Politics not popular

It’s well known that politics isn’t a popular topic with the general population. This is demonstrated by the Top Kiwi Google searches of 2014 (Stuff).

Overall top New Zealand Google searches:

1. Fifa World Cup

2. Robin Williams

3. Commonwealth Games

4. Malaysia Airlines

5. iPhone 6

6. Jennifer Lawrence

7. Charlotte Dawson

8. Flappy Bird

9. Spark

10. Ebola

Top news item searches:

1. Malaysian Airlines crash

2. Cyclone Lusi

3. Scottish Independence

4. Alex from Target

5. Ukraine news

6. Robin Williams’ death

7. Ebola outbreak

8. Wellington earthquake

9. Cyclone Ita

10. Lunar eclipse

Top Kiwis searched:

1. Lorde

2. Aaron Smith

3. Rachel Smalley

4. Lisa Lewis

5. Mark Hunt

6. Joseph Parker

7. Benji Marshall

8. Chris Cairns

9. Mona Dotcom

10. Stephen Donald

No John Key. No Kim Dotcom. No David Cunliffe. No Judith Collins. No election. No dirty politics or Nicky Hager. No Whale Oil or Cameron Slater.

Winston Peters can only play a very narrow part of the media.

And no, Spark is not Bill English and Flappy Bird is not Metiria Turei

The closest to politics is Rachel Smalley who sometimes comments on politics, but it’s probably not politics that has made her an attractive search subject on Google.

Relative to general news, sport and celebrity puff politics is not very popular.

A flag that screams New Zealand

In a speech today John Key promoted the need to explore the possibility of having a new flag.

“When people say they want to keep the flag, it’s not our first flag, it’s New Zealand’s third flag.

“It’s just sheer confusion with Australia. Even at APEC [in China last month] they tried to take me to [Australian Prime Minister Tony] Abbott’s seat.

“The most serious reason is because they say our guys fought and died under that flag. But when you go to the Western front and go and look at the war graves our guys are buried not with the New Zealand flag, it’s the silver fern. Lots of countries change their flags, it’s a representation of who we are and about building national patriotism.

“If you want to look like a Kiwi you don’t put on a t-shirt with our flag on it. I reckon we should change to the fern … without hearing the anthem, without anybody saying anything that just screams New Zealand to you. The current flag does not do that.”

The biggest problem with the current flag is it’s frequent confusion with Australia’s.

From Stuff Flag needs to ‘scream NZ': John Key

NZ maintains high score in corruption index

Transparency International has released the 2014 Corruption Perception Index. New Zealand drops from first to second place but maintains it’s 2013 score of 91. It was 90 in 2012. Denmark increased from 91 to 92 which put it just ahead on ranking.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). A country or territory’s rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index.

Top twenty:

RANK COUNTRY 2014 2013 2012
1 Denmark 92 91 90
2 New Zealand 91 91 90
3 Finland 89 89 90
4 Sweden 87 89 88
5 Norway 86 86 85
5 Switzerland 86 85 86
7 Singapore 84 86 87
8 Netherlands 83 83 84
9 Luxembourg 82 80 80
10 Canada 81 81 84
11 Australia 80 81 85
12 Germany 79 78 79
12 Iceland 79 78 82
14 United Kingdom 78 76 74
15 Belgium 76 75 75
15 Japan 76 74 74
17 Barbados 74 75 76
17 Hong Kong 74 75 77
17 Ireland 74 72 69
17 United States 74 73 73

That’s a very good result, but it isn’t being reported like that. Firstline started their item just now saying we had dropped, and it was introduced as saying ‘plummeted’ – not sure if it was tongue in cheek or not. And an expert commentator corrected the perception.

A misleading NZ Herald headline: Politics: Is NZ becoming more corrupt?

New Zealand has been knocked off its perch as the least corrupt country on earth, slipping to number two on the just-announced Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. So does this mean we’re becoming more corrupt?

And, with so many corruption stories and allegations in the media and politics over the last year, shouldn’t we have expected our ranking to drop further than just one place? Why hasn’t Dirty Politics translated into an international ‘telling off’ for New Zealand?

Should New Zealand have fallen further?

The first thing to note about the New Zealand’s drop in the corruption index is that the raw score for the country remains the same: 91 out of 100. By contrast Denmark has increased its score to 92, which explains the loss of the number one ranking. Therefore this is hardly bad news for New Zealand’s reputation.

