NZ First “assault on free speech”

NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark’s remarks in Parliament last week, and the support of those remarks by leader Winston Peters, have been described in a Herald editorial as an assault on free speech.

I agree. Trying to put someone down and telling them they should go back ‘to where they came from” is an insidious attempt to shut them up, an attempt to tell them thay have no right to speak or to be critical. This is especiallyh serious as it happened in Parliament, where it’s important MPs can speak openly for their parties and constituencies.

Editorial: ‘Korea’ slight an assault on free speech

New Zealand First MP Ron Mark’s suggestion in Parliament that National’s Melissa Lee should “go back to Korea” rather than criticise something in New Zealand has been called racist, which it was, but it was also oppressive of free speech, which in Parliament is even worse.

Mr Mark is denying the right of immigrants to criticise their adopted country, which is an attitude heard often enough in general conversation where it is deeply oppressive for immigrants who are sensitive to the fact that they are recent arrivals and would like to join the conversation.

It is an attitude that should never be heard in Parliament, where it is essential to democracy that representatives of all shades of opinion, interest and ethnicity are allowed to speak.

NZ First have attacked Asian immigration and Asian investment and attacked Asians generally for some time. But to attack a New Zealand MP and to try and shut them up because they are of Asian origin, in Parliament, is probably a new low.

On that basis, Mr Mark may say he should be free to express the view that immigrants who do not like something about New Zealand should go back where they came from rather than criticise this country.

But Parliament has numerous rules that restrict its members’ rights to speak in ways that abuse their rights or oppress the rights of others to be heard. This should be one of the them.

It was ethnic bullying.

It is hard enough to encourage immigrants to stand for Parliament, as any political party can attest, for exactly the reason Mr Mark has stated. Naturally they wonder whether they have a right as new citizens to join in our political debates. We need to stress they most certainly do have a right. They have chosen to become citizens of this country, they are a large and growing minority contributing to its economy and we need to hear their views. It is not healthy for any country to suppress the voice of any section of its population.

It is similar to if Mark had told a female MP to shut up and go back to their kitchen or a Maori MP to shut up and go back to their Marae.

For these reasons, Mr Mark ought to have apologised to Ms Lee and to Parliament as soon as he had reflected on what he had said. The fact that he still has not should be treated very seriously in view of its oppressive implications for free speech in the chamber.

It is possible Mr Mark has not reflected on his remark even yet.

Mark should reflect on a number of things he has said in Parliament said and on his behaviour in Parliament. He appears to be too arrogant to do so.

It is not too late for the House to take some sort of action when it resumes next week. The need for a directive on oppressive speech has become stronger now that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has echoed the offence. When the country’s most experienced parliamentarian says, “If someone is complaining about the country they are in, they … can always go back home,” he is a disgrace to free and fair debate.

It’s not unusual for Peters to be a disgrace to free and fair debate. It’s very sad that NZ First now have a deputy who seems tol be prepared to be more disgraceful.

All of this arose because Ms Lee criticised shop trading hours in New Zealand as they used to be. Any member of Parliament who cannot acknowledge the right of another to be here, and take part in our politics, is not worth his seat.

As far as Peters goes that’s up to the voters in his electorate.

Mark is a list MP, so it is up to NZ First to decide on whether he  deserves his seat. That his leader has endorsed and repeated his insidious remarks means voters should seriously consider whether NZ First is worth having in Parliament. Unfortunately democracy means even racists and bigots and those who verbally assault immigrants and assault free speech can get elected.

Ignorance about New Zealand culture

There’s a common mistake made about New Zealand culture in relation to immigration – that immigrants should “accept our culture” or “go back home”.

Two mistakes actually – some immigrants don’t have homes to go back to, or don’t have safe homes to go back to.

But some seem to think that their culture represents New Zealand culture and everyone should do and be the same.That’s nonsense. There are a wide range of cultures co-existing and intermingling in New Zealand and there always have been.

“Go back home” came up in a spat between MPs in Parliament this week. Curwen Ares Rolinson (young NZ First activist) has  acknowledged the damage of Mark’s comments in a post at The Daily Blog – On Ron Mark, Melissa Lee, and Public Holidays in Korea.

Now for the record, I wouldn’t have spoken as Ron Mark did. I can see how such a statement could easily be misconstrued and has the real potential to make members of migrant communities who *have* chosen to make New Zealand their home – and work for the betterment thereof – feel unwelcome.

But he also defended Mark and supported NZ First’s divisive tactics.

In any case, while I might disagree with the wording used in the bridging phrase, I can nevertheless easily see why Ron would have cited a list of comparable conditions (in this case, Korean national holidays) designed to demonstrate that Lee’s “as a migrant” assertions about New Zealand’s status relative to other countries were spurious.

The “go back to Korea” line was a poor choice of set-up for this, and there are certainly other ways Ron could have lead into talking about that part of Lee’s speech … but I make no apology for New Zealand First harbouring legitimate concerns as to how this legislation might affect and undermine the rights and protections of the ordinary Kiwi worker.

A commneter agreed with Mark. Pietrad:

I agree with the writer and with Ron Mark. The truth of the matter is that NZ is our home and if someone visits and doesn’t like the way we do things, then they need to accept our culture or go live somewhere else that operates to their satisfaction. I especially feel this to be the case with people whose religion requires them to be always masked in public.

I don’t recall seeing any religious masking. The garb of nuns or Brethren or Muslims is not my thing but it’s their choice (hopefully) what they wear.

I see what I think are far worse fully clothed sights from youth ‘fashion’ statements. I find gang regalia more distasteful than religious clothing. I’d rather see many of the the overuse of tattoos covered up and face piercings look much worse to me than a scarfed head.

