Metiria Turei’s unkeepable promise

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has attacked Nationals budget.

Today John Key could have chosen kids.

He could have backed all the young New Zealanders out there doing it tough.

But instead the Prime Minister chose to give the bare minimum of help to our poorest kids and abandon the hopes of our younger generations.

Sneering at the most significant benefit increase for decades.

This stingy Budget is not for our kids and it’s not for those under 40 – the abandoned generations.

If the economy is not working for everyone, it isn’t working at all.

And how would the Greens get the economy “working for everyone’?

New Zealanders needed something different, something more, from the Budget today and didn’t get it.

There is an alternative. The Green Party has a plan to retool the economy for a better, cleaner future which provides opportunity and prosperity for everyone.

What plan, apart from tax more and hand out more? “Prosperity for everyone” is not a plan, it’s an impossible dream.

The Green Party is the only party prepared to stand up for younger New Zealanders – and that’s a promise we’ll be keeping.

If standing up for younger New Zealanders means speaking up like this then it’s a promise Turei can keep. But it promises false hope.

But if it means achieving anything significant then I think it’s an unkeepable Green promise.

How many children ‘in poverty’?

John Key says that the Government will particularly target the 60,000-100,000 children living in most deprivation. Green co-leader Metiria Turei questioned Key in Parliament yesterday about the numbers, but came up with a few numbers of her own. Greens are campaigning to ‘end child poverty’.

End child poverty: Take the Step New Zealand should be the best place in the world to grow up. But for 285,000 Kiwi children currently in poverty, that’s just not the case. Persistent poverty damages a child for the rest of their life. And it damages our country. We’re spending over $6 billion a year on preventable crime, illness and lost educational opportunities – the direct cost of keeping kids in poverty. Many of our poorest children are excluded from getting the same support the state gives other kids who need it, because their parents don’t work enough. These kids need champions to make sure Parliament understands that ordinary New Zealanders want the best for all our kids, regardless of who their parents are

That’s “285,000 Kiwi children currently in poverty”. In Parliament yesterday Turei asked:

Is the Children’s Commissioner wrong, and are his experts who worked on the solutions to child poverty wrong, when they state that there are between 180,000 and 200,000 children who are materially deprived

But she also asked:

Did the Ministry of Social Development fail to give him the 2014 Bryan Perry report that showed that there are 260,000 children in poverty and that 205,000 of them are living in severe poverty, where their parents earn less than half the median income?

And:

Will the Prime Minister just admit that he has made up an Oliver Twist definition of poverty so that he can ignore some 200,000 New Zealand children who suffer from poverty every day?

So Turei and the Greens are quoting a number of numbers:

  • 285,000
  • between 180,000 and 200,000
  • 260,000
  • 205,000
  • 200,000

Greens seem to want to increase benefits to increase ‘incomes’, whether the parents are in work or not, and no matter what the deprivation. So what does Key base his number on?

It seems to me that the member picks and chooses her index depending on what suits her argument, but all I can tell the member is that if one looks at the number of children who are deemed to be at the most significant level of deprivation in New Zealand based on the Ministry of Social Development index, it is 60,000 to 100,000. But what I can say is that Bryan Perry’s new annual report—and the new edition will be out very soon—will make it quite clear that in terms of what they define as severe material hardship, there are between 60,000 and 100,000 children, and they have between nine and 11 conditions on the deprivation index.

Using actual measures of deprivation (or poverty) to target the worst problems won’t stop the Greens and others from accusing Key and the Government of not caring about kids and of deliberately keeping kids in poverty. —

Full draft transcript of questions and answers yesterday in Parliament.

Prime Minister—Statements 6. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Metiria Turei : How poor does a child need to be under his “definitional difference”, which he told Paul Henry about yesterday, when he claimed that there were only 60,000 to 100,000 children living in poverty?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The advice I have from the Ministry of Social Development material deprivation index is that there are indeed between 60,000 and 100,000 children who are living in more severe material hardship. They are children who, based on that index, lack nine to 11 items from that deprivation index.