Despite Edwards and the Herald portraying it as bad news.

And 3 News reports: Don’t take NZ’s corruption rating for granted – Labour

We might be seen as one of the least corrupt countries, but it’s important not to become complacent, Labour’s justice spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern says.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index released on Wednesday ranked New Zealand second for least perceived corruption in the public sector, beaten out only by Denmark.

It’s the first time since 2006 New Zealand’s been knocked off its first-place post which it shared last year with Denmark.

Ms Ardern says in a year of reports into unsavoury political and public activity, the drop in placings should give everyone pause to think.

“Today’s report shows we cannot take anything for granted if we want to maintain our hard fought for reputation.

“Good governance, transparency and vigilance in the face of a changing globalised environment are all key if we are to maintain a well-functioning democracy.”

My headline for that item would be “NZ maintains high corruption score but Labour still grizzles”.

Tacked on the end of the article:

Justice Minister Amy Adams said New Zealand’s public sector is internationally renowned for low levels of corruption and noted a number of anti-corruption initiatives had been passed by the Government this year.

But that doesn’t make a good headline.

Back to Edwards in the Herald.

Why are allegations of corruption increasing?

A caution about the perceptions of increased corruption in New Zealand also needs to be made. Just because there are many more media stories and allegations of corruption made by politicians, this doesn’t actually mean that New Zealand is becoming more corrupt.

While the media promote stories about allegations of corruption it “doesn’t actually mean that New Zealand is becoming more corrupt”, it just means media is getting more dramatic and less accurate.

And we should take allegations about corruption from various politicians with even more caution. Such allegations are the new weapon of electioneering. In a period when policy is less important or divergent in New Zealand politics, it is now issues of integrity that have become the main battleground for the political parties. They can often score easy hits against opponents by impugning their reputations.

Again the most pertinent commentary was relegated to the end of the article, well below the misleading headlines.

Media are often willing participants in promoting “allegations about corruption from various politicians” without providing sufficient examination of the validity of the claims.

They are often pawns of attack politicians. Is there a corruption index for media?

Alternative New Zealand flag

FernCrossFlagBoth familiar and different, identity and tradition:

  • retains the same southern cross
  • adds the familiar silver fern
  • with a long white stripe aesthetically angled
  • relatively simple
  • can’t all be copied by the Aussies

As requested by SGA at Kiwiblog here’s a variant:

CrossFernFlag

And with a flagpole plus sky background:

CrossFernFlying

And back to the fern/cross flying:

FernCrossFlying

The Press editorial is anti flag choice

The Press makes it clear in an editorial that they oppose changing the New Zealand flag. They don’t want the people to choose for themselves, they want to fob off any debate by waiting for “an organic deeply felt discussion about who we are”.

In other words they want to put off any debate and any choice.

The editorial runs through the standard anti-change arguments in Do we know who we are?

They don’t like how John Key is proposing to see if the people of New Zealand want a flag change, they have the usual anti-black arguments (it’s easy to come up with arguments against most colours), they are anti-silver fern.

And they want to postpone any flag debate until we have some vague exploration about “who we are”.

So far the question of whether New Zealand actually needs a new symbol to represent itself has not taken place. This attitude seems to reflect the general indifference to any change to the constitution found by the panel set up to elicit views on that subject a few years ago.

Given that the flag will be the symbol to represent the country virtually in perpetuity, a wider, more deeply felt discussion about who we are needs to occur first. That must be organic. It is not something that can be generated by prime ministerial fiat.

That sounds like a long-winded way of saying they want to put off a flag debate indefinitely.

There’s no reason why we can’t have a discussion about whether we want to change our flag and decide whether to do so. It is not dependent on vague notions of “who we are” that can never easily be answered. We are many things and are continually evolving as a country and as a people.

One thing is for sure, we have evolved long past having close ties with the United Kingdom and the Union Jack.

And we have evolved way past wanting to be confused with Australia.

A flag debate can easily happen on it’s own. Trying to involve constitution and national identity are excuses to not have a debate.

People who don’t want a flag change don’t want a debate. They want to deny choice, presumably because they fair that the people will choose something different to what they want, no change.

