‘Urgency’ for ‘virtue signalling’ foreign donation ‘ban’

Again the Government is talking big and doing little, this time under urgency in Parliament. It has been described as little more than “virtue signalling”.

Beehive: Government to ban foreign donations

The Government is taking action to protect New Zealand from foreign interference in our elections by banning foreign donations to political parties and candidates, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today.

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament this afternoon and passed under urgency.

“There’s no need for anyone other than New Zealanders to donate to our political parties or seek to influence our elections,” Andrew Little said.

“We need to protect the integrity of our elections. These changes will reduce the risk of foreign money influencing our election outcomes.

“We don’t want our elections to go the way of recent overseas examples where foreign interference appears to have been at play.”

Other countries ban foreign donations. Foreign or anonymous donations cannot be accepted in Australia over $1,000, Canada over $20 or the United Kingdom over £500 respectively.

The Bill contains a minimal threshold of $50, to ensure that small-scale fundraising activities such as bucket donations and whip-rounds won’t be affected. But big donations will be gone.

What the Beehive/Andrew Little don’t say is that all they are doing is lowering the threshold, from $1500 to $50. So donations are not being banned, they are just more limited than they were.

The Bill also introduces a new requirement that party secretaries and candidates must take reasonable steps to ensure that a donation, or a contribution to a donation over the $50 foreign donation threshold, is not from an overseas person. The Electoral Commission will issue guidance on what ‘reasonable steps they might take to check the origin of the donations.

The Bill also requires Party Secretaries to reside in New Zealand, to make it easier to enforce parties’ compliance with the donations rules.

It also extends the requirement to include name and address details on election advertisements to apply to election advertisements in all mediums.

Another couple of tweaks.

The threshold reduction is unlikely to have much effect on donations – and leaves large loopholes open (that have been used by NZ First and National foundations).

Newsroom: Govt’s foreign donation ‘ban’ leaves loopholes untouched

At first glance, the changes seem reasonable: a ban on foreign donations is a topic on which nearly all political parties agree, and the threat of foreign interference in elections (such as the Brexit vote and the United States presidential elections) is a growing concern around the world.

On closer reading, though, the changes seem to create as many problems as they solve.

The “ban” is not in fact a ban, but a reduction in the overseas donation limit from $1500 to $50, designed to protect smaller fundraising efforts such as whip-arounds.

But in 2017, overseas donations of the type being curtailed made up less than a quarter of a percent of all party donations that year (or $26,272 out of a whopping $11.4 million).

Even the Ministry of Justice concedes (in its regulatory impact statement for the bill) that the rationale for a ban is not about the amount of money being donated, but “the implicit message that allowing foreign donations sends to domestic political parties and prospective candidates, and those who are not part of New Zealand’s electoral system” – virtue signalling, if you will.

And it won’t stop loopholes from being used – Jacinda Ardern admits political party ‘foreign donation ban’ won’t close loopholes

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has admitted it won’t stop an apparent loophole: big foreign donations of over $100,000 being funnelled through New Zealand trusts, businesses or foundations.

In August, the Prime Minister accused the National Party of operating”outside the spirit of the law”, for accepting a $150,000 donation from a Chinese billionaire channelled through a New Zealand business.

Electoral law expert Andrew Geddis explained to Newshub: “It doesn’t matter if that company is owned by an overseas person – the law allowed it and will continue to allow it.”

But the Prime Minister appeared to have a different view. She said she “absolutely acknowledges” that the law change wouldn’t completely close loopholes in the law.

In fact, she said the law change wouldn’t catch donations like the one she once described as “outside the spirit of the law” at all.

“It does not cover the substantive issues that some have raised around how the National Party have used donations,” she told Parliament.

The Electoral Commission is currently looking into allegations New Zealand First has been hiding donations through the New Zealand First Foundation.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wouldn’t say if the law change would prevent foreign donations to foundations like the New Zealand First Foundation.

If NZ First are supporting the changes, and supporting urgency to ram through the changes, then it is unlikely it will impact on how NZ First are using the NZ First Foundation.

Newsroom: Govt’s foreign donation ‘ban’ leaves loopholes untouched

The “ban” is not in fact a ban, but a reduction in the overseas donation limit from $1500 to $50, designed to protect smaller fundraising efforts such as whip-arounds.

But in 2017, overseas donations of the type being curtailed made up less than a quarter of a percent of all party donations that year (or $26,272 out of a whopping $11.4 million).

Even the Ministry of Justice concedes (in its regulatory impact statement for the bill) that the rationale for a ban is not about the amount of money being donated, but “the implicit message that allowing foreign donations sends to domestic political parties and prospective candidates, and those who are not part of New Zealand’s electoral system” – virtue signalling, if you will.

It seems that virtue signalling is now done under urgency by the Government.

In Parliament yesterday (Tuesday):

URGENCY

Hon CHRIS HIPKINS (Leader of the House): I move, That urgency be accorded the passing through all stages of the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2), the third readings of the Farm Debt Mediation Bill (No 2) and the National Animal Identification and Tracing Amendment Bill (No 2), and the second reading of the Maritime Transport (Offshore Installations) Amendment Bill.

The Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) takes action to protect New Zealand from foreign interference in our elections by banning donations to political parties and candidates. It’s an issue that is being faced around the world, and, of course, it is one that we will face next year in our election year. The Government believes it’s important that the measures in the bill are put in place as early as possible before election year gets under way, which is the reason that we are asking the House to pass it through all stages under urgency.

It’s likely that consideration of the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) will continue into tomorrow morning, meaning that select committees will not meet. In order to make optimum use of the House’s time, the third readings of the Farm Debt Mediation Bill (No 2) and the National Animal Identification and Tracing Amendment Bill (No 2) and the second reading of the Maritime Transport (Offshore Installations) Amendment Bill are also included in this motion. Both of the agriculture sector bills make important contributions to safeguard the future of the country’s most important industry.

