Greens ‘unique kaupapa’ trashed by Peters ‘bill or bust’ threat?

The Green party voted twice in Parliament yesterday in support of Winston’s waka jumping bill. Golriz Ghahraman was chosen to speak out of both sides her mouth, claiming to oppose the bill but also committing to supporting it ‘for the good of the coalition’.

There must be a compelling reason for such a clash between past Green principles and coalition ‘pragmatism’.

While the real reasons are being kept secret by the Greens – despite past promises of transparency – the extreme nature of their sharply divided position suggests an extreme cause.

Ghahraman said that the future of the Government depended on Green support of the bill. This raises the possibility that Winston Peters has threatened bill or bust (the Government). Why else would the Greens contort so much over this?

The Green Party caucus has been under a lot of fire for saying they will vote for legislation they have always strongly opposed. Despite it being revealed that they have misled (lied to) the public over their knowledge of responsibilities as a part of the Government to try to justify this stance – see Greens appear to have lied over their waka jumping bill support – they went ahead and voted twice yesterday in Parliament to advance the bill.

The first vote was an attempt by National to send the bill back to an indecisive committee:

ELECTORAL (INTEGRITY) AMENDMENT BILL

Procedure

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): I move, That the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill set down for second reading be discharged and referred back to the Justice Committee to enable the many amendments proposed by officials and submitters to be considered.

A party vote was called for on the question,That the motion be agreed to.

Ayes 56

New Zealand National 56.

Noes 63

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9; Green Party 8.

Smith targeted the Green position in the second reading debate.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): …

The Green Party position over this bill sets a new low in parliamentary integrity. Co-leader Marama Davidson says this bill is undemocratic. She says it is a threat to democracy. She says it goes against Green Party principles and policies, but they are voting for it. She justified it by saying this, and I quote, “It is in our supply and confidence agreement and we had to.” That is untrue and contradicts the advice from the Cabinet Office that has now been leaked by horrified Green insiders.

Late last year, Mr Shaw stated that the advantage of the supply and confidence agreement was this, and I quote him, “Green MPs will not vote for anything they do not agree with.” That is exactly what is happening here. This betrayal of core values could not be more serious. A founding Green co-leader said of the same bill, in 2001, that it was the most Draconian, obnoxious, anti-democratic—

Hon James Shaw: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. Dr Smith has now brought the memory of Rod Donald into this debate and into question time a number of times. I think this is the fourth time that I’m aware of—

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Would you get to the point? Is there a point of order here?

Hon James Shaw: Yes, there is. I’m offended and I would like him to withdraw and apologise. It is called waving a dead man’s hand—

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Everyone will sit down.

Hon James Shaw:—and he has no right to speak—

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sit down!

Hon James Shaw: —for Rod Donald.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Sit down! When the Speaker is on their feet, members resume their seats. That is not a point of order. Unfortunately, you cannot take offence on behalf of another member. That member is absent; you cannot take offence on behalf of another member. That is not a point of order, and I call the Hon Nick Smith to continue.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: Let me quote from the Hansard

Hon James Shaw: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you going to re—

Hon James Shaw: I am not offended on behalf of anybody else; I am offended.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry, but the point of your offence is on behalf of another person. You are taking offence at reference to another person. You cannot do that. It is not a point of order.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: A quote for Mr Shaw’s benefit from the parliamentary Hansard “the most Draconian, obnoxious, anti-democratic, insulting piece of legislation ever inflicted in this Parliament”, yet it is now to become the law with the votes of people like Mr Shaw. We also heard evidence from officials at select committee that this bill breaches the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Only six months ago, I heard the member in this House quoting the importance of those treaties and human rights, yet today is the vote on a bill that tramples on those very rights.

Greens left it to struggling rookie MP Ghahraman to speak for them.

GOLRIZ GHAHRAMAN (Green): …

Of the many, many decisions that we’ve made since the 2017 election, the decision to support this bill has been the most difficult for the Green Party…

So the difficult decision on this bill is not typical of the kinds of decisions that we’ve had to make in joining this Government. What does make this decision uniquely difficult is the strong competing principles. The first is that the Green Party has spoken out vehemently against a bill like this in 2001 and 2005.