New Zealand voted on to Security Council

New Zealand has just been voted on to the United Nations Security Council, topping both Spain and Turkey on the first ballot. A second ballot will decide who of the other two also get a seat for 2015 and 2016.

First ballot vote (a two third 129 votes from 193 members required):

  • New Zealand 145
  • Spain 121
  • Turkey 109

(Update: after two more ballots Spain got the second seat).

The Government, particularly through Foreign Minister Murray McCully have worked hard to secure this seat but have been helped by Labour’s David Shearer.

Having Helen Clark in the number 3 position at the UN (head of United Nations Development) will have continued to help, it was Clark who initiated the campaign for the seat ten years ago.

New Zealand and the other successful country will represent ‘Western European and others’. Angola, Malaysia and Venezuela stand uncontested for the seats in their regional groups.

There are 15 seats on the council, five held by the permanent members China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, plus 10 non-permanent members serving two-year terms.

Topping the ballot is an indication of the degree of respect given New Zealand internationally. New Zealand was last represented on the Security Council by Colin Keating in 1993/94. Last year Keating gave a speech supporting and explaining this bid:

The UN Security Council: What is in it for New Zealand?

by Colin Keating
Presentation to the United Nations Association of NZ 2013 National Conference, Wellington | 18 May 2013

As everyone in this audience is aware, New Zealand is a candidate for election to the UN Security Council. If elected, New Zealand will serve a two-year term as one of ten elected members of the council, and will also sit with the five Permanent Members of the Council, China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA.

The election will be held in October 2014. So it is just 17 months away. It is a closely fought contest. There are two vacant seats and three candidates, New Zealand, Spain and Turkey.

New Zealand is not a stranger to contested elections for the Security Council. New Zealand last served on the Council in 1993/94 – exactly twenty years ago. To win that seat New Zealand had to defeat Sweden. So we know what it takes to win against larger and richer countries.

Part of our appeal is that New Zealand is not greedy in seeking election too often. In this regard, when campaigning, we don’t need to rub in the fact that our competitors seek election much more often that we do. This is watched closely by the 109 small states that are members of the UN and who are our natural constituency. They know very well that Spain was last on the Council only 8 years ago – and Turkey only two years ago.

I believe that New Zealand is very well placed to win. We already have very strong support in all regions. And the New Zealand story resonates very well everywhere. But there is no denying the fact that this will be a very hard election. We are up against two significant competitors.

The Government has made it clear that New Zealand is not going to try, as some countries do, to buy votes. For New Zealand that would be silly. Once you start down that track small countries can easily be outbid.

Nor will New Zealand shift its policies or values to attract votes. Again, to do that would be silly. One of the things about New Zealand that really appeals around the world is its consistency and its honest, constructive and balanced positions. Tilting our positions to curry favour with this or that demandeur would actually undermine our strong value proposition.

It also needs to be acknowledged that this election campaign has to be managed in a very tight fiscal context. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding the campaign from within its existing budget. This of course requires some very careful reprioritisation of expenditure. The Ministry has had to limit some of its other activities accordingly. Again this is not a new experience. The last Security Council campaign in 1991/92 was similarly fought under very tight budget constraints. And the refocusing of effort that occurred at that time, in my view, actually strengthened and reenergised the Ministry in many ways.

But, given the real electoral challenge that we are facing and appreciating the time and effort that is required by Ministers Special Envoys and officials to campaign across 192 countries, I think it is very important to be able to set out exactly why this is a good idea and what is in it for New Zealand.

There will be some New Zealanders who wondering why we are doing this. Others may ask why don’t we spend the money on something at home or on promoting New Zealand business overseas. These are important questions and need to be answered.

The short answer is that the campaign is not taking money away from domestic priorities or from funding for overseas promotion. It is only using money that MFAT would have been spending anyway.

But this does not address the underlying question of why we would want this in the first place.

I want to set out for you my answer to that question. It is very much a personal opinion. It is based on my experience of the 1991/92 Security Council campaign, of my time in New York as the New Zealand Ambassador representing New Zealand on the Security Council in 1993/94 and also my recent experience in New York setting up and running for 7 years a brand new think tank called Security Council Report to monitor and make accessible to the public the work of the Security Council.

 I must stress that I am not speaking for the Government – although as many of you are aware I am helping the Government with the campaign as an independent adviser and as a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister.