The Farm Debt Mediation Bill (No 2) is scheduled to commence in part on 1 February next year, and the Maritime Transport (Offshore Installations) Amendment Bill also commences at the start of next year. It’s important that these bills complete their passage through the House this year, which may not be possible without the granting of urgency.

I do want to undertake it publicly, as I have given an undertaking to the shadow Leader of the House, that the Government does not intend to progress with urgency beyond 1 p.m. tomorrow, so that the House’s regular business of question time and members’ day can resume in the afternoon.


A party vote was called for on the question, That urgency be accorded.

Ayes 63

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9; Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 8.

Noes 57

New Zealand National 55; ACT New Zealand 1; Ross.

Motion agreed to.


National actually supports lowering the threshold, but not doing it under urgency. Nick Smith in the First reading:

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): This is an extraordinary situation where we have our Parliament in urgency being asked to rush through changes to our electoral law, where the Opposition party only received a copy of the bill at 11 a.m. this morning, after our caucus had even started, and where the bill is proposed to go through its first reading, its committee stage, its second reading, and become law by today. The question the Parliament has to ask is: why on earth is the Minister of Justice panicked into this sort of shoddy parliamentary process? The honest answer is this: firstly, the Government’s just had a bad poll, so they want to be looking like they’re doing something, and the second thing is they are behaving like a wounded bull in response to the very serious disclosures of the New Zealand First Foundation and what is going on within the Government.

National supports a reduction in that limit, but we should not pretend that, somehow, this is a magic solution to the inappropriate use of foreign donations. Everybody knows, and the Minister accepts, that all a foreigner needs to do is set up a New Zealand registered trust with a lawyer friend or set up a company in New Zealand, and that company could quite legitimately make donations under this bill. That is why this bill is all about politics and not really contributing to the improvements in the fairness of our democracy and ensuring that it is protected from some of the growing influences of foreign individuals.

So every single bill of an electoral nature under the nine years of the previous Key Government, introduced by justice Minister Amy Adams, Judith Collins, or Simon Power, involved extensive consultation with the Opposition and involved more than a majority, and that involved compromise. I contrast that with respect to the record of Mr Little. This is the fourth electoral amendment bill that he’s brought to this Parliament without any consultation with Opposition parties at all. We had it with the waka-hopping law, we had it with the law on referendums that’s just gone through its third reading, we had it with the Electoral Amendment Bill, and now we have it with the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2). Andrew Little is on the public record saying that electoral bills should be consulted with the Opposition.


Pushing this through under urgency has raised some eyebrows about the Green Party involvement, given their history of supporting sound democratic processes.

Co-leader Marama Davidson in the First reading:

The Green Party are very clear that we need to fight strong and long for a democracy and a public decision making process that people with a connection to New Zealand can absolutely trust, that people can feel confident is here for the will of the people of our country. So the Green Party welcomes and supports the Electoral Amendment Bill; the changes that we are making to ban overseas donations in our electoral processes.

For some time now around the world, and, certainly, here in our own country, public confidence and trust in our democratic processes has been waning. We need to have the public interest of the people who are connected to this country at the heart of every decision that we are making, rather than any overseas interests or influence or advocacy, and so, again, really leaning into why the Greens are strong in our support of this bill.

So they support abusing one democratic process to tweak rules around another process.

I wanted to pick up on the time restraints that were identified by officials, that we need to start getting these changes put into place before the 2020 election, and that it is essential that we are giving parties, the electoral systems, the authorities involved, and our own political system enough time to be able to make sure that we have got these changes—that we’ve got the system set up to be able to take on board a ban on overseas donations and, again, a raft of other measures that need to be put into place as well. So I understand and accept and hear the justification that has been given to make sure that we get these changes through, to get us towards a better engagement, a better public confidence in our system.

Urgency gives no time for normaal democratic processes, making a mockery of “it is essential that we are giving parties, the electoral systems, the authorities involved, and our own political system enough time to be able to make sure that we have got these changes”.

It seems that the Greens don’t care about democratic processes if it gets them laws that they want.

So, once again, to close—it is of the utmost importance for us to be working together to address the big crises that are facing the future of our world, and the big issues that we are going to have to work together on. It is in the utmost interests for all of us to have a strong, transparent, and equal access democratic system.

Tweaking donation rules is addressing a big crisis?


But urgency wasn’t enough to get it through last night:

Part 1 Amendments relating to overseas donations

Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice): I look forward to this very important stage of the House and the extensive time we’ll have available for the remainder of this session. This bill is very important. It does a very important thing. It’s meaningful, it’s real, it deals with a serious risk, and it will make a serious difference for the conduct by parties and their general secretaries to make sure that our electoral system has integrity. It’s not called the electoral integrity bill; it is called the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2), but it is about integrity. What is similar between this bill and that bill of the other name is the catastrophising that goes on by members opposite, and they do it every time there’s a very minor but important technical change to our law, as it is in this case. But this bill and this part of the bill—

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Ruth Dyson): I’m sorry to advise the Minister, but the time has come for me to leave the Chair.

Sitting suspended from 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. (Wednesday)

Shane Jones avoids answering questions properly in Parliament

Shane Jones repeatedly avoid giving a full answer to questions in Parliament about when he first knew when “Mr Henry and N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd had made an application to the Provincial Growth Fund”.

Chris Bishop: Was he aware informally between 8 April and 14 October that Mr Henry and N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd had made an application to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat again, 14 October is a date of great significance. That is the date that I was formally notified of the application.

That leaves open the obvious assumption that Jones knew about the application before he recused himself on 14 October.

Chris Bishop: Why did David Henry email his office on 21 September about the project, and why didn’t he declare a conflict then?

