Mt Albert result

The final provisional result in the Mt Albert by-election wasw an easy win to Labour’s Jacinda Ardern with not many votes to anyone else

A majority not voting with a very low turnout of 29.9%  – the biggest winner was ‘couldn’t be bothered’.

Candidates Party Votes
ARDERN, Jacinda
LAB
10000
GENTER, Julie Anne
GP
1489
SIMMONS, Geoff
TOP
600
TOMAR, Vin
NZPP
191
CAROLAN, Joe
SPBP
171
BRIGHT, Penny
IND
131
GRAY, Abe
ALCP
92
AMOS, Adam
IND
75
ARTHUR, Dale
IND
47
VAN DEN HEUVEL, Anthony Joseph J
HR
31
WAKEMAN, Peter
IND
30
SMYTHE, Simon
NAP
17
BROWN, Patrick
CL
15
Candidate Informals: 82
TOTAL: 12,971

Number of enrolled voters: 45,200

In the 2014 general election:

  • Turnout 36,922 (79.41%)
  • David Shearer (Labour) 20,970
  • Melissa Lee (National) 10,314
  • Jeanette Elley (Greens) 3,152

So Ardern has moved to a safe seat and won. She failed once in Waikato in 2008 and then twice in Auckland Central in what had been a safe Labour seat until Nikki Kaye won there in 2008.

Julie Anne Genter didn’t really contest the seat, she was in it for the publicity for the Greens and to try and show how well Greens and Labour could work together.

Geoff Simmons and The Opportunities Party could be disappointed in not getting anywhere near close despite being given preferential treatment by media along with Ardern and Genter over the rest of the candidates.Gareth Morgan had previously said TOP was not going to contest electorates so he will probably be undeterred.

The NZ People’s Party are failing to attract many votes.

Joe Carolan and Penny Bright are fringe candidates with little support – Carolan’s socialism has little appeal in New Zealand in the 21st century.

I don’t know if Abe Gray actually campaigned or not but if the Cannabis Party want to make an impression they may need to rethink their approach to elections.

Raymond Huo will now take over Ardern’s list place and after two others declined the opportunity to return to Parliament.

From NZ Herald Labour’s Jacinda Ardern new MP for Mt Albert

Speaking to the crowd, Ardern paid tribute to former MP David Shearer, and also previous Mt Albert MP and Prime Minister Helen Clark.

“Here in Mt Albert there is so much to celebrate but we need to go back to the basics – affordable houses, the ability to get around our city.

“I vow that I will advocate for all these things. But real change comes when Labour are in Government. Tonight is the first step, and now the real work begins.”

She has a safe seat probably for as long a political career she chooses thanks to Shearer, Clark and Warren Freer who held  Mt Albert for yonks.

Little said the strong result showed Labour was in fine shape to fight September’s general election.

“It’s all on for September … we are on our way.”

It wasn’t a strong result. It was a virtual non-event for most people, including a majority of Mt Albert voters.

There had been speculation that a strong byelection showing could lead to some within Labour questioning whether Ardern should be elevated to the deputy leader position, currently held by Annette King.

“There is no vacancy,” Little said when asked about that speculation. “I’m not planning on any changes.”

That ‘speculation’ was almost political activism by pundits trying to make something of the outcome.

This seems to confirm that Labour will campaign with both leader and deputy based in Wellington and both on the party list.

King is a Labour stalwart who has been a big help to Little minimising caucus unrest but this doesn’t look like a fresh new party determined to win the election.

Andrew Little won’t contest any electorate

Labour leader Andrew Little has announced a decision not to stand in any electorates this election. He will stand on the list only. If he remains as leader he should be number 1 on the list so barring a Labour electoral catastrophe he should make it back into Parliament.

Stuff: Little flags away Rongotai, New Plymouth to go list-only for 2017 election

Labour leader Andrew Little is to run as a list-only candidate in this year’s election, opening the way for councillor Paul Eagle to win the party’s nomination for the Rongotai seat.

Little has previously been defeated in the New Plymouth seat twice by National backbencher Jonathan Young but it was long rumoured he may seek to stand in Deputy Leader Annette King’s Rongotai seat, where he lives, if she stood down.

King has decided not to stand in Rongotai this year and is also going list only (unless she retires altogether).

He formally told his fellow MPs of his decision on Monday at a caucus retreat in the Wairarapa.

“I’ve told them I will be a list-only candidate. I’m not seeking nomination or selection for any seat,” Little said.

“Leading a general election campaign I need the flexibility I have had for the last two years of being able to be, in effect, anywhere anytime.”

At the leadership level you were “MP for the whole of New Zealand” and that was the way he saw the job.

In general I agree that a major party leader – and especially the prime Minister – are better suited to be list only and not committed to a single electorate.

However Little has a credibility problem, having never been successfully elected by voters.

Little said Eagle, who has confirmed he is considering contesting Rongotai, was the leading contender, though Little said he did not know who else might be interested. .

He had won council elections, organised well, and was a very strong identity with good connections in the area.

“He has got everything you would need for a good, effective MP,” Little said.

