Trans-Tasman: top MP David Seymour

In their annual assessment of MP performance Trans Tasman has named rookie ACT MP for Epsom David Seymour as their top MP for 2015.

David Seymour, Epsom – 8.5

Parliamentary Under Secretary to the Minister of Education and Minister of Regulatory Reform.

What a performance from Seymour. Given a free ride into the House, made leader of a rump party, no one expected much of him. He has proved them all wrong, and become a strong positive MP. He’s been everywhere and is a hard worker – a real surprise. If anyone can make ACT relevant again, it’s Seymour – he’s the man.

This doesn’t surprise me.

Seymour showed potential when I heard him speak at the Act Southern Conference in the middle of last year. I also spoke to him in person and initial impressions were positive.

He then did the hard yards and won Epsom to get a seat back for ACT in Parliament.

He then had to deal with establishing his electorate presence in Epsom, re-establish an ACT Party presence in Parliament, work with the Government and make a mark for himself.

He seems to have managed all of this admirably.

And he is young and hard working enough to do more, possibly far more.

ACT’s big challenge is to find some candidates to build on Seymour’s success.

More from Trans-Tasman:

2015 Politician Of The Year – David Seymour While not exactly a political novice – he has form in student politics, and stood unsuccessfully twice in Auckland seats before getting elected, as well as being an adviser to then ACT leader John Banks, 32 year old David Seymour is in his first term in Parliament, he is a novice as a party leader, and coalition member. The surprise is how well he has performed, and the degree to which he seems to have made ACT a potential vote winner again. Sure he made the odd “coq” up, but no more than many of his colleagues.

He has handled his work with dedication, he is “everywhere” and he is a genuine talent. ACT’s charter school policies could turn out to be one of the successes of the coalition in policy terms and his move to ensure bars could open during the Rugby World Cup showed how in touch he is with public thinking.

He gets the nod as politician of the year because he is at the vanguard of a new wave of politicians – starting with a back to basics approach both in electorate and Parliamentary work.

He’s doing what a minor party should do under MMP – giving support, but making the Govt’s life difficult as well, and he is also doing it tactically. He has proven he can master the Parliamentary bun fight, now he needs to show he can make his party relevant.


Jan Logie’s ‘many rapists are not always monsters’ comments

There is now a clip at One News of Jan Logie’s comments on rapists – ‘Rapists are not always monsters’ – Green Party MP


Logie: The problem is, and what makes it so hard to disclose in this country and anywhere else is we create the perception that rapists are monsters, that nobody could ever associate with them.

But the truth is that many rapists and sexual offenders are known to us, they’re our family members, they are people that were previously our friends.

So when the Prime Minister creates this impression that this is the absolute worst possible thing it is silencing so many survivors and victims of violence.

Interviewer: Isn’t it though for some people the worst possible thing?

Logie: It is truly an awful awful experience, and these are peoeple we know, and part of what makes it hard to disclose and to hold those people to account  is that we also know them, in many cases as people who are not always monsters.

Now I think I sort of get the point that she’s trying to make, but this is likely to dismay many peoeple who have suffered from rape and sexual assault. And others.

Yes, many people convicted of sexual crimes were friends or family of the victim. (Some are strangers).

And yes, there’s a wide variety of levels of seriousness of sexual crimes.

And yes, some sexual offenders don’t always act like monsters. They may have only once acted like a monster. And they have to live in society after committing their crimes.

But this is a very strange approach from Logie.

If John Key had tried to play down the seriousness or monstrosity of rape like this my guess is that he would have been widely and strongly criticised. He woulld have been hammered. He would still be getting a hammering.

Very odd comments from Logie.

UPDATE: Logie had also posted this the previous day:

The Government’s treatment of sexual violence survivors and history of cutting funding to sexual and family violence services stands in stark contrast to John Key’s tirade about rapists in Parliament yesterday, the Green Party says.

Prime Minister John Key caused widespread offence yesterday with his outburst claiming that members of the opposition were “backing rapists” when they questioned his Government’s unwillingness to challenge Australia’s record on human rights.

“John Key should ditch the playground abuse and turn his energy to backing the rights of sexual violence survivors who, by and large, have had a tough time under this Government,” Green Party women’s spokesperson Jan Logie said.

“Rape crisis centres, and other sexual and family violence services have been forced to cut services under the National Government, victims of sexual violence have been denied help because of ACC changes, and John Key backed decisions to shelve the Law Commission’s work on alternative trials for sexual violence crimes and gut family court protections.

“John Key himself has a history of publicly minimising sexual violence, once telling the young men known as Roast Busters, who got young girls drunk in order to abuse them, to “grow up”.

“My Select Committee inquiry into sexual violence services funding has highlighted huge problems in funding for services, including the need for secure, long-term funding.

“The fact remains, that only about one percent of sexual violence offences result in a conviction, but despite this, the Government has given the Law Commission an impossible time frame to come up with good solutions on alternative trials or other ways to improve the low conviction rate.

