Gayford could become a PR liability for Ardern

Apparently operating outside the Prime Ministerial PR loop Clark Gayford could become a PR liability for Jacinda Ardern.

Ardern’s partner Gayford and her baby Neve have been an asset to her image, but Gayford keeps intruding on her job. He gets himself involved in Ardern’s political life and this could cause her some problems.

It has already come up, like this in September:  Jacinda Ardern should tell Clarke Gayford she ‘fights her own battles’

PR expert Trish Sherson says the Prime Minister’s partner should take a step back from defending her online, after he weighed in on a debate over her cancelling TV interviews in the weekend.

Former Three producer Tim Watkin tweeted about Ms Ardern pulling out of Newshub Nation on Saturday and TVNZ’s Q&A on Sunday.

It seemed odd that Gayford would get involved in matters involving the Prime Minister’s diary. She has staff for that.

Ms Ardern’s chief press secretary said the Prime Minister would not be appearing on Newshub Nation because he got the date of the interview wrong.

“If I were Jacinda I’d be saying ‘hey mate, I fight my own battles,'” Ms Sherson said on The AM Show, and host Duncan Garner agreed.

However after the UN trip:

Yesterday Gayford tweeted:

I think that reminding everyone that Peters played and manipulated Ardern, Labour and the media for his own aggrandising is embarrassing for Ardern and Labour.

It is remarkable that Peters made the important job of forming a new government all about him and his attention seeking, at the expense of Ardern and Labour in particular (and also the sidelined Greens).

A sensible way of announcing a new three party government would be including all three parties in the announcement rather than pandering to Winston’s whims and ego.

Showing how dependant Ardern is on what Winston wants and says is not good PR for Labour.

How many PR staff does Ardern have? I am sure they are under instructions to carefully convey the right images and messages for Ardern.

But Gayford may be operating outside this carefully manicured media movement. He seems to like attracting attention to himself as well as trying to promote Ardern, but I don’t think this is helping her. He is a risk and could be a liability.

Perhaps Gayford should stick to the Women’s Weekly sort of stuff and leave the serious business of running the country and running the Prime Minister PR to Ardern and her substantial team.

 

Ardern Prime Ministerial (apart from lame ‘kindness’), Peters petty

In a week in politics dominated by the ongoing Jami-Lee Ross train wreck, Jacinda Ardern has declined to get involved and did not try to score cheap political pot shots, as a good Prime Minister should.

NZH:  New Zealanders want a different political environment, Jacinda Ardern says

Ardern again refused to be drawn into the scandal enveloping the National Party, declining to comment on reports that a woman allegedly harassed by MP Jami-Lee Ross signed a confidentiality agreement.

“As I’ve maintained through much of this, those are ultimately matters for the National Party and for the National Party to answer.”

A respectable and sensible approach. A sign of a good leader.

In contrast Winston Peters showed his natural inclination, to be petty attack politician. He often plays the fool in Parliament and often only his loyal MPs laugh with him (he laughs at his own lame jokes).

During the week he thought it funny to make fun of Simon Bridges (unfortunately media pandered to this pettiness), and seemed to think it was some sort of achievement to have been in know in the Ross/Lusk loop. He looked far from Deputy Prime Ministerial.

Peters managed to look something like a leader when Ardern was on maternity leave, but that may have been a bit of a temporary show. This week he demonstrated more of his natural petty venal self.

While Ardern did well to mostly stay above the fray she eventually strayed into inane lame territory, pushing her ‘kindness’ meme. This is inappropriate in most political situations.

New Zealand’s political environment needs to change, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Speaking to reporters today after an extraordinarily bruising week for the National Party, Ardern said New Zealanders wanted a different political environment.

“We want politics to be a place that good people want to come and serve, and where people who vote have confidence in the system that serves them. We all have a responsibility to change the nature of politics in New Zealand,” she said.

She is right there, to a large extent. There are a few political ferals who think that trying to wreck careers and lives is a game, but most of the public are turned off by poor political behaviour.

“I talk about kindness a lot. I don’t just mean in the way we deliver our policies and our services. I mean the way we do business as well and the nature of our political environment. So, yes, I do think things need to be different.”

I don’t think this is an appropriate time to push ‘kindness’. Sure, a bit more kindness wouldn’t go astray in politics, but I don’t think that’s what the people want.

