Dunne “more than extremely stunned” by National’s ‘war on drugs’ reversal

After Donald Trump promoted continuing the ‘war on drugs’ Simon Bridges said that a National-led government would sign up to it. Peter Dunne, a minister in the last National-led government, says that he is “more than extremely stunned” by this.

On Monday:  National would sign up to international drug effort

A National-led Government would sign up to the latest international push to tackle drugs, overturning the Labour-led Government’s decision not to, National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.

“Combatting the manufacture and supply of drugs requires governments and law enforcement agencies from right around the world to work together. And we must share ideas about how to tackle addiction and drug use.

“That’s why the Prime Minister’s decision not to sign New Zealand up to the Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem at the UN this week, distancing New Zealand from those international efforts, is concerning.

“More than 120 countries including some of our closest partners from Australia to the US, the UK and Canada have signalled their intention to do their part.

“The Prime Minister’s excuse for not signing up, that the Government is taking ‘a health approach’ isn’t good enough. The strategy calls for countries to do more to address addiction and provide more treatment as well as working more closely together to clamp down on manufacturing and supply.

“Taken together, that’s how we will deal with the drug problem.

“But by distancing New Zealand from that work the Prime Minister risks making New Zealand an easy target and sending the message that her Government is soft on crime and drug dealers.

“This is the latest example of this Government’s soft-on-crime approach. It’s failing to act quickly on synthetic cannabis which continues to become a bigger issue and it’s promising to make it harder for people to be sent to prison and easier for them to get out.

“National will sign up to the agreement, we will support those with drug and alcohol issues but we will also hold those who peddle these drugs to account. The Prime Minister needs to properly explain why she won’t.”

National, particularly Judith Collins but increasingly Bridges, have been running a ‘soft on crime’ campaign against the Government, and Bridges has run this line again here.

Peter Dunne’s response (The Spinoff): I am stunned by National’s somersault in backing Trump’s ‘war on drugs’

Just two years ago I had the privilege as then associate minister of health of addressing the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs. That was while the previous National-led government was in office.

In my address I made the following comments:

“Last year at CND 58, I spoke of the importance of three fundamental pillars of drug policy – Proportion, Compassion and Innovation. New Zealand has woven these principles throughout its approach to addressing drug issues, including them as central tenets in its recently launched 2015 National Drug Policy. But perhaps there is a fourth pillar that is missing – boldness. Incremental movement, if any, has been the norm for drug policy development for as long as I can remember – and the movement has not always been forward. As encouraging as the shift has been, the fact is that compared to the global narcotic industries, we are moving at a glacial pace, hamstrung by an outdated overly punitive approach.”

These comments, as noted above, were all consistent with New Zealand’s National Drug Policy adopted by the Cabinet after much debate in 2015. The policy and the speech, and others I gave at the annual UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs meetings through to 2017 made it clear New Zealand rejected the “war on drugs” rhetoric and approach that had dominated international drug policy for too long, in favour of the more compassionate, health centred approach set out in the National Drug Policy.

I am delighted that the prime minister has repeated these messages and confirmed in reality the direction of the National Drug Policy in her address to the UN General Assembly this week, and that she has rejected outright the backward focusing approach of the president of the United States to try to reignite the “war on drugs” when most countries have been looking to move on from that.

That refers to Jacinda Ardern’s address.

However, I am more than extremely stunned that the National Party, which could have claimed the high ground and pointed out she was just copying policy already in place, has instead done a complete somersault on its previous position and apparently now supports the Trump proposition.

It is hard to find – let alone justify – a credible reason for this about-face. Certainly the few public statements I have seen go little beyond the uninformed and the platitudinous. So it becomes difficult to believe that the driving principle behind this decision is anything but a perverse determination to take a different view from Labour, whatever that view might be, and no matter what your own government’s record on the matter. It is a very dark day for National’s ongoing credibility on this issue.

It all seems a far cry from when a New Zealand government minister could stand before the UN General Assembly just two short years ago, and say that our country believed that “responsible regulation is the key to reducing drug-related harm and achieving long-term success in drug control approaches.”

The bipartisan focus on drugs as a health issue seems to have been tossed aside as a political inconvenience, especially when knee jerk opposition for the sake of it is so much easier. That is to National’s ongoing shame.

When in Government National dragged the chain badly on addressing out of control drug problems, but this is a backward step even by their standards.

Hopefully decent change will happen before national get back into government, but Ardern and Labour have a lot of stepping up to do on this, and converting some of their rhetoric into real changes to how we deal with drug problems. So far they haven’t even had the guts to deal with cannabis apart from dabbling on medical cannabis use.

For someone who claims to lead a progressive government the progress on drug law reform is very disappointing so far. If Labour actually got something meaningful done they would put Bridges and national to shame.

23 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  September 27, 2018

    Good on Dunne. Nice description of National from him too, “the uninformed and the platitudinous.”

  2. Griff.

     /  September 27, 2018

  3. Corky

     /  September 27, 2018

    I heard some prat on the radio saying legalising marijuana would be a great thing..we would become laid back like Jamaicans. He went on to say that walking down Hamilton’s main street, you would see few smiling faces. That’s true..many NZers are dour. But.. had he researched Jamaica’s crime rate he would not have rung talkback.

    This Jamaican dude explains the situation..At least I think he does:

  4. PartisanZ

     /  September 27, 2018

    Yep … National have found reverse gear … [after wrecking the others] …

    And a leader who doesn’t know where the brake pedal is …

    … who can’t keep his foot off the accelerator!