Hon SHANE JONES: There is no conflict between myself and a Mr David Henry, an individual I might have met once or thrice. I have clearly stated that I have a longstanding relationship with Mr Brian Henry…

Brian Henry was a director of N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd since the company was incorporated on 27 March this year. Winston Peters’ partner Janet Trotman became a director on 27 August.

It would be remarkable that Henry or Trotman would not have declared their connection to NZ First in the application, and that Jones didn’t know they were connected with the application.

 

 

7. CHRIS BISHOP (National—Hutt South) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: On what date was N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd’s application to the Provincial Growth Fund lodged, and when did he first become aware that N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd had applied to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): I am advised the application was lodged on 8 April. I found out that the application was coming to Ministers for consideration on 14 October.

SPEAKER: No, I’m going to—

Chris Bishop: Point of order—

SPEAKER: No, I don’t want a point of order. I want the Minister to answer the second leg of the question.

Hon SHANE JONES: April 8 was the date that the company’s application was lodged. I became aware that the company had applied to the Provincial Growth Fund on 14 October.

SPEAKER: Thank you.

Chris Bishop: What is the conflict of interest that meant he recused himself from any decision making about the application to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: When I became a Minister, I identified a relationship I had with Mr Brian Henry, and, at that point, upon learning an application was wending its way through the process, because I had identified that association when I became a Minister, I recused myself.

Chris Bishop: Is he saying to the House that between 8 April, when the application was lodged, and 14 October, when he declared a conflict of interest in relation to decision making about the application, he was not aware an application had been made?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat again, I became aware of a formal application coming to Ministers on 14 October. I have asked my staff to go back and to test—

Hon Amy Adams: When did the Minister know it had been made?

Hon SHANE JONES: —whether or not there had been any briefings—

SPEAKER: Order! Order! Order! The member will resume his seat. This is a very important question. I want to hear the answer, and Amy Adams is—

Hon Amy Adams: He didn’t answer it.

SPEAKER: Amy Adams is interfering with me hearing the answer. She will not interject again during question time. Sorry, I’m going to go right back and I’m going to ask for the supplementary question to be asked again.

Chris Bishop: I’m possibly paraphrasing a little bit. Is he saying to the House that between 8 April, when the application was lodged, and 14 October, when he recused himself from any decision making about the application, he was unaware that an application had been made?

Hon SHANE JONES: I became aware of this formal application on 14 October. I have asked staff to ascertain in the wodge of papers that, time to time, wash up in my office, was there any reference at all to Mr Brian Henry in any application, and they have told me zero—that there was no reference whatsoever to that application from that individual.

Chris Bishop: Was he aware informally between 8 April and 14 October that Mr Henry and N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd had made an application to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat again, 14 October is a date of great significance. That is the date that I was formally notified of the application. Now, I must say that the development of proposals and the gestation that proposals go through, I would not know at the level of the officials who is dealing, given that there are 2,500 proposals, and it’s akin to me being on the bridge—I’m not down in the boiler room.

Chris Bishop: Between 8 April and 14 October, was he aware that N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd was in discussions with officials from the provincial development unit about a possible future application—a formal one—to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: As I’ve said, the life cycle of the Provincial Growth Fund application is that it’s akin to the life cycle of an insect. There is no shortage of people, throughout New Zealand, in particular provinces—because I am a crowd-pleaser in the provinces. I send all people interested in the Provincial Growth Fund to go and see the officials. The officials help them navigate the process. When an official decision is required, that’s when one exercises the judgment: are you in a position where you need to recuse yourself? So it is most important that the House focuses on the date of 14 October, when I was formally notified that an application was on its way to the Ministers.

Chris Bishop: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: I know what the point of order is. It was wonderful rhetoric but it did not address the question.

Hon SHANE JONES: Until 14 October, I was not formally notified of the existence of an application. I am advised, however, that officials have put in reports the name of the company they were dealing with. Unfortunately, I had no idea who that company was.

Chris Bishop: Was he aware of discussions taking place between N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd and officials at the provincial development unit between 8 April, when the application was made, and 14 October, when he recused himself?

Hon SHANE JONES: As I said, I am not aware of the detail—the extent—of any discussions between Mr Brian Henry or a company I had never heard of and did not recognise until such time as a formal duty fell upon me to make a decision. At that point, I recused myself. Then it was turned down, which is how the process works.

Chris Bishop: Why did David Henry email his office on 21 September about the project, and why didn’t he declare a conflict then?

Hon SHANE JONES: There is no conflict between myself and a Mr David Henry, an individual I might have met once or thrice. I have clearly stated that I have a longstanding relationship with Mr Brian Henry, belonging to a family who has had 150 years of involvement in forestry. In fact, if any individual wants to contribute to the development of our forestry strategy and is looking for some support from the Government, they go through the formal process and they take their chances. In this case, they were unsuccessful.

Chris Bishop: Was he aware at any point between 8 April and 14 October that representatives from N.Z. Future Forest Products Ltd were in discussions about an existing application or possible future application to the Provincial Growth Fund?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat again, the point at which I became formally notified was 14 October. Now, the member has identified an email. I get so many of them; I have no recollection of it. Now, whether or not that individual or that company was talking to officials, as I said, that’s at the stage when the application is a larva stage, or the pupa stage—the time I wouldn’t be involved.

Hon Grant Robertson: Can the Minister confirm that N.Z. Future Forest Product Ltd’s application to the Provincial Growth Fund was declined?

Hon SHANE JONES: The application from the said company, I understand, was declined by fellow Ministers after I had recused myself. I would say that New Zealanders who may belong, or may have associations with politicians, are welcome to engage with the bureaucracy. It’s when a Cabinet Minister is required to exercise allocated authority—that’s when you recuse yourself, which, obviously, I have done, with considerable skill.

End of Life Choice Bill – third reading vote: 69-51

The End of Life Choice (euthansia) Bill is having it’s Third Reading in Parliament tonight, which is the bill’s final debate and vote.

