sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Labour doesn't want Mike Hosking moderating debate; Cunliffe complains about John Key's All Blacks' cover; Labour launches NZ$21 mln IT policy

Labour doesn't want Mike Hosking moderating debate; Cunliffe complains about John Key's All Blacks' cover; Labour launches NZ$21 mln IT policy

By Bernard Hickey

With 58 days left until the September 20 election, here's my daily round-up of political news from in and around Wellington on Thursday July 24, including news that Gerry Brownlee offered to resign as Transport Minister after he personally breached airport security by going through a restricted door to get on plane in time. Key rejected the offer.

"Earlier today, running late for a plane at Christchurch Airport, I without thought breached airport and airline security rules by entering the gate lounge through a door usually used for exit only," Brownlee said in a statement.

"Running late for a plane is no excuse for bypassing a security check. In doing this I have broken aviation rules and put individuals who hold responsible positions in upholding public security in a compromised position. My actions were thoughtless and I unreservedly apologise to those people who felt and were compromised by my actions," he said.

"No one else is to blame. I have offered my resignation as the Minister of Transport to the Prime Minister," he said.

The Prime Minister's spokeswoman issued a statement shortly after 2pm. "The Prime Minster has spoken to Mr Brownlee and indicated he's very disappointed with the actions he took this morning," the spokeswoman said.

"He has reflected on the significant contribution Minister Brownlee has made over time and decided on balance, not to accept his resignation," she said.

'Door of national significance'

Brownlee later told reporters before entering Parliament for Question Time that he had been running late for a plane to Wellington and had gone through a restricted door.

"We knocked on the door and I said to the guy 'look, we are in a terrible hurry, can we get through here?". He said OK. In reality I should never had done that. It's not that guy's fault. I'm the one to blame here and I fully accept that," Brownlee said.

"I've got to accept that when a person that's got a role like that sees a minister turn up, they sort of think it's going to be OK. I really don't want that guy getting into trouble.
He said he had offered to resign because he put the official and the airport company in a difficult position and because he was responsible for aviation security as Transport Minister.
The twitter commentary started immediately Toby Manhire talked about Gerry's 'Door of National Significance', while Clayton Cosgrove questioned where Brownlee was running.

Debate about a debate

The day started with a couple of real election season stories: a debate over a debate and a complaint about a photo shoot.

Stuff's Andrea Vance reported Labour is in a stand-off with TVNZ over who should be the moderator of the Labour vs National leaders debate. Labour, it seems, don't want Mike Hosking because it believes he is too sympathetic to the Government.

"When we heard it was Hosking the initial reaction was ‘Are you joking?' But we are trying to get it changed. We are not making a hullabaloo about nothing, we'd rather they get someone else," an unnamed Labour source was quoted as saying. The report referred to Hosking once calling Labour Leader David Cunliffe a "moron".

Grant Robertson (and a few others) joked that Labour would much prefer to have Jeremy Wells pretending to be Mike Hosking than Hosking himself.

Hosking was unaware of the row, and unpeturbed. ""I've called everyone a moron. This has got nothing to do with me . . . I don't want to get involved, I didn't have a clue, nor does it bother me," Hosking was quoted as saying.

Cunliffe was quoted in the NZ Herald as confirming Labour's concerns.

"Concerns were raised by my staff when it became apparent Mr Hosking had introduced Mr Key at his 2013 State of the Nation speech and appeared to warmly endorse him. We are in discussion with TVNZ about that and other matters," Cunliffe said.

Hosking was quoted as introducing Key at the event thus: "As I see it, all things considered we are doing pretty bloody well ... We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government."

'Pack leader'

Meanwhile, Cunliffe also quoted as being surprised over what appeared to be a photo-shopped cover of Rugby News posing in an All Blacks jersey with four All Blacks.

"I was surprised to see it. It's not often you see a major sporting body getting involved in politics," Cunliffe said.

Labour ICT policy

Meanwhile, Labour released another part of its Information and Communications Technology policy, including plans to review the Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband rollouts, and a review of the regulatory framework for Telecommunciations.

It would also create a contestable fund costing NZ$9.6 million over four years to "close the digital divide" by funding broadband access for lower income and community groups. It would create a NZ$6.3 million contestable fund over four years to enhance rural uptake of broadband.

Labour also planned to set up a "connectivity innovation fund" costing NZ$5.2 million over four years to allow more citizens to use government services online.

Green solar panels for schools

Elsewhere, the Green Party launched a NZ$20 million policy to provide solar panels for schools. It would spend NZ$20 million over three years to install panels in 500 schools, which would produce savings of NZ$1.64 million a year and NZ$41 million over the life of the panels.

(Updated with Brownlee resignation offer, Key's rejection, Video of question to Brownlee)

I'll keep updating this through the day.

See all my previous election diaries here.

See the index for's special election policy comparison pages here.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


WTF ,...." we are in discussion with TVNZ about this and OTHER MATTERS ?" ( My Itallics)
Maybe Cunliffee  should ask why on earth do TV1 NEWS  have that Stalinist left wing rabble rouser,  Katie Bradford as a political reporter ?
She is so left leaning and unbalanced that she would fall over to the left if she put her microphone down .
You never get a single objective balanced word or comment from her ............. ever

Oh and by the way ........ it does look photoshopped when you look at the shadows on their faces its does seem so

FYI Updated with Brownlee's resignation offer and Key's decision not to accept it.

This probably will give national a wee boost to their pool.
Apology sincerely over a wee and hardly-considered-as type of mistake will earn the person some respect and support.
Not sure whether Brownlee is truly apologizing or just play the trick. But, Nat wins for sure this Sep.

Once again, Labour caught off target.
As much as i might agree that Hosking is not a neutral mediator, why oh why would they discuss this in the press, rather than real issues people care about.

Precisely ,like a bunch of first grade school kids ,  they are too busy looking over at the other kids , and disrupting the class by  blurting out about what the other children are doing wrong,  instead of focussing on the stuff they should be doing .

Hosking -Right !

FYI updated with comments from Brownlee to reporters.

The Brownlee issue is a non issue (and Labour doesn't appear to have made much of it, other than some good humour stories); the others Labour is reasonable to challenge.
If Rugby News had David Cunliffe on the front page lined up with Richie McCaw, Read, Vito and Woodcock with an image that implies strong endorsement a couple of months before an election, that should also be frowned upon.  Were the All Blacks concerned consulted, and was it explained to them that such an apearance would look like an endorsement of National? If I were Richie McCaw, no matter my political allegiance, I would be concerned at such an association while All Black captain.
Similarly if Mike Hosking did say " We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.", then his credentials to be moderator are in question. If I was Labour I would at a minimum want to understand the rules of engagement, including very clear rules for the moderator on what opinions he/she can give or imply through questioning or time allocation.

Yes it's photoshopped. But it is a magazine cover. Basically anything you see on any magazine cover is a photoshop job. It is just that this one is poorly done.

I suspect if TVNZ put up a preceived left leaning moderator John Key would not be phased at all and would just get on with it.

He's too much of a smooth politician to let something that simple throw him.
He'd probably personally enjoy the challenge....

I agree Stephen it's now the moderator does his job rather than what political leanings he has that matters. I have no problem with either Hoskings or  Campbell being used as the bias both have is well known and I'm confident that they are both professional enough to handle with no obvious bias, and that's all that matters.
The bigger issue for me is the format, I'm sick of TV debates that are designed by TV for entertainment rather than something to show case the individuals and hear what they have to say on subjects - interjection should frankly not be allowed, but time always to give the counter argument.. Both are good TV performers so let's just hear what vision and common sense they each do or don't  have for this country to actually assist the voter rather than TV ratings.

The best political "debate" programme I have found is the Pacifica programme late at night. No clowning, no point scoring - just a good discussion about the important issues.
I haven't watched it for a while now - hope they are still doing it?

Campbell is leftist, however, Mike Hosking's shade of lipstick looks divine on Key's backside. Hosking is a bad choice and not just because of his politics but for his close association to Key. Anyone in Cunliffe's position would be in a two against one position.

Again resignations are not someting that can be "rejected".  Obviously its just a ploy to take the heat off .  
"Jeez mate, that's a major media blunder you did there. Tell you what; you offer to resign, I'll reject it, and then we can sweep the whole thing under the rug."

Brownlee should know better.
Person at airport should know better.
Stuff happens. Very likely the airport person weighed up the risk of Brownlee being a danger to plane and passengers, and accepted the risk.   Not perfect procedure, and they should have called security for an intercept and check.
  To get all bent out of shape because the exact letter of law was not can get too PC and much "rule by law".

It's not like he was in a dangerous speeding cavalcade which could have injured someone.

However throwing his towel in, and offering resignation for such a pathetic minor breech?
Clearly grandstanding, and overreaction aimed at public reaction rather than what he's required to do which is Public Service.  For that attempt to dodge fallout rather than fix problem, that is grounds for dumping the guy.

...this is no pathetic minor breatch.  We spend millions on airprot security.  A member of the public has used a side door to avoid being processed.  All hell would break loose if I tried this, if you tried this, Mike Hosking tried this or David Cunliffe.
This is typical of the higher than mighty attitude of our poltitcians...they can overspend on their cards, misuse accommodation alowances, watch porn, travel overseas on the public purse and engage in private  business...and the list goes on.  These guys need to be reminded that they are public servants...employed at our whim.  They are not above the law and need to be held accountable.
Keys two favourite strategies...organise an offer of resignation or hold an enquiry. 

Cunliffe would because he's good poor media skills.

you, me, Hosking... Not standing members of parliment.

Overspending.  Is it in public interest? What risk?
misuse accomodation allowance.  Public Interest? What risk?
Porn. Public interest? What risk? what benefit?

In this case, like a bunch of Brownlee's own policies, are over-reactions.  What is that millions on airport security there to do?  Is it there to dumb down scared little New Zealands, who need a security blanket?  Or is it to take care of real threats to safety....  Brownlee might be a risk to NZ but it's not by going on a plane.   

Likewise if he was just late for a holiday or private engagement..then that's not acceptable.

National has put up with John Campbell leftist bias for years. Cunliffe needs to grow a pair of the things hes sorry for having...