Parliament resumes today

Most of those who have Christmas holidays have been back at work for a few weeks.

Members of Parliament resume today in Parliament (ok, some of them have being doing other stuff before now).

Expect the Trans Pacific Partnership to dominate.

The Government will be ramping up their defence/sell job.

Greens and NZ First will continue to oppose it outright, for different reasons.

And Labour may have to try and explain their confusing positions.

On Breakfast this morning Andrew Little repeated that Labour opposes the TPPA but won’t withdraw from it, but they will just defy the bits they don’t like.

That’s one of the worst possible approaches – it doesn’t appease those staunchly anti-TPPA, and would ruin New Zealand’s reputation as a principled and reliable country to make international agreements with.

State of the Nation speeches

Today there will be two State of Nation speeches.

Metiria Turei will give a State of the Nation today, at 12:30 pm today at the National Library in Wellington.

This will be live streamed:

No mention of this on their website but it is on their Facebook page.

Winston Peters will also give NZ First’s State of Nation speech tonight, again not on their website but details are on their Facebook page:

The Rt Hon Winston Peters will be giving his state of the nation speech at the Orewa Rotary Club at 6pm.

Orewa Rotary Club
Rotary House
War Memorial Park
4 Hibiscus Coast Highway

This will compete for media attention with another political event tonight in which another NZ First MP will be speaking:

NZ First Trades Spokesman Fletcher Tabuteau – NZ First MP will be part of a political panel about the TPPA at Auckland Town Hall at 7pm.

Auckland Town Hall
Queen Street
Auckland Central

I get the impression that the TPPA event will be in Auckland.

Metiria will also be on the political panel at the TPPA meeting.



Winston damns the opposition

Winston Peters has been given the opportunity to preach politics, according to Claire Trevett to Labour.

Peters’ message to Labour: Fix up, look sharp

NZ First leader Winston Peters has sent a veiled message to Labour to shape up if it hopes to thwart Prime Minister John Key’s ambitions of getting a fourth term in Government.

Mr Key told the Herald last week he did intend to seek a fourth term as Prime Minister.

Asked about that ambition at Ratana, Mr Peters would not rule out Key’s chances and instead sent a subtle jab Labour’s way. “If the Opposition was in any way what it should be, [Key] wouldn’t have a hope in Hades.”

“That’s the real test. Whether the Opposition parties mark up, shape up, keep themselves focused, keep their eyes on what the prize should be rather than their own political and egregious self interest and advantage. If they do that, then the Government wouldn’t have a show in its present construction.”

But doesn’t Peters fancy himself as the real leader of the Opposition?

Whether intentional or not it sounds like Peters is damning his own performance as much as anyone’s.

“Their own political and egregious self interest and advantage” is funny coming from him.

Peters started last year with a hiss and a roar, out manoeuvring Labour in the Northland by-election and then embarrassing National.

But after winning the electorate Peters seemed to fizzle out a bit. The most notable NZ First news through the rest of the year was Ron Mark replacing Tracey Martin as deputy leader – his “own political and egregious self interest and advantage” and it’s very debatable whether that will help NZ First’s chances.

“If the Opposition was in any way what it should be, [Key] wouldn’t have a hope in Hades.”

Is that the Opposition including Peters or excluding him?

Party prospects

What are party prospects leading up to next year’s election? It’s a long time in politics until we vote again so there’s many things that could affect the overall outcome and the outcome for individual parties.

Has Been and Never Been

The 5% threshold is making it pretty much impossible for a small or new party to get into Parliament on party vote. This is by design by the large parties, successfully keeping small parties shut out.

Mana Party

Mana took a punt on Kim Dotcom’s big money last election and crashed badly, losing their only electorate and failing to attract combined party vote. Hone Harawira seems to have disappeared from public view, and the Mana Party website seems to have also disappeared. Their chances of revival look unlikely, and their chances of success again are also unlikely.

Internet Party

The Internet Party had large funds and little credibility last election. Dotcom acknowledged afterwards that he was politically toxic. Without his money and presence and media pulling power the party continues – their website remains – but is ignored and will find it difficult to get anywhere, which is a shame because they had some interesting ideas on inclusive democracy.

