Green response to PM’s statement

Green co-leader James Shaw’s response to the Prime Minister’s statement.

JAMES SHAW (Co-Leader—Green): E Te Māngai o Te Whare, tēnā koe.

I would actually like to start by congratulating the Prime Minister on his speech, which successfully disguised how dull the statement was that got distributed this morning. It contained a whole bunch more half measures and a sort of pointless tinkering around the edges that will not—will not—fix any of the long-term challenges that this country is facing, whether it is housing affordability, or whether it is homelessness, climate change, child poverty, and so on. He did say that he will encourage more oil exploration, but has he not noticed that all of the big oil companies are actually abandoning their explorations here in New Zealand? It is like he is a salesman of fax machines. Nobody is buying them any more. He says he is going to crack down on multinational tax evasion. Well, what has he been doing for the last 8 years? Tell me that. He is going to continue to flog his hyper-targeted vulnerable children’s strategy, ignoring all evidence that no dent is going to be made in child poverty until incomes start to rise.

Today’s statement to Parliament showed, if anything—like last week’s state of the nation speeches—one thing: we have got the vibe and they have got the shivers. The Greens’ and Labour Party’s state of the nation—[Interruption] I am just getting warmed up, Todd. I am just getting warmed up. The Greens’ and Labour Party’s state of the nation speeches last week showed that New Zealand has a well-organised, a stable, a ready, and an energised Government-in-waiting, a Government that has values and a vision—a vision of a country that is prosperous, that is inclusive, that is compassionate, that is innovative, and that is productive.

In his state of the nation speech, Mr English announced that if re-elected, this Government will make a commitment to having more police in New Zealand, thus matching other parties’ commitments to restoring vital public services that have been run down by his Government—that was it. Providing his assessment of the state of the nation and his vision for the country, the best that he could say was: “Me too.”

A day before that, he announced that on 23 September, the Government will change, and I would like to thank him for continuing his predecessor’s convention of announcing the election date early in the year. When the county does finally get a proper written constitution, I do hope that it will include a fixed election date. Christmas has a fixed date, and the turkeys did not have any say in it.

When he announced the election, the Prime Minister said that this election would be all about growth. He said it was going to be all about growth. Well, let me tell you what is growing. You have got growing greenhouse gas emissions. You have got growing water pollution. You have got growing endangered species lists. You have got a growing house price bubble. You have got a growing cost of living. You have got a growing dairy farm debt. You have got growing unemployment. You have got the kind of growth that, if it was growing on your body, your doctor would pack you off to a specialist pretty darn quick.

Under this National Government—

Hon Member: Probably that homeopathic stuff though.

JAMES SHAW: How’s it going?

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

JAMES SHAW: Are you having fun? Under this Government—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The level of interjection coming from my far right is now excessive. It will cease.

JAMES SHAW: Under this Government, we have growth without prosperity. I get irritable whenever anybody says in passing that National is somehow the “party of business”. A long time ago, I worked for one of the world’s largest accounting firms. I co-founded a small business, which is still growing strong today, and I have worked with people and with projects in about 30 different countries around the world. Can I tell you that nowhere before have I seen contracts that are as badly written as the ones that these guys write.

Last week we found out that they put $9 million into a fund and got bought out for $10.2 million, which sounds pretty good, because it means that they made a cool $1.2 million profit. Meanwhile, their business partner, US tech billionaire Peter Thiel, invested $7 million, which is $2 million less than the Government invested, and he made $23 million profit—minus a $1 million donation to charity—and Peter Thiel’s citizenship papers came with a $22 million upside. It is a bit of a surprise that Peter Thiel does not believe in Government, given how well he has done out of this one. He has actually done twice as well as that Saudi sheep farmer, who only got $11 million out of this Government, in return for, um, uh—oh, no, nothing at all. It was in return for nothing at all. Maybe we should have thrown citizenship papers in to sweeten the deal. That way, he and Peter Thiel could have cleared customs quickly together, and then caught a cab to SkyCity. Give me a break, “party of business”.

I do want to talk about some businesses that are doing some good in the world—businesses like Taupō Beef & Lamb, founded by Mike and Sharon Barton. It is one of the leading environmentally-friendly farms in the country. It is not only not polluting the water, it is actually cleaning up Lake Taupō while it does business. It is making a heck of a profit and it is struggling to meet demand. It is doing well by doing good.