They want strong leadership – and sometimes that involves not being ‘kind’, it requires making tough decisions that not everyone will like.

The promotion of strong ideas with robust debate is necessary in politics, where ‘kindness’ won’t cut it.

People don’t expect our politicians to sit in happy clappy circles with kindly smiles.

I think that much more decency and respect is required in our politics, but they are different to ‘kindness’. Some sign of empathy is important, but again that is different.

Leaders should be seen as strong, and able and willing to make the tough decisions necessary in running a country.

After getting some international media attention for it I think that Ardern has gotten a bit carried away with her kindness thing.

But otherwise she has handled the week fairly well – with Winston’s lack of kindness and his immature and petty inclinations a stark contrast.

 

Labour 100 day medical cannabis promise could be 1,000 days or more

The lack of urgency by the Government on medical cannabis has been very disappointing, after initial promise of it being a first 100 day priority, and especially as it was promoted as important by Jacinda Ardern in the memory of her friend Helen Kelly.

And it was promoted as a 100 day promise:

Labour will hit the ground running in government, with a programme of work across housing, health, education, families, the environment and other priority areas.

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

It is now about 360 days since the Labour-led government took over, and they look nowhere near fulfilling this promise.

MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun: “It is disappointing that the bill’s second reading has been postponed to November due to haggling around supplementary papers to improve the bill.”

“Patients are left disenfranchised and frustrated with the lack of progress on the bill”.

On 1 November 2017 Dylan Kelly wrote (The Spinoff): On a new government, kindness and the (unfinished) legacy of my mother, Helen Kelly

Jacinda Ardern’s programme offers real hope for the issues Mum fought so passionately for, from labour law and cannabis reform to forestry and Pike River.

…Fast-forward to this year’s debate, and Jacinda Ardern’s rapid-fire declaration that legal medicinal cannabis was a no-brainer was considered the savvy political response.

Mum’s final public words were “I want people just to be kind. It would make a hell of a difference.” Jacinda Ardern, in her final interview before becoming prime minister, told John Campbell that her government was going to “bring kindness back”.

We’ve got a lot of work to do. But with Prime Minister Ardern and co in charge, we can finally get started.

Ardern started with talk of kindness, and Labour started with a promise on medical cannabis, but a year later they have not delivered.

A press release from Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand:


Government’s 100-day Pledge to legalise Medical Cannabis could slip to 1000 days.

Documents released to MCANZ under the official information act show that the regulations associated with the government medical cannabis bill could take years, with a planned go-live of mid-2020. This go-live date is subject to change and with the current under-resourcing of the MOH, it could be considered a best-case scenario.  Additionally, an advisory committee initially scheduled for March has been pushed back to November, and may yet be pushed back further.

“It is disappointing that the bill’s second reading has been postponed to November due to haggling around supplementary papers to improve the bill. If the Minister of health had consulted widely in the first place when drafting the bill, we wouldn’t be in this fiasco where  essentially anyone who has a stake in the outcome of this bill, whether it’s the patients, the budding industry or indeed the political opposition are all asking for significant amendments to the bill.”

“Patients are left disenfranchised and frustrated with the lack of progress on the bill, and the lack of amendments from the select committee, where the overwhelming majority wished for the exemption to extend to those with severe, chronic and debilitating conditions.”

“It is likely that if things continue as they are, by the time this bill is sorted, nearly 3 years will have passed. Circumstances will have progressed so far that patients will likely be using the referendum as a tool to gain safe legal access, potentially skewing the result in favour”.

“Another issue is the lack of budget at the Ministry of health for external consultation or industry/international experts to assist. We hope that with the surprise surplus government has announced this week, that some of this can be dedicated to setting up the scheme”

“Without additional resources in the near term, it will prove hard for this potential industry to catch up with Australia, costing the country in jobs and revenues, and patients on a cost basis,” says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.

Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand

https://mcawarenessnz.org/


Jacinda Ardern in 2016 (Stuff):  The pain behind the medical marijuana debate’

It was sometime in the middle of last year when the political suddenly felt personal. It wasn’t a party, it wasn’t even a social occasion. I was visiting my friend who had spent the evening periodically flinching, doubling over, and rocking, and was now reaching for a form of cannabis as she tried to deal with her pain.

My friend was dying.

