World watch – Thursday

Wednesday GMT


For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

End of Life Choice bill introduced to Parliament

David Seymour is currently opening debate on his End of Life Choice Bill in Parliament. The first reading is likely to be voted on tonight. It will be a conscience vote for most parties, but NZ First have indicated they will block vote for the first reading if there is a commitment that the ultimate decision is by referendum.

Bill English is next to speak on the bill and opposes it.

I’m not posting a link to Simon O’Connors speech, he made some good points, but in repeating his view that the bill was about killing people I think is taking things too far.

Labour MP Lousia Wall:

Tracey Martin on behalf of New Zealand First:

She confirms that NZ First will vote for the first reading.

A Maori view from Nuk Korako:

He says the bill will fast forward death process for Maori and leave them in limbo unable to join ancestors. Voting against.

A Samoan perspective from William Sio:

He says says you have to deal with the reality of pain and death in order to understand the purpose of life.. Voting against – he says he already has sufficient information to make a decision now.

Julie Anne Genter (Green Minister):

Has concerns about about it being to broad and has insufficient protections for the disabled. She will vote for at this stage.

Maggie Barry is next – the first three National MPs all speaking strongly against the bill.

There are some Nationals MPs who support it. One is Chris Bishop, who is next up.

He says the current choice is cruel, and we have an opportunity to have a more compassionate society.

Then another National MP, Chris Penk.

Opposing the bill – a “choice to end all choices”.

And David Seymour closed the debate, I think ably and eloquently.

Predictably there will be a personal vote. By the look of the comparative numbers going to either side, followed by hand shaking in the Aye side, it looks like the bill will progress.

End of Life Choice Bill – First reading personal vote:

  • Ayes 76
  • Noes 44




More futility on the tax cuts that won’t be

Parliament kicked off again today with questions to the Prime Minister about the planned reversal of the legislated tax cuts. I don’t think anything much was gained in the exchange, but Bill English made several points amongst the exchanges.

Rt Hon Bill English: So can the Prime Minister confirm that, under the Taxation (Budget Measures: Family Incomes Package) Act 2017, which is currently the law of the land, as supported by National, the Greens, and New Zealand First, a teacher on the average wage would, from 1 April 2018, pay $1,060 less in tax if the current law was to continue in place?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I have already answered that question, but, as I continue to point out in this House, it is a hypothetical question because that law has not come into effect, and it won’t come into effect.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware of just how many families are in a category similar to a teacher on the average wage, who would pay less tax from 1 April 2018 if the current law was allowed to continue?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m glad the member raised the effect on families. As we’ve said, we will not be proceeding with fully bringing into effect the tax-cut package that he introduced, because it gives $400 million to the top 10 percent of earners when, in fact, this Government’s priorities, which are different, will see 70 percent of families with children better off—70 percent.

That’s 70% of families with children, not families without children, and not households without children.

Rt Hon Bill English: Is the Prime Minister aware that there are 1.2 million households who do not have children under the age of 18 and, in addition to that, that there are 700,000 superannuitants who would benefit from the reduction in tax that is currently on the law book in this Parliament?

Labour have been trying to divert from those demographics that will not benefit from their planned changes.

Many of them will in fact pay more tax as a percentage of their income as pay rises will increase the proportion of their income taxed at their highest (marginal) rate.

Rt Hon Bill English: Why did her Government decide that money should be taken from a teacher on the average wage and spent on what is now widely regarded as an ineffective policy of providing the first year of tertiary education free for the overwhelming number of young people, who are going to do it anyway?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: First of all, I would say that we have taken nothing away from income tax earners, because they have not received it.

That is a poor way of describing things.

I earn money, and my employer takes money away from me as PAYE tax and ACC Earner Premium, on behalf of the Government.

Under current legislation the Government would take less away from me from 1 April next year.

Under legislation planned by Ardern’s Government more tax will be taken away from me each pay than what is currently legislated.

Perhaps to emphasise her view of how income tax works Ardern repeated herself.

Rt Hon Bill English: Will the Prime Minister answer the question this time, and that is: if it’s unfair for a tax cut that might benefit members of Parliament, why is it fair to remove a tax cut for a teacher on the average wage so that my children can have a much larger subsidy to attend their first of tertiary education?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: First of all, we have removed nothing from those taxpayers.

The Government removes tax from us every pay.

Second of all, I would wager that a number of those teachers would welcome the idea of not having been burdened with student debt by making education more accessible.

And I would wager that a number of teachers would like to pay less income tax so they can pay off their student debt faster, or pay off their mortgages faster, or save more for a deposit to buy a house.

Ardern’s Government plans to take more tax away from many people than English’s government legislated for.

But it’s often futile getting straight questions and straight answers out of politicians,.

Alabama Senate election

It’s interesting to see so much interest in a US senate election here in New Zealand.

Alabama would normally be expected to be a safe Republican seat, but a controversial conservative candidate with a raft of sexual misconducts thrown into the campaign, sever splits in the GOP with some Senators openly saying they would vote against their own party candidate and if he won would seek to have him dumped from the Senate./

And then President Trump stirred up his own alleged sexual misconduct while endorsing and campaigning for the GOP candidate added more interest.

Especially now the results are in and he lost, and the Republican Senate majority is down to a bare 51, which make it even hard for Trump to progress his policies.

What are their names? Moore and Jones (the winner) I think from memory, but that doesn’t matter much here.

The Republicans have had a reality check, especially Trump and Steve Bannon of helped run the losing campaign.

But this is unlikely to do much to address the dysfunction in US politics.

Christians and Muslims unite over Jerusalem


On canning Kidscan funding

RNZ: KidsCan may lose govt funding: ‘Children will go hungry’

The charity, which has been in operation for 12 years, provides food, clothing and healthcare to 168,000 children across 700 New Zealand schools.

Executive Julie Chapman told Checkpoint with John Campbell she was told last week by Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children that it would lose its government funding – $350,000 worth – on 1 July next year.

From Pora to Watson

The lawyer and the investigator who were instrumental on getting Teina Pora freed and compensated are now working on the Scott Watson case.

Newshub: Team that freed Teina Pora now working on Scott Watson’s case

The team that helped free Teina Pora has now turned its attention to the case of convicted double-murderer Scott Watson.

Lawyer Jonathan Krebs helped quash Pora’s conviction for the 1992 murder of Susan Burdett. He is now working on Watson’s application for a Royal Prerogative of Mercy, which, if successful, could re-open the case of the Sounds murders.

Private investigator Tim McKinnel, who also helped to clear Pora’s name, will be involved in Watson’s application.

I don’t know enough to be able to conclude whether Watson is guilty or innocent, but there do seem to be some real issues of concern regarding his conviction.

By world standards we have a relatively robust legal system but it is not without it’s weaknesses.

One of those seems to be a strong reluctance to revisit cases where there are obvious problems with the case and the verdict.

English succumbing to bark at every car syndrome

Opponents claimed the Key/English government cost lives, now English is trying that same attack. This looks both petty and highly questionable.

English seems to be quickly succumbing to barking at every car syndrome.

I thought he could be good in Opposition, even decent, but he seems to have chosen descent.

This won’t help National recovery and rebuild. English needs to relearn being an effective Opposition, or else he is unlikely to last out this term.


Members’ Bill ballot today

The last Members’ Bill ballot of the last term was in June. The first ballot of the new term will be today. As they can only be submitted by members who are not Ministers this provides an opportunity for all national MPs, and new Ministers will have had to drop their bills or hand them over to other MPs who are not Ministers.

David Farrar has a list of 48 bills in 1st members’ bill ballot with numbers per party (with number of non-minister MPS):

  • Labour: 24/26
  • National: 15/56
  • Greens: 5/5
  • NZ First 4/5

National MPs who were Ministers would not have had bills already prepared, hence why so few are in the ballot. I expect that by early next year National will have over 50 bills in the ballot.

Going by that list Labour Ministers have handed their bils over to new MPs.

Graeme Edgeler commented:

It’s likely some will be added before the ballot is held tomorrow.

But has the opposite happened? Farrar’s list doesn’t correspond with the list on Parliament’s website which has just 24 bills listed under Proposed Members’ Bills.

There could be changes by the time of the ballot at noon. Three bills will be drawn.




Political votes don’t exonerate criminal behaviour

Donald Trump’s PR claims that being voted president exonerates him of any responsibility for allegations of sexual impropriety.

Politico: Sanders says 2016 victory ‘answered’ allegations against Trump

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doubling down on her argument that Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory “answered” groping allegations made during the campaign.

“The people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process,” Sanders told reporters Monday, hours after three of Trump’s accusers went on television to revive their claims.

“The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process,” Sanders added.

They will obviously want to move on, but this is a nonsense claim from Sanders. People voted for Trump and didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton for a wide range of reasons.

And for a start, more people voted against Trump than for him, he trailed Clinton by nearly three million votes overall. He became president because more people voted for him than Clinton in a handful of key states.

If you wanted to be cynical you could say that his claims Clinton was a criminal and should be locked up won over a number of allegations against him – not just a case of the least worst won, but the perceived least criminal.

But that doesn’t make the allegations go away. Neither does it stop him from blatantly lying again.

Trump has a growing problem. He is trying to win his case in the court of public opinion, but legal processes don’t work that way.

And he seems to be losing on public opinion anyway – the gap between approval and disapproval of him as President is at a record high.

RCP President Trump Job Approval:

  • Approve 37.3%  (46.1% voted for him for president)
  • Disapprove 57.7%
  • Spread -20.4%

Trump is currently supporting Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, another person under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations.

Reuters: Voters head to polls in Alabama race with high stakes for Trump

Voters in Alabama headed to the polls on Tuesday in a hard-fought U.S. Senate race with high stakes for President Donald Trump, who has endorsed fellow Republican Roy Moore in spite of allegations against him of sexual misconduct toward teenagers.

The race will test Trump’s political clout after nearly a year in office, with his approval ratings at historically low levels. A win by Moore would strengthen Trump’s grip on the Republican Party, some of whose leaders have not backed Moore.

A Jones victory would mean trouble for Trump and his populist political base. It also would narrow the Republicans’ already slim majority in the U.S. Senate, possibly making it harder for Trump to advance his policy agenda.

“Roy Moore will always vote with us. VOTE ROY MOORE!” Trump said in a Twitter post in which he criticized Jones as a potential “puppet” of the Democratic congressional leadership.

Typical irony from Trump, who is campaigning for his own puppet.

Moore told the rally on Monday: “I want to make America great again with President Trump. I want America great, but I want America good, and she can’t be good until we go back to God.”

Good grief.

A Fox News Poll conducted on Thursday and released on Monday put Jones ahead of Moore, with Jones potentially taking 50 percent of the vote and Moore 40 percent. Fox said 8 percent of voters were undecided and 2 percent supported another candidate.

An average of recent polls by the RealClearPolitics website showed Moore ahead by a slight margin of 2.2 percentage points.

No Democrat has held a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama in more than 20 years. In 2016, Trump won the state by 28 percentage points over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

That result should be known later today.

A win to Moore won’t necessarily be a good thing for the Republicans or Trump.

And like Trump, a win for Moore won’t exonerate him from legal claims of sexual misconduct against him.