“The Government has corrected some of its mistakes lately  – including an emergency funding allocation to keep some services afloat, – but much more is needed before victims feel safe coming forward, and violence is prevented from occurring in the first place,” Ms Logie said.

Rodney Hide on MP time limits and career MPs

In an NBR column Rodney Hide has suggested MPs should be limited to four terms in Parliament – that’s twelve years – and criticised ‘professionals politicians’.

Time limits will serve public not politicians

Reports of Phil Goff running for mayor of Auckland remind me of the desperate need for term limits.

That’s behind a pay wall so unless you subscribe you won’t see the column. I don’t subscribe but Bryce Edwards tweeted a few of the details.

Rodney Hide: “Time limits will serve public not politicians” – fantastic column on pro politicians

On professional MPs: “There’s no leadership, no principles, no underpinning philosophy or view of life”

“Goff has never made a do-or-die stand and, indeed, has travelled the entire political spectrum and back again”

There does seem to be a growing problem with too many career MPs but that’s a choice of the parties that select them for winnable electorates and put them on winnable positions on their lists.

Hide argues we need a “simple rule that an MP can only serve a maximum of four terms. That one change would transform politics.”

“One quarter of the Parliament would be retired every election. There would be a proper churn”, bringing greater MP diversity

That’s if there’s enough capable people aspiring to MPs that would replace them.

This limiting of MP’s choice to stand or not mustn’t be very Liberal.


Maurice Williamson past his use-by date

Maurice Williamson has again embarrassed himself and National. NZ Herald reports:

Backlash builds as MP offers apologies

Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson, who was once lauded for his “big gay rainbow” speech in support of same-sex marriage, has now come under fire from gay and women’s advocates for a speech considered homophobic and sexist.

Guests of the Esri Users Conference gala dinner at SkyCity last Tuesday have revealed that Mr Williamson’s comments during his MC spot had people “removing themselves from the room”. Guests complained that Mr Williamson made “sexist” jokes and comments about scantily clad women, and played an audio clip that disparaged women and gay men.

Mr Williamson yesterday apologised for the offence he had caused.

“I was asked to be as entertaining and as funny as I possibly could. It was never my intention to upset any delegates. I overstepped the line on the night and did cause offence. For that I unreservedly apologise.”

At least he has offered a proper sort of apology.

His time as an MP must be just about up. He is past being any use to Natiomal and has become a liability.

It has been suggested for some time that Williamson may try for the Auckland mayoralty. NZ Herald also reports Maurice Williamson had been set to announce Auckland mayoralty plans.

Maurice Williamson, whose controversial speech to an IT conference has sparked complaints about “sexist jokes, was set to announce his plans for the Auckland mayoralty shortly, says a National Party source.

The source did not know if the Pakuranga MP intended to stand.

“He has been entertaining delegations from different people over the past few months and said the first week of September was when he would announce he was in or out,” the source said.

Next Monday – September 7 – Mr Williamson is due to speak on local transport issues at a public meeting in Pakuranga.

Howick councillor Dick Quax said he could use the event to announce he is going to run for mayor.

Mr Quax said Mr Williamson did not usually speak on local matters.

“I have spoken to Maurice in conversational tone about whether he may be interested in the Auckland mayoralty and I don’t think it is any secret he has said he was interested.

“He has made that pretty clear in the past,” Mr Quax said.

In 2013, Mr Williamson toyed with standing but abandoned any bid for the mayoralty.

After this latest stuff-up it might be prudent of Williamson to abandon any bid for the mayoralty for 2016.

And it would be sensible for him to stand aside in Pakuranga and make way for a modern MP. Williamson is past his political use-by date.

Visualising MPs on Twitter

Don’t worry, this isn’t about visualising what MPs look like while they are tweeting, I’ll leave that to you.

Jayne Ihaka posted a graph on Twitter to show how MPs are connected – not surprisingly most of them communcate within their own political circles.

Jayne Ihaka @Jayniehaka

Made a graph to see how NZ MPs are connected on Twitter…No surprises really!


Chris McDowall has done something similar at NZ Herald, breaking it down to individual MPs in Visualising New Zealand Members of Parliament Twitter networks.

A common critique of discourse that occurs on social media is that we tend to interact with people who already hold similar opinions to ourselves, reinforcing one another’s opinions and biases.

A few months ago I started wondering about the social networks of New Zealand members of Parliament and whether this holds true for our politicians. To find out I collected some Twitter relationship data and experimented with a small visualisation project.

I remembered this work yesterday when Jayne Ihaka tweeted an image of a network graph that she had made and I figured it was about time I wrote it up. I share it now for anyone who might be interested.

There’s a lot of graphics so it takes quite a while to load.

Some of the lower volume Tweeters are very party-centric, for example Stuart Smith (National):

TwitterSmithStuartRino Tirikatene (Labour:

TwitterTirikateneThere’s varying degrees of wider engagement with the more prolific MPs.

