Different views and racism at The Standard

Some interesting discussions and reactions about racism at The Standard, triggered by the debate over Donald Trump’s shithole comments.

Yesterday Bill posted Two Faced Liberalism.

Anyone want to lay out what the essential difference might be between picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants and picking and choosing between broad categories of migrants?

What’s the difference at play in preferring “skilled” migrants over supposedly “unskilled” ones or Norwegian migrants over Haitian ones; moneyed ones over poor ones? Liberals might argue that the former and latter are nuanced and better targeting for economic exploitation than the middle one. And some might point out that the middle is informed by racism while the former and latter aren’t. But then, that last point is just to argue that some forms of discrimination are okay while others aren’t.

Anyone inclined to get on a high horse over Trump splabbing shit about preferring Norwegian migration to Haitian migration should, surely, get all fired up over preferring those who might be considered economically exploitable to those who might be considered economic liabilities. It’s the same shit afterall – born of discrimination.

And while we’re here, Haiti is a shit-hole. Would you live there? Or would you want to bring up a family there? I wouldn’t.

I don’t really know much about current Haiti, but it’s home for over 10 million people. Perhaps many of them wouldn’t be fussed about living in New Zealand.

To slam Trump for his bullshit as though it’s such a terrible thing to refer to a place as a shit-hole (who hasn’t referred to some place as a shit-hole?) and ignore why Haiti and other places on Trump’s list are “places polite society would never refer to in that way”, isn’t just facile – it’s the height of cold fucking hypocrisy.

You give a shit about Haiti and the people living there? Do you? Really!? Or is indulging in a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like, on the basis they’d never (apparently) refer to a place with predominantly black or brown populations by way of Trump’s uncouth terminology – is that all that matters?

Actually one of the latest ‘clarifications’ is that while Trump was critical of Haiti in relation to US immigration he didn’t refer to that country as a shithole (he referred to others as such though).

There was limited reaction to that post at The Standard, but Matthew Whitehead commented:

If Haiti is a shithole, Bill, it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

It’s really unjust to agree that a developing country like Haiti a is shithole just because it’s been colonized, and is still having wealth transferred out of it, by overseas interests. I would have expected better of you. It’s also very dismissive of the fact that people like you and I might actually have things we could learn from people in Haiti.

I would actually argue that all the types of migration restrictions you mention are informed by discrimination, but okay. I agree there is an inconsistency to thinking skilled migration is fine and opposing the rhetoric of white supremacy, although it isn’t a direct inconsistency that everyone finds easy and obvious because it’s an argument that relies on statistics, not direct inference.

And yes, I actually do give a shit about countries that are less well-off than New Zealand, like Haiti, or Samoa, and have previously given both time (and I don’t mean by spreading “awareness,” lol) and money to help make the situation just a little bit better.

Bill replied:

…it’s because the rest of the world has been digging around and shitting on it for quite some time.

Well, yes. Did you bother reading the link before commenting? The link that comes after You want racism? Read Johnathan M. Katz’s opinion piece… and before There are very specific and traceable reasons as to why Haiti, El Salvador and however many African states might be referred to as ‘shit-holes’. And every single one traces back to liberal capitalism.

I also provided a “get out” clause for anyone who might have felt the urge to get all defensive, but it seems you missed it Matthew. I made no assumption about whether any individual reader of this post has sailed on by the historical colonial context of Haiti and other countries or not. I asked if a bit of excited monkey spanking over successfully identifying with those who would deem themselves superior to a guy you don’t like was taking precedence to giving a shit. Ample room right there for a simple “no”. 😉

There was some discussion on Twitter:

Removing a post would have been a drastic way to deal with it, and would likely have caused a split at The Standard. Instead Presland wisely chose to do a posy of his own providing some different views – Racist dog whistling

We may think that we now live in more enlightened times where the scourge of racism is finally being dealt to and racist behaviour by politicians is no longer considered acceptable.

But recent events suggest to me that racist memes are still being used by the calculating to stir up political support from the bewildered.