This is NOT part of our much more open culture and those people need to accept being un-masked is how we are, or GO and LIVE WHERE THAT SORT OF BEHAVIOR IS THE NORM. That’s not to judge it wrong but it is an example of such a different culture and one which essentially exists in conflict with ours. Would the NZ public find it acceptable if immigrants came from a culture where they wore NO clothes? ‘Go back where you came from’ would be a much more common demand. ‘When in Rome …..”

Is Pietrad suggesting that anyone not complying with the Kiwi cuklture of a black singlet, shorts and gumboots should ‘Go back where you came from’?

People stating that people who don’t fit in with “our culture” shoukld bugger off never seem to say what specific Kiwi culture they want everyone here to comply with. There’s a vast array of cultures on display around New Zealand.

It would be awful of everyone was a clone of Pietron or Ron Mark.

I think people like this have as much right to choose their attire in New Zealand as I do:

Why “go back to where you came from” is unacceptable

Andrew Chen has explained why Ron Mark’s comments in Parliament were “simply not acceptable” in “Go back to where you came from.”

I agree fully with Andrew’s post. Mark’s comments and the support of them from most of NZ First caucus is disturbing from a party in Parliament. It disgraces their name “New Zealand First”. They only represent a minority in New Zealand who are intolerant of ofther New Zealanders, or they are prepared to use and abuse some New Zealanders to try and build support from their rascist and intolerant constituency.

It’s very sad to hear of some of the things Andrew has experienced during his lifetime as a New Zealander.

When I was 9 years old, I went to a friend’s house to play Age of Empires. Some of his extended family happened to be there at the time, and his step-father asked me “where are you from?” Truthfully, I answered “Birkenhead”, the suburb where I lived. His response was “Don’t you be cheeky, where are you actually from?” Confused, I answered “Here?” Suddenly, he held me in a headlock and shouted “you bloody well know what I mean, where are you from?” The sounds of laughter from the rest of the room rang in my ears. I managed to mumble something like “my parents are from Taiwan.” He let go and said “that wasn’t that hard, was it?”

When I was 13 years old, I was a patrol leader at my local scout troop. One of the other scouts was sitting on an empty wooden box and swinging his legs against the sides, creating a lot of noise. I asked him to stop because the constant banging was making me uncomfortable and a little bit anxious. He said “you can’t tell me what to do, this is my country.” I had to go sit somewhere else.

When I was 15 years old, I was sitting in math class at the desk closest to the door. It was open, and a breeze was blowing in. While the class was working on some exercises, I asked the teacher if I could close the door because I was getting a bit cold. He said “If you think it’s too cold maybe you should go back to Asia.” I replied with “I was born here” and shut the door. When I later told a friend that racism was well and alive within our school she told me to “stop being ridiculous”.

That NZ First pander to that sort of intolerant and harmful attitude is also very sad.

Memories of those experiences came back to Andrew when he hear Mark’s comments.

I don’t like these memories. I don’t like sharing these memories either, but maybe this can demonstrate to some people why the statement to go back to where you came from is offensive. I cannot bear to imagine what life must be like for migrants living in less ethnically tolerant areas of the country.

There’s a proportion of the population that is not just innloreant of peoeple they deem to be different, whether it be different race, nationality, hair colour, religion or whatever. They express their intolerance in a nasty way.

Some of them don’t think they are being nasty, but they don’t understand how dissy comments they think are innocuous can hurt others.

One of the worst ways to hurt is to imply or say someone shouldn’t live in the place they have chosen to live, or have lived all their lives.

For Ron Mark’s NZ First colleagues to back him up only further reiterates that this behaviour is apparently okay. Winston Peters said that any claims of racism were “poppycock”. Barbara Stewart said that the comment was not racist and was “taken out of context” (when his comments were very much in the context of a racist speech targeting public holidays in Korea and India and implying that these other countries have too many public holidays; in fact his entire speech was laced with derision and offence). Pita Paraone said “it was said in the heat of the moment as part of the theatre of Parliament.” None of these statements are anywhere near satisfactory for a parliament that seeks to represent an increasingly multicultural nation. The closest we got was Tracey Martin saying “it’s not a statement I would have made.”

That’s an awful reflection on the New Zealand First party who put the most intolerant first and promote other New Zealanders as second class citizens, or worse.

Ron Mark makes it clear that Lee and Bakshi are not real New Zealanders when he says in his speech “while we know certain people are toeing the National Party line like a little bunch of whipped puppies, back in their world they would never, ever dare stand up and say this.” His use of “back in their world” effectively says that the fact that Lee and Bakshi have been in New Zealand for 27 and 14 years respectively is worth nothing. “Go back to where you came from” is a phrase that has always been loaded with xenophobia, and I really don’t see a context where it could be used to mean anything other than “you’re not welcome because you’re not from here.”

It doesn’t matter to me that Ron Mark was directing his statement at migrants and I was born here. The common racist usually doesn’t take the time to establish my place of birth.

A person with Mark’s political experience must know what he was doing through his remarks in Parliament, and he has since chosen to defend them. He seems willing to use shitty attacks on New Zealanders to try and further his own political ambitions.

I’m grateful to the various people, both in and outside of the House, who have criticised the comments and refused to let it slide. It helps me to feel a bit of hope that one day this type of racism and xenophobia can be eliminated. It strengthens my resolve to stay here and try to make New Zealand a better place.

I’m more than happy to not let the behaviour or Ron Mark (supported by Winston Peters and NZ First) slide.

New Zealand is a better place with people like Andrew Chen as much a part of our country as me. And we need to ensure that Mark and NZ First don’t get away with trying to make it a worse place chasing their own selfish ambitions.

