Abortion Legislation Bill passes Second Reading 81-39

The Abortion Legislation Bill had it’s Second Reading debate last night and passed on a personal (conscience) vote easily, 81-39. The bill is a much better approach to abortion than the current law that is not followed in practice, making abortion health issue rather than a legal issue.

From Abortion Legislation Bill — Second Reading

Hon ANDREW LITTLE (Minister of Justice):
(Edited)

This bill was introduced on 5 August last year and was referred to the Abortion Legislation Committee, a special committee set up specifically for consideration of this bill. The committee was established by the House precisely for that purpose. I want to thank members of the committee, in particular the chair, the Hon Ruth Dyson, and the deputy chair, the Hon Amy Adams, for the work they did. They received more than 25,000 submissions. They heard from more than 130 people during 30 hours of oral evidence.

This bill and this topic are a very sensitive topic. It’s a very difficult topic for many citizens and many, many members of this House to discuss and debate, but debate it we must, because this legislation that we’re now considering—the changes to which we are considering—are more than 40 years old and it is timely and appropriate to consider it.

I have previously spoken about the reasons why I believe the law governing abortion needs to be changed, not the least of which is that the legislation is so old, but also the fact that the framework for abortion in New Zealand right now is set out in both the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977, and a woman seeking an abortion should not have her actions stigmatised as if she were committing a criminal act—she is not; she is making a decision about herself and her body.

Following the select committee process, the Abortion Legislation Committee has recommended changes to improve access to abortion services which it considers are in the best interests of women.

There has been scaremongering about abortions up to birth, which is a distortion of what will be allowed for the good of the health of the mother and the unborn child. The vast majority of abortions are in the first 20 weeks.

In relation to abortion after 20 weeks, in response to submissions received, the revised bill changes the test that a qualified health practitioner must follow if providing abortion services to a woman who is more than 20 weeks pregnant.

The revised test expands some of the wording from the original bill. In fact, the requirements now include a requirement that the health practitioner regards the abortion as clinically appropriate, the health practitioner has to consult another health practitioner—so it’s not just one but two—and, of course, that reflects current practice anyway.

We have to remember that for women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks, generally speaking that is a wanted pregnancy but there is something seriously wrong either with the foetus or with the woman’s health. This is a very difficult point at which to make this decision, and I hope that people embarking on this debate will recognise that. That is now reflected in the changes that the committee has proposed.

Abortions for ‘sex selection’ was an issue raised.

They add in a requirement that the medical professional has to have regard to his or her relevant legal, professional and ethical standards to which they are subject, and also consider the woman’s physical health, mental health, and overall wellbeing, and, of course, the gestational age of the foetus.

The committee was concerned about submissions made that some might consider an abortion on the grounds of gender biased sex selection, and they point to evidence overseas. The committee concluded that there was no evidence of this happening in New Zealand but they wanted a statement in the bill that reflected the, generally, New Zealand view on this, which is that we don’t tolerate sex selection as a reason for an abortion.

On ‘safe areas’ (from opponents and protesters)  in the vicinity of places where abortions are done:

I turn briefly to safe areas because I know this is an area to test those who are vigilant about and are champions of freedom of speech in this country, and that’s very important and we need those voices—they’re absolutely vital. The truth is that there are women who are seeking abortions and going to facilities where they are prevailed upon in an unseemly and entirely inappropriate way, and they should not be subject to that sort of behaviour.

Now, the changes that the committee have recommended in this regard are to shift the offence from a reckless sort of standard to an objective test; it’s now expressed as an ordinary reasonable person test. That is it’s an offence to intimidate, interfere, or obstruct a person in a safe area in a manner that the ordinary reasonable person would know would cause emotional distress to a protected person. Protected person is defined as either a medical practitioner going to a facility from which an abortion might be carried out, or a person who is seeking an abortion.

The committee has also inserted a requirement that each safe area is reviewed within five years of the area’s establishment. There is a process to go through to establish a safe area, it’s done by the Minister of Health in consultation with the Minister of Justice, there has to be good reasons for it, it has to be done by Order in Council, and it is reviewed on a periodic basis.

Contentious objection:

This is another sensitive area too, particularly for health practitioners who do not support the idea of an abortion. For contraception and sterilisation services, the person with an objection to dispensing advice to a patient had to tell the patient how to access the contact details of another provider of the services; for abortion services, the person objecting would have to tell the patient how to access a list of service providers.

The committee has simplified this process for someone with a contentious objection to ensure timely access for the person seeking services. The revised process is that the contentious objector must tell the person seeking an abortion or sterilisation or contraception services how to access the contact details of another person who is a provider of the service requested.

The committee also picked up on an existing provision in the current Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act related to contentious objection that had not been amended in the bill as it was introduced. This section regards supply of contraception to victims of sexual violation. The committee has aligned the requirements for practitioners with conscientious objections in these instances to the process set out in the bill.

Closing:

We need a law where a pregnant woman can and should be trusted to make the decision for themselves about an abortion in consultation with their health practitioner. This bill does that, and on that basis I commend this bill to the House.

Other speakers:

AGNES LOHENI (National):

As a member of the Abortion Legislation Committee, I was not able to effect any meaningful change to this bill despite an overwhelming number of submissions against it. As a consequence, I wrote a minority view to ensure those views that opposed were heard.

I have outlined a lot to be alarmed about in this bill. I am deeply saddened at this bill’s blatant attack on the right to life and recognition for our unborn babies. If we can discard the life of an unborn baby—if we can diminish their value and their humanity to the point that we no longer call them babies, then we have lost our own humanity, because they are the smallest versions of us. Late-term surgical abortions are nothing short of barbaric; there is nothing kind in it. A truly progressive society protects the rights of all its members down to the smallest and most vulnerable—the unborn child. I take a stand for that unborn child. I oppose this bill.

Hon AMY ADAMS (National—Selwyn):

 I want to begin by stating very clearly in the debate on this bill—which is a conscience issue—where I start from, and my fundamental views in this regard. I have an absolute belief that women have the inalienable right to control their own reproductive systems and to determine, ultimately, whether or not they have a child.

I think there is no place for a Parliament to be specifying and legislating what the appropriate medical treatment is in any given case. We are not medical professionals; we are lawmakers, and we have to respect that. I trust women and doctors to make these decisions carefully, gravely, and appropriately.

GREG O’CONNOR (Labour—Ōhāriu):

I stand in opposition to this bill. I voted for it at the first reading because I felt that the bill needed to go through a select committee to see if it could be made palatable.

Taking the legislation out of the Crimes Act, as I said, I agree with. That is something that I think there are sufficient safeguards in there now to keep it outside the Crimes Act. It does belong as a health issue, as some of the other speakers mentioned. But post – 20 weeks, there is just simply not enough safeguard to ensure that those—

PAULO GARCIA (National):

 I stand with sadness, with a heart filled with tribulation and pain because, once again, I stand to argue against a bill that seeks to enable the ending—the taking—of a human life by another human being.

The bill opens the door for the abortion of babies with not just severe abnormalities but also moderate ones, making disabled unborn children very vulnerable under the proposed law. That the current law explicitly prevents abortions on the basis of foetal abnormality up to 20 weeks, but the proposed law does not do the same represents a major step backwards in terms of disability rights.

I finish with a quote from the New York Times, quoting a Harvard medical professor who said that we pass through different stages as we grow, and that a “baby of five weeks in the womb differs from the newborn, but so does the toddler differ from the teen. … but we don’t pass from person to non-person, or vice versa.”

Hon NIKKI KAYE (National—Auckland Central):

I have extraordinary respect for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But I support this bill for a few very fundamental and simple reasons. The first is I believe that every woman in New Zealand has the right to control her body. It’s very simple. It’s very simple; in fact, it’s so simple that we are one of the most archaic countries in the world—even Catholic Ireland has more liberal abortion laws than New Zealand.

Fundamentally, there are a couple of other reasons why it is crucial, in my view, that we have this law change. Again, I want to quote Dame Margaret Sparrow, who really, effectively, said a number of years ago that it is an absolute farce in this country that 98 percent—I think it was at the time—of the abortions were on the grounds of mental health. That is a farce, that is wrong, that is archaic, and it is time that, as a country, we changed that and we faced up to the fact that it is archaic and outdated and wrong to have a law on the books that, effectively, says that.

I do believe, as well, that many women in New Zealand, basically, fundamentally, want equality. They want the ability to have control over their body. They don’t want to have to be in these situations, but, if they are, they, ultimately, want respect and equality. I believe that this bill is timely. It’s progressive. It’s important. It will lead to less suffering

ANAHILA KANONGATA’A-SUISUIKI (Labour):

I today stand along the over about 91 percent of submitters that are opposed to this bill. I am acknowledging that 17 percent of submitters are for the bill. My views in opposition to this bill are derived from Tongan culture and as a Christian Tongan. That’s where I formed my view. And I need to say it in this House that I am a Christian and I was raised a Tongan Christian. And I don’t stand here to say that I represent all Christians or all Pasifika. I am representing my views as a Tongan and all the people that have actually spoken to me about those views.

Number of submitters is a part of a process, it is not a measure of public support or opposition.

Like I said in my introduction of my speech, I don’t stand here to represent all Tongans. I don’t stand here to represent all Christians. I stand here to represent what I’ve heard through the select committee and my definition of what this bill does. I accept that it’s trying to reform the legislation, but we must also remember that abortion is legal in New Zealand, but there is an opportunity to differentiate between a child and an adult. And I disagree with the fact that it is an informed decision by a woman who is pregnant at 14 to have an abortion. I disagree with that—that it is informed. And I also disagree with the fact that it’s the woman’s choice, because, at the end of the day, it is the health practitioner that makes the decision for the woman to have an abortion. And in that tone, I oppose this bill to the House.

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

I rise in support of the Abortion Legislation Bill, a piece of legislation whose time has come—decades ago—a piece of legislation that will take abortion out of the Crimes Act because it should never have been a crime. As earlier speakers have made a point of saying, there is no other medical procedure that is legislated the way abortion is.

I want to talk about the moral case behind this bill. I get messages saying, “Do you support abortion?” Of course I don’t. Nobody does. Nobody wakes up one day and thinks, “That’s what I’ll do today.” It is a difficult and harrowing experience to go through.

But that’s not the question. The question before this House tonight is: what should be the role of this Parliament and what should be the role of the State when it comes to abortion law reform? If any member thinks that it is somehow helpful for the State apparatus, for this Parliament, to ask the police and the corrections and the courts in this country to run around and try and compel women to take unwanted pregnancies to term against their will, then I don’t know how else to argue with those people, but I hope they’re in the minority tonight.

NICOLA WILLIS (National):

I support this reform of our abortion laws. Many people I deeply respect and admire do not share my views on this issue. I feel moved to express why I support it. I have carefully studied this bill. I have spoken with medical practitioners, those who perform abortions, those who have had abortions, those who’ve supported those who have had abortions, and my conclusion is that this bill advances the rights of women.

It will improve women’s access to health services. It will enhance our legal autonomy over our own bodies and our own fertility. It brings our law into line with good medical practice. It reduces unnecessary and potentially harmful delays in access to abortions, and it improves reporting on important issues such as equity and timeliness of access, availability of counselling services, and the spectre of gender selection.

This bill will reduce harm. Fundamentally, it improves choice for all of us and, crucially, requires that choice from none of us.

Let us trust women and let us trust medical professionals. I want my children to live in a world that genuinely cherishes the life of every woman, that respects her right to manage her own fertility, her own body, her own future. That is the world I want for my daughters. That is the world I want for my sons.

DARROCH BALL (NZ First):

I rise tonight not on behalf myself to speak on this bill, but on behalf of the party.

As we promised in the first reading of this bill, we will see this bill through to the committee of the whole House where we will table a Supplementary Order Paper requesting a referendum on this issue.

As we promised in the first reading of this bill, we will see this bill through to the committee of the whole House where we will table a Supplementary Order Paper requesting a referendum on this issue.

We believe that this conscience issue, affecting the fabric of human society, should be decided upon by the people of New Zealand, not decided upon by 120 temporarily empowered politicians. We don’t believe that individuals in this House—their life experiences, their beliefs, or their family histories—are any more or less important than anyone outside of this House.

The fact that this House has decided that this vote is a conscience vote and not a party vote is explicit acknowledgment that every single individual Kiwi in this country will have an individual perspective based on their own conscience, not based on anyone’s conscience in this House, and especially not based on temporarily empowered politicians in this House or anything that’s based on party politics.

Going by the second reading vote, if NZ First MPs vote against the final reading if they fail with their amendment to have a referendum it looks still likely to pass.

Personally I don’t support a referendum on this.

CHRIS PENK (National—Helensville):

I refer to the report of the majority of the Abortion Legislation Committee on this, the Abortion Legislation Bill. The majority report is linguistically elusive, ideologically incoherent, and scientifically unsound.

I wish to also make a note about the select committee majority report claiming that the current legislation contains deeply offensive language in relation to disabled people. The disabled people themselves and the advocacy groups who have contacted me in relation to the bill find much more deeply offensive the notion that their lives will inevitably be deemed to be worth less in many situations, whereby conditions such as, for example, Down’s syndrome can be effectively screened to an even greater extent than is already the case by the fact that this bill does have a liberalising effect—that is, it makes the regime more liberal both in relation to pre-20 weeks and post-20 weeks, until either such time as birth is given or abortion services performed.

JOANNE HAYES (National):

 I stand to take a call opposing the Abortion Legislation Bill tonight. I’ve sat here on purpose to listen to the contributions in the House tonight, and some of the contributions have left me a little bit flummoxed with some of their ideas. I do not support the idea of taking the Abortion Legislation Bill into a referendum. I think this is what our job is here, to make a decision, and I don’t think that it should be anything like inside any referendum like New Zealand First did with the End of Life Choice Bill.

I think one of the speakers tonight from the Government side of the House spoke about this bill being abortion on demand. That’s what this bill is actually working towards. It is about abortion on demand.

Effectively yes, up to 20 weeks only.

This abortion bill is a licence to kill the unborn; that’s what it is. It’s a dangerous piece of legislation. Whilst there will be people in here that are supporting this bill that will say, “No, no, no, that’s not what happens.”, in reality that is what will happen. That’s what concerns me most, is the reality of it hitting the ground, hitting the women out there in the community and the families, that this will be a licence to kill unborn children. It ignores absolutely everybody’s opposition. I’m really, really sad to be standing here on a day, on an evening like this evening, to be able to say to my colleagues who are supporting this bill, it is the wrong thing to do.

Hon RUTH DYSON (Labour—Port Hills):

The opposition to this bill came not from people who oppose this bill but from people who oppose abortion full stop. People who, if they were being given the contraception, sterilisation, and abortion legislation, would oppose it.

There is nothing more offensive than being told that a woman would wake up one morning, 30 weeks pregnant and say, “I’m over this. I’m going to have an abortion.” Then to layer on top of that the accusation that a doctor would then say, “That meets my professional and ethical standards.”, and would go ahead with that termination—I don’t know who the people who say that knows. Who do you know that would do that? Nobody. It’s just a lie. On any topic, I think it’s important to tell the truth, but on a topic as important as this, as sensitive and as contentious as this, we should just tell the truth.

We felt we were taking a needed step, but one which we wanted to take very carefully in in a very considered way, and I think the committee did a very good job of that. We want to see a country where there are very, very few abortions. Our numbers are heading in the right directions now; I want to commend Pharmac for introducing long-acting contraception. We need more education, we need better access to contraception, but we will still need abortion services—the fewer the better, but the earlier, more equitable, and safer the better. That’s what this legislation seeks to deliver and I commend it to the House.

JAN LOGIE (Green):

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and it’s a real honour to speak tonight, as a feminist who has been working towards abortion law reform for years and also as a member of the Green Party who committed to decriminalising abortion about six years ago—[Interjection from gallery]

SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member will resume her seat. That man will be removed from the gallery.

JAN LOGIE: This may point to the need for safe areas and the fact that, actually, there is opposition to those of us who support women’s reproductive health rights. And that has resulted, or at least been used as an argument, in the assault against my co-leader.

If you care about women’s health, if you want to see these women accessing abortion care, accessing it earlier if it has to happen, this is the legislation to do it. I do think we should get rid of the 20-week threshold altogether, and that was bounded for me, it came through clearly from those very small numbers of people who are actually involved in providing this care in the country.

When we heard, previously, from a speaker talking about a GP saying, well, how were they to interpret wellbeing, they wouldn’t know what that would mean—it wouldn’t matter if they didn’t understand that, because they wouldn’t be providing them, because there’s only a very small handful of people who are qualified to provide those services. The thing is that it is according to very strict guidelines of care and medical ethics, and it is my belief that the decisions should still remain with the pregnant person.

A personal vote was called for on the question, That the amendments be agreed to.

  • Ayes 80
  • Noes 28

A personal vote was called for on the question, That the Abortion Legislation Bill be now read a second time.

  • Ayes 81
  • Noes 39

So it looks like the Abortion Legislation Bill should pass comfortably, and without a referendum.  That would be good, in my opinion.

The split between the first 20 weeks (choice) and the second 20 weeks (medical decision) is  pragmatic compromise that largely fits with current practice despite the archaic law.

There is strong opposition to changing the law, but the Bill just makes what is currently practiced officially legal with the stigma of ‘breaking the law’ removed.

The Bill won’t change much, apart from the sensible change from a legal to a personal or health issue. The number of abortions has been dropping, that trend may or may not continue but should be largely unaffected by the Bill.

 

More Curran emails, Handley offered job, O’Connor told off

This story keeps on rolling. Clare Curran has admitted ‘there may be more’ emails, and it is claimed that Derek Handley was offered the job of Chief Technology Officer but that was put on hold when the Curran story started coming out.

Stuff:  Clare Curran admits ‘there may be some more’ Derek Handley emails not yet released

Former Communications Minister Clare Curran says there “may be some more” emails between her and job applicant Derek Handley that have not been released.

When Curran was fired from Cabinet she proactively released a chain of emails, texts, and Twitter direct messages between her and Handley setting up the meeting.

But one of Handley’s emails indicates that other communications may have been exchanged, at one point saying he wants to check “one final time” about the meeting and that he appreciates Curran might not have the time to respond to his “emails”.

It’s also not clear where Handley got Curran’s mobile number or got direct instructions on how to access the Beehive after-hours, when the meeting took place.

Asked if she had released all of her emails with Handley on Tuesday, Curran said “there may be some more”.

“They are the full chain of emails that related to the meeting I had with him in February,” Curran said. “There may be some more.”

Curran said she was archiving all of her Gmail messages that were related to ministerial matters and they would be discoverable to journalists under the Official Information Act.

That sounds like an open invitation to journalists to make OIA requests to see the emails.

RNZ:  Clare Curran tells PM she will make Gmails available

Former government minister Clare Curran has assured Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern she is archiving all emails she sent using her personal Gmail account.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today work-related emails on Ms Curran’s G-mail account would be saved as official records and be discoverable under the Official Information Act.

Stuff: Derek Handley was offered CTO job before it was put on hold, says source

Entrepreneur Derek Handley was offered the job of chief technology officer by the Government, according to an informed source, raising the question of whether he could be entitled to compensation if the appointment is not now confirmed.

The recruitment process remains in limbo after former communications minister Clare Curran admitted last month that she had “omitted” to disclose a February meeting with Handley when responding to a written parliamentary question.

Handley was understood to have been selected as the preferred candidate for the $400,000 job as the country’s first national chief technology officer (CTO), but it was not previously clear whether he had actually been offered the role.

An informed source said he had been, but had no information on whether he had then accepted.

The appointment process is believed to have been stopped in the same week that he was due to be announced as the successful candidate.

Meanwhile, Jacinda Ardern scolds Ohariu MP Greg O’Connorfor saying things could have been handled better…

ODT (NZME): MP told off for Curran resignation comments

Labour backbencher Greg O’Connor has received a “stern phone call” from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after criticising her handling of Clare Curran’s resignation.

O’Connor told Heather du Plessis-Allan on NewstalkZB today that Ardern’s handling of Curran’s decision to resign on Friday “could have been done better”.

“Yeah it could have been done better, I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. I’ll tell you what, it will be done better next time,” he said.

A spokesman for Ardern confirmed that Ardern gave O’Connor “a stern phone call” about his comments tonight.

“She has relayed her disappointment to Greg O’Connor around his remarks, and he has affirmed his support and confidence in the Prime Minister,” the spokesman said.

…but separately admits that she could have been handled things better.

RNZ: Lessons to be learned from Curran controversy – Ardern

At her post Cabinet briefing she was asked whether she could have handled the whole situation better.

“I, on reflection, can learn from some of the things along the journey of government. I don’t think you’d want a leader that couldn’t learn from the past.”

I wonder if she told herself off.

Swarbrick medicinal cannabis fails, promises made

As expected MPs failed to represent the majority of New Zealanders and voted against the Swarbrick Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill.

Even the few National MP’s who were granted special permission (in a fucking conscience vote!) to vote for the bill decided not to back a dead horse – but some of them  have made assurances they will work on fixing the pathetic Government bill that purports to address the issues.

In her opening and closing speeches in the first reading Chloe Swarbrick tried to promote the bill but seemed to resigned to failure.

A number of MPs pointed to the Government bill, already past it’s first reading, as a way of trying to get something decent and compassionate for the people of New Zealand, but that will require some work.

Ex Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman (National):

So much as I’m critical of this current Government and much as they also left a lot out of the bill that was before the House yesterday, what that bill yesterday had was a regulation-making power, and that regulation-making power in the Government bill sets the groundwork for a regulatory scheme to create a market place that will increase the access for people who need medicinal cannabis products, and it will mean that they can get products that have been approved on the basis of the available evidence to help relieve their debilitating conditions. That is the way to go.

The other thing about the Government bill is the select committee process will allow all those who have an interest in this particular bill to submit to the select committee and have their case heard. So I think—much as I’m no fan of this Government—that the bill that the Government brought to the House yesterday will enable that public discussion that thousands of New Zealanders wish to have.

I hope MPs listen to the people far better than they have on the Swarbrick bill.

Greg O’Connor (Labour):

What the Government bill that went to select committee yesterday has done is it has bought us time, which will allow us to address many of the issues that have been brought up here today.

Actually the Government bill was rushed to beat Labour’s 100 day deadline and addresses the issues poorly.

But it will mean that when we move forward, we get it right. We don’t have to recreate. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s been done. We pride ourselves on being world leaders on this, and we can.

New Zealand doesn’t lead, it trails Australia, it trails the US, it trails Canada, it is badly behind progress elsewhere in the world on cannabis law reform.

What I implore the House and my fellow members to do is don’t send this to select committee. Let’s get it right, let’s start with a blank bit of paper, and let New Zealand end up with a highly workable cannabis regime that makes it safe for our children and for all those in the future, and, most importantly, that gets it out of the hands of criminals.

Odd comments. The Government bill is already in place, and it’s screwed paper. But at least it’s a toe in the Parliament door.

Dr Liz Craig (Labour) supported the bill, but expressed some concerns.

So why am I supporting it to select committee? I think the first thing is that so many people around the country have been in touch. There’s a real sense out there that people want their voices heard, and I think select committee will allow us to do that.

The other thing is that we saw that the Government’s own bill passed its first reading yesterday and will go to select committee. I think that bill will address a lot of the issues that people in the community are raising, but what I would like to see is some formal discussion about whether and how much further we can go beyond people that have got a terminal illness. So that’s why I’d like that looked at in that select committee process.

So for me I think we need to have that debate. We need to have people to be able to put forward their views, and we need to think about the broader extension, but I think a lot of those other issues need to be sorted out at select committee so that we’ve got a safe, high quality product and we know who’s going to get the benefit from it, but we’ve got to step back from causing further harm.

Nikki Kay (National):

So I’m faced with two bills that have come before this Parliament. Both of them are flawed. One goes too far and one does too little. So that is the dilemma that I have, and I actually believe there are many members of Parliament in this House that have the same dilemma. And this is why I am conflicted. I want to acknowledge the work that you have done.

I will not be voting for the legislation this evening, but what I am committed to doing, with other members of Parliament—and I know from the conversations that I’ve had in the last 24 hours. I’m not going to cross the floor on a bill that I know, even with my vote from the National Party, we don’t have the numbers for.

It shouldn’t have been necessary to ‘cross the floor’, it was supposed to be a conscience vote. Not allowing National MPs a conscience should weigh heavily on Bill English’s conscience.

But what I will do is I will work with Chlӧe Swarbrick, I will work with the Prime Minister, I will work with those other members in New Zealand First that want change around those people who have chronic pain or debilitating conditions to provide greater access for either cannabis products or loose leaf.

And I think we can do that with the existing Government bill, and that is what I will be campaigning for, and I commit to working with you, Chlӧe, and other members of the House—to try and deliver that. It has been one of the toughest political decisions that I have ever had to make. But I want to then finally speak to the people in the gallery but also the people that are watching tonight. It’s very easy to look at parliamentarians and think they don’t care. That is not my experience of this place. People do care. And there is a pathway through, and I’ll be fighting for that.

I hope she does fight for that.

Nicky Wagner (National):

So, in summary, National certainly supports the use of the therapeutic cannabis-based products for their patients, but we cannot support this bill. Yesterday we voted for the Government’s bill as a stop-gap, but with the clear expectation that the Government will work efficiently, well, and urgently to set up the medicinal cannabis scheme as promised—a scheme that can deliver secure access for patients, that can deliver consistent and assured quality control for the product, affordability, and a safe, well-managed supply chain.

Chris Bishop (National):

So when we come to the two bills that have come to the House on successive days, we talk about David Clark’s bill. That does one very worthy thing and one thing the previous Government had already done, and is utterly silent on the very worthy thing it purports to do…

What the bill doesn’t do is establish a regulatory scheme to actually establish medicinal cannabis in New Zealand. It says it does, but it doesn’t. We have to wait at least two years for that to happen.

So then we come to this bill. Now, it, too, is inadequate. Members have canvassed, on this side and the other side as well, a lot of deficiencies. It does not set up any sort of regulated market for medicinal marijuana. There are no controls on production and supply. It will not give doctors any confidence—and this is a very important point—about prescribing medicinal marijuana. The qualifying criteria, as my colleague Shane Reti pointed out, are too broad. So it was a difficult decision, but I have decided to vote against the bill.

Ultimately, I want a conversation about wider access to medicinal marijuana and how we can design a world’s best practice regulatory regime for New Zealand. The appropriate place for that is at the select committee, the Health Committee, that considers the Government bill that purports to establish that scheme.

I also, and this is very important, want the voices of those with chronic pain to be heard and listened to. Again, the right place for this is at select committee, and as part of designing a good regulatory regime we must listen to the thousands of New Zealanders out there who get therapeutic value from medicinal cannabis.

I thought Greg O’Connor made a very important point in his contribution to the debate. Let’s get this right, through the Government bill that sets up at least the starting point to, over the next couple of years, and I suspect beyond as well, through Government consultation and through engagement with this side of the House—because I think there is good-hearted support, as you’ve heard from members on the National side tonight, for a robust regulatory regime that allows people who gain therapeutic value from medicinal marijuana products to use them. But let’s get this right.

I’ll be looking to Bishop, Kaye and others to work hard on at least improving the Government bill. It’s the least they should do after failing to support the Swarbrick bill at least to Select Committee.

Full transcript of the first reading

 

Green candidate now standing in Ohariu

The Green party has just announced they will now stand a candidate in the Ohariu electorate.

Last November it was suggested that Labour and the Greens may be doing some deals in electorates.

Good morning, @avancenz joins us soon with exclusive details of backroom deals between Labour and the Greens ahead of next year’s election

‘In Nelson the Greens feel like they can pick up a lot of votes’ @avancenz on backroom deals between Labour and Greens.

Green’s won’t stand a candidate in Ohariu, paving the way for a Labour candidate to battle with United Future’s Peter Dunne.

Green’s co-leader Metiria Turei will run in Te Tai Tonga, Labour candidate Rino Tirikatene told by party not to run.

See also: Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election

In February James Shaw announced that the Greens wouldn’t stand a candidate in Ohariu to give Labour candidate Greg O’Connor a better chance against Peter Dunne,

Stuff: Greens step aside in Ohariu to help Labour’s O’Connor – despite misgivings

The Greens have dropped any plans to run a candidate in the Ohariu seat in a move aimed at giving Labour’s Greg O’Connor a better chance of winning the marginal seat – despite Green misgivings about his past views.

Green co-leader James Shaw said the decision was taken in the interests of changing the Government, which was the party’s  priority.

“We have been very clear with our supporters and the public about that since we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Labour last year,” he said.

“Not standing in Ohariu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the Government in September – it’s as simple as that.’

Greens may have hoped that Labour would do them a favour in one or two electorates but nothing has eventuated.

Regardless, in June Greens confirmed they would actively contest the Nelson electorate.

Green Party to run strong campaign to unseat Nick Smith in Nelson

The Green Party is today announcing that its Nelson candidate, second term local councillor Matt Lawrey, will run to win the electorate and unseat Nick Smith in September’s election.

Mr Lawrey and the Green Party will run a strong two-tick campaign in Nelson, and will offer a positive, solutions-based alternative to Dr Smith and National. It is the Green Party’s first run at winning an electorate seat since Jeanette Fitzsimons won Coromandel in 1999.

Two weeks ago Metitia Turei resigned as co-leader and withdrew from the list but she is still standing (for the first time) in Te Tai Tonga, the southernmost Maori electorate (she stood in Dunedin North in 2008, 2011 and 2014).

Two days ago Peter Dunne announced he wouldn’t be standing in Ohariu.

Just now:

Woodley stood for the Greens in Ohariu in 2014. He is 27 on the Green list so unlikely to come close to getting into Parliament via the list.

In the past Green candidates have been under strict instructions to put all their efforts into seeking party votes.

This election two candidates at least are actively campaigning for electorates. Woodley may or may not do similarly, but joing the electorate contest he must make O’Connor’s task quite a bit harder, especially as National candidate Brett Hudson is not competing with Dunne for the same votes.

Are the Greens trying to deliberately shut O’Connor out? Turei has said in the past she does not agree with many of his stances, and presumably other Greens are not keen on him either.

Greens may simply be doing whatever they can to try to rescue as many party votes they can after some worrying poll results.

They could be also now less inclined to help Labour out.

Q+A: Ohariu electorate

Q+A: Is Ohariu a safe seat for Peter Dunne? We have the results our Q+A Colmar Brunton Snap Poll on the Ohariu electorate

NZ Herald pre-empt this:  Jacinda effect’ erodes Peter Dunne’s support in Ohariu but he hopes it will be temporary

United Future leader Peter Dunne believes his support in Ohariu has been eroded because of the Jacinda Ardern effect but he questions how long that will last.

The Q + A show has a snap poll tomorrow (TV1 – 9am, Sunday) which is expected to show Dunne trailing Labour candidate Greg O’Connor.

“The question is, and it is something everyone is trying to figure out at the moment, is how deep-seated that factor is,” Dunne told the Herald on Sunday.

“Is it a phenomenon that will pass by as quickly as it arose or is it something more substantial?

Dunne has held the west-Wellington seat since 1984, originally as a Labour MP, but held it in the 2014 election by only 710 votes. He has been a support partner of the National-led Government since 2008.

In the past National has campaigned for only the party vote but this time it is explicitly asking National supporters to give Dunne their electorate vote to keep him in Parliament.

Labour and the Greens have done an electorate deal in which the Greens are not standing in order to give O’Connor, the former police union boss, a stronger chance of rolling Dunne. The Greens had 2764 electorate votes last time.

It’s not surprising to see that Peter Dunne’s hold on the Ohariu electorate is at serious risk (it has been before but so far he has survived).

A resurgent Labour under Ardern’s leadership was always going to help O’Connor against Dunne, but that may or may not hold up as we get into the business end of the campaign.

If Dunne loses it will make National’s chances a little bit harder.


Poll:

  • Greg O’Connor (Labour) 48%
  • Peter Dunne (United Future) 34%
  • Brett Hudson (National) 14%
  • Jessica Hammond (TOP) 2%

Party support in Ohariu:

  • National 46% (50.23% in the 2014 election, 49.60 in 2011)
  • Labour 35% (23.42%, 26.53%)
  • Greens 12% (15.01%, 14,42%)
  • NZ First 4% (4.76%, 3.91%)

501 voters, +/- 4%

That’s a big lead to O’Connor and it looks very difficult for Dunne, but there have been big poll swings lately so it’s difficult to know how this will end up.

However I think this looks ominous for Dunne.

Another part of the poll:


  • Staying with Dunne 63%
  • Switching to O’Connor/Labour 27%
  • Switching to someone else 10%

 

TRP Adviser 28 July 2017

This week we learned many things.

Boris Johnson is not a complete buffoon, the Greens may come to regret Metiria Turei’s confession and one man party Peter Dunne may be over and out in Ohariu.

The likely next leader of the UK Conservative party has been here for a brief visit. Boris Johnson managed to complete the trip without any major gaffes, though comparing a kiwi hongi to a Gorbals kiss might be considered offensive by some here and by some North of Hadrian’s wall.

The perceived wisdom in the UK is that Johnson is biding his time, waiting for the inevitable coup against Theresa May to begin and trusting that there will be a knock on the door as the hopeful party calls on him to lead at their time of need.

I’m not so sure.

Leading a Government that is going to limp along until the next election is an unenviable task. Whether that vote is called early or the Tory/DUP Government lasts the full term, whoever leads the Conservatives to the polls can expect to lose.

I think that if asked, Johnson will say ‘No, thanks’. It’s all too much like hard work and swanning around the world being witty with the locals is much more fun.

Metiria Turei’s confession to an easily understandable and perfectly forgivable benefit rort is still in the headlines, well past the usual news cycle of a day or two.

I reckon it marks the high tide in the Green’s polling. It’ll be all down hill from here.

It won’t affect their die hard voters, but it will have an impact on waverers in the middle who might have been tempted to go green. If there is one thing about the New Zealand middle class that really stands out, it’s a broad streak of sanctimony.

They’ll forgive the likes of Key and English for their many, many rorts because that was just business. But a beneficiary who bends the rules to survive? To the workhouse with her!

I hear from usually reliable sources that Peter Dunne is in big trouble in Ohariu.

Labour have a near perfect candidate for the seat in former police union boss Greg O’Connor. Ohariu is a fairly conservative, middle of the road electorate and both Dunne and O’Connor fit that mold.

O’Connor has the advantage of being brand spanking new and earnestly keen. Too keen, in fact, having been snapped putting up election signs way too early.

That was an embarrassing start for the Labour candidate, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt him in the electorate. I’m told he has built up a convincing polling lead over Dunne already.

And that’s why Bill English felt the need to publicly tout for Peter Dunne. No coy cup of tea, this time. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

National know they are going to need every scrap of support they can get if they are to form the next Government without having to grovel to grumpy old uncle Winston.

Ohariu could be the seat that decides the very nature of the next Government.

More depth to Jackson and O’Connor

The recruitment and selection of Greg O’Connor to stand for Labour in Ohariu and Willie Jackson to stand on Labour’s list, both promoted by Andrew Little, have been controversial.

O’Connor has been strongly criticised on the left for his backing of things like arming the police (as head of the Police union).

Jackson has copped resurrected flak for the part he played in the radio ‘roast busters’ controversy.

Moana Maniapoto: The Willie Jackson I know

Willie Jackson can be really annoying. In fact, that was one of the reasons we divorced about 16 years ago.

On the Roastbusters:

Like many overpaid talkback hosts, they often crossed the line themselves. When their mouths ran away from them during the “Roast Busters” saga, genuine offence was exacerbated by everyone else with a historical beef piling in. You need a whiteboard to work out the various agendas.

Similar comments that week by Sean Plunket and Andrew Fagan barely rated a mention, but I guess there’s only one thing more offensive than “a cheeky darkie” (to quote Paul Holmes): it’s two. Instead of creating a golden opportunity in a follow-up show to explore sexist attitudes among all blokes, an unforgiving and highly vocal lynch mob demanded Willie and JT be fired.

I thought the comments in their interview were unacceptable, and I told Willie that. He took all the criticism on board, apologised then, and is still apologising three years later. There are still those who frame him now as less a devil’s advocate and more the devil incarnate.

But given the failure of Willie’s most vocal critics to deal to star Pākehā broadcasters with a history of consistently spouting crap stuff about women, and Māori in particular — I’m putting racism near the top of my whiteboard, next to power plays.

Or maybe the left are much harder on their own if they stray outside political correctness.

And Greg O’Connor responds at The Standard after being on the receiving end of a lot of criticism.

Some of the comments on the blogs about me and my candidacy for Labour in Ōhāriu have made for interesting reading. The theme running through much of the discussion seems to be that I’m a right-wing fascist who makes Kim Jong-un look like some sort of pinko liberal pacifist.

Having been highly visible in the media for a few years discussing a pretty narrow topic, namely frontline policing, it’s understandable people have judged me on that segment of my life and views. I’m taking up this invitation to show you there is another side to me – which will come as no surprise to those who know me well, and regard me as a bit of a lefty.

Labour was the natural choice for me as a political party.

On arming the police:

I have previously advocated for police to be armed, the result of a remit being passed to that effect in 2010 at the Police Association conference. That happened because police and government took no action, no review or enquiry even, following the shooting of 9 officers in 2008/09. The resulting build-up of frustration was inevitable, hence the motion.

It likely could have been avoided if the Police had done then what they did subsequently, which was to make firearms available in the Norwegian style: locked in the car instead of back at the station.

My position is that arming is inevitable unless we, New Zealand, get on top of the illegal gun situation. The decision will be a consequence of a serious and preventable public loss of life in a shooting situation.

My personal priority is to use any influence I have to make sure that we stop the flow of firearms to those who should never have them, while at the same time protecting the rights of legitimate users . That would negate the need for arming. I know this is a very long winded explanation, but it’s one those who are judging me deserve to have.

Most people’s perceptions of prospective political candidates is based on headlines (often sensationalised) and social media banter and argey bargey.

There is more depth to both candidates at the respective links.

Labour’s candidacy troubles

When someone like Gordon Campbell slams both Labour and the Greens on candidacy issues then one could suspect that the Labour-Green left may not be in great shape.

Scoop: Gordon Campbell on Labour’s candidacy troubles

So its official. Greg O’Connor will indeed be Labour’s candidate in Ohariu and – as also signaled well in advance – the Greens will not be standing a candidate in the electorate. At this point, you have to question the validity of the Greens’ excuse – “we need to change the government” – for tagging along.

Arguably, by bringing the likes of Greg O’Connor and Willie Jackson on board, Labour is choosing to “broaden its electoral chances” by pandering to the oldest, whitest and angriest part of the electorate.

Ouch.

Meaning: if they roll over this readily now, what treatment can the Greens expect to receive from Labour if and when Labour finally gets its hands on the levers of power? Is it possible now to conceive of anyone that Labour could put up as a candidate in a marginal electorate that the Greens could reject, on principle? Evidently not.

It is obvious that the Greens are so focussed on getting into government that holding their nose on a few things is a necessary compromise. It was always obvious that they would be comprosed by their Memorandum of Understanding with Labour.

Yes, Labour certainly does need to improve its party list vote. Willie Jackson wants a high position on the party list. At this point, its hard to see how his candidacy is going to motivate many of Labour’s activists to go out and work their butts off door to door, in order to bring the likes of Jackson onto Labour’s front bench.

Campbell is also scathing on Labour in Ohariu:

At this point, any social liberals left in Ohariu face something of a dilemma. Do they vote against Dunne in order to change this government’s dismal policies on health, education, the environment, welfare and the economy – or do they vote tactically for Dunne, to try and prevent O’Connor from becoming this country’s next Minister of Police?

Ultimately, they’ll probably vote for O’Connor, but with gritted teeth.

Somehow, Labour’s head office has managed to make Peter Dunne look like a principled underdog. That’s quite some feat.

But Anthony Robins applauds Greens rolling over for Labour in Greens stand aside in Ōhāriu:

Bravo to The Greens.

Putting aside misgivings for the sake of the greater good is a mark of political maturity which many politicians and commentators could learn from.

Of course Robins is all for the greater good of Labour. They will learn in due course what lessons can be learned from this ‘political maturity’.

And in the interests of reciprocity, hey Labour – ball’s in your court.

Bounce, bounce, bounce.

There’s a variety of comments on this at The Standard.

Infused:

Dirty deals are ok when the left do it then? That’s pretty funny.

 Anthony:

And once again Infused pretends not to understand the difference between gifting a seat to a loser to create a pretend support party, and standing aside in a seat you can’t win to strengthen a formal coalition. That’s pretty funny.

It would be funny if Labour started standing aside in seats they can’t win to strengthen a formal MoU (it’s not a coalition as it ends on election day, before coalitions are haggled over).

Greens not standing candidate in Ohariu

There have been reports and claims for months that the Greens would do a deal with Labour in the Ohariu electorate to improve Labour’s chances of winning the electorate.

A few days ago Labour confirmed that Greg O’Connor would stand for them – something also predicted months ago. Now the Greens say they won’t stand a candidate in Ohariu to try to increase the chances of changing the government, but they say they will still campaign for their party vote in Ohariu without a candidate.

One News from 29 November 2016

Good morning, @avancenz joins us soon with exclusive details of backroom deals between Labour and the Greens ahead of next year’s election

‘In Nelson the Greens feel like they can pick up a lot of votes’ @avancenz on backroom deals between Labour and Greens.

Green’s won’t stand a candidate in Ohariu, paving the way for a Labour candidate to battle with United Future’s Peter Dunne.

Green’s co-leader Metiria Turei will run in Te Tai Tonga, Labour candidate Rino Tirikatene told by party not to run.

See also: Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election

This has now been confirmed as an election strategy by the Greens.

Stuff: Greens step aside in Ohariu to help Labour’s O’Connor – despite misgivings

The Greens have dropped any plans to run a candidate in the Ohariu seat in a move aimed at giving Labour’s Greg O’Connor a better chance of winning the marginal seat – despite Green misgivings about his past views.

Green co-leader James Shaw said the decision was taken in the interests of changing the Government, which was the party’s  priority.

“We have been very clear with our supporters and the public about that since we signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Labour last year,” he said.

“Not standing in Ohariu increases the chances that we will be in a position to change the Government in September – it’s as simple as that.’

But in a statement released to Stuff confirming the decision Shaw made no comment about O’Connor himself.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has said in the past she does not agree with many of his stances.

Principles can become flexible when politicians and parties seek power.

The call was made “after many discussions” in the party, which would still campaign strongly for the party vote in Ohariu.

Greens have operated on the basis of using electorate candidates to campaign for their party vote. Without a candidate they will still be able to advertise for their party and put up party billboards, but they won’t have a candidate at campaign meetings or feature in candidate based media coverage.

The 2014 Green candidate Tane Woodley won 2764 votes compared to 13,569 for Dunne and 12,859 for Labour’s Virginia Andersen. National’s Brett Hudson won 6120 votes, with many National supporters swinging in behind Dunne.

National won 50.4 per cent of the party vote in Ohariu against 23.5 per cent for Labour, 15.07 per cent for the Greens and just 0.73 per cent for Dunne’s United Future.

It will be interesting to see how National deals with Ohariu now.

O’Connor for Labour for Ohariu

 

Greg O’Connor has been confirmed as Labour candidate for Ohariu.

He could start by getting a better photo.

He will stand against Peter Dunne, who won the seat by a meagre 800 votes in 2014 from ‘the very impressive Ginny Andersen’ who was regarded as ‘a rising star’ by ex party secretary Mike Smith. Andersen has switched to Hutt South, hoping to replace Trevor Mallard who won by a close margin last election.

The outcome may depend a lot on what National and Greens do, but will also be an interesting contest between O’Connor and Dunne, who may appeal to similar demographics.