Peters reconfirmed leader, NZ First deputy going to a vote

Winston Peters has been reconfirmed as NZ First leader – no one should be surprised by that – but the party’s MPs will vote for a deputy next week. Ron Mark is currently the deputy.

NZH:  NZ First leader Winston Peters re-elected, deputy vote next week

NZ First has joined the fray of leadership elections, although the only vote in its caucus will be for deputy leader.

In a statement, NZ First said leader Winston Peters had been confirmed as the party’s leader at caucus.

“His sole nomination was carried with acclaim.”

Shane Jones, often tipped as a successor to Peters, would not comment but is unlikely to contest it.

They don’t say why Jones is unlikely to contest.

None of the MPs would comment – but possible contenders include current deputy Ron Mark, Tracey Martin and Fletcher Tabuteau.

Martin was deputy from 2011 to 2015 when caucus elected Ron Mark instead.

With both Peters and Mark now ministers with jobs that involve overseas travel (Foreign Affairs and Defence) it would make sense to have a more New Zealand based deputy. I don’t think Mark is particularly popular either.

National deputy going to a vote

As well as voting for a new leader next week the National caucus will also vote for a deputy. Paula Bennett is currently the deputy leader.

Newsroom: National deputy leadership will also go to vote

National MPs will vote on February 27 for the new leader, with party whip Jamie Lee Ross announcing there would also be a vote for the deputy position.

“Paula came to me last week and said she felt it was important there be a vote for deputy leader and the caucus has confirmed that.”

It makes sense to have choice of deputy once the new leader has been chosen. One of the unsuccessful leadership contenders may have a go at becoming deputy.

Ardern speaks to students in Dunedin

ODT: First-year students urged to tackle NZ’s biggest problems

New Zealand needs you.

That was the simple message Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave the country’s future leaders gathered at the University of Otago’s convocation ceremony last night.

During her speech Ms Ardern encouraged the 4000 first-year students in Forsyth Barr Stadium to make the most of their abilities and not let self doubts impede their potential.

“You may assume I had embarked on a degree in politics with some assurance of where I would go, that I was confident, I was on a path to be an MP or at least work in politics.

“You would be wrong.”

Ms Ardern told the new students the country needed them to tackle some of the greatest challenges facing New Zealand, such as climate change, inequality and child poverty.

“That is why we need you, it is why we need your education and why we need your confidence.”

In return, Ms Ardern promised her Government would take the same approach.

One of the biggest cheers of the night came after Ms Ardern mentioned her Government’s policy of first-year, fee-free tertiary study.

“You’re welcome,” she said with a smile.

That’s not a surprise, given that the students are the first recipients of a major government handout.

Joyce makes it 5 leadership contenders

So that gives the National caucus five candidates to choose from for their next leader:

  • Judith Collins
  • Amy Adams
  • Simon Bridges
  • Mark Mitchell
  • Steven Joyce

Mitchell is just being interviewed by Duncan Garner. Some time has been spent on the Marriage Equality bill – Mitchell voted  against it. He explained that on conscience votes he goes to his electorate to get their views, polls the electorate, and votes according to the majority conscience of his electorate.

When pressed he made it clear he supports the Marriage Equality legislation and would personally vote for it. So that suggests he voted against his own conscience and for what he thought his electorate preferred.

RNZ on Joyce:

Steven Joyce has confirmed he is in the mix to be the next National Party leader.

Mr Joyce said last week he had been canvassing support among the caucus and party members before deciding whether to take a tilt.

He was National’s campaign manager and a Finance Minster in the previous government.

So not much other than confirmation that he has joined the contest so far. I think Joyce is very capable and astute, and speaks well, but represents ‘same old’ for the National Party, risking being stuck in the past, by perception  at least.

Update:  Joyce confirms National leadership tilt

Steven Joyce has this morning confirmed he will contest the National Party leadership.

Joyce told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking he would become the fifth candidate to replace Bill English.

Joyce said he had lots of colleagues and regular New Zealanders telling him to put his name forward.

“My view is it has always been about the National Party, it’s not about me personally.”

Joyce trusted that he would have support in caucus.

“There are some people that are going to absolutely support you and some people that will probably support you, it all depends on how it goes out.”

