Ardern ranked 29th ‘most powerful woman’ in 2018

Forbes have ranked New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as the 29th most powerful woman in the world for 2018. While Ardern obviously has significant power in New Zealand her world-wide power is not obvious to me.

And ‘power’ is not necessarily a positive – Theresa May is ranked second. She seems to have the power to make a mess of things in the UK, and this has major implications for Europe in particular.

Forbes: Power Women 2018

Change is rippling through the business, tech, entertainment, philanthropical and political spheres alike. The 2018 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women list celebrates the icons, innovators and instigators who are using their voice to change power structures and create a lasting impact.

This year, the 15th annual list welcomes 20 newcomers, but what’s notable is who’s moved out, up and down, making way for emerging leaders who are redefining the chief seat and bringing others along with them. We see more change ahead.

It isn’t surprising to see Angela Merkel ranked number 1 – but she recently indicated she won’t stand again for leadership in Germany.

I haven’t heard of most women on the list. Here are some:

  1. Angela Merkel (Germany)
  2. Theresa May (UK)
  3. Christine Lagarde (France)
  4. Mary Barra (USA)
  5. Abigail Johnson (USA)
  6. Melinda Gates (USA)
  7. Susan Wojcicki (USA)
  8. Ana Patricia Botín (Spain)
  9. Marillyn Hewson (USA)
  10. Ginni Rometty (USA)

A few further down:

2. Oprah Winfrey (USA)

23 Queen Elizabeth II (UK)

24. Ivanka Trump (USA)

29. Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand)

30. Gina Rinehart(Australia)

The blurb on Ardern:

“New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern continues to be a fresh voice, advocating for families and normalising working parenthood by bringing her daughter and stay-at-home partner to the UN General Assembly”

  • Ardern set new norms as a government leader when she gave birth, took six weeks maternity leave and shared that her partner will be a stay-at-home dad.
  • She said she is using her platform to “create a path for other women” to follow in her footsteps.
  • Rising to power on a tide of “Jacindamania,” at 38, she is the youngest female leader in the world and New Zealand’s youngest PM in 150 years.
  • As leader of the Labour Party, she promises an “empathetic” government, with ambitious plans to tackle climate change and child poverty.
  • In July she announced welfare reforms including a weekly stipend for new parents and an increase in paid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks.

However Ardern is being criticised in New Zealand for her actions not coming close to living up to her rhetoric.

Helen Clark has been ranked on the list over the years…

  • 2004 – 43rd
  • 2016 – 22nd (most powerful woman in the United Nations)

…but dropped right off it in 2017.

NZ Herald: Jacinda Ardern named among world’s most powerful women

Ardern is one spot higher than Australia’s richest citizen Gina Rinehart, and above some big names such as Beyonce, at number 50, and Taylor Swift, at number 68. Queen Elizabeth is just spots above her at number 23.

Funny that NZH should compare Ardern to celebrities.

Also featured on the list at number 91 is Ana Brnabic, the first female and first openly gay Prime Minister of Serbia, and Zewde Sahle-Work at number 97, the first female president of Ethiopia.

But Serbia (population 7 million) and Ethiopia (population 105 million) are in parts of the world that aren’t so important to a US magazine.

 

Helen Clark and Ruth Dreifuss on decriminalising drugs

Recent coverage of the failure of the ‘war on drugs’ continues on Nation this morning.

Yesterday on Breakfast:

The coalition government has promised a referendum on legalising cannabis, but what about decriminalising all drugs?

The Global Commission on Drug Policy members Helen Clark and former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss told Jack Tame how doing so would reduce harm and regulate black markets out of existence.

From Newsweek:

The global “war on drugs” is a “spectacular” failure that has led to thousands of murders, public health crises and human rights abuses, a new report showed.

Released on Monday, the report from the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), a global coalition of 170 nongovernmental organizations working on drug policy issues, overviewed the failure of the 10-year global strategy from the United Nations, which intended to eradicate the illicit drug market by next year.

Instead of curbing the problem, “consumption and illegal trafficking of drugs have reached record levels,” Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, wrote in the report’s foreword.

