Final Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations

Final negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership are currently under way in Hawaii.

There’s a lot of politicking going on but it’s all based on very limited information – as is normal for trade negotiations they are being done ‘secretly’.

We have to wait until there’s an official announcement about what has been negotiated before we know whether the pros might outweigh the cons for New Zealand or not.

Russel Norman and the Greens were complaining yesterday, in Question Time in Parliament and on Twitter:

The Govt has told other countries our negotiation position on , so why keep it secret from NZers?

If they need to ask that they should be asking themselves if they are ready to be a part of Government. Negotiations frequently need to be un-publicised.

I suspect the Greens don’t publicise all the negotiations they have within their party. That’s normal too.

Greens may need to experience the reality of being a part of Government to understand how things work. Transparency is a good ideal to aspire to, but can sometimes be counter-productive, especially in international negotiations.

Once we find out what is in the final agreement we will be able to judge whether it will be good for New Zealand overall or not.

Until then the guessing and scaremongering and naivety will continue. And I guess Norman will continue to pander to his base as he cannot contribute to the negotiations in Hawaii.

Greens reshuffle spokesperson roles

The Green party has announced a reshuffle of spokesperson roles following the election of James Shaw as new co-leader.

Shaw has taken on Climate Change, with Metiria Turei continuing her focus on Inequality.

Most notable is the promotion of Julie Anne Genter to the Finance role, taking over from Russel Norman. Genter has been one of the Greens’ most capable and prominent spokespeople in her previous role on Transport (which she retains).

Interestingly Genter is still only ranked ninth in the Green pecking order, having dropped a place from last year’s list after the promotion of Shaw.

New portfolio line-up for the Green Party

New portfolios
MP Portfolio
Metiria Turei Inequality

Building and Housing (inc. Social Housing, HNZ)

Maori Affairs

James Shaw Climate Change

Economic Development

Russel Norman Trade

Justice (electoral)

National Intelligence and Security (inc. NZSIS, GCSB)

Kevin Hague Health (inc. ACC, Sport & Recreation)


Rainbow Issues

Eugenie Sage Environment

Primary Industries

Land Information

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Earthquake Commission

Gareth Hughes Energy and Resources

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment

Science and Innovation



Wellington Issues

Catherine Delahunty Education (inc. Novopay)


Human Rights

Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Kennedy Graham Foreign Affairs (inc. Defence, Disarmament, Customs)

Veterans Affairs

Senior Citizens

Julie Anne Genter Finance (inc. Revenue, SOEs)



Mojo Mathers Commerce and Consumer Affairs (inc. Regulatory Reform)

Disability Issues

Animal Welfare

Jan Logie Social Development (inc. Women, Community and Voluntary Sector)

State Services

Local Government (inc. Civil Defence)

Rainbow Issues

Dave Clendon Tourism

Small Business

Criminal Justice (inc. Courts, Corrections, Police)


Denise Roche Workplace Relations and Safety


Immigration, Pacific Peoples, Ethnic Affairs

Internal Affairs (inc. Statistics, Arts Culture & Heritage, Ministerial Services, Racing, Gambling)

Auckland Issues

Steffan Browning Organics




Food Safety

Speaker condemns Simon Bridges’ ‘level of arrogance’

In Question Time in Parliament today the Speaker gave Minister of Transport Simon Bridges leeway after being advised his response to an initial question by Green MP Julie Anne Genter would be lengthy.

12. JULIE ANNE GENTER (Green) to the Minister of Transport : What percentage of the National Land Transport Programme announced yesterday will be spent on new rail infrastructure?

Mr SPEAKER : Before I call the Hon Simon Bridges, I have been advised that this answer may be longer than normal.

Part the pay through the reply the Speaker gave Bridges further opportunity to detail his response despite protestations of Genter.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I would be grateful is the member would show some courtesy to the Minister and to the House. I announced at the start of the question that it would be a longer answer than normal. As I am listening to the answer, it maybe is a reason why a percentage will not be given. If the member would only listen to the answer before raising a point of order, I think we would all be far more grateful. Would the honourable Minister wish to continue with his answer.

The lengthy answer resumed.