A classic example of race baiting has occurred recently in Australia.  Victoria, which currently has a State Labor government, has an election later on in the year.  Clearly the Liberals would love to win back power.  So the Turnbull Government has made a big thing about gangs of young Africans causing problems in Melbourne and how Melbournians are afraid to go out at night.  Peter Dutton, whose level of odiousness almost matches that of Trump, has front footed the attack.  And things have been egged on by Rupert Murdoch owned papers.

Dutton chose to use the right wing playbook.  He attacked the Andrews Government for appointing “weak” judges and suggested that the non existing law and order problem was all because of liberals (small l).

But just when you thought that no politician could sink lower than Dutton Donald Trump describes most of the developing countries as Shithole.  Put aside his misogynist views, his lack of understanding, his overt belligerence, his anti environmental crusade, his attack on the poor and support for the rich and the threat he poses to world peace these comments should result in his removal from office.  In a properly functioning democracy …

But this is a weakness of the democratic system.  Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time.  That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem.

It’s not just been a political tool of the right in New Zealand, with Winston Peters pushing dog whistle racism boundaries regularly, and Labour’s disaster over Chinese sounding name mis-analysis a couple of years ago.

Claims of racism from the left in an attempt to shut down discussion are not uncommon either, as the exchange on Twitter shows.

This is valid and healthy discussion to have here, so good on The Standard for providing a forum for diverse views rather than trying to squash discussion.

Some emotive and interesting comments on that second post. Shona:

My daughter had a knife held to her throat and was threatened with death while a Sudanese 16 year old youth groped her in Central Melbourne during daylight work hours, while she was carrying our her job. i have NO SYMPATHY for these assholes. The aggression against the Sudanese is because of their fucked up religious views of women amongst other things.

And no those views are not to be tolerated in a modern society.They do not give a rats arse about western values. And no Australia and NZ do not need these fucking people . Now out will come all the dearly deluded members of NZ’s oh so tolerant left telling me what a racist I am. I am an atheist and an old fashioned working class feminist . Fuck these people we don’t need em!

A feminist racist? It sounds like she has good reason to be angry, but her target appears to be too broad.

Gristle responded:

A cousin of mine was raped at knife point in the South of USA by a couple of whites.

Am I now meant to think that all white Americans are like that due to their race, nationality, religion? I mean look at the fundamentalist, racist, sexists, class hating people in the USA. (And that includes so many in power.)

“Fuck these people we don’t need them(?)”

Fender:

And my son was stabbed fourteen times by a NZ born white crohn’s disease sufferer who was unemployed and is now in jail. I’m unaware of any religious or misogynist views held by this asshole but obviously he’s from a group that is also not needed in this country (using your logic).

These are isolated personal experiences so it’s fair to cut them some slack if over-reacting.

But we hope that our politicians, and politicians in leadership positions such as Peters and Trump, should have more consideration for a bigger picture than appeasing their own base of racists supporters.

What’s in Labour’s Medical Cannabis bill?

Labour promised to something about medical cannabis in Taking action in our first 100 days:

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

And there is also the promises to Labour stalwart Helen Kelly to honour as well, after she openly admitted using cannabis to alleviate the symptoms of the cancer as she died.

Medical Cannabis New Zealand worries about ” “a sense of dread in the patient community that Labour’s bill will be more tinkering around the edges”:


What’s in Labour’s Medical Cannabis bill?

With the looming introduction of a bill by Labour for Medical Cannabis, the patient community is sceptical, and bordering on pre-emptively hostile due to the lack of consultation, and the comments from Jacinda Ardern about pharmaceutical grade Cannabis Based Products. Considering the lack of information coming out, we wish to publish our bottom line positions. These positions were promulgated to David Clark and other MPs with Health portfolios pre election, and represent what we feel is the minimum that needs to be done to drastically improve health and legal outcomes for patients.

“There is a sense of dread in the patient community that Labour’s bill will be more tinkering around the edges”.

“While I am pessimistic, we hope that a majority of our redlines are met, and that there is an engagement and commitment toundertake further reform, particularly around licensed production, which doesn’t lend itself easily to the hundred day fix”.

