Seven Sharp’s stink perception

Seven Sharp ran an item last night ‘revealing’ that Peter Dunne’s son James is a legal representative for the legal high industry. They promoted it as an exclusive.

This is covered well by Karol at The Standard in Father & son: Dunne deals?

Seven Sharp said at the least there is an appearance of conflict of interest.

I had already noticed that a James Dunne was representing the legal high industry and presumed there was either a family connection oe it was a coincidence, but I didn’t think it mattered.

Peter Dunne can’t instruct his son what he should or shouldn’t do in his professional capacity. James Dunne can’t instruct his father on what he does in Parliament.

One thing pointed out by Seven Sharp was James Dunne’s promotion on his company profile:

valuable inside knowledge of how Parliament works in New Zealand

Obviously in some ways he will have a very good insight into how Parliament works, his father has been an MP all his life, but he could have worded this much better.

My biggest issue with this is with Seven Sharp. They have promoted it as big news:

Peter Dunne and Legal Highs Son

An exclusive on the link between a Peter Dunne and the man fighting against his crackdown on legal highs.

And as Karol says they “claim that at the least there is an appearance of conflict of interest.”

That’s because they have created that appearance and highlighted it as significant news. They have provided no evidence at all to make it any more than a manufactured perception. If they had said nothing there would be little or no public perception.

TVNZ have tried to create news out of nothing of substance. This is stink journalism.

And as some of the comments at The Standard show, it has initiated a bout of stink politics.

NZ First MP claims Psychoactive Substances Act has failed

Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First list MP) has called on ministers to resign because they are “responsible for the weak and ineffective Psychoactive Substances Act”.

Pacific Guardians report STEP DOWN: National & United Future MPs for failed ‘Legal High’ law

Heads should roll as a result of the National government’s irresponsible handling of legal high drugs according to NZ First MP Le’au Asenati Lole-Taylor.

“The two ministers, Todd McClay and Peter Dunne, responsible for the weak and ineffective Psychoactive Substances Act should do the right thing and resign from parliament,” she told Pacific Guardians in an exclusive interview. “They are one of the reasons why New Zealanders from Whangarei to Invercargill are marching today [Saturday, 5 April] because those two had the chance to ban these drugs in 2013 but they didn’t.”

She made the comment while walking amongst hundreds of people last Saturday calling for a blanket ban on legal highs.

“The law that was passed in 2013 has failed New Zealand miserably. Proof of that are these marches showcasing the grave concerns of the New Zealand public that the law and parliamentarians are failing them and it must be addressed urgently.”

Failure of the law, she points out lies squarely on the shoulders of the National government and the two ministers responsible.

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

“They failed because they had the opportunity since 2011 to make a law that will control or ban the drugs – but because of they subscribe to the cavalier, hand-off-the-wheel attitude this government takes to governing New Zealand, they have failed the people of this country once again.”

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

She repeated her call for Mr McClay and Mr Dunne to step down.

“The two men must be held accountable for their lack of action in this case. Families have lost loved ones, a growing number of young people’s lives are wrecked by addiction, their jobs as well as businesses are suffering, all those things could have been avoided if Peter Dunne and Todd McClay as law makers did their job.”

She said their performances “are well below par of what’s expected from members of this country’s executive. They should stand down and remove themselves from running in the September election.”

But before that time, “they should pay a visit to every individual family that has suffered a tragedy from legal highs, and then make a national apology to all New Zealanders for having let them down miserably,” she said.

“Their performance in this debacle whether it is through lack of courage to push through what is right against opposition from their caucus; or perhaps, I suspect, they just don’t have what it takes.”

Lole-Taylor and all her NZ First colleagues voted for the bill last year, which passed 119 votes to 1.

In the meantime Peter Dunne blogged about the Act yesterday in Dunne Speaks:

A year ago the country was up in arms about the sale of synthetic cannabis in corner stores, dairies, groceries and convenience stores around the country. There were no restrictions on who could purchase these substances, and there was a cumbersome procedure in place which allowed me as Associate Minister of Health to temporarily ban products shown to be harmful. Since 2011, I had banned just over 50 different products under that regime.

But it was clearly not enough. Every time a product was banned, the chemical combinations were manipulated and a new product emerged, often within days of the first ban being applied. It was a never ending game of catch-up which no-one found satisfactory. It was time to turn the situation on its head to ensure that only those products proven to be low risk through a testing process equivalent to that for registering new medicines, could be sold, and even then in restricted circumstances. And so, the Psychoactive Substances Act was conceived.

