Media and Chloe Swarbrick versus Nikki Kaye

Chloe Swarbrick’s political fortunes have been helped a lot by media giving her a lot of free promotion, from when Swarbrick stood for the Auckland mayoralty.

Newshub seem to be doing her a favour here.

On top of the campaign boost this publicity gives Swarbrick, the choice of photos looks to favour Swarbrick over Kaye.

But beating Kaye in Auckland Central won’t be easy. Jacinda Ardern twice lost to Kaye there before switching to the safe for Labour ex-Helen Clark held Mt Albert electorate.

The seat has been held by National deputy leader Nikki Kaye since 2008, during which time she’s seen off challenges from future Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Greens’ own Denise Roche.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had the Greens on 5.5 percent, in danger of falling below the 5 percent threshold required to get into Parliament without winning an electorate – which the Greens have only done once before, in 1999.

“The Greens have always been underdogs who defied the odds, fighting for every inch of political ground,” said Swarbrick, the youngest MP currently in the House and the party’s number three behind leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw.

“I’m bringing that fight to Auckland Central.”

The seat has been held by National deputy leader Nikki Kaye since 2008, during which time she’s seen off challenges from future Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Greens’ own Denise Roche.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll had the Greens on 5.5 percent, in danger of falling below the 5 percent threshold required to get into Parliament without winning an electorate – which the Greens have only done once before, in 1999.

“The Greens have always been underdogs who defied the odds, fighting for every inch of political ground,” said Swarbrick, the youngest MP currently in the House and the party’s number three behind leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw.

“I’m bringing that fight to Auckland Central.”

Labour is running Helen White, who only narrowly lost to Kaye in 2017. If she fails to win, it’s unlikely she’ll make it into Parliament, ranked just 50th on Labour’s list, so isn’t expected to roll over and let Swarbrick take the seat.

There is a risk Swarbrick’s push for electorate votes ends up splitting the left vote, allowing Kaye to come through the middle.

It will be interesting to see how Labour handles this.

The Spinoff: In it to win it: Chlöe Swarbrick’s run for Auckland Central

In the 2020 election, first term MP Chlöe Swarbrick will be one of just two Greens explicitly running to win an electorate.

That’s a very Swarbrick-centric article.

Kaye is likely to fight hard again, but she may have to contend with media promotion of Swarbrick this time.

But will Auckland Central voters buy the Green approach with the significant economic impact of Covid hovering over the campaign?

 

Pervading judgment of same-sex affection

Sad that she feels judged for showing same-sex affection in public.

It’s a big thing for Chlöe to say this publicly. While much of the response was supportive, it was inevitable that some took swipes at her.

Ironically @RantySeniors describes themselves: “We love Sun Wine Food Politics and Interesting People”.

Unfortunately humans are often judgemental, and not just on same-sex issues.

This can be magnified for politicians who are in the public glare, especially when political intolerance is added to something like same-sex intolerance.

Chlöe Swarbrick on the cannabis referendum (Q&A)

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick was interviewed on Q&A last night on the cannabis referendum. (National’s Paula Bennett refused to take part alongside Swarbrick – see Bennett refuses to appear alongside Swarbrick in cannabis discussion).

Leaked Cabinet paper on cannabis referendum ‘out of date’

A Cabinet Paper detailing cannabis law reform referendum options has been leaked to the National Party (who insist on misnaming the drug) just before the issue will be considered by Cabinet, but Green MP Chloe Swarbrick says that it is out of date.

National: Cabinet Paper shows NZ not ready for (cannabis) referendum

A Cabinet Paper leaked to National which will be considered by the Government tomorrow shows New Zealand will head into the recreational marijuana referendum with many unanswered questions, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Cabinet will tomorrow consider four different options for the referendum but no matter which option it choses, there are huge holes.

“The Cabinet Paper is clear that smoking marijuana when you’re under the age of 25 is detrimental for development of the brain, and yet it recommends that the legal age should be 20. The legal age seems to have been plucked out of thin air.