The competing principle is that the Green Party is now committed to this new, multi-party Government, built on the merging of three parties’ priorities in the first truly multi-party MMP Government—MMP, a form of Government fought for and brought about in large part by the great work of the great man Rod Donald, a man who has been brought into this debate, whose memory has been dragged through this debate by members in the Opposition who worked so hard during his life to impede his great work. That’s disgraceful.

Some say, with some justification, that it is a disgrace to Donald’s memory for the Greens to support this bill.

Our confidence and supply agreement includes a commitment to act in good faith to allow Labour and New Zealand First to implement their coalition agreement. Mostly, that doesn’t involve the kind of proactive support in the House, but this bill does.

No it doesn’t. The Greens always promised to act with integrity in Parliament, they promised to oppose legislation that was against their principles.

So it is this commitment to good faith and our commitment to see the new Government succeed that has decided our position on this bill. We know that most out there—we know that nature can’t afford another three years of a neo-liberal National Party Government.

That sounds like she (and the Greens) see support of this bill as necessary to keep the Government together. Has Peters threatened to pull out of his Government commitments unless the Greens roll over on this for him? That’s how it looks.

I now wish to address the process we’ve taken to come to our decision. Far from some sort of smoke-filled back-door deal, the Green Party has gone through a robust internal process.

We announced initially that we would support the bill to select committee. That gave us the opportunity to reach out to our grassroots, and it also gave our members the opportunity to be heard and to have their views put on the record. We have discussed and debated the competing principles behind this bill, led by our party’s national executive and its policy committee, which represent elected members from the grassroots.

She doesn’t actually say that Green members approve of their support of the bill. They used to say important decisions were made by party membership, not MPs. They often gave that as a reason for not negotiating a governing arrangement with National.

Many people understood our support of this bill and some didn’t—some pushed for us to oppose it, including many who submitted to the Justice Committee.

She suggests here that the Green position has significant majority support, but doesn’t substantiate that.

I would like to acknowledge especially Jeanette Fitzsimons and Keith Locke, our great previous MPs who will be disappointed in our support. These people were heard and I’m sorry that the outcome will be disappointing them today. To be clear, we do not think that this is a particularly good bill.

New Greens seem to have quite different principles to Old Greens.

And we do have concerns about party caucuses being able to remove MPs from Parliament. So, yes, this was a difficult decision, but it has come about because we’ve decided that this new Government must succeed and we must support it in good faith to succeed.

Again this suggests that the survival of the Government was dependent on Greens supporting this bill, despite not liking it. Traditional Green supporters hate it.

So, the confidence and supply agreement does that but it also allows the Green Party to speak out on our unique kaupapa. That is something that’s close to my heart. Protest is close to my heart and I value you it as an out-of-Government—[Interruption]

Hon Gerry Brownlee: The member means flexible kaupapa.

The ‘unique kaupapa’ of the Greens has flown out the window, as extinct as a huia.

I can’t think of any reason for them doing this other than rolling over for Winston under threat of losing their place in Government.

 

 

Greens appear to have lied over their waka jumping bill support

A leaked document shows that the Greens in parliament have been gar from open and honest about their support of Winston’s waka jumping bill.

Why? Are they Winton’s wimps? Or are they trying to hide a secret deal? I’m not sure which would be worse for their reputation.

The Greens copped a lot of flak last week when they announced they would vote for the ‘waka jumping’ bill despite opposing it. They have opposed this sort of party leader power over MPs since they have been a party just about. Rod Donald was strongly opposed to a similar bill, Jeanette Fitzsimon is against the current one.

And it looks even worse for the current Parliamentary Green position – it looks like they have been dishonest about their responsibilities under their confidence and supply agreement.

Bryce Edwards:  A bad bill for democracy

A leaked Green Party caucus document from January, titled “Advice to caucus – Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill”:

In particular, the so-called “waka-jumping bill” has turned out to exemplify the worst ways of progressing policy. And the Greens have been at the forefront of this awfulness. They’ve been tricky throughout the whole debate over the waka-jumping bill, giving inconsistent and opaque explanations for their role in progressing the legislation.

The Greens have never been willing to front up over how they were going to deal with this contentious bill. First, when the coalition was formed, we were told by co-leader James Shaw that his party wouldn’t vote for any policies that they disagreed with. The Greens later changed this to say that they would support the waka-jumping bill through the first stages of the legislation, but wouldn’t guarantee that they would vote for it in the end.

Then last week the party finally revealed that they would indeed vote for the legislation, even though they still opposed it. They justified this capitulation with the notion that their hands were tied by the coalition agreement that they signed up to with the Labour Party – especially the part in which they promised to deal in “good faith” with Labour to fulfil coalition agreements with New Zealand First.

It turns out that the Greens have always known that there is nothing in the coalition agreement they signed with Labour that obliges them to vote for the waka-jumping bill. A leaked Green Party caucus document from January, titled “Advice to caucus – Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill”, reports on official advice informing the Greens that there is nothing in their coalition agreement that binds them to provide support.

The fact that the Greens have tried to tell the public the opposite therefore raises some big questions about why they’ve mislead the public on this, and what the real reasons are for their U-turn on the bill.

This is more damaging to Green Party integrity than their ‘oppose but will vote for’ announcement.

It looks like the lied, or at least deliberately misled, about their responsibility in Government.

So why have the Greens been so slippery and dishonest about this?

One must wonder what bigger embarrassment they are trying to hide.

Are they Winston’s wimps?

Or is there some so of secret deal they are trying to keep secret?

Either way, this looks very murky for the Greens.

Politics pissing on people over cannabis bills

Parties playing politics are taking precedent over popular public opinion on cannabis laws.

Newsroom: Cannabis bill more politics than policy

National has drawn up its own medicinal cannabis bill, but the real story isn’t the policy, but the politics behind it, Thomas Coughlan reports.

National has released its alternative medicinal cannabis bill, which it says will make cannabis medication products more widely available.

The party also says that the bill adds some much-needed regulatory detail to the Government’s bill, which largely delegated such detail to officials.

But the real story of the day was a political one, with National blindsiding Labour, whose medicinal cannabis bill returned from select committee today.

Surprised Government MPs were unable to comment on National’s bill, which they had only been made aware of after it was reported by Newshub on Wednesday night.

The bill puts pressure on the Government’s support parties, particularly the Greens, whose own medicinal cannabis bill brought by Chlöe Swarbrick was defeated in January.

I don’t think it puts pressure on the Greens. They are the only party to come out of this shemozzle with any credit.

If National’s bill is drawn from the ballot and found to be popular, pressure could mount on the Green party to break ranks with the Government and support it.

The obvious problem with National’s bill is that there is no chance of it getting anywhere in the short term and there’s a low chance of it being drawn in the medium term.

In the House, Bridges accused the Government of not “doing the work” and said National’s detailed bill was evidence of a “Government in waiting”.

But National has been accused of time wasting and petty politicking.

Instead of using the select committee to recommend changes to the legislation, the party opted to draw up its own bill.

Woodhouse said the Government members on the Health select committee were “ambivalent” about National’s proposals, while Bridges said the Government’s bill didn’t even have “the makings of a framework”  to look at the regulations National members demanded.

But Government sources who have seen the bill said the issue was not so much the difference between what the two bills permit, but whether Parliament or officials dictate the regulatory regime.

The Health Select Committee’s Chair, Labour’s Louisa Wall, said the introduction of a new bill on the day the select committee was to release its report undermined the integrity of the select committee process.

Her comments implied it was unlikely Labour would support National’s bill, even if it was found to be an improvement on their own.

Disappointing crap from National and Labour.

With polls showing 80-90% support for decent medical cannabis law the public are getting pissed on by politics and parties.

 

Hard lefties oppose National cooperation on climate change

Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment” (in a campaign speech in August 2017).