Metiria Turei : Under his “definitional difference”, is a child living in poverty if their parents cannot afford to buy them fresh food, if they do not have two pairs of shoes, if they cannot afford a school uniform, and if they do not have their own bed? Rt Hon

JOHN KEY : I refer the member to the Ministry of Social Development’s material deprivation index.

Metiria Turei : Is the Children’s Commissioner wrong, and are his experts who worked on the solutions to child poverty wrong, when they state that there are between 180,000 and 200,000 children who are materially deprived—that is, they go without three or more essential items such as fresh food, warm clothes, their own bed, and good shoes?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : It seems to me that the member picks and chooses her index depending on what suits her argument, but all I can tell the member is that if one looks at the number of children who are deemed to be at the most significant level of deprivation in New Zealand based on the Ministry of Social Development index, it is 60,000 to 100,000.

But I would say that this Government is very focused on all children, particularly those who are less well off, and there are degrees of how less well off they are.

That is why the Government introduced free GP visits.

That is why the Government has put more money into providers like KidsCan.

That is why this Government has worked alongside Fonterra and Sanitarium to provide free breakfasts.

That is why the Government has supported having social workers in all low-decile schools.

It is why the Government has introduced children’s teams to work with at-risk children and families.

That is why the Government has insulated every State house, and it is why the Government has worked to insulate 240,000 other homes and has given them clean heating.

This is a Government that, in the very worst of times in New Zealand, has maintained benefits and entitlements that provide support for the very children whom that member is talking about.

Metiria Turei : Did the Ministry of Social Development fail to give him the 2014 Bryan Perry report that showed that there are 260,000 children in poverty and that 205,000 of them are living in severe poverty, where their parents earn less than half the median income?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member will note—if she wants to refer to that particular report that she is talking about—how consistently the numbers that she is talking about have been at that level of deprivation. In fact, there were about 240,000 to 260,000 children living in poverty under Labour, at the height of what was theoretically an economic boom.

But what I can say is that Bryan Perry’s new annual report—and the new edition will be out very soon—will make it quite clear that in terms of what they define as severe material hardship, there are between 60,000 and 100,000 children, and they have between nine and 11 conditions on the deprivation index.

Metiria Turei : Would the Prime Minister agree that by promising to tackle child poverty and then changing the definition of poverty to exclude most of the children who are actually poor, he is breaking yet another Budget promise?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the member is being extremely selective with the comments I have made. If she actually goes back and looks at the interviews that I have done on this topic ever since the last election, she will see that I have consistently said that there is a disagreement between ourselves and those who claim that there are 260,000 children in that category.

We have made it quite clear that we see a group of 60,000 to 100,000 as our priority. It does not mean that we do not provide either services or support for the wider group; we actually do. I listed a great many, and I will not repeat them now. But our primary area of focus and attention is on those who are most in need.

I think most New Zealanders, actually, would say that the Government having a focus on those who are in the worst of conditions is putting our resources in the right place.

Jacinda Ardern : Does he stand by his previous statements in this House that there are many measures of child poverty, in light of his position now that there is just one, material deprivation, which just so happens to be the smallest of all the measures that are used by the Children’s Commissioner?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I stand by the view that there is no one single measure, but I am simply saying that the material deprivation index, according to the advice that we have had from the Ministry of Social Development, is the best. That is one measure, but there is no one single measure of poverty in New Zealand, and I do not think there should be.

Metiria Turei : Will the Prime Minister just admit that he has made up an Oliver Twist definition of poverty so that he can ignore some 200,000 New Zealand children who suffer from poverty every day?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the member risks being a little bit silly. I listed a few moments ago a very wide range of support that we provide for all New Zealand children, and in some cases, obviously, the support is much more focused on those who are in need.

I have made it quite clear that I think there is a group who are in worse hardship than others, and that is supported by the material deprivation index, which evolved, actually, from the European equivalent.

It is a very thoughtful process that Bryan Perry goes through, and it looks at very detailed analysis. I am more than happy to have the debate with the New Zealand public, but I think you might find that the New Zealand public supports the view that those who are most in need deserve the most support.

That does not mean that other children do not get support; they actually do. But this Government is very focused on that group, and I think most New Zealanders would say that is the right thing to do. The member shakes her head, but if we followed her economic policies a whole million of New Zealand children would be in hardship because none of their parents would be in work.