    They were looking almost ready to take the ‘L’ plates off … a while ago … for a split-second …

    • Gezza

       /  September 27, 2018

      Simon is just continuing his hero Sir John’s policy of always sucking up to the Americans.

      • PartisanZ

         /  September 27, 2018

        Yep … which required him to reverse a fair distance from the general trend of things …

        How he did this without turning around and without a rear-view mirror we’ll never know …

        Except he’s come to rest in a ditch.

        • Gezza

           /  September 27, 2018

          Well, National is pretty much in Andy’s old territory it seems to me. Barking at every passing car. They’ve even opposed their own policies just because Labour absorbed & implemented them.

      • seer

         /  September 28, 2018

        More like bending over then sucking on it.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  September 27, 2018

    I suppose National are now playing to a cohort of the population [they’ve identified] for whom stuff like the following is important –

    – tough on crime [because the tougher you get the tougher you have to get] …

    – tough on drugs [If you’re not getting pissed you’re illegally getting “out of it”]

    – tough on beneficiaries

    – maintain close alignment with the USA … upon whom our future depends …

    I guess there’s a cohort of the population for whom remaining out of touch with reality is comforting – even ‘reality’ strongly supported by rational and empirical data – because it means their world is not going to change …?

    Nah, that’s silly. They’re being dictated to by corporate-political elites … who must want a cohort of the population to believe that stuff … while the corporates –

    -build the prisons and supply ever-increasing, never-ending amounts of ‘security’ to the ever-fearful populace, and are supplied with ‘client prisoners’ by the ‘crime & punishment industry’,

    – maintain and expand the liquor & associated gambling industries [without paying the social costs] … coincidentally criminalizing medicinal & therapuetic users of cannabis … denying them the Human Right to grow a plant …

    – evict state tenants and redevelop the state property either privately or for private profit, and constantly demand minimization of government expenditure on benefits while receiving massive corporate welfare – i.e. $1.5 billion roading top-up from taxpayer

    – and trade with China … not the USA …

  6. I find it interesting that many ‘world leaders’ in recent years are chanting “The WAR on drugs has failed.. time for a change” BUT as soon as MrT reaffirms his/(USA ?) commitment to continue it.. most now back down & jump on the ‘We support it’ bandwagon.. inc. Bridges/Natl.. “piss weak”

    “Good onya Jacinda & this Govt. for having the guts to… just say NO.. to the Drug War !”

    Is Dunne really supporting Drug reform OR…. ?
    > just look who is on the board of a new Med-cannabis startup company (Setek)

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 27, 2018

      VERY good point about Dunne Zedd … thanks for the reminder …

      I can only imagine what his “Power Animal” is ……..???

      • …. follow the money…..

        btw; I saw a new item, when MrT was ‘candidate T’ (2016 ?) he said he would ‘likely decrim. cannabis in all USA states.. if he got into power’ he sounded Anti-Drug war then ??
        what changed ? see above

        • PartisanZ

           /  September 27, 2018

          What changed? He got into power!

          But yeah, democracy is still bought, not built …

          If Aotearoa NZ thinks we got a ‘Crime & Punishment’ industry goin’ on here, we got another thing comin’ compared to America’s …

  7. Blazer

     /  September 27, 2018

    National have 2 over riding policies….look after the rich…and expediency.

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 27, 2018

      Yep … if we can ‘volcano’ it upwards, some of it must “trickle down” …

  8. A song for them all… thus spake Zimmy 🙂 😀

    • Gezza

       /  September 27, 2018

      In Robert Shelton’s biography of Dylan, Shelton said he was told by Phil Spector that the inspiration for the song came when Spector and Dylan heard the Ray Charles song, “Let’s Go Get Stoned” on a jukebox in Los Angeles. Spector said “they were surprised to hear a song that free, that explicit”, referring to its chorus of “getting stoned” as an invitation to indulge in alcohol or narcotics. (This anecdote may be questioned, because the Ray Charles song was released in April 1966, after “Rainy Day Women” was recorded.)

      After recording Blonde on Blonde, Dylan embarked on his 1966 “world tour”. At a press conference in Stockholm on April 28, 1966, Dylan was asked about the meaning of his new hit single, “Rainy Day Women”. Dylan replied the song was about “cripples and orientals and the world in which they live… It’s a sort of Mexican thing, very protest… and one of the pro-testiest of all things I’ve protested against in my protest years.

      Shelton stated that, as the song rose up the charts, it became controversial as a “drug song”. Shelton says that the song was barred by some radio stations in the United States and from airplay in Great Britain. He pointed out that Time magazine, on July 1, 1966, wrote: “In the shifting multi-level jargon of teenagers, ‘to get stoned’ does not mean to get drunk but to get high on drugs… a ‘rainy-day woman’, as any junkie [sic] knows, is a marijuana cigarette.” Dylan responded to the controversy by announcing, during his May 27, 1966, performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London, “I never have and never will write a drug song.”
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainy_Day_Women_%E2%99%AF12_%26_35

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 27, 2018

    Bridges shows yet again he is a failure at strategy as well as execution. He’ll have to go.

    • PartisanZ

       /  September 27, 2018

      Big assumption Alan … That he decides the strategy …

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 27, 2018

        If he doesn’t he has already gone just leaving a hologram.

  10. PartisanZ

     /  September 27, 2018

    It looks like National don’t want to win new voters – swing voters – which their success in 2020 will depend on …

    They only want to entrench older, existing voters … and engage in trench warfare …

    Who needs a fiscal hole when you got a strategic marketing one like that!!!

  1. Dunne “more than extremely stunned” by National’s ‘war on drugs’ reversal — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition