A blame and inflame campaign

David Shearer posted this on Facebook:

ShearerOnBennett

There’s currently 340 comments, ranging from this:

Meegan Edwards What a blatant waste of taxpayers money once again. I’m sure they would rather be elsewhere too. Paula Bennet is a self righteous unpleasant user who is where she is not because of hard work but because she got a hand up…and then some. Disgusting human.

And:

Jonathan Taylor Good man. Show these cowards for what they are. If she needs body guards she needs to hire them. Members of the public would struggle to get that kind of protection. I wonder what dairy owners think when they know the respond times for serious crime then see this.

To:

Mark Unsworth I have huge respect for David Shearer but that comment was total nonsense .David’s caucus colleague Phil Goff needed a similar police presence when he was Minister of Education and bravely faced protestors at Vic University.His former leader Helen Clark needed the same at Waitangi. Were they out of touch ? No- just doing their job

Jared Gibbs Also I doubt very much that the minsters themselves organise their own security detail.

I’m disappointed with this from Shearer. He should know that the Police decide what protection MPs require and provide it accordingly.

It is an ugly but essential sign of our democracy that MPs are seen to need Police protection.

Shearer is adding to a blame and inflame campaign against Bennett that has resulted so far in the claimed need for police protection – I don’t know who else was at the meeting and what it was about, nor whether the protection was specifically for Bennett.

Pat Allen I used to think Shearer was smart and had potential. But now I think he’s stupid. Doesn’t he see the correlation between his statement and Donald trumps promotion of violence. He should be condemning the people who threaten his fellow politicians, not blaming the politicians, whoever they are.

Blaming and inflaming can contribute to mad people doing bad things, like what happened in Orlando.

Newshub in March: Paula Bennett condemns Facebook shooting threat

Despite a violent social media post calling for her death, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says she doesn’t want to have constant police protection while out in public. 

Ms Bennett today revealed someone on her Facebook page said she should be shot dead at her next public outing.

The post in question says: “People own guns out there i dare any1 2 shoot the b**** dead at hr next public appearance [sic].”

The person goes on to say they hope the Prime Minister is standing behind her so it’s “2 birds 1 bullet”.

It’s very sad to see this sort of thing in New Zealand politics, and Shearer should be well aware of the risks.

Newshub yesterday: Why the extra security for Paula Bennett and Nick Smith?

In an unusual move, a police bodyguard provided close protection for Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett and Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith at a public meeting in Auckland on Monday night.

The plainclothes police officers stood beside the ministers as they addressed the crowd at the housing meeting in Blockhouse Bay.

Usually only the Prime Minister requires the protection of the Diplomatic Protection Squad and his ministers travel freely.

Prime Minister John Key says the amount of police and security at the event was “standard”.

“When we have public meetings sometimes if the issue is particularly hot and we’re aware through social media you’re likely to get a significant number of protesters then the police attend those meetings and that’s a logical thing to do.”

But it’s not just the former Labour leader who is taking cheap political shots over police protection.

But Labour leader Andrew Little says security detail was required because the Government has angered the community over its failure to address the housing crisis.

“Ministers have been doing community meetings since time immemorial and last night they turned up with a security detail. Nick Smith did not speak without a security person being there within spitting distance of him.

“That tells you ministers are under siege, people are angry, they are concerned and they hold this Government responsible.”

Little is also guilty of excusing and legitimising the threat and blaming the Ministers.

It’s very sad to see the need for police protection for our Ministers.

And it’s sad to see Little and Shearer indulging in what looks like a blame and inflame campaign.

Little still mixed on TPPA

Andrew Little still seems to have mixed positions on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Patrick Gower:

So Little is loudly saying he is opposed to the TPP one minute, and then the next minute he’s quietly admitting he’d vote for the good bits. It is a Jekyll and Hyde show where Little is Jane Kelsey one minute and Phil Goff the next.

He tried to gloss over the Goff/Shearer/Helen Clark/et al elephant in Labour’s TPPA room in his ‘State of the nation’ speech yesterday:

I’d also like to acknowledge Phil Goff.

It’s funny, Phil seems to be at every gathering in Auckland with more than three people for some reason. Phil, this is going to be a big year for Auckland, and I know you’ll do a fantastic job as Mayor.

Little  may be looking forward to Goff resigning from Parliament if he wins the mayoralty, so he doesn’t figure in next year’s election lead up.