“The paper acknowledges that regular marijuana use increases the risk of developing depression, psychosis and schizophrenia and is especially harmful to those under 25-years-old. It also acknowledges that there is a one in six chance of young people becoming dependent. This would result in further demand for mental health services.

“Only one of the options being considered will give New Zealanders some certainty about what they’re voting for – the other options will mean a huge lack of information.

“Every option takes us straight to legalisation instead of decriminalisation. Many other countries consider decriminalisation first before leaping straight to legalisation.

“National understands that as usual with this Government, the coalition has been unable to reach a consensus and the decision around which option they will choose has been holding up the process.

“The problem with that is there isn’t time for yet more coalition disagreements on an issue this important.”

The 2020 Cannabis Referendum proposals outline four options including;

  • A general question consistent with the undertaking in the Confidence and Supply agreement: “Do you support legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis?” This would not be accompanied by any legal framework or other policy decisions and it would be left to a subsequent Parliament to determine what to do in the event of a ‘yes’ vote.
  • A questions referring to a specific policy framework document setting out the basic principles of what legalisation for personal use of recreational cannabis in New Zealand would entail: “Do you support legalising recreational cannabis in accordance with [published policy document]?” A ‘yes’ vote would result in the duly elected government and Parliament having some moral imperative, but no obligation, to enact law changes consistent with that policy document;
  • A question referring to draft legislation that outlines the regulatory model for cannabis: ‘Do you support legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis in accordance with [published draft legislation]?” Similar to option 2, a ‘yes’ vote would result in the duly elected government and Parliament having some moral imperative, but no obligation, to enact the legislation.
  • A question referring to legislation already enacted but conditional on an affirmative vote on the referendum: “Do you support legalising recreational cannabis in accordance with the [Drug Reform] Act 20XX?” A ‘yes’ vote would trigger the legislation coming into effect.

A leak of a Cabinet paper is rare and serious, and national are playing it hard.

Paula Bennett has been invited a number of times to work together with Government parties on cannabis law reform, but National has chosen to try to spoil and disrupt the issue as much as possible, in this case aided by a leak.

It’s very disappointing if Cabinet are seriously considering any but the last of the above options.

It’s also disappointing to see National trying to make a mess of the issue. Paula Bennett has handled this appallingly, presumably with the approval of Simon Bridges.

Labour, NZ First and National are all at risk of letting the majority of New Zealanders who support cannabis law reform down by playing petty politics and possible trying to get out of fronting up properly on this issue.

If Labour yet again fails on a key policy due to not getting NZ First support, and if National mess things up by not working positively on this, then they will piss a lot of people off.

Bennett takes pot shots at cannabis debate

Paula Bennett has launched into her new role as National’s spokesperson on drug reform with a lot of gusto and questionable assertions – put another way, with bullshit bluster.

Claire Trevett (NZH): National’s Paula Bennett takes on Big Pot

Bennett’s job is to appease the conservative base in National while trying to look as if the party is being constructive about the issue of liberalising cannabis laws.

Bennett announced she was undecided on the matter and a realist rather than “a prude”.

She has not led a sheltered life and can not be dismissed as an arch-conservative on this issue, although her initial comments might look that way. There are political reasons for that.

The issue feeds in nicely to the law and order narrative National is pushing, and the hope voters will decide the Government is distracted by social reforms and punish Labour accordingly.

Judging from Bennett’s beginning, National is likely to continue to beat the drum against liberalisation.

It is ripe for a bit of scaremongering and Bennett was up for the job.

She said she had many questions and her own vote would depend on the regime wrapped around any reforms.

She had many answers too which indicated she may well not be undecided.

She warned of the downfall of decent society as we know it should marijuana be decriminalised. Not a crevice of New Zealand would be weed-free.

She predicted that in 30 years time, those who voted to decriminalise in 2020 would be apologising to their children.

Weed iceblocks would be there right in the supermarket chiller next to those delicious Kapiti plum ice creams. Children would be buying dollar mixes of electric puha lollies. Mr Whippy would become Mr Ganja.