Simon Bridges won’t go that far. On Q+A yesterday

CORIN DANN So certainty. Is climate change the nuclear-free issue of your generation?

SIMON BRIDGES I would not go that far. Is it the most significant environmental issue? Is it an important long-term issue that we need to deal with and deal with seriously and provide certainty on? Yes.

Bridges was vague about where he actually stands on a number of climate issues, and is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but National have signalled a willingness to work together with other parties – National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission.

But how genuine are they? Not at all according to some on the left.

MickySavage asked yesterday: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

His post concludes:

If this is what National and Simon Bridges is promising then all good and the Government can get on with things.  But if this is merely a replacement of outright denial with a more nuanced approach designed to delay urgent action being taken then he should rethink this.

Bridges has just been reported criticising National MPs expressing doubts about climate change.

Many comments at The Standard didn’t trust National and didn’t want them involved. Petty partisan politics is so ingrained some people can’t countenance cross-party cooperation.

Gabby: “Much easier to wreck things from the inside.”

Robert Guyton: “National’s funders will say, nah.”

Jess: “Bi-partisan means two parties. National wants to regress to Nat vs Labour with Nat as the bigger party, instead of a coalition. Or if they really see Govt and opposition as two parties, their perspective is going to be no help whatsoever (no surprise there).”

Kat: “Agree with you Jess in that National just want to maneuver into a position of taking out the coalition in 2020 by appearing to be genuine about serious issues.”

marty mars: “Simon is insincere imo. The gnats don’t care. Last throw of the die in many ways.”

Stuart Munro: “Trying make a wedge to peel off a few blueish Green voters.”

Jenny: “Feeling the ground shifting under them, National’s corporate sponsors desperately need a bipartisan consensus to do nothing meaningful about climate change.”

Draco T Bastard: “Translation: He wants Labour and the Greens to compromise and accept National’s position. And National will not budge from its position.”

What I think DTB really means is that he doesn’t want Greens to budge from their position – ignoring the reality of an MMP Parliament that requires agreement (and compromise) from at least three parties.

I joined in and said: This is the best opportunity ever for cross party cooperation on dealing with a major issue facing New Zealand and the world. Getting pissy about shunning parties because they don’t measure up to ideals (non of them do) is a bit pathetic given what is at stake.

Robert Guyton:

“Moving towards doing something”
Shuffling their feet so they aren’t considered dead.
That’s all.

I queried Robert: What approach do you think is best Robert – MMP democracy, or petty partisan politics? Greens will get closest to what they want if they’re prepared to work hard with all other parties in Parliament to get the best out of all of them – kinda like the James Shaw approach.”

Robert:

James is handling this issue beautifully, in the way a snake-handler manipulates vipers. Still vipers though.

This was Shaw’s response to National’s announcement they would work with other parties ion climate change:

Fortunately commenters on left wing blogs don’t run things in Parliament, but as Eugenie Sage found out, they can kick up a stink when Ministers follow laws and procedures and allow something activists don’t like.

Wayne Mapp also joined in:

Thank goodness the commenters here are not actually in govt. Most of you would not talk to National on anything (except for terms of surrender).

In reality in a range of issues governments and oppositions co-operate. For instance on national super, various environmental issues, a number of national security isssues there is dialogue and adjustment to get a bipartisan (sometimes multi partisan) consensus.

In fact John Key’s initiative in Opposition was to do the anti-smacking deal with Labour.

But hard lefties seem to hate dealing at all with the political ‘enemy’. In response:

Stuart Munro: “Well you’re a pack of lying assholes.”

One Anonymous Bloke: Here’s a radical idea to improve your public image: stop lying and killing people.

Fortunately people like that are nowhere near real political decision making, all they have is futile vitriol in social media.

This morning on RNZ:

National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

National have had a rethinks and have done a bit of a u-turn, now saying the support having a Climate  Commission. This makes strong cross party support for addressing climate issues.