Conservative Party

With heaps of money and media attention last election Colin Craig and his Conservatives could only manage about 4%. After last year’s major upheaval it’s unlikely they will get half that next time. Craig is severely damaged politically and socially and would struggle to lead the Conservatives to 2% next time. There is no obvious alternative leader.

The Strugglers


As a party UnitedFuture has faded just about completely. It is still operating but without a major input of money and new personal I don’t see any change. The only option for UF is for outsiders to see an opportunity to use an existing party to get a foothold in Parliament rather than start from scratch, but even then success would be dependent on Peter Dunne  retaining his Ohariu electorate. I think Dunne must be close to considering retiring, and if he does UF will retire or expire.

ACT Party

ACT have defied critics and survived the Don Brash and John Banks disasters due to the success of one person, David Seymour. I think Seymour is odds on to retain Epsom next year (deservedly) so ACT is likely to survive. National and possibly Conservative vote must be up for grabs, but it will depend on ACT coming up with additional electable candidates to make an increased party vote attractive. Jamie Whyte didn’t work out, but with Seymour anchoring the party they may attract strong candidates who would then stand a good chance of success through an improved party vote.

Maori Party

The Maori Party continue to be quiet achievers. They should be able to retain at Te Ururoa Flavell’s electorate seats and their first list MP Marama Fox has made a quick impact. They stand a chance of picking up ex Mana Maori votes so have some chance of getting more seats via their list. Further electorate prospects will depend on candidate quality. The Maori Party could also be impacted negatively by a Labour resurgence if that ever happens.

The Over Threshold Parties

New Zealand First

It’s difficult to predict NZ First’s future. It is very dependant on Winston Peters. He had a major success early last year by winning the Northland buy election but hasn’t dome much since then. He could just be pacing himself, rebuilding energy and drive for next year’s election campaign. Or he could be running out of puff – that’s been predicted before but so far he has managed to keep coming back.

Installing Ron Mark as deputy could be a problem for NZ First. The rest of the party has been generally out if sight, but Mark is an ambitious attention seeker, and the attention he gets is often uncomplimentary. He could deter voters.

But if Winston remains NZ First should remain after next year’s election. Peters may or may not retain Northland, but the party should be good for 5-10% party vote if he is still in the race.

Green Party

The Green Party have successfully weathered another leadership change. They had built their vote and presence but were disappointed to not gain ground last election despite Labour’s vote shrinking. Greens are assured of retaining a place in Parliament but may find it challenging to increase or even retain their current numbers if Labour recovers and increases their vote. And Greens need Labour to improve substantially to give them a chance of having their first stint in Government.

Greens should be able to stay above 10% but may be cemented as a good sized small party rather than becoming the growing force they have ambitions of being.

Labour Party

Labour have to improve their support significantly or it will either be difficult for them to get back into Government or it will be difficult for them to govern with Greens and NZ First pulling them in different directions, possible apart.

It would be unlikely for Labour to switch leaders yet again, that would be damaging, so they need Andrew Little to step up. That hasn’t happened yet. They are playing a risky strategy of keeping a low profile while they consult constituencies and rebuild policies. They really have to be looking like a possible alternate Government by the middle of this year. They need to somehow get back 5-10% support.

They are banking on Little growing into his leadership role. He can only be a contrast to John Key, but so far he looks more out of his depth rather than swimming competitively on the surface.

Labour are also banking on their ‘Future of Work’ policy development. It’s a good focus for a labour allied party, but a lot will depend on whether it results in something seen to be visionary or if it is perceived as a Union policy disguised by Grant Robertson.

Labour could get anywhere between 25% and 40% next election. It’s hard to tell what direction they will go at this stage.

National Party

National have been very successful since they won in 2008. They have increased their support since then, most parties in power bleed support. This partly to do with John Key’s continued popularity, and increasingly by Bill English’s capable management of finances in sometimes very difficult circumstances (GFC and Christchurch earthquake).

National’s support must fall at some stage but it’s difficult to judge when that might start happening. Left wing activists have been predicting it in vain for seven years. Much will  depend on whether Labour can step up as a viable alternative alongside Greens and probably NZ First.

Next election could see them get anywhere between 40% and 50%. Their political fate is in their own hands to an extent but also reliant on possible alternatives.

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.


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