Recent Truth columns haven't been posted here because the relevant website section isn't updated yet. Here's my column from October 26, John Tamihere versus Paula Bennett, newly topical because this weekend Tamihere (and company) will be at the Labour Party conference trying to stake a claim:
Rodney Hide isn't returning to parliament. There's something a bit
tired and sad about returned MPs like Winston Peters and John
Banks. He advises, "Move on" and make way for new blood. But will
John Tamihere listen? Labour's lukewarm reaction to his
publicly-announced ambition to take Waitakere for them hasn't put
him off yet.
Tamihere's musings may be motivated by his unresolved court battle
with the Ministry of Social Development. It's convenient that the
Minister, Paula 'Benefit' as JT calls her, is the MP for Waitakere.
Is this plan some sort of utu should the court find against
his organisation, the Waipareira Trust? He's a smart operator and
will have considered all outcomes.
Even if Tamihere won Waitakere, but National retained power; if
Bennett returned as Minister via the list and JT was appointed
shadow welfare minister (easily out-qualifying the current amateur)
it would be game on. Undoubtedly they are both scrappers and while
Bennett might have looked the feebler party a couple of years back,
the interim experience can only have toughened her markedly.
It's the points of difference I can't envisage because Tamihere is
actually a better fit with National. Paula Bennett has been
implementing the kind of reforms JT has pushed for years. Whanau
ora, devolving WINZ money to mentoring organisations, free
contraception, etc. Unlike most on the left, he isn't sympathetic to
bigger state handouts and is dead-set against encouraging more
Which brings me back to why? Is he simply slightly jealous of
Bennett's achievements? For instance, the law change that kicked-in
on October 15. Women who add a child to their benefit will only get
one years reprieve from work-testing. Labour couldn't even admit
this was a real problem, let alone try and sort it.
Paula's tough. Tough as in 'tough love'. And a tough love Mum is
amongst the most disciplined, formidable, fierce types. Too tough
for Tamihere I think.