Archives for posts with tag: David Cunliffe

So last night I was in the front row of the audience at the Press leader’s debate between David Cunliffe and John Key. It was an exciting occasion and great to have so many people interested in politics in the Ilam electorate. I went with my parents, my grandmother and my great aunt – the latter who both live in Merivale, but vote very differently! I think watching it in the room is quite different to what happens on the lifestream. Firstly, it was VERY loud. Both the debaters, and the crowd. Key got a warm welcome but DC’s was louder. The two men talked over each other quite a lot, which wasn’t the most satisfying auditory experience.

James at the debate - photo by Patrick Gower (http://i.instagram.com/p/sb7DqFCA5S/)

James at the debate – photo by Patrick Gower (http://i.instagram.com/p/sb7DqFCA5S/)

Key started really angrily, and talked over David a lot. Most questions seemed to be given to Key for 30 seconds, for him to then talk for 90 seconds, then passed on to David for 30 seconds, at which point Key started sniping at him and not allowing him to answer. While I’ve seen some people comment that they thought the (lack of) moderation was fine, it made for a number of occasions where both men just talked over each other, as if the first person to stop talking was less of a man or something. Key’s question about CGT on houses in a trust did seem to catch David, but he was right to check and see. It’s a complicated issue and it’s worth being right on it.

As with the first debate, most of the commentators seemed to make up their minds about “who won” based on the early exchanges. Key was definitely much weaker in the second half. This was because if focussed on Christchurch issues, and National’s record on this is poor. When he announced that Gerry Brownlee would be CERA minister after the election, this was received with boos. There was laughter when he claimed that the CBD was “booming and almost full“. There was confusion when he started telling Press editor Joanna Norris about an advertorial supplement that will appear in the paper next week. And when he said that the government wouldn’t want to “run roughshod” the Anglican church (when talking about the Cathedral) one was reminded of some of the other institutions that this government has run roughshod over – including ECan and the CCC.

Cunliffe spoke well on these matters, as he has done over the last 3 months of the campaign in the city. He knows that Labour’s policy is popular here, as he has been down here to announce it, and has talked with hundreds of residents who are in difficult situation. Instead of just making light of people’s real hardship like the Prime Minister, Cunliffe has showed an empathy that Key lacks. While the media in Auckland and Wellington might have called it one way, the people in Christchurch were only presented with one leader who understands the issues in this city, and it wasn’t the Prime Minister.

The Canterbury Labour MPs, candidates and councillors have been working together with David Cunliffe to work on a response to the flooding situation in Christchurch. We believe that the best way to approach this is to try and work in a collaborative, cross-party fashion. It is disappointing that Gerry doesn’t see it like that, and used this story in the paper to make political attacks rather than engage responsibly. If you’d like to read the letter in full, without his commentary, I’ve put it all below.

Prime Minister

A PROPOSED RESPONSE TO FLOODING

No-one could have foreseen what Cantabrians have and are still facing. This is made worse by the recent floods and landslips caused by flooding. Many residents are reaching breaking point.

The most important factor is the wellbeing of residents. We can do more to support them. We simply must act now and act together.

I believe all political parties should work in partnership with local authorities to offer immediate and enduring solutions and give confidence and certainty to the residents so that they can plan their lives and their futures. We recognise that those whose lives are in disarray need progress and certainty as soon as possible, while fair solutions that ensure beyond the next few months are also needed. We make the following suggestions which we would like to discuss further with you for the benefit of those affected.

Housing

There is a need to extend the temporary housing support for earthquake and flood effected residents. The Temporary Accommodation Support payment should cover all those displaced by flooding and flood-related landslip issues. There is an urgent need for more temporary accommodation.

Buy-out offer

We know that for some, returning to their homes will not be possible for some time. The only fair resolution is a buy-out option from central government. This should be made with urgency.

EQC/Insurance companies

The government needs to exercise leadership and direction of EQC and have direct engagement with insurance companies. Individual residents cannot be left to deal with these organisations on their own. The Residential Advisory service should be extended and resourced to deal with flooding cases. Support is needed for financial advice, counselling and advocacy, particularly for vulnerable people.

Immediate Solutions – Armed Forces

The resources of the Councils are stretched. Central Government could better support them and local residents. A secondment of resources from the Armed Forces would be appropriate and would provide immense reassurance and practical relief.

Clarification on roles and responsibilities

Cantabrians don’t need boundary battles. They need clarity over roles and responsibilities. An integrated unit dealing with the flooding issues comprising Councils, Health Board, EQC, insurance representatives, SCIRT, MfE and CERA should be established.

Clear guidance regarding building consents for properties in flood-prone areas must be provided. Statutory powers could be given in the implementation of the Natural Environment Recovery Programme.

Health

The Health Board needs to be resourced to support public health issues such as mould, toxic silt, sewerage and related health risks. The advice of your Chief Science Advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, has said that there are many ongoing mental health issues faced by Cantabrians.

Orders in Council

Labour will support Orders in Council to fast-track on remediation, provide certainty for residents and real progress on resolution.

A Flood Taskforce has been established and will report to Council soon. I believe that the points in this letter will be consistent with the taskforce findings and recommendations. However, I commit to genuine partnership with the Councils and working with your government to progress the recommendations.

This is a test for all of us. On behalf of Labour, we want to walk this journey with you, for the wellbeing of the people of Christchurch.

David Cunliffe
Labour Leader

A trouncing. An embarrassment. A warning. A stonking win. Whichever way you try and spin it, Poto William’s 4613 vote victory in Christchurch East is a significant result that should be taken seriously. There are two lines which are being faithfully trotted out by the mouth-pieces of the right.

The first is that turnout was low, so it doesn’t matter. I disagree that turnout was low. Rob Salmond analyzed the turnout at the last few by-elections, and came up with 14,000 as a par-score. Actual turn out was 13,318 – which is pretty close to that. Saturday’s turnout of 41.4% was actually higher than the last two by-elections, Ikaroa-Rawhiti (35.7%) and Botany (36.4%) – and neither of those two electorates were the most badly affected area in a natural disaster. The by-election was fought on the 2011 boundaries, but we know that 10,000 people have left the electorate, compared to the last census (2005). At the 2011 election, many of these people would have either still been living in the East, having not settled their insurance claims, or would have left the area, thinking that they would be able to move back – but stayed on the Christchurch East roll. I spent the day on Saturday based out of the Aranui hub, and each of the streets we went down had a high number of boarded-up homes. Many of the people we tried to get out and vote were very disengaged with the political process, and I’d argue that if turnout had been higher, it could have actually been much worse for National.

The second claim about the turnout is even more disingenuous.

Key said this morning the result was not surprising and didn’t represent a big loss to the Government. “The turnout was pretty low,” Key told Breakfast.

Of course, low turn-out in an election doesn’t mean the result has a lack of legitimacy – just ask John Key. In 2008, he led National to the Beehive with 1,053,398 votes – 44.93% of those cast. In 2011, he was returned with an increased percentage of the votes – 47.31% – though National only increased their total by 5,240 votes. That was because voter turnout fell by over 5%. Key would be on pretty shaky ground if he wants to keep pushing this line of argument. A win is a win is a win. Of course it would have been better if 100% of electors had voted, but you can only count the votes that were cast, and some would argue (hey Eric!) that staying at home is just as valid as getting out to vote.

No, this does represent a big loss to the government. A humiliating one. In the last two months, we’ve had our MP for Christchurch East run for mayor, win comprehensively, and bring in a new left-leaning council with her. We’ve then gone out and fought to fill her seat, and have again had our candidate elected in a landslide. Two drubbings in two months – and I’m pretty sure that if they hadn’t taken ECan out of our hands, they would have had three. I don’t know how we could send more of a signal, without setting fire to the CERA offices.

L to R: Hayden Munro, DC, Poto Williams, your author

L to R: Hayden Munro, DC, Poto Williams, your author

I’ve been involved in the campaign for a while, and it’s been a hard, but rewarding slog. While people say that Labour was always going to win, I can honestly say that we weren’t taking anything for granted. There were two reasons to be concerned: firstly, the party vote in 2011, which Labour lost by a large margin. I’ve got no doubt that if they had put forward a better candidate, and run a more effective campaign, National could have done much better. They certainly sent a number of ministers down here – though one has to wonder about the effectiveness of sending an MP as unpopular as Gerry Brownlee out door knocking in some of the most damaged areas (imagine having Gerry turn up unannounced at your property after almost three years of unsuccessfully dealing with the government.) The other thing we were worried about was the local body results, which saw our popular local councillor Glenn Livingstone come in second in Burwood-Pegasus to David East. This risk was moderated by some smart policy announcements, especially around Kiwibuild and the New Brighton revitalization.

While much of the win has been chalked up to “the Labour machine” and “the old warhorse Jim Anderton”, it should be noted that it wasn’t just a case of flicking the ignition and getting the machine purring. All through the campaign, we were struggling to get as many volunteers as we wanted. After the local body elections (which also overlapped the by-election campaign for about 6 weeks), the leadership election and the annual conference, Labour members in Christchurch were pretty exhausted. You can also add to that the general issues that people have in town at the moment, and get a better picture about just hard people worked to pull this off.

Congratulations have to go to a number of people. David Cunliffe made a big effort in this campaign, which has pretty much covered the entire period of his leadership. His first public appearance after being elected leader was at Poto’s selection meeting, and he’s been down often since that. The local Labour MPs – many of whom supported Grant Robertson in the leadership contest – have supported David and Poto through the campaign, especially Megan Woods, who has done a huge amount to help with street corner meetings and policy announcements. The local Christchurch East LEC did a phenomenal job. Jim Anderton was a great leader, but much of the credit should also go to campaign dogs body, Hayden Munro, who was everywhere, all of the time. I think he’ll be looking forward to a sleep.

Credit must also go to Poto. The party made a bold choice, and I think they will be rewarded with a strong MP. Poto hit the ground running, and worked incredibly hard to meet as many potential electors as she possibly could. She did 100 street corner meetings, even though she had lost her voice after about the first 10.

This was a resounding win for Labour, and hopefully it will convince any of the doubters within the Party that to win back Christchurch, we need to outline a strong plan for the city. This, by definition, means “politicizing” the earthquakes. A clearly articulated vision, which places people at the centre of recovery, will be key to not just winning back Christchurch Central, but also the all-important party vote across the city.