Keep your head above water

Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced clean water policy that has been widely derided, with some justification.

Not only is the 90% clean target not until 2040, Smith has changed the ‘swimmable’ standard to a significantly lower standard.

So it may pay to keep your head above water, while Smith’s political career drowns.

90% of rivers and lakes swimmable by 2040

The Government today announced a target of 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers meeting swimmable water quality standards by 2040, alongside releasing new policy, regulations, information maps and funding to help achieve the new goal.

So I might be able to go in my zimmer frame and swim 90% safely about mid-century. Underwhelming and open to ridicule, and that is coming in buckets.

“This ambitious plan to improve the water quality in our lakes and rivers recognises that New Zealanders expect to be able to take a dip in their local river or lake without getting a nasty bug,” Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The plan is backed up by national regulations requiring stock to be fenced out of waterways, new national policy requirements on regional councils to strengthen their plan rules on issues such as sewage discharges and planting riparian margins, a new Freshwater Improvement Fund and new maps that clearly identify where improvements are needed.

“This 90 per cent goal by 2040 is challenging and is estimated to cost the Government, farmers and councils $2 billion over the next 23 years. It will make us a world leader in water quality standards for swimming, and that’s important for New Zealand’s growing tourism industry. It will return our rivers and lakes to a standard not seen in 50 years while recognising that our frequent major rainfalls mean a 100 per cent standard is not realistic.”

The target covers the length of rivers over 0.4m deep and the perimeters of lakes greater than 1.5km, which total 54,000km. The plan is about improving the frequency that we can swim in our lakes and rivers, noting that even our cleanest rivers breach swimming water quality standards during storms.

The swimmable target is based on meeting the water quality standard at least 80 per cent of the time, in line with European and US definitions. Currently 72 per cent by length meet this definition, and the target is to increase that to 90 per cent by 2040. This means an additional 10,000km of swimmable rivers and lakes by 2040, or 400km per year.

Put like that it doesn’t sound so bad, but this policy has been delivered poorly by Smith.

“The maps I am releasing today provide the most comprehensive and consistent information on water quality for swimming of New Zealand’s rivers and lakes ever published. These will help focus councils and communities on improving their local water quality, as well as help people make decisions about where they can safely swim. The maps are connected to the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa website that provides real-time information on water quality, which is particularly relevant for the fair and intermittent categories.

“The challenge of improving water quality varies significantly across New Zealand. This plan requires improvements in water quality across all regions and all categories. The target not only requires an improvement in areas that are swimmable, ie into the fair category, but also rivers and lakes being moved from fair to good, and good to excellent. Regional targets to achieve the national goals are to be worked through with regional councils by March 2018. Some regional targets will need to be greater than the 90 per cent and others, where it is more difficult to achieve, will be less.

The National Policy Statement (NPS) for Freshwater Management is being strengthened to support the new 90 per cent by 2040 swimmability target, as well as changes to address the issues of ecological health and nutrients by:

  • replacing “wadeable” with “swimmable”
  • adding macroinvertebrate monitoring for ecological health
  • strengthening references to “Te Mana o te Wai”
  • clarifying the consideration of economic opportunities
  • requiring instream limits for nitrogen and phosphorus
  • clarifying inclusion of coastal lakes and lagoons
  • clarifying the policy on exceptions
  • strengthening the requirement for monitoring and improving quality.

“The new regulations on excluding stock from waterways are an important part of this plan to improve water quality. The rules progressively apply to dairy, pig, dairy support, beef and deer farms from this year to 2030 relative to the steepness of the country, at an expected cost of $367 million,” Dr Smith says.

“We are today opening bids for the new $100m Freshwater Improvement Fund and announcing the eligibility and assessment criteria, which closes on 13 April. This comes on top of the $350m already committed by the government, of which more than $140m has been spent on specific river and lake clean-ups.

“This is the third phase of the Government’s work programme to improve New Zealand freshwater management and builds on the NPS introduced in 2011 and the National Objectives Framework in 2014. I commend and acknowledge the Freshwater Iwi Leaders Group and the Land and Water Forum, who have worked tirelessly in assisting with these policy developments.”