This morning on Newshub Nation:

Emma Jolliff asks former Prime Minister and former President of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss if decriminalising all drugs could reduce harm, and what New Zealand can learn from other countries.

 

Q+A: Helen Clark on why NZ should give up the war on drugs

On Q+A last night Helen Clark talked about why New Zealand should give up on the war on drugs.

“I support the New Zealand Drug Foundation on this, and their position is that there should be a binding referendum in 2020.”

I’d prefer to see a binding referendum before the 2020 election (and that could be done in early 2020). It is important enough to be dealt with on it’s own, without the distraction of a general election. This means having legislation written and agreed in Parliament to put to the referendum for approval or rejection before that.

The Greens have a confidence and supply agreement with Labour to have a referendum before or alongside the 2020 general election.

This isn’t new from Clark. In March 2018: War on drugs has failed – Helen Clark

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark says a bill that would quadruple the maximum prison sentence for people supplying synthetic cannabis reflects a failed war on drugs mentality.

National MP Simeon Brown’s bill would extend the maximum prison term for supplying synthetic cannabis from two years to eight.

It passed its first reading at Parliament last night – supported by National and New Zealand First MPs.

At a conference on drugs at Parliament today, Ms Clark, who is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, said the global war on drugs had failed, with devastating consequences for individuals.

Ms Clark said the proposed synthetic cannabis law change was more of the same.

“That is heading in the war on drugs direction which isn’t going to work – but going to a select committee to a bill is one thing, what will come out the other end.

“And I think all the people who know about drug policy, who know what’s happening around the world, need to come to the (select) committee and spell it out how it is.”

Ms Clark said it was time for New Zealand to have a fresh look at its drug policy.

“We have to look at the evidence of what works – and if we looked at Portugal or to Switzerland or any number of countries now we see more enlightened drug policies, which are bringing down the rate of death and not driving up prison populations.”

Full Q+A interview:

 

“If we look at penal policy, clearly it’s failed.”

“I’m personally totally opposed to three strikes and you’re out, I think that’s a ridiculous approach.”

On drug reform:

“That would be the gold standard, to go to the Portuguese model, which is decriminalisation surrounded by massive harm reduction measures.

“New Zealand innovated more than thirty years ago with the needle exchange scheme, and we did that because it was absolutely essential to stop the spread of HIV aids.

“But we haven’t really done much in all the years since, and if we look at what Canada is now doing, you have safe consumption spaces where people who inject drugs are able to inject in safety where their drugs are tested, and also in a number of countries much readier access to the anti-overdose drug Naxolone, which WHO says should be in the hands of anyone likely to witness an overdose.

“So I have no doubt that we could do much better, and we need to look at what’s Norway doing, what’s Canada doing, what’s Portugal doing, who’s doing things that are working.”

Corin Dann: “Again though where does leadership come in here, because this current Government has said they would look at a referendum, but then there’s no guarantee they would act on that referendum. It seems to me that once again politicians are very nervous about leading on this issue. What should they do?”

Clark:

“Well I support the New Zealand Drug Foundation on this, and their position is that there should be a binding referendum in 2020. and for it to be binding you need to prepare the legislation beforehand so people know what they are voting on and you can have an informed debate.

“In referendums the question is always the question, and it needs to be simple, but if it’s a simple yes/no around a law that’s been passed and will be activated by a ‘yes’ vote, that becomes clearer to explain.”

I hope she convinces Jacinda Ardern and Labour on this.

Passing legislation next year that is subject to a binding referendum in early 2020, months in advance of the general election is do-able and should be a no-brainer if Parliament is prepared to lead on this and address what is currently a very poor situation on drugs.

“The current policies aren’t working”.

Do you think the public feels that?

“Yes I do, but I also think what has changed is that around the world we’re seeing a lot of movement on these issues. Certainly on cannabis decriminalisation and even legalisation in US states and Canada and European jurisdictions.

And in the area of the other illicit drugs we’re also seeing a lot of innovation around harm reduction measures. So I think follow the evidence, see what’s working.

