Young Act sexual harassment – members removed, investigation started

A follow up to Young Act acknowledge claims of sexual harassment from vice president – the vice president who resigned when going public on her claims is “pleased with the actions that are now being taken”.

Two Young Act members have been ‘removed’, and the Act Party president has appointed an employment lawyer to investigate and says “the allegations were being taken very seriously”.

 

Stuff: Young ACT members booted out, vice-president resigns over sexual harassment claims

The vice-president of Young ACT has resigned and two members of the youth wing have been kicked out amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Young Act president Felix Poole acknowledged the youth wing had failed Gammeter, saying it did not have a system in place to deal with complaints.

“It was our fault,” he said.

“There was hesitancy on the behalf of Young ACT to act because we had no system or guidelines in place.”

He said the offending had taken place online, and there were two further incidents, but did not elaborate.

Two members of Young ACT had been removed as a result, and it would be conducting its own investigation, as well as a possible independent inquiry.

The members had been blocked from Young ACT’s social media, and Poole said he did not think they would appeal the decision.

It was not calling in the police but would co-operate if they were brought in, he said.

RNZ: Young ACT to investigate sexual harassment of vice president

The Act Party has hired an employment lawyer to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations of misconduct within its youth wing.

Andrea Twaddle has been appointed by the party to investigate the claims of sexual harassment made by Gammeter.

ACT president Tim Jago said the party first became aware of Gammeter’s allegations last night.

Jago said the allegations were being taken very seriously.

“We will be providing Ms Gammeter with any support she requires,” he said.

MP and party leader David Seymour seems to be keeping a distance from this.

Newshub/Reid Research poll – February 2020

The first political poll of election year is of interest but doesn’t change much.

  • National 43.3% (down from 43.9)
  • Labour 42.5% (up from 41.6)
  • Greens 5.6% (down from 6.3)
  • NZ First 3.6% (down from 4.0)
  • ACT Party 1.8% (up from 1.4)

No surprises there, all margin of error movements.

On those numbers National/ACT are short of getting a majority but not far away and if NZ First miss the threshold it opens possibilities.

Labour+Greens are close to a two party majority of seats.

The others:

  • Maori Party 0.9% (up from 0.7)
  • New Conservative Party 0.7% (down from 1.0)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.6% (down from 1.1)

None of those parties look like getting anywhere near the 5% threshold. The Maori Party are going to contest seats to try to avoid needing the threshold.

Stated margin of error: 3.1%

Newshub: National and Labour neck-and-neck in new Newshub-Reid Research poll

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 38.7% (up from 38.4)
  • Simon Bridges 10.6% (up from 6.7)

Newshub poll: Simon Bridges breaks 10 percent as preferred Prime Minister

Polling period 23 January – 1 February, before Bridges ruled out NZ First from any coalition deals, and before Waitangi Day week.

Their last poll was in October 2019 – Newshub Reid Rese

Polling for this term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election

Last ACT annual conference?

ACT has just about disappeared from political sight. The name ‘ACT Party’ may be disappearing altogether. A name change is being considered at the party’s annual conference in Remuera today.

2018 ACT New Zealand – Annual Conference

“Freedom, Choice & Responsibility – Do they exist under this Government?”

The choices you make affect your future and those of the people you care for and support. ACT is the party of choice. The 2018 ACT Annual Conference is being held on Sunday 12 August in Auckland, and you are invited to attend. To answer the question – “Freedom of Choice & Responsibility – Does it exist under this Government?” – our speakers will focus on the economy, business and social reform; we guarantee you’ll be challenged!

  • Briar Lipson – Research Associate, The New Zealand Initiative
  • Lindsay Mitchell – Welfare Reformer
  • Matt Vickers – EOL Care campaigner, husband of the late Lucretia Seales

David Seymour will give the Leader’s Address at 1.00pm. It will be a thought-provoking and stimulating day for all who attend.

Whether the rest of the country will notice let alone find it stimulating is another thing.

According to Audrey Young one thing to be considered is a name change – David Seymour looking to take Act Party back to basics after years of failure

…one of the issues to be debated this weekend is whether to change the party name.

Seymour and president Ruwan Premathilaka are planning a relaunch of the party in March next year and Seymour is billing tomorrow’s conference in Auckland as “a pre-launch of the relaunch.”

The membership had been polled on the future of the party and they have held meetings throughout the country.

“What they have said is they are not angry. They don’t think we have been incompetent or stupid. They think, all things considered, we were pretty organised and campaigned okay.

“But equally they accept that what we have done had been a total failure and we are not going anywhere and therefore we need to do something completely different.”

There was a strong mandate to change the direction of the party, Seymour said.

The only controversial element was what to do about the name.

“If I had a vote for every person that says they like David, this or that policy but they would never vote for Act, I would probably be in Government.”

But will a name change make any difference?

If ACT change their name they are likely to remain approximately as unnoticed as they are now.

Seymour probably has a reasonable chance of remaining as the MP for Remuera, but it will take more than a name change to revive a dying political brand.

Successful politics is reliant on people. ACT need to get electable people more than involved, they need to get them active and noticed.

The reality of politics is that the media will only give them political oxygen if they have people deemed newsworthy. Sadly that doesn’t necessarily mean competent.

We have an enigma in New Zealand politics.

People need publicity if they are to succeed in politics. That means they need to be given significant media exposure, a reality despite the supposed promise of social media revolutions.

Media chose who they give attention to more based on how ‘newsworthy’ they are – but unfortunately in the modern political media era this usually means controversial, which usually means eccentric or appalling or rich, anything that feeds headlines and clicks.

It is unusual for the media to boost someone with genuine talent – as a media made politician Chloe Swarbrick is rare exception.  The voter jury is still undecided (or should be) on whether Jacinda Ardern’s media driven promotion to Prime Minister on whether she can deliver on the hype. Delivering a baby has been a massive distraction, and may make it harder for Ardern to succeed beyond getting ongoing fawning coverage.

Most people chosen by media to be promoted as political prospects turn out to be political failures, or at least disappointments. With media money speaks (or buys their attention and they do the speaking), but it doesn’t necessarily speak the right language to voters, as Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan found out.

So ACT’s biggest challenge is not to apply a new label to a nearly dead party horse.

They need to attract candidates that attract both media attention and party votes.

Or a miracle.

 

 

New name for ACT party?

It looks like the ACT party are considering renaming themselves. They have to do something to turn their lack of support around, they are virtually nothing but the MP for Epsom.

Frank Newman: ACT re-branding

…David Seymour says they are looking at a possible name change.

In an interview on Radio NZ on 15 June he said he did not want to give anything away about the new name, but he did mention various options were being considered, like Liberal Party or something more radical like Reason Party.

Well, he actually has already given a fair bit away on this topic.

On the 8th of October 2017 he registered the domain names, liberalparty.org.nz and liberalparty.co.nz. He has not registered domain names involving Reform Party or Reason Party, and those domain names remain.

The registrations were modified recently. But it’s still only ‘possible name change’ at this stage.

The question is whether changing the name will change the public’s perception of the Party.  Changing the name of a dead horse from Jake to Jack, does not bring the horse back to life.

It will take more than a name change – it needs other people involved who look like they could contribute to a party in Parliament, and one of the first hurdles is being seen as serious prospects by media, who are effectively the gatekeepers of any new entrance into politics.

Being rich and eccentric seems to be a prerequisite. Kim Dotcom, Colin Craig and Gareth Morgan all spent millions of dollars and attracted significant media attention, but that didn’t get them over the MMP line (5% threshold).

Seymour has a significant advantage though. If he holds on to Epsom the threshold doesn’t matter, thanks to the failure of the last (National) government to make MMP fair.

History of ACT party vote and MPs:

  • 1996 – 6.1%, 7 list MPs
  • 1999 – 7.04%, 9 list MPs
  • 2002 – 7.14%, 9 list MPs
  • 2005 – 1.51%, 1 electorate MP (Rodney Hide) and 1 list MP
  • 2008 – 3.65%, 1 electorate MP (Rodney Hide), 4 list MPs
  • 2011 – 1.07%, 1 electorate MP (John Banks)
  • 2014 – 0.69%, 1 electorate MP (David Seymour)
  • 2017 – 0.50%, 1 electorate MP (David Seymour)

So even a step up to one more MP will require a tripling of their 2017 party vote unless they can win another electorate.

I thought that Seymour had a fairly good first term considering he had to set up as an electorate MP and set ACT up inn Parliament with no prior experience. But ACT lost ground.

Seymour is trying a dancing stunt to get attention at the moment, but I don’t know whether that will help ACT’s chances. Perhaps his dance party will run as deputy leader.

Save Charter Schools Rally

ACT (David Seymour) organised a rally to protest against Government (Chris Hipkins) handling of Partnership Schools, commonly referred to as charter schools:

“This Sunday, Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins will hear directly from students and parents who are devastated by their decision to close Partnership Schools”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The Government this week decided to disregard the popularity and success of the schools opting instead to listen to the teachers’ unions.

“Partnership Schools are working. Over 1500 students attend the fledgling schools, most of which have had to turn students away due to rapid growth. Struggling kids are having their lives turned around.

“Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Education have visited a Partnership School, nor have they spoken to any of the sponsors of the schools they plan to shut down.

“On Sunday, they will get a chance to listen to the people they have so blatantly disregarded”, says Mr Seymour.

Hipkins seems to be driving an agenda on behalf of the teacher unions who strongly opposed partnership schools, with criticism of a lack of consultation with the schools that currently have contracts to operate.

ACT has a petition here (no numbers of signatories given):

SAVE CHARTER SCHOOLS.

TELL CHRIS HIPKINS TO LEAVE OUR KIDS ALONE.

The kids who go to partnership schools tend to be round bricks in a square education hole.

There was a sizable attendance on a wet day for an issue affecting a small number of people:

Stuff – Seymour: Govt’s ‘weasel’ words on charter school move

ACT leader David Seymour labelled Education Minister Chris Hipkins a “weasel” over legislation to scrap charter schools.

The Labour-led Government was “arrogant” in its consultative approach with charter schools, the MP for Epsom – and the political architect of such schools – said.

Seymour made the comments marching in driving rain with dozens of charter school pupils, their families and supporters up Auckland’s Queen St on Sunday.

Seymour labelled Hipkins a “weasel – so far he’s hiding behind misinformation”.

“He’s refusing to front up to the people that he’s truly affecting”.

“If he thinks making these schools into state schools keeping their special character that attracted the kids in the first place then he does not understand education let alone partner schools.”

“We’re here today to send a message to the government they cannot arrogantly cancel theses kids’ futures.

“If they wanted to be in a state school, they’d be in a state school – why take away their choice?”

Seymour said 12 existing and four planned charter schools officially given the previous National Government’s approval would be affected if the new government’s legislation passes.

“More than 1500 pupils” would lose the schooling their parents had chosen for them, Seymour said.

Several uniformed pupils from Albany’s military academy style Vanguard Military School attended the march.

“I hope the government will realise they’ve made an error that they need to take a take a step back and realise the success of these schools and ask themselves if they shouldn’t be keeping the partnership school model in some form rather than chopping it off the knees before they’ve even really consulted anybody.”

First-time protester Jan Franklin said she was marching “because I believe in these charter schools”.

Despite all his children being educated in state schools, Warkworth resident Barry Houlbrooke said he was there because he “liked the concept of charter schools”.

“I just want to get Jacinda [Ardern] out of education I just want to see people educate their kids outside the state system.”

The vast majority will be happy to remain in traditional type state schools, but they fail a significant number of children who for various reasons don’t fit in to normal education.

Hipkins is determined to deliver a promise made to education unions who support Labour, despite strong concerns of a number of Maori MPs – charter schools are popular as a Maori orientated alternative style of education.

Key questions:

  • Do Partnership Schools provide an effective alternative to kids who have failed in mainstream education?
  • Could ‘special character schools’ do as well within the State system?

 

Justice Minister plans to repeal ‘3 strikes’ law

New Minister of Justice Andrew Little plans on repealing the ‘3 strikes’ law that has been one of ACT Party’s few big policy successes. It came into effect in 2010 largely due to the efforts of David Garrett, who struck out himself, failing to last a term.

Newstalk ZB:  Three strikes and it’s out: Labour scrapping controversial law

The three strikes law is itself to be struck out.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said it has had no impact on making the country any safer.

Under the law, judges must impose the maximum sentence on anyone that commits a third violent or serious sexual crime.

Little said there are better ways to prevent crime.

“Make sure that our correction system is doing the job we need to do, which is to change the people who have been anti-social, who have committed crimes, and stop them from doing that. In the end, that’s the way you make people safe,” he said.

Little plans to start the three strikes repeal by the middle of next year.

It will be interesting to see if the Government just repeals the law, or if they introduce different guidelines or law on sentencing.

New Zealand has one of the highest imprisonment rates inn the developed world.

I don’t recall Labour campaigning on repealing ‘3 strikes’, but last year Jacinda Ardern  described it as “an ugly piece of law” – Jacinda v David: Three-strikes law is no home run:

Last week a piece of legislation from 2010 reached a milestone – the first offender was sentenced under the three-strikes legislation.

You may remember this law. It was fairly controversial at the time, and was one of the ACT Party’s babies. David Garrett was the champion of the bill, and having now exited Parliament it was David Seymour who has been left to defend what I can only describe as an ugly piece of law.

I don’t use those words lightly, but when you have a combination of bad law, coupled with populism, I just don’t know what else you can call it. And that’s exactly what three strikes is.

Let’s be absolutely clear though. No one is for a moment implying that if you commit multiple offences that it shouldn’t be taken into account. But judges already have to consider previous convictions as an aggravating factor when they hand down a sentence.

All that the three strikes legislation did was remove the discretion they had over how they factored that in. And examples like this recent case highlight how clumsy the law now is as a result.

The ugly part, of course, is that a law like ‘three strikes’ sounds good – like we’re sending a hard message and that we will all be safer as a result. But what do you do when the evidence shows that that’s not what this law does? Do you fly in the face of facts and evidence just because of the perception? I’d like to believe Parliament is better than that, perhaps it’s time to show it.

So while not promoted as a core policy, and I can’t find any reference to it on the Labour policy website it looks like Parliament is going to strike out  ‘3 strikes’.

Here are the latest Three strikes statistics.

 

ACT campaign launch and education policy

The ACT Party has launched their campaign today and at the same time has announced new education policy – better pay for better teachers.

ACT announces better pay for great teachers

“Good teachers help children grow, develop, and reach their full potential which is vital to their future success,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Unfortunately, because of union contracts, teachers hit maximum pay after ten years, schools can’t reward successful teachers, and teaching is not regarded as a strong career choice for our brightest graduates.

“Right now the best teachers earn the same as the worst teachers. Graduates are deserting Auckland schools or deserting teaching altogether. Teachers can only earn more by taking on administrative work, and spending less time actually teaching kids.

“ACT says this is crazy. We want the best teachers to stay in the profession and in the classroom.

“With the current government surplus at $3.7 billion, ACT will give principals $975 million to pay good teachers more, without cutting government services or raising taxes. But the schools will only be eligible for this funding if they abandon nationally-negotiated union contracts. This will make it easier for principals to replace bad teachers with great ones.

“ACT’s Good Teacher Grants will boost teachers’ pay by $20,000 on average, and elevate teaching as a profession, to attract the best graduates to teach our children and keep the most capable teachers in the classroom.”

Speech and policy explainer : Pay Good Teachers More

ACT BELIEVES

New Zealand kids should be taught by highly skilled professional teachers. Education is the most important gift we can give our children, to give them a head-start in life.

It is wrong that the best teacher and the worst teacher are paid the same. Incentives matter, it’s wrong that the only way for teachers to increase their pay, in many cases, is to take management hours and spend less time teaching kids.

