Recreational fishers pushing National on election promises

National has suffered from the wrath of recreational fishers in the not too distant past but seem to have learned nothing from that.

UnitedFuture has warned National of grumpiness amongst recreational fishers due to a lack of progress on promised recreational reserves – and there’s signs of a willingness for action beyond Peter Dunne.

National’s Promises To Recreational Fishers Have Gone Nowhere

UnitedFuture leader Hon Peter Dunne says the government’s promised recreational fishing reserves have gone nowhere since the election.

“One week before last year’s election National announced they would release a discussion paper in November that would consider converting the Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds into recreational fishing zones.

“6 months on from November is absolutely nothing to be seen.

Alan Simmons, UnitedFuture outdoors spokesperson, says recreational anglers are angry that the promised conversation on recreational fishing has never eventuated.

“Commercial fishing interests have made it very clear that they strongly oppose any changes to give recreational fishing greater rights.

“It seems clear that yet again National are listening to their big business mates instead of ordinary New Zealanders” said Mr Simmons.

“The National Party needs to stop bending to the will of commercial interests and honour the promises it made to the recreational fishers of New Zealand during last year’s election campaign” said Mr Dunne.

Simmons, who is prominent in fishing and hunting circles, seems intent on upping the pressure on National. He has posted on Facebook:

In my opinion National were quite dishonest with this promise which was aimed at capturing any recreational fishing votes that were heading to United Future or NZ First. They made the same promise the election before and made no attempt to bring it in. 

I am not sure I want to be propping up a government which is going to do the dirty again on a recreational fishing and is so dishonest with its election promises…

Our Supply agreement with them is a case in point, if we are going to get no benefits then why are we in it… I’m seriously questioning our role in propping up this government if there is no win for our major policy ideas.

United Futures Agreement with National clearly states that National will progress with UF “giving recreational fishers more opportunities as acknowledged in Nationals recently released recreational fishing reserves”. So I am asking where is that policy and if its not forth coming then we should withdraw from the agreement as they have not met the terms agreed.

United Future have been criticised in the past for not rocking the Government boat – and for being a patsy party.

There’s been some signs this term that Dunne is more prepared to make a stand against Government policies, notably their RMA reforms, and he is also vocal on the intelligence and security review that gets under way this year.

The party has been far less visible, except when de-registered by the Electoral Commission two years ago. That prompted a surge in membership, with hunters and fishers in particular wanting to help a party advocating for their interests to survive.

Perhaps it’s time for United Future to reward that vote of faith with some action.

And perhaps it’s time for National to front up with action on their promises to recreational fishers – if they want to keep onside with their constituency outside Auckland and Wellington.

More pressure against mass data collection

The New Zealand public was assured that no mas collection of communications was done by the GCSB. This didn’t stop speculation and claims that mass collection was being done, in large part due to the revelation that Five Eyes partner the USA carried out mass collection.

It was believed by some that this data was then available to our GCSB, despite assurances only specifically targeted people were investigated under legal warrants.

This has changed now, as NZ Herald reports in NZ to face pressure over mass collection of telephone data.

A decision to stop the mass collection of Americans’ telephone data will put pressure on New Zealand intelligence agencies to stop any similar programmes operating here.

Last week the US House of Representatives voted to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records through the USA Freedom Act, which was already backed by the White House.

The bill, which only affects people within the US, would empower the agency to search data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis.

It was re-confirmed that mass collection didn’t happen here.

Rebecca Kitteridge, director of the Security Intelligence Service, yesterday told the same conference that mass surveillance did not take place.

“We do not live in a surveillance state where everything you do online is reported – at least not by the Government. So, please enjoy the freedom that the internet gives you – you are free to click on whatever you want on your device, and you won’t pop up on our system.

“Typically we get our leads through our interaction with the public, and information provided to us by other agencies.”

In a speech Peter Dunne says the US change will put pressure on the Security and Intelligence review that starts this year,

In a speech to a privacy and identity conference in Wellington, Mr Dunne said it was crucial that there were robust systems in place to protect the privacy of personal information from a “coercive or prying” state.

“Last week, the United States House of Representatives voted to stop the mass collection of Americans’ telephone data by the National Security Agency.

“I suspect New Zealanders would have a similar view about their telephone records, and that there will now be pressures on our intelligence agencies to stop any mass data collection programmes they have underway, especially if it is being made available on an indiscriminate basis to other countries.”