Ironic comments given their contrast with Little’s lack of electoral success.

Little said he had been waiting for King’s announcement to be tied down before making his call.

Rongotai members had asked him to consider standing, but after giving it a couple of days’ thought he decided to stay with his view he should remain a list MP.

That was last year. It seems off he has waited until now to announce it, especially given that Eagle announced his interest in standing in Rongotai the day after King announced she was stepping down.

By-election or general election?

When news came out that David Shearer was likely to resign from his Mt Albert electorate to take up a UN job Andrew Little suggested an early general election would be more appropriate than a by-election.

One News: Little calls for early election instead of Mt Albert by-election brought by David Shearer’s expected move to UN role

Labour leader Andrew Little says his party is “ready to go” and that a General Election should be held in mid-winter 2017, instead of a by-election that would be triggered if Labour MP David Shearer takes up a new job at the UN.

Labour Leader Andrew Little said today it was his preference for a General Election to be held mid-winter in 2017 instead of later in the year.

General elections are not supposed to be scheduled at the convenience of a party leader.  It would be ludicrous if an Opposition MP resigning before the end of their term justified interfering with the normal 3 year term, which is short enough as it is.

But after new Prime Minister Bill English announced a Mt Albert by-election date (25 February) acting Labour leader Annette King continued asking for an early election. She posted this PR yesterday:

National no-show gutless, but Labour is ready

Labour is ready and keen to talk about the problems facing electors in Mt Albert despite the gutless decision of Bill English not to front a National candidate there, says Labour Deputy Leader Annette King.

“English is running scared from his first test as a leader. He clearly doesn’t want another bloody nose after the Mt Roskill defeat.

“We are more than ready for another contest and relish the chance to talk to people in Mt Albert about how Labour can help them deal with the problems around rising crime, health, public transport and housing affordability.

“We take nothing for granted and will be seeking a mandate for Labour’s new candidate in Mt Albert. As we showed in Mt Roskill, we are ready to fight a by-election and a general election.

“The easiest solution really is for Bill English to do everyone a favour. For tens of thousands of Kiwis a change of government can’t come soon enough so let’s save the cost of a by-election and bring forward the general election,” says Annette King.

The easiest solution would be for Labour to not dump so many leaders who then find better jobs outside Parliament. Already this year Phil Goff has resigned and David Cunliffe has indicated he will resign as soon as he can avoid precipitating a by-election. With David Shearer that’s all three post-Helen Clark ex-leaders jumping ship.

Labour want an early election so they can try to beat Bill English before he can establish himself as Prime Minister.

Or they want a by-election so they can benefit from a taxpayer funded campaign opportunity to kick off their election year.

Someone as experienced as King promoting this pathetic bull is ridiculous. Perhaps her influence is one of the reasons Labour has become a party of whinging and negativity.

It’s a bit rich of King to grizzle about National deciding not to stand a candidate in Mt Albert just after announcing she has decided not to stand in her Rongotai electorate in the general election, giving her leader Little an opportunity to win a safe seat.

General elections should only be called if it becomes impossible for the Government to continue governing effectively. King must know this, yet she barks at a by-election, and barks for a general election.

Competition for Rongotai

On Saturday Annette King announced that she wouldn’t stand again in the Rongotai electorate but would go list only. This opens up what should be a safe Labour seat for someone.

Andrew Little has been talked of as a contender for quite a while. He has lost in New Plymouth in the last two elections and now lives in Rongotai.

A year ago (November 2015) from Stuff: Andrew Little keeping tabs on Annette King’s Rongotai seat:

Labour leader Andrew Little won’t run in Mt Roskill if MP Phil Goff is successful in his bid for Auckland Mayor, but Rongotai is in his sights.

Leading the Labour Party and not being “tied to a seat” is a good position to be in, and Little said he would only stand in a seat in 2017 if a “suitable” one came up.

“We could be in a position where Rongotai becomes available so I can’t rule out not standing in a seat,” he said.

Labour deputy leader Annette King holds the Rongotai seat but Little said “depending on what she decided to do” would determine whether he stood there.

“I haven’t ruled out New Plymouth and I’ve got an office up there and have a presence up there but I’ve run their twice and missed out twice so there are other options I need to consider.”

So now, as per Saturday’s Herald headline, Annette King stands aside for the younger generation in electorate:

Longstanding Labour MP Annette King will stand as a list-only candidate in 2017 – a step that opens up her Rongotai seat for Labour leader Andrew Little should he decide to stand there.

Little, a list MP, has lived in the Rongotai electorate for years and said he would consider standing in the seat.

“Up until now it was an attractive option as leader of the party to remain list because you get drawn all over the country. Being tied to an electorate, particularly if I’m campaigning to win it for the first time, creates an extra workload.”

I think there’s a good case to make for a major party leader to be list only, as their focus must be on national issues and all electorates, and they shouldn’t have time to lead a party, do what they need to in parliament as well as taking care of an electorate.

“But given I live in the electorate, I know many of the people, it is at least something I should give consideration to.”