The first point that I want to make is that, when you are campaigning for election to the Security Council, you never need to answer the question why are you running for election when speaking to other Governments. Election to the Security Council is the most highly coveted electoral prize for countries around the world. Almost all Governments would like to get it and they understand completely why it makes sense to go for it. Often they have slightly different reasons, but the bottom line is that everyone understands intuitively why it is a priority.

So what are the drivers for New Zealand? Why would New Zealanders be interested in this?

I believe, and this is based on a lot of years of hearing from New Zealanders on foreign policy issues, that there are probably three quite distinct reasons, which may make sense to three different groups of New Zealanders.

These three groups, in very general terms, might be called:

  • The peace and justice community
  • The business community
  • The security community

There is of course quite a lot of overlap in practice between these three groups, and all the more so when global crises may affect all three.

Let us start with the peace and justice community. There is a strong sense amongst many New Zealanders, often based in the Churches, the NGO groups, the academic world and the Unions that, as a country blessed with resources and being a safe distance from conflict situations, we have a moral and political obligation to show leadership in helping resolve conflicts and promoting peace and justice.

For this community being a member of the Security Council offers a unique opportunity for New Zealand. The Security Council is the only global institution with real power. Many media commentators focus on its coercive powers, its ability to sanction countries and individuals, its power to bring the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to bear on individuals, its role as the only legitimate source of authority for intervention or even the use of force.

To my mind an even greater power of the Council is its capacity, in practice, to take decisions that result in the collective appropriation of money so that all 193 members share in the cost of peace operations. This is a hugely important tool in bringing resources to the field to help bring peace and justice.

There are currently 13 peacekeeping missions and 34 special political missions being overseen by the Security Council. The budget for these missions is almost US$8 billion. How these operations are working and how well they are delivering for affected populations are things that the Churches, the NGOs and the advocacy groups follow very closely. In New York, the delegations of civil society lobbying the Security Council are probably better informed and better resourced than many of the elected Security Council members.

The value of being on the Security Council and having a capacity to make a difference in conflict situations is therefore well understood by most in the peace and justice community. And the good experience from NZs term on the Council in 1993/94 gives encouragement that NZ can make a difference.

Turning to the business community, it is important to understand that for a country like New Zealand the competitive edge for our exporters is absolutely critical to our economy, to jobs and ultimately the quality of our society. But for small or new exporters making deals in foreign markets is very difficult. You need networks you need access to decision makers. You need national visibility and – when things go wrong – as they often do – you need political access with real impact.

One thing is clear from our term on the Council in 1993/94 – when you are on the Security Council – especially if you are taking a high profile role – you do get visibility in all of the major markets around the world. You are seen sitting at the top table. The influence that that carries can be very significant when exporters need help. When you want to raise something bilaterally you get taken much more seriously. You get unparalleled political access. And even more importantly we found in the 1990s that if you are effective on the Council and pull real weight, the benefits are not limited to the two-year term. They can continue for a decade or more.

This lifting of the NZ profile, this enhanced visibility and the access opportunities that go with it can be leveraged very effectively to assist wider NZ interests. And this can only be of assistance to the business community.

Next I would like to talk about the benefits of a Security Council term for the security community. In doing so I not only include the NZDF and the families of our military personnel and our veterans, but also in a wider sense all New Zealanders.

We are all affected when risks are taken and NZ forces are deployed into combat situations overseas. Losses, when they occur, are felt by everybody. The evidence of this is clear from the huge support around the country in recent years for ANZAC Day events including by young people. And the same is true for New Zealanders overseas, who flock to ANZAC Day events in large numbers.

If you visit the Army Museum in Waiouru, you will see the compelling displays and the graphic reminders that across the whole history of our country every 20 years or so, on average, young New Zealanders have been sent into situations of combat or armed violence.

Another thing you will learn at the Army Museum is the determination to learn from the experiences in the First World War, and some also in the Second World War, where New Zealand suffered unreasonable casualties because of bad command decisions by commanders from other countries.

Recently, although the numbers of New Zealand personnel deployed overseas have been lower than in the past, the frequency has been much higher. Think of where we have been since the end of the Cold War – Somalia, Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia, Bougainville, Timor, the Solomons and Afghanistan – to name just the most prominent. 