Since its passage in July last year its impact has been dramatic. The number of outlets selling these drugs has been reduced from around 4,000 to just over 150; the number of products being sold has fallen from about 300 to 41 and is likely to continue falling; and, sales have been restricted to persons aged 18 and over, with no advertising or promotion permitted. The Police and hospital emergency rooms confirm the availability of these products and the number of cases of people presenting with problems associated with their use have fallen sharply. Yet still there are people up in arms.

How can this be? After all, the market has shrunk; the number of products is down over two-thirds and retail outlets numbers have fallen over 95%. The present situation is far more tightly controlled than ever before, even at the time we were banning psychoactive substances. And I have already foreshadowed more regulations are coming in the next couple of months.

So he claims that the Act is working as intended, to an extent. He  highlights what he thinks is holding the Act back.

Sadly, one of the major reasons has been the inexplicable tardiness of local authorities in implementing their local plans to regulate the sale of psychoactive substances. And some Mayors have shown an ignorance of the issues that borders on breathtaking stupidity.

The facts are these: as the Act was being developed various local authorities and Mayors pleaded with the government to give them local powers, similar to those they already have to regulate the sale of alcohol in their areas, to control the sale of psychoactive substances. Parliament listened to their pleas, and by a vote of 119 to 1 gave them the powers they were seeking.

But – and here is the rub – despite the grandstanding and tub-thumping of the Mayors (just before last year’s local elections significantly) nine months later only 5 of 71 Councils have implemented the local plans the Mayors said they needed so desperately. That delay is unacceptable. It is time for them to stop bleating, and start using the tools they implored Parliament to give them.

Drug use and abuse is a major problem but there are no simple solutions. Blanket bans don’t work, as ongoing problems with other drugs proves. Per capita New Zealand is one of the highest users of cannabis in the world.

Attacking ministers who are trying to take practical steps to address legal high issues is not going to achieve anything except perhaps pander to uninformed voters.

Dunne on psychoactive substances and cannabis

The sale and use of psychoactive substances are very topical issues. How cannabis is related to this often comes into discussions.

I asked Peter Dunne some questions on this.

1. You recently attended a United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs Meeting, Vienna, Austria and spoke about New Psychoactive Substances. What reaction did you get in Vienna about New Zealand’s Psychoactive Substances Act?

The response was positive and interested. I had separate meetings with the European Union, the Dutch, the British, the Americans the Australians and the head of the UN Commission where our legislation was the major topic. All are watching to learn from us, most we believe we are on the right track.

2. Are you happy with how the implementation of the Act is progressing?

I am very frustrated by the lack of response from local government. Only 5 of 71 Councils have so far prepared their local policies. Their tardiness is the major reason for the current public controversy.

3. Was the relationship between cannabis use and synthetic substitutes discussed, especially the effects of cannabis being illegal encouraging drug users to use legal but unknown drugs?

There was not much discussion about cannabis in Vienna, other than general confirmation that there should be no legal relaxation.

4. How are other countries dealing with the cannabis/legal high issues?

Many are applying bans, although all acknowledge that they are ineffective and merely drive things underground. That is why most are looking at what we are doing. In general, they seem to be about we were 2 to 3 years ago in this debate.

5. Is anything being done in New Zealand or being considered to being done about the claimed anomaly between far better known and claimed less harmful cannabis use remaining illegal while synthetic drugs are given approval to be sold.

In a word, no.

6. What are the chances of New Zealand’s laws relating to cannabis being reviewed in the next three years.

Zero I think.

7. Now your Psychotic Substances Act has been successfully introduced and is being implemented do you have any plans for or do you want to try and address cannabis or any other recreational psychotic drug issues?

It is my personal view that is possible that in the future the regulated market approach could be applied to cannabis, but that is not a priority. In any case, all the pharmacological and toxicologist and international advice I receive strongly suggests cannabis would fail the low risk test.

 

Dunne on New Psychoactive Substances

As Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne attended a United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs Meeting, Vienna, Austria last month (Marcgh 2014).

Part of his speech outlined New Zealand’s approach to dealing with  New Psychoactive Substances.

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS)

I want to outline New Zealand’s proposed approach to address the seemingly intractable problem of controlling NPS – a problem which affects our country and many others around the world.

In 2012, the New Zealand Government decided that our drug laws were ineffective at dealing with the rapid growth in NPS, as new substances can be developed at such a rate that each time one is restricted several more become available, therefore keeping one step ahead of any controls. Indeed, in 2011 New Zealand had introduced interim legislation to create temporary bans on the importation, manufacture and supply of substances and banned approximately 40 (mainly synthetic cannabis) substances in under two years.