Andrew Chen sounds like a decent New Zealander. And Ron Mark doesn’t.

“Go back to where you came from” is unacceptable from any New Zealander, and especially so from a Member of Parliament.

Re Mark remarks – appalling in Parliament

I presume Ron Mark is trying to attract attention to himself and to NZ First in Parliament but he is not doing himself or his party any favours with his poor behaviour, even by Parliamentary standards.

Yesterday Question was interrupted by the prize pillock.

National MP Dr Juan Yang kicked off Question 8 on Tuesday with some patsies for the Minister of Education..

Just over two minutes in the Speaker David Carter called order and addressed Mark.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will draw your attention to an incident in this House a little while ago—

Mr SPEAKER: Can I just have the point of order please?

Ron Mark: The point of order is about the inconsistency of rulings from the Chair—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat if he wishes to stay. Throughout the last two questions there has been a constant barrage from that member, making it very difficult for me to hear what was going on. I give the warning quite seriously to the member: if he wishes to stay I suggest he quietens down; if he does not wish to stay then I can assist him very quickly. Supplementary question—

Ron Mark: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I have dealt with the matter.

Ron Mark: A new point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: A fresh point of order?

Ron Mark: Fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: If it—correction. But just before—the member will take a seat. I am happy to entertain a fresh point of order, but if it is in any way relitigating the territory we have just covered I will then be asking the member to leave the House immediately.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does the ruling still stand that we should not read our speeches?

Mr SPEAKER: There has never been a ruling that you must not read a speech. It has certainly been an encouragement for people not to read speeches. Very often through question time, as the member will observe as he spends more time in this House, Ministers do read from a scripted answer.

Ron Mark: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No. We have dealt with the matter. The matter—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Supplementary question, the honourable—[Interruption] Order! Can I just remind Ron Mark that that is the very last warning.

Chris Hipkins: If the review of the Education Act is so important—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: A fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just a minute.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I don’t need a ruling.

Mr SPEAKER: That is exactly what the member said last time on an occasion like this, but I still want to deliver it so he then cannot accuse me of acting precipitously. I have dealt with this matter. If the member wants to raise a fresh point of order I will hear it, but if I consider it is in any way relitigating the territory just covered by his colleague Ron Mark, then I will not hesitate to ask the right honourable member to leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Standing Orders are very clear about members being referred to if they are not in the House. When you gave your reply to Ron Mark you used the phrase “if he spends more time in the House”. That is not allowed by the Standing Orders—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I said “as he spends more time in the House”. As he becomes more experienced with the Standing Orders and watches question time more often, he will have—[Interruption] Order! Ron Mark will leave the Chamber. Ron Mark, would you leave the Chamber.

  • Ron Mark withdrew from the Chamber.

I don’t know what Mark was trying to achieve but that just seems like a stupid waste of Parliament’s time.

Mark must have been allowed back in for the first reading to the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill as he the seventh to speak on the Bill.

He began in relative silence with what came across as a smart arse remark directed at the Speaker.

RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First): It is wonderful, actually, to be back in the House, with the opportunity to speak on a piece of legislation, actually…

He slowly worked into his speech, gradually turning to trying to rubbish the Government and National MPs. It wasn’t pretty. In fact it looked and sounded ugly.

But I cannot allow some of the comments and some of the hyperventilating that I have had to bear witness to this evening to go without some comment. I would have thought, actually, that if the Government wanted this legislation through it could have done it quite some time ago at far less cost to the taxpayer.

I get a little bit nauseated by hearing lectures from members of the National Party both here in the House, out on the hustings, and through the media about how concerned they are about taxpayers’ money and the expenditure.

Ironic given the nauseous nature of his barbs.

The other thing that I have got to comment on is Mr Hudson’s comments about choice. What a farcical speech that was. If the member truly believed in choice he would explain to the House why there is no choice—

Brett Hudson: Good choice.

RON MARK: Mr Hudson, you have had your say so now it is our turn. Mr Hudson,

Considering how much Mark interjects when it’s the turn of other MP’s that’s humourless hypocrisy.

…if the member truly believes in freedom of choice then explain why all the members of his party are being whipped tonight. Mr Hudson, let me take one back to the smacking legislation. The choice in the National Party ranks was so clear that members of the National Party back in the old days, you know when Helen Clark was the Prime Minister and John Key was in Opposition ranting and raving about what he is going to do in Government, how appalling the anti-smacking legislation was. That was not choice. That was whipped like a bunch of little puppies—puppies. So Mr Hudson, can it—can it.

Brett Hudson: Says the Winston Peters lapdog.

That was a complete diversion from the bill, dripping with derision.

RON MARK: Because, actually, Mr Hudson, you are like that old Hudson car—slow, smoky, rather rounded at the edges, and going nowhere fast—and no one buys the crap we just heard this evening, thank you.

I want to go on to the other comments of Melissa Lee, one of these other wonderful National Party member, from Korea as Wikipedia says. Melissa Lee told the House in her rather condescending manner, which she is becoming renowned for, that we need to grow up in New Zealand. Well I have got a short message, if you do not like New Zealand go back to Korea. That is the first message. The second message is—[Interruption]—that got them going. The second message is, let us look at public holidays in Korea—let us look at public holidays in Korea. So Korea we have the Korean New Year. Do they work on Korean New Year? No. Let us look at the independence day—[Interruption]

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! I would like to hear what the member is saying.

RON MARK: So let us look at the public holidays in Korea, where nobody—

Hon Amy Adams: Racism and vitriol.

Adams is right. That’s fairly disgraceful from Mark.