Teachers, as salaried professionals, are undervalued. To attract the best school leavers and graduates into teaching as a profession, we have to lift the overall salary range.

ACT’S RECORD ON EDUCATION

ACT’s proudest achievement is in introducing choice into education. We championed Partnership Schools which are seeing Iwi, Pasifika Groups, community groups and others running new-model schools which are changing kids lives. We don’t believe that one size fits all in education.

Our policy has been to increase support for independent schools – they save taxpayers money, and provide parents with choice in the type of education they get for their children.

OUR POLICY IS TO PAY GOOD TEACHERS MORE

This policy will add $1 Billion into the funding that is available for teacher salaries. On average we will increase teacher salaries by $17,700 per teacher. This will enable the best teachers to stay in the classroom, and elevate teaching as a profession.

The Government surplus sits at $3.7 Billion. That means this policy is affordable and we can deliver improvements in teacher quality alongside tax cuts, while maintaining all core government spending.

We will enable schools to opt out of union contracts. This will mean they gain the flexibility to recognise great teachers by paying them more and rewarding their achievement.

Schools will be able to pay more to attract teachers to fill specialist skills shortages – in areas like science, technology, Te Reo and international languages.

 

Robin Grieve ACT – Whangarei

Robin Grieve, ACT candidate for Whangarei, has supplied answers to the questions that Stuff asked the two Shanes – see Shane v Shane Anor (Whangarei).


What is the most important issue for you.

As a regional centre connectivity to markets and services is vital. The motorway extension that will see a four lane highway from Auckland to Whangarei is vital for our primary industry, our tourism, our lifestyle and our prosperity. Labour, Greens and NZ First all opposed this extension and even insulted us by calling it the holiday highway. Those three parties have a cheek to even stand in this electorate for that reason.

Tell us something about yourself

I am a petrol head. I love motor racing having raced a production saloon at Whangarei speedway for seventeen years. I own a 1971 Mustang 429 Cobrajet and love driving it.

Is the Jacinda effect real?

Jacinda or Taxinda as I prefer to call her has a personality that has certainly created more interest in the election. In that sense the Jacinda effect is real. In terms of the election I don’t believe it will do any more than change the seating arrangements around the opposition table. There are enough thinking voters out there who require more depth of thought in their PM.  They will vote for Bill.

Why should people vote for me

They shouldn’t, I only want the party vote. They should vote for Reti because he has achieved a lot for our electorate and he actually lives here too, which is very important.

What do you think of the Shane’s?

Reti is a quiet achiever who works hard for the electorate. I respect him and thank him.

Jones is a pretender, he doesn’t live in Whangarei and he is just treating us like a meal ticket. Anyone who has so little respect for taxpayer’s hard earned money that they abuse it by buying motel porn with it, does not deserve our vote. Yes he apologized and paid it back but the fact that it never occurred to him in the first place that an MP should respect the taxpayers of New Zealand is enough reason to keep him out of Parliament. He has got a cheek standing again in my opinion.

Seymour versus Peters hots up

David Seymour and Winston Peters have been clashing for a while. As we get towards the business end of the election campaign their feuding is hotting up.

Seymour in a speech in Parliament on Wednesday:

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

But then you come round to New Zealand First. What a disaster. There is Winston Peters. He has been sacked from Cabinet three times by three different Prime Ministers. He has been voted out of two electorates, and the third electorate has not had an opportunity to vote him out yet, but help is on its way. It is going to vote him out on 23 September. This is a guy who has more bottom lines than a 100-year-old elephant. He is now up to 9 bottom lines. He has peaked too early in this election, and he is going to find out that the problem with Winston Peters politicking is eventually you run out of other people’s gullibility. He still has not paid back the $158,000—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

DAVID SEYMOUR: —and frankly, the way he campaigns is racist.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! A point of order—the Rt Hon Winston Peters.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I will tolerate a fair bit from that member, but I will not tolerate him getting up and making deceptive, deceitful statements like that. I know what we paid back—all $158,000, in circumstances—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. [Interruption] Order! That is not a point of order. That is very much a debating matter. The member can continue his speech, and if the member feels he has been misrepresented throughout the speech there is another means. It is not raised on the floor of the House, and I refer the member to Standing Order 359.

DAVID SEYMOUR: If one ACT MP can get that far under Winston Peters’ thin skin, imagine how far five ACT MPs could get. He does not like it up him but the ACT Party has kept him out of power for the last three elections, and we are going to do it again. I understand his frustration, but he has got to stay there.

Peters responded in the same debate:

We have seen the last National Party polls—the most recent ones—and it is all bad news for them, for them, and a whole lot of parties here, but it is good news for one other party. Take a wild guess which party that is.

We do not care about Epsom’s three-quarters of a million dollars bludger and his cuckolded behaviour in this Parliament.

Seymour followed up: ACT to keep the cabal of crooks out of office

“Metiria Turei’s proud theft of taxpayer money qualifies her perfectly as a Green Party activist. However, it should exclude her from ever entering Government. The people who write our laws should not thieve from the taxpayers who already pay their salaries.

“That goes for Winston Peters too,” says Mr Seymour.

“Yesterday in the House he claimed to have ‘paid out’ the $158,000 in taxpayer money he illegally spent during the 2005 election. The truth is Parliamentary Services never got this money back, leaving taxpayers with the bill. I’ve laid a complaint with the Privileges Committee today over Mr Peters’ attempt to mislead the House. Just like Metiria Turei, Winston Peters is a fraud, and should never be let near the baubles of office again.

“The safest way to keep the cabal of crooks out of Parliament is with a stronger ACT. With more MPs we’ll ensure stable National-led Government, while also forcing National to address issues they’ve ignored, like New Zealand’s chronic housing and infrastructure deficit.”

Yesterday to media Peters referred to Seymour as “a cuckolded political prostitute”.

This is a part of the competition for attention that has ramped up significantly.

Seymour is trying to claw ACT support up so he has at least one MP working alongside him.

Peters would seem to wish that ACT disappears from Parliament.

ACT’s one vote has been enough to keep NZ First out of a balance of power position after Peters won the Whangerei by-election. It is possible that this could be repeated after September’s election, depending on how close National get to a majority.

With Labour languishing and Greens taking what looks like a desperate gamble the best chance of Peters getting power is with National, and he won’t want to be competing for that with Seymour.

But feuding with Seymour is a side show for Peters. It’s hard to see him improving the NZ First vote much by having an ongoing spat with Seymour.

Seymour is fighting to remain relevant. It looks likely he will keep his Epsom seat, but is struggling to lift ACT’s support enough to get a second MP in on the list.

But Seymour probably has more to gain by attracting attention from Peters, because the media tend to go where Peters goes.

Seymour’s position in a Government alliance does look a bit precarious, and NZ First strength could sideline him. But he is young and potentially has many years ahead of him for a political career.

Peters must be getting near the end of his long career. This election may be his last shot at the Government limelight, so it could be boom or bust for him. So he has more to lose if he gets dragged down by feuding Seymour.

Over ACTing

‘Any publicity is good publicity’ is being tested by the ACT Party.

They announced their party list in the weekend. Number 2 was Beth Houlbrooke. She promoted herself on Facebook:

I am proud to announce I have just been named as the new Deputy Leader and No. 2 list candidate for ACT NZ.

The party seems to be using her to stir up some controversy, quoting her saying “The fact is, parents who cannot afford to have children should not be having them.”

That the party repeated it suggests it is a deliberately strategy to stir things up to attract attention.

While any prospective parent should consider how well they could care for any children, including financially, this is a very crude dog whistle from ACT.

There are genuine issues that should be debated regarding state support of parents. Labour has just promised a generous per baby handout.

There is anecdotal claims that some young people look at motherhood as a sort of (perceived to be easy until they get there) career choice. There are certainly potential issues with offering financial incentives to have babies.

But I think that ACT have handled this poorly and cynically. And insensitively, there are a number of reasons why parents, especially solo parents, can find themselves struggling financially.

It might attract fleeting attention but is unlikely to attract many votes, and is at least as likely to repel potential voters.