The Greens effectively make a fair point.

It’s

Green MPs “a really busy and positive year”

The Green Party have good reasons to be fairly happy with their year.

James Shaw has settled in as co-leader after Russel Norman’s exit in 2015, they secured a Memorandum of Understanding with Labour, there’s been no major embarrassments or stuff ups, John Key stepped down, they gained a second new mid-term MP (Barry Coates), and two more MPs indicated they would step down next year making room for more fresh faces (if they at least maintain current levels of support).

The loss of one of their most respected MPs, Kevin Hague is a negative but not a major considering how everything else has gone for them.

Metiria Turei reflects on 2016 and looks ahead in Well, THAT happened: reflecting on 2016 and beyond:

2016 for our MPs

Green MPs have actually had a really busy and positive year working on the nation’s most pressing issues: poverty and inequality, housing, climate action, inclusive education, safe drinking water and clean rivers to name a few. We’ve been talking with people up and down the country, promoting legislation, setting out the solutions, and, where possible, working with other parties in Parliament to achieve progress.

They have done as much as could be expected from Opposition, and have been visibly more active on policies and issues than NZ First and probably Labour most of the time. The are far more organised and persistent in social media.

2016 for us and Labour

In May, the Green Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Labour. It’s the first time political parties have reached such an agreement before an election, and means we get to have a conversation with New Zealanders about why we are working to change the government.

We worked constructively with Labour on the Homelessness Inquiry and early in 2017 you’ll see us working together on a range of other issues.

The Greens got what they wanted with the MoU and are happy with it, but it’s yet to be seen whether it will help their cause. They are very reliant on Labour to get into Government and are keen to do what they can to make that happen – but they also want to increase their share of the party vote relative to Labour to give them more leverage.

2016 for me

For me, this year has been one of consolidating my work on housing and inequality because I am determined to do all that I can to ensure that families have the resources they need to nurture their babies.

We need mothers educated, healthy, and secure so that they can shape the future of our nation. It will be women that determine the fate of our country next year, make no mistake.

I don’t know how that will work, there are about as many male voters as there are female.

So, I’ll be spending the summer resting and getting ready for a busy 2017. I want to spend time doing craft, reading, walking my dogs and connecting with my whānau so that next year I can run hard with the Greens to change the government.

‘Change the government’ has been repeated a lot by the Greens and Labour already, trying to get voters thinking about it being time for a change.

Turei is well supported and respected amongst her own. It’s yet to be seen whether she can appeal to a wider constituency so that Greens grow their vote (they failed to do that last election) and so that Andrew Little and Turei (plus James Shaw) look like a viable alternative to run the country.

If Little continues to try to appeal more to the left than the centre Greens and Labour may end up competing for the same votes – unless they can find the formula for inspiring current non-voters to back them, a strategy that failed last campaign.

But with Bill English taking over from Key next year’s election is wide open.

Greens thought they had their best shot in 2014 and that didn’t work out for them. They get to have another go – and it may be Turei’s last shot at making it into government.

Turei: “a very radical economic and social agenda”

In an end of year interview with Stuff  Green co-leader Metiria Turei claims that National have “a very radical economic and social agenda” that will become more obvious now “they don’t have the friendly face of John Key to soften its blow.”

The most common criticisms of the National dominated Government led by John key and under Bill English’s economic management has been that they haven’t done enough, that they have been a do nothing ‘steady as she goes’ Government.

I think that more people will see Turei as the one with a very radical economic and social agenda.

That’s why National have been getting in the high forties in the last three elections (44.93%, 47.31%, 47.04%) and Greens seem to have plateaued (6.72%, 11.06%, 10.70%).

I think there is a fairly strong voter resistance to a government strongly influenced by the Greens even under Russel Norman’s attempts to present a moderate, fiscally responsible party. Turei has always been seen as a radical.

Stuff: There’s a new political landscape now, and Greens co-leader Metiria Turei is here to play

Solving child poverty is so obvious…if only leaders didn’t cheapen the seats of power and the media calmed down a bit.