RON MARK: Oh, the Minister is upset. This is one Minister in the House who, when she gets her little dander up, cannot resist having a slap. Well, Amy, listen up—

Hon Amy Adams: Only a racist—

RON MARK: I am a racist, well, telling the—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! Look, this is a robust debate and we will just ask you to calm things down. So Ron Mark, you have the floor.

RON MARK: Without any overtures of racism…

More like an overdose of sarcasm and itony.

…let us look at the holidays in Korea that are public holidays that people do not work on. Coming to New Zealand and telling us we should grow up in our House, where we allow freedom of speech, is a little different to what we see.

Not just racist insults to an MP, but also to another country. We get it that NZ First have something against Asians but this is disgraceful.

Buddha’s birthday, holy heck, so now we say that New Zealanders should have to work on a religious day but in Korea, where Miss Lee comes from, Buddha’s birthday on the eighth of the fourth lunar month is a public holiday where no one works. So let us look at another National Party member. Oh geebers, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi. This gentleman also understands and respects the value of religious days and the need for public holidays but he sits in this House ready to take a call, I guess, to support this legislation. But let us have a look at India. There are so many, I just could not read them out in this time that I have available, but one of the religious holidays in India is Easter.

He turns to more ethnic insults.


Easter—where people do not have to work. And there is Good Friday, Easter Sunday, St Thomas the Apostle, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Christmas Day. And let us have a look at a few others: Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Eid ul-Ghadeer, and let us not forget Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Do not come into this House preaching and telling New Zealanders to grow up. Do not give us the condescending rhetoric.

That sounds like he’s projecting his own characteristics onto others.

Because on one hand we know that although certain people are towing the National Party line like a bunch of little whipped puppies, back in their own world they would never ever dare stand up and say this.

So I come right back to where I started. New Zealand First is happy to support this legislation going to the select committee for a constructive debate and for a constructive analysis.

Don’t expect any analysis nor constructive debate if Mark has anything to do with it.

He went on to meander around the general topic of the Bill.

But this speech was in very poor taste from Mark. He looks determined to compete for the title of nastiest MP.

He tries to copy the disruptiveness of Peters, except he is absent any charm.


Peters and NZ First consolidating

Vernon Small writes in Stuff that Winston Peters and NZ First are quietly consolidating their king-maker role. I think he’s right.

During past terms NZ First has muddled along in the polls and surged during election campaigns. Their vote would better their polling, sometimes significantly. This is because NZ First is seen by many as a protest vote so voters make late decisions to swing towards them.

Small writes:

You wouldn’t normally expect to say “Winston Peters” and “under the radar” in the same breath.

The wily old NZ First leader has been around too long, and is too attuned to popular opinion, to ever qualify as a shrinking violet.

But with the focus on John Key and National’s continued strength in the polls, and as Labour wonders if – or when – leader Andrew Little will lift the party’s fortunes, NZ First’s consolidation in the polls has largely gone unnoticed.

It does seem to have been relatively unnoticed, until Small brought it up.

What is unusual is the relative strength of Peters’ support heading into the middle year of a parliamentary term.

In the latest One News-Colmar Brunton poll the party registered 9 per cent – slightly stronger than its 8.66 per cent on election night 2014.

Since the September 20 poll his support has not dropped below 5.5 per cent and he has recorded mostly 6 and 7s with a smattering of 8s.

The 5.5% was in the September 2015 Roy Morgan poll – they tend to be more variable than other polls and had NZ First back up at 6.5% earlier this month between 3 News/Colmar at 7.9% and One News/Colmar Brunton at 9%.

Details at Opinion polling for the next New Zealand general election.

So this term their poll support has held up. Certainly this could be helped by Labour’s post election leadership upheaval and Andrew Little’s low key and uninspiring first year as leader.

But Peters was also gifted the Northland electorate by National early in the term and he made the most of it. That has helped maintain NZ First credibility and support.

NZ First has a history of struggling mid-term, in the polls at least.

In 1999 the party polled just 4.3 per cent and Peters was about to concede defeat before a late surge in Tauranga gave him the seat.

In 2005 it posted 5.7 per cent, but struggled to get near the threshold in most surveys.

In 2008 election it polled just 4.07 and between August and November 2009 its best was 2.5 and its worst 1 per cent.

That time they didn’t get enough of a surge to make the threshold and many thought NZ First was finished. But Peters proved them wrong.

In 2011 it scored 6.59 per cent and in late 2012 was on 7.5 in one poll but went as low as 1.8 in one Colmar Brunton survey and generally bounced around the threshold.

In 2014 NZ First got 8.66% of the vote, higher than any poll in the term leading up to the election. In the month prior to the election their polling varied between 4% and 8.4%.

See Opinion polling for the New Zealand general election, 2014.

There was one exception to these trends this century:

The closest parallel to the current situation was after the 2002 election – something of an anomaly as National slumped and centrist voters shopped around for a coalition partner for Labour.

At that election he scored 10.38 per cent and his polling stayed strong through 2003, started slipping in 2004, but held up at the 2005 election where he polled 5.7 per cent.

But there’s no sign of Bill English taking over leadership of National so things look quite different to that now.

Regardless, Peters and NZ First are in a relatively strong position for them at this stage of a term. Whether they can sustain that or build on that may be as dependant on other parties as them.

National support sometimes threatens to collapse into the low forties but keeps bouncing back. Their Government ball may or may not lose it’s elasticity.

Greens look like maintaining similar levels of support in the 10-12% range and don’t look likely to leap or collapse in the polls.

The wild card is Labour. If they continue to struggle through to 2017 their support could easily collapse again into the twenties, and NZ First may be the beneficiary.

If Labour manage to build their support that could be at the expense of NZ First, who have been getting ‘don’t like National but don’t want Labour’ votes.