Samantha Jones and Hannah Duder of Little Yellow Bird make organic-cotton fair-trade uniforms in India for clients here in New Zealand, but their business model actually supports girls from the Indian communities in which they work to stay in school, supports women to get trained for the workforce, and they extend microcredit loans for women to start businesses. Sam and Hannah are building a sustainable, ethical clothing brand that their customers here in New Zealand want to be a part of. They are doing well by doing good.

Eat My Lunch—set up by Lisa Wong and Michael Meredith—operates a “buy one, give one” business model, where the lunch that you buy yourself pays for another one for a hungry kid at school. It is supporting 40 schools with over 1,300 lunches every day. It is doing well by doing good.

Zealong Tea Estate, which converted a Waikato dairy farm into New Zealand’s organic tea producer, is selling tea to China at a huge premium—a premium that it can charge only as long as it can demonstrate that the tea is “100% Pure New Zealand”, organic, pesticide-free, and grown with pure water, clean air, and rich soil. It is doing well by doing good.

It is not just start-ups and entrepreneurs that are doing well by doing good. Airways Corporation has helped reduce carbon emissions from airlines by 37,000 tons every year. It estimates that that saves its customers $16,000 in fuel costs. It is doing well by doing good. Z Energy—currently the No. 1 retailer of concentrated dinosaur juice—has invested $21 million building the country’s largest biodiesel plant, turning the agriculture industry’s waste fat into low-carbon fuel. It is doing well by doing good. Interface is one of the world’s largest carpet manufacturers, making nylon carpet from discarded fishing nets that are clogging up the reefs and the ocean floors of the Philippines. It has actually doubled its revenues in the past 20 years through its mission of becoming the world’s first fully sustainable enterprise anywhere in the world and showing the world how it is done. They are doing by doing good. These are the innovators and the social entrepreneurs and the pioneers who are showing the way.

And, I hear my friends on the other side of the aisle saying in response to all of this: “Seeing as the private sector and the communities and the charities are doing so well all by themselves, why does the Government need to act? The invisible hand of the market seems to be doing just fine.” And if that were true—if the invisible hand of the market was resolving all of our challenges for it—why is it that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased 19 percent since 2008, which is when this Government came to office? Why is it that you still cannot swim in 62 percent of our rivers without the risk of catching some horrible disease? Why are people all over the country now worried that the 5,000 people who were poisoned in Havelock North represent some kind of canary in the mine, and maybe we cannot even trust the water that comes out of our taps anymore? Why is it that around a third of all plant and animal species in this country are at risk of extinction? Why is it that Auckland is the fourth most unaffordable city in the entire world to live in? Why is it, in a time of record low inflation, that living costs for families are higher than their ability to meet them? Why is it that kids are still hungry or living in cars?

Well, it is because those people—the innovators and the social entrepreneurs—do not have a Government that backs them or the future that they represent. The Prime Minister’s statement today once again shows that we have a Government that looks to the past. It looks to flog enough dead horses to fill an entire animal graveyard: more offshore oil exploration; new coalmines; high intensity, high pollution, low-value commodity agriculture—a Government that by its own admission has reached the limit of what it thinks that it can do to lift its own people out of poverty and into greater opportunity.

Just as there are businesses that are showing what leadership looks like, so too are other Governments around the world showing us what leadership can look like. Ireland will be the first country in the world to divest all public money from fossil fuels; National will not go there. Dutch trains will now be 100 percent powered by renewable wind energy. In New Zealand we are actually ditching electric and aiming for 100 percent diesel freight trains. Canada has put a $53 per tonne price on carbon emissions; National is too timid to go there and to put a proper price on pollution. The UK introduced a mere 5p charge on plastic bags and within 6 months there was an 85 percent drop in plastic bag use in the United Kingdom. The Japanese passed a recycling Act in 2001—16 years ago—that means that they now send only 5 percent of all waste to landfill. They actually recycle 98 percent of all their metals—metals that are valuable commodities in industry. New Zealand? Tumbleweed thing.

In Germany—the fourth largest manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world—you will not even be able to buy a fossil fuel powered car there after 2030. In the Netherlands and in Norway you will not be able to buy a fossil fuel powered car after 2025, which is only 8 years from now. And in New Zealand? In New Zealand, the National Government’s goal is to get nearly 2 percent of all vehicles to be electric by 2021—nearly 2 percent. Wow! Such vision. Many ambition. Very leadership.