In the light of this trend, the security community, all of us, have a very strong interest in maximising the New Zealand voice at decision-making tables. This means not only in the Security Council, where very important decisions are sometimes taken, but also in terms of influence and leverage by other decision makers whose decisions may be the difference between life and death for our military personnel.

A strong and effective New Zealand term on the Security Council every now and then gives us the credibility, the mana and the political access to be taken seriously on these matters. And our military personnel and their families and the New Zealand public at large have every reason to expect the Government and our diplomats will seize such an important opportunity as a term on the Security Council to reinforce that sort of credibility, mana and access.

And finally, although our geography means that we live in about as safe a part of the world as you could imagine, it is clear that in the 21st century security is threatened increasingly by unconventional risks, be they terrorism, narcotics and people smugglers cyber attacks and criminal networks. And, for our pacific island neighbours, the unconventional security risk presented by climate change is becoming increasingly real. All these issues can only be addressed by multilateral collective responses and they are already on the agenda of the Security Council.

I believe that in a country like New Zealand there is a real convergence of interest between the peace and justice community, the business community and the security community, and that it makes real sense for all of them to be strongly behind our determined race to win a seat on the Security Council.

On changing the flag

One of John Key’s third term ambitions is to change the flag. I support this. I think a distinctive New Zealand flag will give our country a proud identity.

Stuff reports Key moves for poll on change to flag:

Prime Minister John Key has started laying out his third term agenda, including a vote on changing the flag next year.

Key flew into Wellington’s gale force winds yesterday with the intention of putting his third term government together by the end of the week.

He confirmed a flag debate next year, the same year Kiwis mark Anzac Day 100-year anniversary commemorations at Gallipoli.

“I’d like to complete the whole process next year. I don’t think it’s one of those things we want to hang around,” Key said.

The debate will be decided by referendum, and Key has already started making the case for change, labelling the current design of a Union Jack and the Southern Cross a relic from New Zealand’s colonial past.

But the Returned and Services Association has already lined up against any change.

The flag will be keenly debated.

NZ Herald report Key wants flag vote by 2015:

Mr Key had made an election promise to hold a referendum before 2017 if re-elected and said yesterday that he would bring it forward.

He had outlined a plan for a cross-party group of MPs to recommend the best process for referenda and a steering group to ensure the public had the opportunity to engage in discussion on the flag, and submit designs.

Mr Key suggested a two-stage referendum; first a vote for the best alternative flag from three or four options. Then, the winning design would run off against the existing flag.

Critics argue that the present flag is easily confused with those of other former British colonies, including Australia.

See flag examples below.

But supporters say it would dishonour the memory of New Zealanders who had fought and died under the flag if the design was changed. The Returned Services Association had said it would oppose any change.

National president Don McIver, who could not be reached yesterday, had earlier said the flag held a special status for soldiers who had fought under it and it should not be changed.

I’ve posted on how closely related the silver fern has been in our military history:

And here’s a repost on flag alternatives:

There’s been a number of alternative New Zealand flags suggested in the past.  One popular version is this Kyle Lockwood design.

Kyle Lockwood flagDavid Farrar has posted Another flag design at Kiwiblog:

NZ-flag-suggestion-600x330I prefer the latter with black, this connects more with the very familiar fern on black but still retains connections with the current flag colours and design.

The Lockwood design was also featured in An alternate flag design at Kiwiblog:

New-Flag-LineupThe distinctive Canadian maple leaf was a successful change from one of many similar designs. That’s the Australian flag at the back, which is often confused with this:

NZ flagThat shows one of the main drawbacks with the current flag, many people find it hard to be sure if it is our flag, the Australian flag or one of the other similar flags.

Glenn Greenwald in New Zealand

Media interviews with Glenn Greenwald on his New Zealand visit to speak at a public meeting arranged by Kim Dotcom plus related coverage.

The Nation: Interview Glenn Greenwald

United States journalist Glenn Greenwald says there are serious questions about whether the New Zealand Government was truthful about the GCSB law change.

“What I can tell you is that the statement that the GCSB made to New Zealand citizens last year — ‘We do not engage in mass surveillance of New Zealanders’ — is one that is not truthful.”

The Government engages in “extraordinary amounts of analysis of metadata – meaning who’s talking to whom for how long, where they are when they speak – on a massive, indiscriminate scale, not just internationally but of New Zealanders as well”.

He says New Zealand is an active member of the Five Eyes Alliance and spends an extraordinary amount of resources on electronic surveillance.

“…Every single thing that the NSA does that we have been reporting on over the last year and a couple of months involves New Zealand directly.”

The GCSB spies on a variety of countries, both hostile and allies. New Zealand spy agencies also have access to the XKeyscore spyware and contributes to it.

In his first television interview in New Zealand, he talks to Lisa Owen about the Edward Snowden leaks and how New Zealand agencies are involved in spying here and abroad.

Mr Greenwald is in New Zealand for Kim Dotcom’s “moment of truth” announcement on Monday night.

Lisa Owen Interviews National Party Leader John Key

We’ve only got a little bit of time left, so I just want to ask you one more time. Glenn Greenwald, the investigative journalist, is going to be on this show shortly. What do you think he’s got on New Zealand, and should you be worried?

Don’t know, but Kim Dotcom might not like surveillance agencies or intelligence agencies. Fair enough. He’s got his own reasons, and he can look himself in the mirror and ask himself why. But for other New Zealanders, there is a risk in New Zealand. It’s much smaller than other countries, but there is a risk. And as prime minister, I have to take the responsibility to do everything I can to protect New Zealanders.

NZ Herald: He’s Dotcom’s little henchman: PM attacks journalist’s spy claims

Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, said that New Zealand’s spying agencies had been conducting mass surveillance on New Zealanders as part of the Five Eyes arrangement between the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Key said that was wrong. “There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB and there never has been. Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

He believed Greenwald was jumping to conclusions based on partial information. Greenwald has worked with Edward Snowden over material Mr Snowden obtained relating to the activities of spy agencies worldwide.

NZ Q&A Video: The GCSB engages in mass surveillance – Glenn Greenwald (0:46)

Pulitzer prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald says the GCSB engages in mass surveillance

NZ Q&A: Key “rejected mass surveillance plan”

John Key: GCSB looked into a mass surveillance plan but he rejected it

National Party leader John Key told TV1’s Q+A programme that the GCSB looked into a plan for mass surveillance after two companies were subjected to a major cyber-attack – but he rejected it.

“ What ended up actually happening though was in about September of 2012 obviously there was the shake-up of GCSB, I brought in Rebecca Kitteridge, I started saying to the agency look, firstly your law needs to change, secondly your institution needs to strengthen, and thirdly I’m a little uncomfortable with where you’re sorting to go. I think you’re actually arguing this far too broadly. Even though a lot of New Zealanders might like it, because it’s really a Norton anti-virus at a very high level.”

Mr Key said he would produce proof that New Zealanders are not subject to mass surveillance, as claimed by Journalist Glenn Greenwald.

“ This is the point around the politics of all this. He’s had these documents for well over a year or so, so he’s miraculously turning up 5 days before, 6 days before an election to try and bamboozle people, and try and make all of these claims which don’t stack up. But he’s only seen one bit you see, he’s hacked in, he’s seen all of this information, he said aha gotcha, and of course what he doesn’t realise is none of that ever happened. So I’ll be able to produce the document that says here’s rescinding the asking of the business case, here’s the document that actually shows what’s taken place.

Q&A Video: Government considered mass surveillance but ruled it out – John Key (9:51)

Metro: Steve Braunias’ Campaign Diary: Day 9

DAY NINE: IN WHICH GLENN GREENWALD RECEIVES VISITORS AT THE SAD AND DEPRESSING DOTCOM MANSION – AND THE “LITTLE HENCHMAN” CALLS THE PRIME MINISTER A DIRTY LIAR

Family Violence data

There has been a lot of debate on violence since David Cunliffe released Labour’s anti-violence policy yesterday. Cunliffe started his speech by saying:

‘‘Can I begin by saying I’m sorry – I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man, right now. Because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children,’’ he said.

Labour’s media release said:

Labour will take decisive and far-reaching action to address violence against women and children, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.

Questions have been asked about why Cunliffe has apologised as a man and why Labour have solely targeted violence against women and children.

More men than women are more violent but aren’t solely responsible for violence. (It should be noted that violence outside of family violence is far more often male versus male).

Here is the latest data summary from the New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House.

Data Summaries 2013: Snapshot

This snapshot is drawn from the five NZFVC 2013 Data Summaries. Refer to the Data Summaries for definitions and caveats on the data below.

Family violence

  • In 2012, there were 87,622 family violence investigations by NZ Police. 101,293 children were linked to these investigations.[1]
  • In 2011, 4064 applications were made for protection orders:

-          2776 (91%) were made by women and 230 (8%) by men

-          2655 (88%) of respondents were men and 321 (11%) women.[2]

  • In 2011, there were 7896recorded male assaults female offences and 5232 recorded offences for breaching a protection order.2
  • In 2011/12, Women’s Refuges affiliated to the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges received 85,794 crisis calls. 8930 women and 7005 children accessed advocacy services in the community. 2273 women and 1424 children stayed in safe houses.[3]
  • 1 in 3 (35.4%) ever-partnered New Zealand women report having experienced physical and/or sexual IPV in their lifetime. When psychological/emotional abuse is included, 55% report having experienced IPV in their lifetime. In the 12 months prior to the survey, 5.2% had experiencedphysical and/or sexual IPV. When psychological/emotional abuse was included, 18.2% had experienced one or more forms of IPV.[4]
  • In 2011, NZ Police recorded 11 homicides by an intimate partner. 9 of the victims were women and 2 were men.[5]
  • 16.8% of New Zealand women report having experienced sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime; 2% in the last 12 months.4
  • In 2011, there were 1,575 reported sexual offences against an adult over 16 years.1
  • In 2011/12, Child, Youth and Family received 152,800 reports of concern. 61,074 were deemed to require further action, leading to 21,525 findings of abuse or neglect. 3884 children were in care placements.[7]
  • In 2011, NZ Police recorded 12 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member.5 In 2011, 113 children and youth were hospitalised for a serious non-fatal assault perpetrated by a family member.[8]
  • Between 1 in 3[9] and 1 in 5[10] New Zealand women and 1 in 109 men report having experienced child sexual abuse. 1 in 5 female and 1 in 20 male secondary school students report having experienced unwanted sexual contact in the last 12 months.[11]
  • In 2011, there were 1856 reported sexual offences against a child under 16 years.1
  • 10% of secondary school students report witnessing adults at home hitting or physically hurting each other once or more in the last year.11

Intimate partner violence (IPV)

Adult sexual assault

  • 29% of New Zealand women and 9% of men report having experienced sexual assault in their lifetime. 73% of these assaults against women and 54% of these assaults against men were perpetrated by a partner, ex-partner or other family member.[6]

Children and young people

  • In 2011/12, Child, Youth and Family received 152,800 reports of concern. 61,074 were deemed to require further action, leading to 21,525 findings of abuse or neglect. 3884 children were in care placements.[1]
  • In 2011, NZ Police recorded 12 homicides of children and young people under 20 by a family member.5 In 2011, 113 children and youth were hospitalised for a serious non-fatal assault perpetrated by a family member.[2]
  • Between 1 in 3[3] and 1 in 5[4] New Zealand women and 1 in 109 men report having experienced child sexual abuse. 1 in 5 female and 1 in 20 male secondary school students report having experienced unwanted sexual contact in the last 12 months.[5]
  • In 2011, there were 1856 reported sexual offences against a child under 16 years.1
  • 10% of secondary school students report witnessing adults at home hitting or physically hurting each other once or more in the last year.11

 

[1]Child, Youth and Family. (2013). Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.cyf.govt.nz/about-us/who-we-are-what-we-do/information-for-media.html

[2] National Health Board Business Unit. (2011). National minimum dataset (Hospital events): Data Dictionary. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

[3]van Roode, T, Dickson, N, Herbison, P, Paul, C. (2009). Child sexual abuse and persistence of risky sexual behaviors and negative sexual outcomes over adulthood: Findings from a birth cohort. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33,161–172.

[4]Fanslow, JL, Robinson, EM, Crengle, S, Perese, L. (2007). Prevalence of child sexual abuse reported by a cross-sectional sample of New Zealand women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 935–945.

[5]Clark, TC., Robinson, E., Crengle, S., Grant, S., Galbreath, RA. & Sykora, J. (2009). Youth ’07: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand. Findings on Young People and Violence. Auckland: The University of Auckland. Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/ahrg/_docs/2007-violence-report-2010a.pdf

[1]New Zealand Police. (2013). Customised data extract

[2]Ministry of Justice (2013, February). [District and Family Court Data: Personal Communication].