He addressed the TPPA directly later in his speech.

The truth is, this government has given up on the future.

They’ve been selling us short.

There’s no better example of this than the TPP agreement the government will sign next week at Sky City.

You know, over the summer, I managed to work my way through large parts of that agreement.

It wasn’t the breeziest of summer reading, I’ll say that much.

But what the text of the TPP makes very clear is that this Government has traded away our democratic rights.

Under the TPP, our democracy is under threat.

New Zealand’s parliament will be constrained in its ability to pass laws in our — your, mine, our kids’ interests.

In fact, on issues like labour laws, and environmental laws, our government is now obliged to give the governments of eleven other countries — and their big corporate players — a say on the laws we make.

New Zealand MPs will no longer be solely responsible to the people who elect them.

And I cannot accept that.

Labour has been a champion of free trade for decades. But we have never been asked to pay the price of the erosion of our democratic institutions.

Binding future parliaments, making our government accountable to politicians and corporations overseas instead of voters here at home?

That’s not free trade.

That’s special rules for the powerful and privileged at the expense of the voters of New Zealand.

Last week Goff and David Shearer made it clear that they have quite different views on the TPPA, publicly confirming their support. Shearer will have to apologise to the Labour caucus for breaking their collective responsibility. Goff had been given a pass by Little.

However after the speech journalists asked Little about the TPPA and he revealed that he was still not totally against it.

Patrick Gower reports:

In his speech, he talked up Labour’s opposition to the TPP to cheers from the party faithful. Then he came over to journalists and admitted Labour would support certain laws that put some parts of of the TPP into action, confirming Labour would vote for legislation that reduced tariffs for Kiwi exporters, which the official advice shows will be required.

So Little is loudly saying he is opposed to the TPP one minute, and then the next minute he’s quietly admitting he’d vote for the good bits. It is a Jekyll and Hyde show where Little is Jane Kelsey one minute and Phil Goff the next. It is a political con-job aimed at keeping his own supporters on side by opposing it while emotions are running high with the signing next week, but not wanting to get caught out as being against New Zealand exporters when the benefits kick in down the track.

If Little really opposed the TPP, he would refuse point-blank to vote for any legislation that enables it. Until he does that his position lacks credibility, and that means the TPP is quickly becoming a big problem for Little. He’s got MPs Goff and David Shearer going rogue with their public support but — unlike him at least they are up-front and easy to understand.

Little and Labour still have a big problem over their mixed messages and clash of support on the TPPA.

 

 

Censuring Shearer, Goff let off

Collective caucus responsibility imposed on David Shearer, breaking ranks is fine for Phil Goff.

Andrew Little says he will ensure David Shearer for expressing his support of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement at the same time that Labour as a party swings to full anti-TPPA, but he is letting Goff off. This inconsistency is odd and could prove problematic for Little, now trying to deal with a split caucus.

NZ Herald reported last night (but dated 5:30 am this morning):

David Shearer to be censured over breaking Labour line on TPP

Labour MP David Shearer is set to be censured for breaking the Labour line on the Trans-Pacific Partnership after speaking out in support of the trade agreement.

Labour leader Andrew Little would not outline possible sanctions or comment on whether Mr Shearer could be stripped of his foreign affairs portfolio.

“There is a range of options. I don’t want to go into any of them, but it is important he understands, and that every caucus member understands, that caucus collective responsibility is real and it’s got to stand for something.”

“I’ve had one discussion with David so far just to ascertain the facts. I’m yet to have a further discussion with him about what happens now, but I think every caucus member knows caucus collective responsibility is utterly vital and there has to be some sort of consequence if that is breached.”

But Goff has been let off – why does caucus collective responsibility not apply to him?

Although fellow MP Phil Goff also spoke in support of the TPP, Mr Little said he had agreed Mr Goff could break ranks with the party because of his long-standing support for the trade agreement as Trade Minister when the talks kicked off.

Shearer has supported the TPPA for some time as well, As have other Labour MPs.

The treatment of Mr Shearer differs from that of Mr Goff, whose comments rubbished claims the TPP was an unacceptable infringement of New Zealand’s sovereignty — the very reason Labour is opposing it.

However, Mr Little has confirmed Mr Goff had a dispensation which allowed him to break the party line. Asked if he had told Mr Goff to at least stop speaking publicly on the issue, Mr Little said he had discussed it with Mr Goff and “I’m confident we have a shared understanding about that”.

He said most people recognised Mr Goff was the trade minister who initiated the negotiations and had a “deep-seated”view on it. Mr Goff is running for the Auckland mayoralty so no longer has a ranking within Labour’s caucus.

Shearer is currently ranked 13 and is MP for Mt Albert, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Associate Defence Spokesperson. Little can’t take his electorate off him.

Labour split on TPPA

It’s not surprising to see a split in Labour ranks over the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Phil Goff under Helen Clark’s government had quite a bit to do with initiating the TPPA.

Helen Clark recently said:

“What always haunts one as a New Zealand prime minister is, will there be a series of trade blocs developed that you’re not part of? Because that is unthinkable for New Zealanders, an export-oriented, small trading nation.”

“So of course New Zealand has to be in on the action with a [TPPA] and go for the very best deal it can.”

Labour leader Andrew Little has been sort of saying he opposes the TPPA, or at least parts of it, and that he would breach the agreement if it comes into force and he is Prime Minister.

One News last night (partial transcript from video, source Anthony Robins):

Labour finally confirms it’s opposed to controversial TPPA

[Little] “I don’t support it, we don’t support it”

[Little] “Very difficult as it is for us as a party that for 80 years has supported for, championed and advanced the cause of free trade, we see an agreement that cuts right across the rights of New Zealand citizens…”

[Vance] “Plus Andrew Little points to US university analysis which predicts the deal will lead to between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs lost in New Zealand by 2025. The report also estimates GDP growth of less than 0.8% again by 2025.

Grant Robertson has been sort of saying he opposes the TPPA at meetings this week that strongly oppose the TPPA signing, at least giving the impression Labour opposes the signing.

Today the Herald reports MPs break ranks on TPP.

Two senior Labour MPs have broken ranks with the party line and declared their support for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), amid rumours that at least one, Phil Goff, could cross the floor of Parliament to vote with National if Labour opposes enabling legislation.

The issue was hotly debated at the Labour caucus retreat in Wairarapa this week.

Mr Goff, a former leader and former Trade Minister and now an Auckland mayoral candidate, and David Shearer, also a former Labour leader, last night told theHerald they both still supported the TPP.

It is no surprise that Goff and Shearer support the TPPA. The only slight surprise is the timing of them coming out in support.

Mr Goff said the deal should be signed.

Mr Goff did not blatantly criticise Labour’s position. But he effectively dismissed that view and the suggestion that Labour would not be able to prevent foreign investors buying New Zealand residential property.

“Every time you sign any international agreement you give away a degree of your sovereignty.” He cited the China free trade deal negotiated when he was Trade Minister.

“We gave up the sovereign right to impose tariffs against China when we signed up to the China free trade agreement. But it came with quid pro quos. China gave up its right to impose huge tariffs on us.

“That’s what an international agreement is; it’s an agreement to follow a particular course of action and a limitation on your ability to take action against the other country.

“You have the ultimate right of sovereignty that you can back out of an agreement – with all the cost that that incurs.”

That’s the realities of international agreements, something that Little and Robertson seem oblivious too, unless they are playing the different sides of the debate.

Mr Shearer told the Herald that his position on the TPP was unchanged and “certainly after reading the NIA [national interest analysis]” that was to support the deal.

Mr Shearer would not comment on whether he would cross the floor.

Little has responded:

Labour leader Andrew Little told the Herald last night that Labour would support tariff-reducing legislation but would oppose any measures if they undermined sovereignty, expressly the issue of selling houses to foreigners, and anything that allowed foreigners to have a say on New Zealand laws.

“As a caucus we don’t support the TPPA in its current form.”

Mr Little said Mr Goff had made his view known to him and to the caucus and they understood his position because he was close to the TPP.

He said the issue of crossing the floor was a matter for future discussion.

Asked if there would be any consequences for Mr Goff and Mr Shearer for supporting the TPP, he said there was an understanding about Mr Goff.

I guess the ‘understanding’ is Goff hopes to win the mayoralty later this year so Little has little control over what he says.

Goff may like to leave Parliament with a legacy of playing a significant role in enabling the TPPA.

“Anybody else in caucus, that’ll be a matter for myself and/or caucus.”

There’s likely to be others in the Labour caucus who have at least some problems with Little’s and Robertson’s stances on the TPPA.

Little was praised last year for apparently mending a split caucus, or at least keeping any differences out of public sight.