As the former Saudi oil Minister once said, the Stone Age did not end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end before the world runs out of oil. But we have a Government that is stuck in the Stone Age: too timid, too ignorant, or too scared of the vested interests that it represents to put in place policies that have been proven to work in other countries—and, I might add, policies that were often put in place by conservative parties that are the brother and sister parties of this National Government and they are too scared to follow. The Prime Minister’s predecessor famously once said that at least when it came to climate change, New Zealand should not be a leader but a fast follower. This Government is not even following, let alone fast. Because it does not want New Zealanders to be leaders, other countries are taking advantage of what could be the greatest economic opportunity of a generation—the opportunity of a sustainable, smart, green economy that works for and includes everyone.

Kiwis want to be leaders. I am inspired by the huge crowd of people who came together to fund the purchase of Awaroa Beach and add it to our national parks. While we are on national parks, I am inspired by those who forced the Government to abandon its plans for mining in the most precious parks a few years back. As Ricky Baker’s buddy Hec said, New Zealand is majestical and New Zealanders want to keep it that way.

I am inspired by the people who forced the Government to accept even a handful more of those displaced shell-shocked refugees from Syria last year in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis since World War II. I am inspired by those innovators and social entrepreneurs who are building a better world from the ground up. That is why we need to change the Government. New Zealanders deserve a government that backs them to be leaders. Today’s statement by the Prime Minister just shows how stuck in the past this Government is. It is time to change the Government, and change is coming.

Opposition parties at Ratana

Yesterday it was the turn of opposition parties to make their pitch to Maori voters at Ratana.

Andrew Little criticised others for political bickering but he also bickered at National and the Maori Party, and he won’t have been happy about Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters hijacking headlines with their war of words.

The ODT reports Labour leader emerges from Ratana unscathed

Labour leader Andrew Little has emerged from his Ratana visit unscathed and confident his party’s relationship with the influential Maori church has been restored.

Mr Little arrived at the pa near Wanganui under pressure to restore Labour’s relationship with the Ratana Church. The Maori Party, which recently won the support of the Kingitanga Movement, made a strong pitch for Ratana’s support yesterday, calling for a “One Maori” movement.

Speaking on the pa, Mr Little he said he took the relationship between Labour and Ratana seriously. Rather than simply turn up for the headline event, his MPs had been meeting with the church regularly over the last 12 months.

He wooed the church’s 30,000 followers by pledging to financially support its centennial celebrations in 2018 if Labour was in Government. Ratana was “an important figure in the history of Maoridom” and were “entitled to some support”, he said.

Mr Little also pledged housing support for both Ratana and Maori generally, saying a Labour Government would help improve Maori home ownership rates – which are currently about 25%.

That could look like some election bribing.

Mr Little also criticised Prime Minister Bill English’s comments at Ratana yesterday. Mr English told Ratana members to “reawaken the spirit of enterprise” among Maori because Government had “reached the limits of what government can do – government grants, programmes, more public servants.”

Mr Little responded: “I come here to say that’s an abdication of leadership and an abdication of the responsibility of Government.”

Ratana Church senior secretary Piri Rurawhe told the Herald that Mr Little’s comments were “well received” and there was none of last year’s criticism.

Bill English seems to have received a good reception at Ratana on Monday despite Little’s criticism.

And Little also took a swipe at the Maori Party:

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Mr Little described the Maori Party’s claims about Ratana as “high-level trash talk”. He has all but ruled out a post-election coalition with the Maori Party and the Mana Movement, who are considering an agreement to work together.

Labour seem to be worried about the potential threat of the Maori and Mana parties to their party vote and their Maori electorates.

But the biggest attention seekers were Morgan and Peters. ODT: Morgan, Peters trade insults at Ratana Pa

Gareth Morgan and Winston Peters have traded insults at Ratana Pa today over whose political party is best for Maori.

Mr Morgan, who recently formed The Opportunities Party, “implored” the Ratana members to “call out” the New Zealand First party and Winston Peters because of their anti-Treaty of Waitangi views. He compared Mr Peters with former Act Party leader Don Brash, saying they were “black-and-white facsimiles of each other”.

Mr Morgan went further, describing Mr Peters as “nothing more than an Uncle Tom” and saying that he “gets away with this anti-Tteaty stuff” because he is Maori.

“The old adage that you can’t be racist against your own race – I don’t accept that excuse.”

Mr Morgan also urged the crowd at Ratana to give The Opportunities Party its party vote, saying it was the only party which would “take the Treaty of Waitangi conversation to non-Maori”.

He reiterated calls to make te reo Maori compulsory in schools and to create an Upper House in Parliament which would identify breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi in law-making.

When Mr Peters took his turn to speak at the pa, he only briefed touched on Mr Morgan’s comments.

“Excuse me for laughing, but it’s a long time since I have been ravaged by a toothless sheep,” he said.

He added that Mr Morgan was another rich man trying to enter politics, describing him as “a thinned-out version of Kim Dotcom”.

Criticising Mr Morgan’s proposed constitutional reforms, Mr Peters said Maori did not want an Upper House. “Seventy-five percent of them just want a house.”

He said Mr Morgan was “riding a motorbike through Mongolia” while he was defending Maori as a lawyer and in Parliament.

I suspect both Morgan and Peters were using their Ratana appearances to target wider audiences.

James Shaw spoke for the Green party but he must have been too nice, the media don’t seem to have given him much coverage.

This Herald headline wasn’t referring to Shaw’s input: Fighting talk as politicians visit Ratana

Green Party co-leader James Shaw talked of his party’s agreement to work with Labour, to address the issue of Maori poverty. He said Maori and Greens shared a focus on caring for the land, and the number of Maori voting Green had trebled in the last few elections.

“The Maori vote is becoming more powerful, and it’s more powerful when expressed with unity. This year you can vote for the status quo or vote for change, for being closed and defensive or open and welcoming, for fear or hope.”

And from Maori Television: Criticism, challenges, promises and jokes at Rātana

“We will field more Māori Candidates in more Māori seats then even before,” said James Shaw from the Greens.

It looks like Maori electorates and Maori party votes will be keenly fought after this election.



State of Labour-Green nation

In an unusual move the Labour and Green parties are having a joint ‘State of the Nation’ speech, on 29 January. Both Andrew Little and Metiria Turei will outline their party and joint plans for the year.

Posted by Andrew Little on the Labour Party website:

Labour and Green Party to host joint State of the Nation event

Posted by on January 17, 2017

For the first time Labour and the Green Party are holding a joint State of the Nation event.

Labour Leader Andrew Little and Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei will speak about their priorities for the year in Auckland on Sunday 29 January.

The leaders will discuss the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing the country and present a vision of the stable, responsible, alternative that the parties will offer New Zealand.

Labour/Green Party State of the Nation event
When: 2pm Sunday 29 January
Where: Mt Albert War Memorial Hall
773 New North Road, Mt Albert, Auckland

Posted by James Shaw on the Green Party website (curiously):

Labour and Green Party to host joint State of the Nation event

James Shaw MP on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 – 08:57

For the first time Labour and the Green Party are holding a joint State of the Nation event.

Labour Leader Andrew Little and Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei will speak about their priorities for the year in Auckland on Sunday 29 January.

The leaders will discuss the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing the country and present a vision of the stable, responsible, alternative the parties will offer New Zealand.


Labour/Green Party State of the Nation event

When: 2pm Sunday 29 January

Where: Mt Albert War Memorial Hall

So they are identical announcements. Obviously both parties are keen to be seen as working together closely.

A different slant on it from Turei via email:

For the first time in history, we will be holding a joint State of the Nation event with the Labour Party.  This is a historic event where we will be starting off the year with our combined vision for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Will you join us?

Labour Leader Andrew Little and I will speak about our priorities for the year, plus the social and economic challenges and opportunities facing the country.  But most importantly, we will present a vision of the stable and responsible alternative our parties will offer Kiwis like you.

The event will be held at 2pm Sunday 29th January at the Mt Albert War Memorial Hall 773 New North Road, Mt Albert in Auckland.  RSVP today.

If you can’t join us in Auckland, we will be live streaming the event on our Facebook channel.  We will send out a reminder on the day so that you can be part of this important moment, which shows the important friendship between the Labour Party and the Green Party.

Who labels themselves a feminist?


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

RNZ: PM wouldn’t describe himself as a feminist

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

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

“I don’t know quite what that means.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definition of Feminism

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

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

Definition of feminism for English Language Learners and for Students

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

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

Medical Definition of feminism

: the presence of female characteristics in males

Oxford has a different definition:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Greens on Twitter:

I responded to that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A comment on the Merriam-Webster definition quoted:

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

That’s a fairly wide description.

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

What is feminism? Equal rights for women.

Do you agree with it? Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

Key’s last Question Time as PM

Key attended his last Question Time as Prime Minister in Parliament yesterday – he doesn’t do Thursday’s in Parliament.

Labour had wisely chosen to look ahead and focus on National’s leadership contenders, but Winston Peters and James Shaw addressed questions to Key.

Both Peters and Shaw set themselves up for free shots from a relaxed looking Key, who obliged.

Peters and Ron Mark started flashing scorecards during questions but this was stamped on by the Speaker.

But Key set himself up by interjecting into Andrew Little’s first question.

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition): My question is to the Minister of Finance. Does he stand by his statement—

Rt Hon John Key: Oh, God, I’m irrelevant already.

ANDREW LITTLE: John, it is all over. It is all over, brother.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again, as I said yesterday, I can sense the excitement in the air, but we will still conduct question time under the normal rules.

ANDREW LITTLE: It is not the excitement; it is the relief on the face of the Prime Minister.

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers; if so, why?

It turned out to be a swipe at Bill English, Jonathan Coleman, Judith Collins and Paula Bennett, and gave Key the opportunity to praise them. The exchange concluded with:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: How can he possibly have confidence in all of his Ministers when all we are hearing from his answers and from the spills coming out of caucus is terrible instability, feuding, backstabbing, fighting, all sorts of secret calls—so much so that it has fallen to New Zealand First to look like the epitome of stability?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, when you have a caucus of one, it is reasonably easy to be stable. But the member may have noticed that on Monday—the last time you held up a sign it said “No” and it should have said “Yes”.

Shaw also tried some lame jibes at Ministers who are contenders for promotions.

7. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

James Shaw: Does he have confidence in Jonathan Coleman, and does he even know what he looks like?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Yes. I am pretty sure he is the one that is just over there. But, you know, given he has been in quite a number of my Cabinets, and I am awake for most of them—absolutely.

James Shaw: Does he have confidence that if Judith Collins becomes Prime Minister, New Zealand will not wake up one day and find itself tied with Zimbabwe on the Transparency International corruption index?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have absolute confidence in Judith Collins, and I have absolute confidence in all of my caucus and my Cabinet colleagues.

James Shaw: Does he have confidence that if Steven Joyce becomes the finance Minister he will not lose the entire surplus on one of those roulette wheels he gave to Skycity Casino?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Here is a prediction: when the Skycity Auckland Convention Centre opens in, I think it is, 2019, from memory, it will be a sparkling asset used by many convention-dwellers, both internationally and locally. It will not cost a cent of taxpayer or ratepayer money, and, if it is true to form, the Labour Party members, who will still be in Opposition, will be coming over to the opening, just like they did when they objected to the hobbits and so many other things in the past.

James Shaw: Is the real reason that New Zealand’s productivity is so low because every working-age New Zealander has been bored to death listening to Bill English?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: If that is his test, then I should introduce him to his own caucus colleagues. Man, they are not exactly people I want to party with when I leave Parliament—let me give you a clue. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I dealt with the showing of those visual aids by New Zealand First earlier. If it continues again from any of those members, they will be leaving the Chamber. I do not want to have to issue that warning again.

James Shaw: Now that he knows who his likely successors are, is he tempted to turn round and say: “Actually, Bill, I’ve changed my mind.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Definitely not. As I said on Monday, it has been a great privilege to be Prime Minister of New Zealand for the last 8 years and to lead such a fantastic Cabinet and caucus. I am immensely proud of what this Government has achieved, but, as I said on Monday, I have called time on my own political career, and I will not be turning back on that decision.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: In his long and successful tenure as Prime Minister over the last 8 years in this House, does he recall a day when the Greens have put more effort into their questions?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but it is good to see that they are getting the hang of it, because they are going to be asking questions for a very long time.

Leader’s responses

Andrew Little was quick to respond to John Key’s resignation announcement via Twitter:

That’s a gracious and respectable off the cuff reaction. And on Facebook:

Although we have our differences on policy, John Key has served this country generously and with dedication. I called him this afternoon to wish him and his family the best.

Metiria Turei put more politics and herself into her response.

A more considered response from Greens co-leader James Shaw:

Green Party statement on resignation of the Prime Minister

The Green Party wishes to extend its best wishes to the Prime Minister, following his resignation today.

“On behalf of Metiria, the Green Party MPs and the Party, I would like to thank John Key for his eight years of service as Prime Minister,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“No matter your political allegiance, you have to respect someone who chooses to make the personal sacrifices required to be our country’s Prime Minister.

“I would like to pass along our best wishes to him for whatever his future holds, and to his wife, Bronagh, and children Stephie and Max as well, who I’m sure have made many sacrifices of their own.

“Being the leader of a major political party, and indeed the country, is not an easy job; Mr Key should be applauded for his commitment to public service and to New Zealand,” said Mr Shaw.

Māori Party acknowledges John Key

Marama Fox and Te Ururoa Flavell
Māori Party Co-Leaders

The Māori Party will always be grateful to John Key for making a space at the table of his Government for a kaupapa Māori Party.