Joyce believed the race was more important than any individual.

“It’s all about the future of New Zealand. It’s not about me,” he told Hosking.

“I worry about the current crowd. I don’t think they have a plan and where they have got a plan it will take us backwards.”

“It’s time to step up, if I believe in what I do believe in.”

Joyce called the generational change argument “entertaining” – and noted that there was only 15 years between the five candidates for leader.

Joyce said he got on well with rival candidates Simon Bridges, Judith Collins, Amy Adams and Mark Mitchell – and said that they would all bring different strengths to the role.

He would probably do ok, but National need more than ok, they need to forge a new future for the party.

Police want delay in cannabis legislation

The medical cannabis legislation introduced by the incoming Government would give people who are dying a legal out clause from using cannabis, but would keep it a crime to grow or supply them with cannabis, posing some legal difficulties.

There were signs the bill was rushed to fir within Labour’s 100 days commitment.  It is now being reported that the police opposed this approach.

RNZ: Police asked for delay on cannabis legislation

The Health Minister pushed ahead with giving full legal protection to the terminally ill to use cannabis, despite advice from the police asking for that particular provision to be delayed.

The legislation currently before Parliament, means anyone terminally ill will not have to rely on the discretion of the police or the courts if they’re caught with cannabis.

If their case gets to court they can present certification from their practitioner to avoid prosecution.

Under the Bill the definition of “terminally ill” is that someone is likely to only have about 12 months to live.

Official papers obtained by RNZ show there were conflicting views among government agencies about how far the medicinal cannabis bill should go.

They show while the police supported giving terminally ill people “reassurance” they would not be prosecuted, in principle, they wanted the statutory defence deferred.

Police wanted to “ensure any legislative provision was workable” and that it would not create “unintended consequences”.

The proposed legal situation would be messy.

However, Health Minister David Clark disagreed.

“The police suggested deferring because they’re concerned about how these things are to be policed – that’s their job – we of course are concerned to be compassionate in our response.”

Futhermore, the Justice Ministry said it was a “concern” there was not legal protection for other people getting cannabis on behalf of someone who was terminally ill.

Clark dismissed this, saying he expected the Police to turn a blind eye to supplying, but that would put the police in a difficult situation.

Dr Clark said it was too difficult to extend the defence further, including defining exactly who would be supplying the cannabis in the broader network.

“And we preferred to favour the terminally ill and try to restrict, where possible, the supply of cannabis.”

More likely it was too difficult for Labour to get NZ First to agree to extend the defence further.

Nelson lawyer Sue Grey has represented many people charged with obtaining or possessing cannabis for medicinal purposes, and argued friends and family should also have the full legal protection.

“Because the sickest people can’t supply themselves and to put their family under that intense pressure of prosecution for helping a dying or sick person is just completely unfair and unjustified.”

The proposed ‘solution’ is poor.

…the Health Ministry opposed the defence for friends and family saying that would “significantly broaden the proposal”.

And it argued it could have unintended consequences:

“A person could set up a business supplying illicit cannabis to terminally ill people and argue that the exception and statutory defence cover this activity.”

So instead, people on their death bed are supposed to wish that some cannabis to relieve their suffering will fall out of the sky into their laps.

Yes, an unintended consequence of sensible legislation could mean that some non-dying cannabis users may find it a bit easier to source some product for relief. That would hardly be calamitous – cannabis use is unlikely to significantly change with sensible law changes, except for those who are suffering and want some relief.

All they can do now is suffer, or load themselves up on prescription drugs or alcohol, which cannot be any worse than a bit of cannabis.

Pressure mounts in US Russian investigation

Last week’s indictment of Russian nationals was just one step in the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the US elections in 2016. Another move is forecast to unfold shortly:

LA Times: Former Trump aide Richard Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say

A former top aide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days — and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort, the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign.

The change of heart by Trump’s former deputy campaign manager Richard Gates, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort’s, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case.

“Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,” said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington “within the next few days.”

Mueller is heading the prosecutions of Gates and Manafort as part of the wide-ranging investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump or his aides committed crimes before, during or since the campaign.

