Disallowed special votes

Relatively very small numbers apart from ‘not enrolled anywhere’.

James Shaw on The Nation

James Shaw didn’t get Greens into a coalition deal as he said he wanted, and that leaves them outside Cabinet rather than ‘at the heart of a new progressive government’, but he is promoting the positives. Greens are in play in Government far more than they have been in the past.

He was interviewed on The Nation this morning.

“Obviously we’ll be talking to each other over the course of the coming days and weeks” says of his contact with Peters.

Shae, Julie Anne Genter, Eugenie Sage and Jan Logie will be the Green minister.

Actually Logie looks likely to be the under-secretary, Greens have three ministers.

“I think it’s a really significant step for us” says of the Greens holding the associate finance position.

Also significant that it looks like NZ First won’t have a Finance role.

Will the cannabis referendum be binding? “We haven’t worked through that yet”.

So a referendum in 3 years may be toothless?

Shaw says we can expect something that would satisfy the Greens on irrigation to be announced next week.

More when the interview and transcript is online.

 

Ardern on The Nation

Jacinda Ardern featured in an interview on The Nation this morning. She has successfully stepped up another notch or two in her leadership role, however like most politicians is adept at avoiding answering questions she doesn’t want to answer.

Notably Ardern indicated that the Labour policy on reducing immigration stands, meaning Winston Peters hasn’t got the major reductions he sought votes from.

From @TheNationNZ:

She says it will be an “active” government that won’t leave things to chance.

“There is synergy between those agreements” of the agreements with NZF and the Greens.

“I’m ambitious that we eradicate child poverty” expects families pkg will lift 10,000s of children out of poverty.

“You will see change in that area” on the minimum wage, raise to $16.50 as a first step.

“We need to get started pretty quickly” on Kiwibuild.

Where is the sweet spot on immigration? “Labour’s policy remains absolutely unchanged” by the negotiations.

Ardern says Labour wants to cease ongoing investment in irrigation scheme…

…but will leave existing irrigation arrangements in place.

Ardern says there will be a Climate Commission to guide the government, but not to bind them.

The climate change minister will not be in cabinet, but says it doesn’t devalue the position.

This will obviously be James Shaw.

“It’s for the Greens to explain why confidence and supply works for them” says Ardern.

Ardern says she’ll be reviewing petroleum block offers – it’s not where the future lies.

More when the interview and transcript is available.

Cannabis referendum could disappoint

One of the policy wins for the Greens is a referendum on personal use of cannabis.

A referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020. Funding for drug and alcohol addiction services will be increased.

The ‘referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020’ is both good and bad news.

Cannabis laws and enforcement of them are hopeless, and long overdue for being radically reformed, so it is good to see tangible progress on this.

But I’m really quite disappointed by this.

Why do we need a referendum apart from appeasing NZ First? Polls have consistently shown public support for cannabis law reform.

A referendum in 2020 is likely to mean that legislation wouldn’t go through Parliament until 2021 at the earliest, and if National get back in they are unlikely to put any priority on it. This means any change could be four or five years away.

A simple referendum could be hobbled or watered down by actual legislation if it’s not specific enough.

Perhaps legislation could be done in advance of the referendum so we know what we are voting on. Then the referendum could be to approve of or reject the legislation. But that still means at least a 3 year wait.

I won’t get too annoyed yet, before details are available, but I have some concerns.


Note that this addresses personal use of cannabis as opposed to medicinal use – in Labour’s Taking action in our first 100 days:

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

Ardern has not been specific but has said that most of their ‘first 100 days’ pledges remain intact.


UPDATE – there could be even more disappointment

James Shaw just said in an interview on The Nation that it hasn’t been decided yet whether the referendum will be binding or not.

So it could be in 3 years, and toothless.

 

Greens, farming and “more sustainable land use”

The leak of policies the Greens say were agreed on in governing negotiations will raise a few eyebrows in the farming and export sectors.

1. Climate action

“Significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050” and the establishing of an independent climate commission. This would include shifting farms to “more sustainable land use” and a focus on transport, energy and primary industries.

New Zealand is supposed to be committed to zero carbon emissions anyway, and it was also Labour policy.

‘Sustainable farming’ is more contentious.

4. Water

Improve water quality and fund “freshwater enhancement”. Government support for irrigation will be wound down.

There has to be continued and increased efforts to reduce water pollution from farming. Somehow this needs to be done without impacting too much on farm incomes, employment and exports.

The farming sector may be concerned, given that Greens have said they want to reduce cow numbers by (I think) 25%. Some reduction is probably sensible, but significant reductions quickly could have a major impact.

During the campaign James Shaw said that a nitrate tax would cost the average dairy farm “no more than 5%” of their profits.

He said the party, if it were in government, would invest in the Sustainable Farming Fund and introduce a fund to support organic farming alongside a new sustainability accreditation scheme.

Mr Shaw said this would be paid for by a nitrate pollution levy on dairy farmers who continue to pollute the soils and water.

He said nitrate pollution was already measured by a modelling system called Overseer.

“The average dairy farm would pay no more than five percent of their pre-tax profits. So that’s the average and it would be no more than that.

That could be significant to struggling cow cockies, especially when it could be in addition to carbon tax for emissions as well as higher costs for irrigation.

What’s really important is that farmers would be able to get that money back by applying to the funds that we’re setting up.”

The Green Party would also place a moratorium on any more farms being converted to dairy, and instead support organic farming.

