Labour now oppose treaty settlement

Labour had initially supported a Bill that would release a public reserve in Auckland for housing and would also help settle a Treaty of Waitangi claim. But they are now opposing it, to the disappointment of Auckland.

It makes things awkward for Labour’s Maori MPs – Andrew Little recently claimed “Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice”.

Phil Twyford on Twitter today:

NZ Herald: Pt England reserve housing development opposed by Labour as ‘land grab’

When Labour supported the enabling legislation at its first reading in December its Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare said he was “extremely excited” about the opportunity for Ngati Paoa.

And Labour’s Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni said the party supported the bill because “we will support any piece of legislation that is going to be about building more affordable homes in Auckland”.

“It does not make sense to use prime land for grazing cows when it could be used for affordable housing,” Sepuloni said.

However, in a press release today Twyford said the legislation was a “land grab” that flew in the face of the local community’s wishes.

“The Minister seems to think because some of the land has cows grazing on it, it’s fair game to take it for housing. The community needs this land for future generations. Once it is sold for housing it will be permanently lost to the public.”

Does anyone in Labour communicate?

Labour’s opposition has disappointed Ngati Paoa, who said without the land there would be no Treaty settlement between it and the Crown.

“By opposing the legislation Labour is opposing a Treaty settlement bill – for the first time in the history of the Treaty settlement process,” said Hauauru Rawiri, chief executive of Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust.

“All other iwi in Tamaki Makaurau support this transfer. Opposing the Bill pits the Labour Party against mana whenua of Auckland.”

Rawiri said he urged Labour’s Maori MPs to lobby colleagues on the issue and vote against their party if necessary.

That’s the Labour Maori MPs that Little was talking about in this press release on the Labour Party website:

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

Who’s running Labour, Little or Twyford?

Will the Labour Maori MPs back the Auckland Iwi?

Twyford is leading Labour’s election campaign in Auckland. This puts party support at risk in Auckland electorates as well as Maori electorates.

Little apology, too late?

Andrew Little out this out via Labour Party press release today:

Andrew Little
Leader of the Opposition

MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2017

Statement re Earl Hagaman

In June last year, Mr Earl and Mrs Lani Hagaman issued defamation proceedings over media statements I made about the award in September 2014 of a hotel management contract in Niue to the Scenic Hotel Group (in which they were shareholders and directors) followed by a $7 million upgrade.

It was a matter of public record that Mr Hagaman had donated $101,000 to the National Party in that same month. This generated considerable media interest. As Leader of the Opposition, I considered I had an obligation to respond to media questions on the issues which related to government actions. I referred the matter to the Auditor-General because I believed the public was entitled to be reassured. My focus was, and has always been, on holding the Government to account.

Throughout, the Hagamans have vigorously maintained there was no connection between the award of the contract to Scenic and Mr Hagaman’s donation. The Auditor-General did not establish any connection.

In those circumstances, I thought the matter should be resolved. Over the last three months, I have made a serious effort to do that. Today I want to publicly apologise unreservedly to Mr Hagaman for any hurt, embarrassment or adverse reflection on his reputation which may have resulted from my various media statements. I have offered that apology to the Hagamans. I have also offered to make a substantial contribution towards the Hagamans’ costs; an amount I am advised, was greater than would likely have been awarded by the Court.

My offers of an apology and redress have been rejected and the matter will now have to be resolved in court. That is unfortunate. I strongly believe everybody’s time, not least the Court’s, could be better used.

I want to make it clear that the object of the criticism was the actions of the National government and that I intended to reflect no impropriety on the part of Mr Hagaman. I accept that no connection has been established between the donation and the award of the management contract and the hotel upgrade.

I propose to make no further statement until the proceedings are resolved.

The Hagamans have responded:

HagamanOnLittleApology

He has belatedly apologised, sort of. He makes excuses.

He seems to be blaming Mr Hagaman for not settling, and a week before it is due to go to court plays the ‘wasting court time’ card.

The apology looks more like a political statement than contrition.

This looks very messy for Little.