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement supports a Climate Commission:

  • Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The number one point in the Labour Green Confidence and Supply agreement was setting up a Commission:

Sustainable Economy

1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050, with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form, energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission

b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.

c. A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.

d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

In a step towards that in April Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced an Interim Climate Change Committee:

The Minister for Climate Change today announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“We need work to start now on how things like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), and we need planning now for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035,” says James Shaw.

“The Interim Climate Change Committee will begin this important work until we have set up the independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

“The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the Climate Change Commission,” Mr Shaw said.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.

“Setting up the Interim Climate Change Committee is a great step in that direction,” says James Shaw.

Last week Shaw announced Zero Carbon Bill Consultation Launch.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges tweeted:

Bridges spoke on this – Speech to Fieldays on climate change

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister and James Shaw, offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission.

I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bi-partisan progress on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.

The Commission would be advisory only, with the Government of the day taking final decisions on both targets and policy responses.

There are a number of details I want to work through with the Government before the Commission is launched – such as ensuring the Commission has appropriate consideration for economic impacts as well as environmental, and that the process for appointments to the Commission is also bipartisan.

But I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

This is a significant and a good move by Bridges and National.

With all the multi-MP parties working together positively on climate change issues New Zealand should make good progress on addressing climate change issues.

Greens in Northcote – tactical, or signs of slump?

The Greens raised eyebrows (especially Labour supporters’ eyebrows) when they decided to stand a candidate in the Northcote by-election.

Should Green eyebrows be raised over the slump in Green support? Or can it be dismissed as tactical voting?

Rebecca Jaung stood in both the last general election and the by-election.

  • 2017 general election 2,457 votes 6.73%
  • 2018 by-election 579 votes – 2.90%

Turnout (based on by-election night results) was about half that of the general election, but the Green share of the vote was more than halved.

Was it due tactical voting?

I didn’t see the Greens promoting tactical voting for the Labour. perhaps they did it quietly, but why would they? There was not a big chance for the Labour candidate, and Greens had more to lose by doing poorly.

Jaung sounded like she was seeking votes for herself – Rebel without the yell: the Greens’ Northcote candidate

“I think Northcote needs a voice like mine,” she said, and I asked, like what?

“One promoting Green ideas. A young woman. Also, the fact that I’m a doctor, that helped in some of the debates.” In the 2017 election, which she also contested, she was able to call out the sitting member, then-health minister Dr Jonathan Coleman.

She did well in 2017. The Greens ranked their top 41 candidates and she wasn’t among them, but she generated a better party vote than 28 other non-MPs who were. Her candidate vote held up too.

But really, why is she standing this time? She’ll be very lucky to get even 10 per cent of the vote and doesn’t she risk spoiling it for Labour’s Shanan Halbert? She said she didn’t believe that.

“To start with, I don’t accept that every Green voter would vote Labour if I wasn’t here. There are Blue-Green voters. Me being here gives them someone to vote for.”

But only 2.9% of voters chose her.

I think that the Greens should be concerned about this slump in their Northcote vote.

It could be a sign of a bigger problem. Stacey Kirk: Is it time to plaster the Green Party caucus on the side of a milk carton?

It seems the good old cage-rattling Greens have been lost to the halls of the Beehive. Where on earth are the Tibetan flag waving Greens? The Trans-Pacific Partnership protesting Greens? The spy-base hating, tree-chaining, parliament scaling and benefit fraud condoning Greens?

Actually, that last one went too far.

Ever since former leader Metiria Turei sent her party on a downward spiral by proudly admitting her historical benefit fraud ahead of the election, they’ve not been a team.

The election of Marama Davidson as co-leader appears to have changed very little.

Selecting Davidson may have accentuated the division in the Greens.

Meanwhile, Shaw is in danger of falling down the same ministerial rabbit hole as former Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell – becoming engrossed in the importance of his ministerial work, while hoping that speaks for itself.

Flavell, and his party’s brutal demise, is proof that it doesn’t. But in co-leader Marama Fox that party still had an outspoken wild card that was prepared to speak out – at times forcefully – against the Government.

But if consistent polling, showing the Greens on a slow march down the same path as Flavell and Fox, isn’t enough to wake them from their stupor, then it’s not just their problem but the Government’s.

Shaw seems too busy promoting his climate change ideals and a halt to oil and gas exploration – these may not be widely popular either, especially to the degree Shaw wants.

It’s early days for Davidson as co-leader but is seen more as a hard left radical rather than an appeal to soft green votes.

And the Northcote election result suggests that Green support is vulnerable.

This means Greens are increasingly vulnerable to being a one term government party, and risk missing the cut next election.

This makes Labour very vulnerable too.

Waka jumping/oil and gas an MMP trade-off?

When the Greens supported the introduction of NZ First’s ‘waka jumping’ bill into parliament it raised eyebrows and angst. The Greens had until then always strongly opposed legislation like that.

When the Government announced they would not issue any new oil and gas exploration permits the body language of Shane Jones suggested a large degree of discomfort with having to support the decision.

The oil and gas decision turns out to have been made by Government party leaders only without going through Cabinet – see Party leaders made oil and gas decisions, not Cabinet.

Richard Harman at Politik that suggests the two dead rats may have been a tradeoff in Waka jumping and oil exploration

Did the Prime Minister get Winston Peters to support the petroleum exploration ban by locking in Greens support for the waka-jumping legislation?

That is a possible scenario suggested by the papers relating to the ban which were released under the Official Information Act on Tuesday.

The papers set out a timeline which eventually leads to both Peters and Shaw.

A detailed timeline covering March and April is shown, followed by some poindering, .

There is a chain of events here which strongly suggest that Ardern was having to play Peters and Shaw off against each other.

Peters clearly was not happy with the exploration ban.

So how was he persuaded to support it?

Did Ardern persuade Shaw to ignore the protestations of many in his party and support Peters’ waka jumping bill and was that enough to persuade Peters to forget his concerns about the exploration ban?

With a Government relying on two support parties with a sizeable number of MPs, and leverage, this may be a reality of MMP in action.

The oil and gas decision is a done deal – although the possible implications and negative effects of the decision are gradually emerging.

However the waka jumping bill is still going through the parliamentary process. A lot of pressure may go on the Green MPs to not support it through it’s final stages. However will Shaw insist on a dead rat deal being honoured despite party opposition?

 

Greens scoff at National+Green option.

In their latest poll Newshub did the usual pointless prediction of possible governing numbers (an election has never been decided on a media poll):

These two alternatives presume two major things:

  • That NZ First will not make the threshold – predicting the political demise of NZF and Winston Peters has been proven wrong many times over the years.
  • That Greens would consider a coalition with National over Labour.

It was made very clear during the last term, and especially during coalition negotiations last year, that Greens did not see National as an option for them.

Greens have virtually said that unless National adopts all the Green Party policies then they won’t consider any political alliance (this is ironic given the number of compromises Greens have made with Labour and especially with NZ First, but that’s another story).

This was reiterated by Green party member Matthew Whitehead at The Standard in Pollwatch: Reid Research, 27/05/2018

There is zero chance, despite what Newshub implies, that the Greens will even look at today’s National Party as a valid coalition partner. You would need 75% of Green delegates at our AGM to agree to even consider a coalition deal from them, and the perception that we could do so tends to hurt us in polling. Implying such a deal would even be considered is pretty mischievious.

John Hart, who was 12 on the Green list for 2017 and was expected to become an MP until the Green’s crashed a month before the election, tweeted:

@farmgeek So ACT isn’t included in the Labour/Greens numbers because that would be ridiculous right? And yet lumping Greens in with National…

@StewartLundNZ I think the point was to show that without the Greens, National has no shot at getting back in. But labour would only need the Greens – no need for Act’s seat

@farmgeek That’s cool, but I’d prefer they stick with reality-based scenarios.

@MJWhitehead  Yeah, the correct thing to do here would just be to show NACT at 59 because that coalition ain’t happening with National looking anything like it does today.

@ConanMcKegg Really trying to push that Blue Greens narrative still. I’d have thought that would have died by now.

Gahhhhhhhhh — what part of the Greens will never ever be in govt with National do media not get !? P o l i c y s – light years apart.

I haven’t seen anyone in Greens suggest that going with national in any way was a possibility. They look fully committed to Labour or bust.

Interestingly I can see no poll reaction from @NZGreens, jamespeshaw or @maramadavidson – actually they have been veryu quiet on everything over the weekend.

But that won’t change the apparent impossibility of a National+Green option.

Ireland abortion vote puts New Zealand law to shame

Ireland has just resoundingly voted to modernise their abortion law, giving women the choice the should have.

This highlights New Zealand’s shameful persistence with law that is not fit for purpose to the extent that it is virtually ignored in practice, although it forces women into a demeaning process.

We should add abortion to the referendum list for next year, along with personal use of cannabis and euthanasia.

The last Government was not interested in addressing the abortion anomaly.

Abortion was not addressed in either the Labour-NZ First or Labour-Green governing agreements.

However Jacinda Ardern campaigned against the current law – Abortion ‘shouldn’t be a crime’ (September 2017):

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says abortion should not be in the Crimes Act and she would change the law.

Access to abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. People need to be able to make their own decision. People need to be able to make their own decisions. I want women who want access to be able to have it as a right.”

At the same time Bill English supported the law as it is but also supported a conscience vote:

Prime Minster Bill English, a conservative Catholic, said he supported the law as it was and he would be opposed to liberalisation. He described the current set-up, where a woman has to get a certificate from two separate medical professionals saying she needed an abortion, was “broadly acceptable” and was working.

However, English said it would be a “conscience decision”, so his MP could vote freely on it.

Why not let the people vote on it?

February 2018: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law.

Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

New Zealand is not just out of step with modern law, it is also out of step with modern practices.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In other countries the it can take just a week from referral to procedure. This makes it more likely for New Zealand patients to require a surgical, rather than a medical abortion, as they have passed the nine week mark.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

Terry Bellamak, President of the Abortion Law Reform Association…

…said that she would like to see abortion wiped from the Crimes Act and the restrictive grounds for abortion abolished.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

Bellamak said she would like New Zealand’s law to be reformed along the lines of Canada.

“Canada has absolutely no abortion laws and no regulations around abortion. They simply trust women,” she said.

Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like…

…but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision”.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line.

Why not a people vote, in a referendum along with cannabis and euthanasia?

Ardern and Little support reform.

Greens have actively campaigned on reform: Abortion – it’s time to decriminalise

The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of abortion because we trust women to make decisions that are best for them and their whānau/family. We want to ensure equal access to all potential options are available to pregnant women.

We want to change the abortion laws because:

  • The fact that 99% of abortions are approved on ‘mental health’ grounds reveals the dishonesty of the current legal situation.
  • The time taken to see two consultants means abortions happen later in the pregnancy. This is more dangerous for the woman, and it makes it difficult to access medical abortions (those which are conducted using medicine rather than surgery), which can only be performed at under 9 weeks’ gestation.
  • Rape (sexual violation) is not grounds for abortion under NZ law.
  • To reduce the stigma and judgement that happens over the reasons a woman chooses to have an abortion (e.g. rape being seen as more justified grounds for abortion than poverty).
  • Abortion’s continuing criminal status helps reinforce geographical variations in access to abortion services.
  • The current laws are discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

We also want to change the presumption that currently exists within medical culture and wider society, encouraged by the wording in the legislation, that if there is a significant disability diagnosis then an abortion is assumed to be desirable.

While English supported an MP conscience vote on abortion Simon Bridges could be different. In February when he became National leader:

Bridges told Mediaworks abortion should be “rare, safe and legal and I think the emphasis there is on rare. I think that’s where the vast majority of New Zealanders are”.

If that’s his view I think Bridges is out of touch with new Zealand.

Vice have noted he: “Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.”

In principle NZ First supports people deciding things by referendum. In March last year Tracey Martin pointed this out in Politically, Abortion change rests with NZ First so what does that look like?

What’s our view on abortion legislation?

Abortions should be safe, legal and rare.

We have a policy of citizen-initiated binding referendum, held at the same time as a general election – a policy we have had for 23 years – this is one of those issues for such a referendum. It should not be decided by temporarily empowered politicians but by the public.

We need a 12 to 18 month conversation around this issue and then let the people have their say.

Topics that we would be suggest be associated with this discussion would include: Moving the issue from the Criminal Act to the Health Act, ensuring women get the best possible advice, getting more research into “why” women find themselves needing to seek this service and how can we assist them to avoid having to seek this service.

It makes more sense to me to have a referendum a year before the election. It separates issues decided from the politics of general elections, and is a very good way of engaging the public in democracy.

 

Cannabis legislation and referendum in 2019?

The Government are considering legislation and referendum on the personal use of cannabis in 2019 – they are committed to a referendum by 2020, but legislation followed by a referendum next year would be an excellent approach.

This sounds very sensible. The Government should be encouraged to take this approach.

The Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement guarantees a referendum by 2020:

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.

Now RNZ report: NZ may vote on cannabis legalisation in 2019

(Note – RNZ repeatedly referred to ‘marijuana but I have replaced that with ‘cannabis’)

The government is currently debating whether to hold the referendum in 2019 because it’s not sure holding it at the 2020 General Election would be a smart move politically.

The referendum on legalising cannabis was part of the confidence and supply deal struck between Labour and the Greens – although Winston Peters’ backs one too.

I don’t think there can be any guarantees about whether Winston Peters or NZ First would support this. Their stance on cannabis has been vague and variable over the past few years. NZ First back using referendums in general, but with notable exceptions – Peters was strongly opposed to the flag referendum.

Justice Minister Andrew Little said the government’s contemplating holding it next year, rather than in 2020.

“There’s two competing issues, one is it would be convenient to have it then (2020) we’ve got a General Election so we’re already running a ballot there.

“On the other hand, there would be other colleagues who would say ‘well we don’t necessarily want a General Election run on this particular sort of issue, so let’s have it at a different time’ – that issue hasn’t been resolved and it will be a little while before it is, I suspect.”

Campaigning on cannabis could be a major distraction in a general election – but it could improve voter turnout.

Mr Little acknowledged the government had a lot of work to do before any vote.

“We need to make sure there is good public information out there, good events for people to express their views, so that would dictate a timing that would be no earlier that late 2019.”

He said the government still did not know what sort of legalised cannabis system it will propose putting in place.

“We simply haven’t got anywhere near that, I think it’s about getting the mechanics of the referendum sorted, then I think obviously some discussions around scope and maybe some options there.

“The critical question is going to be, what is the question to go to the electorate with, one that makes sense and gives a meaningful answer and gives a mandate if it is approved to proceed with further work – if it’s not approved of course it’s all over.”

Having fair and clear referendum questions is very important.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick said other aspects of how the referendum will be run are still being hammered out too.

“The first thing we have to consider is whether we put legislation before the House first which will then be triggered by whatever the threshold may be of that referendum turn out.

“We’re still working through that, so we’re working with other government parties and inside our own caucus to discern what the best course of action will be,” Ms Swarbrick said.

Swarbrick generally seems to have stepped up capably and done a very good job as a first term MP in a party in Government.

Having legislation before Parliament, with public submissions and a conscience vote, makes a lot of sense. Then let the public approve or disapprove of the legislation via the referendum.

The problem with having the referendum first is that the subsequent legislative process in Parliament could then either be restricted by the referendum question, or could move away from the intent of the electorate.

The legislation then referendum approach could establish a very good model for engaging the public in the democratic process.

Legislation on personal cannabis use next year, followed by an approve/disapprove referendum late in the year, sounds like an excellent option for both cannabis and drug reform (whether it happens or not), and also for democracy.

This doesn’t mean the personal use of cannabis would become legal, but it means that the public would properly get to make the decision.