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

Addressing the Hosking anti-cannabis reform activism

Mike Hosking haas caused a stir in the cannabis debate with Mike’s Minute: Cannabis reform goes up in smoke

Russell Brown responds: Experts want an end to legal sanctions on cannabis use and possession

In a Mike’s Minute commentary this week, Mike Hosking told his listeners and readers that the government’s Wellbeing Budget “subscribed $1.9 billion to mental health, and yet the next move is to decriminalise a substance directly linked to psychosis.

“How mad is that?” he demanded. “How many health professionals do you need to hear from to make up your mind about the madness?”

The answer to these questions can best be found in He Ara Oranga: the Report of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, which, as the NZ Herald observedon its release in December, is the most comprehensive report of its kind in a generation.

The expert panel that delivered the report did not rail against decriminalisation of drugs. It did the opposite. Its list of recommendations called for the replacement of criminal sanctions for use and possession of drugs with civil and health responses.

There has been a lot of disinformation and ignorance in this debate.

And some more informed and reasoned discussion.

What has been proposed in the Cabinet paper foreshadowing the referendum question is closer to Canada than Colorado and more conservative than either. The Ministry of Justice team working on the details is seeking to learn from what has worked best in other jurisdictions, not only in banning advertising and imposing age restrictions and product safety rules, but in the best ways to take the market away from organised crime.

It may also regulate potency, which is another key area for reducing harm. Under prohibition, since the 1970s, THC levels in cannabis have risen sharply – and the ratio of THC to CBD, the cannabinoid with anti-psychotic properties, has fallen far out of balance. A good deal of the harm attributed to cannabis is related to that trend. It’s a trend the black market will never reverse – supply will be dominated by what medicinal cannabis campaigner Rose Renton calls “rocket fuel” weed. It is, however, a trend that regulation – and canny tax treatment of higher-CBD strains – could change.

Drug policy is already changing in New Zealand. In response to the recommendations of the Mental Health and Addictions Inquiry, a new amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act will direct police discretion towards health-based, rather than criminal, responses. Next year, New Zealanders will get to choose whether to do more, and seek to exercise some control of the way cannabis is sold.

That decision should be informed by an attention to evidence, rather whatever we fancy “common sense” to be. And it would be better made without commentators purporting to speak for medical professionals but saying the polar opposite of what those professionals actually believe.

 

Oranga Tamariki under pressure on taking babies from parents

The story about Oranga Tamariki  taking babies from parents continues to look troubling. Oranga Tamariki  has tried to legally suppress Newsroom coverage but has failed.

The original story: NZ’s own ‘taken generation’

Today we launch a powerful new video story by Newsroom investigations editor Melanie Reid into the attempted ‘uplift’ of a newborn baby from its mother at a maternity ward by the children’s agency Oranga Tamariki.

For the first time, the process involved in taking a baby from its mother is laid bare. The filming, carried out in the hospital room, shows the pressure a young Māori mother is subjected to as she tries to keep her seven-day-old baby.

The case, which Newsroom reported here and here, has iwi leaders calling for a new national approach to resolve the high incidence of Māori parents losing their babies through Oranga Tamariki applications to the Family Court.

All those spoken to by Newsroom accepted intervention could be needed in cases where clear risks arose to a child’s safety – but they argue there is strong whānau support for the mother and child in this case and similar examples exist of Oranga Tamariki refusing to revise its decisions to take children.

Three Māori babies a week are being ‘uplifted’ from their mothers and of 283 babies taken into care last year, more than 70 percent were Māori or Pasifika.

Increasingly, those aware of the level of removals of Māori babies are discussing the term ‘Stolen Generation’, reflecting the systematic policy in Australia of taking indigenous children from their communities.

The documentary, which can be viewed above, contains detailed footage from inside the mother’s hospital room as officials repeatedly attempt to persuade her to give up the child. At one point Oranga Tamariki officials arrived at night after her whānau had left her alone with her week-old baby in the room and did not relent until a 2am intervention by a tribal leader and police commander.

Newsroom: Judge declines OT action vs Newsroom

A Family Court judge has declined a bid by children’s agency Oranga Tamariki to force changes to a Newsroom video story about its attempt to take a newborn baby from its teenage mother.

The agency wanted the court to make Newsroom – and Stuff.co.nz which also published the documentary – remove details from the story but Judge Max Courtney said it wasn’t for him to rule on – either the law had been breached or it hadn’t and if so Oranga Tamariki could report Newsroom to the police.

Oranga Tamariki’s action, following an attempted complaint to the Media Council over earlier stories on the case, was lodged by lawyer Linda Clark for her firm Kensington Swan as an urgent memorandum to the court.