Background detail at Stuff: Labour leader Andrew Little headed to court over defamation case

Past posts on this:

A Labour BLiP at The Standard

‘BLiP’ is well known at The Standard  for his list of alleged lies told by John Key. A lot of the items on that list were quite questionable, but that didn’t stop The Standard re-displaying the list from time to time.

BLiP was not required to provide evidence in support of his claims – anyone attacking Key and National in particular and also other parties at The Standard can say virtually what they like without being moderated.

Some of the moderators (BLiP is one) are much more touchy about any criticism of Labour in particular, and also criticism of their allies, the Greens.

In a recent exchange:

red-blooded 1.2.3

Peters has always said that he’d deal with the largest party first. This does suggest problems, as L/G are not one party (plus his antipathy towards the Greens is well-known and longstanding). I hope I’m wrong, but I do think we should be concerned about the idea of Winston choosing who forms the next government.

  • weka1.2.3.1

    So either that means he would first deal with National. Or, he’s going with the intent of MMP and he would deal with L/G first if they had higher numbers. But given Peters has monkeywrenched MMP I also don’t have much hope. More likely is he will imply something and then just do whatever afterwards.

    This stuff really needs to be clarified by the MSM during the election campaign.

Several claims about Winston Peters that were left unsubstantiated, as is normal.

I responded:

Pete George 1.2.3.1.2

But L/G ends on election day. It is a campaign arrangement with an end date before coalition wrangling begins.

Labour obviously want to keep their coalition options open. Particularly if NZ First gets more votes than Greens (a distinct possibility, if voters dump National they are more likely to vote NZF than Greens).

The MSM can’t clarify what Peters will do before the election. I doubt Labour will clarify what their strategy is either.

Remember that Labour has shat all over the Maori and Mana Parties and has ruled out dealing with them. That leaves either NZF or Greens.

Unless Labour+Greens can for a majority on their own the Greens are in a weak bargaining position.

[BLiP: Provide evidence of Labour having “ruled out dealing with [maori and Mana parties]” in your very next comment or do not post here again for one week. Up to you.]

Touchy, and a typical double standard.

I responded three times with different justifications for my claim. BLiP has not even acknowledged my replies, instead leaving the impression that I didn’t comply with his demand. I presume that is deliberate.

Andrew Little and Labour have made it clear they don’t want to deal with the Maori and Mana parties. They have made it clear they want to deal to them – to wipe them out of Parliament.

NZ Herald reported on Little at Ratana in January:

Labour leader Andrew Little has further distanced Labour from the Maori Party while also dismissing Hone Harawira’s Mana Movement as “irrelevant”.

Speaking at Ratana Pa near Wanganui this morning, Little all but ruled out forming a post-election coalition with the Maori Party or Mana Movement, which have agreed to work together to win back Maori seats.

Little said Labour would work with parties which had “a practical set of ideas of what can be done” for Maori.

The Maori Party had been “shackled” to the National Party for nine years, and National had failed Maori, he said.

“Why the Mana Party would want to now shackle itself to the Maori Party is entirely up to them, but they are totally irrelevant.”

Last month also from the Herald:

But it takes two to tango and Labour leader Andrew Little was putting on dancing shoes with sprigs.

He was not interested in the tango.

He was interested in the danse macabre; he wanted to kill off the Maori Party completely.

Little went into a lengthy, full-blown tirade against the Maori Party on RNZ.

He downgraded the Maori Party as a future support partner from “far from the first cab on the rank” to “simply not in my contemplation.”

He then declared the Maori Party was “not kaupapa Maori” [based on Maori values].

From Stuff in early March: Little signals Greens will be ‘first cab off the rank’ in post-election talks

“There are two other Opposition parties, apart from Labour, that we work closely together with and I contemplate both being candidates for partners or support partners to form a government.”

In an interview on The Nation earlier this month:

But do voters deserve to know that? You know, he’s a potential coalition partner. Would you countenance him as Deputy Prime Minister?Little: Voters want to know what are the parties that we have good relations with and who are likely to be part of a coalition arrange – a set of coalition arrangements. We have a good relationship with the Green Party. We have a good relationship with New Zealand First.