We should all calm down, let Turei wave a Green wand and all our social and environmental problems will be fixed without any adverse impact on the economy. Heaps of money redistributed to the poor and no oil for the rich.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has some choice words about the political year past.

It delivered some shock results, one shock resignation and a “disgraceful” lack of progress on social issues like poverty and housing, she says.

There has certainly been challenges for the Government on housing, but they have been criticised for not doing enough, not for being radical.

There has also been growing pressure – by political design and aided by media – on inequality and child poverty, and again National have been criticised for not being radical enough.

“John Key never had a commitment to public service. For him, it was never about the best public welfare. I think he saw it as a challenge for him personally and I think he enjoyed quite a bit of the job, at least until these last couple of years.

“He certainly made the role of Prime Minister a much more superficial one than it’s ever been before.”

The public/media side of Government and Prime Minister has always been superficial. Key has generally done well with that, but that doesn’t mean more in depth things haven’t been done with less publicity.

However, Turei offers some praise for Key’s decision to leave when he did.

“I’ve always thought politicians should go at the top of our game…rather than getting kicked out and carried out, walking out on your own two feet is a much better thing to do.

“It was wise the way [Key] did it for himself. What he hasn’t done is leave a genuine legacy for the country.”

It’s too soon to judge Key’s legacy. But Key has succeeded where Turei has failed – they both became MPs in 2002, Key by ousting a sitting MP and winning an electorate, Turei as a list MP.

Key spent 6 years in opposition, then the last eight years leading the Government.

Turei has been 14 years in opposition. The Greens have increased their vote since she has been co-leader but seem to have hit a Green ceiling.

She may still get to experience the realities of being in government, and discover that rapid radical economic and social changes are not as easy to implement as she seems to think. And not without adverse effects.

Next year’s election could be make or break for Turei’s legacy.

“I think it’s going to be a really exciting election, because changing the Government is so possible this time around,” she says.

It’s certainly possible – but it was also possible in 2014 and the Greens were very confident of growing their support significantly so they would have a big say in government, only to be disappointed – so much so that Russel Norman decided to opt out.

But if Turei talks too much about others being very radical on economic and social issues she risks drawing attention to herself and her own ideals, and they are far from conservative.

“A very radical economic and social agenda” probably describes Turei more than any other MP, and certainly more than any other party leader.

Most voters probably see Turei as a Mad Hatter compared to TweedleDumLabour and TweedleDeeNational.

Who labels themselves a feminist?

 

Bill English ignited a bit of a furore about feminism when he responded to a question saying he didn’t quite know what the term means. Paula Bennett added to the excitement by failing to state that she was a fully committed 24/7 feminist.

RNZ: PM wouldn’t describe himself as a feminist

Prime Minister Bill English says he is not a feminist; in fact, he claims he does not know what that means.

Asked whether he was a feminist, Mr English said he would not describe himself as a feminist.

“I don’t know quite what that means.”

He made the comment after his deputy and Minister for Women Paula Bennett told RNZ this morning she was a feminist “most days”.

The previous Minister for Women, Louise Upston, said she was not a feminist, however the new minister, Mrs Bennett, said she was one, most days.

“You know there’s some days when I don’t even think about it and I’m getting on being busy, but I still get a bit worked up about some of the unfairness that I’ve seen, mainly for other women and not for myself these days.”

There was a rapid response to this ‘news’ on Twitter, with journalists and opposition MPs expressing outrage.

It was quickly pointed out to English and the world that…

…the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines feminism as ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities’

Most people would agree with that, but it’s not that simple. In fact that definition was cherry picked from Merriam-Webster, which also details:

Definition of Feminism

1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes

2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests

Definition of feminism for English Language Learners and for Students

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organized activity in support of women’s rights and interests

Medical Definition of feminism

: the presence of female characteristics in males

Oxford has a different definition:

feminism

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

It’s possible to agree with and be an advocate for equal rights without focussing specifically or only on women’s rights.

The Urban Dictionary goes into more detail with as number of definitions – this is their ‘top definition’:

The belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. These people can be either male or female human beings, although the ideology is commonly (and perhaps falsely) associated mainly with women.

