National and Labour down in Roy Morgan poll

The latest Roy Morgan polls has drops for both National and Labour with Greens and NZ First up. This may reflect the respective attention the parties got in the Northland by election.

  • National 45.5% (down 1%)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (down 0.5%)
  • Act NZ 1% (unchanged)
  • United Future 0% (unchanged)
  • Labour 27.5% (down 3.5%)
  • Greens 13.5% (up 2.5%)
  • NZ First 8.5% (up 2.5%)
  • Conservative Party 1% (down 0.5%)
  • Internet-Mana Party 0% (unchanged)
  • Independent/ Others 1.5% (up 0.5%).

National won’t be too worried with a slight easing but Labour may be a bit worried, it’s the first drop since Andrew Little took over leadership. It’s just one poll but the Northland rock and a hard place may have knocked them.

It demonstrates one of Labour’s problems – if their potential support partners go up they go down.

RoyMorgan2015April

Electors were asked: “If a New Zealand Election were held today which party would receive your party vote?” This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 888 electors from April 6-19, 2015. Of all electors surveyed 4% (up 0.5%) didn’t name a party.

Roy Morgan:

Green leadership contenders

There’s been no more nominations for the male co-leader position vacated by Russel Norman so there will four contenders:

  • Kevin Hague
  • Gareth Hughes
  • James Shaw
  • Vernon Tava

I think the leading contenders will be Hague – experienced and reliable – versus a contrasting new hope for the future, James Shaw.

My pick is the safer option, Hague. Shaw’s time will come – he had initially said he wouldn’t stand this time due to only being an MP for a few months but changed his mind.

Tava has some interesting ideas but with no chance of being an MP for the next two and a half years, and has said he doesn’t know if he will stand for the Green list in 2017, so I don’t think he has much chance.

Hughes may appeal to some Greens with his ‘do what members choose’ approach but his reliance on ‘hey Clint; guidance must count against him, ultimately people like leaders who are prepared to lead.

There’s been just one nomination for the female co-leader position. Metiria Turei has tweeted:

Whew! Reckon my chances are pretty good…

But she points out there’s still a vote:

Yep.  We have a no confidance option for delegates who dont want to vote for me (or any candidate)

I don’t know if the vote is made public but I’d expect Greens to avoid controversy over Turei being elected without a solid endorsement.

The voting will be done at the Green AGM on 30 May so that’s another 6 weeks in leadership limbo with Norman phasing out.

And Turei has had a low profile over the last month, maybe contemplating her own future, maybe not wanting to dominate the leadership as Norman fades away.

Has Metiria lost the Green mojo?

Metiria Turei seems to have been quiet lately, which is odd considering Russel Norman is stepping down as Green co-leader.

The Greens may still have Mojo Mathers but have they lost their mojo?

TureiLostMojoTurei has been dabbling away on Facebook over the past couple of weeks, but it’s hardly high profile stuff, unless dogs are the new Green issue:

22 March – Rupert, a jack russel foxy cross is missing from Bethunes Gully, NEV, Dunedin. Please keep a look out if you are up that way.

24 March – Rupert is home, thank you everyone who shared the notice. Mx

25 March – Love it, another dog found and in the paper. The ODT totally rules!

26 March – Dog question. I want to teach my dog to do some dance moves. He will spin around with a treat incentive so we have got a twirl underway. But any other advice on teaching dog boogie?

2 April – Missing dog from Musselburgh.

Other than that she has posted about limes, roses, economic inequality, granny squares, the TPPA and a missing woman. And Winston Peters:

Waatea News: Greens keen to work with Peters

Greens co–leader Metiria Turei is looking forward to working with new Northland MP Winston Peters on issues they agree on.

“We know Winston will do what is in Winston’s best interest and sometimes it means working with us and sometimes not. Frankly I can live that. I understand better now how he operates and I don’t think there are any serious problems between New Zealand First and the Greens,”

Overshadowed by the Winston show, trying to pick up some crumbs from it.

Metiria Turei says Winston Peters’ Northland win should have shown national what happens when it stops listening to people.

Greens didn’t stand a candidate in Northland.

Apart from her dog duties what has Turei been up to? She has had a low profile in Parliament. Her last speech was :

Her last question in question time was:

That was Tuesday two weeks ago. Since then the Green questions have been:

So Turei had one question on the first sitting day of the last two weeks and none since, while Norman has asked three questions, the Greens twelve in total. Parliament is now in recess for three weeks.