Asked after his speech if he believed mass collection programmes were operating here, Mr Dunne told the Herald that the recent US action raised questions that should be addressed in an upcoming review of our intelligence agencies.

“I think in context of the intelligence services review, that American decision becomes pretty relevant. If it is illegal in the United States to gather that data…then, you have to say, if it is being gathered in New Zealand – and that’s an open question – and provided, you can’t have it both ways,” Mr Dunne said.

“You can’t say it’s illegal here [in the US] to provide this data about our people, but it’s not illegal for you [New Zealand] to provide data about your people to us. I think that is the question I am raising, and I think that’s something the review needs to consider.”

The review:

Next month a wide-ranging review headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen and lawyer Dame Patsy Reddy will examine both the SIS and GCSB.

The first regular review of the agencies, it will examine the legislative framework governing them, and consider how they are placed to protect New Zealand’s interests and security.

It would be good – and essential – to clarify the issue of how partner countries could assist with data gathering. As far as I’m aware it would still have to comply with our laws and only be done under warrant in specific circumstances.

This Child

It’s very difficult for parents of chronically sick children. And of course it’s awful for the children.

And it’s very frustrating for them when they see there are possible effective treatments that are being denied them due to anti-cannabis political pig-headedness.

A plea to Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has been put into a poem by one mother.

Here is my poem about my little girl and why she needs medical marijuana

ThisChildThere is a glimmer of hope – see Poll supports medical cannabis, Dunne considering.

Parents need more than glimmers of hope. They need to know one way or another whether medical cannabis can be legally used in New Zealand to help This Child.

If medical cannabis is effective Dunne will back it

One News finally got their medical cannabis report on air on Saturday (from news and interviews gathered on Wednesday).

Medicinal marijuana: If it’s effective Peter Dunne will back it

A group called United in Compassion which wants more trials of medicinal marijuana has met with Mr Dunne to discuss the issue and the ONE News Colmar Brunton poll also backs them.

Nearly half (47%) say marijuana should be legal for medical cases while 21% say it should remain illegal. But just 9% believe marijuana should be legalised for recreational use with 21% saying possession of a small amount should only incur a fine and no criminal conviction.

“I think fundamentally people have some real compassion for people who are suffering who could benefit from the medicinal properties of cannabis,” Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell says.

The Government is currently reviewing national drug policy and laws and while Mr Dunne won’t support legalising recreational use he is taking a wait and see approach on medicinal marijuana.

He wants proof of extensive, approved testing processes and says it depends entirely on whether it’s effective.

Like any drug it should be proven effective and relatively safe.

The pool looks poorly done, combining two issues in one response. But playing that game if if you add up the numbers:

  • 77% think marijuana should be legal for medical cases, should be legalised for recreational use, or should only incur a fine and no criminal conviction.
  • 21% say it should remain illegal

This One News item follows up a ‘pre-news’ item on Friday – Should medicinal marijuana become more available in New Zealand?

See a post on that –  Poll supports medical cannabis, Dunne considering

Dunne on Liberal Democrat annihilation

The Liberal Democrats have been annihilated in the UK election after being in coalition with the Conservatives over the last five years.

They have dropped from 57 seats to 8, and their vote dropped from 23.1% to 7.9% which under first-past-the-post was devastating.

Peter Dunne has experienced to negative impact on small coalition partners, with United Future peaking at 8 MPs in 2002, dropping to 3, then to 1 since 2008.

The Herald reports Dunne feels sorry for LibDems.

“You’ve got the dilemma. You stay outside Government and you won’t achieve anything other than the satisfaction of being a permanent critic, or you go into Government, you achieve some key policies and then you incur the wrath of voters. It seems what this election has shown is it doesn’t matter whether it is MMP in New Zealand or First Past the Post in Britain, it is the same outcome.”

He said he did not know the LibDems leader Nick Clegg but did know others in the party. “I don’t think they would be surprised they’ve taken a big hit but I think the size of the hit will shock them.”

Small centrist parties struggle to survive in Government, and face increasing competition generally as the major parties try to own the centre.

The Liberal Democrats were hammered by the electorate, but also highlighted the anomalies of first past the post.

The Scottish National Party got a little over half as many votes but got 56 seats.

Sinn Fein got just 0.6% but got 4 seats, Plaid Cymru a similar vote and 3 seats.

These are all regional parties targeting a far fewer number of seats.