Green’s ‘Kids Kiwisaver’ won’t save Kiwi kids

Metiria Turei has announced a Green “game changer” policy for children that she is “very proud of”.

Today we announced a game-changing savings policy that will give every New Zealand child the start in life they need and deserve; it’s called Kids’ KiwiSaver.

Too many New Zealand families are struggling to save for their children’s futures. The Green Party wants to give you a hand so your children get a decent shot when they turn 18.

Kids’ KiwiSaver is an important step towards giving every kid the great start they deserve. Here’s how it works:

  • The Government will put $1,000 into a Kids’ KiwiSaver account for every child at birth (parents can choose to opt out).
  • Each child living below the poverty line will then get a Government top-up of $200 every year until they turn 18 and any contributions the family makes to their child’s future, up to $100 annually, will also be matched.
  • For all other families, annual contributions up to $200 will be matched by the Government.

With careful saving, our policy means children could have a minimum nest egg of $12,900 by the age of 18 that they can use to help fund tertiary education, invest in their adult KiwiSaver account, or use to help with a deposit on their first home.

The Greens claim we have a dire situation right now with hundreds of thousands of kids living in poverty and they insist urgent action is needed.

This policy piles money into something that may or help in a decade or two. It does nothing for kids in deprivation now.

And in this release the policy isn’t costed.

Last year there were 57,142 births in 2014. That would cost $57 million under this policy.

And Greens claim there are 285,000 children living in poverty.

New Zealand should be the best place in the world to grow up. But for 285,000 Kiwi children currently in poverty, that’s just not the case. – https://home.greens.org.nz/endchildpoverty

That would be another $57 million per year.

So their policy is for spending of about $114 million per year that at best would have some long term benefit. It will do nothing for children while they are living in hardship.

The chances of National backing this policy are probably close to zero. It’s hard to see Labour giving it priority if they would support it at all.

This looks like a feel-good futile policy that’s likely to keep the Greens on the political sidelines.

Donations don’t necessarily win elections

The 2014 (election year) donation returns have been released. David Farrar has posted some handy lists in 2014 donation returns including:

Total Donations from donors over $1,500 are:

  1. National $3,977,537
  2. Internet $3,500,000
  3. Conservatives $2,971,000
  4. Greens $969,384
  5. Labour $939,411
  6. ACT $726,187
  7. Internet Mana $656,227
  8. Maori $420,000
  9. NZ First $132,156
  10. Mana $31,194
  11. Focus NZ $22,880
  12. ALCP $9,138

That highlights:

  • the futility of the multi-millions pored into campaigns by Colin Craig and Kin Dotcom
  • the success of National in fundraising (popular parties attract donors)
  • Labour’s financial struggles
  • United Future’s absence

But in The Soap Box: Money can’t buy votes Felix Marwick at Newstalk ZB points out that a single total doesn’t tell the whole story about the effectiveness (or not) of donation levels.

But when you compare the Green Party’s donations to what they got at the 2011 election it really jumps out at you that they almost doubled their election year take. $492,000 to $970,000 is a huge jump.

So the Greens doubled their >$1500 donations but that didn’t translate into a better result, their support barely changed.

Farrar points out:

With National, they also get millions from party members subscriptions which are under $1,500 each. So I suspect that overall less than 20% of their income comes from major donors.

Greens do a lot of donation promotion, frequently pushing for micro donations, for example from a recent email fronm Russel Norman:

The Green Party leads the opposition to the TPPA in Parliament and in the community. This is why it’s more important than ever to step up our grassroots campaign to share our vision for a cleaner environment, a fairer society and a smarter economy with all New Zealanders.

Please donate $3 today to ensure this vision gets maximum exposure in the media and in our communities.

The amount if these sorts of donations isn’t reported. And it doesn’t seem to have translated into more votes for Greens.

Greens also got a sizeable $451,662 of >$15000 of donations compared to Labour’s $251,000 – and $162,000 of that was from unions, so Labour a missing out on major donations.

The Green >$15000 total will be boosted by their MP tithing which in past years has been $15-20,000 each.

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.

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