The basic idea of Feminism revolves around the principle that just because human bodies are designed to perform certain procreative functions, biological elements need not dictate intellectual and social functions, capabilities, and rights.

Feminism also, by its nature, embraces the belief that all people are entitled to freedom and liberty within reason–including equal civil rights–and that discrimination should not be made based on gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnicity, religion, culture, or lifestyle.

Feminists–and all persons interested in civil equality and intellectuality–are dedicated to fighting the ignorance that says people are controlled by and limited to their biology.

Feminism is the belief that all people are entitled to the same civil rights and liberties and can be intellectual equals regardless of gender. However, you should still hold the door for a feminist; this is known as respect or politeness and need have nothing whatever to do with gender discrimination.

I suspect a few staunch feminists would rankle at that comment about holding doors open. I hold doors open for women, sometimes, and also sometimes for men. It depends on the situation.

There was some initial anti-English reaction from Green MPs but the Green Party later circulated on social media:

“I don’t really mind if people call themselves a feminist or not a feminist…what really counts is what they do.” – Prime Minister Bill English.

We agree, that’s why we’re proud to stand up for women.

They then detailed ‘7 ways the Greens stand up for women every single day’ – but a blog post was more staunch:

Last week, our new PM Bill English announced his upcoming Cabinet, with Paula Bennett being appointed Minister for Women. Today, English said that he “doesn’t know what feminism means,” following on from Bennett’s earlier comments that she calls herself a feminist “some days”.

Well.

Not only do the Greens understand what feminism is, we work to stand up for the rights of women in Aotearoa and around the world. Every. Single. Day.

Greens on Twitter:

I responded to that:

Quickly proving my point – to some people being a feminist is more than equal rights.

There was an interesting post and comments on this at Dim-Post in Feminism! in which Danyl pointed out

I guess I know what twitter and all of the Green and Labour Party MPs have been talking about today. This poll conducted by a Feminist charity in the UK is a pretty typical example of the various surveys about public attitudes to feminism (I’m not aware of any similar work in NZ). Most people will say they believe in gender equality but very few people will self-describe themselves as feminist:

When split out by gender, women were more likely to identify as feminist, with nine per cent using the label compared to four per cent of men.

But men were more supportive generally of equality between the sexes – 86 per cent wanted it for the women in their lives – compared to 74 per cent of women.

Sam Smethers, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The overwhelming majority of the public share our feminist values but don’t identify with the label. However the simple truth is if you want a more equal society for women and men then you are in fact a feminist.

I suspect the results are similar for New Zealand, and that National knows this which is why we’re having this little sideshow.

A comment on the Merriam-Webster definition quoted:

But that’s a foreign definition. Let’s try the Women’s Studies Association of New Zealand: “We believe that a feminist perspective necessarily acknowledges oppression on the grounds of race, sexuality, class and disability, as well as gender. Māori are the tangata whenua of Aotearoa. We address racism and promote biculturalism in our work and activities as aims of our organisation.”

That’s a fairly wide description.

I did some very limited research in New Zealand (I asked a couple of women):

What is feminism? Equal rights for women.

Do you agree with it? Yes.

Do you see yourself as a feminist? Ah…no…um…

I’m with them. Except that I prefer to look beyond equal rights for women, to equal rights for everyone.

But even that can get complicated. Even in a relatively equal society equality is an ideal that has some limitations. Here’s a few.

  • Criminal prisoners don’t have equal rights of freedom.
  • Prisoners and non-residents don’t have the right to vote.
  • Children don’t have equal rights of adults – they are restricted from getting drivers licenses, marriage licenses, they can’t legally drink alcohol or fight for their country.
  • None of us have the right to trespass on the private property of others.

But we all have the right to choose whether we label ourselves as feminists or not.

Green MPs standing down

The Green Party has added to the retiring MP announcements. Stephan Browning and Catherine Delahunty will remain as MPs until next year’s general election but won’t seek re-election.

Delahunty is currently ranked fifth and Browning twelfth amongst Green MPs.

I doubt that many voters will miss them, they haven’t had big profiles.