King, 69, denied her decision was part of any arrangement with Little, saying she simply believed it was time for another generation to take on the electorate.

She did not know if Little wanted to stand there and had made her own decision to step aside.

I think it would be extraordinary if King and Little haven’t at least discussed the possibility of a Rongotai succession plan.

But it’s getting quite late in the term for Little to turn his attention to an electorate contest as he prepares for next year’s election (of course he could have been preparing for this for some time quietly).

And now someone else has expressed an interest in standing in Rongotai, claiming encouragement from some within the Labour Party.

Stuff: Paul Eagle looks at running in Rongotai as Annette King heads for list

Less than three months after becoming Wellington’s deputy mayor, Paul Eagle is eyeing up a seat in Parliament.

This would suggest it may be an unplanned opportunity for Eagle.

Eagle said he was considering calls from Labour Party members to contest Rongotai, the Wellington electorate seat long held by the party’s deputy leader, Annette King.

Party members and Eagle will know that Little has expressed an interest in Rongotai. Either they know Little isn’t going to contest the electorate, or they are challenging their party leader.

“I’m honoured to be asked whether I will put my name forward and I’m talking about it further with my family, the party leadership and members,” Eagle said on Sunday.

What is going on here?

He’s unlikely to be discussing it much with Little who is currently in the middle of doing the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Is this a local electorate versus party head office conflict? Or is it part of a plan to give Little a credible reason not to stand in Rongotai?

Eagle said he had not decided whether he would contest the seat if Little also  put his name forward. “I’m sure we would have a conversation about it,” he said.

So he is discussing things with party leadership, but not with Little? It sounds muddly,stuff, or we are not being told the full story.

A source within Labour  said that the replacement of John Key, the MP for Helensville, with list MP Bill English as prime minister was a game-changer for Labour.

Why is it a game changer for Labour? Do they now think they can compete with National? That would suggest they hadn’t rated their chances in the next election while Key was Prime Minister.

It may also be underestimating Bill English as Prime Minister.

There was now less pressure on Little to contest an electorate as National’s leader was also without one, the source said.

I don’t know why that would make any difference, unless they thought Little would be attacked for being a list only leader. He’s at least as likely to be attacked for never having successfully contested electorate, in contrast to English who won and held a safe seat for eight elections.

We may not find out who is going to stand in Rongotai until next year. Labour nominations close in early February, so their candidate won’t be known for some time, and election year will already be starting to crank up then.

What seems odd about this is why Little and Eagle are pondering the possibilities publicly, unless it was a deliberate switch of attention from Little to Eagle over the weekend.

 

King opens Rongotai option for Little

Annette King has announced that she won’t stand for her Rongotai electorate next election, but will still stand on the list.

This leaves the electorate open for Andrew Little, who lives in Rongotai. This has been predicted for some time.

King said it isn’t an arrangement to give Little a safe seat, but she thought it was time to step aside for another generation.  King is 69, Little is 51. That would sort of make it a new generation.

“I’m in the 60s generation, we need somebody in the 40s or round that age. You need somebody that can take on the seat and do it for 20-odd years.”

A curious comment given the Little speculation.

Also curious is the timing after Parliament has risen for the year, when there is likely to be little coverage or notice of her decision.

And why has (as it appears) King given this story to the Auckland based Herald and not her local Dominion Post – I can’t see a story about it on Stuff at least, although it may be in the Dom print version.

The Herald reports: Annette King stands aside for the younger generation in electorate

King told the Herald that after 24 years she had decided “with some sadness” not to stand in the electorate again in 2017.

King, 69, denied her decision was part of any arrangement with Little, saying she simply believed it was time for another generation to take on the electorate.

She did not know if Little wanted to stand there and had made her own decision to step aside.

Yeah, right. It would have been her decision, but it’s hard to believe there had been no thought or discussion about who might take over her electorate.

Little, a list MP, has lived in the Rongotai electorate for years and said he would consider standing in the seat.

“Up until now it was an attractive option as leader of the party to remain list because you get drawn all over the country.”

It does make sense for a party leader and especially the Prime Minister to be list only due to their country-wide commitments. Bill English is the first list Prime Minister – he left his electorate prior to the 2014 election.

“Being tied to an electorate, particularly if I’m campaigning to win it for the first time, creates an extra workload.”

That could be an issue for Little.  He has stood and failed twice in New Plymouth. Even though Rongotai has been a safe seat for King if Little stood there there there would be pressure on him to do well, as well as fly the Labour flag nationally.

King first got into Parliament in 1984 in Horowhenua but lost the seat in 1990. She then won Mirimar in 1993 and that became Rongotai with the MMP rearrangements in 1996, which she has held since.