“It is concerning also that there has been zero consultation with the patient community on the bill being put forward, and that any briefings or BIMs David Clark has had on this topic are being refused release”.

“To enable something rapid for patients, the only affordable option is home growing, despite this being undesirable from a medical perspective, any imported products are still going to be unobtainable by the patients who need them most, sickness beneficiaries and ACC Claimants.” Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.

MCANZ Redlines

  • Medical necessity must be a legal defence. Due to the postcode lottery of medical specialists, a legal defence needs to be in place for those stuck in the backwaters or with backwards-thinking doctors. This would force police to more carefully consider the public interest. The police have demonstrated a fixation on cultivation and are prosecuting patients with severe medical needs, an amendment to the crimes act to include this defence is needed.
  • A non-smoking provision. In the age of the portable vaporizer, there is absolutely no need to smoke cannabis, and no one should. Any Politician citing excuses around smoking being bad for health should be soundly ignored, as no one is credibly arguing to smoke a medicine, This is already in line with the theoretical acceptability of Bedrocan, a standardized, granulated raw cannabis product, which MOH officials have said would be covered under the smoke free laws anyway.
  • GPs to prescribe. Schedule 22 of the current Misuse of Drugs Act needs changing so that all cannabis-based products can be prescribedby GPs. THC has a far better safety profile than other GP prescribed options such as Fentanyl, Diazepam, Methadone etc. This would also greatly reduces the barrier to access for patients, and would allow Cannabis to be prescribed as freely as Medicinal Cocaine. (theoretical, it’s on the books but no one prescribes it).
  • Notifiable prescribing. Instead of seeking Ministry approval to use Medical Cannabis, GPs should have a simple form to notify MOH of the prescribing, so MOH can gather data and look for unusual prescribing patterns. There is potential for this to become a survey of sorts and become part of the clinical data going forward – if there are several N=1 trials for a condition such as fibromyalgia for instance, the collective data may be used to measure benefit and even go as far as findings published in a medical journal article.
  • Made in NZ. It is important that the law is changed to allow Medical Cannabis to be grown for commercialized product. Our current law requires trials and facilities that could end up costing well over $20 million, for no ability to sell a finished, trialled product. Cultivation for trials has been legal since 1977 – yet it would be commercial suicide to undertake it in New Zealand.
  • A concerted medical education campaign. Many doctors are poorly informed when they talk to their patients about the benefits versus risks, and some try to avoid even prescribing Sativex to the point of misinforming the public. Even former NZMA chair Stephen Childs has made inaccurate statements on TV about the purity of the Botanically Derived Solution (BDS) that goes into Sativex. We note that the UICbranded symposiums held in Australia every year are hugely successful in bringing world-leading experts on Medical Cannabis to speak and generate conversation, piggy-backing off those efforts and mirroring that in New Zealand would go some way to addressing the barriers posed by senior Medical Staff.

– Shane le Brun, MZANZ Coordinator

End of Life Choice bill introduced to Parliament

David Seymour is currently opening debate on his End of Life Choice Bill in Parliament. The first reading is likely to be voted on tonight. It will be a conscience vote for most parties, but NZ First have indicated they will block vote for the first reading if there is a commitment that the ultimate decision is by referendum.

Bill English is next to speak on the bill and opposes it.

I’m not posting a link to Simon O’Connors speech, he made some good points, but in repeating his view that the bill was about killing people I think is taking things too far.

Labour MP Lousia Wall:

Tracey Martin on behalf of New Zealand First:

She confirms that NZ First will vote for the first reading.

A Maori view from Nuk Korako:

He says the bill will fast forward death process for Maori and leave them in limbo unable to join ancestors. Voting against.

A Samoan perspective from William Sio:

He says says you have to deal with the reality of pain and death in order to understand the purpose of life.. Voting against – he says he already has sufficient information to make a decision now.

Julie Anne Genter (Green Minister):

Has concerns about about it being to broad and has insufficient protections for the disabled. She will vote for at this stage.

Maggie Barry is next – the first three National MPs all speaking strongly against the bill.

There are some Nationals MPs who support it. One is Chris Bishop, who is next up.

He says the current choice is cruel, and we have an opportunity to have a more compassionate society.