Okay, so you’re not ruling it out. You’re not ruling it out.

Little: If I have the privilege after the 23rd of September to form a Government, my first phone call will go to the Greens and New Zealand First will be not far behind.

Noticeably excluded are the Maori and Mana parties from Little’s contemplations and ruling in.

Why is BLiP so intent on suppressing an impression that Little has repeatedly made obvious?

I note that BLiP made no attempt to argue against Labour’s impression, he just banned and censored what he didn’t want posted.

Posted under Little’s name on the Labour Party website:

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

He seems to think that Labour alone can properly serve Māori.

I’ll leave this post with this impression from Andrew Little: Maori King is ‘abusing his office’ by endorsing Rahui Papa for the Maori Party:

As to the plan to restore a relationship between Labour and Kingitanga, the Maori King movement?

“We’re going to campaign and win and we’ll beat the Maori Party,” he said.

“The problem with the King is that for whatever reason he’s allowed himself to become a mouthpiece for a single political party in a way that no previous head of Kingitanga has done.

That’s rather ironic given that Little is the mouthpiece for a single political party that  wants to be the sole representative of Maori voters.

Labour’s Maori MPs opt off list

Just last week Labour’s Maori MPs seemed at odds with leader Andrew Little over their wishes about their placement on this year’s party list. See Little versus Maori MPs on list placement.

During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.

“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”

When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.

But:

The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.

The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.

These MPs seem to have suddenly decided to jump on board with their leader, in fact they have now said they don’t want to be on the list at all.

Andrew Little yesterday: Māori MPs backed to win seats

The Labour Party is backing a request from its Māori seat MPs to stand as electorate MPs only, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“We’re confident our outstanding Māori electorate MPs will win their seats.

“We take nothing for granted and our MPs will be working hard to win the trust of voters. But we’re very confident they’ll make the case this coming election given the strength of our plans and Labour’s record of delivering for Māori in government.”

Under Labour Party rules a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances.

“This is a statement of Labour’s intent,” says Labour Party President Nigel Haworth.

So “special circumstances” seems to mean simply if Labour considers it a good campaign tactic.

“We back our Māori electorate MPs 100 per cent to win their seats which is why the Party agreed to the waiver. They’re an excellent group of MPs who have Labour values and Maori aspirations in the forefront of all their work.”

Māori Vice-President Tane Phillips said the decision to grant the waiver underlined how important it was for Labour to secure all the Māori seats.

“We have a strong Māori team who have worked hard to promote what matters to Māori. They are looking for a mandate so we can really start making a difference for Māori in government.”

Andrew Little says the decision was a direct challenge by the Māori MPs to the Māori Party.

“The Māori Party has failed Māori during the nine years they have been shackled to National.

“They have neglected their people for too long, thinking that the crumbs that fall off the Cabinet table are all that matters. What matters to Labour is making a positive difference for Māori.

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

That was followed soon after by Kelvin Davis in Labour’s Māori MPs show strength

All of Labour’s Māori electorate members of Parliament have opted out of being on the list, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

“We approached the party and asked to stay off the list as a show of strength, unity and confidence in our ability to build on the success that we enjoyed at the last election.

“Labour winning six of the seven Māori electorate seats was Māori showing us we’re the preferred political party to address Māori issues. The numbers were in our favour and we’re looking to improve.

“Our election strategy is about showing how the Māori Party has failed Māori during nine years of being tethered to National’s waka.

“We back ourselves to help Māori make progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education.

“Labour has five Māori MPs in the Shadow Cabinet and we’re all up to prove why we should have the party vote.

“We’re determined to show we’re an integral part of the Labour movement. We’re committed to working together to show how Māori will be much better served with a strong Labour Māori voice in Cabinet,” says Kelvin Davis.

This could be a smart and gutsy move, but it could just as easily backfire.