The Rongotai result from 2014:

Party Candidate Votes % ±% Party Votes % ±%
Labour Green tick Annette King 18,840 49.43 −1.09 11,754 31.87 −2.31
National Chris Finlayson 9,223 24.20 −1.18 12,606 34.18 +1.19
Green Russel Norman 7,856 20.61 +0.43 10,176 27.59 +3.40
NZ First Brent Pierson 793 2.08 +0.72 2,097 5.71 +1.26
Conservative Bruce Welsh 576 1.51 +0.30 623 1.70 +0.59
Mana Ariana Paretutanganui-Tamati 225 0.59 +0.59
United Future Sultan Eusoff 95 0.24 +0.24 143 0.38 −0.21
Independent Don Richards 89 0.23 −0.19
Climate Aaron Carter 66 0.17 +0.17
Patriotic Revolutionary Front John Overton 48 0.12 +0.12

King had an easy win but quite a bit of her majority may be on her personal standing in the electorate. National got more party votes than Labour.

Russel Norman got a big chunk of votes too, with him out of the equation it would probably help the new Labour candidate.

Greens versus Donald Trump

In Parliament today on behalf of the Prime Minister Steven Joyce moved a motion in support of the election of the President of the United States.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I move, That the House convey its congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump on his election as the next President of the United States, and to Vice-President-elect Mike Pence on his election, and in doing so express our desire to work with the incoming Trump Administration to continue building on New Zealand’s already strong relationship with the United States.

New Zealand will seek to build on this already-strong relationship with the incoming Trump Administration in order to advance our shared interests. In closing, I would also like to pay tribute to the outgoing administration led by President Barack Obama. President Obama has been a good friend to New Zealand, and we wish him all the best in the future.

Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour): The Labour Party congratulates Donald Trump on becoming the 45th President of the United States. I also want to congratulate Hillary Clinton, who achieved much in her public life, and who has been a good friend to New Zealand. There is no doubt, over the year-long divisive presidential campaign, that many Americans have been left fearful and concerned as to where they fit in their county. I call on Mr Trump to follow through on his words and pledge last night that it is now time for America to bind the wounds of division, and that he will be the President for all Americans.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First): A week ago today I was honoured to speak in winegrowing territory in Marlborough, to its chamber of commerce. In a speech entitled “The grapes of wrath”, I predicted what so many experts did not…[lengthy speech along the lines of how what Trump has done should be called ‘doing a Winston’]

MARAMA FOX (Co-Leader—Māori Party): I had three words in mind and they were not those ones. I think they were pot, kettle, and black. Ha! We are here today to offer congratulations to the President-Elect, Donald Trump. Although I find it a little bit difficult, there was a collective sigh this morning and a girding of the loins for the next 4 years across the world. I am a pragmatist at heart. I like to see the silver lining around the clouds.

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT): On behalf of the ACT Party, I would like to join with other leaders who have supported the motion congratulating the 45th President-Elect of the United States, Donald Trump. That happens in the context of a long friendship between our two countries and our two peoples. I think it is important that we respect the will of the American people.

In contrast Metiria Turei took a different approach:

METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green): “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” These are the words of one of the truly great Americans, Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday’s result in the US elections has left me and the Green Party even more determined than ever to fight for the values that we believe in. We have generations of families living in poverty; people who face uncertain futures, without proper housing or healthcare or education; and people who do not believe that being involved can make a difference. That is something that we can—that we must—change.

We must use the Trump election as a powerful motivator, a motivator to stay involved in the governance of our country, and to include others in that process; to organise; to be strong; to listen to each other; to speak truth to power; to find hope; and to be kind to each other—to be kind.

So, no, I will not support this motion to congratulate Trump, and neither will the Green Party. We vow to fight the climate change denial, the misogyny, and the racism represented by Trump. We will not let hate triumph. Thank you.


Full transcript: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20161110_20161110_08

The motion congratulating Donald Trump passed by 106 votes to 14 (the Green MPs).

The Greens are in to making stands based on their principles, and they can say what they like about the incoming president, and snub him if they choose.

But there is a well established democratic principle that even when you disagree with or don’t like political candidates if they are elected by their people then others need to accept this process and attempt at least to engage with and work with whoever leads other countries.

Perhaps this reflects the Greens’ lack of experience in that practicalities of governing situations.

You could shun half the country and half the world on principles, but to successfully govern the reality is you have to be prepared to accept whoever represents other countries and work with them.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama accepted that Trump had won the right to govern and Obama pledged to work with Trump to make his transition to power as seamless as possible, as he should.

If Greens became part of a government I wonder who it would work. They seem to not want to associate with many leaders and countries, including some of our biggest trading partners.

Empathy in electorate offices

This sort of arrogant ‘Labour good, National bad’ claim continues to repel common sense people from Labour.

Te Reo Putake

It’s important to remember that local MP’s have a job to do in their communities and if you want an empathetic hearing in your local electorate office, that’ll only come from a Labour MP.

Or, if you live in the north, from your NZF MP, who I’m told has revitalised the electorate offices up there.

This not only disses David Seymour, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell, it could be seen as a swipe at any Green ambitions of going for electorate seats

This was commenting on his own post Stick a Fork in Him, He’s Dunne in which he said:

The biggest loser is obviously Peter Dunne who is going to be an ex MP if the Green Party don’t stand a candidate in Ohariu.

…long time reliable sycophant Peter Dunne twist in the wind.

Dunne’s history is one of disloyalty and self serving behaviour.