However, this still required the Government to identify untested and potentially harmful substances which were already being sold on an unregulated market with unknown effects on consumers. The temporary bans also seemed only to enhance the market’s efforts to replace the banned substances with new, potentially more harmful products.

Furthermore, attempts to create ‘blanket’ bans on groups of substances in other jurisdictions appeared to have been little more effective than bans on individual chemicals.

So we decided to take a different approach through legislation which I introduced in 2012, and was passed by Parliament in July 2013 as the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013. This legislation is intended to provide sponsors of NPS the ability to demonstrate to a national regulatory authority that their products meet certain safety standards – and if they do, the products may be marketed and sold from licensed retail outlets.

We are currently operating under a transitional regime while regulations are being developed.

However, after six months in operation the legislation has already brought about profound changes to the psychoactive substances market in our country. These include:

  • a product may only receive interim approval if it is considered a ‘low risk of harm’ by an expert committee
  • the sale of products is prohibited from convenience/grocery stores, liquor outlets and petrol stations
  • products are restricted to people aged 18 years and over
  • advertising of products is prohibited and there are strict controls on packaging and labelling

There are currently around 40 products on the market with interim approval. This compares with an estimated 2-300 unregulated products on the market previously.

All products without approval are prohibited by default.

There are approximately 150 retailers with interim licences and a smaller number of holders of other licences such as for import, manufacture and wholesale. This compares with an estimated 3-4000 unregulated sellers prior to the legislation. A number of products have not gained approval,or have subsequently been withdrawn from the market, because they pose greater than a low risk of harm.

Products and the activities of licence holders are being monitored by a national regulatory authority and by local police and health boards. It is early to determine outcomes of what is a unique approach to controlling NPS, but I am confident it will prove to be successful.

New Zealand is of course willing to share its experience with other Member States.

To those like weka (“As much as I hate to agree with PG” just because) I sourced this via a Google search as I knew Dunne had recently been in Vienna. I’ve posted it here because it’s relevant to the discussion – no implication should be taken from this about whether I agree or disagree with any of it.

Problem for Problem Gambling Foundation

There was a flurry of criticism this morning when the Problem Gambling Foundation advised it was losing Ministry of Health funding for the bulk of it’s current services.

Trevor Mallard was quick off the mark.

Govt silences casino deal critic by axing funding

The Problem Gambling Foundation is being forced to shut its doors after losing government funding because it has vocally opposed National’s dodgy convention centre for pokies deal, Labour’s Internal Affairs spokesperson Trevor Mallard says.

It also appears that Mallard was wide of the mark. Criticisms have been premature.

The funding hasn’t been cut, it is being moved to a “superior” provider. From the Problem Gambling Foundation’s media statement Statement on Ministry of Health contracts:

While the Ministry describes PGF as a valued provider of quality services it has told PGF it has a superior offer for the clinical and public health services PGF provides.

Mallard acknowledges the change of service provider despite his “axing” headline:

“The Ministry of Health has said it has received a ‘superior contract bid’ but as the Foundation is the largest provider of problem gambling services in Australasia, it is hard to imagine a more qualified organisation to do this work.

“The Government’s deal with SkyCity stinks and the public knows it. An additional 350 pokie machines in Auckland will cause significant harm to the community.

“The Problem Gambling Foundation has spoken out about the dangers of this deal and are now paying the price.

“Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne and the Ministry of Health need to explain the reasons for this outrageous decision,” Trevor Mallard says.

Stuff explain in Problem Gambling Foundation loses Govt funding:

A spokesman from Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne’s office confirmed today that the other organisation was the Salvation Army.

The spokesman said the Salvation Army bid for the contract was more efficient, and offered more services and value for money.

It’s tough on the PGF but funds for services should be contestable. The Salvation Army have a record of providing a wide range of services – and they have also been critical of the Government.

Internal Affairs minister Peter Dunne and the Ministry of Health both “emphatically deny” any political involvement.

Labour standing another party insider for Ohariu

It’s no surprise to see Labour about to confirm a female candidate who has been a party insider to stand in Ohariu against Peter Dunne.

In Stuff’s Today in Politics:

Labour  picks hopeful to take on Dunne

Labour will tomorrow confirm Virginia Andersen  as its candidate for Ohariu to take on UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne. 

Ms Andersen has worked for the Office of Treaty Settlements,  police and as a private secretary and senior political adviser with Labour in Parliament.

Many Labour candidates seem to be selected (or hand picked) from party insiders.