There have already been moves towards more organic farming methods and this should certainly be encouraged.

However the potential impact on the livelihood of farmers is not a minor matter.

Green policy (not all included in the governing agreement):  Clean water, great farming

The Green Party has a plan to support farmers to move to less polluting, more environmentally sustainable and more profitable ways of farming so that our rivers and lakes are safe to swim in and our drinking water from aquifers is protected.

We will put a levy on nitrate pollution from agriculture, starting with intensive dairying, and use the revenue raised to fund a package of game-changing support measures that farmers can use to reduce their impact on our environment.  We will:

  1. Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming by
  • Extending the Sustainable Farming Fund with an extra $20 million every year.
  • Creating a Transformational Farming Partnership Fund of around $70 million a year.
  • Increasing funding for the Landcare Trust to $16 million over three years.
  • Rewarding tree planting by farmers and landowners.
  • Allowing accelerated depreciation on dairy farm equipment.
  • Support organic farming by introducing national standards, and new funding of $5 million a year.
  1. Implement a levy on nitrate pollution to help protect our rivers, lakes and aquifers, which will raise around $136.5 million in the first year. This will fund the programmes listed above, and an additional $20 million a year for freshwater clean-up projects.
  2. Put a moratorium on new dairy farm conversions.
  3. Wind up Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd and stop providing subsidies for big irrigation projects.
  4. Transition away from Palm Kernel Expeller/Extract (PKE) to alternative feed stocks, from 2018.
  5. Establish a ‘Good Food Aotearoa New Zealand’ national sustainability accreditation scheme for food products, processors and farmers, so those who work with the land, not against it, can prove it to consumers at home and overseas to fetch a higher price and are more attractive to export markets.

“Help farmers move to more sustainable and profitable farming ” – great ideals, but this is vague. I wonder if there has been any real research done on how much more profitable farming will be if it is made more sustainable, how much it will affect farm production, employment and exports.

There is a massive amount dependant on farming in New Zealand, and raising costs and reducing intensification could have a big impact. Do the Greens know how much?

Green policy wins leaked

As soon as the new government was confirmed the Greens started leaking.

Here are their probable portfolios, and this is The Greens’ 10 big policy gains:

1. Climate action

“Significant climate action, with a shift towards a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050” and the establishing of an independent climate commission. This would include shifting farms to “more sustainable land use” and a focus on transport, energy and primary industries.

See Greens, farming and “more sustainable land use”

2. Beneficaries

The welfare system will be overhauled. Specific promises include ensuring access to entitlements, removing “excessive sanctions” and reviewing Working for Families “so that everyone has a standard of living and income that enables them to live in dignity”.

3. Conservation

“Significant gains in the conservation budget.”

4. Water

Improve water quality and fund “freshwater enhancement”. Government support for irrigation will be wound down.

5. Mental health

Free counselling for under-25s and access to mental health services for everyone.

6. Special needs

Access to education for children with learning difficulties.

7. Gender pay gap

“Substantial progress” to closing the gender pay gap in the public service.

8. Students

Reducing the number of students living in hardship.

9. Refugees

Review, as well as “adequately fund and support” refugees under the family reunification scheme.

10. Drugs

A referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020. Funding for drug and alcohol addiction services will be increased.

See Cannabis referendum could disappoint

 

Green portfolios leaked

The secrecy over the negotiation period and the lack of sharing of information between Labour, NZ First and Greens may have been wise, given how leaky the Greens have been since the government was made public.

Soon after the Green delegates were given information so they could rubber stamp their support of a Labour-NZ First coalition information has become available.

Newshub – Leak: Greens’ ministerial roles revealed

Newshub can reveal which roles the Labour MPs won’t be getting, with the following ministerial positions promised in the Greens’ agreement.

Climate change and associate finance are both expected to go to Greens leader James Shaw.

Climate change for Shaw is no surprise, it is his favourite issue.

Associate finance is also something Shaw would have been keen on getting, but it means Labour and Greens cover finance, and no NZ First there – unless there is a Ministry for Winston like he was created Treasurer in 1996.

The Greens will also have the conservation, women and land information portfolios, and associate roles in environment, transport and health.

Again conservation and women are no surprise, but only an associate role in environment is.

I’d have thought Julie Anne Genter would have been a good candidate for Minister of Transport but it looks like it’s an associate role only, if she is chosen by the Greens to be one of their ministers (she should be).

An associate role in health could be a significant one, if it is the role Peter Dunne has been doing. That covers drugs including cannabis and medicinal cannabis. In another leak Greens claim this policy agreement:

A referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis by 2020. Funding for drug and alcohol addiction services will be increased.

At last it looks like the futile mess of our current drug law enforcement will be addressed, or could be subject to a referendum.

UPDATE: Green ministers named

James Shaw has just named the Green ministers.

  • James Shaw
  • Julie Anne Genter
  • Eugenie Sage

It sounds like Jan Logie will fill the” newly created undersecretary role, focused on sexual and domestic violence” role.

Notably Green #2 Marama Davidson is not included, but this isn’t surprising, she is far less experienced than the others.

 

General chat

“Is there any way we could have a thread for the more lightweight stuff like music and general chat?”

Do it here. Please no personal attacks or bickering. Anything abusive, provocative or inflammatory may be deleted.

Media watch – Saturday

21 October 2017

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

Open Forum – Saturday

21 October 2017

Forum

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  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
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