“It has been under the leadership of John Key that the Māori Party has been able to secure gains for Maori and advance kaupapa Māori over the past eight years,” said Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

“We may not have agreed on everything but we’ve always maintained a respectful relationship with the Prime Minister and he with us,” said Mr Flavell.

“We’ve had some tough talks on many issues but at the end of the day, respect for each other prevailed and that’s why he has always seen us as a party that governments can work with,” said Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox.

“We’re all about whānau in the Māori Party, so we understand and support Mr Key’s call to return to his family and be with them more.”

Both co-leaders were confident that the new Prime Minister would continue the mana-enhancing relationship between the National Party and the Māori Party.

“It’s up to the National Party to decide who will lead them now. The Māori Party will work with anyone to advance kaupapa Māori.”

The Act Party:

And a press release:

ACT congratulates John Key

“The ACT Party congratulates John Key on eight years as Prime Minister, and the noble way he has bowed out,” says ACT Leader David Seymour

“Under John’s leadership, the Government has steadfastly maintained New Zealand’s policy settings.  As a result, we remain at the top of almost every international league table for good policy settings. In the long term, all Prime Ministers are judged for the policies they leave behind, and John will be judged well.

“It is a reality of MMP that ACT has played a vital role helping John to become and remain Prime Minister. He thanked me for that this morning. I’d like to thank him on behalf of ACT and its previous leaders for the constructive way we’ve worked together over the past eight years.

“We also extend our warmest regards to Bronagh as the Keys get their lives back after a decade of service to the country.”

Peter Dunne (United Future):

“I’m gonna miss him”.

“I got a call from the Prime Minister about 12.20 this afternoon to inform me and he gave his reasons, as I understand it family, time to move on, time to give a new leader a good chance with the run-in to the election next year etc.

“I admire him for having the courage to make that call, it would have been very easy if his mind was somewhere to have simply carried on for the sake of the party. It’s a huge decision and it’s one I think that no one in their wildest dreams would have imagined happening.

“The test will be just who the new leader is, how that beds down, and what the reaction of New Zealand is. I think most New Zealanders will take a day or two to absorb this, and then they will make a judgement based on what they see the likely new line-up looking like.”

Ex Prime Minister Helen Clark:

 “John Key has worked tirelessly to promote New Zealand and its interests over eight years as Prime Minister. I am personally highly appreciative of the support he has given me as a New Zealander in the international system. I respect his decision to stand down now and spend more time with Bronagh and his children, and I wish him all the best for whatever the future holds.”

Bill English:

John Key’s intelligence, optimism and integrity as Leader of the National Party and Prime Minister of New Zealand means he will be judged by history as one of New Zealand’s greatest leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“On behalf of the National Party, the Government and New Zealand I thank John for his years of dedicated and outstanding service to our country.

“Through good times and bad, his strong leadership has been steadfast and this is a more confident, successful and self-assured country because of his contribution. He has truly made a difference.

“I thank Bronagh, Stephie and Max for the sacrifice they’ve made to enable John to be an extremely successful and effective leader.  We are deeply appreciative.

“While the gap he leaves is huge we understand and respect his decision to step down from a job from which there is no respite.  We wish John and his family every success with their life out of the public eye.

“Under John Key’s leadership the Government has worked alongside New Zealanders to ensure our country is one of the most desirable places to live, work and raise a family in the world.”

The National Caucus will consider the implications of the Prime Minister’s decision and how to ensure New Zealand stays on course to continue building a strong economy, increasing opportunities for our families and businesses, rewarding enterprise and effort, while protecting the most vulnerable.

“It is a tribute to the Prime Minister’s outstanding leadership that he will leave behind a united team with plenty of talent to take New Zealand forward and build on his legacy,” Mr English says.

The worst for last – Winston Peters:

Prime Minister John Key’s announcement today that he is to stand down cannot be credible , or for any reasons he has given, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The fact is that the economy is not in the healthy state that the Prime Minister has for so long claimed, and there are other issues which have caused this decision as well.

“The New Zealand public should have been informed of this a long time ago.

“Clearly the Prime Minister does not believe the superficial polls any longer.

“Contrary to certain perceptions the Prime Minister and his Finance Minister are unable to muddy the waters anymore.”

Is he just a bitter old twit, or does he really think that will attract support for NZ First?

Nelson electorate deal denials

Mixed messages over Labour-Green electorate deals or no deals continue, with denials from both Labour and the Greens that there there will be no deal in Nelson.

In the original 1 News report Exclusive: The backroom deals that Labour and the Greens are working on ahead of 2017 election Andrea Vance said:

In Nelson the Greens fell like they can pick up a lot of votes and so they’re in talks with Labour at the moment to stand a Labour candidate aside so that the Greens can have a clear run in that seat in Nelson.

The reason the greens have chosen Nelson is because it’s a classically Green seat. Now they’ll campaign hard in that seat because they’ve been given a chunk of money by an anonymous donor who has specified it must be used in the campaign in Nelson and the West Coast only.

And so Labour found it easy to stand aside because the candidate there would go up against Nick Smith for the electorate vote who’s been there for years and years and years and there’s a strong incumbent.

There is some very specific information there. Someone must have given this to Vance. Metiria Turei and her plans to stand in Te Tai Tonga also featured in that item.

Little responded on 1 News’ Breakfast programme: “This is news to me, we have no agreement on any seat”.

A follow up from 1 News: ‘Bugger that!’ – Labour members leave party over proposed deal with Green Party in Nelson

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson.

One of those who quit said the members had emailed in their resignations – and the reasons – to the party.

“They were eight core people and they’ve walked away. They expected us to help the Greens… we’re not going to work for the Greens, bugger that.”

The ex-member said supporters were unhappy about how they learned about the proposed deal.

“It leaked out at the [annual] conference. One of the candidates was told by Andrew Little… people here are really angry.

But Labour continues to deny any deal in Nelson. Stuff: Labour denies giving Green light for Nelson:

The Labour Party has denied suggestions it is standing aside in Nelson, despite media reports that it is engaging in strategic deals with the Greens ahead of next year’s general election.

Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said despite an agreement between Labour and the Greens to work together to change the Government there was no such plan for Nelson.

“We have a very strong party in Nelson and that won’t change. I’ve been impressed by how our members have remained committed to winning government next year,” he said.

“This is about how to work together under MMP to change the Government and get the economy working for all New Zealanders.”

A “no such plan for Nelson” denial followed by general poliwaffle.

Greens are also now denying a deal has been done.

Greens co-leader James Shaw said no decisions had been made about any electorate seats, including Nelson. He also said was wrong to suggest that there was any connection between this donation and its candidate selection process in Nelson.

“That is patently incorrect … no decision has been made about the Nelson electorate seat, or any others, and no donation, regardless of its size, will have any bearing on our decision-making process.”

The original report didn’t say a deal had been done, just that Greens were ‘in talks with Labour’, albeit implying it looked likely to happen.

And of particular note is that Shaw is doing the backtracking, not Metiria Turei.

This is a real muddle and doesn’t help Labour and Greens look like a cohesive government-in-waiting.

Organ donor law success for first term MP

The Member’s Bill put forward by rookie National list MP Chris Bishop, providing for financial assistance for organ donors, has passed into law. This is part due to the luck of the draw but it is also a success for the hard working Bishop.

First term MPs have quite varying profiles.

Many seem to disappear into Parliament, hardly to be heard of again. Some of them bail out without standing again, like ex-Palmerston North mayor and National list MP Jono Naylor who announced recently he was opting out.

Some make an early impact and fade. This has happened to Labour’s David Clark, who had an inherited Member’s Bill drawn just after he was elected and got some attention, media rated him as someone to watch, he raced up the Labour pecking order, but seems to have slipped into obscurity outside his electorate city Dunedin and making a racket in the House.

David Seymour has managed to attract a bit of attention in his first term. He had a daunting task establishing himself in his Epsom electorate and trying to resurrect the Act Party in Parliament.

James Shaw came into Parliament at 13 on their list in 2014 but jumped the queue to become co-leader after Russel Norman resigned.

Another Green MP, Marama Davidson replaced Norman as next on the list last year and has had some success in establishing a profile.

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox has done a good job and has been rated as a success. Maori MPs in particular seem to have public profile problems as they tend to work quietly with their constituents – see the Parakura method and Insight into Māori politics.

Old school parties tended to frown on new MPs trying to make a name for themselves.

Sir Keith Holyoake, New Zealand Prime Minister from 1960 to 1972, famously counselled first-term Members of Parliament to ‘breathe through their noses’, suggesting that it was in their best interests to keep their heads down and mouths shut.

Perhaps this recommendation is instrumental in the low profile of first-term MPs in New Zealand and the subsequent dearth of information available about these individuals.

But Bishop has done more than breathe through his nose, showing that something can be achieved by new MPs.

New law gives financial assistance to organ donors

Parliament has passed legislation to give financial assistance to organ donors while they recover.

The members’ bill, in the name of the National MP Chris Bishop, provides 100 percent of the donor’s earnings for up to 12 weeks after the operation plus childcare assistance for those who need it while they recover.