Hon SIMON BRIDGES : In regards to the 2015-18 National Land Transport Plan, we are investing over $2 billion in public transport regarding rail, some $380 million going on passenger rail subsidies, $40 million on park-and-ride infrastructure, and $172.6 million towards other rail infrastructure—about 1.5 percent. Of course, in Budget 2015 there is a further $210 million for KiwiRail and another $190 million signalled for thereafter. The member should stop being tricky, should stop cherry-picking the statistics—

Bridges was stopped by the Speaker there. The questions and answers continued. Afterwards, following Labour MP Damien O’Connor being ordered to leave the House, Russel Norman raised a point of order.

Russel Norman : This is to do with the answer given by the Minister to question twelve. I would ask you to look at the record of the Hansard, because the question on notice written down was a very simple straight question and in the answer the Minister attacked the Member asking the question, accusing her of being tricky and various other things.

I think that is completely unreasonable, and i would think, I would ask you to intervene when a Minister does those kinds of personal attacks on a very straight question, and actually hold the Minister to account.

Mr SPEAKER :That is a very fair point of order that’s been raised, the Minister’s office advised my office just prior to Question Time it would be a longer answer than normal. I think the Minister genuinely attempted to answer the question.

His last comment was, ah, to accuse the Member of being tricky, that was a very unnecessary and in fact inflammatory remark. As soon as it occurred I brought that answer to a conclusion.

But answers like that from any Minister show a level of arrogance that does not show them in good light in this House.

In some ways this seems like a minor infraction and a minor point but the snarky dig from Bridges was totally uncalled for after he had been given leeway to give a lengthy answer.

Being condemned as arrogant by the Speaker (who happens to be from the same party) is a justified reprimand for Bridges.

Ministers should be above this sort of petty arrogance.

Shaw a good bet for the Green future

It’s hard on Kevin Hague to miss out on the Green co-leadership. He’s a good guy who works hard with anyone to progress worthwhile policies and issues. But the Greens have gone for an alternative that’s a better bet for their future.

James Shaw was chosen as the new male co-leader, a Parliamentary novice against Hague’s experience. He was suggested as a leader of the future before getting into Parliament eight months ago.

When Russel Norman announced he was stepping down  Shaw initially said he wouldn’t be in the contest to replace Norman, but then he changed his mind. He must have sounded out support, or supporters encouraged him, and put himself forward.

I think Shaw is a good bet for the Greens. He is more likely than most to work well across the political spectrum and more likely than moist to attract a wide range of voters. He has solid Green credentials but also has solid business experience.

His biggest handicap was his lack of Parliamentary and leadership experience, but that’s not a big issue here as he is co-leader and is not in sole charge. He will have Metiria Turei’s experience alongside him, and Norman has promised to help him learn the leadership ropes.

I think it’s possible, even likely, that Shaw will quickly become more attractive to potential voters than Turei, who is fairly left of left and doesn’t appeal much to people outside the faithful Green flock.

Shaw is as good bet for the Green future.

Has Metiria lost the Green mojo?

Metiria Turei seems to have been quiet lately, which is odd considering Russel Norman is stepping down as Green co-leader.

The Greens may still have Mojo Mathers but have they lost their mojo?

TureiLostMojoTurei has been dabbling away on Facebook over the past couple of weeks, but it’s hardly high profile stuff, unless dogs are the new Green issue:

22 March – Rupert, a jack russel foxy cross is missing from Bethunes Gully, NEV, Dunedin. Please keep a look out if you are up that way.

24 March – Rupert is home, thank you everyone who shared the notice. Mx

25 March – Love it, another dog found and in the paper. The ODT totally rules!

26 March – Dog question. I want to teach my dog to do some dance moves. He will spin around with a treat incentive so we have got a twirl underway. But any other advice on teaching dog boogie?

2 April – Missing dog from Musselburgh.

Other than that she has posted about limes, roses, economic inequality, granny squares, the TPPA and a missing woman. And Winston Peters:

Waatea News: Greens keen to work with Peters

Greens co–leader Metiria Turei is looking forward to working with new Northland MP Winston Peters on issues they agree on.