I think that’s what gets me most about the medical marijuana debate. It’s the perfect example of the brutal reality of people’s individual situations, and the layers of complexity that emerge as soon as you dig into it as a politician.

This is not a new debate – it came up when I first came into Parliament. At that time it was in the form of a member’s bill. It’s fair to say that it had a few holes in it, but those were all details that we had time to fix. I voted in favour of it, others used the drafting as an excuse to turn it down. The bill failed.

And here we are again. Same problem, different political cycle.

That was the last political cycle, before Ardern made 100 promises as Labour Prime Minister.

My friend will never benefit from change in this area, she passed away. But in reality I doubt she ever really cared too much. She was too busy living every single day to the fullest right up until her last breath. Surely we owe it to everyone to give them the best chance they have to do the same, despite the pain.

Surely Ardern and her Government owe it to the people who experience problems and pain on a daily basis, people who die suffering, to bloody well treat this like the priority she promised.

The anti-kiwi royals don’t care if we ditched them so we should

Some time in the future New Zealand will ditch the monarchy and become some sort of a republic. John Key liked socialising with the royals too much to consider it and wanted a knighthood too much to consider it, and I suspect Jacinda Ardern likes associating with royal celebrities too much to go there either.

But one day we will get a real progressive Prime Minister rather one than in claim only.

And when we become a country independent of the pomp and snobbery that many of our ancestors escaped from, I think the royals won’t care at all. They don’t care much about us now. We might be a bit of a perk trip to younger princes and princesses, but to the older ones we are probably just another series of boring engagements.

Jonathan Milne:  We want a New Zealander as our head of state? Just get on with it, says the Queen

Former Anglican Archbishop Sir Paul Reeves who led Charles and Diana in prayer for New Zealand’s leadership in 1983, went on to represent the Queen as Governor-General. He later told me the Queen should be replaced by a New Zealand head of state. He said his knighthood had become a part of him since its award in 1984, “but if renouncing knighthoods was a prerequisite to being a citizen of a republic, I think it would be worth it.”

All Black-turned-broadcaster Chris Laidlaw talked to Charles about New Zealand becoming a republic, too, at a dinner in 1997. “Well, to be frank, I think it would come as a great relief to all of us,” Charles told him. “It would remove the awful ambiguity we have at the moment. It seems to me that it would be a lot easier for everybody if you all had your own completely independent head of state.”

Another former Governor-General, Dame Catherine Tizard, asked the Queen the same question. “She is quite sanguine about these things,” Dame Cath later told me. “She has always said it is a decision for New Zealand to make, and ‘whatever decision New Zealand makes, of course we would accept it’.”

They would have to ‘accept it’.  They may lord over us from a great distance, but they don’t rule us.

In a new biography of the Queen, author Robert Hardman reveals the Queen came to one firm conclusion. In the event of this or any other realm opting to become a republic, they should get on with it.

‘It could not be tied to the death of the Queen,” said a Palace advisor. “That would be untenable for the Prince of Wales, untenable for the Queen and untenable for the country itself because, obviously, they’d be looking at their watches waiting for her to pass away.”

So we should at least start doing what we need to do to become a republic before the current queen dies. We can’t go annoying Charlie.

It’s no longer acceptable that our head of state’s allegiance is first and foremost to another nation, nearly 20,000km away.

It’s no longer acceptable that our head of state’s succession gives preference to Anglicans over Catholics, English peers over hardworking Kiwis.

If NZ First seriously believe in promoting kiwi values then they should lead the revolution.

In fact, it’s no longer acceptable that our head of state is chosen by succession at all, when in other spheres of life we celebrate the strongly-held belief that we should be recognised on our merit.

The monarchy is anti do-it-yourself-kiwi and anti-kiwi values, it is anti-secular, it is anti-equality, and it is anti-democracy.

All we need is an actual progressive Government to do the decent thing and ditch the royals.

 

What if climate change is worse, and does the public care?

A recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warned of the possible effects of climate change largely focussed on what might be a less bad scenario than what some say is possible.

Temperature rise predictions are scientifically backed but are still just predictions. Some say things won’t be as bad (based on what apart from claiming scientists are wrong?), but if the science is questionable the predictions could just as easily be under-predicting.

Some warn that things could be worse, even much worse. But over the top alarmist warnings may be counter-productive.

NY Mag: UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.