The imminent change of Gates’ plea follows negotiations over the last several weeks between Green and two of Mueller’s prosecutors – senior assistant special counsels Andrew Weissmann and Greg D. Andres.

According to a person familiar with those talks, Gates, a longtime political consultant, can expect “a substantial reduction in his sentence” if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said Gates is likely to serve about 18 months in prison.

If Gates has negotiated down to 18 months prison he must have faced serious charges with strong evidence against him.

The Oct. 27 indictment showed that prosecutors had amassed substantial documentation to buttress their charges that Manafort and Gates — who were colleagues in political consulting for about a decade — had engaged in a complex series of allegedly illegal transactions rooted in Ukraine. The indictment alleged that both men, who for years were unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government, hid millions of dollars of Ukraine-based payments from U.S. authorities.

According to the indictment, Gates and Manafort “laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships and bank accounts” and took steps to evade related U.S. taxes.

If Manafort maintains his not-guilty plea and fights the charges at a trial, the testimony from Gates could provide Mueller’s team with first-person descriptions of much of the allegedly illegal conduct. Gates’ testimony, said a person familiar with the pending guilty plea, would place a “cherry on top” of the government’s already formidable case against Manafort.

And this will place more pressure on Manafort.

Again this says nothing about possible Trump knowledge or involvement. One possibility is that members of his campaign team colluded with Russians without Trump’s knowledge. There were always going to be risks rapidly assembling a campaign team when many experienced Republican campaigners didn’t want to be involved.

Cyclone Gita due to hit today

Severe weather warnings have been issued as cyclone Gita approaches New Zealand today.

Tropical cyclone Gita zig zagged through the tropics last week, first tracking east, then swinging in a u-turn to head west,causing damage in Samoa, Tonga and Fiji as well as New Caledonia on it’s way. It then swung in an arc south west then southward, then south eastward towards the middle of New Zealand.  While no longer tropical cyclone strength there are warnings it may cause major problems through heavy rain, strong winds and a storm surge (up to 7 metre swells).

CYCLONE GITA UPDATE (Metservice 2:41 am Tuesday 20 February):

Cyclone Gita is currently undergoing extra-tropical transition, and has been re-classified as ‘Former Cyclone Gita’. Although Gita is no longer a tropical cyclone, it’s still expected to significantly impact much of central New Zealand over the next 24 hours.

Heavy rain is already occurring from Taranaki southwards to the Sounds, and is expected to spread over Buller, Nelson and the remainder of Marlborough over the next few hours.

Strong winds are expected to develop early this afternoon into this evening for the entire country, with the potential for damaging wind gusts from Taranaki and Taihape south to Westland and Banks Peninsula, including Wellington.

Watches and warnings remain in effect for Strong Winds and Heavy Rain, available on metservice.com, along with your latest weather forecast.

So it looks like the top of the South Island is going to bear the brunt of Gita, in particular the Nelson and Buller areas, but with a much wider area affected.

Gita has transitioned from a tropical cyclone to a cyclone as it has headed south into the mid latitudes. Metservice blog: Tropical cyclones: extra-tropical transition

So, how does this extra-tropical transition take place? When a well-developed tropical cyclone reaches its peak in the heart of the tropics, it has an eye. The eye is often fairly cloud-free, nearly circular, and surrounded by a ring of very active thunderstorms. In the early and middle parts of their lives, tropical cyclones stand up quite vertically in the atmosphere, like large columns.

Besides encountering cooler seas, tropical cyclones heading towards New Zealand eventually come under the influence of the westerlies. The westerlies of the mid-latitudes increase in strength with height, a phenomenon known as vertical wind shear. This shear almost literally chops off the upper part of the tropical cyclone and sweeps it away, not unlike a woodcutter chopping off the upper part of a coconut tree to leave a section just above the ground (except it’s a much more gradual and subtle process). Along with the lower sea temperatures of the mid-latitudes, this destroys the positive feedback processes within the cyclone.

What remains is the former tropical cyclone’s low-level circulation, which may get carried off in the westerlies or become the focus of further development if conditions are right. Either way, tropical cyclones approaching the New Zealand area undergo drastic changes of structure and appearance as they undergo this extra-tropical transition.