Russell Brown, an authority on drug issues, took issue with Bennett.

I can’t help but note that both of the above claims are well-worn Bob McCoskrie talking points. Does National really want to go *there*?

Going by Bennett’s opening pot shots it appears that it is a deliberate strategy by her and National.

And finally for now: if you don’t want kiddy cannabis lollies, propose that we follow all the other jurisdictions that prohibit them. We’re not fucking helpless here. Parliament will define exactly how this works.

Chloe Swarbrick also takes issue with Bennett’s bullshit bluster. Stuff: Chloe Swarbrick accuses Paula Bennett of ‘cynical politics’ over drug debate

When asked by host Hayley Holt if the ‘War on Drugs’ was working, National’s deputy leader said it wasn’t.

“Oh goodness, it can’t be. We see too many people addicted, too many ruined lives, too much of it in our streets, from meth to synthetics and others.”

Bennett called herself “relatively open minded” to drug reform and potential marijuana legalisation, but said there were still many more questions to be answered.

If she is open minded it doesn’t show. It looks like she has a deliberate anti-reform agenda in mind.

“It scares me and it should. I’ve got kids I don’t want people dating people who are addicted.”

Bennett said she was concerned that legalisation would mean more companies marketing towards children in the same way that alcopops or RTDs appealed to younger drinkers.

“Where it has been legalised, there has been a huge increase in the number of people under the age of 18 who have taken marijuana and there is evidence that it can fry little brain cells when you’re younger. That is of concern to me.”

Swarbrick agreed that there were concerns that were being addressed, and they were being debated openly.

Swarbrick challenged Bennett, asking what evidence the National MP was referring to. Bennett said that the lack of evidence was part of the problem, because it had been on the market for such short time, but claimed that in Canada and the eight US states where cannabis has been legalised, there had been a six per cent increase in car crashes and “more young people showing up to emergency departments with drug issues.”

Swarbrick accused Bennett of relying on the “thoroughly debunked” Rocky Mountain report. She was referring to a 2017 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a US government funded drug prohibition enforcement program in Colorado.

The report was widely criticised for inaccuracies and bias. Forbes labelled the report “dishonest.” In one instance, the report included a column chart showing a dramatic increase in “marijuana-related emergency department visits” between 2012 and 2013 when the legislation took effect, even though the report’s own footnotes noted that “2011 and 2012 emergency department data reflects [sic] incomplete reporting statewide. Inferences concerning trends, including 2011 and 2012, should not be made.”

Swarbrick said the use of that report “seems a lot like a bit of a cynical political move that belittles and degrades the tone of the debate”.

More than a bit of cynical politics from Bennett.

Bennett said Swarbrick was being “passive aggressive and “trying to put me down,” but said she’s “been in politics for far too long to jump at that one”.

That’s a ridiculous and worrying retort from Bennett. She wasn’t being put down, her bullshit and unreliable sources were challenged with facts.

As I have already said, this is a very disappointing move by Bridges, National and Bennett. They have cynically decided to disrupt the drug debate for political purposes – but I think they will lose support with this approach. I for one am moving further from voting National than I have been for a decade.

“Just accept that people’s lives are their lives”

An odd article from NZ Herald:  Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick says she never came out of the closet because she was never in it

It is about how Swarbrick has managed to keep her personal life separate to her political life – until now. But she does a good job of playing it down.

The most important part:

Her sexuality has not been an issue widely broached in the media since she entered Parliament – something she is pleased about.

“I actually think that’s one of the strong points in New Zealand media that we do, to a certain extent, just accept that people’s lives are their lives when they go home from politics.”

A strong point of New Zealand society in general is our just accepting that “people’s lives are their lives” when it comes to race and religion, and relationships and marriage, and more recently sexual preferences. there are exceptions of course but most Kiwis are happy to accept most Kiwis as they are.

I’m still not clear what swarbrick’s personal situation is, and I don’t care, it is none of my business.

I’m interested in her public political life, and she seems to me to be doing a very good job as a first term back bench MP.