[3] National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges. (2012). Annual Report: July 2011–June 2012. Wellington: NCIWR. Retrieved June 2013, from https://womensrefuge.org.nz/users/Image/Downloads/PDFs/NWR_Annual_Report_2012_WEB.pdf

[4] Fanslow, JL et al. (2011). Sticks, Stones, or Words? Counting the Prevalence of Different Types of Intimate Partner Violence Reported by New Zealand Women. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 20, 741–759.

[5] New Zealand Police. (2011). Homicide Victims Report, 2011. Retrieved February 2013, from https://www.police.govt.nz/statistics/2011/calendar

[6] Mayhew, P. Reilly, JL. (2009). The New Zealand Crime and Safety Survey. In Family Violence Statistics Report. Wellington: Families Commission, August. Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.familiescommission.org.nz/sites/default/files/downloads/family-violence-statistics-report.pdf

[7]Child, Youth and Family. (2013). Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.cyf.govt.nz/about-us/who-we-are-what-we-do/information-for-media.html

[8] National Health Board Business Unit. (2011). National minimum dataset (Hospital events): Data Dictionary. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

[9]van Roode, T, Dickson, N, Herbison, P, Paul, C. (2009). Child sexual abuse and persistence of risky sexual behaviors and negative sexual outcomes over adulthood: Findings from a birth cohort. Child Abuse & Neglect, 33,161–172.

[10]Fanslow, JL, Robinson, EM, Crengle, S, Perese, L. (2007). Prevalence of child sexual abuse reported by a cross-sectional sample of New Zealand women. Child Abuse & Neglect, 31, 935–945.

[11]Clark, TC., Robinson, E., Crengle, S., Grant, S., Galbreath, RA. & Sykora, J. (2009). Youth ’07: The Health and Wellbeing of Secondary School Students in New Zealand. Findings on Young People and Violence. Auckland: The University of Auckland. Retrieved June 2013, from http://www.fmhs.auckland.ac.nz/faculty/ahrg/_docs/2007-violence-report-2010a.pdf

 

Cunliffe’s calamity

As soon as I heard a report of Cunliffe saying sorry for being a man I thought it would would be bad for him. And that’s how it is looking. While some have praised him for “speaking bravely” many many people, both men and women, have reacted negatively. Some very negatively.

Cunliffe has gaffed too much already, but this could be the gaffe to top all gaffes. It could be a calamity for his leadership. People don’t respect apologetic wimps.

He obviously doesn’t under stand the violence debate well. Neither do those who have advised him on this approach.

Sure some would have thought it was a great approach, especially for a women’s refuge audience. But his speech was also aimed at a much wider audience. It was a major policy launch.

But there was no way an apology like that, whether staged or authentic, was going to go down well with many people. Men and women.

One problem is that people want party leaders to be strong and confident. Saying you are sorry for being what you are portrays the opposite.

Another problem is that this feeds into the image of the Labour party being dominated by women. By targeting the opening of his speech very clearly at a very feminine (and feminist) audience reinforces this.

But the biggest problem by far is that stating he is sorry for being a man in general terms implies that he thinks he is to blame for male violence, and that he thinks all men are to blame for violence.

That implication really really gets up the nose of many men. Especially men who abhor violence and would do anything they can to confront and reduce the violence in our society. Men like me.

Men who are proud to be what they are and who they are.

And the reaction from some women has been very negative as well. From a fundamental level of not respecting apologetic theatrics. And on a more common sense and practical level.

Deborah Morris-Travers of children’s lobby group Every Child Counts said:

‘‘One of the solutions to family violence is having all men healthy, educated, feeling good about being parents, feeling supported and engaged in their community and having a strong identity – not apologising for being male.’’

We need strong leadership to address appalling violence in our society. We need strong male role models.

The Cunliffe of yesterdays speech is not someone many people can look up to. They don’t just see his comment as wrong, they feel insulted.

This isn’t superficial tribal politics. It goes much deeper and personal. It questions the decency of all men.

So far Cunliffe has stood by his comment. It’s difficult to see how he can repair the damage and recover any respect he may have had with many people.

This could be Cunliffe’s clinching calamity.

We may now see this excuse for a man limp to an election lashing.

Someone else will have to lead the campaign against violence. Someone who can stand tall and can be respected.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 277 other followers