Poll supports medical cannabis, Dunne considering

A ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll shows public support for medical cannabis and Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says “he’s open to more medicinal products being available if they undergo a comprehensive testing regime”

Should medicinal marijuana become more available in New Zealand?

The poll:

  • 47% think marijuana should be legal for medical cases
  • Nearly a quarter say it should remain illegal

So that’s twice as many think it should be legal.

  • 21% say possession of a small amount should only incur a fine and no criminal conviction
  • 9% believe marijuana should be legalised for general use

It’s not clear if they are part of one poll but the numbers suggest they are. It’s odd to pool two separate issues like that.

If so that would mean 68% think marijuana should be legal for medical cases or possession of a small amount should only incur a fine and no criminal conviction.

One News reports:

Mr Dunne says if products are “shown as a result of the normal testing programme to be fit for purpose” then he’ll permit them to be made available here.

“It depends entirely on whether it is credible, I don’t think the notion of just puffing a few joints in your backyard is credible.”

Dunne had a meeting with Toni Marie Matich, a representative of United in Compassion NZ:

Matich has a teenage daughter with a rare form of epilepsy that sees her suffer multiple seizures and says she would benefit from medicinal marijuana.

“I feel a lot of the general public, if they had a child as sick as mine, they would do anything they could to try and make their child better,” she told One News.

She’s set up an organisation called United in Compassion, which is linked to the Australian version, and met with Mr Dunne this week to discuss the way forward.

“It isn’t an overnight thing that’s going to happen, it’s going to take a long time, but I feel as a small country we have the ability to catch up with the rest of the world.”

She says more products are needed to help people with a range of illnesses

United In Compassion is a non profit lobby for the re-introduction of medicinal cannabis and a community for patients and carers. There is a similar group in Australia: http://www.unitedincompassion.com.au/

Three states in Australia are currently working together investigating the use of medical cannabis – see Queensland and Victoria join New South Wales on medical cannabis trials.

UPDATE: The poll results are unclear in the news report, I’ve asked Colmar Brunton and they have said they will put the results up on their website on Monday.

Disappointing Dunne interview on cannabis

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne was interviewed on The Nation about synthetic cannabis. Unfortunately there was only a quick question about natural cannabis at the end of the interview and most disappointingly nothing mentioned about medicinal use there’s been some suggestion that Dunne may be prepared to consider use of medicinal by-products.

On natural cannabis:

Given that you’ve said that the big stick and a law and order approach hasn’t worked before, what about cannabis, what about natural cannabis? Is there a move, will you move to try and do something on that, to decriminalise?

Dunn: No, no that’s a completely separate debate. We are currently reviewing our national drug policy and within that some of the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act, but ah you cannot use, and I’m not going to get involved in using the synthetic cannabis debate as a lever towards the legal, legalisation of the real product.

I don’t know if it’s significant that while he was asked about decriminalisation Dunne referred to legalisation, a different and more extreme move.

Ah that’s a completely separate issue, and we remain bound by the international drug conventions, and the current law remains in place and I’ve got no intention of changing it.

That’s a more definite statement, no intention of changing the current law.

I’m very dubious that “we remain bound by the international drug conventions”. Surely we can make our own laws on drugs like cannabis – as do other countries and a growing number of US states.

Regardless, Dunne sounds adamant he won’t change the law regarding decriminalisation or legalisation of cannabis. And it’s very likely National would oppose any change as well. So things look to remain unchanged.

But what if the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act finds otherwise? Perhaps the review won’t be allowed to find otherwise, depending on how they review things and what any subsequent decisions are based on.

Things remain unclear on medicinal marijuana. There’s some reports that Dunne may be prepared to talk about the use of cannabis by-products.

Last month Dunne Speaks on Medicinal Cannabis.

Lest there be any doubt, the debate centred around some of the properties of the cannabis plant and their potential efficacy. No-one was suggesting that just smoking the cannabis leaf was some sort of medicinal panacea!

That highlights an important distinction in this debate – there are genuine situations to be considered, and there are those who just want to smoke cannabis whenever they choose to. That latter group is not our concern.

However, the argument for medicinal cannabis is by no means a simple one. The evidence –worldwide – is not as clear as it could be, nor is there any sense of commonality when it comes to the issues of dosage, methods of administration, product standards and so on.