This will give the party a chance to refresh a bit more – they have already had two replacement MPs during this term with Russel Norman and Kevin Hague retiring.

Catherine Delahunty in Parliament recently:

Green Party PR:

“I’m very proud of my eight years as a Green Party MP, and the many, many years I spent before that as an activist fighting for women, our environment, and the rights of tangata whenua,” said Ms Delahunty, who holds the water, education and te Tiriti o Waitangi portfolios.

“It has been an honour to represent the Green Party and our supporters in Parliament.

“I feel particularly proud of the work I’ve done around building a quality, more inclusive public education system, leading our Party’s nationwide campaign for swimmable rivers, speaking up for the people of West Papua, and working for a national register of contaminated toxic sites.

“I intend on spending the coming months campaigning hard on these issues, which I know many thousands of New Zealanders care deeply about.

“After that, I am looking forward to continuing my lifelong commitment to activism and community building, as well as spending more time writing and being with my family,” said Ms Delahunty.

Stephan Browning recently in Parliament:

Green Party PR:

Mr Browning, who was elected to Parliament in 2011 and holds the pesticides, organics and food safety portfolios, among others, says he is pleased to have played his part in advocating for change.

“Holding the organics portfolio has meant that I’ve been working alongside some of the most innovative New Zealanders, who are creating a more sustainable future for our country, today,” said Mr Browning.

“Another personal highlight was my Spray Free Streets and Parks campaign. It’s really struck a chord with communities around the country who want a pesticide-free future for their kids.

“I’m also thrilled that just last week my Consumers Right to Know Member’s Bill was pulled from the ballot. New Zealanders should have the right to know where their food is from and how it’s produced – and, if it passes, it’ll be great for our local growers and suppliers too.

“I’ll be continuing to work hard on those kinds of issues, and more, after I finish up my time as an MP,” said Mr Browning.

Will Greens refresh?

Will the Green party refresh by promoting new talent up their list?

They have a democratic process for selecting their list, but this has tended to favour incumbent MPs over new blood.

Recently Chlöe Swarbrick announced that she had joined the Greens and wanted to stand next year.

Greens have just announced another recruit: Hayley Holt to run for Parliament as Green Party candidate

TV presenter and sportswoman Hayley Holt will stand for the Green Party at next year’s general election.

In a major coup for the Greens, the popular broadcaster, former competitive snowboarder and environmental activist has formally signed up as a candidate and will be added to the party’s list.

The 36-year-old also believes Parliament needs younger, more interesting MPs.

“I don’t want politics to be boring. It looks boring at the moment and we’ve got some really fresh, exciting faces with the Greens coming through and hopefully we can add some energy into it.”

I don’t know if “it looks boring at the moment” was meant to the Greens, but it easily could. But:

Holt’s chances of getting into Parliament will depend on her list placing, which is decided by party members.

This will in part depend on whether any more Green MPs decided to stand down – they have already replaced Russel Norman and Kevin Hague this term.

The Greens can’t rely on a 50% increase in party vote and MP numbers like they did last election – they were disappointed to make no gains.

Swarbrick has said she wants to contest an electorate. Holt ‘is considering a bid for the Helensville seat held by Prime Minister John Key.

The Greens have preferred, strongly, to promote the greater Green good which means party vote.

New candidates wanting to promote themselves via electorates may not be appreciated.

The Green list will be interesting, especially whether “some really fresh, exciting faces” get winnable rankings.

 

Swarbrick on her online experiences

Chlöe Swarbrick, who did pretty well in the Auckland mayoralty considering the media didn’t give her a push until well after that had virtually anointed Phil Goff as the inevitable winner, announced a couple of weeks ago that she was joining the Green Party.

Nov 11The world is changing, people are angry, and more than ever, we need open minds and compassionate action. I’m joining the .

She has been tweeting her thoughts on her political journey and how that has made her a target of abuse and apparent hate online.

At the beginning of this year I had not seen myself in politics. Hoping to contribute for better, or naivety, led me down a rabbit hole.

A protest for engagement and critical discussion started to snowball. Somehow, somewhere along the line, it became uncomfortably about me.

