken in many ways. Consider the political issues. Exposing parts of our finest countryside, such as Chesil Beach or the Norfolk Broads, to the threat of industrial development risks alienating the strong Tory vote of these areas. David Cameron, who made much of his championship of green causes at the last election, has also been made to look foolish.

      Then there are the economic concerns. Slashing support for renewable energies and providing tax relief for heavy, energy-intensive industries will only increase Britain’s reliance on fossil fuels. By contrast, committing the country to the development of wave, tide and solar energy projects would have helped Britain wean itself from oil and gas, which we are importing at ever-increasing costs. This investment could also have helped create technologies, including tide and wave power plants, whose sales round the world could have made billions for Britain in future decades. A golden opportunity has been lost.”


  6. Bored 6

    Thank Christ Cunliffe can see the energy crisis and has a strategy to deal to it.

  7. Pete 7

    Frankly, I haven’t formed a final view on Shearer or Cunliffe. I’m flip-flopping between the two. I do think that Cunliffe did sound more sure of himself than Shearer did on the Q+A interview over the weekend so on that I’m leaning towards Cunliffe – he did have a more memorable turn of phrase – but I’m sure a bit of media training would help Shearer on that issue.

    • the sprout 7.1

      shearer has proven resistant to media training and has shown precisely no improvement in his communications skills since being installed as an MP.

      i really don’t believe shearer’s deficits can be improved with any amount of training, even if he did develop the realisation that he desperately needs it. and why would you go for a candidate so lacking in essential skills in the hope that he might improve, when cunliffe already has those proven skills in bucket loads? makes no sense. 

      • Vicks 7.1.1

        I wasn’t aware that Shearer had media training in the last few years. Are there facts we need to hear about or is it just conjecture.

        Despite what may be seen as a lack of media experience, Shearer has qualities that can’t be taught. Shearer can use his experience building teams and bringing people to the table. As much as I like Cunliffe he polarises people.

    • Damos 7.2

      Do you think it is just about media training though? I mean one on one with Key, or Joyce or English or even Brownlee… I’m not so sure.  The thing I think we are all missing is yep, Shearer dodged bullets in the middle east, but don’t I need a leader who can fire back with enough depth of knowledge about the policy AND the politics to be credible? 

    • Culchie Kev 7.3

      Agree Pete

    • dancer 7.4

      See, I do not think it is about media training. Phil Goff spoke wonderfully about the issues he was passionate about in debates and in speeches, regardless of any media training. But he was still fumbling in other areas.

      When you see Cunliffe deliver speeches, or press interviews, he speaks very eloquently because he truly believes what he says. He doesn’t have to fake any knowledge of economics, and how his policies relate to his ideology. He doesn’t have to sift for answers.

      This is exactly what Labour needs. I truly believe that there is a left-wing majority in NZ. We just have to make it so that it is easier to support Labour. That can be done by having a leader who can speak without wasting the next three years perfecting a media ‘technique’.

      I will be joining these people and supporting David Cunliffe


      [We have an author called “Dancer”, so could I request that you choose another nickname please? Thanks. r0b]

    • David 7.5

      ‘Sound bites’ said JT of Cunliffe yesterday: But in fact Cunliffe had analysis, a knowledge of how things like capital markets for PPPs work. and, based on lots of other experiences of him, truckloads more. That is not something, I think, you can learn from a little more media training. I am not saying media training wont help Shearer, but the difference here is between someone who can cut through and analytically and communicatively engage and win a high level economic debate (eg with Key, indeed with anyone) and someone who is always going to struggle with that stuff at that level.

    • AnnaLiviaPlurabella 7.6

      Media training does not give you a deep core: your upbringing and life experiences does.
      Media trading does not give you speed of thought and fast access to relevant facts: years and years of attention to the detail of ALL portfolios gives you that.

      Shearer fumbled, digressed, uumed aahed, on Close-up, on The Nation, on Q&A and tonight in Hamilton because he is plain out of his depth. See him in Palmerston tomorrow, Wellington, Chch and Dunedin. This is an embarrassment. Grant was entertaining and good in Hamilton and drove back to Auckland with Shearer. But he will be on the phone to Trev and Annette saying WTF!!!

  8. Shearer should do the right thing…

    …pull out and back Cunliffe 100% to clean out the crusty leftovers from the last millenium.

    • Damos 8.1

      Hmmm… now THAT would work, Cunliffe as leader and Shearer deputy… that would almost smell like succession planning.  Shearer should pull out and endorse Cunliffe if he is smart and is actually working for Labour and not Mallard. 

      I hope I have that right, I read a couple of times that Mallard is doing Shearer’s numbers… I would imagine he is also behind all the sniping against Cunliffe over the years.  

    • Vicks 8.2

      Leadership is about building teams, motivating teams and being the face of the organisation. All of which Shearer can do eg his work for the UN, NZer of the year, MBE etc.

      With no disrespect intended to Cunliffe (and yes I know he may have a great team in his electorate) – to a wide audience he is not gifted in this way. Media skills can be taught easily – leadership can’t.

    • Vicks 8.3

      Cunliffe was raised by the crusty leftovers from the last millenium!

  9. smokeskreen 9

    David Cunliffe is absolutely the best person to lead Labour during these difficult times. He has all of the credentials required and the background experience in Government which David Shearer does not have at the moment. Shearer could be easily manipulated by those supporting him who have more experience than he does, which would not be good for Labour.

    David Cunliffe is articulate, intelligent, an excellent debater, has all of the facts and figures at his fingertips and is certainly a match for the opposition and media. This is the type of person Labour needs to win the next election. Anything less and Labour could be consigned to the history books indefinitely. The worst thing would be for Labour to make the wrong choice and have to change leaders mid term – this would be a disaster – so get it right Labour hierachy – this is a crucial vote for the Party’s and the country’s future.

  10. Jono 10

    I would have to hold my nose to vote for a Labour Party of Mallards, Paganis and Tamaheres. Better red than dead and all that but Jaysus swept, put me in the category of voters who would prefer non-performing boofheads getting the boot by someone a big brain and some big gonads (balls, ovaries, dont care which) who can represent ‘the Other’ AND provide some meat and potatoes for working women and men.

  11. RedLogix 11

    Ok so I’ve thought about it. As with many here I like them both, but I’d go with Cunliffe. He has the track record, the communication skills and the ideas.

    A large part of me still finds this whole obssesion with a Presidential style of leadership in which the entire effort and purpose of the left gets wrapped up into one person, with all their natural foibles and limitations, plain perverse in this day and age when working together in groups is the only real way to get things done.

  12. aj 12

    Labour cannot wait for 1 year or two while Shearer gets up to speed, and he clearly has a lot to do.
    Cunnliffe is already up and running, if he fails in 2014 then Shearer will get his turn.

    (Actually I prefered Parker to either of them – a Parker/Cunnliffe team would have been impressive_

    • pollywog 12.1

      Parker reminds me of wormtail in Harry potter.

    • Anne 12.2

      Labour cannot wait for 1 year or two while Shearer gets up to speed, and he clearly has a lot to do.

      Precisely. The campaign for the 2014 election starts now. Not in a year or two’s time.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    Labour, please don’t choose Cunliffe as your leader. Unconfident, stammering Shearer is a much better bet to take on John Key. 🙂

  14. Jeremy 14

    Get behind Shearer jeez, and please do not compare shearer to key. Shearer is the people’s choice, he will steer Labour in the right direction.

    • Damos 14.1

      I think what most of us are saying though Jeremy is Labour don’t want to go Right, with Mallard and Pagani organising this. Shearer isn’t a lost cause, but he isn’t right for leadership.  Pitting another version of Key against Key is weak and when Key goes, possibly this term, who will Labour look to then.  If you’re all stuck, you could vote Green 🙂

    • pollywog 14.2

      Given the choice, the people would probably go more for Richie McCaw and Brooke Fraser as his running mate.

      • Damos 14.2.1

        Disappointing, I thought Grant Robertson had left wing credentials, he is backing Shearer and on the Mallard ticket. You lot are crazy if you vote in two MPs with less than 6 years between them. 

        Good luck to you. 

        • Jasper

          Its not for the members to decide. Its up to the 34 elected losers who apparently have all the wisdom and collective knowledge of 25,000 members.

          So what do we get? Oh, email your MP and tell them what you want.

          Fat lot of good that’ll do. The only way to settle the score is to allow the leadership to be opened to a members vote at the first conference in 2012.

  15. Afewknowthetruth 15

    ‘The bigger game is investing in clean technology in transitioning to a low-carbon, highly-efficient future.’

    Cunliffe is clearly uninformed, scientifically illiterate, and doesn’t understand the predicament we are in at all. I guess that would make him a ‘perfect’ choice for leader, maintaining a long tradition of uninformed, scientifically illiterate leaders.

    There is no such thing as ‘clean technology”. ‘Clean technology’ is one of many big lies promulgated by those who want to profit from the ignorance of bulk of society. ‘Clean coal’, ‘the hydrogen economy’, ‘carbon sequestration’, ‘biofuels’ … you name it, it’s all bulllshit designed to kep the masses deluded and prop up unsustainable arrangements a tiny bit longer.

    Even this part: ‘low-carbon, highly-efficient future.’ is useless, I’m afraid.

    A low carbon econmomy would delay the point at which the Earth becomes largely uninhabitable for mammals, but won’t prevent that outcome. Only a zero carbon economy, based entirely on naturally generated carbohydrates (as was the case before the Industrial Revolution) might prevent planetary meltdown. That’s if it’s not too late already.

    I fully understand that the vast majority of the people are ignorant of the facts (despite the best efforts of thousands of individuals and a many organisations to inform them) and many people are very happy to remain ignorant. I am reminded of scenes from ‘The Day The Earth Caught Fire’


    How prescient that film was!

    The only point of interest at this stage of the game (humans have been attacking the Earth for the past 10,00 years but went into hyperdrive a couple of decades ago) is whether or not Peak Oil will demolish the world economy before the world econony demolishes the habitability of the planet we live on.

    • dave brown 15.1

      FKTT our survival depends on mobilising people to rapidly change the way they produce. We have at a minimum to stop the NACTs ‘mine it, drill it and sell it’ in the next 3 years. Labour could play a part in that it if committed to keeping hydro and and geothermal power production in state hands and stopping burning oil and gas. Its up to the rest of us to push hard towards that. As for mining and drilling carbon we have seen large protest actions on both fronts. They need to be ramped up greatly. If yours is not to be a counsel of despair and inaction you need to get behind serious actions that can make a difference to our fate. There is a difference between delaying the day of reckoning and waiting around for the earth to catch fire. I think about it like this. My children may survive but will their children already born survive to have children.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.2

      There is no such thing as ‘clean technology”.

      But there is such a thing as sustainable technology. Wind turbines and hydro power are a couple examples of such. Done properly they’re not destructive.

  16. muzza 16

    So have any of you managed to answer the question about –

    ” How will NZ pay off its mathematically unrepayable foreign debt”?

    Cunliffe was not able to answer it when we met with with, so lets see how you lot go today..

    Anyone want to have a go at it – Those who put such big tickets on who their team leader is!

    • mikesh 16.1

      The question has no answer since it is a contradiction in terms. As Michael Hudson says “Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be.”

      • muzza 16.1.1

        The question has no answer is both correct and wrong at the same time…

        Of course because the debt can’t be mathematically paid off, does not meant that people should not take notice that there is poverty, starvation, child abuse and other suffering in NZ, not least because of the debt fraud, which takes real money out of the country, which in turn makes us all worse off, and promotes the suffereing of the vulnerable!

        So in actual fact there is an answer, and that is to start paying attention to real issues and asking real questions, and demanding that your team start discussing real issues once they have chosen their team leader..Don’t just settle back into your chair high fiving yourself if your guy becomes the new face…make sure that he then starts to function like someone who gives a toss about his own country and not just hus priviledged position – ACCOUNTABILITY!

        So few people on this site have any clue at all, my god NZ is a simple place full of simple people!

        • the sprout

          much better muzza 😉

          • pollywog

            So few people on this site have any clue at all, my god NZ is a simple place full of simple people!

            I pray thee enlighten my simple soul oh wise and blessed one with thy good and many clues.

            Bestow upon this simple reader the benefit of your goodly counsel kind sir.

        • mikesh

          You remind me, curiously, of that firebug chappie on Outrageous Fortune. :- )

      • Colonial Viper 16.1.2

        Well its actually a pretty easy answer, you default on the debt and start again, preferably using the Government as the main source of credit for the economy.

    • Spratwax 16.2

      Easy- institute a fairer tax system immediately. Reverse tax cuts for the rich, and institute CGT and a fairer tax system.

      Why is National borrowing so much?- because it has to recoup the tax shortfall because of the tax cuts it introduced- jeez, get with it! And seeing as most businesses (particularly corporates) and rich people pay little or no tax, despite the BS being fed to us from the right, what’s the obvious thing to do?

      Why do you think Cullen resisted tax cuts? Because he knew what the costs would be. So Key cuts taxes, then says we’re borrowing too much (after a credit downgrade) so we’re going to have have to take to welfare/government/social spending with a machete. Usual trick, works everytime.

  17. mike 17

    Cunliffe all the way. He’s ready, he’s young, he’s strong, and he’ll bring a whole different angle to political discourse that’ll wipe the floor with the current popularity quest, celebrity, pr machine stuff. Knock ’em on their arses.
    Plus he’s campaigning on a ticket with the very impressive and equally strong Nanaia Mahuta. She’s proved already with her go at Tamahere that she’s itching to deal to the failed politicians (both Maori and otherwise) who have become the sneering commentariat.
    What a team! Exciting. powerful leadership, that’s what we need now. Theses two have it in spades.

    • muzza 17.1

      [sprout: comment deleted. poor effort, try harder next time]

      • muzza 17.1.1

        Sprout – which garden did you escape from – Now you just delete what you personally do not like right!!!

        • the sprout

          no you were just being a boring troll. your insults should at least be witty or novel. outright insults and attacks on commenters with no flair, or which contribute no substance to the discussion get deleted. there are other blogs with lower standards if you’re not up to it

          • muzza

            Boring and lacking flair according to you sprout? While I understand you need to keep the standard up, you should also be weary of becoming that which you seem to pour scorn on. Your thinly veiled insults, are hillarious, given the average commentator on this site you seem to feel is such high grade!

            The drivel I responded to deserved a drivel response…much like I am giving your base level moderating fasicm now!

            The double standards here are about as poor as the average IQ of party voter!

          • John Pagani

            Kind of ironic comment from you, since I’ve just been introduced to what you have been writing about me.

    • dancer 17.2

      I completely agree Mike!

      [We have an author called “Dancer”, so could I request that you choose another nickname please? Thanks. r0b]

  18. Carol 18

    Cunliffe could possibly attract me back from the Greens, who are moving to the centre and stepping back from the key issues of class inequalities, social justice, etc.

    And it seems to me like a lot of older guys are promoting Shearer, as a blokey bloke…. a kind of backlash to the gains for women in the (“old guard”) of the Clark era. Get over it guys. Women are going to stay in politics, and in positions of power

    Shearer himself seems a fine guy, but he is being appropriated. And to me they are making Shearer look retro, and masculinist.

    Cunliffe has a much more inclusive vision for the Labour Party, embracing diversity, and tackling issues of income inequality, corporate power, resource depletion, etc more directly.

    He’s a man of vision for the future – telling it as he sees it.

    People handling Shearer seem to be playing the old neoliberal game of image politics. This is a dying form. We need to move away from the superficial focus on image, and have someone who will spark and lead debates on the crucial issues.

    • Damos 18.1

      What’s wrong with Helen Clark anyway, look what her government built! She had a vision and delivered on it, no one liked her either apparently. lol. Anyway, I don’t get why the right of Labour keep apologising for stuff Helen led and the perception she’s bad, she isn’t wasn’t and did great things.  The right of Labour, Mallard, Pagani et al are pretty screwed in the head if they think they need to move more to the right. 

      How many people didn’t vote, over a million right? I bet you anything a lot of them were Labour voters who considered Phil too conservative and the right leaning agenda too much to cope with and I bet, like me, they went Green.  If Labour moves left as it would under Cunliffe, you will get us back.  The Greens aren’t bad at all, they’re slick and well organised, but a Labour Green government is what we want, not a National-lite, key-mirroring centerist party like Pagani and his mates want.

      The more I write, the more destructive I think those people are.  Cactus, you said something about a party? What was that about?  

      • Anne 18.1.1

        “How many people didn’t vote, over a million right? I bet you anything a lot of them were Labour voters who considered Phil too conservative…. and I bet, like me, they went Green.”

        Yep. Had lunch with a couple of friends today. Always voted Labour. Both finally admitted they voted Green for the first time in the lives.

      • Colonial Viper 18.1.2

        The more I write, the more destructive I think those people are. Cactus, you said something about a party? What was that about?

        As I heard it, Shearer and Pagani attended a post election BBQ hosted by Matthew Hooten where most of the other guests were confirmed right wing media or right wing bloggers. Lockwood Smith was there too. Dunno might have some details wrong, maybe ask them or Hooten to clarify.

      • Olwyn 18.1.3

        There are very few things John Howard has said with which I agree but this is one, and perhaps the only one: he said that if you are in politics you have to occupy a principled position. From there you can negotiate, you can compromise at the edges, but without it you have no traction.

        I once heard Michael Cullen say that Michael Joseph Savage had to move the the centre to be electable. Well, yes, but it involved stretching a point at the perimeter, not abandoning a principled position, or groping around for some middle-of the road position that sounds “responsible.”

        While the third way may have seemed feasible when one could talk about the maturation of market economies, etc, those days are over. There is no third way now. In its absence, what sort of centre can you have in mind when you call yourself a centrist?

        This is why I like Cunliffe – he has stuck his stake into the ground. If he fails to live up to the position he has claimed for himself he can be held to account on that basis.

      • John Pagani 18.1.4

        “The right of Labour, Mallard, Pagani …”

        I’m “the right of Labour” now?

        I’m a “a National-lite, key-mirroring centerist party.”

        Golly. Makes a change I suppose from being an “Alliance flake”, which is the other strand of abuse.

        Easy to type anonymously, buddy. Every word I write has my name on it.

        I am more than happy to debate – but if you won’t identify yourself, nor identify what it is that makes me a “National-lite, key-mirroring centerist” then it’s hard to get a debate going.

        But just for starters – if I assume by “centerist” you mean “centrist”, then how is it that a centrist if “National-Lite”. By definition, isn’t a “centrist” equally Labour-lite.”

        [The Standard has a long standing and firm policy around privacy. Many contributors, both authors and commentors, have good reasons to keep their real-life identities anonymous. Many of us find it a liberating experience to be able to express ideas and opinions in an open forum, without the limitations and constraints of our usual persona. Of course some abuse that privilege; and to some extent that is what moderation is for. What carries weight in the discussion is the quality and persuasiveness of your ideas; not who you are.

        For this reason we do not tolerate any attempt to ‘out’ contributors, either directly or indirectly, in any form. Attempting to bully or manipulate a commentor into revealing who they are is flirting with getting all the wrong attention from the moderators. I’m not unsympathetic to how you may feel; but maybe this is part of the price you pay for having the public media platform. …RL]

        • lprent

          John. You didn’t appear to particularly like my sole post about you with my handle on it either.

          The “my name” argument that is a stupid argument because it really just just depends on how skilled people are at expressing opinion under their own name or otherwise. I have done both, and I find I have more impact under my name. I have been writing opinion about others under my own name for a long time. I have had decades to learn how to frame it for effect- just as you have.

          But this is much more of a level playing field because it is there to allow people to argue in public and without affect to them. It is a place to provide what the moribund party structures haven’t allowed for a while – free and frank discussions.

          The moderators are arbiters of what is permissible. Not you or any other self appointed diviner of taste.

          What you see on these pages is mostly opinion. If people move into fact then the moderators keep an eye on it for defamation. But if you want to argue with opinion, then do so.

          If you don’t have an argument, then don’t try the ‘anonymous’ one. It just pisses everyone off, including me. I could always express my opinion under my own name about people who do that and why I think they are doing it. I often do.

          You probably won’t like it.

        • pollywog


          How about playing the ball not the man ? Argue the points and don’t worry what someone’s name is.

          If it makes you feel safer, in case you got your arse handed back in shreds, create a pseudonym and make a case with more substance than…Me John Pagani. Me use real name. Me have weightier opinion because of it.

          I mean do you seriously think Shearer is a match for Key in a one on one debate and that Mallard still has something to offer the party ?

          [lprent: The converse also applies. Don’t make fun of people’s appearances just because they choose to make their names known. I have no wish to see flamewars about something so trivial. ]

        • the sprout

          Pagani once again showing just how in touch he is 😆

      • lprent 18.1.5

        Damos: Apparently there was a post-election party to do with the iPredict / electionresults contributors and selected guests at Matthew Hooten’s place.

        There has been an interesting level of speculation coming my way around how much that party had to do with surprising level of across the political spectrum support when David Shearer launched his bid for the leadership. I’d admit that I was surprised by that type of support myself, which is why I referred to it in my post when David Parker dropped out of the race. I tend to be suspicious when online people come out of the woodwork proclaiming support for a politician in another party that they know even less well that I do (although I do need to turn up at LEC more often)

        Personally I tend to consign this type of speculation to conspiracy bin, and wait for Slater to find them.

  19. Afewknowthetruth 19


    Windmills and hydro dams are destructive and are unsustainable -it’s just that the detruction and unsustainability are less obvious that in the case of other technologies.

    I’m sure we have gone over this at least a dozen times and still it doesn’t sink in.

    The smelting of iron ore to make steel requires enormous quantities of coal and releases enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    The production of cement from limestone requires enormous amounts of energy and releases enormous amounts of CO2, both from the combustion of the fuel and the decomposition of the calcium carbonate.

    The transport of equipment, excavation and maintenace all require the use of diesel/petrol fuelled vehicles.

    And not only do hydrodams drastically interfere with (wipe out) pre-existing ecosystems, but they also often gradually silt up.

    As I have pointed out on numerous occasions, we live in a generally scientifically illiterate society. And I might add, there are far too many engineers who think that everything has an engineering solution.

    It’s all in the book I am reluctant to mention too often.

    • Draco T Bastard 19.1

      The smelting of iron ore to make steel requires enormous quantities of coal and releases enormous quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere.

      But does it have to? Considering that iron in NZ is smelted using electricity I suspect that the answer is no.

      The production of cement from limestone requires enormous amounts of energy and releases enormous amounts of CO2, both from the combustion of the fuel and the decomposition of the calcium carbonate.

      Then we need to look at other ways to make concrete.

      The transport of equipment, excavation and maintenace all require the use of diesel/petrol fuelled vehicles.

      No it doesn’t. Horse and cart works fine.

      And not only do hydrodams…

      And as I’ve pointed out before – we don’t need hydro-damns.

      • Afewknowthetruth 19.1.1


        Before we continue this ‘conversation’ can I just point out that I have an Honours Degree in Chemistry and a First Class Diploma in Industrial Technology, and have writen three books on the topic we are discussing.

        Where we we?

        Oh yes, about to remove the O from Fe2O3 using electiciity instead of C was it?

        How are you going to do that? Heat the iron ore to above its melting point (660oC) and pass an electic current through it, as is done in the production of alumium?


        That will take about as much energy as is required to keep a modest city going. And, in case you are unaware, the carbon electrodes burn away rather quickly, generating CO and CO2. Unavoidable.

        ‘Then we need to look at other ways to make concrete’

        That takes us into the realms of alchemy, turning base metals into gold etc. since concrete is formed by heating calcium oxide with silica. That’s what concrete is. And concrete is a unique substance.

        There is only one practicable way of obtaining calcium oxide in large quantities and that is by the decomposition of calcium carbonate

        CaCO3 + heat goes to CaO + CO2

        Sorry mate, the laws of chemistry are very much against you, which is what I have been saying for at least the past 6 months.

        I know none of this is what people want to hear. They want to hear that ‘if only we do this’ or ‘if only we do that’ we can keep industrial civilsation going.

        It’s not going to be that way. Industrial civilisation was only ever a ‘blip on the chart’, a short term aberration in the grand scheme of things, and it will all over very soon.

        • Colonial Viper

          Give me a break, if we want to we can achieve a very capable ecotechnic civilisation (hat tip to John Michael Greer).

          Not industrial civilisation as we have known it from the 1960’s onwards, but pretty damn fine to live in nonetheless.

          And yes, we we will still be able to make steel, perhaps not in the multi million tonne quantities of today, but it will still be quite possible and likely.

          • Draco T Bastard

            And yes, we we will still be able to make steel, perhaps not in the multi million tonne quantities of today, but it will still be quite possible and likely.

            We (NZ) don’t produce produce millions of tonnes and most of what we do produce is exported. This is true of almost everything we produce which is why I keep saying that if just produced what we need we can become sustainable while keeping a living standard pretty close to what we have now.

            The reason why we produce more than what we need is simply because of the capitalist free-market which a) creates poverty for the many and b) uses up resources as fast as possible so as to maximise profit.

        • pollywog

          Shouldn’t you be making opiate for the masses to nullify the impact of the inevitable then…ecstasy maybe ?

        • Draco T Bastard

          That will take about as much energy as is required to keep a modest city going. And, in case you are unaware, the carbon electrodes burn away rather quickly, generating CO and CO2.

          That’s what we know now which is why we need R&D on it. And I’m still sure that those electrodes burning away will produce less CO2 than burning coal.

          BTW, the Tiwai Point smelter already uses the electricity of a modest city (15% of NZs supply of electricity actually) and it’s likely to be shut down in the near future – we don’t have the bauxite in NZ to feed it and the oncoming fuel shortage will make importing it uneconomical. We do have iron sands though.

          And concrete is a unique substance.

          Then we need a replacement substance – more R&D.

          …a short term aberration in the grand scheme of things, and it will all over very soon.

          Present processes will go away, industrial civilisation will continue – just not in it’s present form.

          • Colonial Viper

            That’s what we know now which is why we need R&D on it. And I’m still sure that those electrodes burning away will produce less CO2 than burning coal.

            Its net carbon emissions which count.

            So get half the petrol and diesel vehicles off the road and you’ll get leeway to make a heck of a lot of iron.

  20. Treetop 20

    When it comes to the type of questions which will require an accurate answer in the next three years they are economic questions.  Cunliffe is the person who can do this as he has done well in the portfolio of shadow finance minister.

    Muldoon was both finance minister and leader and Cunliffe can do this to.

  21. PS 21

    Just come up on FB – The David Cunliffe Support Page. Good work. Send a message now and share!


  22. Hami Shearlie 22

    Have to say Cunliffe would be the best choice IMHO. Remember Bill Rowling, by all accounts a very intelligent and clever man, and yet, he was terrible on TV and Muldoon destroyed him. Everything depends on your tv persona these days, from Parliament, current affairs programmes, news etc. Cunliffe is polished on tv and knows his stuff. Shearer seems very unsure of himself, and prevaricates. No training can get him to Cunliffe’s standard in time for Parliament in February. So as much as I admire Shearer, Cunliffe is the only one who can take it to Key in Parliament and on tv. Also, Shearer would be overpowered by Winston in the debating chamber, Cunliffe will not! Labour MP’s should look at who can win the next election instead of their personal opinions and petty gripes. Divided, they will fail in 2014.

    • seeker 22.1

      Total agreement Hami. And I think Cunliffe will make a wise and effective leader and future Prime Minister, and we haven’t seen too many of those around in the last three years.

      • swordfish 22.1.1

        Absolutely agree. Cunliffe’s the obvious choice. Just have a horrible feeling it may already have been decided in the other direction.

  23. belladonna 23

    I agree that Cunliffe is the only choice. The Nats are also playing Labour like a violin it seems.
    Dont the Shearer supporters actually wonder why the media and the Nats are spinning Shearer for all they are worth. Their naivity is breaktaking.

    • Too much conspiracy, I think it’s a lot simpler.

      When Shearer first put his hand up he looked like an interesting option. He needed to show he could step up very quickly. I don’t think he’s done this – I guess he’s got another week but unless he suddenly manages to find another level I think the choice is obvious.

      Will caucus just automatically accept Mahuta as the already chosen deputy or will there be a contest? Or a compromise?

      • lprent 23.1.1

        It is a separate caucus vote. Usually the way that compromise is signalled is that there are sudden changes in the people standing.

        You have to remember that this hasn’t happened since 1993? when Helen Clark and Michael Cullen were successful in the last contested leadership selection. So I am a wee bit rusty myself.

        It has been amazing over the years looking at the amount of nostalgia that the media have towards Labour leadership contests. I get the impression that they look over the Tasman and feel somehow deprived.

  24. Spratwax 24

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Cunliffe stands for traditional Labour priniciples and Labour will need to stand on these at the next election because of the massive discontent with National as a result of their policies. There will be a backlash as many of the middle class slide down the social ladder. People won’t be looking for a ‘lighter shade of blue’ as DC puts it.

    This is not the time for Shearer due to the fact he lacks experience, and I believe his supporters are indeed a ‘lighter shade of blue’ and will hugely influence the inexperienced Shearer. In 2014 NZer’s will be wanting something quite different to what has been thrust upon them in the preceding 3 years.

  25. It’s not online yet, but Trotter’s latest column in The Press today was about how “Shearer’s the Man”.

    I’m getting confused.

    In the column Trotter says Labour cannot afford to simply put up a John Key clone … so they have to choose Shearer (??). Most other commentators seem to see Shearer – in his, “I’m just an ordinary Kiwi with no political framework underpinning my thinking” – as the ‘Key clone’.

    Also, so far as I’m aware, Cunliffe (perhaps only by a whisker, but maybe more) is more economically left-wing than Shearer (who seems very sporadic – others might say ‘pragmatic’ – on his issue by issue commitments, in terms of any left economic analysis).

    Yet Trotter, who has written previously about National’s proposed workplace legislation – which suggests that Trotter prefers more left-leaning economic thinking – wholeheartedly supports someone who doesn’t seem to have the same unequivocal beliefs over someone who seems to be closer to those beliefs.

    Trotter also seems to believe that Shearer will completely renovate the internal processes (including conferences, etc.) that Labour employ so that discussion and debate is opened up for a more ‘popular’ (in the ‘population’ sense) policy positioning (no prostitution reform, no removal of the right of a ‘reasonable force’ defence on children, no civil unions??). (Note that such a shift would mirror Key’s positioning so, once again, it would make Shearer the ‘Key clone’ candidate – yet Trotter doesn’t seem to see it that way.)

    Is there any (public) evidence that Shearer has these ‘process’ renovation plans in mind? Haven’t heard much about it other than in Trotter’s column.

    Is there any (public) evidence that Cunliffe doesn’t have something similar in mind, given his commitment to “renewal and regeneration”?

    I may have it wrong, but it seems that Trotter’s main concern has something to do with the various ‘factions’ I’ve heard talked about (I have absolutely zero connections to or within Labour, so I’m going simply on what I pick up in the news, here and elsewhere): The ‘rainbow’ faction, the feminist faction, the ???

    It looks like it might be another round in the ‘bloke’s faction’ versus the rest struggle that I heard about a conference or two ago. If that’s the case, it’s interesting that Trotter clearly thinks it more important to push the ‘bloke’s faction’ rather than push for more economically left instincts in the leader.

    I might have it wrong – just trying to read the tea-leaves/stains left in the various media.

    Interesting times indeed.

    • mike 25.1

      I read that garbage too. With friends like Trotter, who needs enemies?

    • the sprout 25.2

      Trotter has all the insight of Pagani and seems to share many of his views

    • Colonial Viper 25.3

      Is there any (public) evidence that Cunliffe doesn’t have something similar in mind, given his commitment to “renewal and regeneration”?

      Indeed, Cunliffe has committed to sorting out Labour from top to bottom, as its new leader.

    • Carol 25.4

      If that’s the case, it’s interesting that Trotter clearly thinks it more important to push the ‘bloke’s faction’ rather than push for more economically left instincts in the leader.

      That’s how I see it too. This really is the old old guard, nostalgic for the 50s.

    • David 25.5

      Trotter at best is genius. But usually these days is just all over the show, sentimentally, radically, sloppily, sloshingly all over the show. Sorry Chris but what’s going on: you are channelling everyone from Pagani and Farrer to JT and McCarten. You were sooo off the mark on soo much in this thing. Both of these guys (Cunliffe/ Shearer) if they are reading anything will be looking at UK and Aust Labour models. The partial primary we are having to help decide between them is in my estimation the kind of thing they have in mind. Labour will become more democratic not less.

  26. cherryjeary 26

    Shearer is the man to make the correct decsions for Labour.

  27. Corin Ball 27

    Cunliffe is the obvious choice, Shearer seems a good guy but too soft and inept to be an effective leader.

  28. randal 28

    I dont care who gets the job. I am a party man andd will wholeheartedly support whoever gets selected.
    the thing is that Labour needs to look past sexual politics and wooly headed ideas as drivers for policy.
    somebody needs to get tough and tell it like it is instead of cowering behind focus groups and letting the nashnull gubmint telling Labour how to eat its lunch.

  29. hush minx 29

    Watching the various threads of debate I have to ask – if David Shearer’s strength is building teams then why can’t he build a team with David Cunliffe at the head? Cunliffe is clearly the one who can be up and running NOW and that’s what Labour needs to be able to be in the game. Don’t forget the Greens and NZFirst will be contesting the political space in the debating chamber in just a couple of weeks. And I have yet to hear him be articulate about bring women back to Labour (as haven’t they gone to the Nats and the Greens? Not just women of course!). I also remember how this site, amongst others, pointed out that Key had missed large portions of NZ history (Springbox tour etc) – so given his time away how much is Shearer really grounded in real NZ?

  30. Roy 30

    I’m surprised that no-one has mentioned that Cunliffe can lock in the cat-lovers’ vote.

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  • Rental reforms a step closer with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill
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    3 days ago
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  • Bridges: Over-hyped and under-delivered
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    4 days ago
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  • Earthquake-Prone Building loan scheme: eligibility criteria announced
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  • Travel restrictions to remain in place as coronavirus precaution
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  • Over $1 million to help Tairāwhiti youth into employment
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  • School attendance has to improve
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  • Crown and Moriori sign a Deed of Settlement
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  • Waikato Expressway driving towards completion
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  • Applications invited for $7 million Regional Culture and Heritage Fund
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  • Law Commission appointment celebrates Māori and women
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  • Budget 2020 date announced
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  • Prime Minister’s tribute to former Prime Minister Mike Moore
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