It appears that Labour have joined others in trying to use the TPPA as a wedge between National and the opposition, and also a Maori wedge.

But the wedge may end up causing a self inflicted split amongst themselves. Little has created a very difficult situation for himself and for Labour. I presume he will have seen this coming. It was inevitable.

Saudi Arabia beheadings and trade

There’s been widespread international condemnation of the beheading of 47 dissidents in Sauda Arabia.

The mass executions were concerning enough, but are only a part of a comparatively large number of executions in Saudi Arabia.

The Guardian reports: Saudi Arabia: beheadings reach highest level in two decades

Saudi Arabia carried out at least 157 executions in 2015, with beheadings reaching their highest level in the kingdom in two decades, according to several advocacy groups that monitor the death penalty worldwide.

Amnesty International said in November that at least 63 people had been executed since the start of the year for drug-related offences. That figure made up at least 40% of the total number of executions in 2015, compared to less than 4% for drug-related executions in 2010.

Amnesty said Saudi Arabia had exceeded its highest level of executions since 1995, when 192 executions were recorded.

While some crimes, such as premeditated murder, carry fixed punishments under Saudi Arabia’s interpretation of the Islamic law, or Shariah, drug-related offences are considered “ta’zir”, meaning neither the crime nor the punishment is defined in Islam.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that of the first 100 prisoners executed in 2015, 56 had been based on judicial discretion and not for crimes for which Islamic law mandates a specific death penalty punishment.

Any executions, and especially mass executions, may seem abhorrent to most of us in New Zealand but we used to have capital punishment, with 83 verified executions and the last execution here in 1957. Executions were abolished finally in 1961.

All New Zealand executions were by hanging, initially in public. Is death by hanging any more or less humane than beheading?

The general response to the Saudi beheadings from the New Zealand Government has been in opposition to the executions but to take it no further.

Newstalk ZB: NZ criticises Saudis, but not at expense of trade talks

Duty minister Chris Finlayson said New Zealand is a long-standing opponent of the death penalty, and executions are always wrong in all cases and any circumstances.

Finlayson insists the government regularly raises human rights issues during diplomatic talks.

The Greens had a much stronger response: New Zealand shouldn’t prefer human rights abusers

The New Zealand Government must halt its free trade discussions with Saudi Arabia after the latest in a long line of very public human rights atrocities.

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said that New Zealand was sending a distressing signal by continuing to negotiate for a free trade agreement giving preferential treatment to Saudi Arabia while they continued to execute people, often with the flimsiest of evidence.

I’m not sure how well Shaw or the Greens check the legal processes and evidence in Saudi cases that result in executions. The main export from Saudi Arabia is oil so Greens probably don’t favour trade with them anyway.

The most interesting response was from Labour…

Labour foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer did not agree with the Greens on the issue.

“Trading links enables us ot get a foot in the door to talk about human rights issues that we would not otherwise be able to do if we didn’t have those links. I don’t believe it’s necessarily in our interests to take this stance in banning trading talks with either country.”

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/293442/saudi-arabia-breaks-ties-with-iran

…and the response to that from The Standard. Greg Presland in Saudi Arabia and the free trade deal:

Davis Shearer’s response has shall we say been disappointing.

Promoting free trade so that our ability to discuss human rights violations with trading partners is frankly silly. And there should be a moral dimension to trade relationships. If a foreign nation is involved in widespread human rights violations then all forms of pressure, including the suspension of trade agreement negotiations, should be available to try and effect change.

All forms of pressure are available to New Zealand, no matter how futile or practical. If we suspended trade negotiations with every country the was deemed by us to have violated human rights we might not have a lot of trade.

Comments were more damning of Shearer’s and Labour’s stance.

Frances Cohen:

It’s absurd for Shearer to think that we can influence Saudi Arabia through free trade deals.

Macro:

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard David Shearer on the radio this morning. Really and truly – what a wet response! Has NZ Labour lost all its principles?
This is not a matter of whether or not there is a trade deal to be signed (and if it is it will be a very bad one). This is a matter of taking a stand on human rights.
Both NZ First, and the Greens get it. Why oh why can’t Labour?

Robert Glennie:

Labour is too scared to take back its principles in case it loses a part of the political spectrum that they do not realize is not actually theirs.

Savenz:

Crucifixion no barrier to trade in NZ!