A resurgent Winston Peters is a real threat to Green aspirations. With Norman deciding to step down and put more emphasis on his family life (understandably) the Greens need to fill a leadership vacuum, especially if Turei has lost enthusiasm and commitment as well.

She didn’t seem very enthusiastic here:

Bill English closed that question session with:

Why the Greens support that poverty inducing policy is beyond me.

How demoralising was that barb? Does Turei represent the lost mojo of theGreens?

With the right approasch sensible RMA reform should be easy

One of National’s few election pledges last year was to reform the Resource Management Act to reduce roadblocks to development. This was a major issue in the this month’s by-election with National claiming a less restrictive RMA was essential to promote development in Northland.

A number of parties recognise the problems that have evolved with ridiculous application of the RMA by some councils but wish to retain the fundamental environmental protections that the Act is based on.

Labour ‘happy to look at’ sensible RMA changes:

Labour is offering to look at “sensible changes” to the Resource Management Act as the Government takes its proposed amendments back to the drawing board.

Labour’s environment spokeswoman, Megan Woods, says the Government never had broad political support for its proposed changes.

“Labour is happy to look at any sensible changes that do not water down our environmental protections,” she said.

And three parties outlined their positions to Radio NZ in Govt to ‘rip up’ RMA plans.

Labour’s environment spokesperson Megan Woods:

“We’ve said all along that we’ll look at sensible changes to the RMA.”

She said cornerstone legislation such as the RMA should never be changed without genuine consultation with all political parties in Parliament.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox:

“We don’t want to hold up economic progress in this country. We don’t want to be seen as the ones who are stopping that from happening but, in the same breath, we will not put our environment at risk for our future generations in doing so,” she said.

“So, yes, we need economic benefit for the country and the development of some of these things but not at all costs.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne:

“I’ve always said that, while I am not in the favour of any changes to the principles of the RMA, that I think there are process changes that can be made and we should be talking about them but, to date, those talks haven’t been held.”

There’s a common theme – retain the bedrock environmental protection but sort out the processes.

As is typical Winston Peters is all over the place on the RMA and can’t be relied on:

Mr Peters said New Zealand First was seeking to work with the Government on legislation that would change the lives of those in the regions – and he said that was not the RMA.

Mr Key said…

…it was still possible some process changes could be made to the act with the support of Mr Dunne or the Maori Party or both.

The Green Party is more hardcore environment over development for example: Failings in the Resource Management Act need to be addressed:

“The RMA is supposed to balance the short term needs of landholders with long term care of our environment. Clearly, the balance has tipped in favour of landholders.

“While the public have been able to protest this particular case and have been able to halt the felling of this tree, the RMA still favours developer profits over our environment, and this battle will have to be fought again and again to safeguard what we hold most precious.

“That the legislation failed to protect this kauri is astonishing. Minister for the Environment Nick Smith is planning a further brutal attack on the RMA this year, to tip the balance further in favour of his developer mates.

Despite this National should give all parties the opportunity to have input into possible changes – especially Labour, but also the Greens.

The Resource Management Act should be given every chance of wide cross-party consensus on reform.

Listen: Hager revelations and elections

Nicky Hager has a history of launching anti-Government revelations that happen to coincide with elections. Last year he claimed the timing of “Dirty Politics” had nothing to do with the general election but that was as credible as much of his unbalanced assumptions’ based on cherry picked illegally obtained data.

Important messages were largely ignored by voters, or reacted against, amongst a fog of war words.

Undeterred Hager is driving another series of revelations, this time on the GCSB and spying, that happen to coincide with a by-election.

There’s other significant factors in the by-election – the ex-Sabin effect, the Winston effect, the “I’ve got ten bridges to sell you” effect, the large Little Labour capitulation effect, and the Osborne-possum-in-headlights effect.

So it’s going to be difficult to determine whether Hager manages this time to undermine the National led Government or if he again helps motivate voters to react against his aims.

Last week’s Listener editorial covered this well.

I Spy a By-Election

The Pavlovian response can work in reverse, as peace researcher Nicky Hager demonstrates, again seizing on an election campaign to prosecute his latest accusations against a government.