Then another National MP, Chris Penk.

Opposing the bill – a “choice to end all choices”.

And David Seymour closed the debate, I think ably and eloquently.

Predictably there will be a personal vote. By the look of the comparative numbers going to either side, followed by hand shaking in the Aye side, it looks like the bill will progress.

End of Life Choice Bill – First reading personal vote:

  • Ayes 76
  • Noes 44

 

 

 

Two bills pass

The Government successfully had two bills passed in Parliament yesterday.

NZH: Paid parental leave amendment passes final reading in Parliament

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill has passed it’s final reading in Parliament.

NZH:Longer paid parental leave starts in July

Bill extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks by July 2020 has passed its final reading.

And NZH: Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill is Govt’s second major law to pass

The Government insists that new minimum standards to ensure rental homes are warm and dry will not push up the price of renting – and help will be available to landlords facing extra costs.

The Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill – which requires minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation and drainage in rental homes – passed its third and final reading in Parliament this evening.

The bill passed with the support of Labour, New Zealand First and the Green parties. I

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said most landlords do a good job, but the lack of legal standards means some rentals are not fit to live in.

“A butcher isn’t allowed to sell meat that will make their customers sick, but a landlord is allowed to rent out a house that is too cold, or damp and damages the health of its occupants.

It may help push some landlords to improve houses and flats, but it won’t guarantee every house and flat will always be warm and healthy. Tenants (and owner/occupiers) need to take some responsibility for their own living conditions.

Bill to wipe historical homosexual convictions introduced

Signalled earlier in the year by the Government, Justice Minister Amy Adams has introduced a Bill to Parliament that “will allow men convicted of specific homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 to apply to have the convictions wiped from their criminal record”.

This was initiated by a petition presented to MPS last year – so sensible petitions can be effective.

The Criminal Records (of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill was introduced to Parliament today.

“The tremendous hurt and stigma suffered by those who were affected can never be fully undone, but I hope that this Bill will go some way toward addressing that,” says Ms Adams.

“This Bill introduces the first ever expungement scheme in New Zealand.

“Allowing historical convictions for homosexual offences to remain on a person’s criminal record perpetuates the stigma which such convictions carry. A person can be further disadvantaged if they are required to disclose their conviction or it appears on a criminal history check.”

Ms Adams says the scheme will be open to applications from men with convictions for specific offences relating to sexual conduct between consenting men 16 years and over, or by a family member on their behalf if the person is deceased. The application process will be free for applicants.

“The scheme requires case-by-case assessments of the relevant facts to determine whether the conduct a person was charged with is still unlawful today. The decision will be made by the Secretary for Justice, without the need for a court hearing or for applicants to appear in person,” says Ms Adams.

“If a person’s conviction is expunged, the conviction will not appear on a criminal history check for any purpose and they will be entitled to declare they had no such conviction when required to under New Zealand law.”

Copy of the Bill:  www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74442/criminal-records-expungement-of-convictions-for-historical

It’s taken a long time but it’s good to see this being dealt with. It was abhorrent law in the not very distant past and the least that can be done now is to wipe any convictions.

Some history:

Male homosexual sex became illegal in New Zealand when the country became part of the British Empire in 1840 and adopted English law making male homosexual acts punishable by death.

The Offences Against The Person Act of 1867 changed the penalty of buggery from execution to life imprisonment. In 1893 the law was broadened so that sexual activity between men constituted “sexual assault” even if it was consensual. Penalties included life imprisonment, hard labour and flogging.

Sex between women has never been legally prohibited in New Zealand.

In 1961 the penalties for male homosexual activity were reduced, reflecting changing attitudes towards homosexuality.

In 1968 a petition signed by 75 prominent citizens and calling for legislative change was presented to (and rejected by) parliament.

The Act was introduced by Labour MP Fran Wilde in 1985. Originally, the bill had two parts – one decriminalised male homosexuality, while the other provided anti-discrimination law protections for lesbians and gay men.

The first part passed narrowly (49 Ayes to 44 Noes) on 9 July 1986, after an attempt by opponents to invoke closure and end debate was defeated by one vote the previous week; the bill might have failed if a vote was taken then as several supporters were kept away from Wellington by bad weather. Three National MPs voted for the bill, and other National MPs (including Doug Graham) would have supported the bill if it had been in danger of defeat.

The second part failed, but was incorporated into a supplementary order paper added to the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexual_Law_Reform_Act_1986

This is one example of a number of awful laws and prejudices of the not very distance past that have changed significantly in a more tolerant and sensible society.

As a civil society we’re not perfect yet, but this is another good step forward.

Stuff from last year: Homosexual Law Reform 30 years on – what was life like for the gay community pre-1986?

Reaction to Family and Whanau Violence Bill

The Family and Whanau Violence Bill that was introduced into Parliament yesterday.

Family violence is a big issue. Violence not only affects the well being of adults and children in families, it has adverse flow on effects in health, education, crime, imprisonment rates and employment.

I can’t find any reaction from Labour.

Green MP Jan Logie in Stuff – Overhaul of family violence laws goes before Parliament:

Green Party women’s spokeswoman Jan Logie said the Government’s reforms were “an important first step”, but she still had concerns about inconsistencies in ensuring the safety of children.

Logie wanted the reinstatement of the Bristol clause, which would refuse abusive former partners access to their children until their safety was assured, and was also concerned about a lack of funding for support services like Women’s Refuge.

“If we’re going to be asking these organisations to do this extra service and they’re struggling to stay open and meet the demand, then it’s not going to work.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams…

…said the safety of children was an “absolutely paramount consideration” both in existing law and the family violence reforms.

“We’ve done a lot more in these reforms, but broadly speaking, the underlying rationale still remains, which…has always and continues to put the safety of children right at the forefront of decision-making.”

Then-Prime Minister John Key announced the overhaul last September…

…saying the Government would not “shy away” from tackling family violence.

“The challenge of reducing family violence lies with all of us, with the Government, the police, social agencies and with everyone who knows that violence is occurring.”

Police Commissioner:

At the time, the announcement was welcomed by Police Commissioner Mike Bush, who said being able to identify family violence offenders more easily would make it easier for police to provide support.

Women’s Refuge media release:


Women’s Refuge welcomes The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill

The introduction of the much anticipated Family and Whānau violence legislation has been warmly welcomed by family violence organisation Women’s Refuge. The legislation introduced to parliament today places a far greater emphasis upon victim safety – a long overdue and applauded move. This change will see the justice sector required to place victim safety at the heart of much of their decision making, especially in to care of children and bail issues.

Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury says “we are very pleased to see the government has taken seriously the concerns and suggestions from those working at the coal face in crafting this comprehensive piece of family violence legislation; the strong emphasis on the safety of victims and their children is a great move”

Under the proposed legislation, processes around the granting and policing of Protection Orders by the Courts have been significantly strengthened. Information including risk factor information will now be made available to Police Districts when an Order is granted and breaches of Protection Orders will now be treated as aggravating factors at sentencing. In addition all bail applications before the Court must include careful consideration of victim safety.

“Incidents of family violence and abuse including breaches of Protection Orders are rarely isolated or ‘one off’ incidents, they are deliberate and frequently repeated. To see this reflected in the way the courts sentence is a significant step towards ensuring a victim’s safety is paramount”

Legislation changes will also include better recording and acknowledgement of family violence, better information sharing provisions between government and family violence agencies, the introduction of a code of practice across the sector, and the inclusion of new classes of offences. While Women’s Refuge has yet to see the details of all of these, they are positive about the proposed changes.

“We are pleased to see focused attention to strangulation and marriage by coercion with the introduction of these new offences. The inclusion of animal abuse in the new definition is also extremely pleasing as we know that threats of harm to pets are a frequent control tactic utilised by perpetrators; to see this explicitly recognised is a great step forward.”

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament today to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act, amend five Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.

Overhaul of family violence laws

Yesterday the Government introduced the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill, which aims at overhauling the Domestic Violence Act, amend six Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.

Press release from Minister of Justice Amy Adams:


Family violence laws introduced to Parliament

Legislation that overhauls the family violence system is a core part of reducing New Zealand’s horrendous rate of family violence, says Justice Minister Amy Adams.

The Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill was introduced to Parliament today to overhaul the Domestic Violence Act, amend six Acts and make consequential changes to over thirty pieces of law.

“It’s undeniable that one of the most concerning and most difficult social issues facing New Zealand is our unacceptably high rate of family violence. Part of this is the ingrained and insidious nature of the problem. But it’s also in the fact that there’s no easy or quick fix,” Ms Adams says.

“To properly tackle family violence we need to create an effective, integrated system for addressing it. We need a system that acts early to stop perpetrators hurting their families, protects victims, and breaks the cycle of re-offending.

“The omnibus Family and Whānau Violence Bill is an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence. It implements our Safer Sooner reforms announced in September 2016 aimed at breaking the pattern of family violence and reducing the harm and cost inflicted on those who suffer violence and on the wider New Zealand society.

“These reforms will strengthen family violence laws and build the legal framework necessary to deliver the wider component of the work programme.

“There is no doubt that making a difference in family violence is hard. But I’m proud to be part of a Government that’s prepared to take on the big challenges.”

Key provisions of the Bill includes:

  • getting help to those in need without them necessarily having to go to court
  • ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared
  • putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
  • creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
  • making it easier to apply for a Protection Order, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when a Protection Order is imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • supporting an effective system of information sharing across all those dealing with family violence
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

A copy of the Bill is available at https://goo.gl/HSnwza

Related Documents

 

Little bill to enable Pike River re-entry

After visiting the Pike River picket line today Andrew Little said he would table a bill in Parliament that would remove an obstacle to re-entry into the Pike River mine.

RNZ: Labour would remove liability for Pike River re-entry

Labour leader Andrew Little plans to table a bill in Parliament removing liability from the directors of Solid Energy so that the Pike River Mine can be re-entered.

He said the government claimed the mine could not be re-entered because of the liability risk, so on the first day of the new parliamentary year he would seek leave to table his bill.

That would exonerate Solid Energy’s directors from being held liable for any harm to people taking part in the mine re-entry, he said.

Mr Little said the victims’ families were promised everything that could be done to recover their loved ones’ bodies would be done, and the government needed to follow through on that.

This doesn’t guarantee re-entry, it would just remove one obstacle.

Little had earlier said that he supported an independent investigation to see if mine re-entry was safe enough to attempt.

He said that if the Government did not allow his bill to proceed he would add it to the Members’ ballot.

NZH: Labour leader Andrew Little proposes health and safety exemption for Solid Energy

During a visit to Greymouth today, Little said he had a solution.

“We can actually deal with that threat of liability for the [Solid Energy] directors by legislating to prevent that happening in this particular case.

“What I pledged to the families is that on the first day of Parliament I will seek leave to table a bill that does just that.”

He added: “It removes any risk of liability for the directors of Solid Energy in relation to any attempt at re-entry for the purpose of recovering remains or any bodies in the drift leading to the mine.

“And I’m working on that bill now, I’ll have that ready to go on the 6th of February.”

He won’t be tabling the bill on February 6, that’s a Monday and also a public holiday (Waitangi Day).

Speaking in Parliament last year, English said Pike River was the “most dangerous workplace in New Zealand“, and approving a re-entry would go against the very health and safety laws passed by Parliament in response to the disaster.

English said Little himself had lobbied for the safety changes.

“The member should understand the legislation which he advocated for, which brings together judgement about safety and legal responsibility for anyone in that workplace,” he said.

“So whatever any independent expert says, someone who is responsible for anyone who might go into that mine are legally responsibly for their lives.”

So Little is proposing an exception to the safety laws he lobbied for.

 

Organ donor law success for first term MP

The Member’s Bill put forward by rookie National list MP Chris Bishop, providing for financial assistance for organ donors, has passed into law. This is part due to the luck of the draw but it is also a success for the hard working Bishop.

First term MPs have quite varying profiles.

Many seem to disappear into Parliament, hardly to be heard of again. Some of them bail out without standing again, like ex-Palmerston North mayor and National list MP Jono Naylor who announced recently he was opting out.

Some make an early impact and fade. This has happened to Labour’s David Clark, who had an inherited Member’s Bill drawn just after he was elected and got some attention, media rated him as someone to watch, he raced up the Labour pecking order, but seems to have slipped into obscurity outside his electorate city Dunedin and making a racket in the House.

David Seymour has managed to attract a bit of attention in his first term. He had a daunting task establishing himself in his Epsom electorate and trying to resurrect the Act Party in Parliament.

James Shaw came into Parliament at 13 on their list in 2014 but jumped the queue to become co-leader after Russel Norman resigned.

Another Green MP, Marama Davidson replaced Norman as next on the list last year and has had some success in establishing a profile.

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox has done a good job and has been rated as a success. Maori MPs in particular seem to have public profile problems as they tend to work quietly with their constituents – see the Parakura method and Insight into Māori politics.

Old school parties tended to frown on new MPs trying to make a name for themselves.

Sir Keith Holyoake, New Zealand Prime Minister from 1960 to 1972, famously counselled first-term Members of Parliament to ‘breathe through their noses’, suggesting that it was in their best interests to keep their heads down and mouths shut.

Perhaps this recommendation is instrumental in the low profile of first-term MPs in New Zealand and the subsequent dearth of information available about these individuals.

http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/xmlui/handle/10063/1522

But Bishop has done more than breathe through his nose, showing that something can be achieved by new MPs.

New law gives financial assistance to organ donors

Parliament has passed legislation to give financial assistance to organ donors while they recover.

The members’ bill, in the name of the National MP Chris Bishop, provides 100 percent of the donor’s earnings for up to 12 weeks after the operation plus childcare assistance for those who need it while they recover.

This is a very good achievement for Bishop, and unlike many Member’s bills it will be very beneficial. It not only financially supports those who donate organs, it should encourage more to donate.

Bishop also did very well in his first election in 2014, pushing incumbent  Trevor Mallard in Hutt South hard and giving him a scare ending up with 16,127 votes to Mallard’s 16,836.

Mallard has opted out of standing again in an electorate, hoping to get in on Labour’s list (on current polling that is far from guaranteed) and hoping Labour wins so they give him the job of  Speaker.

Bishop has also been working hard in the electorate so has a good chance of establishing himself as an electorate MP.

He is a hybrid MP, having worked for a public company (Philip Morris) and has also worked as a staffer for Steven Joyce.

Bishop hasn’t heeded the ‘breath through the nose’ advice, but Holyoake was from a very different era (he was Prime Minister from 1660-1972 and died in 1983) and Bishop is a new breed of MP.

Nick Smith in Housing debate

Hapless Housing Minister Nick Smith with the opening speech in the Third reading of the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill last night (the Bill passed eventually after a lengthy debate).

Draft transcript:


Third Reading

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (Minister for Building and Housing): I move, That the Housing Legislation Amendment Bill be now read a third time.

This amendment bill will get more houses built. This bill will get houses built more quickly, and it should be getting the full support of this Parliament. It will do so by ensuring a smooth transition to the Auckland Unitary Plan.

It will do so by allowing more land to be available for housing more quickly in other parts of New Zealand, and it will do so by providing certainty over the Crown land housing development programme.

The parties opposing this bill have shown they are far more interested in wallowing in the stories of hardship over housing than actually getting more rooves built over the heads of Kiwi families.

The greatest irony is that Labour has called for a state of emergency across New Zealand, over housing, but it opposed urgency in this House for the very bill that will make a difference.

Let us be clear about three things in respect of housing.

The first is on the demand side. It is at record levels, because New Zealand is doing well. Our economy is growing strongly, unemployment is low and falling, we are a safe and well-governed country, interest rates are at the lowest level in 60 years, and so housing demand is at record levels.

The second is that construction is booming. Statistics New Zealand has just reported the highest level of building activity ever in New Zealand, topping $18 billion in the last year. Residential building has grown nationally by 20 percent per annum for every one of the last 5 years.

I have checked the records all the way back to 1922, and there has never been such a period of long, sustained growth. Independent reports show we are on track for this boom to continue until 2021. In Auckland we are on schedule to build the equivalent of a Whangarei in Auckland in this term of Parliament, and another Whangarei in the next term of Parliament.

My third point is that land-use policy is the single most important public policy issue affecting housing supply and affordability. The Productivity Commission says so, Treasury says so, and the OECD says so.

We also know, from our own experience in Christchurch where we are using the special earthquake provision powers and freeing up land. We have a well-functioning market. Thousands of good, new homes, with three bedrooms, are available on the market at $450,000. We have got house price inflation in Christchurch of only 2 or 3 percent, and we have had rents in that market drop by 8 percent over the last year.

Let me turn to the detail of this bill. It will allow eight greenfield special housing areas (SHAs), totalling 762 hectares in Auckland, that are well advanced in the planning and design processes, to enable 7,900 homes to be built. This is significant. It amounts to $4 billion of additional housing investment that will be able to be facilitated and ensure it progresses.

The simple question for Parliament is this: do we want to send those seven developments, $4 billion of housing, back to square one?

Members on this side of the House say that no, we do not. Members opposite, who have voted against this bill, are voting to block those housing developments.

The bill also allows the extension for 3 years of the housing accords and special housing build in other parts of New Zealand. The original Act was very focused on Auckland, but the growth pressures are now being felt more widely.

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development will take time for councils to free up land. The national policy statement requires that to be done over 3 years, and so it makes sense for the SHAs to be able to be used in the interim, to be able to free up more land.

These measures are supported by Local Government New Zealand. I have received letters from a number of councils that want access to this flexible tool.

The second part of this bill is the part that Labour has got in a lather about. The amendment makes plain what is already in the 1955 Housing Act, that the Government can approve housing development schemes and sell the houses. It is what Government has been doing for years. It is what we are doing in Hobsonville, where over 1,000 houses have now been completed.

Ironically, it is what we have done in Weymouth, where Mr Little visited and said that we should be doing more of those types of schemes.

Labour has caused this huge commotion in the House, saying that these are very significant changes that affect people’s property rights. Let me read exactly what Treasury’s independent regulatory impact unit said on these changes, long before this controversy, in an email dated 3 October.

I will quote, word for word: “The minor avoidance of doubt provision in the Housing Act doesn’t need a regulatory impact statement. It is minor, and it doesn’t change any rights. It is simply a clarification of existing legislative intent.”

Let me quote it again: “It is minor, and it doesn’t change any rights.” So there it is, without political spin, straight from a Government official. It is why the Government is wanting to make the change. It is to provide the certainty for business.

We are wanting to get on and sign contracts for significant developments of land, and understandably, if we are going to get the best deal for the taxpayer and the most houses, we need to get certainty in the law.

If there is something that members on this side of the House understand, it is that certainty is everything for business, particularly when they are going to be investing tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in building the houses that this country needs.

People who are wanting to delay this minor clarification of the law are actually wanting to make it harder for the Government to get on and build houses on vacant public land. Remember, it is on these vacant blocks of public land that the Government is able to put quite tough requirements to ensure the houses that are being built are in the medium price range, and also to deliver at least 20 percent of social housing.

The greatest irony is this. For all the debate over the last 2 days, I have not heard a single cogent argument against any of the three provisions. Here is the irony. Labour members are out there, saying that Labour is going to build tens of thousands of houses, under its KiwiBuild policy, on vacant Crown land. Are they saying that when they have built those houses they are going to offer them to the former landowners and not to ordinary New Zealanders?

If Labour really believes its opposition to this bill, it will promise to repeal it. It will not because its members know in their heart of hearts it is the practical measures that are required to ensure this country gets on and builds as many houses as is practicably possible. This bill is a sensible measure.

It sits alongside our Resource Management Act reforms, the work to develop an urban development authority, changes to the Building Act, and changes to the Unit Titles Act, because there is not a single magic bullet to this housing challenge.

We need to do a whole lot of things well, and this bill is part of what will make the difference and ensure that we maintain that record growth of housing construction in New Zealand.