“We know Winston will do what is in Winston’s best interest and sometimes it means working with us and sometimes not. Frankly I can live that. I understand better now how he operates and I don’t think there are any serious problems between New Zealand First and the Greens,”

Overshadowed by the Winston show, trying to pick up some crumbs from it.

Metiria Turei says Winston Peters’ Northland win should have shown national what happens when it stops listening to people.

Greens didn’t stand a candidate in Northland.

Apart from her dog duties what has Turei been up to? She has had a low profile in Parliament. Her last speech was :

Her last question in question time was:

That was Tuesday two weeks ago. Since then the Green questions have been:

So Turei had one question on the first sitting day of the last two weeks and none since, while Norman has asked three questions, the Greens twelve in total. Parliament is now in recess for three weeks.

A resurgent Winston Peters is a real threat to Green aspirations. With Norman deciding to step down and put more emphasis on his family life (understandably) the Greens need to fill a leadership vacuum, especially if Turei has lost enthusiasm and commitment as well.

She didn’t seem very enthusiastic here:

Bill English closed that question session with:

Why the Greens support that poverty inducing policy is beyond me.

How demoralising was that barb? Does Turei represent the lost mojo of theGreens?

Norman versus Key, collection versus surveillance

At Question Time in Parliament today Russel Norman quizzed John Key on the differences between mass collection and mass surveillance.

It adds a bit to the ongoing dispute but not much. Key is adamant again that the GCSB is not involved in mass surveillance of New Zealanders as governed by the law. But Key refuses to explain what mass collection might mean.


3. Prime Minister—GCSB Surveillance

[Sitting date: 10 March 2015. Volume:703;Page:3. Text is subject to correction.]

3. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does the Prime Minister still stand by his answer that he will resign if the GCSB has conducted mass surveillance of New Zealanders; if so, what is his definition of mass surveillance?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, and there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). To me, mass surveillance would involve surveillance of an entire population or a substantial part of that.

Dr Russel Norman : With regard to his answer that it would involve a significant proportion of the population, is he aware that there have been 1.6 million visits by New Zealanders to the Pacific from 2009 to the current day, whose private communications have been intercepted by the GCSB, and does this not meet the definition that he just gave of mass surveillance?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the member is making assumptions he should not actually make.

Dr Russel Norman : Is mass surveillance different from mass collection; if so, how?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Mass collection is not a term used in the Government Communications Security Bureau Act. It would mean different things to different people. But I think people understand what mass surveillance would mean. Mass surveillance is if you surveil an entire population. That does not happen. It is against the law. The Act makes it quite clear, and in fact it spells out clearly under what circumstances the GCSB can collect information about New Zealanders. It is largely set out in sections 14 and 15B of the Act.

Dr Russel Norman : Which one of the Prime Minister’s statements is correct—his statement this morning: “I don’t even know what you mean by mass collection. I’ve got no clue. It’s not a term I’ve ever seen, nor a term I’ve ever used.”, or his statement in September 2014, when he said: “There is no mass collection—not of New Zealanders.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The point I was making is that mass collection is not a term used by the GCSB. It is not a term that I use. That was in relation to a particular issue about Speargun, but it is not a term that the GCSB uses.

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Andrew Little : Will he be straight with New Zealanders—if they travel to the Pacific Islands, will their electronic communications be captured by the GCSB and sent to the National Security Agency, or not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not going to go through the operational details of the way that the GCSB operates, except to say that it operates within the law. The law is extremely clear about under what circumstances the collection of data about a New Zealander could occur. That is in sections 14 and 15B. But I will make this exact point. There is absolutely no—zero—change in the way things happen under this Government from what happened under Helen Clark’s. So if you want to ask these questions, I will give you her number in New York and you can give her a ring as well.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! There is just too much interchange between both front benches.

Dr Russel Norman : Is the Prime Minister aware of the statements by Sir Bruce Ferguson that mass collection and mass surveillance are basically the same things, when Sir Bruce stated on the radio: “it’s the whole method of surveillance these days. It’s … mass collection,”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not responsible for the comments that Bruce Ferguson makes. I think the member is actually misrepresenting him. But I go back to the single point. Mass surveillance is not occurring against New Zealanders; it never has. It does not matter how many times the member says it; it is simply not true. The law is very clear about what can occur when it comes to New Zealanders, and the law is subject to oversight by the inspector-general. The inspector-general actually makes their findings public, in terms of what they do, and there are no examples that have been brought to my attention where the GCSB has acted in breach of the law, with the exception of the Kim Dotcom situation. It does not matter how many times Nicky Hager, the anti-American view, and the Green Party want to tell New Zealanders that they are being surveilled en masse, they simply are not.