There has been a lot of lobbying and attempts to pressure MPs.

The Green and NZ First party MPs will all vote for the bill.

Labour and National MPs have been allowed a conscience vote, leaving it to individual choice.

If the vote is against the bill that will be the end of it’s life.

If the vote is for the bill it will go to public referendum next year, allowing the voting public to decide whether the bill should become law or not.

The bill: End of Life Choice Bill


The vote announced at 8:46 pm

Ayes 69

Noes 51

That’s  bigger margin than I expected.  Now on to a referendum in about year’s time.


Newsroom: Euthanasia’s parliamentary battle is won. Now the real fight begins

Euthanasia supporters have finally won the support of Parliament, with David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill succeeding where others had failed. But with the fate of the law now in the public’s hands, the real war may just be beginning.

Campaigning for votes could get ugly, as past referendum campaigns have done. Social media is likely to be extensively used and abused in the process.


3rd reading speeches and details of which way MPs voted:

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20191113_20191113_16

Twyford to correct Parliament after ‘remembering’ NZTA details

Phil Twyford talked big when in Opposition, but has been a bit of a disaster as a Minister in Government. The failures of Kiwibuild have been largely seen his failures, and he lost a portfolio over it.

Attention has now turned to the Government debacle over light rail in Auckland, and also too Twyfords handling of the NZTA board replacement. His ‘memory’ has been faulty on a number of things, including questions in Parliament that he incorrectly answered last week, and will correct this week.

Last Tuesday in Parliament: Question No. 9—Transport

Chris Bishop: Who is right about the cost projections for light rail, he, who said yesterday to Newshub that there is no cost blowout, or Winston Peters, who said that “The costings seem to have changed … in a way that is demanding serious investigation as to whether those forward projections are factual or not.”?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I repeat what I said yesterday: there is no cost blowout, because the twin track procurement process includes fundamental design and engineering decisions, so a final cost has not been settled on for either option yet.

An apparent difference between Twyford and Winston Peters. See NZH Winston Peters warned about possible light rail cost blowout concerns

Chris Bishop: Is it correct that the relationship between the New Zealand Transport Agency and NZ Infra is so broken that NZ Infra had to use the Official Information Act to get information from the New Zealand Transport Agency, causing months of delays to the light rail project?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I reject the assertion in the first part of the member’s question, but I would note that Sir Brian Roche, the new chair of the board of the transport agency, said on radio this morning that NZTA had dropped the ball, and that’s why Cabinet mandated Treasury and the Ministry of Transport to undertake a new assessment process of both options…

Twyford appointed Roche to chair the NZTA board after having discussed a possible proposal partly funded by the NZ Super Fund with Roche. See NZH – Twyford: NZ Super Fund bid for Auckland light rail was not solicited – “Transport Minister Phil Twyford says it is defamatory to suggest he has been lying about whether the NZ Infra light rail proposal was unsolicited.”

Chris Bishop: Does he stand by his statement that no one on the New Zealand Transport Agency board asked to stay on?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Yes, I do.

After subsequent questions from stuff Twyford says he remembers differently now and will correct his statement in Parliament.

Stuff:  Phil Twyford repeatedly ‘forgot’ key NZTA job offer, until he couldn’t

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has said repeatedly that the former board of the New Zealand Transport Agency – with which he had a fractious relationship – did not wish to be reappointed and that the replacement of all but one of the board members last month was due to the board’s term ending.

But now sources have confirmed to Stuff that this was in fact not the case and that some board members did ask to be reappointed, raising questions over whether Twyford misled Parliament.

In response to questions from Stuff, Twyford has now changed his story.

“When the Minister answered Chris Bishop’s question in the House – which was a supplementary question not on notice – his recollection was that no one had offered to stay on”, a spokeswoman for Twyford said.

“He [Twyford] remembered that he had asked Mark Darrow [a former board member] to stay on the board temporarily in the interests of continuity” the spokeswoman said.

“The Minister has now had a chance to review his correspondence from May and see that, in response to his request, Mark Darrow had said he would be interested in staying on for a second term”.

“The Minister will correct the answer in the House at the first opportunity'” the spokeswoman said.

But sources told Stuff that other board members were also approached about being reappointed.

Twyford’s recollection on the matter has repeatedly failed him on this point. He also confirmed to Stuff in September that no one on the board expressed a preference to stay on. Asked whether any board members asked or wanted to stay on, Twyford said on September 19 that, “no, everyone had reached the end of their terms”.

Bishop said Twyford had “serious questions to answer”.

“He is on the record in Parliament saying that nobody on the New Zealand Transport Agency board asked to stay on the board, and he’s now being contradicted by multiple people and has serious questions to answer,” Bishop said.

I’m sure Bishop will be asking Twyford more questions in Parliament.

This – both the light rail proposal and NZTA – look very messy issues, with Twyford in the thick of the mess.

His competence as a Minister in charge of Kiwibuild was found wanting to the extent he lost his portfolio.

His competence as Minister in charge of the NZTA and the light rail proposal looks increasingly suspect. Apart from the dual messes he either can’t remember basic information related to his appointments to the NZTA board, or he misleads or lies to Parliament.

Twyford is currently ranked 4 in Labour’s lineup, and is still Minister for Economic Development and Urban Development and Transport (having lost Housing in reshuffle).

Paula Bennett speech on PM’s office involvement in assault claims

GENERAL DEBATE

Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business.

The Prime Minister says she did not know there were sexual assault allegations against one of her staff members until Monday. I could go through the various media reports since 5 August and my own representation since being contacted by victims to show the inconsistencies in this, but they have already been well traversed in the last 24 hours.

Back in 2016, Jacinda Ardern wrote an op-ed about the scandal surrounding the Chiefs rugby team. She said that a resignation is not enough: “It’s the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away. But that solves nothing. After all, apologies followed by silence changes nothing, and change is what we need.”