Effectively accusing everyone of ‘climate genocide’ unless we all reduce our emissions is turn the public off listening to an already problem that is on aa much bigger scale problem than their every day lives.

The alarming new report you may have read about this week from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — which examines just how much better 1.5 degrees of warming would be than 2 — echoes the charge. “Amplifies” may be the better term. Hundreds of millions of lives are at stake, the report declares, should the world warm more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, which it will do as soon as 2040, if current trends continue.

Nearly all coral reefs would die out, wildfires and heat waves would sweep across the planet annually, and the interplay between drought and flooding and temperature would mean that the world’s food supply would become dramatically less secure. Avoiding that scale of suffering, the report says, requires such a thorough transformation of the world’s economy, agriculture, and culture that “there is no documented historical precedent.”

The New York Times declared that the report showed a “strong risk” of climate crisis in the coming decades; in Grist, Eric Holthaus wrote that“civilization is at stake.”

It risks becoming little more than a ‘the Martians are coming’ type warning to ordinary people. We;ve seen it all happen at the movies, and we still get to scoff ridiculous amounts of popcorn and walk out afterwards unscathed apart from being a bit fatter and adding to another crisis for humanity, obesity.

If you are alarmed by those sentences, you should be — they are horrifying. But it is, actually, worse than that — considerably worse. That is because the new report’s worst-case scenario is, actually, a best case. In fact, it is a beyond-best-case scenario. What has been called a genocidal level of warming is already our inevitable future. The question is how much worse than that it will get.

Barring the arrival of dramatic new carbon-sucking technologies, which are so far from scalability at present that they are best described as fantasies of industrial absolution, it will not be possible to keep warming below two degrees Celsius — the level the new report describes as a climate catastrophe. As a planet, we are coursing along a trajectory that brings us north of four degrees by the end of the century.

The IPCC is right that two degrees marks a world of climate catastrophe. Four degrees is twice as bad as that. And that is where we are headed, at present — a climate hell twice as hellish as the one the IPCC says, rightly, we must avoid at all costs. But the real meaning of the report is not “climate change is much worse than you think,” because anyone who knows the state of the research will find nothing surprising in it.

The real meaning is, “you now have permission to freak out.”

Scientifically it is as likely that temperature rises will be twice as bad as there being no change at all, if scientists are wrong in their predictions – and that doesn’t take into account that most science suggests that temperatures are increasing and will increase further, the uncertainty being simply by how much.


There is a major problem with all this planet scale problem telling and ‘scaremongering’ – as individuals we are pretty powerless and eating one chop less or having less milk in our coffee is not going to make any real difference.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff): Step one: accept people don’t, and may never, give a toss about climate change

One of the things the IPCC report makes clear is that we’re already living in the climate changed future. The world has warmed by one degree since the beginning of the industrial revolution and this is causing storm surges, fiercer droughts, stronger hurricanes, heat waves; intensifying extreme weather events all around the world, causing massive economic damage and political instability. So if we want to see how our politicians will cope with the problem of climate change in the future, all we need to do is see how what they’re doing now. And … it’s not quite nothing, at least in New Zealand: there’s the oil and gas exploration ban, the carbon commission, the Carbon Zero bill. But, realistically, it’s not even close to what’s needed.

I don’t think this is the fault of our political class or the media, who are the usual scapegoats in this debate. Even the energy industry and its lobbyists – who are, to be sure, literally destroying the world – are only doing what powerful interests have always done, and will always do: defend their own wealth and privilege, deluding themselves into believing they’re on the right side of history by defending society against a malevolent conspiracy of climatologists. The core problem is much deeper and harder to fix: it’s that not many people care about climate change.

Why don’t more people care about climate change? There is any number of grand sociological theories but I think the heart of it is that humans “discount the future”. Our brains are hardwired to prefer upfront benefits and deferred costs over upfront costs and deferred gains. That’s why we have credit card debt. It’s why we eat unhealthy food. It’s why your retirement savings are locked away in an account you can’t touch until you’re 65. It’s why I make about 90% of the poor choices I make on any given day. You can get angry about this and rail against it, but we are what we are. Human nature is very tough to change.

(That whole article is well worth reading, I have quoted just a small part of it).

So we are relying on our politicians to do something despite us. And what do they do?