It is a clear attempt to try and have the Maori Party dumped from Parliament. Labour is claiming to be the sole party necessary to represent Maori interests. I don’t know where the growing Green Maori caucus fits in there.

Maori voters have proven to be good at tactical voting, far more so  than most general electorates. They have shifted support to NZ First in the 1990s, then back to Labour, then went with the Maori Party when they split, and has been shifting back to Labour.

Stuff: Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

The move is designed to increase Maori representation in the Labour caucus and could boost the chances of more Maori getting in on the list, such as broadcaster Willie Jackson and Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime, if they get winnable list spots.

The only thing that will boost the chances of non-electorate Maori MPs is if they are placed on the list in relation to non-Maori who are unlikely to win electorates.

Only three Labour list MPs made it into Parliament after the last election, with Little only just making the cut.

Little and other current MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard will be list only and may not be keen on having Willie Jackson placed above them.

The PM’s response:

“Prime Minister Bill English described it as “negative political move” because it was designed to eliminate the Maori Party from Parliament.”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11822366

Ironically given Labour’s claims of promoting Maori interests National have chosen to give the Maori Party a place in government even though they didn’t need them.

The best way of maximising Maori representation in Parliament would actually be to vote for Labour MPs in the Maori electorates, and party vote for the Maori Party to increase the number of their MPs.

It will be fascinating to see how Maori vote in the September election.

And it will be interesting if the outcome means that Labour would require the support of the Maori party to form the next government.

Government appointed committee criticises abortion law

The Government appointed The Abortion Supervisory Committee reported to Parliament on Thursday and slammed the current laws covering abortion, saying they are an indictment and “some parts of the language is actually quite offensive, referring to people as subnormal”.

NZ Herald: Not updating abortion law ‘an indictment’, supervising committee tells MPs

The Abortion Supervisory Committee (ASC) made its annual appearance at Parliament’s justice and electoral committee today, reporting on how abortion law has been managed.

While calling for the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act, passed in 1977, to be updated, the ASC made clear the larger issue of more significant changes was a question for the public and Parliament.

Dame Linda Holloway, ASC chairwoman, told the committee that the legislation’s wording was causing “enormous administrative problems” for the ASC and health practitioners.

The law was not written in inclusive language, Dame Linda said.

“In fact, some parts of the language is actually quite offensive, referring to people as subnormal, for example. Really it is an indictment that we have statute like that on the books that is not being corrected.”

The abortion law referred to the “operating doctor”. Now many women who received abortions were medically induced.

“There is no operating doctor. Again, that can cause lots of challenges and hassle,” Dame Linda said.

What’s the chances of this being addressed by Parliament?

Asked by Labour’s Jacinda Ardern if the committee had a view on whether abortion remaining under the Crimes Act should be reviewed as part of the redraft, she said it held no opinion on that question.

“We believe that major reform of the Act is something for society and for Parliament.”

The strong criticism of aspects of abortion law comes amidst increasing political debate about the issue, with Labour, the Green Party and Act Party all calling for change.

Labour leader Andrew Little has called Prime Minister Bill English “deeply conservative” on abortion law, and says he believes the legislation needs to be reviewed and upgraded, and abortion should not be on the Crimes Act.

However, he will not commit to introducing legislation if in Government; Labour policy is for the law to first be reviewed by the Law Commission.

English said recently that while he opposes abortion he thinks the current law is working adequately. Under his leadership National are not going to initiate any changes.

But, while Labour are making noises about needing change, they also seem reluctant to do anything about it themselves.

The Green Party has already made abortion reform a party issue, rather than a conscience issue.

The Greens’ policy would decriminalise abortion. Terminations after 20 weeks would be allowed only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities.

Its women’s spokeswoman, Jan Logie, said today that the ASC was clearly telling the government that the legislation had not stood the test of time.

Asked if she would introduce a private member’s bill, Logie said none would pass before the election and the national conversation would probably happen after September’s election.

So nothing will happen before the election. Any attempt to address the inadequate law that is being effectively ignored is likely to depend on who forms the next Government, and what sort of priority parties like Labour are prepared to put on reform.