TwitterOConnorSimonTwitterClarkDavidAnd a centrist party MP (Maori Party) is evenly (and extensively) engaged:

TwitterFoxMaramaA new age National MP (Chris Bishopl) shows widespread engagement.

TwitterBishopChrisA comprehensive line up of charts here. Visualising New Zealand Members of Parliament Twitter networks

Yeah, it’s Twitter. But some MPs engage quite effectively and it’s one of the easiest ways of accessing MP attention.

The Speaker’s unknown case

In Parliament today the Speaker interupted a Andrew Little’s opening speech .during the Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement.

Draft transcript – Tuesday, 10 February 2015

ANDREW LITTLE: Those are the economic issues. What about the standards of Government? What about the promise of 2008: “The Government I lead will be a Government of good standards.”, and its chance to do something; its chance to demonstrate that they actually are a party of standards in Government. They were confronted with it at the end of last year. One of their MPs is under a police investigation. One of their MPs is under a police investigation.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I invite members throughout this debate to be very careful. We know there was a court case, and we know that all details were suppressed. [Interruption] Order! There is Standing Order 115. Should any members think I should consider this matter differently, I invite them to use that Standing Order and write to me. At this stage no member has done so. I invite Mr Little to continue.

Mr Little continued. And we are left to puzzle about an unknown case.


Are politicians and police covering up a very dirty not-very–secet?

I’ve just read a post at a blog with a record of breaking supression orders, so I won’t link to it.

It details a number of known facts, plus information that matches rumours I’ve heard, and additional detail.

It’s particulrly disturbing.

First I’ll say that if they are inaccurate then it’s awful for those named to be associated unfairly. That’s can be a risk of suppression of information of something that many people have an interest in and a determination to make public.

But it talks of erring MPs and political and police cover-ups that could be protecting their own.

And it talks of sexual assault against children.

If true this is extremely serious. And it needs to be dealt with. If those who should won’t deal with it then it’s up to others to make it impossible for them not to.

Mike Sabin resigns

National MP for Northland has resigned from parliament, effective immediately. This was expected, the only real uncertainty was over the timing.

It has been reported since before Christmas that the police were investigating an incident that is believed to involve family violence.

It would have untenable for Sabin to remain as chair of the Law and order committee as next week it is due to question police officers in committee.

This means a by-election for Northland in a couple of months or so.

It also means that National+Act is no longer a Parliamentary majority. The Maori Party or Peter Dunne will be needed to make up the numbers until an expected easy win for the new National candidate.

Action needed on Sabin

The Sunday Star Times keeps revealing bits about the assault investigation into Northland MP Mike Sabin – Call for Nat MP to stand down.

They say a number of journalists have been investigating the investigation.

Media inquiries about Sabin have been ongoing for at least four months.

The National Business Review has been asking questions about assault allegations since before the election. Other media, including Radio Live and One News, have also been inquiring into the assault allegations.

Four months ago it was August, well before the election. It may have been too vague and too late to withdraw Sabin’s electorate candidacy. Or not.

Parliament’s committees were announced in October, two months ago, with Sabin appointed chairperson of the Law and Order committee – see Judith Collins on two parliamentary select committees (October 23).

John Key must have known about it by then. Or at least he should have.

He may be on holiday now but the longer nothing is done the worse it looks.

Judith Collins stood down as Minister pending the outcome of a non-criminal investigation.

If Sabin won’t step down Key needs to step up and do something.

National’s Sabin in assault inquiry

Mike has been National MP for Northland since 2011. He got 18,188 votes to the Labour candidate’s 6,826 in the recent election.

Stuff reports that police have been investigating an assault charge against him – Nat MP in police assault inquiry.

The investigation is related to events in Northland, but detectives working on the case are based in Waitemata, north Auckland.

The investigation was moved south from Whangarei because Sabin was a police officer based there until 2006.

The officer in charge, Detective Inspector Kevin Hooper, refused to confirm Sabin was the subject of an investigation.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott, the crime service manager for Waitemata police, referred inquiries related to Sabin to the police media section.

“We have no comment on any investigation that could or could not be happening,” he said.

Sabin also won’t say anything about it.

When approached Sabin at home at Coopers Beach, in the Far North, he immediately demanded the reporter leave his property.

“I have got nothing to say,” Sabin said.

Asked if he would comment on the police investigation, he replied: “No, no I have nothing to say – I want you to leave my property.”

Not commenting suggests he doesn’t want to talk about it rather than there being nothing to talk about.

But there would appear to be something known to journalists about the investigation:

A relative of a complainant also would not comment. “I can’t say much mate, sorry,” he said. “I just don’t need the grief at the moment.”

This is the only media article I can find on the issue.

An investigation is just an investigation. Assault can range from minor to serious.

Sabin is an ex police officer and has been a prominent spokesperson on methampthetamine.

He is Chairperson of Parliament’s Law and Order committee and is a member of the Justice and Electoral committee.

If he has been involved in an incident that has resulted in a police inquiry into assault then it’s newsworthy, but with a lack of detail it’s not possible to make any judgement on it.


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