In New Zealand’s case, estimates of the numbers of patients likely to benefit from medicinal cannabis are very low, which is why pharmaceutical companies have no interest in trialling products here. At the same time, for some reason, doctors are loathe to use the existing legal provisions to recommend patients to be prescribed medicinal cannabis products like Sativex.

I recently asked the Ministry of Health to review the issues relating to medicinal cannabis. The evidence provided was, as I said in Vienna, quite underwhelming. So I took the opportunity there to discuss with both the United States Federal Director of Drug Policy and Australia’s Assistant Health Minister work being done in both countries in the area of clinical trials. In both cases, the response was similar: it is simply too early to draw definitive conclusions.

When it comes to approving new medicines, New Zealand has always adopted a rigorous, clinical trials, evidence based approach, and it will be no different with the medicinal cannabis issue. We will gather the reputable evidence, consult widely with other countries, and then take a decision based on the highest professional and clinical standards. That is exactly the way we would deal with any other new medicine becoming available, and there is no credible reason or justification for treating medicinal cannabis products in any way differently. Indeed, we would be failing the public if we did otherwise, and exposed people to unnecessary or even unknown risks as a consequence.

This is not to suggest in any way a change in New Zealand’s current stance on leaf cannabis and its possession. But the issue of medicinal cannabis is a highly specific and particular one we need to address in the light of new and emerging evidence, as we receive it. We will do so against the three pillars of compassion, proportion and innovation I outlined in Vienna, pillars which I hope will more broadly inform debate about the future direction of drug policy.

Of course, that will not satisfy those whose sole interest, dressed up in the false guise of concern for those who might benefit from medicinal cannabis, is using cannabis recreationally. But it will ensure over time that, consistent with the principles of our national medicines strategy I introduced in 2007, New Zealanders get access to new medicines that are safe, affordable and effective.

That reinforces Dunne’s apparently strong position against allowing recreational use.

While giving some hope that medicinal marijuana products may be possible he suggests it’s unlikely to happen soon because “estimates of the numbers of patients likely to benefit from medicinal cannabis are very low, which is why pharmaceutical companies have no interest in trialling products here”.

That’s an interesting statement, suggesting that the problem is simply a commercial reality.

But why is it thought that estimates of the number likely to benefit are ‘very low’?

With no change to the law on recreational and self-medication use there will be too much competition from reasonably easily obtained illegal products?

And there’s no mention of another factor – drug companies may have difficulty in getting patents on cannabis, so the market would be open and competitive, therefore not profitable enough.

So while there’s some hope medicinal products could be allowed the chances of that happening look slim.

And the chances of any relaxation of law on recreational use look to be zero under the current Government.

It’s a shame The Nation didn’t explore this more.

With the right approasch sensible RMA reform should be easy

One of National’s few election pledges last year was to reform the Resource Management Act to reduce roadblocks to development. This was a major issue in the this month’s by-election with National claiming a less restrictive RMA was essential to promote development in Northland.

A number of parties recognise the problems that have evolved with ridiculous application of the RMA by some councils but wish to retain the fundamental environmental protections that the Act is based on.

Labour ‘happy to look at’ sensible RMA changes:

Labour is offering to look at “sensible changes” to the Resource Management Act as the Government takes its proposed amendments back to the drawing board.

Labour’s environment spokeswoman, Megan Woods, says the Government never had broad political support for its proposed changes.

“Labour is happy to look at any sensible changes that do not water down our environmental protections,” she said.

And three parties outlined their positions to Radio NZ in Govt to ‘rip up’ RMA plans.

Labour’s environment spokesperson Megan Woods:

“We’ve said all along that we’ll look at sensible changes to the RMA.”

She said cornerstone legislation such as the RMA should never be changed without genuine consultation with all political parties in Parliament.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox:

“We don’t want to hold up economic progress in this country. We don’t want to be seen as the ones who are stopping that from happening but, in the same breath, we will not put our environment at risk for our future generations in doing so,” she said.

“So, yes, we need economic benefit for the country and the development of some of these things but not at all costs.”

United Future leader Peter Dunne:

“I’ve always said that, while I am not in the favour of any changes to the principles of the RMA, that I think there are process changes that can be made and we should be talking about them but, to date, those talks haven’t been held.”

There’s a common theme – retain the bedrock environmental protection but sort out the processes.

As is typical Winston Peters is all over the place on the RMA and can’t be relied on:

Mr Peters said New Zealand First was seeking to work with the Government on legislation that would change the lives of those in the regions – and he said that was not the RMA.

