Newshub/Reid Research poll – May 2018

The first poll since the budget, from Newshub/Reid Research:

  • National 45.1% (up 0.6%)
  • Labour 42.6% (up 0.3%)
  • Greens 5.7% (down 0.3%)
  • NZ First 2.4% (down 1.2%)

ACT, Maori Party and The Opportunities Party were not mentioned.

The only movement that is statistically significant is the drop for NZ First.

National and Labour will be happy their support is holding up – perhaps surprisingly for National given the amount of publicity Jacinda Ardern has had internationally recently and with her pregnancy, and how much attention Labour got out of last week’s budget.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 40.2%
  • Simon Bridges 9.0%
  • Winston Peters 4.6%
  • Judith Collins 3.7%

Not surprising to see Ardern well ahead. Bridges is struggling be be seen or liked.  Support of Peters is waning ahead of him becoming acting Prime Minister soon.

Judith Collins makes her debut – she has been the most prominent and effective Opposition MP, and liked by some in the National Party.

39% said Peters would ‘do well’ in the top job.

Newshub stories:

More Otago University censorship

Otago student newspaper Critic: Issue 13 is out and we’ve censored the Uni right back

https://www.critic.co.nz/

Ardern belatedly fronts up on major issues, still ‘absolutely vague’

Jacinda Ardern has benefited from carefully orchestrated PR and a largely compliant media, but she fronted up, sort of, on two contentious issues this week.

Claire Trevett: Post-Budget glow fades quickly as heartland problems pile up

Ardern is very much the shopfront of the coalition government and until the week before the Budget, it was very much a photo-shopped government.

There was almost a paranoia about the Prime Minister being seen to be facing criticism. Cameras were only invited when it came to events where the PM was likely to get a warm reception. Students, the Waitangi tour, tertiary students, the Pride Parade, arts and culture events.

Meetings with critics of Government policy have happened but behind closed doors. There has been nothing similar to watching former National Prime Ministers get torn to shreds in question and answer sessions with the unions or lambasted at Waitangi. In fact, former PM John Key loved little more than a hostile audience.

Appearing only in front of friendly audiences is not sustainable for a Prime Minister so this week proved a welcome reprieve from saccharine photo ops.

Prime ministers are judged on how they handle a disaster as much as how they handle the books.

Ardern has largely got away with promoting a celebrity type image and avoiding awkward issues, but she departed from the PR script this week, a bit.

Dealing with it meant this week Ardern finally fronted up to dragons – those who are not Labour’s natural constituents.

It started with her meeting with abut 15 farmers in the Waikato to talk about M. Bovis and ended with her meetings with gas and oil sector bosses and workers in Taranaki to talk about the Government’s decision to stop issuing new exploration permits in the future.

It was the first time she had publicly met with either group.

During the campaign, she had promised to meet with farmers after the election. She did meet with farming sector leaders on the quiet twice at regular quarterly meetings that successive Prime Ministers have had with farming representatives.

Ardern could also be fairly criticised for not going to Taranaki sooner and for the lack of proper consultation over the oil and gas decision with the sector or workers involved.

Not only that, she made her oil and gas announcement in front of an unusually unrelated university student audience.

Yesterday she visited with some cash and a vague plan with a vague title by way of reassurance: “Just Transitions.” But at least she visited.

One of Ardern’s trademarks is using strong sounding phrases to say not much in particular – being ‘absolutely vague’.

She has little time to transform her image right now. She may have to wait until after her maternity leave to show whether she can be real leadership material rather than being a vague and ditsy celebrity style politician.

That’s just a few headlines. Ardern absolutely peppers her speech with the term.

Oxford: absolutely

  1. With no qualification, restriction, or limitation; totally.
    1.1 Used to emphasize a strong or exaggerated statement.
    1.2 [with negative] None whatsoever.
    1.3 Used to express and emphasize one’s assent or agreement.
  2. Not viewed in relation to other things.

 

Chris Hipkins on Q&A

Chris Hipkins will be interviewed on Q&A this morning.

His responsibilities:

  • Minister of Education
  • Minister of State Services
  • Minister responsible for State Services
  • Leader of the House

He should be asked about slippage in his his school donations policy – see School donations another delayed promise.

He may also be asked about the growing dysfunction in Parliament’s Question Time. Update – no, the interview stuck to education.

Stuff: A complete overhaul of NCEA level one has been recommended to Government

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has received a report back from his ministerial advisory group, which was set up to review the qualification, that proposes new achievement standards at level one that are specific to school projects.

The focus would be on less assessment and would get rid of the need for external exams – instead students would pick a project for the year and concentrate on improving literacy and numeracy.

The new level one would be made up of 40 credits – half of the current qualification – and would be about more than just being “an easier NCEA level 2”, the advisory group said.

“The rebuilt level one wouldn’t replace the wide range of courses currently offered – and we expect that it will remain an option, rather than a mandatory step for all learners.

“For many learners, their favourite courses will be at the heart of their projects and could be a basis for developing literacy and numeracy.”

The benefits of changing the level one standards, instead of scrapping the system, would “enable learners to pick a project which reflects their identity, language, culture and aspirations,” the advisory group said.

Ambitious tree planting policy lacking labour

The Government’s ambitious house building plans will be difficult to achieve unless sufficient trade labour is available, and there are insufficient numbers of experienced people available already.

The same problem faces another ambitious project – planting a billion trees.

Stuff: Labour shortage could create ‘significant issue’ for Govt’s 1 billion tree target

A shortage of labour and land could result in growing pains for the Government’s ambitious 1 billion trees programme.

Shortly after the Government was formed last year, it set itself the lofty goal of planting 1 billion trees by 2027 as a way to grow the regions, create jobs, offset carbon emissions, enhance biodiversity and reinvigorate New Zealand’s forestry industry.

The recent Budget allocated $258 million to the programme, and Forestry Minister Shane Jones said planting rates would increase from 55 million trees a year to 70 million in 2020, and 90 million in 2021.

“From there we will be aiming for 110 million a year over the next seven years of the programme,” Jones said.

However, finding people to plant trees let alone maintain and harvest them could prove difficult, he said.

​”We’ve got a challenge – we can’t find enough workers as it is.”

Forest Owners Association chief executive David Rhodes…

…said the 1 billion trees programme was “challenging but doable”.

A lack of labour would be the main thing holding the programme back, he said.

“It’s clear that there’s a significant issue out there and we are going to struggle to find the numbers. That’s going to have to be addressed or we’re going to have a problem.”

Unemployed people would need to be trained and migrant labour would be needed, most likely from the Pacific Islands, who had traditionally filled forestry roles, Rhodes said.

Horticulture already has a lot of trouble getting sufficient labour to pick things like grape and fruit, and to harvest vegetables. One problem is it is seasonal work, but another problem is that these jobs are often in more rural areas where there is little labour available and urban unemployed are unwilling to move to.

Forestry has a bigger potential problem, as most of that work wil be even more remote from civilisation and labour.

Ireland abortion vote puts New Zealand law to shame

Ireland has just resoundingly voted to modernise their abortion law, giving women the choice the should have.

This highlights New Zealand’s shameful persistence with law that is not fit for purpose to the extent that it is virtually ignored in practice, although it forces women into a demeaning process.

We should add abortion to the referendum list for next year, along with personal use of cannabis and euthanasia.

The last Government was not interested in addressing the abortion anomaly.

Abortion was not addressed in either the Labour-NZ First or Labour-Green governing agreements.

However Jacinda Ardern campaigned against the current law – Abortion ‘shouldn’t be a crime’ (September 2017):

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says abortion should not be in the Crimes Act and she would change the law.

Access to abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. People need to be able to make their own decision. People need to be able to make their own decisions. I want women who want access to be able to have it as a right.”

At the same time Bill English supported the law as it is but also supported a conscience vote:

Prime Minster Bill English, a conservative Catholic, said he supported the law as it was and he would be opposed to liberalisation. He described the current set-up, where a woman has to get a certificate from two separate medical professionals saying she needed an abortion, was “broadly acceptable” and was working.

However, English said it would be a “conscience decision”, so his MP could vote freely on it.

Why not let the people vote on it?

February 2018: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law.

Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

New Zealand is not just out of step with modern law, it is also out of step with modern practices.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In other countries the it can take just a week from referral to procedure. This makes it more likely for New Zealand patients to require a surgical, rather than a medical abortion, as they have passed the nine week mark.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

Terry Bellamak, President of the Abortion Law Reform Association…

…said that she would like to see abortion wiped from the Crimes Act and the restrictive grounds for abortion abolished.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

Bellamak said she would like New Zealand’s law to be reformed along the lines of Canada.

“Canada has absolutely no abortion laws and no regulations around abortion. They simply trust women,” she said.

Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like…

…but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision”.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line.

Why not a people vote, in a referendum along with cannabis and euthanasia?

Ardern and Little support reform.

Greens have actively campaigned on reform: Abortion – it’s time to decriminalise

The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of abortion because we trust women to make decisions that are best for them and their whānau/family. We want to ensure equal access to all potential options are available to pregnant women.

We want to change the abortion laws because:

  • The fact that 99% of abortions are approved on ‘mental health’ grounds reveals the dishonesty of the current legal situation.
  • The time taken to see two consultants means abortions happen later in the pregnancy. This is more dangerous for the woman, and it makes it difficult to access medical abortions (those which are conducted using medicine rather than surgery), which can only be performed at under 9 weeks’ gestation.
  • Rape (sexual violation) is not grounds for abortion under NZ law.
  • To reduce the stigma and judgement that happens over the reasons a woman chooses to have an abortion (e.g. rape being seen as more justified grounds for abortion than poverty).
  • Abortion’s continuing criminal status helps reinforce geographical variations in access to abortion services.
  • The current laws are discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

We also want to change the presumption that currently exists within medical culture and wider society, encouraged by the wording in the legislation, that if there is a significant disability diagnosis then an abortion is assumed to be desirable.

While English supported an MP conscience vote on abortion Simon Bridges could be different. In February when he became National leader:

Bridges told Mediaworks abortion should be “rare, safe and legal and I think the emphasis there is on rare. I think that’s where the vast majority of New Zealanders are”.

If that’s his view I think Bridges is out of touch with new Zealand.

Vice have noted he: “Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.”

In principle NZ First supports people deciding things by referendum. In March last year Tracey Martin pointed this out in Politically, Abortion change rests with NZ First so what does that look like?

What’s our view on abortion legislation?

Abortions should be safe, legal and rare.

We have a policy of citizen-initiated binding referendum, held at the same time as a general election – a policy we have had for 23 years – this is one of those issues for such a referendum. It should not be decided by temporarily empowered politicians but by the public.

We need a 12 to 18 month conversation around this issue and then let the people have their say.

Topics that we would be suggest be associated with this discussion would include: Moving the issue from the Criminal Act to the Health Act, ensuring women get the best possible advice, getting more research into “why” women find themselves needing to seek this service and how can we assist them to avoid having to seek this service.

It makes more sense to me to have a referendum a year before the election. It separates issues decided from the politics of general elections, and is a very good way of engaging the public in democracy.

 

66.4% vote yes to amend abortion law in ‘quiet revolution ‘ in Ireland

The final result in the Irish referendum on abortion:

The Eight Amendment to the Republic of ireland’s constitution was introduced after a referendum in 1983. It “acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right“.

Just one constituency, Donegal, voted against change with No 51.9% to Yes 48.1%.

The next closest was Cavan-Monaghan with No 44.5% to yes 55.5%.

The Yes vote in the ten Dublin constituencies ranged from 73.1% to 78.5%.

BBC –  Ireland abortion referendum: PM hails ‘quiet revolution’

The Irish prime minister has hailed his country’s “quiet revolution” as early results point to a “resounding” vote for overturning the abortion ban.

Leo Varadkar was speaking after exit polls suggested a landslide vote in favour of reforming the law.

“The people have spoken. They have said we need a modern constitution for a modern country,” he said.

Mr Varadkar, who campaigned in favour of liberalisation, said: “What we’ve seen is the culmination of a quiet revolution that’s been taking place in Ireland over the past 20 years.”

The taoiseach (prime minister) added that Irish voters “trust and respect women to make the right choices and decisions about their own healthcare”.

BBC – Timeline: Ireland and abortion

1861 – Abortion is first banned in Ireland in 1861 by the Offences Against the Person Act, and stays in place after Irish independence.

1983 – The Eighth Amendment to the Republic’s constitution, or Article 40.3.3, is introduced after a referendum.

1992 – The X case – a 4-year-old suicidal rape victim is initially prevented by the courts from travelling to England to terminate her pregnancy. The ruling prompts demonstrations by both anti-abortion and pro-choice campaigners across Ireland, in New York and London. However, the ruling is later overturned by Ireland’s Supreme Court. It says the credible threat of suicide is grounds for an abortion in Ireland.

In November that year, as a result of the X case and the judgement in the Supreme Court appeal, the government put forward three possible amendments to the constitution.

The Thirteenth Amendment said the abortion ban would not limit freedom of travel from Ireland to other countries for a legal abortion. It passed Yes 62.39%, No 37.61%.

The Fourteenth Amendment said Irish citizens had the freedom to learn about abortion services in other countries. It passed Yes 59.88% to No 40.12%.

The Twelfth Amendment proposed that the possibility of suicide was not a sufficient threat to justify an abortion. It failed No 65.35% to Yes 34.65%.

Turnout 68%.

2002 – Another referendum, asking if the threat of suicide as a ground for legal abortion should be removed. Yes 49.58%, No 50.52% (turnout 42.89%).

2010 – After three women take a case against Ireland, the European Court of Human Rights rules the state has failed to provide clarity on the legal availability of abortion in circumstances where the mother’s life is at risk.

2013 – Abortion legislation is again amended to allow terminations under certain conditions – the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act is signed into law. It legalises abortion when doctors deem that a woman’s life is at risk due to medical complications, or at risk of taking her life. It also introduces a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for having or assisting in an unlawful abortion.

2015 – The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recommends a referendum on abortion, saying it is concerned at Ireland’s “highly restrictive legislation” and calls for a referendum to repeal Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.

2016 – The United Nations Human Rights Committee says that Ireland’s ban on abortion subjected a woman carrying a foetus with a fatal abnormality to discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

2017 – A Citizens’ Assembly votes to recommend the introduction of unrestricted access to abortion. It votes 64% to 36% in favour of having no restrictions in early pregnancy.

2018 – In March, Irish Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy signs an order to set the date for an abortion referendum.

And in big reversals of the 1992 referendum and Twelfth Amendment vote in 2002 the people of Ireland have voted resoundingly to modernise their abortion law.


New Zealand’s abortion law is still archaic but it is virtually ignored in practice. Time this is properly addressed – perhaps we should have an abortion referendum here too.

Media watch – Sunday

27 May 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 – Sunday

27 May 2018

Forum

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