If Labour need to talk to Dunne to get the last seat needed to form a coalition this sort of long standing abuse won’t help their case.

So how rattled is National? I reckon they’re shitting bricks myself. Not just because they are going to lose the ever reliable doormat Dunne, but because there’s every chance the Maori party will cease to be as well.

That’s not because of the Greens/Labour pact, but because interwebs/mana are no longer a credible party. Annette Sykes may well stand again in Wairiki, but she won’t get 5000 votes this time around and Te Ururoa  Flavell’s majority will suffer as a result.

No Flavell, no maori Tories.

Another coalition option burnt off. Do Labour Greens really think they won’t need anyone else?

And what’s to say the Greens won’t get the same treatment if Labour only need them and they are desperate – will Labour through them a few crumbs? It would be more than they’ve done before I suppose.

But back to “if you want an empathetic hearing in your local electorate office, that’ll only come from a Labour MP”.

On Paul Henry this morning  – Greens-Labour deal ‘nothing new’ – King – Nikki Kay said:

…as the MP for Auckland Central through my electorate office I’ve done quite a lot in terms of people being homeless in central Auckland.

I’ve gone down and visited Wynard Quarter people who have been in sort of caravans and things down there and it’s really complex, people have many different situations.

…I’ve literally had people in my office and they’ve said for various reasons that’s where they want to be. And sometimes there might be mental health issues, sometimes there might be a range of other reasons why the temporarily want to be somewhere.

Not good enough for TRP.

On that same Paul Henry segment Annette King also dissed ‘bland Peter Dunne”.

She’s deputy to Andrew Little. In contrast they must be as colourful as cooked cabbage who think they only need some Greens to go with them.

On the same Standard thread Colonial Viper:

Dunne ain’t ever supporting a Labour coalition government again. Not after the vitriol Labour has poured on Dunne for years now.

As if they can afford to be that selective. They seem to have thought dumping on Dunne and getting him out of parliament by any means was a pathway to power.

What does Dunne think about it?

Now has jumped on the bandwagon. She says is “bland”. Time to prove us wrong Peter.

Ha! Hardly worth replying to a wet bus ticket slap from someone of so little substance or consequence

I think it’s time hung up his bow tie..Your now just an angry little man with pretty good hair

 I happen to be one of calmest & relaxed people you could meet – I just have an intolerance of idiocy and stupidity

TRP is not stupid, he knows that you can burn off all sorts of potentially useful people and the voters will still think you deserve to be in power on your own. So much empathy.

Or something.

Parliament versus Dunne and Hague on drugs

Most of Parliament seems stuck in the dark ages of drug enforcement despite the efforts of Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne and Green health spokesperson Kevin Hague to move New Zealand with a significant shift in approach around the world.

Dunne is showing more signs of being keen on a significant softening in New Zealand’s approach to illicit drugs, from a punitive legal focus to an emphasis on health.

Radio NZ: Govt may soften approach to drugs – Dunne

The government is considering taking a more tolerant approach to minor drug offences, says Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

The potential change comes as a joint study by Johns Hopkins University in the US and the British medical journal The Lancet says the punitive approach to drug offending has done more harm than good.

Five former presidents have also said the global War on Drugs needs to be completely overhauled, according to the Economist magazine.

Mr Dunne told Morning Report today he was not sure New Zealand’s drug law was still fit-for-purpose and he wanted drugs to be viewed as more of a health issue.

“Under the general focus of trying to get the appropriate legal balance, the issues of the utilisation of drug paraphernalia are being looked at, issues relating to the penalty regime is being looked at. And I’m also asking the expert advisory committee on drugs when it classifies drugs, to take a focus that is more health-related than previously.”

He said he was open to reviewing evidence around the decriminalisation of cannabis.

Kevin Hague has has for some time promoted an easing in our drug laws.

Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said he wanted cannabis legalised and regulated.

Mr Hague told Morning Report the Green Party was currently clarifying its drug policy, but expected it to favour the decriminalisation of cannabis.

He said all drugs should be treated from a health perspective and regulated in terms of their potential for harm.

However National ministers look like continuing to oppose any significant change as Radio NZ reports in Appetite for cannabis decriminalisation limited:

But most government ministers in this country have shown no interest in adopting this line and liberalising the laws on cannabis.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said there was very little support for any change when this was looked at last time, and it had not come up again recently.

Her National Party colleague, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, was even more definite.

“I am not in favour of decriminalisation,” Dr Coleman said.

“We have got too many drugs in society. Cannabis is very carcinogenic, I don’t think it would be a great idea to have more people smoking more cannabis.”

But that misses the point, it’s not about “more people smoking more cannabis”, Dunne’s change of approach is in trying to reduce use and reduce harm through a switch from the failed punitive legal approach.

New Zealand First…

…is adamant it wants to uphold what it calls this country’s social fabric and traditional family values – and says any change on cannabis laws would have to be approved by a referendum.

But they were all for referendums until we had some they didn’t want, on flag change. This looks like effectively being a no change position.

Labour Party health spokeswoman Annette King…

…said the non-medical use of marijuana was not even being looked at by her party.

“Actively being dealt with right now is the issue of medicinal marijuana, but the issues that Peter raised in terms of [cannabis] decriminalisation, there is no direct work being done on them at the moment,” she said.

With National remaining in the dark ages of drug law and NZ First and Labour appearing to be not keen on any change it looks like Dunne and Hague will have to work on whatever improvements can be made under existing law.

Hague questioned Dunne on it in Parliament yesterday:

9. KEVIN HAGUE (Green) to the Associate Minister of Health: What steps will he be taking to ensure New Zealand drug laws are still fit for purpose given the recent findings by Johns Hopkins University and British medical journal The Lancet that the punitive approach to drug offending has done more harm than good?

Hon PETER DUNNE (Associate Minister of Health): In August last year, as the member I think will be aware, I published a new National Drug Policy. This contains 28 wide-ranging actions over the period from 2015 to 2020 that take a compassionate, proportionate, and innovative approach to addressing drug harm. I believe that this policy, like the attitudes being expressed in a number of countries around the world, reflect the view that the harm from illicit drug use is best addressed primarily through a health lens. This does not mean there is not still a role for law enforcement, but it should not be the primary approach, and the Government’s actions contained in the National Drug Policy reflect that position.

Kevin Hague: Does the Minister agree that the primary goal of the drug policy should be the reduction of health-related harm and that the regulatory response to particular drugs should be proportional to their risk of such harm?

Hon PETER DUNNE: Yes, I do. In fact, when I spoke to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna last year I stated that in the New Zealand national statement the central pillars of a drug policy should be about proportion, innovation, and compassion. I believe we are generally achieving those goals in New Zealand, but, obviously, there is more to do, and I look forward to reviewing the National Drug Policy at its mid-point sometime next year.

Kevin Hague: What prospects for change does the Minister envisage at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly special session in New York on the world’s drug problem?

Hon PETER DUNNE: Having attended the United Nations convention meetings for a number of years now, it has been noticeable that there has been a perceptible shift in international attitudes from what one could describe 5 or 6 years ago as, essentially, a legalistic punitive approach to a much greater emphasis on public health issues being a driving force today. I also want to make one other point, which New Zealand has raised strongly over the years, and that is the use of the death penalty, particularly for drug offences. I hope that one of the outcomes of the New York meeting will be a very strong call for its abolition.

Kevin Hague: Is the Minister open to a cross-party working party of MPs from across the House to form to discuss moving drug law reform forward?

Hon PETER DUNNE: Yes, I am. I am certainly open to working with colleagues who have a range of views on the subject, and I particularly want to thank the member for the interest that he has shown and the approach that he has taken over a considerable period of time. I appreciate that.

But working with Hague is unlikely to achieve much if the rest of Parliament is determined to remain in the dark ages (National) or too gutless to address drug issues (Labour) while much of the rest of the world is waking up to the failure of past and current drug laws and their enforcement.

Radio NZ:

Losing the War on Drugs

The War on Drugs was started 45 years ago when the former United States president Richard Nixon called drug abuse America’s public enemy number one.

Since then, the War on Drugs has helped bankroll military operations against drug producers in Latin America, and led to a crack-down on drug use within the United States.

While New Zealand played little part in this, it shared the majority of US policy of prohibition.

The Economist said the former presidents of Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Nigeria and Switzerland had published strong attacks on the War on Drugs in a collection of essays titled Ending the War on Drugs.

In it, the former presidents argued the War on Drugs was costing taxpayers $US100 billion per year, but was helping traffickers earn $US300b a year.

The Johns Hopkins and The Lancet report said the War on Drugs had undercut public health worldwide and done little to combat drug use.

“The goal of prohibiting all use, possession, production and trafficking of illicit drugs is the basis of many of our national drug laws,” wrote Chris Beyrer, an epidemiology professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“But these policies are based on ideas about drug use and drug dependence that are not scientifically grounded,” he wrote.

The research found that harsh drug control policies actually increased the risk of death from overdose.

It also found that enforcement of drug control policies undermined the wellbeing and health of drug users and the communities they live in.

By keeping their heads in the sand, or worse wilfully ignoring a major shift in approach to drug use internationally, National, Labour and NZ First are ignoring the well being and health of drug users and the communities they live in.

Shame on them.

Dunne and Hague have a big job to change an appalling cling to a failed approach by most parties in an out of touch or self-interested Parliament.

Auntie Annette

In Is Annette King our Hillary Clinton? Barry Soper points out that Annette King and Hillary Clinton are close to the same age, 69. King is an early baby boomer, born in 1947, but still going strong in Parliament.

They’re certainly forceful women, even though King is seen to be in the twilight of her long political life.

King, who’s affectionately referred to around Parliament as Auntie, was herself in full flight, making her opponents even more grizzly now that they’re back at work after their summer holiday break. It was good, old school, tub thumping stuff reminding us of Austin Mitchell’s view of God’s Own as the half gallon, quarter acre, Pavlova Paradise.

The Labour MP says unfortunately it’s Paradise lost from the days of Mitchell’s musings when 80 percent of retirees used to own their own homes and education was free.