It’s two years until the next election so anything could happen, but at this stage NZ First are looking in a healthy position. Rumours of Winston’s health being a ticking time bomb for his party have proven incorrect for many years.

Little versus Shaw, plus the Winston factor

Colin James has made an interesting observation about Andrew Little and James Shaw in his latest column. He wonders if Little may struggle to look like Leader of the Opposition alongside Shaw.

His introduction in The workers’ flag is deepest red — and Green:

It’s Labour Day next Monday. What’s the point nowadays?

Once there was tradition: organisation and regulation for decency and dignity for those who got their sustenance from work for others.

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is in that tradition. It held its biennial conference last week.

He discusses unions, the union of two unions into E Tu (stand tall is the official translation) and Helen Kelly and the CTU. Then he concludes with his observations of the Labour and Green leaders.

Those times are redefining how work is found and contracted: the likes of Uber and Airbnb or online auctions for specified tasks.

Can unions devise an organisational response? Can there be a legislative response, since these arrangements don’t respect national boundaries?

That poses big questions for Labour and the Greens. For Labour that goes without saying because the “labour” in Labour tags it as a party for those who work for wages.

It goes for the Greens, too. James Shaw was at the E Tu launch and spoke at the CTU conference. That parks the Greens definitely on Labour’s side, however much Shaw insists he and the Greens will work with any party.

It was obviously deliberate parking of the Greens alongside both labour and Labour.

That, along with a much improved personal and operational relationship and greater mutual respect than last year, is a plus for a potential Labour-Green coalition in 2017.

But there is a risk: Shaw.

At the CTU conference Little, the unionist among friends, scanned some important trends and future challenges in the future of work, including different ways workers will associate. But he spoke with his head mostly down, eyes on his notes.

Shaw delivered a succinct gender-equality message, making eye contact with delegates, with humour but dead serious.

The risk is that Shaw in 2017 looks and sounds to voters more the leader of the opposition than Little. That could stick a competitive edge into the relationship.

And if that went bad, it could delay the resurrection of Labour Day.

There will be tension anyway between Labour and Greens in 2017 – they somehow have to look capable of being a united government-in-waiting while competing hard from the same voting pool.

The last thing Labour wants is to have no more seats or democratic say in a coalition than Greens+NZ First.

And that’s one of the first things the Greens would like. And also Winston, who seems to quite like being seen as the de facto leader of the Opposition as well.

Peters first stood for parliament (for National) in 1975, forty years ago. He became an MP in 1978 (it took an electoral petition to overturn the election night result to do that). He successfully set up NZ First in 1993.

He missed three years in Parliament when NZ First failed to beat the threshold in 2008 but returned in 2011.

Peters has been an MP for 34 years, for three electorates (Hunua, Tauranga and now Northland) and has contested 13 general elections plus a by-election earlier this year. He has won electorate seats ten times (and campaigned and lost once).

In contrast the combined Parliamentary experience of Little and Shaw is four years, lest than one eight of Peters’ time sitting in the big House. Little has contested and lost the New Plymouth electorate twice. Shaw has stood once as a list MP, ranked just 13th by his party.

Even if NZ First only gets a quarter of the combined Labour+Green vote (about the best they can hope for) he will keep sneering at their inexperience.

Little versus Shaw versus Peters could be an interesting contest in 2017. And all three of them united have to better John Key to succeed.

Will election day in 2017 be Labour+Greens+NZ First Day? Probably not, if the get enough seats combined it’s likely to take weeks to work out a coalition. But it could happen, albeit uneasily.

Tracey Martin fed up with male dominated NZ First

An odd article by Jo Moir at Stuff where ex-deputy leader Tracey Martin makes a vague claim of sexism within NZ First and accepts this may earn her a career ending place on the party list next election. It seems that she has just woken up to the obvious – NZ First has always been male dominated – by Winston Peters.

NZ First MP Tracey Martin accepts she could be gone at the next election.

Ousted NZ First deputy leader Tracey Martin is pushing back at her party’s disregard for women and accepts that could see her gone at the next election.

“I was asked by a reporter in Warkworth that said, why aren’t you deputy leader anymore, what did you do wrong? I’m not aware I did anything wrong so my flippant answer was, I was probably born the wrong gender. It’s an answer but it’s an unprovable answer,” says Martin.

That sounds like a general ‘poor me’ lament without anything specific to back it up.

In July Martin was rolled from the deputy leadership by “assertive and aggressive” Ron Mark and while she says he has the credentials for the job she also believes her gender played a part in her fall.

Martin doesn’t know which MPs chose Mark over her but she says in her experience “suits stick with suits” and with a majority male caucus she didn’t have much chance.

Or maybe her caucus colleagues detected an attitude problem when deciding to demote her.

“I was number two on the list in 2014 because I was deputy leader but I could easily be number 30 in 2017.”

“By (then) they might think she’s more trouble than she’s worth.”

Almost sounds like she’s inviting that. The voluntary martyr.

“If you’re 40 and younger and you’re attractive men will stop and listen to you, actually they won’t, they’ll stop and look at you while you’re talking, and that gives you an opportunity to be listened to.

“One of the hardest things to be is a 50-plus woman because you haven’t got that leeway of youth that can catch the eye of men in positions of power…”

Perhaps it’s just hard for anyone in politics who feels hard done by because of perceived prejudice. Perhaps she shoukld face up to her competence and effectiveness as an MP regardless of her gender.

Martin was hopeful after the 2011 election she could get party policy on womens affairs but “at this stage I feel like I’m on my own trying to push that point”.

She seems to be committing political suicide so she won’t even be on her own pushing anything.

Martin’s time in Parliament could be tied to Peters – she says that if she was still there when he retired she would question whether she could stay on with another leader.

“I don’t know until that person presents themselves and I’ll make that decision for me.

“Winston holds the heart and the soul of the party I suppose. His values are the core of the party, that’s what they were built on and the rest of us share those.”

As for the rest of the party, Martin wouldn’t go out on a limb for any of them and she says they shouldn’t expect her to.

“This is my workplace, it’s not a place I expect to have friends.

“I need to do my job well and I need for the people who are on the listing committee to believe that I’m worth bringing back to represent NZ First but part of this push of mine could affect that.”

Martin says she enjoyed being deputy leader and thought she was good at it.

“I thought I gave the party balance but it’s ok not to be the deputy leader too – life doesn’t end because you haven’t got a title”.

Sounds like she has lost the will to be an MP. Why doesn’t she resign and let someone take over who has drive to do something regardless of the hurdles.

So NZ First will become more of a blokes club – the next three on their list are male (followed by Asenati Lole- Taylor).

Of their current twelve MPs three are female – Martin, Barbara Stewart and Ria Bond who came in earlier this year when Peters won Northland. NZ First had five females on their list of 25 in 2015.

Has Martin only just worked out that the Peters led party is male dominated? It has always been dominated by one man, the only significant change is the promotion of another man to deputy, the ambitious Mark.

Martin’s apparent lack of drive and ambition has probably counted against her far more than her gender.

Peters – late and cranky

Maybe he was suffering from jet lag. Winston Peters arrived late into the Red Peak debate, having just got back from the UK where he had travelled as ‘media liaison’ with the parliamentary rugby team. And he was cranky.

He got into the house during the third reading, and immediately tried to jump the speaking queue, citing his seniority.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I just want to follow the speaking order here, because you have had a couple of backbenchers from the National Party, and I thought in this game, after many, many decades, that a certain seniority—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No. Well, that is not right. [Interruption] The member will sit. [Interruption] Order! The National Party’s third call was given to the Greens. That was a swap, and the Green Party, which would have been speaking now in slot six, has had that slot taken by National. New Zealand First gets the next one, which is number seven, and that is the procedure we are following. It has been for the previous readings and is again for the third reading. I am calling Jono Naylor.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can I just ask you a simple question, which I am sure will interest a lot of people in other Commonwealth parliaments and debating chambers as well. Usually the argument goes for and against, for and against.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no. [Interruption] The member will sit. Parties have the opportunity to trade their calls. In this case—[Interruption] Order when I am on my feet. In this case the Greens and National have changed their third spot, so the Green Party took the third call, which was a National call, and National is taking the Green call, which is call six. That is why I have given the call to a National member. New Zealand First on the schedule is call seven, and it will get call seven.

So he had to wait until call seven. Which he began by dissing the previous speaker, who has hardly been an MP for five minutes.

It is hard to imagine any justifiable reason for that member, Jono Naylor, getting to his feet.

Next he took a swipe at that terribly inexperienced John Key.

The Prime Minister has been utterly consistent, though—and I will be reasonable to him—in his inconsistency. He has been like the Skycity deal, like the South Canterbury Finance deal, like the Hollywood deal, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and like the deal or the argument about not making New Zealanders serfs in their own country.

About separatist legislation based purely on race or about the State-asset sales referenda that we have had, he has been utterly consistent. He has done a backflip on the whole lot including this legislation. So why are none of us surprised? You see, he was on a hiding to nothing and we knew from day one that he could not be trusted to give the public a fair choice.

Soon after that he put down an interjector:

Brett Hudson: What about baubles and titles? Ministerial limos?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, no—do not come here like a young pup about the baubles of power. He is there because he got offered a list seat, not because he is good, not because he bright. He will be one of the first to go, and he will go on issues like this. We do not care about those whose experience is so little and who are so green in this Parliament.

Yes, Peters is a lot more experienced than Hudson (and just about everyone else). So he should know he got back into Parliament for the last two terms via his own party list – and I think he is on the panel that appoints him top of the list.  Four NZ First MPs became rookies in the 2014 election and an even less experienced MP has been added this year, all via the list that Peters helps compile.

Back to dissing:

Here is the PM, instead of saying “I want to leave the country in greater economic and social wealth and do great things in areas of reform,” no, he wants to have of all things at the end of his time a flag. And when he is asked what flag he says he does not know. He does not know. So he wants a legacy that he does not know about. How pathetic and shallow and egotistical is that.

What would Peters know about pathetic and ego?

So, like the cavalry over the hills, at the last moment comes in the most unlikely form—the most unusual salvation—from of all parties the Greens. This is pixie dust, Mr Hughes. It is naivety in the extreme.

Does naivety mean doing something that actually gets a positive result in Parliament? Peters might forget what it’s like to do that.

The rest of you are gutless.

Yeah, in the face of brave Winston.

Now the Greens are”—and I cannot possibly pronounce this word—“going to help National.” It goes on and on: “I can’t believe how you’ve done this. I voted for you at the last election. Now I’m going to vote New Zealand First next time.”

This move by the Greens is a potential threat to NZ First. If they show more willingness to work with National to advance their policies that’s a potential threat to Winston’s ‘kingmaker’ dream.

And so will the Labour Party members, who need to wake up on this issue. They cannot be trusted on our left for 5 minutes when you have got somebody who thinks that their political genius understanding of our country people measures up to a change like this.

After a closing rant and a National MP speech (that ignored Winston) Kennedy Graham of the Greens stood up.

Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green): I just begin by acknowledging once more my colleague Jonathan Young for his contribution to this whole process, including chairing the cross-party working group. He did a very good job. Just to agree with the Rt Hon Winston Peters in his contribution, politics is all about leadership. That is true. I am a little less inclined to agree with his characterisation that the Greens are naïve or, for that matter, that Labour cannot be trusted. In our view, Labour can indeed be trusted.

Yes, Labour needs to be trusted by the Greens – and by NZ First – if they want to work together to form the next government.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I didn’t say that. No I didn’t. You’ve got it wrong.

Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM: I think, Mr Peters, you did. The transcript will clarify that one way or the other.

The transcript quotes Peters describing the Gareth Hughes and Green move to introduce the bill – “It is naivety in the extreme.”

The transcript quotes Peters: “And so will the Labour Party members, who need to wake up on this issue. They cannot be trusted on our left for 5 minutes…”

I think that clarifies things – Mr Graham is right and Mr Peters is wrong.

But Peters wasn’t finished. When it came time for the final vote on the bill:

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion will say Aye, to the contrary, No.

Clauses 1 and 2

Speech – JOANNE HAYES (National)

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Is it a point of order?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: It is a point of order, that is why I put “point of order” in front of my request. I called for a personal vote at the beginning of my speech because, as I say—

Clauses 1 and 2

Speech – JOANNE HAYES (National)

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no. This is the process. Let me explain the process. I told your whip this. The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. The whip came and asked me the process. I told the whip what the process was, and the process is that if a party wishes to call for a personal vote, I put the vote, as I am doing now, and when I get to the stage of asking for those contrary to the vote, a party has the right to say they call for a personal vote. At that stage, the party calls for a personal vote and I will adjudicate on it at that stage. That is the process. I will start the vote again. The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion will say Aye, to the contrary, No. The Ayes have it.

Tracey Martin: No. Noes have it.

An odd claim. Martin will have been aware that all the prior votes only had 12 Noes – the NZ First MPs are the only ones who voted against in the first and second readings.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Noes? All right—a personal vote has been called for by the New Zealand First Party. This bill has not been subject to personal votes during the course of the first or second reading or the Committee stages. I see no need to have a personal vote on this matter. The votes have been quite conclusive over the period of this urgency debate and, on that basis—and I refer the party to the Standing Order 144. That is the Standing Order that is the relevant one in this case. I am not prepared to accept a personal vote.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am well aware of the Standing Orders and past procedures, but there has rarely been, in my experience in debate on this matter, when so many members have openly and on the Hansard record stated their personal—hang on, can I just finish it off?

He should be as aware of Standing Orders and past procedures as any MP – and as familiar with futile grandstanding.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no—I have already ruled. The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. [Interruption] The member will sit. It is the Speaker who decides whether there will be a personal vote, and let me read it out. I quoted the number, Standing Order 144: “A personal vote may be held following a party vote”—and that is the process we are at now—“if the Speaker considers that the decision on the party vote is so close that a personal vote may make a material difference to the result.” As I mentioned earlier—and I have presided over much of this debate in the readings and the Committee stages—there has not been close votes. It has been very, very clear. On that basis, I am not prepared to accept a personal vote. That is the end of the matter, and I am now proceeding with the vote.

[PV on third reading—Ayes 109, Noes 12]

So that was Winston’s contribution to the red Peak debate. Late and cranky. It may have been jet lag but it wasn’t much different to usual behaviour for him. Cranky has been normal for a long time.

What seems to be newer is his attempts to pull rank in Parliament and his open disdain of what he sees as inexperienced MPs (except NZ First rookies).

How Peters will manage to negotiate with wet behind the ears party leaders like Andrew Little and James Shaw will be interesting, if it ever comes to that. He may not get the opportunity.

Greens might decide it’s easier to deal with National than be looked down on and marginalised by Peters – and by Labour, who have always treated Greens as second rate.

Peters’ third reading flag speech:

NZ First Nastyism

NZ First have opposed everything about the flag change consideration process. They oppose flag change so they oppose the flag referendums – despite this being contrary to their policy on democratic process.

In the Red Peak debate yesterday NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke took opposition to flag consideration to a new low – a very low low.

O’Rourke likened the Red Peak flag to Nazism. This is gross Nastyism.

First he showed various photos of German sentry boxes from World War 2:


It’s a major stretch claiming that looks like Red Peak.

But it got worse. O’Rourke then showed a concocted symbol from multiple Red Peak flags arranged at various angles. He took this off Twitter where it had been circulated.

ORourkeNastyismThis is disgraceful from a Member of Parliament. O’Rourke is a disgrace displaying current New Zealand flags prominently alongside this sort of despicable contrived symbolism.

Draft transcript of O’Rourke’s speech:

So let us look at this peculiar alternative called the Red Peak. It is angular, gaudy, and in no way representative of New Zealand or our culture. It is suitable as a road danger sign, and it looks very much like a commercial logo. It is virtually the same as that of a commercial Canadian log-hauling company.

More worrying is the similarity with the design of Nazi sentry boxes during World War II . Look at this photograph: this is actually a photograph taken from the Atlantic Wall Open Air Museum in Oostende, Belgium, and in it, that is a Nazi sentry box.

Look at it. Look at the design on the side of it. Look at the fact that it begins with a red peak, with a white peak on top of that which is also identical to the Red Peak flag. Then there is a black peak on top of that, also identical to the Red Peak flag. Only that little bit of blue, in one corner, is missing.

There is an uncanny resemblance, and the sad fact is that the Nazi colours were red, white, and black, as the Red Peak flag is, and those are the colours that dominate the Red Peak flag. Those who doubt, have a look at this photograph, because there is that same sentry box in full colour.