The resignation today of Nigel Haworth cannot be, in the Prime Minister’s words, “the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away.” Yes, Mr Haworth needed to go, and it should have happened weeks ago, but what is also known is that the Prime Minister’s own senior staff and a senior Minister have known the seriousness of the allegations but have not acted.

The complainants were members of the Labour Party. They genuinely believed that the party would listen to their complaints and deal with the alleged offender appropriately, but nothing happened. It clearly has taken an incredible sense of frustration, disappointment, and disillusion for these people to come to me, a National Party MP, to try and see their complaints addressed.

These are serious allegations. The Prime Minister cannot keep her head in the sand and pretend like it is happening somewhere far, far away. It is happening in her own office, in her own organisation. She is the leader of the Labour Party. The alleged perpetrator works in her leader’s office—he works for her.

Less than a year ago, the Prime Minister was in New York at the UN, trumpeting “Me too should be we too.” Well, who knew that that meant her own office was following the path well trod by all those companies who drew a curtain over sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

I have been told by the complainants that Jacinda Ardern’s former chief of staff Mike Monroe knew about the allegations, her chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, knew about the allegations, and the director of her leader’s office, Rob Salmond, knew about the allegations. I have been told by two victims who work in Parliament that they went to Rob Salmond around Christmas time and made a complaint about the alleged perpetrator.

The Prime Minister has constantly said her office did not receive complaints and, in fact, encouraged the victims to speak to their line managers. They did. They have told me they went to Rob Salmond and nothing was done, and we are expected to believe that none of these men in her own office told the Prime Minister about the allegations—all of this in the aftermath of the Labour summer camp scandal, when the Prime Minister made it very clear she expected to have been told. And are we really expected to believe that she didn’t know that her chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, embarked on a witch-hunt to try and find out who in the Beehive was talking to the media about the allegations? The complainants certainly felt hunted and scared that he was trying to shut them up and stop them from talking to the media—classic bullying of victims, and hardly a victim-led response.

A victim has told me that the alleged perpetrator has deep alliances to Grant Robertson, that he was involved in his campaign for the Labour Party leadership, and that Grant Robertson has known the seriousness of these allegations. It is unbelievable that he hasn’t discussed this with his close friend and his leader.

This all smacks of a cover-up. This goes straight to the top: to the Prime Minister, to senior Cabinet Ministers, and—

SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/document/HansS_20190911_053250000/bennett-paula-mallard-trevor


Possible of note is in Question time just before this Bennett briefly questioned Ardern.

2. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her statements?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with the statement made by Jacinda Ardern in 2016 about the Chiefs rugby scandal that a resignation is not enough: “It’s the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away. But that solves nothing. … After all, apologies followed by silence changes nothing, and change is what we need.”?

SPEAKER: No. That question does not relate to a statement of the Prime Minister.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she stand by her statement in the House yesterday that “we need to make sure that we have environments in all of our workplaces that meet the expectations of alleged victims, and that respond to those situations.”, and how does that correlate with a situation where the victims were barred from parts of the parliamentary complex?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she stand by her statement in the House yesterday that “we need to make sure that we have environments in all our workplaces that meet the expectations of alleged victims,”; and, if so, how does that correlate that senior male staffers in her office have known about these extremely serious allegations since at least the beginning of the year and none of these men have brought it to her attention?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, to answer the first part of the question, yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Will she be revising her statement made to the UN less than a year ago that “#MeToo must become we too. We are all in this together.”, in light of her own office’s failure to deal with sexual assault allegations involving one of her staff members?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: No.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she stand by her previous statements that victims should go to one of their line managers and that no senior people in her office had received a complaint?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: At the time that I made the statement, yes.

If Ardern “made the statement” after two complainants went to a line manger (Salmond) around Christmas time she could have a probem.

Abortion Bill passes first reading 94-23

Following speeches by many MPs in parliament today the Abortion Bill passed it’s first reading by 94 votes to 23. Three MPs didn’t vote.

This is a large majority, but it’s just the first of three votes, with some MPs wanting the Bill to progress to public submissions, but with no guarantee of supporting it all the way. NZ First MPs all voted for it but have imp[lied they may not support the final vote unless it goes to a public referendum (although their messages have been missed).

Here are the votes split up:

YES VOTES:

Labour: ARDERN Jacinda, DAVIS Kelvin, LITTLE Andrew, ROBERTSON, Grant, TWYFORD Phil, WOODS Megan, HIPKINS Chris, SEPULONI Carmel Jean, CLARK David, PARKER David, NASH Stuart, RADHAKRISHNAN Priyanca, HUO Raymond, LEES-GALLOWAY Iain Francis, TINETTI Jan, SIO Aupito Tofae Sua William, PRIME Willow-Jean, O’CONNOR Damien, FAAFOI Kris, ALLAN Kiri, JACKSON Willie, CURRAN Clare, DYSON Ruth, WILLIAMS Poto, WALL Louisa, WOOD Michael Philip, ANDERSEN Ginny, LUXTON Jo, RUSSELL Deborah, CRAIG Liz, LUBECK Marja, MALLARD Trevor, EAGLE Paul, COFFEY Tamati, STRANGE Jamie, McANULTY Kieran, WARREN-CLARK Angie, O’CONNOR Greg, MAHUTA Nanaia, HENARE Peeni, WHATIRI Meka, WEBB Duncan.
National: BENNETT Paula, CARTER David, BRIDGES Simon, ADAMS Amy, TOLLEY Anne, GUY Nathan, KAYE Nikki, McCLAY Todd, COLLINS Judith, BARRY Maggie, GOLDSMITH Paul, MITCHELL Mark, WAGNER Nicky, BENNETT David, SIMPSON Scott, KURIGER Barbara, DOOCEY Matt, HUDSON Brett, McKELVIE Ian, BAYLY Andrew, BISHOP Chris, DOWIE Sarah, MULLER Todd, SCOTT Alastair, SMITH Stuart, KING Matt, FALLOON Andrew, LEE Denise, STANFORD Erica, VAN de MOLEN Tim, YULE Lawrence, BIDOIS Dan, WILLIS Nicola.
NZ First: PETERS Winston, MARK Ron, MARTIN Tracey, TABUTEAU Fletcher, BALL Darroch, MITCHELL Clayton, PATTERSON Mark, JONES Shane, MARCROFT Jenny.
Greens: SHAW James, DAVIDSON Marama, GENTER Julie Anne, SAGE Eugenie, HUGHES Gareth, LOGIE Jan, SWARBRICK Chlöe, GHAHRAMAN Golriz.
ACT: SEYMOUR David.
ROSS, Jami-Lee.