Human rights breaches and democracy breaches and funding ISIS from Saudi, no barrier to trade either!
(or any other neoliberal country, if the US says friend then turn a blind eye, if US says foe, invade or sanction). What happened to an independent foreign policy??

Karen:

So that idiot Shearer thinks we can influence Saudi Arabia’s human rights through trade deals. So how has that been working out so far? If anything Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has been getting worse.

Gordon Campbell has a good post on this.
http://gordoncampbell.scoop.co.nz/2016/01/06/gordon-campbell-on-our-feeble-response-to-atrocities-in-sa/

Adam:

David Shearer proves once again the labour party is the party of liberalism. So how is raising human rights issues going there David, any luck? Or just more b.s word games from you and your flock of professional politician’s.

Dialey:

This is precisely why Labour is bleeding to death – no principles, no standing for what is right. For once I have to say I agree with a John Key statement: “Get some balls!” Shearer had the opportunity to show that Labour does actually offer something different from National, but I guess he just wants to be part of the big boys’ club.

And it goes on.

Perhaps Shearer knows more about the realities of international relations and trade than vocal left wingers at The Standard.

Should human rights figure more in our trade agreements with other countries? More on this in Greens, capital punishment and trade.

Andrew Little supports SAS againstISIS

Andrew Little, in an official visit to Washington DC as Opposition Leader, has said he would  support sending Special Air Service troops to fight Isis if the right conditions were met.

NZ Herald: Little now backs SAS in Isis war

Those conditions were having a clear and realistic objective, that it would have to be part of a multinational mission mandated by the United Nations and that the level of risk needed to be acceptable.

He also said there had to be a consensus between the US and Russia before any intervention would be effective.

Mr Little denied it was a change in the party’s position, but it is certainly not a view he has expressed before.

This does appear to be a change in Labour’s position on the fight against ISIS.

Back in February in Radio NZ in Iraq deployment condemned:

Leader Andrew Little said the party opposed the deployment to Iraq.

Mr Little told Parliament the Iraqi Army was demoralised and riven with corruption, and had been for 10 years.

He said New Zealand could not fix the Iraqi Army, saying it was disorganised, broken, treacherous and corrupt.

New Zealand could help to build a functioning government, that could be assisted by advice from this country and help with reconstruction.

He said New Zealand had a reputation as an honest broker, as shown by its success in securing a seat on the UN Security Council, and it should show leadership on this issue by helping create a true nation state in Iraq.

Mr Little also said that New Zealand was exposing its soldiers to even greater risk if they were sent to Iraq without adequate legal protections.

The SAS are in Iraq training them to help fight against ISIS.

Stuff in October in Battlelines drawn on Iraq trip.

Labour MP David Shearer’s line that New Zealand’s contribution is “barely significant”, while also criticising the prime minister for putting a two-year time limit on the deployment because the “need doesn’t go away in two years’ time”.

That may have been a signal of a changer in Labour thinking. But…

Shearer’s focus on the personal in relation to Key’s trip is a surprise given Labour’s previous positioning on Iraq.

Key’s visit to Kiwi troops at Camp Taji was a platform for Labour to relaunch its attack on the Government for sending troops to Iraq.

Labour leader Andrew Little’s assault on Key over Iraq was the defining moment of his leadership so far.

Perhaps Shearer has convinced Little of the realities of ISIS and the Middle East mess.

And/or perhaps Little’s visit to Washington has given him a does of reality beyond his local Labour bubble.

Shearer on Corbyn

There’s some hope on the left that the seismic Corbyn shift in the UK will translate into a worldwide shift left, including in New Zealand.

The political situation in New Zealand is quite different. And there doesn’t seem to be any imminent Labour leadership contest. (A back bencher of thirty years as Corbyn becoming leader would be like Damien O’Connor becoming leader here, except that O’Connor is probably the opposite of being a far left radical).

David Shearer knows what it is like for an outsider to suddenly be elevated to a leadership position. He posted his thoughts on the Corbyn phenomenon on Facebook yesterday:

Jeremy Corbyn looks likely to be elected the new UK Labour leader this weekend. 

He will win without the support of most of his caucus and with many senior members refusing to serve under him. 

Corbyn’s supporters could be right … for the first time in modern political history we may see a leader shun the centre, steer a party to the left and win an election.

But more likely it will guarantee Labour stays in ‘glorious’ opposition as it did during the 1980s and 1990s – until finally it reached out to voters in the centre and won three elections in a row. But until then Thatcher and the Conservatives ran rampant for 18 years. 

Too often we forget that being in government is the objective. Anything else is just academic discussion. 

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are gleeful. Many joined the Labour Party under Labour’s new voting rules just so they could vote for Corbyn. 

Sadly, the stakes are heavily tilted against a positive outcome for Labour – and with it the majority of hardworking, decent Brits.

The stakes also seem heavily tilted against a Corbyn-like revolution in New Zealand. Andrew Little could suddenly transform himself, or someone else could come from left field and take over the Labour leadership, but both look unlikely.

What now for Andrew Little?

Andrew Little started his leadership of Labour last year obviously a bit rough around the edges but showing promise as leading a new approach by Labour, hopefully on the way to recovery after a disastrous election – actually after three poor election results.

But something seems to have happened to Little during the summer break. He appears to have been sucked into the party machine and spat out as a strategy leading puppet.

This looks similar to the destruction of David Shearer as a new style leader.

Like Shearer Little looks uncomfortable in his role.

The Chinese surname strategy has gone down badly on the left. There’s been comments like ‘if Little keeps digging it won’t be long before he comes out in China and he can check out the speculators for himself”.

It’s difficult to know if Little is having trouble fitting into the role of leading, or if he’s struggling with a party strategist imposed role.

Matthew Hooton claims the Chinese surname thing is a carefully planned strategy orchestrated by Matt McCarten, including Little’s reaction at yesterday’s press stand-up – see Little buckles under pressure as he and Twyford keep digging.

Whatever – Little looks like he is struggling with his role as Labour’s leader.

Following Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Cunliffe.

There’s more than a hint that Labour’s problem may not be several individuals. The party seems fundamentally flawed.

Can Little break the cycle and forge and actually lead the party? The signs aren’t looking great.

Turei versus Key on feeding kids in schools

There was a continuation of a running battle between Metiria Turei and John Key in Question Time today.

Later after a “feed the kids bill in her name (that she took over from as Hone Harawira) was defeated in Parliament by 59 votes to 61 at its first reading, @metiria tweeted:

John Key today turned his back on hungry kids.

A second bill on feeding kids at school is also being voted on. NZ Herald:

Meanwhile another food in schools bill in the name of Labour MP David Shearer is set to be defeated tonight at its first reading as well.

The bill allowed for free food in all primary and intermediate decile one to three schools that wanted.

However during his research on the bill, Mr Shearer came across several schools that changed his thinking including Yendarra School in Otara, and Owairaka District School, which took a community approach to food in schools.

“I have become convinced that free food solves nothing,” he has said.

“I now believe that each school community should be resourced to find and deliver its own long-term food solutions.”

He still wanted the bill sent to a select committee so it could be reworked.

It failed 60-60 despite Peter Dunne supporting it: Vote on that Members Bill (David Shearer’s Feed The Kids) was tied 60-60. Under Standing Order 153, a tied vote is lost.

This is not an issue of feeding hungry kids or not, it’s a matter of how much and how kids should be given food in schools. The Question Time exchange illustrates this.

[Sitting date: 18 March 2015. Volume:704;Page:5. Text is subject to correction.]

4. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by his statement that the principals of decile 1 to 4 schools he has visited have told him “the number of children in those schools who actually require lunch is the odd one or two”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes , because that is what principals have told me.

Metiria Turei : How can it be correct that only the odd one or two kids in low-decile schools require lunch when KidsCan says that, on average, 23 percent of the children in the schools it works with are in need of lunch every day?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, I believe it to be true, and one of the issues I raised with the Minister of Education today was to ask her whether she, in her travels as the Minister of Education in the last 3½ years, had had the issue of lunch in schools raised with her. She told me that it has either never been raised or has been raised extremely infrequently.

Metiria Turei : Is the Prime Minister telling the House that the low-decile schools that he has visited do not have the same needs as other low-decile schools that KidsCan works with?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : What I am telling the member is that, firstly, the Government has been working with a number of private sector organisations to provide breakfast in schools, and about 800—791, I think—schools out of 2,500, approximately, have taken that up. Secondly, I think there will be some children who go to school without lunch, but I think that number is actually relatively small. In some cases it will be one or two; in some cases it will be a few more, but I do not think it is as widespread as the member is purporting it to be.

Metiria Turei : I seek leave to table a document from KidsCan showing that it is now feeding 15,000 students a week across 448 schools, an average of 33 children in each—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The document is now being described. The date of the document would be useful.

