Bridges and Bennett say they want ‘drug reform’ debate but would vote no anyway

National leader Simon Bridges has announced that Paula Bennett will take on a new role as National’s spokesperson on ‘drug reform’. This could end up being a positive move, but Bridges has tainted the announcement with political niggles that don’t set things off on a positive non-partisan footing.

Simon Bridges: National announces spokesperson for Drug Reform

National Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Paula Bennett to the new position of Spokesperson for Drug Reform as the Government pushes ahead with its agenda of drug decriminalisation, to signal National’s commitment to holding them to account.

This is disappointingly negative from Bridges. Re-evaluating New Zealand’s failed drug laws is long overdue, and there is a lot of public support for some sort of reform, but Bridges has chosen partisan niggling.

“New Zealanders expect their Government to be firm but fair. When it comes to drugs we need a well-thought through and evidence-based approach to drug reform that balances public safety with the need to help vulnerable people.

“This Government’s confused and dangerous commitment to decriminalisation and its soft approach to crime shows it’s not up to that task.

More petty swipes.

“Our work creating a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime shows we are and that’s why I’ve created this new portfolio which will coordinate the work being done across our policy teams in health, education and law and order.

“It will build on our significant work in Government around the Meth Action Plan, cracking down on drug dealers and stopping trafficking at our borders, while ensuring those who need rehabilitation get access to the best services.

“There is no better person than former Police Minister Paula Bennett who has a thorough understanding of the issues to coordinate this work.

Paula Bennett also took a negative approach:  Coordinated approach to drug reform needed

A coordinated approach across health, education, law and order and border control is needed to counter the complex issues around drugs in New Zealand, National’s new spokesperson for Drug Reform Paula Bennett says.

“The Government’s confused, contradictory and ad hoc policy on drug reform is likely to cause more harm and shows that a measured, sensible and coordinated approach is needed.

“As we see changes coming in by stealth, along with the upcoming referendum there are many unanswered questions and no evidence that the Government is thinking them through.

If it is decided by public referendum, probably in about 20-22 months, with a lot of discussion and debate already, then it can hardly be ‘by stealth’.

In an interview yesterday Bennett conceded that the Police already took a very light handed approach to enforcing current drug laws regarding cannabis use – this was happening under the previous National government.

“When it comes to legalising marijuana, there are serious questions around drug driving, the effects of younger people accessing and using, youth mental health, and how this fits with our ambitions to be smoke free.

These things are already being widely discussed.

“What would a regulated industry look like? Will gangs be able to grow and sell marijuana? Will THC levels be regulated? Will drug testing be done on the roadside? What will the legal age be?

“There is evidence from other jurisdictions that have legalised marijuana that road deaths have increased, younger people have increased consumption and there are negative neuro-psychological issues for teenagers that use marijuana while their brains are still developing.

“National has shown that it understands the issues around drugs through our Members Bill around medicinal marijuana which was widely recognised as superior to the Government’s legislation.

This is partisan crap.

“We welcome a debate on legalising marijuana however I am concerned that the Government has gone into this half-heartedly and as a distraction. The debate needs to be informed and at this stage all we have seen is an announcement by the Prime Minister about a referendum without her even knowing what the question will be.

“I will be holding her and the Labour-led Government to account.”

Bennett and Bridges seem more intent on trying to score petty political points here than working together for the good of the country.

Bennett raises some valid issues, but her language is laden with negatives.

And it gets worse.

Stuff:  Paula Bennett appointed National’s drug reform spokesperson

Bridges, meanwhile, told reporters he’d never tried the drug.

The Opposition leader said the new portfolio was intended to hold the Government to account ahead of a binding referendum on personal cannabis use at the 2020 general election.

“Let’s learn from Brexit. Let’s not have a simple ‘Yes, no,’ thing, and then after that go through and answer all the complex, hard questions. Let’s have that debate beforehand.”

Bridges said he was likely to vote against legalisation, and that without major debate, the referendum risked being a “cute distraction” from more serious issues.

Bridges is insisting we “have that debate beforehand” (which is already happening), but seems to have already made up his mind to “likely to vote against legalisation”.

Bennett, too, said she was tempted to vote “no”.

“When it comes to legalising marijuana, there are serious questions around drug driving, the effects of younger people accessing and using, youth mental health, and how this fits with our ambitions to be smoke free,” she said.

“I’m one of the more liberal, and if the vote was tomorrow, based on all of these questions that we’ve got that haven’t even been answered, I would be voting against it.”

She says she would vote against something that is not defined yet. That’s a very poor position to take.

Bennett was worse in an interview where she scaremongered, suggesting the possibility of drug laced lollies. Newshub:  Paula Bennett gets new drugs portfolio in National Party shake-up

She issued a series of warnings over the legalisation of cannabis on Tuesday morning, saying cannabis-infused ice creams and lollies have been sold overseas.

This is a very disappointing start in her new role, and Bridges is just as bad.

This is a very poor start to the political year for National – not just on their drug reform stance (more like anti-reform), but also on their partisan approach. They look to be out of touch with wide public support for reforming our current failing drug laws.


  1. Blazer

     /  January 23, 2019

    as an ex truck stop service worker Bennett should know a bit about drugs…and alcohol.

  2. artcroft

     /  January 23, 2019

    Just like Labour campaigning against the flag change (which was actually their own policy), now National will campaign against a key Labour priority for what look mostly like political reasons. Disappointing.

    • duperez

       /  January 23, 2019

      It seems the issue itself is going to be secondary to the politics.

      • Sadly, yes.

        Bridges is taking National in the wrong direction for me, both approach to politics and policy positions, and I suspect for a lot of other middle New Zealanders.

        • Gezza

           /  January 23, 2019

          Yes, I agree. Hard line hard line hard line all the way, on everything. Talking about it to my Indian dairy owner this morning. Not going to appeal to the swing voters, who are going “All the bad things in NZ happened under National or they didn’t do anything to fix them”. Only appeals to the hard core National voters. May even put a few of their wives off National. Not positive enuf. Need to be finding something aspirational before next election. Possibly they are trying to pull in some votes from the redneck brigade who voted for Winston, hoping they’ll figure out this time he’s conned them again last time. Good luck with that one. If they were stupid enuf to vote for Winston last time, with his track record, he’ll be able to con them again next time. Unless he stands down and Shane picks up the job.

          • Blazer

             /  January 23, 2019

            Paula ‘wowser’ Bennett….and Mr ‘burning’ Bridges…the B team.

    • Corky

       /  January 23, 2019

      Are you saying you wouldn’t call a man out simply because his irons weren’t made by Smith& Wesson, Arty.

      • artcroft

         /  January 23, 2019

        Actually I’d prefer to take on the guy whose pistols were made by Laurel and Hardy.

  3. Griff.

     /  January 23, 2019

    “When it comes to legalising marijuana, there are serious questions around drug driving, the effects of younger people accessing and using, youth mental health, and how this fits with our ambitions to be smoke free,” she said.

    “I’m one of the more liberal, and if the vote was tomorrow, based on all of these questions that we’ve got that haven’t even been answered, I would be voting against it.”

    It is not marijuana the correct term is cannabis.
    The black market makes no effort to restrict sales to minors .
    The evidence around cannabis and driving suggest it is far less of an issue than alcohol.
    There is no reliable way to measure impairment from cannabis use using a drug test at the road side.
    In legal market places vaping is taking a large share of sales in NZ possession of the equipment to vape cannabis is a criminal offense.

    Prohibition has failed. Instead of limiting consumption and harm it provides gangs with a ready income stream and makes cannabis easier for minors to purchase than regulated drugs like alcohol.

    The same old Conservative talking points from National The lets do nothing party .

    • “It is not marijuana the correct term is cannabis.’

      I noticed that. Which suggests that “Paula Bennett who has a thorough understanding of the issues” suggests political issues rather than drug issues.

        • duperez

           /  January 23, 2019

          She has gasped the issue – the prime issue – politics. The jockeying is about finding the best, the most advantageous position.

          • Duker

             /  January 23, 2019

            The big donors and those that have weekly or monthly direct credits to national party coffers are probably very conservative on any changes to drug laws.
            This is the constituency that national is speaking to when it wants to both advance the debate AND stop any reform

            • PDB

               /  January 23, 2019

              Though who ultimately benefits the most from drug reform long term – big companies. Don’t lefties like you think the right is only working for big companies?

            • Duker

               /  January 23, 2019

              Big companies are often bi partisan. However certain companies like Talley’s are very right wing. National ha more support from privately owned companies , small and medium sized.

  4. PartisanZ

     /  January 23, 2019

    If they call it “medicinal marijuana” they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about …

    I didn’t see them but we’ll undoubtedly hear the words “synthetic cannabis” from Blue mouths as well …

    So this is the new “Open-minded Corporate Farmer” is it?

    “Yes. We’ll consider it. Then we’ll say “No” …”

    I guess they’ve surveyed their “voter base” and come up with a twisted sister policy stance to suit?