Binding referendum on cannabis in 2020

The Government has left it as late as possible but have now confirmed there will be a referendum on personal use of cannabis alongside the 2020 general election. I’d have preferred it sooner but at least this allows for proper legislation to be agreed on by Parliament (if this is how it is decided it will work, and pending the referendum result) and for a proper debate to take place.

There have been some complaints )for example from Simon Bridges) that it is a cynical distraction from the next election but I’m sure people are capable of deciding on multiple decisions at the same time. It will still be much simpler than a local body election.

RNZ:  Binding referendum on legalising cannabis for personal use to be held at 2020 election

It’s not actually clear what the referendum will be on.

Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Electoral Commission will now get on and start planning for it.

“Having made the decision now, the Electoral Commission has put together a budget bid for the budget process next year. So … we’ll now process that budget bid. It obviously will attract budget confidentiality, so we’ll know about that next May.”

Chlöe has been doing a lot of work in helping this happen.

We will have to see how this will work, but it is a big step in the right direction.

National Party leader Simon Bridges questioned the government’s motivation for holding the referendum at the same time as a general election.

“I’m pretty cynical that you’ve got a government here that wants to distract from the core issues of a general election like who’s best to govern, their actual record in government over the last three years, and core issues around the economy, tax, cost of living, health, education, law and order.”

FFS, we can deal with more than deciding which politician is the least dweebie and lame, or which party is up with changes on drug laws happening all around the world. .

And he said the government had already effectively decriminalised cannabis through the medicinal cannabis bill.

“Now you’re allowed loose leaf out on the streets and the truth is they’ve said to police, you don’t need to prosecute this so right now, if someone’s smoking cannabis outside a school what are the consequences? What’s the message?”

This is a pathetic attempt at scaremongering, nearly as bad as Bob McCoskrie.

Bridges may pander to people most likely to vote national anyway, but he risks alienating a lot of swing voters, and especially younger voters (voters under 70).

There is obviously no guarantee which way the vote will go, but at least this means that people should get to decide. At last.

Mental health discrimination or prudence in job applications?

It’s reasonable to expect that employers check properly whether job applicants are suitable candidates for the position. It’s also reasonable to expect job applications to not be too intrusive on a personal level.

Should an employer be able to find out whether an applicant is suffering from mental illness, being treated for mental illness or taking medication to treat mental illness?

RNZ: Job applicants face mental health discrimination – Greens

A Green Party investigation has concluded that there appears to be widespread discrimination against job applicants with mental health issues.

The investigation was launched after Green Party spokesperson for mental health Chloe Swarbrick held hui at eight universities across the country to better understand the mental health challenges facing young people.

It was during these hui that Ms Swarbrick said she was surprised to find out from people that they were being expected to disclose their mental health history on job applications so she launched an investigation.

“[We] heard some pretty harrowing and stressful stories – a number of people who were being required to offer up an entire shopping list of the medication that they’re on, other people who believe that they had been prejudiced from the job application process and denied the opportunity to prove their skill set.”

A number of the 59 submitters expressed concerns about what their mental health or medication information would be used for.

“What was highlighted was the number of people who weren’t given clarity around what that information was going to be used for but also, I think what people have to realise is that in a job application process there is a massive power imbalance.

“So when somebody is put in a position where they are being expected to disclose things and may not actually know their rights, that’s a really problematic situation for them to be put in.”

Perhaps that could be addressed by notifying applications of their rights in advance.

The investigation also highlighted that a number of large companies including Wishbone, Coca-Cola, Air New Zealand, New World, Countdown and PWC appeared to be avoiding hiring people with anxiety and depression.

“Rather than reinforcing a culture of stigma and fear around mental health, employers should be providing supportive workplaces and promotion well-being.”

Of course employers should provide supportive workplaces. The well-being of employees has an impact on the well-being of a business.

But employers should be able to consider whether a degree of anxiety or depression was a potential problem in someone being capable of doing a reasonable job.

