Soon returning MP Kelvin Davis launches

Kelvin Davis will soon replace Shane Jones in Parliament as next on the Labour list. He has posted this comment in Facebook.

Well today is my first full day of being unemployed. I had to resign yesterday to avoid compromising my former employer (MoE). Public servants aren’t allowed to make comments to the media and the 24 hours after Paddy Gower dropped his Shane Jones bombshell I would have broken that rule, I dunno, maybe 30-40 times.

Anyway I sat down this morning to address all the Facebook, twitter and email messages and well-wishers only to find my computer has well and truly crapped out.

Responding to them all on a smartphone is proving nigh on impossible.

So sorry if i don’t get back to people in a timely way.

So far people have been gracious regarding my pending return to parliament, but I expect the threats and nutters to start up again the closer we get to the Election. Oh well, such is the lot of a politician.

I just want to reinforce my four political priorities before RSI sets into my thumb.

People will no doubt criticise them and say there are other, better, more important things I should focus on, but I guess in the first instance I’ve got to be true to myself and focus on what I’m passionate about.

Priority 1: no surprises, improving Maori educational achievement, and more importantly, improving Maori achievements through education. I’ll argue to my dying breath that education is the road to Maori success.

Priority 2: Regional Development for Te Tai Tokerau. We’ve got plans and strategies coming out our ears in TTT, but unless a Govt stumps up with some serious dough to implement these plans we’re wasting our time. Even a quarter of 1 percent of the money going into the Christchurch rebuild would go a long way to rebuilding the Tai Tokerau economy. Te Tai Tokerau has endured it’s own tragedy, but it happened over 40 years not 40 seconds. The effects on our people have been equally devastating in the long run.

Priority 3: Te Reo Maori, it’s in a sad state and one of the reasons is that it has been rendered down in most communities to a ceremonial language that had little relevance to most peoples everyday lives. We need to make Te Reo a transactional language so that if i wish I can walk into any business, bank, supermarket, service station or pub and conduct my business in Te Reo if I choose. It is a right English speakers enjoy without having to think about it. Those who wish to conduct daily transactions in Te Reo do not enjoy this right. There are a number of simple and relatively inexpensive practical activities that can happen to get people speaking Te Reo in the community. A lot of dosh is being spent on initiatives that have questionable impacts on improving Te Reo. They need to be reprioritised.

Priority 4: Stopping sexual, physical and emotional abuse of women and children, and yes to men as well.

I was outraged with the Roastbusters scandal and the well publicized sexual abuse/ pedophile cases in Kaitaia over the last few years.

I sat back and waited for a male MP especially any male MAORI MP to make a stand and say something along the lines of “What the bloody hell is going on that men can treat women and children like this?” I was waiting for a male MP to take a stand and tell all of us men that this abuse is (predominantly) a male problem, and that we need to sort our shit out ourselves. We need to have serious conversations with our sons, grandsons and nephews about how a real man treats a woman. But i bet this is just too hard for most males.

I said in my maiden speech that it’s one thing to be born a male, but another thing entirely to become a man. We need to MAN up any have the balls to have those hard conversations with our boys.

Instead the only noise coming from male MPs was the sound of crickets chirping.

So I determined if no other male MP was prepared to stand up and start lecturing men on how we need to treat and love our women and children, and if I was ever in the position again to pick up that mantle, I will.

Some months ago I approached some people who work in this field and told them if i ever get back into parliament, tell me what I need to do to support them. I’ll give them a call soon.

So men, I don’t give a rats arse if I’m accused of not being a REAL bloke, I’ll still be a sports and rugby fanatic, get on the piss, keep up my fishing, shooting and getting lost up in the bush – but i love my wife, daughters, mother, sister, nieces,cousins, friends and colleagues too much to ignore sexual, physical and emotional abuse any longer.


So that’s me. No doubt I’ll make plenty of stuff ups along the way but what the hell. I’m determined to enjoy my second chance at this and loosen up a bit.

More than one Maori reporter had told me “You’re bloody hilarious on Twitter, but when we interview you you’re as dry as a brick. We need to see more of the real you.”

I’ll try to remember that advice, but in my own defence improving outcomes for Maori, growing the Tai Tokerau economy, breathing life in to Te Reo and stopping sexual, emotional and physical abuse is fairly serious work.

I better get on with it I guess.

Smarmy and fake is hard to shake

I’m posting this reluctantly but I think it needs to be said.

David Cunliffe has a major image problem. I’ve heard that in private he comes across very well, but his public persona (or personas) are crippling him politically. Especially amongst women.

Unfortunately this comment from ‘bmk’ at Public Address is a common impression of David Cunliffe.

The most depressing this about this whole episode was only tangentially related. My partner only follows politics very casually until close to the election when she decides (last couple of times for Labour). Anyway as we don’t normally watch much tv we were for once watching tv and she saw Cunliffe on late-night tv being interviewed about the Jones departure; she was highly unimpressed.

She asked me who this ‘smarmy prick’ was and why on earth they made him leader. She said he continually had a fake smile and sounded smug, fake and smarmy.

She also commented on his dress (something I never really notice) – saying that he was probably trying for casual since it was late night tv but instead it came across as 70s sleaze. She says she still hates Key but couldn’t vote for such a smarmy fake.

While this is simply one person’s opinion I have heard similar from others. Particularly the smarmy and fake thing. My concern is that he makes this impression on those who only have a passing interest in politics. At the time the Labour leadership was being contested I supported Cunliffe; I now wish I hadn’t. But I really don’t know who would have done a better job – certainly not Jones.

I have heard Cunliffe talk intelligently before but I think he needs some good media training to drop the smarmy, fake look he projects. Possibly smile less and sounding less convinced of his own cleverness (even if he is that clever).

Will Cunliffe or his advisers listen to this? Can they do anything about it? Or do they think what they are doing is the right approach?

Polls show Labour is shedding support – particularly amongst women.

The latest Herald/Digipoll has Cunliffe polling lower than Shearer ever was in ‘preferred PM’.

Party poll results for Labour (compared to December 2013):

  • Total 29.5% (down 5.9)
  • Male 27.2% (down 5.5)
  • Female 31.5% (down 6.6)
  • Auckland 26.7% (down 9.9)
  • Rest of NZ 31% (down 3.7)

Labour usually gets more female support but that is coming down significantly.

Preferred PM for Cunliffe:

  • Total 11.1% (down 5.4)
  • Male 12.3% (down 5.3)
  • Female 10.1% (down 4.8)

Female support for Labour is higher than male support (31.5 to 26.7), but females rate Cunliffe lower as preferred PM than males (10.1 to 12.3) - Source.

First impressions matter a lot in politics, many people see little beyond first impressions until they take more of an interest during an election campaign.

‘Smarmy’ and ‘fake’ are impressions that are gaining ground and won’t be easy to shake off, but if Cunliffe wants to reverse Labour’s failing fortunes it’s something he has to address. If he can.

Is the Labour totara rooted?

There’s positives (a few) and negatives (big ones) for Labour on the confirmation that Shane Jones prefers to go fishing rather than stay with the party  stunned mullets and flounder.

Much has been said about the negatives and that dark cloud of criticism will hover for some time.

On the positive side it’s best for Labour that a senior minister who had lost heart and lost hope ion the party bails out. The timing is awful but lingering would have just extended the problem.

The best to come of this is it gives the widely respected Kelvin Davis pay and perks to help his election campaign, and to get back into the Parliamentary fold. There’s a good chance he’ll run Hone Harawira close in Te Tai Tokerau – if Labour allow it – but many Labour supporters will hope the party gives him a chance via the list as well.

Labour is left with major problems. The debacle of Jones’ exit is significant but on it’s own relatively minor.

But it is a symptom of much bigger problems for Labour. Their handling of the Jones news was widely reported as abysmal, and that’s how it looked. This screamed of wider and deeper problems including major lacks of management and common sense.

If Labour don’t urgently reassess their approach and drastically change it their problems could be terminal. Last election was an embarrassing all time low result for them but on current performance there’s a good chance they will do worse this time.

Voters don’t like disorganised losers.

Cunliffe appears to be struggling big time. He appeared on the Paul Henry show the night the Jones news broke. It was a mixture of stunned mullet and flounder, but even at a glance he looked bad, his dress sense matched his political sense – inappropriate and out of character.