NO VOTES:

Labour: SALESA Jenny, KANONGATA’A-SUISUIKI Anahila, RURAWHE Adrian, TIRIKATENE Rino.
National: PUGH Maureen, BROWNLEE Gerry, WOODHOUSE Michael, SMITH Nick, UPSTON Louise, DEAN Jacqui, MACINDOE Tim, LEE Melissa, BAKSHI Kanwaljit Singh, PARMAR Parmjeet, YOUNG Jonathan, HAYES Jo, O’CONNOR Simon, RETI Shane, BROWN Simeon, HIPANGO Harete, PENK Chris, LOHENI Agnes, GARCIA Paulo.

ABSENT:

National: WALKER Hamish, NGARO Alfred, YANG Jian.

That was supplied from Stuff who have good coverage with summaries of the MP speeches here – Live: Abortion Bill’s first reading in Parliament

On Tracey Martin (who was put in a very difficult position by her party):

Tracey Martin in tears

NZ First MP Tracey Martin came to tears as she lays out the speech she was going to make on the bill.

She says she was ready to make a personal speech about why she supported the bill, but the context of this week’s news means she can’t.

Martin was the lead negotiator with Andrew Little on this bill from NZ First as the women’s spokeswoman for the party. She told the media on Tuesday morning that the party would not be seeking a referendum on the issue. But later that morning at a caucus meeting NZ First resolved to attempt to introduce a referendum at committee of the whole house.

This led to a somewhat embarrassing media situation on Tuesday afternoon when it all came out on the way into the House.

Martin is detailing this whole story to clarify things.

She confirms that NZ First will block-vote in favour for first and second readings.

I presume she has been able to present the actual party position and won’t be contradicted again.

Aupito William Sio will support the bill at first reading:

Pacific Peoples’ Minister and Labour MP Auptio William Sio is speaking for the bill, at least in the first reading, despite opposing abortion himself.

“I value life,” Sio says.

“I am looking at this debate from the perspective of a father who does not support abortion.”

He says he would want his daughters to not abort – but would support them in their choice, whatever it was.

“I do not support abortion, but I am on the record that I support a woman’s right to choose.”

I respect him deferring to his daughters and to women despite his personal views.

 

End of Life Choice Bill passes second reading 70-50

End of Life Choice Bill passed its second reading last night in Parliament last night, by 70 votes to 50.

That is a comfortable margin, but it doesn’t mean that the euthanasia bill is a done deal. It will now proceed to the third reading, and a lot of Supplementary Order Papers will be debated on and voted on before we know what the final form of the Bill will look like. Then Parliament will make it’s final vote for or against.

NZ First are pushing for the final choice to go to a referendum to be run at the same time as next year’s general election. Whether that will happen is yet to be decided.

There are some strong views and emotional feelings on this issue on both sides of the debate. Unfortunately there are also some outlandish claims being made.

I think the key thing in this is Choice.

I personally would like that choice, if I was ever in a situation of terminal illness.

I understand that others feel strongly against euthanasia. I hope the End of Life Choice Bill will allow them to opt out, while giving choice to chose who want it, with sufficient safeguards.

Parliament has to decide whether to give a legal end of life choice to people.

NZ Herald has a list of How your MP voted on the End of Life Choice Bill

* Denotes MPs who have changed their vote since the first reading


SUPPORT – 70

  • Amy Adams – National – Selwyn
  • Ginny Andersen – Labour – List
  • Jacinda Ardern – Labour – Mt Albert
  • Darroch Ball – NZ First – List
  • Paula Bennett – National – Upper Harbour
  • Chris Bishop – National – Hutt South
  • Tamati Coffey – Labour – Waiariki
  • Judith Collins* – National – Papakura
  • Liz Craig – Labour – List
  • Clare Curran – Labour – Dunedin South
  • Marama Davidson – Green – List
  • Kelvin Davis – Labour – Te Tai Tokerau
  • Matt Doocey – National – Waimakariri
  • Ruth Dyson – Labour – Port Hills
  • Paul Eagle – Labour – Rongotai
  • Kris Faafoi – Labour – Mana
  • Andrew Falloon – National – Rangitata
  • Julie Anne Genter – Green – List
  • Golriz Ghahraman – Green –List
  • Peeni Henare – Labour – Tamaki Makaurau
  • Chris Hipkins – Labour – Rimutaka
  • Brett Hudson – National – List
  • Gareth Hughes – Green – List
  • Raymod Huo – Labour – List
  • Willie Jackson – Labour – List
  • Shane Jones – NZ First – List
  • Nikki Kaye – National – Auckland Central
  • Matt King – National – Northland
  • Barbara Kuriger – National – Taranaki-King Country
  • Iain Lees-Galloway – Labour – Palmerston North
  • Andrew Little – Labour – List
  • Jan Logie – Green – List
  • Marja Lubeck – Labour – List
  • Jo Luxton – Labour – List
  • Nanaia Mahuta – Labour – Hauraki-Waikato
  • Trevor Mallard – Labour – List
  • Jenny Marcroft – NZ First – List
  • Ron Mark – NZ First – List
  • Tracey Martin – NZ First – List
  • Kieran McAnulty – Labour – List
  • Clayton Mitchell – NZ First – List
  • Mark Mitchell – National – Rodney
  • Stuart Nash – Labour – Napier
  • Greg O’Connor – Labour – Ohariu
  • David Parker – Labour – List
  • Mark Patterson – NZ First – List
  • Winston Peters – NZ First – List
  • Willow-Jean Prime – Labour – List
  • Priyanca Radhakrishnan – Labour – List
  • Grant Robertson – Labour – Wellington Central
  • Jami-Lee Ross – Independent – Botany
  • Eugenie Sage – Green – List
  • Carmel Sepuloni – Labour – Kelston
  • David Seymour – Act – Epsom
  • James Shaw – Green – List
  • Scott Simpson – National – Coromandel
  • Stuart Smith – National – Kaikoura
  • Erica Stanford – National – East Coast Bays
  • Chloe Swarbrick – Green – List
  • Fletcher Tabuteau – NZ First – List
  • Jan Tinetti – Labour – List
  • Tim van de Molen – National – Waikato
  • Louisa Wall – Labour – Manurewa
  • Angie Warren-Clark – Labour – List
  • Duncan Webb – Labour – Christchurch Central
  • Poto Williams* – Labour – Christchurch East
  • Nicola Willis – National – List
  • Megan Woods – Labour – Wigram
  • Jian Yang – National – List
  • Lawrence Yule* – National- Tukituki

OPPOSE 50

  • Kiritapu Allan*- Labour – List
  • Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi – National – List
  • Maggie Barry – National – North Shore
  • Andrew Bayly – National – Hunua
  • David Bennett – National – Hamilton East
  • Dan Bidois – National – Northcote
  • Simon Bridges – National – Tauranga
  • Simeon Brown – National – Pakuranga
  • Gerry Brownlee – National – Ilam
  • David Carter – National – List
  • David Clark – Labour – Dunedin North
  • Jacquie Dean – National – Waitaki
  • Sarah Dowie – National – Invercargill
  • Paulo Garcia – National – List
  • Paul Goldsmith – National – List
  • Nathan Guy* – National – Otaki
  • Joanne Hayes – National – List
  • Harete Hipango* – National – Whanganui
  • Anahila Kanongata’aSuisuiki – Labour – List
  • Denise Lee – National – List
  • Melissa Lee – National – List
  • Agnes Loheni – National – List
  • Tim Macindoe – National – Hamilton West
  • Todd McClay – National – Rotorua
  • Ian McKelvie – National – Rangitikei
  • Todd Muller – National – Bay of Plenty
  • Alfred Ngaro – National – List
  • Damien O’Connor – Labour – West Coast
  • Simon O’Connor – National – Tamaki
  • Parmjeet Parmar – National – List
  • Chris Penk – National – Helensville
  • Maureen Pugh – National – List
  • Shane Reti – National – Whangarei
  • Adrian Rurawhe* – Labour – Te Tai Hauauru
  • Deborah Russell* – Labour – New Lynn
  • Jenny Salesa – Labour – Manukau East
  • Alastair Scott – National – Wairarapa
  • Aupito William Sio – Labour – Mangere
  • Nick Smith – National – Nelson
  • Jamie Strange – Labour – List
  • Rino Tirakatene – Labour – List
  • Anne Tolley* – National – East Coast
  • Phil Twyford – Labour – Te Atatu
  • Louise Upston – National – Taupo
  • Nicky Wagner – National – List
  • Hamish Walker* – National – Clutha-Southland
  • Meka Whaitiri* – Labour – Ikaroa Rawhiti
  • Michael Wood* – Labour – Mt Roskill
  • Michael Woodhouse – National – List
  • Jonathan Young – National – New Plymouth

Head of Safe and Effective Justice calls for cross-party consensus

While Chester Borrows was an ex-National MP he is also an ex police officer and lawyer, so was a good appointment as head of the Safe and Effective Justice advisory group set up by the Labour led government.

The group has just released it’s report after extensive consultation – see Te Uepū report – Transforming our Criminal Justice System

Borrows is now calling for cross-party consensus on reforming the justice system.

RNZ: Time for cross-party consensus to transform justice system – Borrows

The head of a group that found racism embedded in every area of the criminal justice system says it’s now time for a cross-party consensus to tackle to the issue.

Māori were over-represented as both victims and offenders of crime, with Māori making up 51 percent of the prison.

Chairperson of the government’s Safe and Effective Justice advisory group, Chester Borrows, told Morning Report the report highlighted the need for “transformational change” and said any political party would be foolish to disregard the report’s contents.

He said the legacy of colonialism had meant Māori entered prison after being socially and economically disenfranchised.

“People tend to think that this is something that is really historic,” he said. “In fact, if you take away the economic base of a community and them under-educate them in a foreign language it’s not surprising that a few generations down the track they are corralled into the lowest decile suburbs failing in every area of the social sector.

“What we have in New Zealand is people don’t really touch the justice system until they’ve been failed by all those other areas such as health. education, welfare, the economy and employment… We’ve allowed that to happen. It’s a pattern and we’ve done nothing about, in respect to prisons, in 30 years.”

The former National minister said it was now time both political parties and government departments came together to untangle the legacy, so that policy and its implementation reflected one purpose. He said a transformational change in the way government and political opposition looked at justice was key to success.

“Any party would be foolish to disregard this report, which is so comprehensive, I think this is where people in the middle of the political spectrum are. The changes that need to be made are fundamental.

“We have no single driver of the justice sector and yet we’ve got five different departments who are in it, all measuring themselves against their own KRA, but not with one single goal in mind and that’s a ridiculous place to be… If they are not all facing the same thing and heading towards a common goal then they are stuck but they start.”

He acknowledged this would be difficult, due to the criminalisation of Māori and a punishment-based focus on the criminal justice system being made political positions at election time. But said the public was now sick of that approach. “It is too important for it to remain political all the time,” he said.

It will be difficult reaching political consensus on major reforms of the justice system, but it shouldn’t be difficult for all parties to work together on this.

Simon Bridges is a lawyer and has been a Crown prosecutor. He could use that experience, and show real leadership by ensuring that National engages positively on seeking reform.

Mark Mitchell is National’s spokesperson for justice. I haven’t seen either him or Bridges respond to the Safe and Effective Justice report. I hope that means they are seriously considering contributing to finding solutions.

Forty years since “not a monotonous garden” Winston Peters’ maiden speech

I think it’s fair to ask whether Winston Peters is past his ‘best before’ date, but it would be an interesting to consider when he has been at his best in Parliament.

This week marked forty years since his maiden speech in Parliament.

He has become a bit monotonous over the years, but has had a varied and at times successful political career.

Peters was born on 11 April 1945, just before World War 2 ended, 19 days before Hitler died.

He stood for National in the Northern Maori seat but was never going to come close to winning that. It was effectively a practice run.

He stood in Hunua in the 1978 election and lost on the initial result, but this was overturned after an electoral petition. He entered parliament 6 months after the election, on 24 May 1979.

Hitting out against critics and opponents has been a frequent occurrence.

His  first stint in Parliament was short, losing the seat in the 1981 election. He stood in Tauranga and won in 1984, holding that until 2005, when he became a list MP, He and NZ First dropped out of Parliament altogether in 2008, but both Peters and his party got back in in 2011.

So while it is forty years since Peters first entered Parliament he has been an MP for 34 years.

 

The pre-budget political circus symptom of a bigger problem

The politically created and media stoked pre-budget circus over insecure Treasury data was a symptom of a growing problem.

Treasury, the Government (in particular Grant Robertson), and the National opposition all came out looking worse to the public.

The circus demonstrated how out of touch with ordinary New Zealand politicians and the media are getting.

Bernard Hickey suggests: Our political metabolic rate is way, way too fast

No one comes out the Budget 2019 ‘hack’ with any credit, Bernard Hickey argues. The ‘scandal’ is symptomatic of an accelerating and more extremist form of politics in a social media-driven age of snap judgments and tribal barracking.

I turned on Radio New Zealand’s First at 5 programme, expecting and wanting to hear the latest burp and fart in the saga.

Instead, I heard presenter Indira Stewart asking some year 13 students at Tamaki College in South Auckland about what they wanted from the Budget, and comments from the tuck shop lady Nanny Barb about the kids at the school arriving hungry and needing breakfast. Listen to it here.

It stopped me in my tracks.

Year 13 students Lu Faaui, Uili Tumanuvao, Sela Tukia, Francis Nimo and Efi Gaono thanked Nanny Barb for their meal. They talked about what they wanted from the Budget. They had been forced to move out of state houses in Glen Innes (Tamaki Regeneration Company) to South Auckland and their parents were working multiple jobs to pay for private rentals.

They were paying $40 a week to travel across Auckland each day to Tamaki College.

“Just like Sela said, it’s forced us to move out of GI (Glen Innes) and yeah my family just decides to cope with it. It’s made my Dad work even more hours. My mum gets two jobs, my sister gets two jobs. I mean, money is money you know,” said Lu.

What they didn’t care about

They didn’t care about how an Opposition researcher had done 2,000 searches on a Treasury website to try to find Budget 2019 information four days ahead of its release.

Or that Simon Bridges had then recreated 22 pages of Budget information and released it to the public to highlight Treasury’s IT system flaws and embarrass the Government. They didn’t care or even know that the Treasury Secretary had jumped to the conclusion the information was ‘hacked’ and needed to be referred to the police.

Or that Grant Robertson had made the mistake of trusting Makhlouf and leapt to lash back at Bridges by suggesting illegal activity. Or that Bridges had then accused Robertson of lying and the Treasury of being incompetent, and that it was a deliberate smear and a threat to democracy.

They did not hear the Opposition Leader jump the shark by saying: “This is the most contemptible moment in New Zealand politics.”

Really? Worse than Muldoon outing Colin Moyle? Or the Dirty Politics revelations? Or Jami-Lee Ross’ allegations?

All those teenagers wanted was affordable and convenient housing and transport so they could easily go to school and their parents didn’t have to work so hard.

That sort of thing is reality for many people who don’t care for posturing and point scoring, which turns most people off politics.

This is how politics works now

If I had time and they were still interested in talking to me, I’d explain how politicians and the media operate now.

I’d show them my twitter feed and how news and commentary have ramped up into a blur of headlines, memes, click-bait, extreme views, abuse and a desperate game of trying to grab the attention of a distracted media and whip their own social media bubbles into a frenzy.

The best example of how this increased metabolic rate of politics has warped the public debate is to point to what has happened in America and Europe, where increasingly polarised politicians shout at each other from their own bubbles of supporters and nothing changes. Meanwhile, other forces keep screwing the scrum of democracy to further their own interests.

The end result is a disengaged public, policy paralysis, a lot of noise and not much light.

It isn’t unusual for politicians to be out of touch with ordinary people living ordinary lives.

But the media a real concern – they are supposed to shine a light on politicians and Parliament, hold them to account and inform the public.

too often they seem too intent on lighting the fires, or at least providing the petrol and inflaming things way out of proportion to their importance.

I understand how it happened and I’ve been living in it now for a decade. A political firmament driven by social media, sound bites, cheap shots and one-day-wonder stories is not going to solve the problems of South Auckland or Tamaki.

Everyone should take a chill pill, stop jumping to conclusions for a quick political hit and instead think beyond the beltway to the real world and long term concerns of citizens.

What’s the chances of this happening? I see no sign of it.