The half-gallon quarter-acre pavlova paradise is old enough, published in 1972, the year that Norman Kirk became Prime Minister. And King turned 25 when she was still a dental nurse, and also the year she joined the Labour Party.

King was first elected to Parliament in 1984, 32 years ago, but lost her seat in 1990 so had a 3 year break (no MMP in those days).

She became deputy leader of Labour when Phil Goff replaced Helen Clark in 2008, but stood down after Labour’s loss in 2011. After Labour’s loss in 2014 she became interim deputy leader, was reappointed deputy for a year when Andrew Little took over the leadership soon afterwards, and decided to stay on.

She is capable of leading Labour, probably more capable than some of their leaders over the last 7 years, but has not stood for the top position. If Little’s leadership crashes and burns would King step up? If Hillary can do it why not Auntie? She’s one of Labour’s most respected MPs, probably the most respected.

Here is her speech in the Debate on the Prime Minister’s Statement yesterday. It looks back into New Zealand’s history, the ‘good old days’ (for some, including Labour).

Draft Transcript:

Hon ANNETTE KING (Deputy Leader—Labour): Can I, first of all, wish members who are in the House a happy New Year, and also a happy Chinese New Year, which we are celebrating in this Parliament this very evening.

Fletcher Tabuteau: Ni hao.

Hon ANNETTE KING: Ni hao. Most of us enjoyed our Christmas break with our family. We had fun, we had food, and some of us look like the emphasis has been on food. With the weather that we have had, with our victories in sport—and I have to say to the Prime Minister, none of them was he responsible for. It was all our great team’s work.

With the weather, the sport, the beaches, the activities, the grandchildren, and the holidays some of us have come back with recharged batteries. We have come back energised and excited about the year ahead.

What I found is that when you spend time with your family it often brings out some wonderful memories of days gone by. And it certainly did that for me over this Christmas period when I was around my family.

It brought back memories of my own upbringing. I have to say, I was lucky enough—as I believe you were, Mr Assistant Speaker—to actually live what we call the Kiwi dream. We actually got to live the New Zealand Kiwi dream.

You see, my parents built their first home with a State Advances Corporation loan, and they were able to capitalise their family benefit to put a deposit down on that house. My old dad said to me: “You need to have a freehold home when you retire, then you will be safe.”

I have had the chance to do that. I do own my own home. I have to say, not all our children do. I got that chance because my income related better to the cost of the house I was going to buy, which is not the case today.

And my old dad, he was in the same job for 40 years, then he retired. He never had to change his job. His wages supported a wife and three daughters.

I got paid to train for my first job at the dental school. I got my first job from that training. I never paid for it; they paid me. I got a free tertiary education from the Waikato University.

I got the chance to get the jobs that I wanted. I had the freedom of the outdoors—of family holidays, of clean rivers, of close family, and good food. I had my grandparents, who lived next door to us for most of my young life, and we had neighbours who looked out for us.

The Kiwi dream for many of us was a reality. That was our life. It was what made New Zealand unique—unique in the world. The Kiwi dream was central to who we are as New Zealanders.

We had the highest rate of homeownership in the world, in this country. That is what we aspired to. Around 80 percent of New Zealanders owned their own home by the time they retired.

We had job security. We had jobs to go to. You could go from one job to another. You could train and retrain for a job. We had free education, and we had affordable health. We led the world in living the Kiwi dream.

But what saddens me is to see that dream slipping away for thousands of New Zealanders.

It is like the Government is saying: “It’s not possible to have that dream any more. It’s not important. It’s a bygone era. It’s not needed.”

Well, I have to say, I do not accept that. I will not accept that. I will not roll over and give up on New Zealand being the best place to live in the world, to love, and to work in.

But what worries me is that, I believe, we have become a meaner country. We have become a more selfish country. We are a country that is more about me, me, me than about us.

And our Kiwi values, I believe, are being changed at this very moment. It seems to me that what we celebrate now, and what we worship as success, is money. We see spoilt rich kids who have no concept of how thousands of their peers live, just down the road.

More and more people are being shut out of the Kiwi dream, and this Government is closing that door. It is creating a new reality for New Zealanders.

You see, our economy is increasingly weighted in favour of those who already are doing well.

I believe it started in 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis. It was tough for the world. New Zealand was a little luckier, because the previous Labour Government had left this Government with no Government debt. It had paid down debt. It had the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD —and that is on record if the members want to go and look at it.

But what did the National Government do in 2009? It gave tax cuts to the wealthiest percentage of the population in New Zealand. In the middle of a global financial crisis, its response was to give a tax cut. Billions and billions of dollars have been given to those who did not need it, and those who had the least were told to suck it up because they needed to tighten their belts and they needed to ensure that we got out of the global financial crisis.

The burden was placed on those who had the least. Now we are told that there are going to be tax cuts again, for the very same people. Surprise, surprise! The tax cuts are a promise for next year. Some of us know that next year is election year.