Dr Russel Norman : Has it not been brought to his attention that the GCSB is engaged in full-scale collection of all the data coming out of Pacific Island nations and that many hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have visited, or have lived in, those Pacific Island nations during the period that all that data was collected?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : One of the problems when a member wants to rely on stolen information is that they get a very, very warped sense of reality. I would have thought, given that the member was part of the Intelligence and Security Committee for 3 years, he would have a basic understanding of the way the GCSB works. The GCSB has to establish a warrant; a warrant has to have a particular reason. The Government Communications Security Bureau Act makes it completely clear that information cannot be gathered against New Zealanders with possible exceptions that are spelt out in sections 14 and 15B of the Act. The inspector-general has total responsibility, complete opportunity, and insight to review not only the warrants but the actions of the GCSB. Just because someone goes on a holiday somewhere means absolutely nothing, and it will not matter how many times the member says that, he is simply not right. I make the point to the members opposite that nothing has changed under this Government from the previous Government. If they have got complaints or they do not like things, I will give them Helen Clark’s mobile number and they can give her a call.

Dr Russel Norman : If mass collection and mass surveillance are two different things, as the Prime Minister has been claiming, what has changed since the Prime Minister admitted on Campbell Live in August 2013 that, under the law, to go and look at someone’s email is the same as collecting their email?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, the law has changed, actually, in that time. But—[Interruption] Well, the law has changed. Mass surveillance of New Zealanders does not happen. There are only—

Hon Member : The story’s slipping.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, the story is exactly the same as when Helen Clark was Prime Minister. I hate to tell you the bad news. The question has always been posed by members in the Green Party that mass surveillance of New Zealanders occurs. It does not.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is with regard to the answer. It was a pretty specific question and I do not believe the Prime Minister has addressed it. I was using one of his own quotes.

Mr SPEAKER : Part of the question asked what had changed, and the Prime Minister said that, well, for one thing the law has changed. The question was definitely addressed. [Interruption] Order! It is very difficult for me to hear the answers with the constant barrage that is coming from my left-hand side. If it continues, I will have to ask someone to leave the Chamber.

Norman right abour Middle East risks, wrong about solutions

There’s no doubting Russel Norman’s passion about what he believes in and stands against, and there’s no doubting that he means well. But his response to the Ministerial Statement on Iraq prompted some pertinent comments here.

Alan Wilkinson points out that Norman was right and wrong:

The US has already weaned itself off Arab oil. Russel opposes fracking and drilling that would do the same for us and others. The UN is deeply corrupt and speaks only to elites. Nothing in the Middle East will change until the ordinary people want it and that can only happen by working on the ground with them.

Russel is right about the risks and wrong about the opportunities and solutions.

Goldie pointed out an idealitstic disconnect from reality.

So the Greens answer to Daesh is “What they want from us is support for humanitarian aid and civil reconstruction”

The world is confronting an apocalyptic death cult, and the Green answer is humanitarian aid and civil reconstruction?

And Missy pointed out a major flaw in his humanitarian approach:

So, Russel is against sending Soldiers into the Middle East and into danger, even though this is what they train for and joined up for, but he is willing to send in civilian humanitarian and medical workers with no protection.

Has he even been watching the news, humanitarian workers are one of the main targets of ISIS, and as ISIS has no respect for borders the aid workers would be more at risk than the soldiers.

What would his response be if one of those aid workers was captured and beheaded?

In Norman’s conluding paragraphs he said:

No one is suggesting we should turn a blind eye to ISIL. The question is: will sending our troops there help? And the answer is clear: it will not. It will just become part of the recruitment drive for ISIL, and it will put New Zealand lives at risk.

It is also clear that there is not a shred of evidence that the military training will make a difference.

It’s fair to ask whether New Zealand’s contribution will help. But the answer is not clear. There cannot be any evidence for something that has not yet taken place.

We must also ask if there is another way we can alleviate the suffering and misery of people in Iraq and the wider Middle East. What they want from us is support for humanitarian aid and civil reconstruction—a large-scale, international diplomatic effort to stop the flow of arms and cash to ISIL.

As Missy pointed out it’s very difficult to provide humanitarian aid and civil reconstruction in an existing war zone. And it’s been starkly demonstrated that aid workers are at grave risk from ISIL, as are journalists.


The ISIL situation in the Middle East is quite different to 2003. They have made it clear they are intent on barbaric provocation, and peace promoting do-gooders are a primary target for their depravity because they have been  unprotected.

New Zealand holds a seat on the United Nations Security Council. That is an opportunity to make a difference and to use our diplomatic weight to try to find a solution not only to the ISIL crisis but the broader crisis across the Middle East.

This is another contradiction from the Norman speech. The UN is proven to be at least as ineffective as prior military engagement so why expect them to suddenly perform diplomatic, political and religious miracles when they have proven  ineffective to date?

If we want to find lasting peace in the Middle East, we need to be a voice of justice. We need to be a voice for human rights and democracy.

This means we have to have the courage of our convictions, to tell the head of the club, the great nation of the United States of America, that it is time to wean ourselves off cheap oil and it is time to support genuine peace, democracy, and human rights in the Middle East.

That’s boilerplate idealism. It’s all very well supporting genuine peace, democracy, and human rights in the Middle East, I’m sure most of Palriament and New Zealand would support that.

But waving a Green wand won’t magic ISIL out of existence.

Would Russel be prepared to go and speak peace abnd human rights with ISIL? They aren’t likely to be converted by a well meaning but very naive Parliamentary speech in New Zealand.

Russel Norman’s response to the Ministerial Statement on Iraq

Ministerial Statements

Iraq— Deployment of Troops

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green):

With today’s announcement, the worst-kept secret in New Zealand is out. John Key and his Government are dragging us by the bootlaces into another US-led Middle East war for an undisclosed amount of time, with a lack of clear goals and exit strategy and with no vote in this Parliament.

Yes, you heard it right: we are going to supposedly defend democracy in the Middle East, but the National Government has just now prevented Parliament from voting on whether New Zealand should go to war. Democracy, it seems, is a military export and is not for domestic consumption.

So why is John Key afraid to put it to a vote of Parliament? Is it because he knows that this Parliament and the people of New Zealand have little appetite for entering another bloody conflict that will only make things worse in the Middle East?

Is it because he knows that it makes no sense to enter another conflict that will simply endanger New Zealanders overseas and here?

Or is it because he knows that he could not get a majority of MPs in this Parliament to support his desire to send our soldiers off to war? The answer, of course, is all of the above—he does not have a mandate, and he knows it. This decision to go to war was, of course, a decision taken not in Wellington, but in Washington.

As John Key revealingly told us, New Zealand is going to war because that is the price we must pay to be a member of the club, and the club that he was referring to was the “Five Eyes” club, headed up by the United States and including Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

I guess we always thought that the National Government had abandoned New Zealand’s independent foreign policy, but to hear the Prime Minister state so blandly that the decision to go to war was taken by the club and we simply had to follow suit to stay a member of the club.

I mean, why bother with Parliament when the decision is one for Barack Obama? So I do not address my comments to John Key, who is behaving as if he is the governor of the 51st state. Rather, I address my comments to the head of the club, Barack Obama, who actually made the decision to go to war, and I address my comments to the people of New Zealand in whose name more blood will be shed.

Mr Obama, after half a century of Western military adventures in the Middle East, many, if not most, New Zealanders now know that it has only made things worse. People in the Middle East understand this too.

It is hard to know exactly where in the history to start, but one obvious contender is when in 1953 the United States and the United Kingdom orchestrated the overthrow of the democratically elected Mosaddegh Government in Iran, because Mosaddegh threatened the flow of cheap oil to the West.

Through our actions in 1953 we told the people of the Middle East that cheap oil was more important to us than democracy. Following the history, notable mention should go to Madeleine Albright.