Metiria Turei : The date of the document is 3 March 2015.

Mr SPEAKER : March 2015—is there any objection to that information being tabled? There is none. It can be tabled.

  • Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Metiria Turei : I seek leave to table a document prepared by my office on the schools that John Key visited from 2013 to 2014, showing that of the decile 1 schools and decile—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! No, I—[Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. This is an effective way of making a political statement. It does not have the purpose of informing the House. It will not be tabled.

Metiria Turei : Which of the decile 1 and 2 schools that John Key visited—Māngere Central, Waimate Main, Flaxmere, Huntly, Huntly College, Manaia View, Pt England—told him that only one or two of their kids needed feeding every day, when each of those schools have a lunch programme provided by either KidsCan or some other charity in their community?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, by definition, I suppose, if they already have lunch provided, then actually they would not raise the fact that they need lunch, so that is rather self-defeating. Secondly, it may be lost on the member, but I have been the Prime Minister since the end of 2008. The question the member asked was for the 1 year from 2013. But in the interests of trying to get to the bottom of this debate, at 1.41 this afternoon I took the liberty of ringing the Minister of Education. I said: “Please ring for me three schools that are decile 1 or 2 and ask them how many kids have not come to school today with lunch.” That was done completely randomly and with no information. Here are the facts. Phillip Heeney of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Waiu o Ngati Porou , Ruatōria, a decile 1 school—people are free to ring the school—

Metiria Turei : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption ] Order! Every member has a right to raise a point of order. It will be heard in silence—[Interruption ] Order! The member will resume her seat. I repeat, because I was interrupted, that every member has a right to raise a point of order. This one will be heard in silence, but I sincerely hope that it is a valid point of order.

Metiria Turei : That was not an answer to the question that I asked. I asked—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The member will resume her seat. It is very much an answer to the question the member asked. She can shake her head, but it is me who has got to adjudicate on this. It was a very full answer; it was quite a lengthy question. The House will later on today devote a considerable amount of time to this issue, and I feel it is in the interests of the House that the Prime Minister be allowed to complete his answer.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As I said, at 1.41 p.m., with absolutely no knowledge, these are the facts. At Te Waiu o Ngati Porou school, Ruatoria, decile 1, how many children came to school today without lunch—answer, zero. Barbara Ala’Alatoa, Sylvia Park School, decile 2—one to two kids, maybe. Iain Taylor, Manurewa Intermediate—decile 1 school, roll of 711—maybe 12. Yes, there is an issue where some children come to school without lunch. That number of children is relatively low.

Metiria Turei : So why, then, did the Prime Minister refuse my invitation to visit Windley School this morning, where we fed with peanut butter and jam sandwiches, some 50 kids at lunchtime; where Windley School says it feeds some 50 every day, Kelvin Road School some 50 every day; Cosgrove Primary up to 40 kids every day; Hay Park around 12 kids lunch every day; and Kelston Girls’, which was recently on Campbell Live showing just how serious the problem is—why will he not come with me to visit those schools that do have a problem so that he can see it for himself?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : As I said to the member last week when she was trying to tell this House that 90 percent of children went to school without lunch, and had to then come back and apologise for being wrong, I am happy to go to a school of my choosing. Secondly, I note that the member, when she tweeted the picture, did so with an apron for the KickStart Breakfast programme that the Government is running. This is a Government that has provided 3.4 million breakfasts. This is a Government that is working with the private sector to help deliver that, from Fonterra through to Sanitarium. They are the same breakfast programmes where principals tell me—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The answer now is long enough.

Metiria Turei : I seek leave to table a document from the Parliamentary Library showing that the GST on $1.29 is 19c not 2c.

Mr SPEAKER : Again, the purpose of tabling documents is to inform the proceedings of the House. Members know current GST rates. I am not about to put that leave.

Metiria Turei : Why does the Prime Minister continue to mock and downplay the seriousness of the problem, maintaining yet again that only the odd one or two kids need lunch at school when schools know he is wrong, KidsCan knows he is wrong, and more important, the kids who come to school hungry know he is wrong?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The Government has been very focused on this issue for a long period of time. It is actually proud of its record. It has extended Fruit in Schools for a huge number of children. It provides breakfasts in schools alongside the private sector. This is an issue that, as I said to the member and I repeat again, I raise with pretty much every school I go to, and the same response is what I always get—about 15 percent of kids want to take up the breakfast programme, a very small number need lunch, and when they come to school without lunch the school provides them with lunch. It does so out of its breakfast programme for the odd lunch it provides. At the end of the day I think the member actually does a disservice to the fantastic parents and caregivers out there, the overwhelming bulk of whom actually do provide their kids with breakfast and lunch. They do a damn good job, and the member should stop telling them that they do not.

Metiria Turei : Given that the Prime Minister missed the opportunity this morning to talk with parents, charity workers, and the kids over a lunch programme, will he commit to visiting Windley School—and if not Windley School then to any school that KidsCan suggests he goes to visit—and making the peanut butter and jam sandwiches for the kids—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption ] Order! The question is too long. The Prime Minister can answer the essence of the question.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have been to numerous schools where KidsCan has been in operation. I have been to those schools with Julie on numerous occasions. This is actually the Government that gave KidsCan $500,000 more for raincoats, and $900,000 more to deal with headlice. We are providing extensive support. But I will say this. I went to one of the schools where every child was given a raincoat, and, yes, we fully supported that. The argument around that is that children do not have raincoats. So I actually asked about 20 of the kids: “Do you own a raincoat?” Every single child told me: “Yes.” So it is great they have got another one, and we support KidsCan and we are giving them money, and we think they are a great charity, and they are doing good work, but just because you give kids a raincoat does not mean they did not own one beforehand.

GCSB – less intelligence now

The new (acting) GCSB head Una Jagose claimed they gather less intelligence than seven years ago, not more.

“As I understand it, today we collect less intelligence than we did seven years ago…there hasn’t been any radical shift upwards as has been suggested in the media.”

Stuff reports in GCSB spies ‘collecting less intelligence’

And Jagose tried to respond to questions on mass collection of data asked in just the second time the GCSB has appeared in public before the Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

Much of the committee was dominated by whether the security agencies are undertaking indiscriminate collection of emails, telephone calls and social media messages.

Labour’s Andrew Little tried to get to the bottom of whether the agency carries out mass surveillance or collection, and what is meant by “full-take collection”, as referenced in the Snowden documents.

“It is very difficult to answer the question about what does it mean because it means different things to different people,” Jagose said.

“The connotation that I get from those phrases is some indiscriminate, for no purpose, not necessary collection of information for collection’s sake and we do not do that.

“What we do is lawful and authorised and necessary and proportionate and all of it…subject to independent oversight and you don’t have to take that from me. The public can take that from the systems that are to test that.”

On “full-take”, Jagose opted not to answer directly, citing a “tension” between the bureau’s need for secrecy and the public demand for transparency.

“I will not discuss matters that are or are not operational, details of the bureau, because that is not safe to do so… it is very difficult to say ‘yes we do some things, we don’t do some things.’ That is exactly the sorts of things that people who don’t have our interests at heart – and I don’t mean New Zealanders when I say that – people that are acting against New Zealand’s interests will find that information useful so we keep it close.

“But we don’t keep it from the Inspector General, the Commissioner [of Warrants], this committee.”

Jagose, and Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge, spent time detailing the oversight mechanisms both agencies are subject to.  Jagose says all collection of information by her agency must be done under a warrant.

“The very collection of information is authorised… so it’s not that we collect information and then seek authorisation for particular target issues. Everything we collect is authorised… the speculation in the public is that there is this wild collection of information for no purpose and then we have a look at it. In fact, collection is done for a purpose, and authorised.”

That’s certainly not what some of the more suspicious (or paranoid) anti-spy activists think. Some claim everything is collected and everything is stored by the USA forever.

David Shearer asked if it applied to all foreign intelligence surveillance.

“If we have a foreign intelligence target that we want to intercept, or otherwise access their communications, yes that is warranted,” she said. Inadvertently collected material from New Zealanders is destroyed, she said.

Little and Shearer also wanted details about how information was shared with countries in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the US, Britain, Canada and Australia.

“We share training, we share resources but we don’t collect information for them. We collect the information for New Zealand and New Zealand purposes,” Jagose said. “Our Five Eyes partners also need to show why they need to see information, show it that it is lawful that they can look at that information.”

Kitteridge…

…says she takes into consideration factors such as a country’s human rights record when deciding whether to share information.

“There is quite careful consideration given in each case.”

These explanations didn’t satisfy Andrew Little who says that more clarity is required from the Ministers involved.

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