So in election year, when there might be some money that could be spent on far better things, a few at the top are going to receive a tax cut. Not for our kids, not for those older New Zealanders who are looking to have the health services they need, not for free education after New Zealanders leave school—no, not for that. We are told by the Government that that cannot be afforded.

Well, it is all about priorities, is it not? Houses are now unaffordable for thousands of Kiwis. If you have got one and you live in Auckland, you probably feel you are a millionaire, because your house is now worth a million dollars.

But it is a house for a house, so if you change a house you are not going to be much better off, unless you shift to Reefton , or somewhere like that.

If you live in Auckland, you are living in the fifth-dearest city in the world for housing. Imagine that—in New Zealand! We now know that houses are the playthings of speculators, those who often live offshore, who come to buy up houses here and to be able to sell them again and put the cash in their pockets and take it away.

We have a Government that turns a blind eye to poverty amongst children in New Zealand—and “poverty” is a word that must not be spoken. You may call it “hardship”, or “hard times”, but never say “poverty”.

We have got health care that is stretched to the breaking point, and anyone who was at the select committee today would have heard how tough it is on an area like Auckland, with a bulging population, or on an area like Christchurch, where they are still suffering from the impact of an earthquake, particularly in mental health.

The Labour Party does not believe in that future. We have a different future for New Zealand, based on the inherent beliefs of Kiwis. They are beliefs that need to be rekindled by leadership and by a Government that is in touch with New Zealanders and believes in a chance for a decent, secure job, for a warm, affordable home, and for education for the future. We will make that happen.

The first part of our announcements came when we announced that we want to ensure our children and our grandchildren have the opportunity to have post-secondary school education, and the first 3 years of that education free—the same as I had, the same as Mr Joyce had, as Mr Key had, and as Dr Coleman had.

We took it, but that Government does not want to give it back to our children. If we want a future for them, education has to be the future.

As our job market changes, as we know that around 47 percent—is it 47 percent? No, I will not go there; I cannot find it in a hurry.

We know that we have got a changing job market and that we are going to have many people out of jobs in the next 20 years. They need to be retrained into the new jobs that are coming.

This is not our future—our future is to rebuild that Kiwi dream, and we intend to do it in Government.

 

Little – list or Rongotai?

According the the Herald Annette King will stand again in 2017 but may move onto the list only. That will leave her safe Labour electorate open for someone else to step into it.

Andrew Little lives in the electorate and it has been suggested before that he might inherit it. He has lost twice when standing in New Plymouth.

Annette King hints at Labour future

Labour veteran Annette King has confirmed she will stand again in 2017 but possibly only on the list, a step which would open up her Rongotai electorate for leader Andrew Little.

Mr Little lives in the Rongotai electorate in Wellington – a safe Labour seat in which Ms King has been the local MP since 1993.

Asked if Mr Little had asked her to allow him to stand in the seat, Ms King said “that is hypothetical”.

“We talk to each other all the time, but I’ll make my announcement on what I’m going to do in the future.”

She said she would announce her decision “when I’m ready.”

Remember that King had said she would be deputy leader for a year and then stand aside, but after the year was up decided to stay as 2IC to Little.

Mr Little has stood unsuccessfully in New Plymouth for the past two elections but has ruled out doing so again. He was yet to decide whether to stand in an electorate.

“I’m quite enjoying being a list MP having the flexibility to get around the country doing the job I do.”

He said candidate selection for the 2017 campaign had not yet started “so that’s a wee way down the track”.

There is supposedly some political mana in being an electorate MP but I don’t know if the public cares about it.

There’s a good argument for major party leaders to be list only as they have plenty to do without attending to electorate duties as well.

Last term Bill English retired from his Clutha Southland electorate and went list only, a goo idea for someone as busy as a finance minister. Steven Joyce is another senior MP who is list only.

It would be embarrassing for the Labour leader to lose in an electorate, so switching to a safer seat could be attractive for Little.

New Plymouth was won by 105 votes in 2008 by National from Labour’s Harry Duynhoven, after Duynhoven won by 5,434 in 2005 and by 11,533 in 2002.

  • 2005: Labour 37.64%, Duynhoven 53.20%
  • 2008: Labour 31.42%, Duynhoven 47.88%
  • 2011: Labour 25.82%, Little 40.41%
  • 2014: Labour 21.10%, Little 31.56%

Not surprising that Little doesn’t want to stand in New Plymouth again. He only just made it back into Parliament last election, he was the last on Labour’s list to make it.

At least as leader he would be number 1 on the Labour list – if he remains leader.

King has won easily against National’s Chris Finlayson and Green’s Russel Norman for the last three elections, by a consistent margin of about 9,000 each time, but the Labour vote has been much lower.

 

  • 2008: Labour 42.69%, King 52.45%
  • 2011: Labour 34.18%, King 50.52%
  • 2014: Labour 30.35%, King 49.43%

King gets much higher personal support than Labour gets.

2014 party results:

  • National 32.55%
  • Labour 30.35%
  • Green 26.27%

 

Now Norman has resigned the Green vote may or may not hold up, but Little may struggle to get the same electorate vote that King maintained. King is one of Labour’s most respected MPs.