The similarity is absolutely stunning—absolutely stunning. Let us look at that design that I have just shown you, and the Red Peak, side by side. Look at the similarity. Could it be much closer? It could not—it could not be much closer. That is how close the Red Peak design is to a Nazi sentry box design from World War II.

I would like Gareth Hughes to have a good look at it, but he does not want to because he does not want to know the truth.

But people will make mischief of it. This design was obtained tonight from the internet. It was not by New Zealand First—not encouraged by New Zealand First—but by somebody already going on to the internet to say that.

O’Rourke and by association NZ First has not just encouraged this, he has promoted and displayed the nonsense in Parliament.

With simple shapes like red peak it’s possible to juggle bits around and make up all sorts of unrelated images.

That is what people will do with that design because it is absolutely nothing to do with New Zealand’s culture or New Zealand’s people.

We will be ridiculed overseas in exactly this sort of way if New Zealand was to adopt that kind of awful monstrosity of a design for the New Zealand flag. Imagine what the Aussies will say, not to mention the Yanks. What about the British tabloids—they will have absolute field day if we were to adopt a flag like that. I would not blame them.

The national flag of New Zealand must engender respect for our country, not provide a means of ridicule.

Such a nasty Godwin attack on an alternative design while flying the current flag does the opposite of engender respect for O’Rourke and NZ First.

Denis O’Rourke and New Zealand First – this is shameful disgraceful nasty politics.

Full video of his speech:

Red Peak addition negotiated by Greens?

It’s being reported that Greens have negotiated with National to enable Red Peak to be added to the flag choices, and that Labour may back it leaving only NZ First opposing.

This would be the sort of Parliamentary mandate that would give reasonable justification to adding Read Peak.

Greens seem to have learnt from the David Seymour approach to getting cross party agreement but have outdone him on this if they are successful.

Andrea Vance reports at stuff: Red Peak may be included on ballot

The Red Peak flag may be put to the public vote – after the Green Party waved a white flag.

It’s understood an MP will ask Parliament to include the popular design as a fifth option on Wednesday afternoon.

But the MP won’t demand any other changes to November’s vote, it is understood.

This opens the door to the Government agreeing to the motion. It’s likely only NZ First will oppose, but the Government could agree to pick it up as their own bill.

The Greens have stepped in to resolve an impasse between Labour and National. They refused to comment. But another source confirmed talks have been held with other Opposition parties.

Good on the Greens if they succeed. Good on them anyway.

It’s a clever move for the Greens who were on the wrong side of public opinion over opening bars for early morning Rugby World Cup games.

Good politics. Has a more co-operative cross-party environment been established in Parliament? There’s been some good promising precedents, kicked off by ACT’s Seymour.

Gareth Hughes will seek leave introduce a bill adding #redpeak to the flag referendum at the start of Question Time.

But Patrick Gower warns:

Greens will introduce Bill on #RedPeak flag – I understand National won’t oppose. It’s down to NZ First, if it opposes Bill will be blocked

Will NZ First play ball while Peters is away? It’s the middle of the night in the UK. Could be a big call for the remaining NZ First MPs.

Adding news as it comes to hand.

NZ First deputy Ron Mark has confirmed that NZ First will deny leave to introduce the bill.

Ron Mark confirms NZ First will deny leave

Greens media release:

Greens to seek red peak option in flag referendum

The Green Party will today ask Parliament to allow it to introduce a Bill offering New Zealanders the choice of the popular Red Peak flag as a fifth option in the upcoming flag referendum.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes will seek the leave of Parliament to introduce the New Zealand Flag Referendum Amendment Bill 2015 and put it at the top of the order paper. This requires the support of every MP in Parliament if it is to be successful.

“My Bill is about giving New Zealanders a choice following the groundswell of support for the Red Peak flag to be included as an option in the upcoming flag referendum,” said Mr Hughes.

“Regardless of whether MPs want to change the flag or not, the referendum is going to go ahead anyway so it may as well include an option that a large number of Kiwis want.

“While there are clearly problems with the way the referendum has been handled, we also don’t think politics should get in the way of what people really want, which is more of a choice.

“We know Kiwis care about their flag, and they want a real choice when it comes to picking a new one.

“This Bill provides a constructive solution that gives people the choice of a flag that’s managed to engage more people in the flag debate than any other part of the process.

“We won’t be supporting any changes other parties may put up to this Bill. We want to keep it simple and allow the opportunity for Red Peak to be included without re-litigating the whole referendum process.

“If the Bill is blocked today, we would call on the Government to adopt it as its own, to put politics aside and provide the choice that New Zealanders clearly want,” Mr Hughes said.

So if the Government takes the bill as it’s own it may still proceed.

In Red Peak Or Bust move the Greens have committed in advance NOT to support any amendment Labour puts up to change referendum questions.

Greens getting one over Labour on this. It’s deserved, Labour have played Red peak very poorly.

Spokeswoman for PM says they won’t block the bill – not yet saying if they will pick it up as Govt bill

It doesn’t sound promising from Grant Robertson:

@mizjwilliams but why is it reliant on what we say? Govt has majority/power to do what it wants.

I guess my question was more a plea that you don’t let Key away with a position that is clearly bogus

He sounds desperate not to allow National to gain anything from this move, which is a natural inclination towards petty still. But Robertson isn’t Labour leader.

Talked to a source about chances of Govt picking up the bill: “I have a good feeling.”

Not such a good feeling in the Labour camp. And at The Standard – Flagging a dead horse.

Labour is about to be out-manoeuvred on Red Peak. They don’t actually want it on the referendum despite what they’re saying publicly.

NZ First opposed the bill in Parliament this afternoon so we have to now wait and see if National will take on the bill.

Which National have done. It will be debated under normal urgency starting today but may not pass all stages today.


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