Last election was strongly contested by current MP Peter Dunne (UnitedFuture) against Labour’s Charles Chauvel, Green’s Gareth Hughes, with National’s Katrina Shanks supposed to effectively stand aside (she campaigned more than was expected).

Chauvel resigned mid-term and took on a UN job in New York.

Greens have shifted Hughes to campaign on the list only to try and attract a wider youth vote.

Shanks resigned last year to take up a private sector job. She wasn’t expected to have much prospect of progressing through National ranks.

A comment on Facebook:

There are no people outside the labour machine willing to stand. I said it ten years ago and it is still true today.

Labour is not the workers party. It is the party workers party.

Groundduck day

While Labour crash and burn Trevor Mallard keeps coming up with yet another attempt at the same old question that the Speaker rules out of order.

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

10. Hon TREVOR MALLARD to the Prime Minister: Further to his response of “No” as to whether he received an assurance from Mr Dunne that he had not made a copy of the draft Kitteridge Report on the GCSB available to a Fairfax reporter, in Oral Question No 11 on 12 February and that he “accepted him at his word”, in a supplementary answer to the same question, in what context did Mr Dunne give his word that he did not make said report available to the reporter?
This follows 

 30 January 2014:

11. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Does he stand by all his statements?

Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Internal Affairs) : Yes—in fact, I am more than happy to stand by the only statement I have made since being appointed Minister of Internal Affairs 2 days ago, which is that the New Zealand Fire Service has today deployed the first of two firefighting contingents to help fight bushfires in Victoria. This actually follows four similar deployments to Australia last year and underscores the close relationship and cooperation our two countries have when dealing with times of national adversity. I am sure that the House will want to join with me in wishing our firefighters well and that they will have a safe return home.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by the comment he made as he welcomed his new role that he has, with his chief executive officer, responsibility for, amongst other things, proper protection of the security of information?

Hon PETER DUNNE: Yes.

Hon Trevor Mallard: How does he reconcile that comment last week with his action in leaking a confidential report to a member of the parliamentary press gallery?

Mr SPEAKER: I will allow the Minister to respond to that question.

Hon PETER DUNNE: I stand by the comments that I made in the statement that the member referred to. I accept the responsibility that I have as Minister of Internal Affairs and I will honour that responsibility.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Did he leak the Kitteridge report or any draft thereof—

Mr SPEAKER: There is no ministerial responsibility for that question.

Etc.

And 11 February 2014:

11. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Further to his answers to supplementary questions to Oral Question No 11 on Thursday 30 January relating to his responsibility for the security of information, does he believe that all his actions as a Minister mean he is an appropriate person to hold the position of Minister of Internal Affairs?

Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Internal Affairs) : Yes.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Did he, as part of the process of his recent reappointment as a Minister, give the Prime Minister an assurance that he did not leak the draft Kitteridge report or make it available to a Fairfax reporter?

Hon PETER DUNNE: The discussions I had with the Prime Minister are between the Prime Minister and me, but I reiterate the answers that I gave to the House on 30 January. I have had no ministerial responsibility for any issues relating to the Kitteridge report.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Was the reason that he is not prepared to tell the House that he has given the Prime Minister an assurance that he did not make the draft Kitteridge report available to a Fairfax reporter because he in fact made that document available to that reporter?

Mr SPEAKER: I call the Hon Peter Dunne, in as far as there is current ministerial responsibility.

Hon PETER DUNNE: I was appointed to this position on 28 January. In relation to the primary question, I have honoured the responsibilities entrusted to me fully since that date. In relation to other matters, I have no responsibility for them.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Is he in a position to give the House now an assurance that he did not make the draft Kitteridge report available to a Fairfax reporter; if not, why not?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, I will allow the Minister to answer the question, but in as far as he has current ministerial responsibility as Minister of Internal Affairs.

Hon PETER DUNNE: I refer the member to my previous answers on this very subject.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Referring to his current responsibility for security of information, can he give the House an assurance that he is a suitable person to oversee this for New Zealand by now stating that he has never made a confidential report available to a Fairfax reporter?

Mr SPEAKER: Again, I will invite the Minister to answer the question in line with his current ministerial responsibility.

Hon PETER DUNNE: My current responsibilities began on 28 January, and the question that is made is answered in respect of those answers, and I refer the member to previous answers on earlier subjects.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Having regard to the security and secrecy of information, particularly in his present job, why does he not admit the time, the date, the room, and the circumstances of his leaking of the Kitteridge report?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That question is not in order at all.