Portugal in the mid-late nineties, when it went down this road, had the highest rate of drug related deaths in all of Western Europe. Today it has the lowest, so clearly they’ve got something right.

Decriminalisation or legalisation is the approach that Portugal and others take, but they then have regulation.

Now New Zealand did try regulation of some psycho-active drugs back in 2013, then for whatever reason it got dropped like a hot cake the following year, but I think it is worth going back and looking at the principle of that with respect to that particular group of drugs.

That refers to the legislation promoted by Peter Dunne, passed by Parliament but then dumped by National when they panicked after bad media.

The global drug commission that I’m on will be bringing out a new report in September that will be talking about legalisation AND regulation, you have to have regulation, and you have to have major harm reduction measures.

If Ardern really wants to demonstrate that her Government is truly progressive then they will address drug policies that are currently failing badly.

Minister of Health David Cl;ark seems to have been given the responsibility for dealing with this, and he has seemed tol be far from progressive, he is more conservative, and doesn’t seem keen to lead on it.

 

 

Helen Clark free to speak

Helen Clark has spoke up about a number of issues lately, and she tends to get media coverage. She has also been criticised and ridiculed by some.

A first term National MP had a swipe:

Tau is right, Clark has as much right as anyone – Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, John Key, you or me – to speak as she sees fit. That she gets more coverage than most is just lucky for her – or unlucky if she cops well informed counter arguments.

Hating and nasty attacks and abuse are things Clark will be well used to, it has been an unfortunate feature of political dialogue for a long time.

I think we should welcome the views of former prime Ministers, and former MPs, in political debates.

One of the critical aspects of free speech is the freedom to not hear, to not read, and to ignore.

Communism by stealth, or ‘Corporate-Capitalist Welfare by design’?

PartisanZ saved me the trouble of stating this topic:


Matthew Hooton: ‘Communism by stealth’ is here – NZHerald

“Infamously, Key then entrenched Working for Families as Prime Minister, and Ardern and Robertson have further locked in middle-class dependency with their December 2017 Families Package.

In fact in 2004, the left-wing critique of Working for Families was stronger than Key’s, that it would operate as a subsidy of low-paying employers.

That is, using Key’s original numbers, if there was a job to do worth $60,000 a year, an employer could hire someone with two kids, pay them just $38,000 a year, and they’d end up with almost the same pay in the hand.”

It’s an interesting and convoluted argument, demonstrating, IMHO, that we are no longer involved in a Left-vs-Right contest but merely exist on a neoliberalism continuum where the challenge is how to make the failed economic paradigm ‘appear’ to be working …

It’s not really about an actual economic paradigm. It’s about the ‘semblance’ of an economic paradigm. About trying to prove the mirage is the reality. I believe we need to find a coherent, comprehensible name for this phenomenon because it affects us all, whether we want a UBI or vehemently oppose it.

‘Simuliberalism’* perhaps? The similitude or simulation of neoliberalism?

“And don’t expect National to be able to do anything about it. With the financial status of so many working families now as locked in to welfare as any other beneficiary, abolishing Working for Families is becoming ever-more politically impossible.

It has transferred the primary economic relationship that determines family income from being that with the employer to that with the state. It is indeed communism by stealth. Clark and Cullen knew exactly what they doing when they set it up.”

Whatever it is, it certainly IS NOT communism … since the means of production aren’t owned by the State on behalf of its citizens … they remain largely in private hands pushing wealth upwards towards the very few … and this means it CANNOT BE communism by stealth.

Corporate-Capitalist Welfare by design more likely … Simuliberalism?

 

Ray Avery versus Helen Clark

Helen Clark has been involved in a stoush with Ray Avery over a proposed charity concert at Eden Park on Waitangi Day next year.

RNZ: Helen Clark fires back at Sir Ray Avery

Helen Clark says Sir Ray Avery has adopted a “bullying approach” after she voiced opposition to a charity concert he wants to hold at Eden Park.

Ms Clark lives about 400m from the stadium where Sir Ray hopes put on a Live Aid-style concert to raise funds for premature babies.