Voters’ clear message when he attempted this in last year’s general election was “Don’t try to railroad us”. His Dirty Politics allegations not only failed to dent the Government’s re-election chances, but may have backhandedly assisted them. Yet Hager has chosen the heightened atmosphere of the Northland by-election to drip-feed more leaked information purporting state malfeasance.

He has taken a different approach this time, drip feeding his claims week by week. Last election he tried one big hit with his book dump of selected data.

However interesting and potentially concerning Hager’s information may be, his timing puts his work at an inevitable discount. Northland voters could be forgiven for feeling resentful, as the by-election should be a platform for their concerns, not to further an activist’s minority agenda. Also galling is the way Hager uses the tactic of rationing information, ensuring he and American whistle-blower Edward Snowden can frame discussion on their terms, rather than allowing all the facts and implications to be judged. Hager seems as oblivious to these concerns as he is to the double-standard of his using illicitly obtained data to accuse others of illicit data collection.

Not just Hager. His fan club is so devoted to eliminating spying and eliminating the Key Government they either willingly or blindly ignore the double standards.

What galls most, however, is his apparent lack of perspective. This tranche of evidence that the Government Communications Security Bureau routinely hoovers up information about Pacific neighbours, allies and New Zealand citizens alike in a blanket take-all trawl of data has so far failed to “shock” voters as he predicted. This is because the subsequent sieving of that information is precisely what most citizens want and expect security services to do, in order to protect them not just from terrorists, but from crime, epidemic, biosecurity threats, child sex rings, drugs and all manner of menace.

Hager, in contrast, appears to start from the position that all or most surveillance is unnecessary and predominantly a stalking-horse for malign political purposes. In this he is hardly alone, as regular, well-attended protest meetings attest. However, Hager’s is still the minority view.

That minority thinks either that all they need to do is reveal “truth to power” to win over majority support, or that the general population are too dumb to see what they can see.

It may very well be that the GCSB exceeds its legal bounds. It would be astonishing if it did not at times test the spirit of its governing legislation. This needs close watching and robust accountability, and the public questioning Hager engenders is healthy and valuable.

Sort of valuable. By over playing his hand Hager could as easily be as counter-productive to the cause of holding to account as he is saviour of the surveilled.

However, an enduring majority of voters see a reasonable amount of state surveillance as necessary. “Reasonable” is a hard balance to strike where incursion into civil liberties is an unavoidable means to the end. It can be a Hobbesian choice. But this week’s news of a threat to contaminate baby formula – a terror-grade response to the Government’s continued use of 1080 poison – surely underlined the need for continued targeted surveillance. It is unquestionably the role of security intelligence to protect people from vengeful zealots who might conceivably act on their agendas and harm others, either physically or by economically ruinous acts. Such vigilance scarcely makes the GCSB the tool of self-interested political forces.

So far the debate over Hager’s latest revelation has eddied around the distinction between wholesale blind collection of data, and that which is sifted from among that information to be physically inspected. The Government says the mass trawling is a merely mechanical first step in a carefully targeted intelligence-gathering system. Critics like Hager say the data collection is illegal, full stop. It’s not a debate on which either side will agree to differ anytime soon.

Glen Greenwald joined in the war of words regarding the definition of mass collection – see The Orwellian Re-Branding of “Mass Surveillance” as Merely “Bulk Collection” – and Orwellian interpretations are as prevalent in his arguments as those with differing views.

If, as he again hints he will, Hager can produce evidence our spies or their political masters are misusing data, then the whole country will listen with concern. Prime Minister John Key’s dismissive and at times high-handed responses to Hager’s allegations may yet set him up for resignation, if it is proved our spies have exceeded their bounds.

Key doesn’t help his own cause with his at times “dismissive and at times high-handed responses”.

However, the mere fact of our spying on our Pacific neighbours is hardly proof of that, as most of their leaders have acknowledged. Our close relationship with these much poorer nations means it is our role and responsibility to watch out on their behalf for terrorists or criminals trying to establish a new beachhead.

That’s something Hager fails to recognise or acknowledge – spying on the Pacific is probably more for their benefit that something for them to be concerned about.

In so consistently failing to persuade most New Zealanders to his perspective, Hager may conclude most people are complacent about their civil rights. He might more usefully conclude that most are simply less complacent than he is about genuine threats to the security of our sphere.