Etc

And  12 February 2014:

11. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Prime Minister: Is the Hon Peter Dunne a suitable person to hold the position answerable in this House for the security of information held by Government in light of him repeatedly declining to deny, in the House yesterday, that he made the draft Kitteridge report available to a Fairfax reporter, and, if so, has he received an assurance from Mr Dunne that he did not make the document available to any reporter?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : Yes, and no.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Is he the Minister responsible to this House for commissioning the Kitteridge report into the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the Henry report into how that report was made available to a Fairfax reporter, and the reinstatement of the Hon Peter Dunne to his ministry?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Has he, since he received the Henry report, received any further information that has helped him to identify the source of the leak of the Kitteridge report into the GCSB?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

Hon Trevor Mallard: What, if anything, has changed with regard to who made the Kitteridge report available since he said on 7 June that he could not accept Mr Dunne’s assurances that he did not leak the draft Kitteridge report?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: What is true is that I accepted Mr Dunne’s resignation because he failed to comply with the inquiry. What I have also done, as I have said to the House before, is accepted Mr Dunne’s assurances that he has categorically ruled out playing any part in leaking the report. Another way of saying that would be “I’ve moved on.”—and do not worry, Trevor, one day David will move on when it comes to you, as well.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he stand by his statement in relation to the Henry report that there is only one conclusion you can take from reading the report; if so, does he still believe that Mr Dunne is the person most likely to have made the draft Kitteridge report available to a Fairfax reporter?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: In relation to the first part of the question, yes. In relation to the second part of the question, I accept Mr Dunne’s assurances.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: In respect of the Prime Minister’s answer to the second part of the primary question, which was “has he received an assurance from Mr Dunne that he did not make the document available to any reporter?”, to which he said no, preparatory to the reappointment of Mr Dunne, did he ask Mr Dunne for his assurance that he did not leak the Kitteridge report?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, because I accepted him at his word, just as, I am sure, I will accept that member’s word that he did not discuss untoward things when he went to the Dotcom mansion three times.

Etc

And 18 February 2014:

11. Hon TREVOR MALLARD (Labour—Hutt South) to the Minister of Internal Affairs: Does he stand by his answers to all supplementary questions to Oral Questions in the House this year; if so, why?

Hon PETER DUNNE (Minister of Internal Affairs) :Yes , because they accord with my ministerial responsibility.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Does he accept he has responsibility in this House for the security of Government information; if so, will he now make it clear that he is a suitable person for holding that role by stating that he did not make the draft Kitteridge report on the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) available to a Fairfax journalist?

Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Peter Dunne—the first part of that question is acceptable.

Hon PETER DUNNE: I have answered that question—

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think you attempted to edit my question.

Mr SPEAKER: I have.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Can you—and, Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I have. I can help the member. There were two parts to that supplementary question. The second part of the supplementary question is out of order. The first part of the supplementary question is in order, and that one can be answered.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Does the member wish to proceed?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I want to refer you to Speaker’s Ruling 155/3, which relates to the Prime Minister’s requirements for the suitability of Ministers to hold roles. I am not asking the member whether he leaked the document; what I am asking him is to demonstrate—as is allowed under Speaker’s Ruling 155/3—that he is a suitable person for holding a role as a Minister in this House. The question was very—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can help the member. If the member now rephrases both parts of his question, it will be over to the Minister which one he will address. But if the member rephrases the second part of his supplementary question in line with the words he just used, that will be in order.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Is he prepared to demonstrate to the House today that he is a suitable person for holding the role of security of Government information by directly denying that he made the draft Kitteridge report on the GCSB available to a Fairfax journalist?

Mr SPEAKER: The difficulty we have now got to is that the member is not repeating the first part of the question he raised.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Interestingly, I think that the first part of the question that the Hon Trevor Mallard asked could stand, but then he deviated and was in contravention of Standing Order 377(1)(b). There is clearly a breach of that particular Standing Order.

Hon Trevor Mallard: The question was very clear, and was whether he is prepared to demonstrate that he is a suitable person by doing X. I have not asked him whether or not he leaked the report on the GCSB to a Fairfax reporter; I am asking him to demonstrate his suitability by denying that in the House. Clearly, any person who was a Minister and leaked that report would not be suitable.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: If he had put a full stop after “demonstrate” or “demonstrate to the House”, that would be fine, but to go on and make a requirement that is by any reasonable assessment an imputation, an inference, or even an argument, and quite possibly a discreditable reference, it then falls outside the Standing Orders.

Hon David Parker: If that was the concern of the Minister in response to a question, he would just deny the allegation. It is very proper for the Opposition to try to highlight matters that are disreputable on the part of Ministers. This is an example where we are trying to do that, and that is quite within the Standing Orders.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: If that were the case, then any old question could be asked any old time. There would be no need to have Standing Order 377, “Content of questions”.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going to allow the member an opportunity to repeat his question as he first asked it, because the question has changed quite substantially. The member has every right to ask the current Minister of Internal Affairs something for which he has been responsible since he was appointed as Minister of Internal Affairs, and if the question is along those lines, I will rule it in order. If the member then tries to tease it back to occurrences that occurred some time before the Minister was appointed as the Minister of Internal Affairs, I will be inclined to rule it out of order, and that will be the end of the matter.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Is he prepared in the House today to demonstrate today that he is a suitable person to have custody of public information, by denying that he made that document available to a Fairfax reporter?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! To progress the matter, the Minister can answer the question up until the final addition of that information.

Hon PETER DUNNE: That question has been asked in a couple of forms on 30 January and 11 February. I stand by the answers given on both of those occasions.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is a matter that has been well traversed by a select committee and by inquiries inside and outside this House. With respect, if the Minister is being asked to demonstrate a present action that is required of him now—a certain fact that relates to his qualifications for the job—that is still a present matter that the House would like to be assured of. It is not, therefore, a past matter, which is the qualification that Mr Brownlee tried to put on it. Frankly, if we cannot hear the truth behind this, then this is no longer a House of Parliament that gets to the bottom of the matter.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: What Mr Peters is saying is that—the question implicitly makes an allegation. Otherwise there would be no need for the use of the word “deny”. That is not within the Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER: I appreciate the point that the member Mr Peters is raising. My job is to adhere to the Standing Orders. Therefore, this is question time, where Ministers can be asked questions where they have ministerial responsibility. What the member is attempting to do is devise a system whereby he asks the Minister to deny an action that occurred prior to him being a Minister. The Standing Orders do not allow that to happen in this House.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The issue that I want to raise with you goes to the issues around the character of Ministers and whether or not actions prior to their becoming Ministers can be questioned in relation to their character and suitability to hold the roles. I can recall examples—for example, Ms Collins questioned previous Ministers in the Labour Government over actions that they took even prior to their being members of Parliament and the implication that that had for their current ministerial roles. What Mr Dunne is being questioned on is something that related to his conduct prior to his holding the current ministerial role, but that is no different to Ms Collins’ questions to someone who was not even a member of Parliament when they did the things that she was questioning them on.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I would like to draw your attention back to a question earlier today, where you allowed Mr Williams to ask a question of the Hon Mr Woodhouse that related to his experience prior to being a member of Parliament, and you allowed Mr Woodhouse to answer it. What I am asking for is some consistency.

Mr SPEAKER: Yes, but I do recall the answer from Mr Woodhouse was that he replied to the effect that that was not relevant to the answer, and then proceeded to answer the question. The Minister has now answered the question. If the member still has a further supplementary question, I will listen to it. But—

Hon David Parker: You wouldn’t let him answer the second part.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I appreciate the assistance from the Hon David Parker, but the Minister has answered that question. Does the member have a further supplementary question?

Hon Trevor Mallard: I certainly do. In light of his answers last week, has he given any assurance to the Prime Minister on the question of his suitability to hold his current role, with regard to the security of Government information, other than through the media in June last year?

Hon PETER DUNNE: Prior to taking up this appointment, which actually pre-dates the period of ministerial responsibility, the Prime Minister and I discussed the role and what it entailed, and the outcome of that was that he offered me the job.

Rt Hon John Key: Can the Minister confirm that the actual test of whether someone serves as a Minister is whether they enjoy the confidence of the Prime Minister of the day, and can the member confirm whether he believes he has the full confidence of the Prime Minister of the day, and can the Minister confirm that—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! We have now had—[Interruption] I will hear from the right honourable—[Interruption] Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The first question is of the Prime Minister, not the Minister—[Interruption] No, even though he sought to put it to Mr Dunne, it is only the Prime Minister that has the confidence, and the second question should have been ruled out because it was a second question.

Mr SPEAKER: If anybody wants to ask a supplementary question, they should ask a single supplementary question. In my opinion, the first supplementary question asked by the Prime Minister was completely in order and the Minister can answer it.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. In order to help the Prime Minister, I seek leave of the House for the full supplementary question of the Prime Minister to be answered by Mr Dunne.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Members must still abide by the Standing Orders.

Hon PETER DUNNE: I can only assume that, because the Prime Minister offered to appoint me as the Minister of Internal Affairs, he has full confidence in my ability to do the job, and I intend to reflect that confidence in the way that I carry out this role.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Further to the supplementary question asked by the Prime Minister and the Minister’s answer, did the Prime Minister then ask him whether he leaked the report?

Hon PETER DUNNE: That question was put to the Prime Minister last week, and I refer the member to the answer he gave, which I am not going to disagree with.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary—[Interruption] Order! Order! I need to hear the supplementary question.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Further to the Prime Minister’s question and the supplementary answer, did the Minister give the Prime Minister any information relating to the making available of the Kitteridge report to a reporter, other than through the media?

Mr SPEAKER: I do not accept that that question has any ministerial responsibility in respect of the current Minister of Internal Affairs.

Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That question has more ministerial responsibility in it than the one that you allowed from the Prime Minister, which went to the Prime Minister’s responsibilities.

Mr SPEAKER: I will allow the member, rather than forfeiting a question, to have an attempt at asking a question in line with the current ministerial responsibility of the Minister.

Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am confused—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is a point of order.

Hon David Parker: I am confused as to how a Speaker can find it in order for the Prime Minister to ask a Minister whether he has his confidence but then an Opposition member is not able to ask a question of whether the Prime Minister checked whether the Minister leaked a report before he said he was confident in him.

Mr SPEAKER: I do not need assistance. I am here to help the member’s confusion. My duty is to instantly judge how appropriate the question is to the Minister’s current responsibility. I have invited—[Interruption] Order! I have invited the member to attempt to rephrase his question. Otherwise we will simply move on in this matter.

Hon Trevor Mallard: Further to the Prime Minister’s question, which indicated that he has confidence in Mr Dunne, was one of the factors in building that confidence his making clear to the Prime Minister that he did not leak the Kitteridge report to a Fairfax reporter?

Hon PETER DUNNE: The discussion we had was wide ranging and dealt with matters relating to the internal affairs portfolio to which the Prime Minister subsequently appointed me.

 

Peter Dunne and Dotcom – nichts

With growing concerns over the party leader procession to Dotcom’s mansion – see Winston Peters and Kim Dotcom - I put the question to Peter Dunne.

Dunne responded “I have neither been invited nor gone to any meeting with Dotcom!”

He confirmed this publicly on Twitter:

For the record, I have not joined this homage queue.

@ImperatorFish

Not even a quick swim in the pool?

@PeterDunneMP

Nichts!

Toby Manhire@toby_etc ( NZ Listener):

Have you been invited?

@PeterDunneMP

No

Dotcom has been critical of Dunne’s support of the GCSB bill.

Nichts – nothing, not anything.

Labour ridiculed over plan to increase top tax rate

A former Labour minister has ridiculed plans to raise the top income tax rate saying it “takes us back to old Labour and the politics of envy”.

This is as reported in The Telegraph in England - Higher tax rates will hold back economic growth Labour’s tax on the rich would send the message that Britain penalises enterprise – but ex New Zealand Revenue Minister Peter Dunne points out it’s relevance here.

@PeterDunneMP

Relevant message to NZ Labour for tomorrow here – Higher tax rates will hold back economic growth.

NZ experience also shows higher taxes stymie growth. Labour can’t have it both ways.

This should be a warning to David Cunliffe and David Parker, but they already seem committed to raising the tom tax rate.

Also from The Telegraph:

Labour’s City guru savages Ed Balls for 50p tax pledge

Economics behind Labour’s plan to bring back 50p top rate of income tax would not even get “a pass at GCSE”, says the party’s own former City minister

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, promised on Saturday that Labour would reinstate the tax band for those earning more than £150,000, if the party won the next general election.

He insisted that increasing the rate from 45p to 50p — for “the richest one per cent” of earners — would make the tax system “fairer” and help cut the budget deficit.

However, Lord Myners, who served as City minister in Gordon Brown’s government, attacked the policy, saying it would take the party back to the days of “old Labour”.

Cunliffe has indicated he would increase the top tax rate here – it is sometimes referred to as rich prick tax. But it could be counter productive.

Mr Balls claims his purpose in imposing a 50p tax rate on those earning more than £150,000 is to “finish the job of getting the deficit down and do it fairly”.

The reality is that his plans would cause a significant reduction in Government revenue, making his declared objective more difficult to achieve.

The one policy that will not help lower-income taxpayers is increasing the top tax rate; indeed, as it is known to reduce revenue it is likely to aggravate their situation.

It is revealing that last summer, during the first month in which the rate for higher earners was reduced to 45p, the Treasury received an extra £1.3 billion in income tax. This lends support to the hypothesis of the “Laffer curve”: that there is a point at which higher tax rates become counterproductive.