    Long string of EXPLETIVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Gezza

       /  January 23, 2019

      (Those are exclamation marks … ; ) )

    • ‘If they call it “medicinal marijuana” they don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about … ‘ sez PZ

      This is what I & others, have been saying all along (& was attacked for it). ‘Marijuana’ is a slang word & should only be used in regard to ‘recreational use’. It actual scientific/medical name is ‘Cannabis’.
      I remember listening to the last 2-3 bills on ‘Medicinal Cannabis’ (2 Greens & the Govt, one); it was often the Natl MPs who use this term, to try & confuse the issue. There were even comments that it was not really about ‘Medicinal/therapeutic use’ BUT ‘just an excuse to legalise Marijuana’. This fits into the outdated USA Federal Law (Schedule #1) that still says that ‘Cannabis has NO genuine Medicinal use’. 😦

      btw; most Doctors are now agreeing that; YES cannabis does have Genuine Medicinal use; Epilepsy, M-S, chemotherapy treatment etc. etc.

      **interestingly the USA Federal Govt. holds a patent on an extract, for its use as an Epilepsy treatment

      • Duker

         /  January 23, 2019

        “outdated USA Federal Law (Schedule #1) that still says that ‘Cannabis has NO genuine Medicinal use’. ”

        So there have been drug trails, where cannabis ran through the tests normal medicines use and it PASSED ?

        • PDB

           /  January 23, 2019

          There have been quite a few ‘drug trails’ – usually as they are being thrown out of a moving car at high speed with the police following close behind.


    Paula V Chloe.. no points for guessing who I think won this one !

    btw; Again.. you can see the fear-mongering from the right; quoting from some obscure ‘evidence’ report, that Chloe says was debunked & using the MJ word/demonising slang.. to ‘debate Cannabis reform’

  6. Gezza

     /  January 23, 2019

    Coverage on 1ewes at 6 last night (video in article):

    “As far as marijuana, I was a girl of the 80s and grew up in Taupō and have tried it at a very light level. “It didn’t agree with me, to be honest. I do like a party and I found it put me to sleep, so I was much more interested in enjoying myself.”

    Leader Simon Bridges was also asked if he had tried marijuana. “It was Export Gold, up in Shadows [the Auckland University bar] that I was drinking, I never had cannabis,” he replied.

    When asked how she would vote on the cannabis referendum, Ms Bennett said she was not sure. New Zealand is set to vote on legalising cannabis at the 2020 election. “I’m not a prude, I’m a Westie and I’m a realist,” she said. “But before we leap to legalising marijuana I want to know, what does it mean for the illicit drug trade?
    More …

    • Gezza

       /  January 23, 2019

      “I do like a party”
      Yep – National Party.

      “I found it put me to sleep”
      Oddly enuf – your leader – the boozer – has that effect on many folk …

      • Blazer

         /  January 23, 2019

        Stuff-Tony Wall….

        ‘But others who knew Bennett when she was a waitress at the Stag Park truck stop near Taupo and attending social events connected to the Napier Tattoo Club were happy to speak.

        Truck driver Mike Charlton, known as “Charlie”, was a regular at Stag Park and socialised with Bennett’s circle. He remembers her as a “party girl, doing everything hard, living life to the fullest”.

        “She was the life and soul of parties really, she wasn’t shy.”

        Parties would sometimes last all night, Charlton says. “There was always heaps of dope there, I saw Paula smoking.”

        (A spokesperson for Bennett said: “The Minister has said before she has tried cannabis in the past but she didn’t particularly like it.”)

        Charlton says: “It pissed me off when she got into Parliament and then she started putting it into the beneficiaries. I thought ‘that’s a complete turnaround from what she was’.”


        Another truckie, Rex Howie, says he knew Bennett and her then boyfriend, truck driver Alan Philps, or “Philpsy”, who’d helped to set up the tattoo club.’

    • Blazer

       /  January 23, 2019

      ‘ at a very light level. “….=shotguns and bongs….at Tattoo Club!

    • Corky

       /  January 23, 2019

      I believe the dress is by Karen Walker. Damn fine Tory class. As for the guy next to her..sigh!

      • Gezza

         /  January 23, 2019

        One of them actually looks a little “out of it” in that pic of mine, don’t you think? (No names, tho.)

        • Corky

           /  January 23, 2019

          I’m not sure…but I know who in that pic SHOULD be ‘out of it.”

          • Gezza

             /  January 23, 2019

            Pretty sure it’ll happen. Hope so. I’ve got a $2 bag of jet planes riding on it happening by 30 June this year.