Jacinda Ardern admonishes fuel companies for putting prices up alongside taxes Ardern’s Government has put up because it might deter people from using as much carbon emitting fossil fuel. Mclauchlan:

Like Charlie Mitchell over at Fairfax I was struck by the juxtaposition of the prime minister talking about lower fuel prices on the same day the new IPCC Special Report on global warming emphasised the massive damage caused by fuel emissions and the urgent need to take very drastic action to reduce them.

And Simon Bridges and National start a petition demanding that the Government reduce fuel taxes. And that may get some support from people silly enough to give their phone numbers and emails to a political marketing machine.

Petty politics rules, and the public doesn’t care about that nor about the colossal climate change campaigns.

What’s the point in caring about what the world does to avert a climate crisis? We will probably eat ourselves to death before a cyclone strikes.

Darwinism may eventually kill off over-eaters so the surviving population consume much less on average, but that will take too long to overcome the floods and droughts that put food production into chaos.

Ardern left two taxes out of ‘fleeced’ fuel price claim

Earlier this week, when Jacinda Ardern said she thought motorists were being ‘fleeced’ by fuel companies, she left two taxes out of her calculations.

Stuff:  Auckland fuel tax and new excise tax left out of PM’s petrol tax calculations

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s calculation of how much extra tax Kiwis are paying at the petrol pump on Monday did not include the recent excise tax or Auckland’s Regional Fuel tax.

At a press conference on Monday, Ardern said consumers were being “fleeced” at the petrol pump, blaming this on the increased margins of petrol companies.

Between October 27, 2017 and September 28 this year, petrol prices have risen 39c, according to MBIE data – Ardern said just 6.8c of that increase was due to “taxes and levies.”

That 6.8c increase is made up of a 1.77c increase in Emissions Trading Scheme (EST) taxes and 5.04c of GST over the same period, MBIE data shows.

But the 10c a litre Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and 3.5c a litre fuel excise tax, introduced on September 30, were not included in the “taxes and levies” side of Ardern’s equation.

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said her comments were “based on the most accurate information Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) had compiled at that time.”

In a statement to the Herald, an MBIE’s spokeswoman said: “current methodology does not accommodate regional prices or regional fuel taxes” in their fuel price calculations.

“Auckland City has recently introduced a regional fuel tax that will increase fuel prices in the Auckland region. Our current methodology does not accommodate regional prices or regional fuel taxes. We are developing a new methodology to replace our existing methodology that will include regional retail price differences in its measure.”

As for the 3.5c excise tax – that came into effect on September 30 and the MBIE data Ardern was referring to was taken from between September21-28, meaning it was not included in MBIE’s data either.

So Ardern could claim that sort of technically she was correct based on MBIE’s way of stating fuel taxes but it does look either sloppy or disingenuous.

Simon Bridges is trying to bark at an expensively fuelled passing car.

National Leader Simon Bridges said the Prime Minister has got this “badly wrong,” and has made a “staggering mistake.”

Bridges said in trying to defend her new fuel taxes, Ardern has shown “she doesn’t even know how much they are costing New Zealanders.”

Or doesn’t want motorists to know,

“The Prime Minister has been trying to blame fuel companies but a key driver of petrol prices is her Government’s higher taxes.”

But it has been pointed out (fairly) that Bridges didn’t bark until the shady figures were pointed out.

Overdue restrictions on loan sharks

Loan sharks ripping off vulnerable people, creating hopeless debt traps, are finally being regulated. This has been a problem for years.


Government crackdown on loan sharks

  • Cap on total interest and fees charged
  • Stiff penalties for loan sharks who break rules
  • ‘Fit and proper person’ test for lenders, door-to-door salespeople and truck shops

The Government is introducing tough new measures to protect people from loan sharks and truck shops, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi announced today.

“This Government is committed to making New Zealand the best place to raise a child,” Jacinda Ardern said. “To do that we must stop families becoming trapped in the appalling debt spirals and poverty that result from onerous lending and payback terms.

“These new measures will halt the very worst of those preying on vulnerable and desperate people while enabling borrowing that meets their needs in an affordable way.

“They will protect families through capping the total interest and fees charged loans, introducing tougher penalties for irresponsible lending, and raising the bar for consumer lenders to register as a Financial Service Provider,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The announcement was made at the Vaiola Pl Budgeting Service in Mangere, where the Prime Minister and Minister Faafoi met with people affected by predatory lending as well as budget and financial advice providers.

“The 2015 amendments to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA) did not go far enough in protecting our most vulnerable consumers from loan sharks,” Kris Faafoi said.

“The introduction of an interest and fees cap on high-cost loans will prevent people from accumulating large debt from a single small loan. For example, if you borrow $500 you will never have to pay back more than $1,000 in total, including all fees and interest.

“The changes also lift the level of professionalism across the industry, by requiring directors and chief executives of lenders offering consumer credit contracts to pass a ‘fit and proper person’ test in order to register as a Financial Service Provider.

“Any lenders breaching the responsible lender principles will face stiff new penalties of fines up to $600,000 under the strengthened enforcement provisions in the CCCFA.

“We listened to consumer advocates and the finance sector’s feedback and will also be seeking increased resources for enforcement and monitoring to ensure lenders who break the law are detected and stopped,” Kris Faafoi said.

The Government is also tackling predatory behaviour by truck shops and others who sell door-to-door on credit or other deferred payment, by requiring all mobile traders to pass the ‘fit and proper person’ test.

The law will also be strengthened to give consumers clearer powers when asking uninvited salespeople to leave their premises, including by strengthening the legal status of ‘do not knock’ stickers, he said.

The new measures will come into effect from 2020, subject to Parliamentary timeframes.

More information on the Review of the CCCFA is available here.


People should be responsible to an extent to their own financial predicaments, especially when they borrow money they can’t afford to pay back, to but exorbitantly priced convenience goods.

But businesses that loan money also have a responsibility to not be predatory, to not engage in impossible to service financial agreements.

‘But the changes won’t take effect until 2020’ is questionable – another urgent problem with a delayed response. Does it really need to take that long to sort out a shitty situation?

The public ‘being fleeced’ by petrol companies, duped by Ardern

Following rising petrol prices and rising rhetoric from Simon Bridges and others, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that she thinks consumers are being fleeced by petrol companies.

She says that the Government is ‘prioritising’ an urgent amendment of the Commerce Amendment Bill – to do market studies that might eventually say something like petrol prices have been higher than the should have been for years.

NZ Herald: ‘Consumers, in my book, are being fleeced’ – PM Jacinda Ardern on petrol prices

National Leader Simon Bridges has been critical of the Government and its fuel taxes which he said is pushing the price of petrol up.

“Unlike petrol, talk is cheap. And the Government is a big part of the reason why petrol prices are so high.”

Petrol prices are creeping up to $2.50 in some parts of the county.

In response:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has launched a scathing attack on fuel companies, telling reporters she thinks “consumers are being fleeced” at the petrol pump.

“I am hugely disappointed in the level of price that consumers are currently paying at the pump for fuel,” she said at her weekly post-cabinet press conference today.

Ardern came out swinging, pointing the finger at fuel importers – such as Z Energy, BP, Mobil and Gull – and their margins.

“Between 2008 and 2017, the margins importers were taking for themselves more than doubled from 7 per cent to 16 per cent.

“That increase represents a transfer of wealth from petrol consumers to producers, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.”

Between October 2017 and September this year, petrol prices have risen 39c – Ardern said just 6.8c of this was tax.

But 9.8c of that was down to the margin from importers, she said.

“I do not see that as acceptable.”

In fact, she said that pre-tax, New Zealand has the highest cost for fuel in the OECD. In 2008, New Zealand had some of the lowest.

Given the concerns about “anti-competitive behavior” in the fuel market, the Government has prioritised the passing of the Commerce Amendment Bill.

This bill would amend the Commerce Act to enable the Commission to undertake market studies.

Once the bill is passed, Energy Minister Woods has signalled that she intends to ask the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi to request the commission to conduct a market study into fuel markets to better understand how the market is functioning.

Ardern is anticipating the bill to be passed in two weeks’ time.

The study will report back next year, and the Government will prioritise a response to what the Commerce Commission finds.

So an urgent amendment to initiate a study that will report back some time next year.

Another bloody Government inquiry on something they say is a priority requiring urgency. We have been paying increasing petrol prices for how long?

Bridges said the Government should axe its fuel tax increases to provide immediate relief to motorists.

“[Ardern] is saying consumers are being ‘fleeced’ while her Government is driving up fuel prices and taking hundreds of dollars from Kiwi households through higher taxes on fuel.

“The [Commerce Commission] inquiry will take months and any resulting changes could be years away. Meanwhile New Zealanders are paying record prices for petrol and the Government is collecting hundreds of millions of extra tax [dollars] from them.”

We are reminded of petrol prices whenever we fill up our vehicles, so this could be an effective line of attack from the Opposition.

Hamish Rutherford (Stuff): If the Government is so certain motorists are being fleeced, what is it waiting for?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is convinced that Kiwis are being “fleeced” when they pay for petrol.

“As a moral stance, I think New Zealanders are paying too much,” Ardern said.

With motorists paying close to $2.50 a litre for petrol in many parts of the country, it is understandable that the issue is back in the headlines, and that the Government wants to be seen to be taking action.

The problem is, the action being taken is to ask the Commerce Commission – effectively the referee on whether consumers are being ripped off – to investigate. These studies tend to take around a year.

If Ardern is already convinced that a rort is taking place and Energy Minister Megan Woods believes the market is “broken” as she said in May, why are they bothering to investigate?

This has been an issue for years – and that means under the last Government as well.

Simon Bridges also criticised Ardern for announcing “yet another inquiry”, when for years National failed to give the Commerce Commission the teeth it needed to investigate a market it also believed was flawed.

Had it acted earlier, we may be closer to a definitive answer.

But the Government’s urgency has a rich irony. Ardern has described climate change as New Zealand’s “nuclear free moment”.

Her Government seen fit to crack down on the oil exploration industry, ending new offshore permits, purportedly as a means to take action.

But the reason the climate is warming is not because fossil fuels are being extracted, it is because people are burning them.

If Ardern was really serious about tackling the issue, surely she would do something about demand.

But that is a probably subject to some sort of ongoing process or inquiry too.

Ardern is fiddling while petrol prices keep burning consumers in their wallets and purses.

Swarbrick putting Ardern, Clark to shame on drug rhetoric and inaction

There are serious and growing drug problems in new Zealand, especially with P (methamphetamine) and synthetic substitutes for cannabis. I have slammed the Government for being shamefully lame as people suffer and die- see  Clark, Ardern shamefully lame not urgently addressing drug problems.

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick seems to be a lone voice amongst MPs on taking urgent and effective action (where is James Shaw on this?)

thinks quite a lot::

The War on Drugs has not and will not work. Moral crusades are costing lives. Nowhere in the world has been able to get rid of drugs, or reduce drug harm, by ratcheting up penalties.

With the synthetics crisis, Aotearoa New Zealand has an crucial decision: will we do what works, or will we just do “something”?

The easy “something” is to beat the punitive drum, in an attempt to satisfy people we “take this seriously.” Taking drug harm seriously looks like being brave enough to confront decades of evidence and genuinely treat drugs as a health issue.

Treating drugs as a health issue does not look like locking more people up. We actually have ample evidence to show that increasing penalties fills our jail cells, but doesn’t decrease access or supply to drugs.

Look to Methamphetamine, which has under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 held Class A life imprisonment for decades. There’s been no reduction in demand or consumption, but increases, according to Ministry of Health data.

Evidence demonstrates that the only real way to tackle drugs is to focus on decreasing demand. We have a successful model in the collaboration between Northland DHB&Police, reducing demand for P, shifting resources to health, which we could expand and roll out across the country.

We need to do something, but that something desperately needs to be what works. If we cow to law-and-order rhetoric, if we fail to be courageous enough to pay attention to the research, we’ll repeat our past mistakes.

Repeating our past mistakes is more than not good enough when the evidence shows more of the same will cost people’s lives. Especially when those unnecessary deaths are the catch-cry of those calling for knee-jerk criminalisation.

The believe we need to genuinely treat drugs as a health issue. That looks like ending the War on Drugs. That looks like rejecting greater penalisation, which we all know, because the evidence shows, just won’t work.

Swarbrick could do with more concerted support from other Green MPs on this.

And somehow they need to push Ardern into converting her lofty rhetoric into actual and urgent action. Not just talking about twiddling a bit some time in the future. Urgent reform is required.

Ardern has talked about her government being progressive and wonderful, but she and her ministers are failing to walk the walk on drugs.

Swarbrick is putting them to shame.

Clark, Ardern shamefully lame not urgently addressing drug problems

Urgent action is required to address drug problems, like the prevalence of P (methamphetamine) and the growing problems with and deaths from synthetic drugs (not cannabis as some keep describing it as).

Instead the Minister of Health, David Clark, and the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, are shamefully lame.

RNZ:  Synthetic drug compounds may be reclassified as Class A

Two of the most commonly used synthetic drugs could be reclassified as Class A, bringing them in line with heroin and cocaine.

Health Minister David Clark said the aim was to give the police greater powers to stop makers and sellers of the drug.

He said he would be asking his Cabinet colleagues to support reclassification of two compounds known as AMB-Fubinaca and 5F-ABD.

bad batch of synthetic drugs in Christchurch is suspected to be behind one death. The batch has also put 19 people in hospital over the last two weeks.

“Any death as a result of drug use is a tragedy, and my sympathies go to friends and family,” Dr Clark said.

The government was taking the synthetic drug problem seriously and was talking to service providers and drug users to identify areas of need, he said.

Urgent and drastic action is required, like right now, and Clark is talking to people and might take a tweak to Cabinet some time in the future. I don’t have a problem with enabling tougher sentences for pushing some drugs, but that is unlikely to dent the ongoing catastrophe that requires urgency.

A decision on reclassification under the Misuse of Drugs Act would be made in coming weeks.

“It’s important to acknowledge that reclassification is not a silver bullet. We need to treat drug abuse, including synthetic cannabis, as a health issue,” Dr Clark said.

It’s not cannabis. And this is hardly going to make a difference.

Drug laws need a complete overhaul, not just a tweak, says The Drug Foundation.

It said drug suppliers and users needed to be treated differently under the law, as suggested by the Law Commission in 2011.

This would stop addicts being penalised for what should be health issue, Drug Foundation chief executive Ross Bell said.

“Unless the government reforms that law then its good intentions of going after the big guys doesn’t stop police from then also choosing to criminalise people who are using these drugs.”

Funding for drug addiction services also needed to double, he said.

Drug rehabilitation service provider What Ever It Takes Trust general manager Caroline Lampp said a reclassification of two synthetic drugs would help stop supply, but more help for addicts was crucial.

“There a big gap here in Hawke’s Bay and in other places around the before and after support,” she said.

Dr Clark agreed addiction services are underfunded, but said the government was waiting for the final report from the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry before increasing any funding.

Waiting. Waiting! While lives continue to be ruined, and people keep dying.

Last week in New York Ardern notably did not join Donald Trump’s continuation of the failed ‘war on drugs’.

Last night  saw Ardern spout some absolutely vague waffle on the drug problem last night on TV and now I can’t find it, such is it’s lack of importance in the news.

TVNZ has this online: Potent new batch of synthetic drugs turning users violent in Christchurch – ‘Every person is quite unpredictable’

Two more people have died from suspected synthetic drug overdoses in Christchurch in the last fortnight as the city grapples with a dangerous batch of the drugs.

Those on the front line say patients on synthetic cannabis are becoming more aggressive and turning on the people trying to help them.

St John’s Craig Downing told 1 NEWS about one of these violent incidents.

“Last Saturday night we were called to a case that the ambulance staff responded to.

“They attended to a person and whilst in the back of the ambulance that person, without provocation or warning, violently attacked one of my staff,” Mr Downing said.

“I’m extremely worried because we don’t know from one patient to the next what’s in this substance and as such every person is quite unpredictable.”

Others dealing with Christchurch’s less fortunate have also reported the new strain of synthetic cannabis causing issues.

“The latest batches are significantly more powerful than they’ve ever been, in fact up to 400 times the strength of THC which is really significant.

“From an addictive perspective one hit can get someone hooked on it,” Christchurch City Mission’s Matthew Mark says.

A paper is set to go to cabinet in the next few weeks with a plan on how to tackle the issue, including a possible law change.

‘Next few weeks’, ‘possible law change’. Hopeless.

Ardern appears in video of that item alongside Minister of Police Stuart Nash waffling a bit about what they might do.

I think that was the news item I heard Ardern speaking but it seems to have been expunged.

Clark, Ardern and the Government have been shamefully lame in their dealing with urgent drug abuse problems.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick is putting them to shame (see next post) but is not making much impression on Ardern or her Government.