Lawyers for Newsroom, and website Stuff.co.nz which also published the Newsroom story, told the court they rejected Oranga Tamariki’s claims about alleged breaches of the Family Court Act and would oppose their bid for orders to have changes made to the video story.

The video showed a case at Hawke’s Bay Hospital in which three Oranga Tamariki social workers, with police support, tried over two days to take a week-old baby boy from his mother after persuading the Family Court to provide them with an uplift order, citing the safety of the child.

The whānau and the woman’s midwives say the young mother is being blamed by association with her and her partner’s wider family’s background and has strong, caring support.

After strident opposition from the mother and father, their two mothers and whānau, and two midwives and iwi representatives, Oranga Tamariki said it would not try to take the baby but returned at night, when the mother was on her own and tried until the early hours to persuade her to hand over the child. Her midwife and family were barred by the hospital, security and police from entering the hospital to be with her.

Finally she was allowed to stay with the baby and leave the hospital with the boy and stay at a care facility. A further court hearing on the bid to remove the child is set for next week, but the children’s agency has said in a statement that the mother and child have done well and it is ‘supporting’ them.

Oranga Tamariki attempted the court action against Newsroom on the basis this site had identified the child and mother, which Newsroom and Stuff reject.

Oranga Tamariki chief executive Gráinne Moss defended her agency’s actions around uplifts to Parliament’s social services committee on Wednesday morning, saying 98.5 percent of Māori children were not in care.

“It’s one of the hardest things, if not the hardest thing, that a social worker ever does – but they do not do that alone, they do that with other professionals, they also do that with the Family Court, they’ve often worked extensively for a long period of time.”

This is a very difficult thing to deal with. Oranga Tamariki are damned if they don’t intervene enough, and damned if they do.  But this situation looks bad, and finding better ways of dealing with it should be a priority.

Bridges cherry picking and evasive on poll results

The two polls announced on Sunday gave quite different party results. Not surprisingly Simon Bridges likes the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll has National improving and just ahead of Labour, and is less happy about the Newshub Reid Research poll that suggests a slump in support for National.

The two polls were consistent on one thing, the dismal level of support for Bridges as ‘preferred Prime Minister’, but Bridges has tried to divert away from those results.

RNZ: Political polls ‘simply can’t both be right’ – Simon Bridges

Mr Bridges told Morning Report today that while the polls “simply can’t both be right”, the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll was the most similar to the party’s own polling.

But Bridges gave no details about his own party’s polling, so what he implies on that is meaningless. And while promoting the Colmar Brunton party result he tried hard to avoid any discussion on Colmar Brunton’s 5% for him as leader (Ardern was 45%, Judith Collins 6% and Winston Peters also 5%).

But he refused to comment on what the polls said about his personal rating and whether he had been in discussions with Ms Collins regarding the leadership of his party.

“What matters in polling ultimately is where parties are at, that’s what determines power and we’ve got a situation where there are two polls,” he said.

“It’s an interesting phenomena, a lot of ink has been spilled on it, one of them can’t be right, but ultimately what these polls show is the National Party up, they show a Labour Party down…

He then launched into a political speech, diverting from his inaccurate claim.

National was up 4 to 44% in the Colmar Brunton poll, but that is still short of where they need to be without potential coalition partners.

But National were down 4.2 to 37.4% in the Reid Research poll.  Even if this is a bit of an outlier or a ‘rogue poll’ it is still what should be a very worrying result for National, and for Bridges.

And in both polls Bridges was lower than Judith Collins on a paltry 5%.

And Bridges’ performance in the RNZ interview is unlikely to have helped his lack of popularity.

Is Judith Collins damning you with faint praise there? Simon Bridges:

No. Look, the reality is I’m comfortable with my leadership. I’ve got the great backing of a great team. And I’m focussed on holding the Government to account and our positive plans and policies.

Uninspiring political palaver.

…as I say to you, I’m focused on New Zealanders and what they want. And I think the reality is, you said the polls were damning,  actually what the poll there from Television New Zealand  and which we are seeing as well shows is National up, Labour down, and that’s very easy to understand because Labour is not delivering on it’s, it;s failing to deliver on it’s promises.

The reality is that most New Zealanders are far from focused on Bridges as a potential Prime Minister. Bridges can try to divert all he likes, he is not delivering on likeability, credibility or leadership.

He then launched into more diversion from leadership to his over-repeated political talking points. He then claimed poll success.

“So you believe Colmar Brunton?”