            • Gezza

               /  January 23, 2019

              Dunno why downticked. I thought a $2 bag was pretty conservative? o_O

    • Duker

       /  January 23, 2019

      “I do like a party”
      Yes she did from that time, she was the founder of the napier tattoo club , an informal party club and those around that circle remember her as being a user of more than Cannabis – which doesnt seem to be her favourite anyway.

      Do tell us more Paula about that and did it involve Class A drugs

      Class A (very high risk): methamphetamine, magic mushrooms, cocaine, heroin, LSD (Acid)

      NZ Police

      • Blazer

         /  January 23, 2019

        ‘IM ashley farrell and the allegations are all true. The independent investigator that did the investigation Tony Wall proved my story,Your post on this site is a blatant cover up. She changed her story three time in one week mine has been the same for years.
        here is how she changed her story…….
        1. First she denied knowing me , which is a blatant lie Paula was my Mothers best mate for a long time.
        2 she came out and said that was 30 years ago and she remembers it differently.

        3 when asked on national tv she said she used to hang with the wrong group of people in hawkes bay.After saying she never was in any Tattoo club.Her current husband Allan helped start whilst with her in the 80s and 90s

        How come tony wall was threatened with legal and civil action if he released any of the documents he found through tenancy services , social welfare and eye witnesses from her past who gave tony photos and financial records with her name and signature on?’

        • PDB

           /  January 23, 2019

          I think you’ve found yourself in the wrong discussion Blazer – here you go:

        • duperez

           /  January 23, 2019

          “How come Tony Wall was threatened with legal and civil action if he released any of the documents he found through tenancy services, social welfare and eye witnesses from her past who gave Tony photos and financial records with her name and signature on?”

          Sounds like the sort of question which would have a lot of validity with the “Who Texted the PM about Sroubek and Why Have They Got Her Number Club.” 🙃

          And the surely under the ‘no surprises rule’ information about social welfare issues should be splashed far and wide. That is one area where Paula is strong.😊

      • Conspiratoor

         /  January 23, 2019

        “those around that circle remember her as being a user of more than Cannabis”


        You may not be aware of the law so I’ll enlighten you…

        “everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty”

        • Duker

           /  January 23, 2019

          Bennett has got her legal attack dogs all mean and hungry……and waiting to bite, I didn’t want to put PG into legal Jeopardy.
          It’s well known she was a party girl and hanging out with a ‘hard case’ crowd….. Drugs were a fact of life in her Tattoo Club, and she was no bo peep as people who were there , even baby sat her child, have remembered

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 23, 2019

      Does it still matter to Corporate Farmers whether you did or didn’t try ‘marijuana’ … whether you enjoyed it … and whether you inhaled … Oh God! How slowly does the Conservative world turn?

  7. It actually seems that Natl are STILL presenting a ‘confused mixed-message’ on their position.. ‘Yes we need more debate/the WAR on Drugs is not working’.. BUT ‘We will ‘likely’ vote “NO !!” for any genuine reform’ !

    Q) will they actually honour the reeferendum outcome, IF it is ‘YES’ to reform & they return to Govt. after 2020 (as they are hoping) ?

    Seriously; you cant have it both ways. You either want Drug law reform or you want the status quo. Im guessing that after 9 loooong years of saying “NO !!” they are not really moving away from this stance, that suits their ‘conservative/Tory’ support base.

    For Paula & 1-2 other MPs in Natl, to say (eff.) ‘I tried it but Didn’t inhale’ is actually totally disingenuous. Paula perhaps needs to be reminded ‘The Truth is out there’.. as are many rumors/hints & allegations, that she (& others in Natl) are not as ‘squeaky clean’ as they would have us all believe !! :/

    ‘Bring it on….” 🙂

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 23, 2019

      I am extremely skeptical where National are concerned, and the skeptic in me says, “They’re going to wait and see which side the upcoming Far-Right Christian Conservative anti-cannabis backlash campaign favours – and it will be big and well funded – before formulating policy which will fall on the side where they’ll get the most votes from”

      If some ghastly combination of Right to Life, Family First, Conservative Coalition, Sensible Sentencing Trust, ACT, NZCPR, NZInitiative et al can swing polls and surveys in favour of the hyper-surveillance police state with private prisons, viciously punitive benefit sanctions, four lane motorways to everywhere and God knows what, then they’ll go that way …

      The pros and cons of cannabis for uses medicinal, therapeutic &/or recreational have already gone out the window pretty much …

      Will they care, for instance, for the ‘statistics’ about how many people simply ‘want’ to use cannabis, having tried every other legal drug alternative for easing pain? Or, for that matter … for getting ‘high’?

  8. This is perhaps something that Natl. MPs & the ‘naysayers’ need to watch; FREEDOM from injustice ! 🙂

  9. I was looking at the recent interviews by Paula & the TV1 ‘debate’ on Breakfast show, Paula v Chloe:

    “Marijuana, Marijuana, Marijuana, MARIJUANA” sez Paula
    btw; this word was deliberately introduced into the English language (1940-50s) to Demonise/Confuse the mainstream about the supposed ‘TERRIFYING effects’ of Cannabis

    ‘MariHuana’ was declared ‘The most violence causing/harmful DRUG.. known to man’ & branded as ‘Public Enemy #1’ still heard from some of the Prohibitionists today

    “cannabis” sez Chloe

    “Overseas report.. MORE DRUG-driving, Hospital admissions & increase in Black-market” sez Paula

    “The Rocky Mountain report” (that Paula was apparently refering to) has been widely discredited: as deliberately cherry picked ‘evidence’ to PROVE the negative stuff they want, their supporters to hear about MARIJUANA !!’.. sez Chloe

    “You are obviously Pro-Drugs” sez Paula

    “I dont actually promote drug-use.. BUT look at the reality” sez Chloe

    “I tried.. BUT didnt ihhale” Sez Bill Clinton.. sounding very similar to what Paula is now saying ?? 😀

    btw; I downloaded the ‘Rocky mountain report’ & the first thing that struck me (the index): Marijuana, Medical Marijuana, the harm to youth of Marijuana.. I only saw ‘Cannabis’ (its proper scientific name) in the fine print

    “enuf sed” sez Zedd

    • btw; I have paraphrased much of my comment.. BUT it is fairly accurate (IMHO)

      check it & see… 🙂

  10. PartisanZ

     /  January 23, 2019

    Oh Lord above … Imagine it … “Not in our lifetime” …

    Bought to you by Bluey & Brashy … and Newman … Baker and Orr …

    “I have a dream!” [toke] …

    “Tough!” [Giant Foot] KIRRRSPLATTTT!!!!!

    • Griff.

       /  January 23, 2019

      Brash was for legalization.

      It does not take “a dope-addled hippy or wild-eyed radical” to back cannabis law reform, says ACT Party leader Don Brash.
      Citing an online poll at, which he admitted was unscientific, Dr Brash said it appeared most New Zealanders thought the law on cannabis was “an ass”.

      “The police and the courts spend some $100 million of taxpayer money a year enforcing this prohibition of a drug, believed by many people to be less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Is there really any point to this?”

      • PartisanZ

         /  January 23, 2019

        Yeah … True … I think I’ve heard David SeeMore say much the same thing …

        I can’t find it in ACT’s policies online though …

        Indeed, paradoxically for a Party that advocates less and even minimal government, their policies are heavily reliant on the surveillance, detection, enforcement and punitive capacities of government …

        This, for instance, is their ‘Welfare’ policy –

        ACT WILL
        – Advocate that all welfare recipients of working age who are able to work either work full time, engage in full-time training, or undertake part-time work. [the status-quo]
        – Push for a life-time limit of five years for support under the Sole Parent Support programme, and a life-time limit of three years for support under the Jobseekers Benefit, with “income management” being applied to beneficiaries when those limits are reached.
        – Extend income management to any parent who has additional children while on a benefit.
        – Cut working for families and paid parental leave payments to upper income earners to better fund more effective, targeted programs for those truly in need of help.
        – Make contraceptive more available to those who need it.
        – Continue to advocate for continued and more generous state support for those with physical or mental conditions who require support, including improved access to supported living arrangements for those with serious mental illness.

        This strongly implies the EXPANSION rather than the contraction of government bureaucracy … Go figure!? Mina-Max-archy* [#201]

        Bureaucracy can always be ‘outsource’ though … Right!?

        Their Law & Order Policy is much the same … Three strikes for burglary? A new PPP prison every 26 weeks … especially if they get really tough on ‘serial’, irremediable & perennial beneficiaries …

        “Income Management” sounds particularly ominous … like ‘democracy management’ …

        Presumably based on the assumption that most long term beneficiaries will seek SIO, NAP or Bankruptcy somewhere along the line? This may indeed be the case?

        You can now apply for and “follow the progress of your bankruptcy” online!

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 23, 2019

          “Outsource” is Chinese Instruction Booklet language for “outsourced” …