Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: April 13

Auckland Mayor Len Brown.  Photo / Doug Sherring
Auckland Mayor Len Brown. Photo / Doug Sherring

Is Len Brown about to come off the sideline? The Auckland Mayor is making tough noises from China (where he is trying to raise money for his Auckland transport plans) about the admitted breach of confidential employment records by the Ports of Auckland. Although Brown has said he will await the outcome of the Privacy Commissioner's investigation, Bernard Orsman quotes a 'senior council source' as saying that any staff or board members involved would 'have to go', see: Mayor's anger over leak on striker.

Brian Rudman wonders what Brown is waiting for, saying that responsibility clearly lies at the top: 'The fact is that CEO Tony Gibson has said in a letter to the Maritime Union that not only did the leak come from the company, but that he is refusing to give an undertaking it won't happen again as a means of "putting accurate and corrective information in the public domain" ' see: Brown risks credibility in port struggle.

Blogger Cameron Slater maintains the information came to him anonymously, but doubts are being expressed by Martyn Bradbury (Ports of Auckland admits leaking to far right gun nut religious blogger), Robert Winter (Do Whales drink Tui?), and The Standard (A(nother) bad day for the dynamic duo).

The Standard argues that the leak blew up in the Port Company's face and was a turning point in the media war between the company and the union. Also, Sharon Lundy canvasses some of the privacy issues in Worker's privacy 'undoubtedly' breached.

Ongoing privacy concerns are an issue at both the Port and at AFFCO. Unions claim both companies are using security cameras and guards to intimidate union members. See: TVNZ's Affco uses 'big brother' tactics - meat workers. With mediation in the AFFCO dispute failing again, another strike beginning and the company trying to report the union to the Serious Fraud Office, any resolution looks a long way off. See: Affco keeps an eye on picket.

David Shearer's failure so far to boost Labour's profile and support may have claimed its first victim. Tracy Watkins reports that Shearer's Chief of Staff, former MP Stuart Nash, is quitting after only a few months in the job to return home. See: Shearer's right-hand man poised to go. Robert Winter says that Nash's departure would be viewed internally as 'a sign that his [Shearer's] ship was leaking quite badly and predicts that next summer will bring judgement day on Shearer's leadership. He concludes that Labour 'faces the loss of its status as one of the two major parties in NZ, a prospect that should, one would think, galvanise both leadership and rank and file'. See: Nash to go? Divisions over Shearer? The Standard blog briefly discusses the 'machinations behind this' in the leaders' office, suggesting 'the odds of our first gay PM just grew'. See: Nash to depart.

Christchurch's housing crisis can't be left to the market, according to Robin Clements, a senior economist with research and investment house UBS. Olivia Carville's Rental shortage: 'State must step in' reports that Clements has 'firmly disagreed with Brownlee' and that while the housing market will function it is 'not providing an outcome that is socially acceptable'.

The Christchurch Council is continuing to claim rates (which have just been increased by 7.5 per cent) from red-zone house owners, many of whom are effectively paying a second lot of rates via their rents. see Jarrod Brooker's Home gone, paying rent, still forking out for rates.

On top of that, a post-quake rule change by the Department of Building and Housing has allowed insurance companies to reassess houses previously deemed write-offs as now capable of being fixed. Many houses in the Red Zone cannot actually be repaired, but Radio New Zealand reports that the net effect will be some residents will be paid $180,000 less by insurance companies. See: Quake homeowners facing lower payments. Steven Cowan reports that plans are being made for another protest outside the Christchurch City Council offices, see: Welcome to the third world.

Other important or interesting political items today include:

Chris Trotter warns the left, and Labour in particular, not to ignore the increasing number of non-voters, as the right has shown in the past it can harness the support of the disenfranchised and new voters (Woo them or lose them, Labour). Trotter has also blogged about Putting the Public In Their (Private) Place.

TVNZ reports that the partial privatisation legislation would allow the Government to sell more than 49 per cent of state assets as long as the shares didn't have voting rights. The government has described this as a 'minor policy decision' but David Shearer claims it means the companies can sell off their holding almost entirely (State assets loophole allows Govt to sell over 49 per cent).

With activists taking direct action to destroy GM pine trees (Paul Harper's GM pine trees destroyed by vandals), the Sustainability Council claims that, despite millions of dollars of public science funding to develop GM organisms, not a single crop variety has reached the market or is likely to do so soon. See Paul Gorman's GM trials' failure 'not law's fault'.

Cathy Odgers is one of the few willing to come to the public defence of the Hanover directors in a Herald article today. She says The FMA is playing a dirty game with Hanover and the investors should have been aware of the risks they were taking.

Morgan Godfery warns Te Arawa about replicating Tainui's tribal parliament in The trouble with a tribal parliament, saying that it proved ineffective as a governing body. Godfery has also updated his list of Maori Politicians - The Good and The Bad.

It looks like a replay of the successful 1980s campaign that saw New Zealand become nuclear-free city-by-city, with Christchurch officially declared a fracking-free zone.

Ruth Laugesen has a lengthy interview with Hekia Parata, which shows why this 'social liberal with a conservative backbone' could one day become Prime Minister.

And finally, Jane Clifton asks Why is National still so popular? but endorses Shearer's 'earnest, thoughtful, concerned' approach.

- NZ Herald

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Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

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