Yeah because it’s very similar to what we are seeing. And you know look there will always be variety in these things, I mean it’s sort of a new phenomenon isn’t it, we’ve seen it in Australia and America and other countries. But I know we have very strong polling and is very similar to what we’re seeing in TV New Zealand, and frankly when you look at this budget…

Diversion again.

“So the Reid Research, it’s is an outlier as far as you’re concerned?”

Well I think you’ve got a situation where you’ve got variation haven’t you, you’ve got one poll is very different to another, they simply can’t both be right.

“Are you also in your poll looking at rating as preferred Prime Minister?

We look at all sorts of things, but I’m not going to talk about that…

“Are you also in your polling looking at rating as preferred Prime Minister?”

We look at all sorts of things, but I’m not going to talk about that…

He was happy to talk about his own polling being ‘similar’ to a more favourably public poll, but doesn’t want to talk about specifics or about unfavourable polling. This just comes across as evasive.

“You said broadly speaking that the polling is reflective in terms of the party vote. Is it also reflective in terms of your personal rating?”

I’m confident and comfortable in my leadership. I’m focused on Kiwis blah blah blah…

“…what about your personal rating?”

My answer is, that’s not what I’m focused on. I’m focused on [repeated political palaver].

“Nonetheless you’re very happy to share…that aspect…Mr bridges we’re trying to talk about polling…

…and I’m trying to talk to you Suzy about what New Zealanders care about.

“I know but the questions I’m asking you about are about your polling…”

And I answered them.

“No you haven’t. You’ve been very open about your party vote, but you haven’t been very open about your preferred Prime Minister status, Why is that?”

I haven’t actually told you a party vote.

He’s correct about that.

What I said it was similar. Because, because what matters in polling ultimately is where parties are at. That’s what determines power….

And what determines to a large extent where a party is it is it’s leadership.

…ultimately what these polls show is they show a National Party up…

False. One up, one down. And even the up poll is within margin of error stuff –  and importantly, National 44%, compared too Labour+Greens on 48%, meaning they have prospects of forming the next Government alone, and National has little prospect of forming a government even on the favourable poll result.

The discussion waffled around, then:

“What is it like for you to be consistently polling behind Judith Collins in the preferred Prime Minister stakes?”

It is great that we have a fantastic team with Judith, with Paula, with Mark, with many people who are, in fact, wha…

A poor, evasive, uninspiring performance from Bridges. I don’t see him lifting his polling or prospects – he’s stuck in the leadership death zone.

Media watch

13 June 2019

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.

Open Forum – Thursday

13 June 2019

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, or you think may interest others.. 

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. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

World view

Wednesday GMT

WorldWatch2

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

High Court awards more costs against Slater, SMCL

Legal costs continue to mount for Cameron Slater and the company that ran Whale Oil, Social Media Consultants Limited. Slater has already filed for bankruptcy, and the company is in liquidation.

The latest costs of $59,000 are for pre-trial proceedings and do not include preparing for and conducting the trial held last October, nor damages, neither of which will be determined until next year.

Judgment: BLOMFIELD v SLATER COSTS JUDGMENT [2019] NZHC 1203 [29 May 2019]

[1] By memorandum dated 23 November 2018, Mr Blomfield (the plaintiff), seeks an award of costs against Mr Slater and Social Media Consultants Limited (collectively “the defendants”), in relation to several interlocutory matters.

[4] Following two results judgments on 27 September and 16 October 2018,2 on 26 October 2018, I released a judgment detailing my reasons for ruling in favour of the plaintiff on several interlocutory matters. The interlocutory matters dealt with in those judgments were:

(a) the defendants’ application for security for costs;

(b) the defendants’ application for leave to file a fourth amended statement of defence;

(c) the defendants’ application for leave to file a fifth amended statement of defence;

(d) the defendants’ application for an adjournment of the trial for a day to enable counsel to prepare the fifth amended statement of defence; and

(e) the plaintiff’s application challenging the admissibility of evidence proposed to be adduced by the defendants.

It was Slater’s fourth failed application for security of costs.

Blomfield’s lawyer Felix Geiringer has pointed out that the it was actually Slater’s ninth statement of defence document in the lengthy (over 6 years) lead up to the trial. From the book Whale Oil:

Not withstanding (Judge) Laang’s orders for timetabling – all pleadings by 13 July; all briefs of evidence by 13 August – throughout September Slater embarks on a massive exercise, filing enormous quantities of paperwork, including a new statement of defence, with dozens of amendments and additions, making it substantially different to the document around which Matt and Geiringer have been preparing for trial. It even includes a new defence of public interest; that Slater was doing important civic duty in exposing Matt’s activities.

The material flooding in is overwhelmingly dense, and it’s now two months after the date that wss to have been Slater’s last chance to file his defence.

From the judgment:

[21] The trial was originally due to start on 8 October 2018, and the defendants’ evidence was originally to be filed by 13 August 2018. Two briefs were filed on 21 September 2018, following an unless order made by Wylie J in a Minute issued on 13 September 2018. A notice under r 9.7(6) of the High Court Rules 2016 was also filed by the defendants to the effect that they intended to call 27 witnesses who had not provided briefs of evidence. That notice did not contain the necessary information required by r 9.7(6). The defendants also did not finalise their list of documents to be included in the common bundle until 6 October 2018, two days before the trial was due to commence.

[22] The plaintiff’s counsel says that he urgently assembled a team of five lawyers, who worked extensive hours in an effort to try and preserve the trial fixture. In addition to responding to the defendants’ interlocutory applications, they assembled an electronic casebook ready for a delayed start of the trial scheduled for 23 October
2018. They also prepared reply evidence, submissions and cross examination materials.

[25] For those reasons, I have decided to allow the plaintiff to recover the full amount of costs it seeks on a mixed 3A/3B/3C basis, except for the amount claimed for wasted preparation for trial.

[26] Having considered the disbursements the plaintiff also seeks, I have decided to allow the full amount of $10,160.29.

Result

[27] The plaintiff is entitled to costs and disbursements of $59,000.29 as set out in the annexed schedule.

That adds to the already substantial debts in Slater’s bankruptcy and Social media Consultant’s liquidation.

The only significant assets disclosed so far are the value of the Whale Oil website (whatever that may be), and several hundred thousand dollars of costs awarded to Slater and Social media Consultants – see Slater awarded costs v Craig, but well short of actual costs (with Slater’s legal bills in that proceeding far in excess of costs awarded).

This will take some time to work through, as the damages award is still pending, as is another defamation case Slater (and others) still face versus Sellman, Swinburn and Bradbrook – latest public judgment: SELLMAN v SLATER NO 7 [2019] NZHC 467 [18 March 2019]

Non-elected iwi representatives will have voting rights on Otago Regional Council

With no public engagement that I’m aware of the Otago Regional Councillors have voted to add two non-elected iwi representatives to the council’s policy committee, which includes giving them voting rights.

This looks like an abuse of democracy.

ODT: Ngai Tahu to join ORC today

Ngai Tahu representatives are ready to bring an iwi lens to Otago Regional Council policy-making.

The council is holding an extraordinary meeting beforehand to establish the terms of reference for their appointments.

After a lengthy debate last month, councillors voted seven to three to approach local runaka to appoint two representatives on its policy committee, joining 12 elected councillors.

They will have voting rights and be paid $9957 per year, calculated as 20% of a councillor’s base salary.

Giving voting rights amounting to 1/7 of the council vote (14%) to people who are unelected is a problem to me. There is no indication how they were selected or appointed by Ngai Tahui either.

Cr Michael Laws called the appointment ”undemocratic”.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said it was a way of improving the council’s partnership with iwi.

I have no problem with consulting with Ngai Tahu. I have no problem with the capable people appointed – Edward Ellison and Tahu Potiki.

But there has to be democratic ways of improving the council’s ‘partnership’ with any groups.

This may (should) be a prominent issue in the local body elections later this year.

What’s the point on declaring a climate emergency?

Auckland City Council have jumped on the climate emergency declaration bandwagon “with encouragement from young activists”.

Stuff:  Auckland Council declares climate change emergency

Auckland Council has joined other cities in declaring a climate change emergency.

Mayor Phil Goff said he didn’t want to leave future generations the “rotten legacy” of climate heating.

“We have an obligation to act, and it would be irresponsible and reckless, not to act,” Goff told a council meeting on Tuesday.

While the declaration is largely symbolic, it signals the start of a more urgent and focussed approach by councillors to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The council separately agreed to seek public views on an “action framework” that could lead to costed initiatives in next year’s budget.

A symbolic declaration that ‘signals the start of a more’ and will seek public views that could lead to something next year sounds nothing like how a council should act in a real emergency.

The only action Goff and Auckland councillors seem to be intent on is pandering to votes in anticipation of the elections later this year.

emergency
noun
a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action

While it is arguably serious there is nothing unexpected about the current climate change concerns, they have been expressed for decades.

One of the only things these climate change declarations do is add political hot air, and are not being backed up by immediate action of any substance.

Running around shouting ‘the sky is heating’ is likely to fall on deaf ears if it is nothing more than political opportunism.