Metservice Severe Weather Warning:


Heavy Rain Warning

Heavy rain may cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly. Surface flooding and slips are also possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.

Area: Nelson and Buller
Valid: 14 hours from 7:00am to 9:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Expect 150 to 200mm of rain to accumulate in Nelson west of Motueka, and 90 to 150mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible.

Area: Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast
Valid: 15 hours from 7:00am to 10:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Expect 150 to 200mm of rain to accumulate about higher ground, and 90 to 140mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible.

Area: Wellington and Kapiti Coast
Valid: 15 hours from 1:00am to 4:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Expect 75 to 100mm of rain to accumulate during the period. Peak intensities 20 to 30mm per hour during the morning. Further lighter rain is expected from late Tuesday afternoon to midnight Tuesday.

Area: Canterbury Plains (excluding Christchurch)and High Country, the ranges of Westland
Valid: 27 hours from 12:00pm Tuesday to 3:00pm Wednesday
Forecast: Expect 150 to 200mm of rain to accumulate during this period about Canterbury High Country, and 90 to 120mm elsewhere. Peak intensities of 20 to 30mm/hr possible about Canterbury High Country.

Strong Wind Warning

Strong wind gusts could damage trees, powerlines and unsecured structures. Driving may be hazardous, especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

Area: Taranaki, Taihape, Whanganui
Valid: 10 hours from 3:00pm Tuesday to 1:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale north to northwest winds gusting 120 km/h in exposed parts of North Taranaki, but damaging gusts of 140 km/h in exposed parts of South Taranaki, Whanganui and Taihape.

Area: Manawatu, Kapiti-Horowhenua, Wellington and Wairarapa including the Tararua District
Valid: 8 hours from 7:00pm Tuesday to 3:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale north to northwest winds gusting 120 km/h in exposed places, but 130 km/h in Wellington on Tuesday evening.

Area: Nelson and Buller
Valid: 8 hours from 2:00pm to 10:00pm Tuesday
Forecast: Severe gale east to northeast winds with damaging gusts of 130 to 140 km/h in exposed places.

Area: Marlborough including the Kaikoura Coast
Valid: 12 hours from 3:00pm Tuesday to 3:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale southeasterlies gusting 120 km/h or more in exposed places.

Area: Westland and the Canterbury High Country near the Alps
Valid: 13 hours from 12:00pm Tuesday to 1:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe gale southeast winds with damaging gusts of 150 km/h possible in exposed places.

Area: Canterbury from Banks Peninsula northwards
Valid: 8 hours from 7:00pm Tuesday to 3:00am Wednesday
Forecast: Severe south to southeast gales gusting 120 km/h in exposed places.

This warning will be updated by: 11:00am Tuesday 20-Feb-2018


That’s strong winds but they don’t seem out of the ordinary for gales. There is a lot of rain forecast in mid New Zealand.

RNZ: Country prepares for Cyclone Gita

The worst affected areas are likely to be Taranaki, the Kāpiti Coast, the Marlborough Sounds, Nelson, the West Coast, and the east coast as far down as Canterbury.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn was expecting storm surges and more than 100mm of rain overnight – in an area already struggling to clean up damage from cyclone Fehi earlier this month.

Following a meeting this afternoon, the Ministry of Education directed all Buller/Grey district schools to close for two days.

Civil Defence has alerted 2000 campers on the West Coast with a special app with notifications.

Accommodation providers on the coast are also telling tourists about the cyclone.

In Marlborough, Civil Defence is asking campers, trampers and boaties to leave the area today if they can, or find themselves somewhere safe to hole up.

Heavy rain could cause slips, rapidly rising streams and rivers, and flooding, with State Highways 6, 1 and 63 potentially affected, said Marlborough Civil Defence spokesman Glyn Walters.

The Interislander ferry said sailing will be rough on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, but at this stage it isn’t expecting to cancel services.

The latest MetService forecasts showed the cyclone arriving a band from the west across the south of the North Island and the north of the South Island.

 

Media watch – Tuesday

20 February 2018

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.

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.

Open Forum – Tuesday

20 February 2018

Forum

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria.

Free speech is an important principle here but some people who might pose a risk to the site will have to keep going through moderation due to abuses by a small number of malicious people.