I accepted that, because I suppose that can be what happens when you try to start a conversation. People can be all, ‘what, why, who?’

People I’d never met turned to the internet to express unadulterated hatred for me. I’d not been prepared for that & I don’t think you can be.

This is an unfortunate aspect of social media – people express dislike and disagreement far more strongly than they would face to face.

And sadly it’s common for it to come across as unadulterated hatred.

Now that I’m in this game, I far from expect people to go ‘soft’ on me.But it prompts the question – what do we hope for when attacking each other?

Is it catharsis? As “grown ups”, do we shed what we teach our children about kindness and respect?

I’ve been told time and time again that this is just the way things are. Politics is a dirty game. You have to swallow the dead rats.

I’ve often been told that too. But I don’t accept it. If enough people don’t accept it, and show that they don’t accept it, then it being seen as unacceptable will become more prevalent and hopefully normal.

If we want better political discourse in New Zealand then we have to show it and do it.

Call it even more naivety, but I refuse to accept that history dictates our future. I will fight for kindness. I will fight for respect.

I’m not sure how you can fight for kindness. Respect is earned over time.

The best that can usually be done is to show kindness and show respect. That won’t be returned by some but it will be by others if you persist.

One thing that online doesn’t do is show respect of silent readers, and they often significantly outnumber the vocal and disrespectful.

Sticking to your principles as much as you can is worthwhile, even if you don’t always see tangible rewards.

I will keep an open mind, and I will not shut down disagreement. I will keep trying my best. I hope we all do.

Ditto.

I’ve learned here that sometimes it’s necessary to shut down abuse and offensive material and personal attacks and attempts to disrupt, but doing that enhances civil and productive disagreement.

Green ‘progressive ownership plan’

Metiria Turei announced some new housing policy for the Greens today that well help up to 10,000 lower income people into home ownership – “home for life” – and will “empower community housing groups’.


Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei has today launched a progressive ownership plan to provide up to 10,000 new homes for lower-income Kiwis to own, and to empower community housing groups with new financing models to help fix the housing crisis.

The plan was launched at the Habitat for Humanity conference in Rotorua, and builds on the Green Party’s Home for Life policy, which was first launched before the last election.

“Our Home for Life plan is about giving more New Zealanders a fair shot at owning their own home – even when the market’s stacked against them,” said Mrs Turei.

“Building more houses that people can actually afford to buy is a critical part of solving the housing crisis.

“Our progressive ownership model will help to make the home ownership dream a reality for people who are locked out of the market right now because they can’t afford a deposit or a normal commercial mortgage.

“We’re also going to make sure the community housing sector has the finance and political support they need to drive their important work.

“Up to 5,000 new, energy efficient homes will also be available for the community housing sector to purchase using progressive ownership.

“Investors who want low-risk, socially responsible investment options, will be able to use their money to help fix the housing crisis – they’ll be able to buy into the building of thousands of affordable houses for Kiwis who need them.

“The Green Party will empower the community housing sector to play a big part in ending the housing crisis, with low-interest loans funded by housing bonds.

“Community housing providers, including iwi, have the skills, experience, and expertise to help more New Zealanders into homes and we will work with them to develop new models of housing for New Zealand,” said Mrs Turei.

Read more about the plan here.


No indication of how this would work alongside Labour’s housing policy, which includes a plan to build 10,000 houses a year for ten years.

Marama Davidson’s Gaza stunt

Green MP Marama Davidson will have gone to join a boat trying to defy the Israeli sea blockade of Gaza knowing very well that being detained was very likely. It has happened before, and lining up to be detain is a well known way of achieving publicity.

So is a show of concern for her situation genuine? Or is it playing the game some more?

Is Davidson an activist or a Member of Parliament?

Newshub: Concern for MP Marama Davidson detained by Israeli Navy

The group that sent Marama Davidson to Gaza to join humanitarian protests is worried about the lack of contact with the Green MP.

Kia Ora Gaza spokesman Roger Fowler says they haven’t heard from her since Zaytouna-Olivia, her peace flotilla boat bound for Gaza, was intercepted by the Israeli Navy.