In 1996 the US Ambassador to the United Nations said in reference to the sanctions against Iraq that were killing half a million children: “We think the price is worth it.” We told the people of the Middle East through our actions that their children’s lives were of no value to us and can be sacrificed to foreign policy goals, and the people of the Middle East remember that.

Perhaps special mention should go to a more recent example, which was when the CIA used a fake vaccination programme in order to gather intelligence on Osama bin Laden quite recently. In the process they added to Pakistani suspicion of Western medicine, resulting in a dramatic drop in vaccinations in Pakistan and a rapid take-off in polio cases in Pakistan.

We told the people of Pakistan through our actions that revenge was more important to us that our medical science. Every Western bomb, Mr Obama, that has been dropped on the people of the Middle East over the last half century has only added to the ISIL recruitment queue.

Every time Western Governments have made grand statements about democracy and human rights while supporting some of the most brutal, most anti-democratic regimes in the world, that has only hardened the cynicism of the people of the Middle East about the West and driven them into the waiting arms of the appalling jihadis.

If you do not take my word for it, how about this. In 2004 Donald Rumsfeld, hardly a liberal, the US Secretary of Defense at the time, set up a task force to understand what the driver is for the rise of radicalism and terrorism in the Middle East.

The Defense Science Board reported to Rumsfeld duly in September 2004, and this is what it said: “American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists.” So that was the Rumsfeld task force conclusion—American intervention was adding to the stature of the radical Islamists, the jihadis, and adding to their support.

Then it went on to say: “It is diminishing support for the United States.” So it is producing the opposite effect of what we claim to be aiming for. Let us face it—killing hundreds of thousands of civilians tends to have that effect. The Rumsfeld task force went on to say: “Muslims do not hate our freedom but rather they hate our policies.

The overwhelming majority voiced their objections to what they see as one side’s support in favour of Israel against Palestinian rights and the longstanding, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably the Governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States.” That was the conclusion of Donald Rumsfeld’s own task force.

Western intervention was pushing people into the arms of the radical jihadis, which was the exact opposite of what we claimed we wanted to be doing, and here we are, in this House, about to do it once more. The report went on to say: “When American diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.

In the eyes of Muslims, the occupation by America of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, only to chaos and suffering.”

Therefore the dramatic narrative since 9/11 has, essentially, borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars. American actions have elevated the authority of the jihadi insurgents and tended to ratify their legitimacy amongst Muslims.

So the intervention, according to Donald Rumsfeld’s task force, that we’re proposing to do today is adding to the legitimacy of the jihadis amongst Muslims, doing the exact opposite of what we would like to be doing. The US defence force basically went on to predict the rise of the Islamic State.

No one is suggesting we should turn a blind eye to ISIL. The question is: will sending our troops there help? And the answer is clear: it will not. It will just become part of the recruitment drive for ISIL, and it will put New Zealand lives at risk.

It is also clear that there is not a shred of evidence that the military training will make a difference.

We must also ask if there is another way we can alleviate the suffering and misery of people in Iraq and the wider Middle East. What they want from us is support for humanitarian aid and civil reconstruction—a large-scale, international diplomatic effort to stop the flow of arms and cash to ISIL.

Did the New Zealand Government even raise this question in the discussion with the Saudi Government, given that a lot of the ISIL money comes from Saudi Arabia?

New Zealand holds a seat on the United Nations Security Council. That is an opportunity to make a difference and to use our diplomatic weight to try to find a solution not only to the ISIL crisis but the broader crisis across the Middle East.

Instead, we have another foreign intervention in Iraq, just like George Bush’s in 2003—another coalition of the willing, those who are willing to put their heads in the sand and their lives at risk. When it comes to Western military interventions in Iraq, New Zealand and the world has been there. We have done that. It did not work. It was a mess.

If we want to find lasting peace in the Middle East, we need to be a voice of justice. We need to be a voice for human rights and democracy.

This means we have to have the courage of our convictions, to tell the head of the club, the great nation of the United States of America, that it is time to wean ourselves off cheap oil and it is time to support genuine peace, democracy, and human rights in the Middle East. Thank you.

Greens versus political and Intelligence realities

Tracey Watkins writes about the realities of Intelligence and security and how the Greens keep themselves on the outside of the pragmatic political club.

In Greens must learn sometimes national interest comes first she talks of Metiria Turei’s ‘ignorance’

Like her Green colleagues, Turei is deliberately ignorant of the rules of “the club” and would have it no other way.

Her path into politics was through the radical fringes, rather than the old boys’ network.

She is, in other words, the last person Labour and National want sitting across from them on a secretive body like the intelligence and security committee as they embark on a sensitive review of the intelligence agencies.

She would raise hackles. She would oppose. She would demand root and branch reform.

That’s the Green way. They haven’t worked out how to move from fringe players to practical inflkuences in major issues.

In contrast, any differences between Labour and National on intelligence and national security matters are superficial at best.

Prime Minister John Key’s statement that Labour and National will be the natural parties of government “for as far as the eye can see” was all that needed to be said on the reasons why Turei was excluded as an Opposition nominee for the committee.

The implied subtext was that the Greens can afford to be blindly naive about the methods employed by the state in the protection of its citizens. Labour and National can’t.

It’s the difference between parties that have had and will have the responsibility to lead governments, versus a fringe party that has grown to a potentially influential size but still has a fringe protest mentality.

That system was MMP, the system under which former radical Marxist student politicians and parties of the Right-wing fringe can be elected to Parliament and challenge the status quo, question the established order and be a thorn in the side of the mainstream parties.

“Former radical Marxist student politicians’ could refer to Turei or Norman.

Parties like the Greens, NZ First, ACT and the Maori Party – and before them the Alliance – have all filled that role over the years.

They can be pig-headed in pursuit of their own ideological agenda, even when it seems they are wilfully out of touch with mainstream New Zealand.

They often incur the wrath of voters as a result – no-one likes the spectacle of the tail wagging the dog.

Somethimg Greens struggle with and Internet-Mana failed to understand.

But despite all that, MMP endures. Confronted with the choice, voters still prefer MMP and the baggage that comes with it over the alternative first-past-the-post system, which would effectively deliver untrammelled power to the winning party.

Turei’s presence on the security and intelligence committee would be an annoyance to Key and Little in equal measures.

But it is also the price of MMP.

Her voice – and those of ACT’s David Seymour, NZ First’s Winston Peters and the Maori Party’s Te Ururoa Flavell – are the elected curb on absolute power.

The quid pro quo for the Greens is that there is a price of admission to “the club”. And that may be biting the bullet on the reality that on occasion the national interest really does override party politicking.

If Greens want to have a significant input into important issues they have to learn that a positive pragmatic approach achieves more than being anti everything.

Greens are committed to their own club which will probably exclude them from any bullet biting.

There’s some hope for the Greens though, Kevin Hague understands and practices co-operative pragmatic politics.

Little’s Green snub may benefit intelligence review

Fran O’Sullivan: Little relegates Greens to sidelines

Norman is now claiming the two old parties have colluded to entrench the enormous powers of the Prime Minister and his spy agencies behind a “facade of pretend accountability” and that a “duopoly of illegal” spying will be maintained without any independent oversight.

The counter-factual to Norman’s hyperbole is that his own independent oversight at the committee level clearly hadn’t stopped what he complains about.

Why do Greens think that Turei would stop more than Norman who doesn’t appear to have achieved much?

If “a “duopoly of illegal” spying will be maintained then Norman hasn’t been very effective. Of course his rhetoric is also debatable.

So, he’s feeling a little political heat right now and is having to field claims he has been “cavalier” and “sexist” to boot by bypassing the opportunity to inject Turei into the slot on the committee which was held by Green.

Neither Little’s decision, nor Key’s, has been driven by the “old boys’ club” syndrome.

What the pair have done is formed a “grown-ups club” to deal with the critically sensitive issue of overseeing the major review of New Zealand’s intelligence services.

Replacing someone who has seemed to oppose all surveillance and security with someone else who share’s that opposition may not be very helpful to properly review intelligence services.

Greens can keep opposing everything from outside the committee.

Andrew Little’s Green snub may benefit the intelligence review by providing more positive input.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,095 other followers