In a globalised economy higher tax rates push people with money and assets to other countries with more favourable rates, leaving more tax burden for poorer people.

Punitive tax rates are wrong both in practice and in principle.

In a globalised economy, high tax rates simply drive investors overseas, and personal and corporate assets offshore.

Labour’s proposal would send out the negative message that Britain penalises aspiration, enterprise and success.

And it discourages investment from overseas.

The shadow chancellor no doubt hopes to strike a populist chord with voters struggling to make ends meet, and it is possible that he will succeed, at least in the short term.

It is regrettable that Labour, concerned by its modest opinion poll lead and the unfavourable public perception of its leader, has retreated to its comfort zone of class warfare and its former preoccupation with making the rich poorer rather than the poor richer.

Labour here doesn’t have a lead in the polls, it still significantly lags behind National and needs Greens to have any chance of leading Government. Greens are likely to favour raising top tax rates too.

@NW_Cross  points to a Treasury Working Paper from 2012 The Elasticity of Taxable Income in New Zealand

This paper reports estimates of the elasticity of taxable income with respect to the net-of-tax rate for New Zealand taxpayers.

The marginal welfare costs of personal income taxation were consistentacross years, being relatively small for all but the higher tax brackets. For the top marginalrate bracket of 39 per cent, the welfare cost of raising an extra dollar of tax revenue wasestimated to be well in excess of a dollar.

Furthermore, for the top bracket the marginal tax rate was often found to exceed the revenue-maximising tax rate.

Cunliffe and Parker seem to be trying to gain support through populist policies rather than sound policies. They must know higher tax rates can lead to a lower tax take, so presumably they are choosing to dupe voters with a risky tax strategy.

If Labour and Greens do take over and slap higher taxes on the top earners it will be the middle earners – the voters they are trying to dupe – who bear more tax burden. Again. That would be ridiculous.

Key offers United Future an opportunity…

John Key has given United Future as much help and encouragement he could at this stage of election year. It is up to the party to take advantage of this.

It was surprising to see Peter Dunne reinstated by John Key as minister yesterday – it wasn’t surprising that he was given ministerial back duties, that was expected, but it was much sooner than most had thought.

Key also gave a clear indication that United Future were a preferred party for National to work with.

PM sets out parties National could work with

Prime Minister John Key today set out his decision on which parties National will consider working with following this year’s General Election.

Since November 2008, we have shown that we can lead a stable Government with other political parties involved, even when those parties have different outlooks and policies.Mr Key says that given the right electoral circumstances, his preference would be to continue working with the current three partners to the Government, which are ACT, the Māori Party and United Future.

“While National has of course had differences with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future, together our four parties have formed a stable and successful Government since late 2008,” Mr Key says.

That plus reinstating Dunne as a minister has given a clear signal that Dunne is a trusted and reliable partner for National.

Dunne has a reasonable chance of holding his Ohariu electorate, especially if National don’t contest it (as in previous elections). So there is a good chance of United Future being a one MP party into the next term, and a reasonable chance of that being an intergral part of Government.

This early signalling should give Dunne’s party all the incentive it needs to put forward a part option that goes beyond Dunne. A stable centrist party with a good chance of playing a part in Government should be able to attract voter support.

But there’s a big question mark about whether UnitedFuture is up to it. There is no public sign (and no sign to me) that the party has anything compelling to offer. Actually there’s no sign they are offering anything.

There’s two key things that need to be seen in United Future.

One is a succession plan in Ohariu. Dunne has chosen to contest another election but there must be a visible sign of replacing him. Not by another long in the tooth old school but a sign of renewal looking at the future.

That just deals with holding the vital electorate seat.

Two is the party vote. To make any mark on polls and subsequently in the election party vote UF needs to be seen as more than Dunne and Ohariu.

Ideally that means having at least one prominent candidate that gives voters an incentive to vote for the party. And ideally this candidate (or candidates) needs to look capable of taking over leadership of the party.

Add to that something that will not be seen by the wider public – the party needs to get it’s act together communicating with it’s members. From an adverse situation last year there was a significant boost in membership which enabled the party to re-register. This hasn’t been followed up on.

I’m still a member of United Future, I joined for three years when I stood for the party last election. That membership runs out in a few months.

I have seen nothing to encourage me to renew that membership. That’s very disappointing.

United Future could be, should be a small by significant player in Parliament and potentially in Government. Key has given them a vote of confidence.

But the party will have to start earning votes from the public (and members). Soon. again.

The opportunity is there. Is the party there? Is the determination? Or is United Future just an electorate committee for Ohariu?

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