“It was largely expected, because that’s the behaviour of the Israeli regime,” he told Newshub. “They’ve got a long track record of treating people in such a brutal and arrogant manner.”

That confirms the obvious, what happened was largely expected.

Kia Ora Gaza fundraised for Marama to join the Women’s Peace Boat to Gaza protest, dedicated to breaking the Israeli siege. She left New Zealand last month to join 12 other women on the flotilla.

Did they pay for her airfares to get there? Her wages are paid for by New Zealand taxpayers.

“We are concerned,” says Mr Fowler. “All communication has been cut ever since the boat was intercepted about 53 miles away from Gaza. It’s hard to know what Marama and the other women are going through.”

Israel says some of the boat’s occupants were already known to the authorities there, and have been deported. The others, including Ms Davidson, have been taken to Ashdod for processing. They are expected to be deported once that is complete.

I think that’s normal procedure…

“We’re asking our Government to demand the Israeli authorities release these women so they can carry on their journey to Gaza,” says Mr Fowler.

…so this is nothing but posturing.

Prime Minister John Key said it was a “less than perfect” look for a New Zealand MP to be detained, but warnings from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade “fall on deaf ears when it comes to that kind of protests from the Greens”.

It’s probably a near perfect look for the Green Party and for Kia Ora Gaza.

But Al Jazeera coverage doesn’t even mention Davidson, In Gaza’s women flotilla ‘challenging Israel’s blockade’

The 13 women participating on this leg of the journey hail from a variety of countries: Norway, Sweden, Australia, Egypt, Tunisia, Malaysia, Israel, the United States and Canada.

Nor in Israel intercepts boat seeking to break Gaza blockade:

Thirteen women, including 1976 Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, were travelling aboard the Zaytouna-Oliva sailboat in the Mediterranean towards Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September and was carrying women of various nationalities in addition to Maguire, a Northern Ireland activist.

Dubbed the “Women’s Boat to Gaza”, it is part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Gaza to try to break the blockade.

Maguire has been to Gaza by boat a number of times already, and has been deported by the Israelis already. Wilipedia:

On 28 September 2010, Maguire landed in Israel as part of a delegation of the Nobel Women’s Initiative. She was refused an entry visa by Israeli authorities on the grounds that she had twice in the past tried to run Israel’s naval embargo of the Gaza Strip and that a 10-year exclusion order was in effect against her.

So being detained and deported this time is fairly predictable.

Ms Davidson and others on board pre-recorded videos in the event they were captured. In hers, Ms Davidson calls the Israeli Navy the “oppression forces”.

Her visit to Israel is not likely to be for long.

Davidson’s new role as an international activist is not likely to have done much to improve  Green Party support, and it raises questions about their priorities in in New Zealand.

Green reshuffle

greenreshuffle

With the exit of Kevin Hague from parliament the Green party has reshuffled their spokesperson roles.

The most notable are a shift to Finance responsibilities for James Shaw – it was a surprise he didn’t get that when he became co-leader next year – and Julie Anne Genter moving to pick up  Health.

Newcomer Barry Coates moves from leading anti-TPPA protests to leading anti-TPPA protests as an MP.

Green Party announces portfolio changes
James Shaw MP on Thursday, September 29, 2016 – 17:14

The Green Party is today announcing changes to its MPs’ portfolios, to accommodate the arrival of new MP Barry Coates.

Mr Coates joins the Green Parliamentary team following the resignation of Kevin Hague, and will officially start on Monday 10 October. He will take on the trade, overseas development and senior citizens portfolios, as well as commerce, consumer and internal affairs.

Also as part of the portfolio changes, James Shaw will take on the finance portfolio, while Julie Anne Genter picks up health and Auckland issues, to go alongside transport and associate finance.

Canterbury-based MP Mojo Mathers will be the new conservation spokesperson, while continuing to hold the disability issues and animal welfare portfolios.

Hagues roles were: Spokesperson for Health (inc. ACC, Sport & Recreation), Conservation, and Rainbow Issues

Health goes to Genter (with her Finance moving to Shaw) and Conservation to Mathers. No mention of what is happening to Rainbow Issues.