He and a few anti-spying idealists – like the four Green co-leader candidates who want to scrap the GCSB and withdraw from Five-Eyes. See Green leadership contenders on spying.

Hager, Greens and a few others think we will be able to rename New Zealand to New Nirvana if we drop most of our spying and security measures.

The Greens didn’t stand a candidate in Northland. Part of the reasoning for this may have been to avoid splitting the anti-Government vote. Labour has thrown their candidate under a bus in a much clumsier attempt to do likewise.

It would be interesting to know if the Greens were aware in advance of the Hager by-election campaign.

If the Sabin stench wasn’t hovering over National in Northland and if National had chosen a strong candidate (there’s suspicions they selected Osborne on the basis he was least tainted by Sabin associations) then the Greens/Labour/Peters gambit alongside the latest Hager hit job might have been a revolution in vain, again.

But the Northland by-election result will be conflicted by the mess of National’s own making versus the combined anti-Key anti-spying informal coalition.

The voters of Northland are pawns in a much bigger game of political chess.

Green leadership contenders on spying

The Nation had a panel discussion with the four Green male co-leader contenders (note that there could, nominations don’t close for another month).

They were asked about the GCSB and spying.

Vernon Tava: “extremely carefully circumscribed”, “far, far stronger oversight”, “treated very, very carefully”, “extremely tight rein”.

James Shaw: “rules around it have to be very clear”, “ transparent oversight”. He seems to contradict himself with “I think the thing that we’ve had in the last few years that people have become increasingly worried about is this idea that everyone is being spied on” but “I think there’s sort of an expectation in our society that that’s OK”.

Gareth Hughes: “I support NZ having domestic intelligence abilities with appropriate oversight and transparency, but we should not be spying on other countries”, “I think we should have a GCSB with appropriate oversight, and I think they should be supporting our companies to prepare themselves against cyber-attack intrusions”.

Kevin Hague: “I definitely would bail out of Five Eyes, and I would shut down the GCSB. I think, uh, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for surveillance, provided that there is a reasonable cause and that is independently verified. Um, and I think Gareth’s right that it could be the police that actually carries out that function.”

No GCSB, no foreign surveillance or intelligence seems to be a very naive position to have. It’s not likely to happen with both National and Labour seeing the need for the GCSB.

Greens complained that they don’t have a member on the Security and Intelligence Committee but if they oppose the GCSB and any foreign surveillance or intelligence gathering perhaps their exclusion shouldn’t be surprising.

3 News Transcript:

Is there a place for spying in our society? Vernon?

Tava: It needs to be extremely carefully circumscribed. There are people— you know, we’re seeing with the 1080 threat. You know, we’re seeing there are people who want to do malevolent things. But we need far, far stronger oversight and far less politically oriented oversight than we’re seeing now. It needs to be treated very, very carefully.

So it’s OK to spy as long as you keep a tight rein on it?

Tava: Extremely tight rein.

James?

Shaw: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think the rules around it have to be very clear. There has to be transparent oversight. People need to understand what we’re doing. I think the thing that we’ve had in the last few years that people have become increasingly worried about is this idea that everyone is being spied on. You know, countries have spied on each other from time immemorial. Uh, for, you know, trade deals. Uh, you know, wars. All that kind of thing. I think there’s sort of an expectation in our society that that’s OK. I don’t think that there’s an expectation that it is okay to spy on everybody.

So, Gareth, is it OK to spy on people?

Hughes: I support the police having intelligence-gathering, uh, abilities with appropriate oversight. When it comes to the Five Eyes network, you know, I’m a dad. I teach my kids to do what’s right. Spying on our friends and allies. Spying on our major trading partner, that’s not right.

So leave Five Eyes and shut down the GCSB?

Hughes: I believe NZ should get out of the Five Eyes network. I don’t believe it’s in our economic interest. I don’t believe it is the right thing to do. I support NZ having domestic intelligence abilities with appropriate oversight and transparency, but we should not be spying on other countries.

But you name-checked the police, then. You said it’s OK for the police. What about the GCSB? Yes or no?

Hughes: I think we should have a GCSB with appropriate oversight, and I think they should be supporting our companies to prepare themselves against cyber-attack intrusions.

So, Kevin, bail out of Five Eyes as Gareth says?

Hague: Yeah, I definitely would bail out of Five Eyes, and I would shut down the GCSB. I think, uh, that isn’t to say that there isn’t a place for surveillance, provided that there is a reasonable cause and that is independently verified. Um, and I think Gareth’s right that it could be the police that actually carries out that function.

But are you aware what damage that would do to us to bail out of that agreement?

Hague: I don’t see any damage. What are you thinking of?

Economic damage with our trading partners.

Hague: Yeah, I don’t believe it would result.

Hughes: How do you think our major trading partner, China, feels about us gathering their data? How do you think our allies and friends in the Pacific feel about it? Now, two decades ago, NZ stood up for an independent foreign policy. What we see now is we’re part of this—

Well, in the Pacific, a lot of the island nations have said they are not bothered by it. They accept it.

Hughes: And, to be frank, they’re in a different power situation vis-a-vis NZ. I don’t think they want, seriously, us to be surveilling and scooping up all of their communications.

Green financial n…n…nou…nous…nah

The four Greens who have put themselves forward to replace Russel Norman as co-leader have a bit of homework to do if they want to get up to speed financially.

They were interviewed on The Nation this morning and 3 News reports  Green candidates fumble financial questioning.

Three of the four candidates for the Green Party leadership have failed to answer general knowledge financial questions.

Co-leader Russel Norman, renowned for giving the environmentally-focused party financial credibility, is resigning his leadership.

Green Party MPs James Shaw, Gareth Hughes and Kevin Hague, as well as party co-convenor Vernon Tava, have thrown their hats in the ring.

And financial hats are not their strength.

Mr Hughes thought the inflation rate was around two percent. It’s 0.8.

Mr Hague thought economic growth in the last year was 0.25 percent. It’s 2.9.

Mr Tava thought the Official Cash Rate was 7.8 percent. It’s 3.5.

“That’s the sort of data I could just look up on my phone right now,” Mr Tava said in his defence.

It’s very hard to be on top of all things in politics but these are fairly basic financial questions.

Perhaps whichever of them becomes co-leader will hand over financial responsibility to Metiria Turei.

Hunger versus obesity – a Green dilemma?

The Greens have been promoting the feeding of kids in schools for some time. It’s an easy subject to win sympathy on, most people would think that kids shouldn’t go hungry.

But is it a bigger problem than child obesity?

And whether it is or not, could giving some kids more food contribute to the obesity problem?

In Parliament yesterday Green co-leader Metiria Turei made a wee mistake in making another point about hunger in schools. See Turei admits error in school lunch battle.

She later clarified that she meant:

Kidscan says about 23% on average and up to 90% of the kids in the schools it works with need lunch everyday.

I don’t think even that is clear. I presume she thinks that all kids need lunch every day but in schools that Kidscan deals with up to 90% go without lunch so should have it supplied by the Government.

That’s a lot of lunchless kids. It seems hard to believe that nine out of ten kids at some schools go without lunch.

But I think this needs more scrutiny. Why are kids lunchless?

One of the implications is that many families are too poor to feed their kids enough. There are counter claims that some families don’t care fir their kids properly and spend their money on booze and cigarettes and marijuana etc.

Both arguments are probably partially correct.

But there will be other issues. How many kids spend their lunch money on other things? How many eat their lunch early and have nothing left by lunchtime?

When I was at school I sometimes threw my lunch away because I was bored with packed lunches. (At other times I took a schoolbag full of apples and munched all day).

But the big elephant in the Green classroom is child obesity. If the Government gave kids food would feed an obesity problem as well as or instead of giving kids enough basic nutrition?

I can imagine that if food was given away when I went to school I could eat my own lunch for play lunch and line up for the food handout at lunchtime.

(But it would depend on what they handed out, they gave away milk for a few years and I never liked drinking milk).

A Stuff report from last November says Child obesity rates climbing.

About one-third of New Zealand children are now overweight or obese compared with about one in four in Australia.

A commitment to achieving a child obesity rate of 25 per cent by 2025 by the Government would be a good start, Professor Boyd Swinburn and Stefanie Vandevijvere, of Auckland University, said in a New Zealand Medical Journal (NZMJ) article published today.

Achieving that target across all ethnic groups would not be feasible under present conditions, they said.

The Government had failed to prioritise obesity as a major health concern in recent years.

It can’t be assumed that a school with 90% of kids needing lunch also has 33% of obese kids – but that should be considered when proposing giving kids more food.

Rates of childhood obesity among Maori and Pacific communities were significantly higher than for other ethnic groups.

Turei referred to Northland schools in Parliament:

Does the Prime Minister still think that the number of kids in low-decile schools who require lunch is still just the odd one or two, when nine schools in Northland are now on the waiting list for help from KidsCan?

It can be assumed that the Northland schools have above average numbers of Maori and Pacific

Handing out food would help some kids – but it could also feed our obesity problem. Stuff article:

Higher rates of obesity among Maori and Pacific groups was a result of socio-economic deprivation and socio-cultural barriers.

“Part of it is socio-cultural barriers in those populations. They do place higher socio-cultural value on food and large volumes of food because they are more collective societies.”

I’m confused. Maori and Pacific people place a higher socio-economic value on large volumes of food but their kids are more likely to go hungry at school?

It is also claimed that poor people eat large amounts of poor quality food and that’s why they get fat.

Is that a financial problem or an education problem.

Maybe schools should teach kids about good nutrition and wise food budgeting.

But it is said that kids don’t learn properly if they are hungry, so they need to be fed more (by the state) so they get a better education so they will feed themselves less.

It gets complicated.

But do we have a bigger problem for the future from having skinny kids or having fat kids.

There seems to be two conflicting emphases:

  • Kids need more food in schools
  • We have a growing child obesity problem.

So is that a dilemma for the Greens and Kidscan? It doesn’t appear to be.

It’s easier to get sympathy support and votes for promoting the feeding of hungry kids more rather than feeding obese kids less.

Green marketing creates other issues – last election they promoted a solar energy policy and specifically ruled out energy conservation (double glazing) because it wasn’t their current focus.

Maybe if they succeed in getting state funded lunches this term then next term they might change there focus to what is described as a growing problem.

NZ Herald: Obesity epidemic reaching crisis levels.

Maybe the Greens will fix that after they’ve fixed hungry kids.

Their website is currently promoting Reducing Child Poverty “For a fairer society”.

Not so prominent (but if you search you can also find) Tackling childhood obesity is not rocket science Minister, but it is science

“The scientists have outlined an approach to tackling obesity which they say is “eminently doable”, but the Government won’t do it, preferring instead to watch a generation of children lose years off their lives,” Mr Hague said.

“Just like its approach to climate change, and water quality, scientists are saying this Government is not doing enough to reduce childhood obesity.

“Our childhood obesity epidemic requires the Government to regulate the environment that’s causing that obesity, through measures such as bans on promotion of unhealthy food to kids, ensuring food sold at schools and ECE centres is healthy.

But reducing food intake is a harder political sell than feeding hungry kids so it doesn’t get the same level of attention.

Political marketing is easier than comprehensively dealing with political and social realities.

It wouldn’t look very fair if fat kids were separated from skinny kids at schools and denied a free lunch.

Hunger versus obesity should be Green dilemma, but you wouldn’t know it from their campaigning.

Kevin Hague – Greens on cannabis

Duncan Garner looked at the cannabis issue and interviewed Green spokesperson Kevin Hague and Labour leader Andrew Little about their views on cannabis on RadioLive.

Kevin Hague: “What we’re trying to achieve is that to ensure that drug use causes as little harm as it possibly can.”

“One is around medicinal cannabis, and it’s very clear that a very large majority of New Zealanders support better access to medicinal cannabis ”

“Our policy says that there should be no penalty for personal use or cultivation up to a certain point.”

SHOULD WE LEGALISE CANNABIS? GREENS AND LABOUR SAY LET’S THINK ABOUT IT

Another US state has legalised cannabis so Duncan Garner asked his listeners if it’s time we did the same in New Zealand and got a resounding “yes”.

More than 1000 people voted in his poll, with, at the time of writing, 86% of people saying New Zealand should follow the likes of Colorado, Uruguay, the Netherlands and North Korea and legalise cannabis.

Transcript of the Kevin Hague interview.

Garner: So where do the Greens stand on this? And will we see some kind of public debate? Or is it simply too hard for our politicians given what America’s doing. Is it time we caught with this or do we just watch and follow, Who knows.

Kevin Hague is the Green drugs policy spokesperson. What are your views in what’s happening in America?

Hague: Oh look I think it’s a very interesting thing, because what we are seeing I guess particularly from Colorado where we’ve probably got the best information so far and probably the longest history so far…

…is that the kinda dire predictions about increased use and increased harm haven’t come about. That actually evidence is pretty strong that there’s actually if anything been reduced harm, and as you mentioned in your intro actually there’s a bit of a dilemma for Colorado legislators, what are they going to do with all the money that’s come in.

Garner: Well the answer to that question could be that it goes into the health system, or it goes into the education system.

Hague: Yes precisely.   What we’ve been calling for is a rational approach to drugs in general and I guess cannabis in particular, where we look at what is it that we’re trying to achieve.

What we’re trying to achieve is that to ensure that drug use causes as little harm as it possibly can.

Garner: So do you think Kevin, if I can take you right back to the start. Do you think we need to change the law here?

Hague: Yeah, absolutely. So we’ve been standing for this for a long time because it’s very clear that the current law is not achieving that goal.

The current law is I mean if you just take the simple fact that most New Zealanders have used cannabis. Well clearly the law as it stands is not reducing demand, and in fact is putting a lot of people in harms way because if New Zealanders are needing to go to you know gangs for example to get their supply well those gangs aren’t concerned with quality or ensuring that under age people don’t get access.

Or ensuring that people who need treatment for example are actually referred. Those are all things that we could do if we changed the law. As well as the medicinal aspects.

Garner: Right, so what would you do with the law? if you were able to draft something and start lobbying around Parliament and get 61 votes, what would a law look like for you?

Hague: Well I guess there’s two different arenas.

One is around medicinal cannabis, and it’s very clear that a very large majority of New Zealanders support better access to medicinal cannabis and you’ll know that we put a bill to Parliament in 2009 and got 34 votes out of 120.

Things have changed over the last five or six years. Apart from the Government.

But the step forward we need to make in that area, more generally our policy says that there should be no penalty for personal use or cultivation up to a certain point.

Garner: Would you decriminalise rather than legalise?

Hague: Our policy is kind of doesn’t use either of those words, and we’re currently actually in light of the experience in the United States and Portugal and other jurisdictions we are looking at overhauling our own policy.

To be completed later.

Greens outspent Labour on election advertising

Parties’ election advertising expenses were released yesterday.

  • National $2.6 million
  • Conservative Party $1.9 million
  • Greens $1.29 million
  • Labour $1.27 million
  • Internet-Mana $660,000
  • Mana $320,000

While advertsing spending doesn’t necessarily translate into seats in Parliament (as Conservative and Internet-Mana prove) it helps.

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald points out the fact that Greens just outspent Labour

Labour’s shoestring budget and low election result will have the party asking how the much smaller Green Party had more funds. In 2011, the Greens spent $780,000 and Labour $1.8 million.

That’s a big rise in spending by Greens with the result being a small decrease on % support.

And it’s a big drop in Labour spending from 1.8 to 1.27 million.

General secretary Tim Barnett said Labour had never had large reserves and had spent within its means. The lower costs were partly because of more “low cost, high impact” campaigning, such as phoning, door knocking and direct mail rather than traditional media advertising.

“If you’re asking, ‘Were there lots of things you would have done if you had an extra million’, obviously that would be a nice position to have, but we stayed within the budget we had.”

In other words they had a significantly smaller budget.

Labour’s hierarchy has been criticised for failing to fundraise and the election expenses indicate it was a problem.

Lack of success fundraising was only one of a number of problems but it was a significant problem.

Labour is selecting a new president and former president Mike Williams said the ability to bring in the money would be a key factor. However, he did not necessarily think money was the be all and end all for a successful campaign, saying the ability to motivate grassroots members was more important.

But Barnett claims Labour did more “low cost, high impact” campaigning, such as phoning, door knocking. The work of grassroots members didn’t lift their election result because that dropped from 2011.

Greens do a lot of micro fundraising seeking money from their grassroots support. The two are related.

United Future spent $2000 on advertising.

I think Labour needs more fundraising and more grassroots support. And they need to perform at the top. And get some palatable policies.

It’s all related. People with money to hand out to political parties like to back potential winners.

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