Cunliffe on Henry

“One button undone casual, two relaxed, three Hasselhoff. <a href=”>(WO)</a>&#8221;

See Jones’ departure ‘not a disaster’ – Cunliffe. The holing of the Titanic wasn’t a disaster, the sinking was. The Henry interview was a symptom of a much bigger iceberg lurking below Labour’s surface.

If Labour keep repeating the same mistakes, and the Jones mess was just a larger one amongst a procession of smaller ones, then the outlook could be grim for them – and this is grim for New Zealand democracy as well, a disintegrating party is weakening Parliament already.

Labour need to urgently reassess and repackage themselves, if they have the personnel and the insight to recognise how necessary this is.

Josie Pagani wrote at Pundit in Warning to Labour; the heretic hunters are driving people away:

In 1996 the Labour party dropped to 14% in the polls, ten weeks out from an election. They choose not to batten down the hatches and double down on failed strategies. They looked at why they were so unpopular, and changed. They reached a more respectable 28% on election day, and laid the seeds for victory, and the most successful Labour government of my lifetime so far in 1999.

It’s about four months until the election.

The first essential is to stop the haemorrhaging.

Then Cunliffe has to learn how to be consistent and genuine, and build from there. Quickly. He looks and sounds like a variety of packaged fakes.

Whether he has the personality to look prime ministerial or not Cunliffe has to have confidence to present himself as capable of the top job and keen to lead. Is there a real Cunliffe behind the changing images and attempts to keep diverting from the issues of the day to bland PR?

And Cunliffe is only the tip of the iceberg. His caucus colleagues and his parliamentary team and his party organisation right down to Labour activists in social media need a total overhaul in attitude and approach.

All they seem to do is continue with the same old excuses and mistakes. It’s not all everyone else’s fault.

Politics is often unfair – especially if you keep stuffing things up.

Labour have to acknowledge they are currently on a slippery slope to oblivion. And they have to find the ability and the will to do something about it.

Cunliffe was right when he said that no person was indispensable in a party. He said “When a totara falls in the forest another totara grows to take it’s place.”

He should also recognise that no party is indispensable in a Parliament.

Jones lost the ambition to succeed in politics, he lost the will to continue as an MP. Is that also how Labour as a party is, but without the insight to see it or the candour to admit it?


Key on cannabis – avoiding the elephant

There are major issues looming over the use of legal highs and associated cannabis use.

John Key was asked about legal highs and cannabis on Firstline this morning - PM: Legalising cannabis won’t kill legal highs

Prime Minister John Key says decriminalising cannabis will not prevent people from smoking synthetic highs.

Respondents to a Campbell Live poll last week overwhelmingly voted in favour of decriminalisation of cannabis (see Campbell Live cannabis ‘poll’), but appearing on Firstline this morning, Mr Key said that would send the wrong message.

“The Government making it legal I think we accept is a step we could take. It would be a very, very difficult and challenging step to take, it wouldn’t actually eradicate society of these products,” says Mr Key.

Yes it would be difficult. And it wouldn’t eradicate legal highs.

But it would give people who wanted to (and will) use drugs a legal choice so could better choose risks. At the moment it appears as if there are major problems with some or all of the legal highs that are still available, including significant addiction issues.

A  question has to be seriously asked – is cannabis safer than legal highs? If so why isn’t it given at least the same legal status as synthetic drugs?

Is cannabis one of the least worst options?

“In the end, drugs of any sort are a road to nowhere in my view, and we want to encourage New Zealanders not to use them.”

That’s fine but it won’t stop many people from seeking and using drugs.

Banning the 41 legal high offerings still on the shelves is harder than it sounds, says Mr Key.

“If you ban Kronic, for instance, they just change the chemical formula. Some of those chemicals are used in products that New Zealanders wouldn’t want to see banned.”

From 2015 all psychoactive products will need to be proved safe before they can be sold, and the Government hopes the cost of getting products tested will be so high, none will.

“The balance of proof, if you like, will change,” says Mr Key.

“Instead of saying, ‘here’s a product, is it actually harmful?’ they’ll actually have to prove it’s not harmful before you can get it on the shelves.”

What if none of the synthetic drugs are found to pass the ‘low harm’ threshold and they are all banned? We will have a large number of drug users who suddenly have no legal options.  They will either switch back to (illegal) cannabis or source illegal synthetics.  Neither will address the issues, and they could create more issues and problems.
This is something that needs urgent attention from Government. Just waiting and seeing what happens as the Psychoactive Substances Act kicks in fully would be a very risk experiment.
Cannabis is an elephant in the House. John Key must take a lead on this and look at how to deal with cannabis versus legal highs.

On ACT’s 3 strikes for burglars policy

ACT leader Jamie Whyte has announced more detail on his party’s three strikes for burglars policy. NZ Herald reports Jail burglars after third offence, says Act.

More than 2000 families will have returned home from the Easter break to find they had been burgled, and Act says it is the only New Zealand political party offering a serious solution.

Party leader Jamie Whyte yesterday outlined a three-strikes policy, under which burglars will spend at least three years in prison if convicted of the crime a third time.

Fewer than 2 per cent of burglaries resulted in a term of imprisonment last year, Dr Whyte said, and the Act policy would change this.

“Burglary is a problem that requires strong political leadership. Act is the only party with a policy that can significantly reduce this blight on our society.”

There’s been a wide range of opinions expressed at Kiwiblog in ACT proposes three strikes for burglaries including ‘FE Smith’ with a warning for ACT.

It is sad that a right wing libertarian party has to adopt the policies of the most authoritarian UK government in 100 years, and a Labour one at that, in order to be relevant.

I seem to remember that ACT was doing its best in the polls when it concentrated on economic issues, which is why I have generally supported it.

The Herald summarises ACT’s three strikes:

• Offenders will be sentenced to three years in prison without parole if convicted of a third burglary offence.

• Juvenile offenders will not have their convictions treated as strikes unless they are convicted of a further offence in adulthood.

• The third-strike penalty may be overruled by a judge who believed there to be extreme hardship in sentencing the offender to three years in prison.

PaulL covers the main policy points at Kiwiblog and makes some comments:

Gee, there’s a lot of people talking crap on here today. Luckily some nuggets in there, which include:

  1. The policy only applies to those over 18 on getting their third strike
  2. The policy as proposed is retrospective. That’s a bad idea, and needs to be changed, we don’t want some political parties getting the idea that we agree with retrospective law changes
  3. The policy as proposed can catch someone for three offences all in one go, rather than needing a warning, then a repeat, then a warning, then a repeat. That’s probably also a bad idea and needs changing.
  4. A policy like this is no use without also increasing the clearance rates for burglary investigations. Is it a case of increasing police resourcing, or do they actually know who did most of the crimes and don’t have time/inclination/laws to deal with it? I seem to recall some suggestion that 80% of property crimes are committed by a very small group of people (the ones this law would hopefully lock up)
  5. We also need some attempt to address some of the prompters of crime. That is to say, many people commit crimes to feed their (illegal) drug habit or due to mental health issues. – so both decriminalise drugs, and provide better treatment options for drug and mental health issues.

That would be a reasonable and comprehensive policy. Where’s Jamie Whyte on that?

One comment was that “Three years in jail equals about $270,000″ – would that sort of money be best to go towards more and longer sentences, or towards prevention, apprehension and conviction under the current laws?

ACT links:

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler has added:

I don’t agree that the policy is retrospective.

The law change being proposed is that those with the prior convictions for burglary must receive a sentence with a non-parole period of at least 3 years. The burglary for which this is imposed must be a burglary committed after the law enters into force.

There is no retrospectivity in this proposal.

Not saying I support it, and you could argue everyone should get at a formal warning, like the three strikes for violent offending regime, but it’s not retrospective.

MPs on cannabis

On Thursday 3 News political editor Patrick Gower asked MPs if they would vote to decriminalise cannabis and whether they have smoked cannabis – MPs and marijuana – politicians’ views on decriminalising pot.

Would you vote to decriminalise cannabis?

  • Paula Bennett (National, Waitakere): No
  • Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture, Ohariu): No
  • Mark Mitchell (National, Rodney): I definitely wouldn’t vote to decriminalise it.
  • Metiria Turei (Greens, list): Yes
  • Tau Henare (National, list): It’s illegal to smoke dope now, but it’s really easy to get Kronic. Work that one out.
  • Claudette Hauiti (National, list): ignored question.
  • Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National, list): I can’t answer that, I’m all getting late.
  • Sue Moroney (Labour, list): I’d be prepared to consider it in the context of wider drug law reform.
  • Eric Roy (National, Invercargill): No I wouldn’t.
  • Annette King (Labour, Rongatai): Probably not.
  • Andrew Williams (NZ First, list): I haven’t even thought about it myself.
  • Gareth Hughes (Greens, list): You know I used to work for Greenpeace, sailed in the Rainbow Warrior so what do you expect, and that’s why I support decriminalisation.
  • Phil Heatley (National, Whangarei): No.

No – 5
Probably not – 1
Yes – 2
Consider it or possible – 2

Wouldn’t say – 3

Have you smoked cannabis?

  • Paula Bennett (National, Waitakere): certainly not a no.
  • Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture, Ohariu): yes
  • Mark Mitchell (National, Rodney): maybe when I was 16 or 17.
  • Metiria Turei (Greens, list): Yes
  • Richard Prosser (NZ First, list) made faces and pretended he didn’t hear the question. Then he responded: Have you? Asked again: I don’t think I’ve got an answer to that question. After further questioning he kept avoiding answering, until when pressed he finally admitted: Yeah, I have.
  • Tau Henare (National, list): Yeah.
  • Eric Roy (National, Invercargill): Never.
  • Gareth Hughes (Greens, list): Yeah I’ve smoked cannabis. You know I used to work for Greenpeace, sailed in the Rainbow Warrior so what do you expect…
  • Christopher Finlayson (National, list): No
  • Catherine Delahunty (Greens, list): Yes
  • Annette King (Labour, Rongatai):Yes I did.
  • Jonathan Young (National, New Plymouth): No I don’t, obviously haven’t.
  • Todd McClay (National, Rotorua) I have in my younger days.
  • Phil Heatley (National, Whangarei):Never commented on it, never will.


Greens and deputy Prime Minister

Green co-leader Metiria Turei talked about the possibility of having Green co-deputy Prime Ministers in a Labour-Green coalition on The Nation. It won’t be easy to negotiate two top ranks in a coalition cabinet. Much will depend on the parties relative numbers – and Winston Peters.

The Nation – Greens aim for co-deputy PM role.

The Greens could share the deputy Prime Minster role in a coalition with Labour, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman last month said he was keen on the role.

Ms Turei said she would like to be deputy Prime Minister along with Dr Norman.

“There’s no rules that stop there from being more than one deputy Prime Minister,” she told The Nation.

“Russel and I have had a co-leadership role in the Greens that’s worked very well for the Green Party. I think something similar would work very well for the country as well.”

They would divide the position the same way they do as co-leaders, she said.

“We each have our own expertise. We have our own roles that we play and we do that work.”

How much negotiating sway they had would depend on the size of their vote, Ms Turei said.

I don’t see a problem in general with having two deputy Prime Ministers. And having someone like Turei to stand up to some of the Labour cabinet might do them some good.

The biggest problem with the idea is balance of power. Greens having positions 2= and 2= in cabinet would be a very hard sell, especially if Winston Petersis in the mix, but even if it’s just Labour and Greens.

They might be able to get around this by the Greens being allocated two positions in Cabinet’s ranking, say 2 and 6, with Norman and Turei alternating eighteen months in each position.

Turei is right, it will depend a lot on the size of each party’s vote and their number of MPs in coalition.

If Greens and NZ First get a similar number of MPs it will be difficult for Greens to negotiate two near top ranks. If Labour continue to struggle and dropped their current proportion (27% at the last election) – and on current performance this is not out of the question – and Greens grow their vote then their negotiating strength will be greater.

‘The martyrdom of Pete George’

As anyone who becomes reasonable well known across the blogosphere knows you can get talked about in various places. It can be strange, funny and bemusing.

The attention is often critical, occasionally vindictive and nasty, and some people get their kicks out of perpetual kicking as serial harassers. But at times it can be clever and humorous.

One person who makes a habit of preying attention is Rhinocrates. Their three comments at The Standard yesterday were all digs at me, fairly typical from someone whose horn seems to have gotten out of joint. They are usually passing snipes but went to a bit more thought and effort than usual with this one.

This, I need not remind you, is Easter, the time in which we must observe the martyrdom of Pete George the most Holy.

It is He who has instructed us in the utmost selective pedantry of our sins of lack of reverence for Himself. Let us not forget that. It is we who have crucified Him on the Cross of Snark.

Let us all retreat to the Hallowed Ground of our Lifestyle Blocks, don the sacred vestments of the Beige Cardigans of Repentance, climb upon our Horses Most High and make the Holy Gestures of the Wagging Finger and the Wrung Hands.

Then let us Check Our Facts and observe the proper period of Calling For More Study.


Very funny. Apart from obvious overstatement (part of the game) it’s typically inaccurate – I don’t do cardigans. And if I was really blog beige I’d have thought I would go unnoticed.

And I’m not up for sacrifice or dramatic risings. I see myself as chugging away looking for opportunities to try and make a bit of difference in a crowded political field.

Easter for me is little more than family chocolate and a bit more time to inadvertently inspire the Rhinocrates of the blogosphere. With typical irony this particular Rhino is not very thick skinned and has tried a few self-martyr mopes himself.

But it’s good for a laugh. Giving perceived enemies rings must get a bit tedious at times, The Standard could do with more levity to balance it’s political Mordor.

Questions about cannabis related to synthetic drug use and law

There’s a lot of discussion about synthetic drugs and associated issues. The issue of how cannabis fits in is also being increasingly raised. I have some questions on this.

  • What are people’s thoughts here about what part cannabis plays in the synthetic drug issue?
  • Is cannabis as risky, riskier or is it safer?
  • If cannabis was available the same as synthetics would the problem be better, worse or similar?
  • If no synthetics pass the safety test of the new Act and nothing else changes will the problems get better or worse?
  • Should the laws related to cannabis use be reviewed?
  • Should the laws related to cannabis cultivation be reviewed?
  • Should the laws related to cannabis supply be reviewed?
  • Should all psychoactive substances be banned (including cannabis)?

I’m researching and seeking opinions on cannabis versus synthetic drugs. No drug is completely safe, but total bans never work, people will find ways of using drugs, legally or illegally.

When the Psychoactive Substances Act kicks in we may have no synthetic drugs legally for sale or we may have a reduced number of them for sale. Regardless, we will still have issues with drug use, drug addiction and associated problems – especially health and crime.

‘SPC’ on Labour’s predicament

Another response to Kiwi in America’s essay on Labour’s failings, SPC has posted at both Kiwiblog and The Standard.

FACT 1 – The Rogernomics era had no mandate from the party. It nearly destroyed Labour.

FACT 2 – It took till 1999-2002 and a Labour government that delivered on its manifesto to restore trust between caucus and party member – this lead to the end of any need for “New Labour”.

FACT 3 – However this alone was and is insufficient for restoration. The Labour Party is not yet over what Rogernomics did to it (but then nor is New Zealand).

To have a party based on democratic, and meritocratic, selection involves trust that candidates will remain loyal to the party and its manifesto. This was something completely breached in the 1980′s. So between 1987 and 2011, selection was based on a party faction patronage – this of course meant it was somewhat insulated from inclusive participation by the general public.

The Labour Party was so abused by its caucus in the 1980′s that only the recent party reforms, the retirement of the last of the 1980′s era personnel and the decline of the party factions of recent decades will enable renewal.

Too much focus on the people involved just obscures the circumstance in which they operated.


FACT 4 – Being expert in managing factions gave Clark an advantage in MMP.

The irony however is in that with a majority in caucus being of the ABC persuasion, when he was the choice of the wider party, we have continuance of the caucus and party divide that began their problems 30 years ago. And for the same reason, those dominant in caucus “knew better” (about policy or who should be leader).

FACT 5 – Cunliffe will only get confidence from his caucus if the membership of it changes or he wins an election.

FACT 6 – Labour Leaders are now required to retain the trust of their party, and thus the idea that a caucus leader can lead the party in new directions without first getting a mandate is now buried. The party can no longer be hijacked by turning its leader or finance spokesperson – a message to Treasury, whether in domestic and international aspect, as much as to the caucus.

Whether this makes for a more left wing party is harder to say. The party activist is less likely to want caucus to compromise for centrist votes, yet a more open party means more internal diversity and a broader base membership.



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