It is likely to depend on the lottery of the Members’ Bill ballot should Greens submit a bill.

 

Little versus Maori MPs on list placement

Andrew Little seems to be at odds with some of Labour’s Maori MPs over their placement on the party list for this year’s election.

Radio NZ: Labour’s Māori MPs tepid about low list rankings

The battle for the Māori seats is hotting up, with the deal between Mana and the Māori Party not to stand against each other, putting more pressure on the Labour candidates.

During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.

“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”

That was on February 21. It sounded odd at the time.

When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.

“The list committee would do its work and will hear from everybody but the Māori MPs are saying to me right now do not give us high list places, we want to fight this out and stand on our own digs in our seats because we know we’re going to win and we’re confident about our success.”

But the Maori MPs are not singing the same waiata.

The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.

The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.

“I haven’t asked anything,” he said. “It is a distraction, I didn’t go on the list last time but the party will decide if they are going to allow us to remain on the list or not.”

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.

“I haven’t talked anything about the list other than getting the nomination sorted for Tāmaki Makaurau.”

A few weeks beforehand, Mr Little had announced Willie Jackson as a Labour candidate to help target the urban Māori vote, promising him a high list position.

There have been reports that there were attempts to pressure Henare into standing aside for Jackson in the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate.

It seems odd that Little wants the Maori MPs to be shunted down the list. If he is as confident he says he is about he Labour Maori MPs retaining their electorates then a high list placing will make no difference as to who will make it in off the list. It would only make a difference if any of them lose their electorate.

Maori MPs will have some interest in where they end up being placed on the list, especially in comparison to new party members like Jackson. There is mana involved.

It appears that Labour are putting a lot of effort into attracting Auckland votes. If that takes precedent then Maori voters may wonder how much Labour takes them for granted.

Andrew Little’s ‘hard-hitting’ speech

Labour on Facebook have referred to Andrew Little’s speech in the General Debate yesterday in Parliament as ‘hard-hitting’.


ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. It is a great pleasure to speak at this particular point and ask the question that is on the lips of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders every day, and it is this: what is it about the housing crisis that this Government does not get?

Unlike the Minister of Finance, I get around a lot of New Zealand and a lot of places. Just in the last couple of weeks, hundreds of people turned out at Tauranga, and hundreds turned out at Whangarei—200 at Clyde last week alone. Everywhere I go, everyone I speak to, and everywhere I look, people are saying: “Why is it this Government does not get it about the housing crisis?”

Everyone is now affected by this Government’s neglect and negligence and dereliction when it comes to housing. It is not just about the out-of-control house prices in Auckland; it is also now about rents and rentals. It is not just rent in Auckland; it is rents right across the country, as people are finding. Hard-working New Zealanders are finding they cannot afford to pay their rent any more.

What a damning statistic—that we now find just 2 weeks ago that the average working family finds that what little pay increase it got last year was almost entirely eaten up in extra housing costs.

So New Zealand families last year were, on average, better off by—would you believe it—$2 a week. Just $2 a week, and that is before inflation. That is before the rising cost of food and other costs that households have to meet. No wonder we have people living no longer just in cars and garages but now in caravans.

And now it turns out that schools are so desperate they are going to teach kids in caravans. I do not what it is about this Government and caravans, and jamming people into places where they cannot live and cannot learn.

You know, this Government boasts that it is the social investment Government, and it says “We look at figures and we look at information and we have all the best data and we make a decision that answers the problem that we see.”

Well, what is it about the information about housing that this mob does not get? What is it about the one in five working New Zealanders who are now paying more than 50 percent of their take-home pay in accommodation that does not compel the Government to want to do something serious and meaningful about housing?

What is it about that figure about household incomes simply not keeping pace with the real rising cost of living that does not force it around that Cabinet table to say “You know what, Nick? You’ve got to do something else. You’ve got to do something better because what is happening now is not working.”?

What is it about 41,000 New Zealanders at least who do not even have a home they can call their own that does not make the Government want to do something different?

Well, Labour is going to come to the rescue. Labour has got the plan. Labour is here and we will build a hundred thousand affordable homes over 10 years, and we will build the workforce to go with it, and we will work with the landowners and the property developers, and whoever else we have to, with our affordable housing authority, and we build those homes.

We will get stuck into the speculators—the people who live overseas but want to own a home here because New Zealand is a fantastic place to own a home in even if you do not want to live in it. We are going to get stuck into them and we are going to do what many of our counterpart countries do around the world and say: “If you want to own a home here, you build a new home.”

And then we are going to go after those who get the tax break called negative gearing and we are going to say “You ain’t having that tax break any more.”

We are going to do something about that so that first-home owners, those struggling and striving to do what every New Zealander who has grown up believing they could do—that if they do the right things, work hard and save hard, they can buy their own home. They are going to get a look in, for once.

They are going to get a look in, because right now there is one party that is listening to New Zealanders right across the country. Whether it is Tauranga, Whangarei, Clive, the Botanical Gardens here in Wellington—everywhere I have gone there is one party that is listening to New Zealand, and it is the Labour Party.

New Zealanders are saying: “We want our dream back. We want our kids and our grandkids to have the opportunity that we had to own our own home, to have our own place, to put down our anchors, to have a place where we can raise our children with confidence, be part of strong communities, raise a strong family and live in a great prosperous, bounteous country that we are.”

That is the Kiwi Dream. It is the Labour dream, and we are putting it in place in September this year.

Labour won’t commit to Defence Force upgrade

New Zealand has a relatively modest defence force (officially called a “credible minimum force”, used mostly for peace keeping, humanitarian assistance and patrolling our fisheries.

A $20 billion upgrade, planned to span 15 years, has already begun.

Andrew Little has said that a Labour led government wouldn’t commit to this upgrade, citing other things as priorities.

RNZ: Defence Force upgrade in question under Labour govt

Labour leader Andrew Little has refused to commit to following through on the 15-year modernisation plan if he became prime minister, saying spending on housing and education would always take priority.

Last year the government unveiled the multi-billion dollar plan to equip the Defence Force with new aircraft, combat vessels and weaponry, as well as a major upgrade to its land and property.

It would cost $20bn over the next 15 years, and the procurement process for the some of the new equipment is already under way.

Mr Little said the government had not specified where all the money would be spent.

“That’s an area we’d have to look at and see what the commitment is about that $20bn.

“But I have to tell you when it comes down to a choice between doing stuff that’s going to give people a chance to either get a roof over their head, get the kids set up for opportunities for the future, then that’s got to come first,” Mr Little said.

So Labour may fund it’s policies not just from improving surpluses but also potentially by scrapping current spending commitments.

Our defence budget is about 1% of our GDP (the budget was about $3 billion in 2012). We have a substantial reliance on cooperation with other countries, particularly Australia which spends at about 1.9% of GDP.

Largest military spenders (SIPRI Fact Sheet):

MilitarySpending2015

More from RNZ:

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the plan was a modest way of making sure the defence force remained fit for purpose, and was able to respond to international threats and disasters back home.

“We don’t live in a benign environment,” Mr Brownlee said.

“This government has moved to put our defence forces in the best position they’ve been in for decades. What Mr Little is doing here I think is not expressing his own views but simply continuing a dialogue that lets him hold hands with the Green Party.”

Scrapping the modernisation plan would be a huge step backwards, Mr Brownlee said.

“It will be very disappointing if that were the price for a Labour-Green government. It would mean that we don’t have the same capacity to work with countries that are like-minded.”

Mr Little was unapologetic for what his priorities would be.

“We want to support our armed forces but there’s no point in saying we’ll have state-of-the-art equipment if the people that are rocking up to be recruited into the armed services don’t have a good education [and] good foundation that enables them to do that.”

No details on how much Labour might cut the Defence Force upgrade budget and what they would scrap.

English, Little, Ardern on abortion laws

1 News chose to make Bill English’s views on abortion it’s headline story from the Q+A interviews with English and Andrew little on Sunday.

English, Little at loggerheads over abortion law reform

‘Loggerheads’ is nonsense – English and Little have different views on abortion but neither sound interested in putting much priority on doing anything about our sham abortion laws.

English even indicated he had no inclination to change the current law – “I mean, it’s a law that’s stood the test of time.” He then diverted to other social issues he was more interested in dealing with.

Political editor for 1 NEWS Corin Dann asked Mr English about the issue on TVNZ’s current affairs show Q+A this morning.

Mr Dann mentioned that prime ministers tended to set the tone for conscience vote issues, and said Mr English’s vote would be quite significant in an issue like abortion.

“The Abortion Supervisory Committee has recommended an update of our abortion laws, they’re outdated and clumsy,” said Mr Dann.

“Would you stand in the way of that, given that you’re not in favour of liberalising abortions?

Mr English replied: “That’s right, I’m not, and I wouldn’t vote for legislation that did”.

The Prime Minister went on to say that it would be an issue dealt with in a parliamentary vote, and his would be one vote in 121. He hoped that others would vote with him.

Despite the headline there was no mention of Little, his views or his differences with English.

Here is the whole section of the interview:

CORIN But it’s a different story when you’re Prime Minister because we saw with John Key when he voted for gay marriage, that was a big impetus to that legislation. We’ve seen it with the smacking legislation in previous years gone by. Prime ministers set the tone, and if you’re socially conservative, what I’m curious about is how you behave around a social conscience vote is quite significant. For example, the Abortion Advisory Committee has recommended an update of our abortion laws; they’re outdated and clumsy. Would you stand in the way of that, given that, I’m presuming, you’re not in favour of liberalising abortions?

BILL That’s right, I’m not, and I wouldn’t vote for legislation that did.

CORIN What about a law that just updated it, modernised it, which is what they’re calling for?

BILL Well, I think what they mean is liberalise it, and we wouldn’t do that. I mean, it’s a law that’s standed the test of time. But, look, the Parliament has ways of working with this. They know how I would vote, but also they can— You know, I’m focusing on a whole wider set of issues, and many views that I think have traditionally been regarded as socially conservative turning out to be pretty useful. For instance, cracking some of our worst social problems is about trying to rebuild families that have been shattered by dependency, offending, abuse, and as a government we’re focusing on achieving that.

CORIN I think you’ll find the Abortion Advisory Committee does not think it’s standing the test of time and that it’s an outdated, clumsy, sexist piece of legislation.

BILL Well, look, they’re free to have their opinion. They know what my opinion is. The Parliament would deal with the issue, I’m sure, one way or another if it came up.

CORIN But would you stand in the way of it? You’re Prime Minister; you’re signalling that’s something you’re not interested in reforming.

BILL Well, I’m signalling that as a parliamentarian with one vote out of 121, and I hope others would vote with me.

CORIN Yeah, but the most important vote, isn’t it?

BILL Well, no, on conscience issues you are just one vote. I’ve seen this process work in the past, and I’d vote my way.

CORIN But it sets the tone, doesn’t it?

BILL Well, look, if it does, in that case, I’m quite happy that it sets the tone of not rushing into big changes in abortion law.

English remains opposed to abortion but seems unenthusiastic about changing how things work at this stage.

Little was asked about abortion in his interview:

CORIN Andrew Little, likewise, if you are Prime Minister, it will be you who sets the tone often with these issues. You’re not so keen on euthanasia, is that right? Where do you sit on the issues, these social issues that come forth if you are Prime Minister?

ANDREW I personally support euthanasia. I personally support Maryan Street’s bill. I just did not regard it as a priority for Labour when we just had an election where we got 25% of the vote. There were bigger priorities to deal with. On abortion, I support the recommendation to have an inquiry to update and upgrade that legislation. I support women’s choice.

CORIN What do you make of Bill English’s comments? He thought this was an attempt by the advisory committee at liberalisation. I mean, are you surprised that he would feel that way, that the law isn’t outdated in his mind?

ANDREW I mean, he is a social conservative. He’s deeply conservative on an issue like abortion. I happen to differ from him on that. I think that the advisory committee is right. The legislation has been around for the best part of 40 years. It does need to be reviewed and upgraded, and I agree with Jacinda. We should not have it in the Crimes Act. It is not a crime.

But as with his reluctance to put forward attempts to change the law on euthanasia (he canned a Labour private Member’s Bill on it)  Little is unlikely to make abortion law reform ‘a priority’.

Abortion was one issue that Jacinda Ardern showed some depth of knowledge and opinion on:

CORIN Jacinda, if we could turn to some of the social issues in that interview with Bill English. Where do you sit on this issue of abortion law? Does it need to be reformed?

JACINDA Yeah. And these are, as he rightly pointed out, all conscience issues. I think a lot of New Zealanders would be surprised to know that currently those laws are contained in the Crimes Act 1961. And so, for obvious reasons, that has been raised by the Abortion Supervisory Committee. So they’ve called for a review, and when you’ve still got abortion in the Crimes Act, that’s understandable, and it would be timely. But my position on issues like this has always been regardless of what my view is, why should I impose that view on others and remove their choice? I had the same view when it came to things like civil unions or marriage equality – that people should have that choice available to them. And is it our position as lawmakers to stand in the way of people accessing choice that should be there?

CORIN So if, for example, you were in a position where you were a minister in government, you wouldn’t pick up those recommendations; you’d leave it to a member’s bill? Is that what you’re saying?

JACINDA Look, I think those recommendations do need to be pursued. That’s my view, but it is a conscience vote.

As both Ardern and English pointed out it’s a conscience issue, so it won’t be a major party versus party election issue.

Corin Dan was trying to make a contentious story out bugger all.

Currently abortion is legal in New Zealand if two certifying doctors determine there is a risk of serious danger to the life or mental health of the mother (those signatures are easy to get in practice) , and in cases of severe mental or physical handicap of the fetus, incest, or severe mental subnormality of the mother.

Interview transcripts:

http://business.scoop.co.nz/2017/03/12/tvnz-1-qa-prime-minister-bill-english/

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1703/S00151/tvnz-1-qa-andrew-little-and-jacinda-ardern.htm

Q+A – English, and Little and Ardern

Today on Q+A:

Political Editor Corin Dann interviews Prime Minister Bill English in a wide-ranging and revealing interview – how different will National be under his leadership?

Also, Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern – will they be a winning combination for Labour this year?

And our panel: Dr Raymond Miller, Steve Maharey, Hannah Monigatti with our host Greg Boyed.

It will be a good chance to compare English and Little.


Bill English:

No CGT, no asset sales (Kiwibank, TVNZ).

Doesn’t agree with ‘baby boomers’ not paying “their fair share” for Super.

“The economy is in much better shape” and that seem to be English’s key election strategy.

Fix working for families? “That will unfold through the year”, “we can have a crack at it through the next few years”

“Families on low to middle incomes” need to benefit more from the improved economy.

Will a tax cut be meaningful? Wait for the budget, have to look at a balance of tax cuts. Won’t put a figure on it. “I wouldn’t expect some big sugar shot in the middle to upper range”.

Sounds like tweaks to thresholds and more targeting at the low end.


Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern

Labour seem to be really trying to sell a dual leadership package.

Ardern has already said several times she absolutely backs Andrew and he is absolutely the leader – but she is dominating the speaking so far.

If National adjusts tax thresholds Little would leave them. Little is committing to as little as possible.

Both Ardern and Little divert from questions and try to repeat their learned talking points.

The only time Ardern sounded knowledgeable about a specific policy was on the sham of an abortion law that we still have in effect.

Little said that he supported both euthanasia and reviewing abortion law but as he says they are not a priority – he ensured a euthanasia private members’ bill was removed from the ballot – he doesn’t seem prepared to do anything about them.

Is the double act working? Not for me, just double poliparroting.