The former prime minister called the proposal a Trojan horse that would pave the way for more concerts at the venue.

Sir Ray, formerly named New Zealander of the year, countered that she was engaging in “petty politics” on an issue that involved saving children’s lives

Ms Clark told Checkpoint with John Campbell that she was merely exercising her rights as a Mt Eden resident, pointing out that there were many alternative venues for the event.

“I guess my point is, how does this make the ordinary citizen around Eden Park feel that if you put your head up and oppose something that a prominent New Zealander wants that you’re going to be savaged in the media and called all sorts of things?”

She compared Sir Ray’s remarks to those of a social media troll.

“There’s a particular type of troll on [sites like Twitter] which pretty much falls into line with the rather bullying approach that Mr Avery has adopted.

“Now, he’s probably picked the wrong person to try to bully in directly attacking me.”

Avery has been interviewed on the Nation this morning.

Sir Ray Avery apologises to Helen Clark if he has come across as a bully, but also said said Clark’s position on the Eden Park concert is “morally wrong”

…says the international act coming to his charity concert is “huge” and a male act

Avery says that the cost of bringing in a high profile international act was huge so they needed a venue of the size of Eden Park to cover costs and raise money.

There seems to be a strong group of Nimbys who are staunchly against anything musical (apart from sports event clips) at Eden Park.

I suspect Clark may regret making an issue of this, but she is in an awkward position being anti noise at Eden Park, so make find it difficult to support the charity and concert.

Just one concert doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s understandable for opponents to fear that it could open the floodgates and rock the neighbourhood, but the ‘not in my backyard’ protests can be a bit too precious about protecting a quiet way of life for themselves in the middle of a large city.

 

A bitter old blogger

Cameron Slater complains bitterly about many things, especially when he gets some mild criticism.

(He has good reason to complain about the time being taken to deliver a verdict in his defamation stoush with Colin Craig, but that’s an exceptional case).

A string of posts this week highlight the bitter taste on his tongue (or finger tips).

Thursday: Childless, bitter, old Nimby tried to block fundraiser to save premature babies

What a miserable old hag.

Friday: Childless, bitter, old Nimby once again on wrong side of public opinion

Old snaggle-tooth just looks like her face – all bitter and twisted. There is an old saying that you get the face you deserve.

The bitter old blogger should know what it’s like being on the wrong side of public opinion.

Saturday: Bitter, old bag gives sound advice to the Labour party council: ‘Resign’

That’s a fake headline. I guess it may attract a few clicks.

This is miserable, nasty stuff from a miserable, nasty old political activist well past his use-by date. It seems that aAbout all he has left is bitching about others – in this case someone respected across most of the New Zealand political spectrum and around the world.

Lemons are sweet in comparison to the bitterness now belching from a one time ground breaking blog.

Helen Clark asserts abortion issue doesn’t need a referendum

The resounding vote for women’s rights in the Irish abortion referendum has raised the positing that a referendum on abortion in New Zealand may bring our laws into the 21st century (if that’s what a majority wants).

But Helen Clark doesn’t think this is necessary – a bit ironic given her lack of action as Prime Minister.

A curious comment given that Helen Clark led the New Zealand Government for nine years without promoting any consultation or policy or legislation that address the archaic and largely ignored abortion law.

Governments and parties have proven to be very conservative on a number of important social issues, like abortion, cannabis and drug law reform, and euthanasia. Some may say gutless.

A push for referendums may be a way to push the Government to actually do something. Nothing much else has worked, apart from private members’ bills, so threatening to take some of their power (and give it to the people) might be what it needs to get them to actually do something rather than say they could have like Clark has.

And a referendum doesn’t take away the need for “Policy and legislation can be developed in a consultative way” – that is required with or without a referendum.

I’d be quite happy for the Government to just fix our demeaning abortion law and our disastrous drug laws, but if those changes were confirmed by popular vote it would strengthen their standing.

I think that euthanasia should go to referendum anyway.

Helen Clark: Ardern was ‘let down’ by party officials

Helen Clark has said that it was “unbelievable” that Jacinda Ardern was not told about sexual assault allegations at a Young Labour camp before the story broke publicly.

Stuff – Helen Clark: PM Ardern was ‘let down’ when she wasn’t told about sexual assault allegations

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton has come under fire for not telling police, parents of the alleged victims, or the prime minister – his boss, about allegations a 20-year-old man sexually assaulted four teenagers at a Young Labour camp near Waihi in February.

Helen Clark:

“Jacinda was let down. She should have been told immediately, actually, then events would have taken a different course. And I cannot understand why she wasn’t told. Unbelievable.”

Asked if there should be ramifications for Andrew Kirton or those in party management, Clark said: “If you get out the book and ask what would Helen have done, well, draw your own conclusions.”

“She’s done her best to repair it after the event, but leaders never like to be blindsided.”

Ardern’s response (from her office):

“As the Prime Minister has said, there are more serious issues here that concern her than whether she was given an early warning by the party.”

Being ambushed by awkward revelations seems to be a recurring thing for Ardern.

Yesterday alone she has had to deal with The unclear Curran RNZ debacle as well as a disturbing claim of political blackmail involving a NZ First MP and possibly a NZ First Minister.

TPP and the coalition of pragmatic change

The new Government has claimed to be a coalition of change, and there will be some significant changes. However the optimism of left wing activists may be tempered somewhat by the levels of pragmatism required in government.

The first mayor example looks like being the Trans Pacific Partnership, forced by a timetable already in place.

Fran O’Sullivan: Eyes of world on our Coalition of Change

The Ardern Administration is displaying considerable pragmatism in its first days in power.

Workarounds have already become the favoured mechanism as Cabinet Ministers marry their wish to deliver on election promises with the realities of running a government.

Ardern is a quick study.

…she was schooled by her predecessor the arch-pragmatist Helen Clark.

Hence, she sucked it up when Turnbull denied her request for New Zealand to settle 150 refugees from Manus Island here.

The more interesting diplomatic gambit was the agreement reached by the two Prime Ministers to use a mutual exchange of letters to guarantee the mechanism for settling investor disputes between companies and governments, instead of the mechanism laid down in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Like the earlier mechanism for achieving a ban on foreigners buying residential houses in New Zealand there is considerable diplomatic and legal craft involved.

Trade Minister David Parker and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will be outlining these subtle policy shifts when they meet their counterparts in Vietnam ahead of the Prime Minister’s own visit for the Apec Leaders Meeting.

If all goes to plan and the TPP-11 is agreed by the relevant Apec leaders it will be a triumph for Ardern and Parker. They will be able to argue that National did not try hard enough to protect New Zealand’s domestic interests in the TPP negotiations.

Labour had already positioned themselves to push for some protections but also to go with the TPP.

Bloomberg: New Zealand’s PM Sees Benefits for Her Country in the TPP Trade Deal

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her nation would benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, indicating she won’t let concerns over dispute resolution clauses scupper the trade deal.

“There are clear benefits for our exporters in this agreement,” Ardern said in an interview in her office in Wellington Tuesday, two days before she travels to the APEC leaders meeting in Vietnam where the Pacific-rim trade pact will be discussed. “New Zealand does not have the access to, for instance, the Japanese market that the Australians do. This would bring benefits to our beef industry, our wine industry, our kiwifruit industry.”

Ardern, whose Labour Party took power last month, has already moved to ban foreign buyers of existing residential property, removing one of the key stumbling blocks to her government signing up to the TPP. She still has concerns about the pact’s investor state dispute settlement clauses, which would allow foreign corporations to sue member states in disputes.

However, Ardern indicated New Zealand may not pursue those concerns at the expense of reaching agreement.

“Our objective has been to raise the issue, to pursue it as far as we’re able,” she said.

Some political gains but also allowing major trade gains to go ahead would be a win-win for Ardern and Labour.

Pragmatism to the forefront and ‘change’ in the background won’t please everyone. Anti-TPP activists will be disappointed, but no one voted for them.