Mr Key said…

…it was still possible some process changes could be made to the act with the support of Mr Dunne or the Maori Party or both.

The Green Party is more hardcore environment over development for example: Failings in the Resource Management Act need to be addressed:

“The RMA is supposed to balance the short term needs of landholders with long term care of our environment. Clearly, the balance has tipped in favour of landholders.

“While the public have been able to protest this particular case and have been able to halt the felling of this tree, the RMA still favours developer profits over our environment, and this battle will have to be fought again and again to safeguard what we hold most precious.

“That the legislation failed to protect this kauri is astonishing. Minister for the Environment Nick Smith is planning a further brutal attack on the RMA this year, to tip the balance further in favour of his developer mates.

Despite this National should give all parties the opportunity to have input into possible changes – especially Labour, but also the Greens.

The Resource Management Act should be given every chance of wide cross-party consensus on reform.

Northland winners – Peters, Dunne, Maori Party

Winston Peters is obviously a big winner in the Northland by-election. He is a long time very savvy political opportunist and this election couldn’t have been designed better for him.

His informants and instincts were spot on, and he hammered National, something he has been trying to do since he got back into Parliament in 2011.

And this hammering was done democratically, albeit with a lot of media assistance.

Whether Peters hold Northland in 2017 doesn’t matter. If he didn’t stand again he would go out on a high. If he stands and loses in 2017 then he loses little – he may or may not stay in Parliament via NZ First’s party vote but it’s getting time he thought about retirement anyway.

So this is win win win for Winston.

Ironically one of the biggest beneficiaries of this Winston win is Peter Dunne, someone Peters tried to destroy last term.

Dunne now holds a critical vote for National and can be far more influential for the rest of this term – more influential than he has up until now and arguably more influential than Peters in Parliament.

The Maori Party also now hold a balance of power vote so their importance increases for the National led Government.

It could also be a win now and a potential future bigger win for Shane Jones, who may take over from Peters in Northland. That would make it hard for National to win the previously safe electorate back for some time.

The mood was jubilant at the NZ First campaign night headquarters, the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell. Among those celebrating were former Labour MPs Dover Samuels and Shane Jones.

– Northern Advocate: Winston’s ‘Force for the North’ steamrolls National

Dunne’s history on RMA reform

Peter Dunne’s current position on National’s intended Resource Management Act reforms was discussed yesterday with pdm saying “This opportunistic change of position by Dunne on very necessary RMA reforms epitomises all that is wrong with MMP”.

That seems to be a common view but it’s not supported by facts. In January:

In a speech in Nelson, Environment Minister Nick Smith called for a substantial overhaul of the Act, attacking it as outdated, cumbersome and slow.

United Future’s leader Peter Dunne said he was therefore very surprised by the tone of Dr Smith’s speech.

“I thought the tone would’ve been more moderate. The language is incredibly strident. It looks as if it could have come out of the Act Party’s press office in terms of wholesale attack on the RMA.”

He said he had thought the Government was moving down a more pragmatic path, but he was not so sure.

“I just don’t quite know what the intended strategy is here. This speech just leaves you wondering frankly.”

Mr Dunne said the speech was short on detail, so he was still no closer to knowing whether he could support any changes.

United Future and the Maori Party stymied the Government’s efforts to make changes to the RMA last term, by refusing to give their support.

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/264209/smith’s-rma-speech-strident,-says-dunne

That was before the Northland by-election was announced (and before Mike Sabin resigned):

And in September 2013 “We will vote against RMA changes,” say Peter Dunne and Tariana Turia

The National-led government has lost its parliamentary majority to pass reforms to the Resource Management Act, with the United Future and Maori parties announcing in Wellington this morning that they will not vote for changes that undermine environmental protections.

While both parties support reforms to speed up the resource consenting processes, both believe that proposals to rewrite two fundamental sections dealing with environmental benchmark considerations go too far.

“The changes do far more than rebalance the Act to make consenting procedures more efficient,” said United Future’s sole MP and leader, Peter Dunne, and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia in a statement.

“We say the changes to remove emphasis on the ‘maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment’ fundamentally rewrite the Act and put a spanner in the works of the legal system, which will take years of litigation to fix up,” they said.

That’s entirely consistent with Dunne’s current position as posted yesterday – Dunne’s position on RMA reform.

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