Mental ‘illness’ can range from minor (and inconsequential in employment) to severe and a major risk.

We all probably suffer from some sort of mental problems at some stage of our lives – degrees of depression can vary a lot, relationship issues, stress (from work or home) can all affect just about anyone.

We already have a situation where discrimination in job applications is not allowed legally – for example on gender, age, race, religion.

But what this means in practice is that employers just have to be careful in what reasons they give for not choosing an applicant – bland ‘someone else was more suitable’ explanations are safe. Saying ‘your age of seventy five, and wanting six months off to go to China for a sex change, skin lightening and hair transplant operations as soon as your probation office and your psychiatrist allows’ risks a complaint of discrimination.

It is difficult to say how much an employer has a right to know about job applicants.

It could also be difficult in differentiating between discrimination and prudence in checking out the suitability of job applicants.

 

Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis?

Last night Q+A had a debate between Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and head of Family First Bob McCroskie on whether New Zealand should legalise the recreational use of cannabis (separate to allowing the use of medicinal cannabis).

To Swarbrick: What is it you want here, are you after legalisation, which would effectively allow people to grow marijuana, for it to be sold, to be regulated, the Canadian model, is that what you’re pushing for?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah, so I think you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head there. We currently have a state of play whereby illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. people don’t necessarily know the compounds that they are purchasing or consuming.

So in the Green-Labour confidence and supply line 19 of that says that we want to see drugs treated as a health issue.

From the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement:

19. Increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and ensure drug use is treated as a
health issue, and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the
2020 general election.

Q+A:

Chlöe Swarbrick: Part of that is the referendum on the recreational personal use…

Corin Dann: So Kiwis would be able to go to some sort of a store and buy cannabis for personal use?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah. So we have the option of looking around the world. Obviously Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week. I think they have a really robust set of regulations that they’re looking at.

They’re focussed on harm reduction. They’re focussed on education. They’re focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.

I think that’s quite different to the rules we’ve seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models, where advertising is abundant and you have door to door delivery services.

But what we’re proposing, as we’ve been quite strong on for a while now, is…providing the legislation first so it is black and white what we are going to be voting on at that referendum come 2019 or 2020. So we remove all grey from the debate.

So make it clear in proposed legislation what would happen, and leave it to us the people to decide.

Corin Dann: Alright Bob you have been in Colorado I understand, it’s been in place for five years there, very liberal cannabis law. What did you make of it there. It seems to be going all right doesn’t it?

Bob McCoskrie: No it doesn’t, it’s ah the statistics are quite concerning, I mean for example a hundred and fifty percent increase in hospitalisations for marijuana, increase in road deaths with marijuana related to them, they’ve also got the highest teenage use across all states, eighty five percent above the national average for the United States.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Where are those figures from?

Bob McCoskrie: From the Rocky mountain High report…

Chlöe Swarbrick: I don’t think in any way shape or form that is they way we should be doing things.

McCoskrie argued that we shouldn’t be liberalising smoking cannabis while trying to become smoke free with tobacco. He also seems to be against a referendum.

Arguing the Colorado model seems pointless if that’s not the model proposed here.

McCoskrie says there is no war on drugs.

He says that regulation isn’t possible.

Lack of regulation isn’t working here.

McCoskrie claims that the aim is the legalisation of all drugs.

“If we want to be smoke free, lets be drug free”. On what planet?

He argues against what has happened with the Portugal approach, arguing against success there.

McCoskrie says we need to reduce supply and reduce demand, as per tobacco, which is highly regulated. Swarbrick is arguing for regulation.

I’ll transcribe more later if I have time.

On Twitter afterwards:

 

 

Collins versus Swarbrick

Judith Collins made another unfathomably bad taste tweet attack again today, and Green MP Chloe Swarbrick was one prepared to call her out for it.

A reprehensible crime punished with a sizeable prison sentence, but a reprehensible response from Collins:

Swarbrick stood up to Collins:

A poor look for Collins, and Swarbrick shows more maturity than most MPs.

Also: