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The MP that Clutha-Southland could have had

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, June 30th, 2017 - 33 comments
Categories: election 2017, labour, national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s week 2 of the tape that may not have existed and that no one could have known was illegal and that English forgot until he remembered. Now it turns out that a minister may have listened to it, but not in a “ministerial capacity”. Yes it’s the “Game of Hats” play so beloved of Bill’s more brazen predecessor. Same old National.

Meanwhile, even as the vultures potential candidates circle over the remains of Todd B in Clutha-Southland, his zombie vote is exploited in Wellington to squeak through contentious legislation by a majority of 1. Classy.

It could all have turned out so very differently if the good voters of Clutha-Southland had elected the best candidate back in 2014. Remember this?

Clutha- Southland and the stark contrast in NZ politics

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

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

Craig was by far the better candidate. If she had been elected the proportionality / balance of power in Parliament would have changed not at all, and Clutha-Southland would have had an excellent MP.  More to the point from National’s point of view, this spectacular flaming Barclay scandal would have not spent the last 2 weeks burning down their party and exposing Billshit English. Ooops.  Such are the perils of blindly voting the party line.

Well, Todd Barclay blew it, the Nats lost out, Clutha-Southland lost out.  But it’s Invercargill’s gain – Liz Craig in 2017!

33 comments on “The MP that Clutha-Southland could have had ”

  1. Ad 1

    If Liz Craig doesn’t get in this time it will only be because the Labour campaign and vote failed to get her up there. I think on her list placing they would need to get 29-30%.

    Liz Craig would be a seriously interesting Minister of Health, with on-ground experience in general practice, mental health, O and G, public health, epidemiology, statistics, policy formation, and bunches of other good stuff.

  2. Liz has to topple Sarah Dowie, Todd Barclay’s “good mate” who stood beside him during his difficult time. I asked Dowie if she’d been talking with Simon Lusk during her lead-up to getting elected in Invercargill and she said yes, she had.
    Who was the MP who heard the Todd tapes, I wonder? What responsibility did they have to report a crime? Dowie’s husband is a policeman. Liz Craig is an intelligent, trustworthy woman, in my opinion.

    • Leon Hartnett 2.1

      Well said.

    • ianmac 2.2

      Robert: “Who was the MP who heard the Todd tapes,….”
      The question was about “Minister listening” not MP.

      • “SOUTHLANDER says:
        JUNE 30, 2017 AT 11:49 AM
        I have seen this question asked elsewhere!
        “And if they weren’t acting in their ministerial capacities, how did they get their hands on the PM’s slush fund to pay for the cover-up?
        Would that then be embezzlement?”

        Quoted from The Daily Blog comments section.

        • Red Rosa

          This latest Joyce statement puts a whole new slant on the affair. Were the tapes played in Wellington to ministers (and Key, as he was PM then?), months ago, as background to the Glenys Dickson payout? Yet Bill English has had the nerve to tell us he was not sure the tape(s) even existed? Early on, this seemed a purely local affair. But it goes right to the top – PM, cabinet, and the Nat Board. Maybe Bill English kept clear, thinking he would be in the clear…not so.

          Shortly there will be an ‘aha!’ moment and it will be fun to watch.

    • My bad. Dowie’s husband is not a policeman. Both her parents were, but her man is not.

    • Michael 2.4

      Robert Guyton: “Liz has to topple Sarah Dowie,” – no she doesn’t, although it would be nice if she did. Instead, Labour has to score 32 percent of the Party Vote on 23 September for Dr Craig to make it into Parliament. That target is not impossible but looks increasingly unlikely, as Labour runs another flat-footed campaign.
      “Dowie’s husband is a policeman.” Bullshit: he’s just resigned from his job running Southport and is “off to see the world” without his wife. Draw whatever inferences from that statement you care to.
      “Liz Craig is an intelligent, trustworthy woman, in my opinion.” And in mine. However, those attributes do not entitle Dr Craig to a $180,000 a year (plus perks) taxpayer-funded job for the next three years. If Labour really wanted her in its caucus it would have given her a higher list ranking. Instead, it ranked her slightly below the cut-off point (judging from the running average of its poll results in recent months).

      • Michael – see my mea culpa above. Sarah Dowie must be very familiar with the world of the police, having been raised a daughter of police people, I expect. I also expect she’ll have plenty of contacts in the police force as a result, though mine’s purely speculation. I didn’t know of Mr Dowie’s peregrinations. Liz, by winning the Invercargill seat, will likely become an MP in the next government, MP for Invercargill, that is. I believe she can do just that. For one thing, she doesn’t, as Sarah Dowie does, find herself perilously close to a scandal involving all sorts of actions that voters might find distasteful.

        • Michael

          Dowie will retain her seat with a majority of at least 10,000; I predict she will score a roughly equivalent level of Party Votes too. Ria Bond will score next highest – with a few votes from the Nats but more from Labour. The biggest vote of all will be the non-voters.

  3. Mary-Jane Thomas, Invercargill lawyer and race-horse breeder, wrote this (link below) article in The Southland Times today;

    “Against the backdrop of a culture where we are constantly glued to our phones, a recent scandal sparks the query: when is it illegal to record a conversation?

    Under the Crimes Act, it is a crime to record a private conversation that you are not a party to.

    The offence requires that you have deliberately recorded people, in conversation, who believe that they have an expectation of privacy.

    It is not, however, an offence to record a conversation that you are a party to.

    Despite this, the legality of recording conversations where only one party knows they are being recorded does get hazy in the employment sphere.”

    Read more…


    • Graeme 3.1

      Is the Southland Times showing leadership around this issue, or following community sentiment?

      • Michael 3.1.1

        The latter. One of its most pro-Barclay hacks (a woman) no longer covers this story. I don’t know how close the two were but this particular hack seemed more like a media spindoctor than a dispassionate journalist. That said, most Southland Times readers are Nats (if not ACT).

  4. Stunned Mullet 4

    Didn’t Tat Loo run in Clutha for Labour at one stage ?

    • bwaghorn 4.1

      it shows extreme cowardice to attack a man on a forum he can’t defend himself on

    • DS 4.2

      He ran in 2011. Don Pryde was 2008.

    • Graeme 4.3

      Yeah, he was candidate against Bill in 2011. Result was in the normal range for electorate and time in electoral cycle % at around 16% for both candidate and party.

      It’s a really tough electorate for a left leaning candidate being physically huge, very blue and with a Wakatipu rump that has virtually nothing in common with the rest of the electorate.

      • Andre 4.3.1


        Not to mention his … ahhh…other views, that would hardly endear him to that particular electorate.

      • McFlock 4.3.2

        yep. Didn’t do too badly given the electorate and the opposition, really.

  5. Red Rosa 5

    The internal National Party machinations in the whole affair are slowly coming to light, and they are quite ugly. Clearly the Nat Board heavies put the hard word on the locals to support Barclay, or else. Local chairman Stuart Davie resigned in disgust. The position Bill English is in now can only be imagined, or possibly judged by the extraordinary Radio NZ interview earlier in the week. His hardworking secretary sacked and loyal supporters resigning … now what?

    But it is far from a local Southland Nat Spat. Extraordinary admission by Joyce that ‘ministers’ listened to the tapes. Who? When? They allowed Barclay to lie for months about their existence, and must have encouraged their PM to let the matter drift, when clearly it was due to blow up any time. ‘A very kiwi coup’ certainly seems likely… shades of the Jim Bolger dumping?

    Possibly a genuine police enquiry will lead to criminal charges, not just the taping but obstruction of justice. But we have yet to see the full extent of the internal Nat divisions.

    • greywarshark 5.1

      Official Gnashional position: Nothing to see here. Just an internal organisational matter, misunderstanding really. Move along.

  6. Heather Grimwood 6

    Liz is everything said about her above AND MORE. Her ambition has for some years to be in parliament to implement her research in epidemiology, and this work has been given unstintingly to Labour policy making, and to the feet-on-ground mechanics to ensure its implimentation.
    Liz through years of lecturing and because she ‘knows her stuff’ speaks well to audiences large or small and importantly shows mana in that she is never aggressive. Yes…Invercargill’s treasure in next government.

    • Michael 6.1

      Then it’s a shame Dr Craig wasn’t given a list ranking that would guarantee her a seat, especially when some higher-ranking people are much less distinguished. Perhaps that reflects the degree to which Head Office respects the calibre of the Party’s southern region these days?

  7. DS 7

    There was a Clutha-Southland polling booth in 2008 where the Bill & Ben Party got more votes than Labour. Clutha-Southland will never vote for a Labour candidate no matter how qualified, and they will vote for even the most dire National candidate under any circumstances. “Gumboot with blue rosette” doesn’t begin to describe it.

    • tc 7.1

      Yes national rely on their rural electorates effectively voting whoever they put up as its been a great way to flush out the old hands for the hollowmens chosen ones.

    • Graeme 7.2

      Invercargill has been Labour (Mark Peck), and Queenstown was part of Otago which David Parker held until it disappeared in boundary adjustments. So around the edges change is possible. There will be more boundary changes coming up with the huge population growth happening in Central Otago and Queenstown.

      The gumboot with a blue rosette is true, but there’s a presumption that the gumboot is a genuine Red Band and isn’t stuffed with odour eaters. Also helps that it’s a local rosette, not an Auckland one. Even a Queenstown one will need careful packaging.

      Invercargill will be interesting because it will likely become a three way race with Ria Bond there as well. Last time I was down there I noticed she was marking her territory around the town.

      • Michael 7.2.1

        The biggest vote of all in the Invercargill electorate will be the non-vote, as it has been for the last couple of elections. Labour puts little effort into contesting the seat and receives the corresponding reward. OTOH, those who do vote do so reliably for National and less so for Winston. I predict Winston will score higher, in electorate and party vote, this time but that the Nats will retain the seat comfortably (ie majority over 10,000). The fact that Labour does not want to contest a blue colllar electorate (albeit with pockets of middle class pretension) speaks volumes for its commitment to its founding principles. I will be a non-voter this year, too, after voting for Labour at every election from 1990 onwards.

  8. Heather Grimwood 8

    Proof of your statements please Michael.

    • Michael 8.1

      Heather – Dr Craig’s list ranking, relative to more mediocre candidates, speaks for itself, as does the steadily falling voter turnout in the Invercargill electorate in successive elections (see: the E9 polling booth data published as appendices to Hansard). The same source demonstrates that people are not voting at all in parts of the electorate where Labour traditionally received most support. By contrast, the Nats retain their support, while NZ First support is growing slowly but surely (I predict it will score considerably better in both both electorate and Party Vote this time). Otherwise, you seem to be asking me to prove facts from values, something that David Hume teaches us is impossible.

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