This is a very good achievement for Bishop, and unlike many Member’s bills it will be very beneficial. It not only financially supports those who donate organs, it should encourage more to donate.

Bishop also did very well in his first election in 2014, pushing incumbent  Trevor Mallard in Hutt South hard and giving him a scare ending up with 16,127 votes to Mallard’s 16,836.

Mallard has opted out of standing again in an electorate, hoping to get in on Labour’s list (on current polling that is far from guaranteed) and hoping Labour wins so they give him the job of  Speaker.

Bishop has also been working hard in the electorate so has a good chance of establishing himself as an electorate MP.

He is a hybrid MP, having worked for a public company (Philip Morris) and has also worked as a staffer for Steven Joyce.

Bishop hasn’t heeded the ‘breath through the nose’ advice, but Holyoake was from a very different era (he was Prime Minister from 1660-1972 and died in 1983) and Bishop is a new breed of MP.

Gender balance in Cabinet

I think that most people would agree that having about half of MPs women and about half of Cabinet Ministers women would be a good aspiration, but I also think most people, including most women, would put ability and competence ahead of exactly equal numbers of each sex.

John Key was asked about gender balance in Cabinet on The Nation in the weekend.

Key told Nation host Lisa Owen “it would be stupid” to promise a gender-balanced Cabinet.

“I think if you went to our female ministers, of which we’ve got a tremendous group of talent – from Paula to Amy to Judith, you name them, Hekia, Anne Tolley, there’s just a bunch of very talented women in there – they are there because they’re immensely talented. Yes, it’s great that they’re women, and I think there should be balance,” he said.

Of the current Cabinet there are 7 women and 13 men. Of Ministers outside Cabinet there are 3 women and 2 men.

In total out of 25 there are 10 women and 15 men.

Labour aspires to MP gender balance but failed to achieve it’s goals due to winning less than expected seats. It gets tricky when most MPs are electorate MPs, ultimately the voters choose individual MPs and the gender balance is whatever it all adds up to.

Greens, the champions of balance, are more staunch on Cabinet ideals. They have male and female co-leaders, and their list is arranged so there is approximately the same number of female and male MPs – it’s much easier to achieve when all are list-only MPs.

Greens have a policy on gender balance in Cabinet, but it’s not clear exactly what they are going for. James Shaw put out this press release in July 2015:

Greens will ensure gender balance in Cabinet

How will the ensure that a Cabinet of Labour, Green and probably NZ First MPs will be 50/50 male/female?

The Green Party is today announcing that, in Government, it will ensure half of all Green Cabinet Ministers are women, and will call on other members of any coalition Government it is involved in to do the same.

“Our hope is that by leading by example, and ensuring gender equality at the Cabinet table, the Green Party can stimulate and support a wave of gender equity reforms for women who work,” Mr Shaw said.

That’s not ensuring Cabinet is balanced, it is ensuring the Green MPs in Cabinet are gender balanced (as long as there’s an even number of them) and a hope that the other parties in the coalition will do likewise.

“The idea that people are paid on merit, or appointed to senior roles like Government Ministers based on their abilities, doesn’t stack up. Women are paid less largely because they’re working in professions that are dominated by women, and they’re often not appointed to senior positions because of barriers that have nothing to do with ability.  It’s time to drop the idea that women are worth less once and for all.

Shaw leaps from an unsubstantiated claim that Ministers aren’t appointed on merit to a general spiel on inequality.

Women MPs are paid the same as males in equal positions, and Cabinet Ministers are also paid equally.

“Around the world countries are realising that gender inequality is holding them back and they’re committing to greater representation by women in many positions of power in business and politics.”

While more women in positions of power is a good thing if they are up to the task I would be interested to see evidence that less than half of MPs and Cabinet Ministers is holding New Zealand back in some way.

“By committing to a gender balance in Cabinet, the Green Party won’t immediately fix the inequalities women are forced to deal with at work every day, but it will show that we are committed to gender equality everywhere, starting with where we work ourselves,” Mr Shaw said.

Shaw finishes back where he started – committing to a gender balance in Cabinet.

But how would Greens achieve that? They can hardly force other parties to have gender balance in the MPs they have in Cabinet.

On current polling and using proportionality if Greens had four Cabinet Ministers then NZ First would also have four and Labour would have twelve.

In Labour’s top twelve MPs there are 5 women.

NZ First doesn’t seem to rank their MPs but they have 8 males and 3 females. Based on their 2014 list there was one woman in their top four.

If Labour put  5 women into Cabinet and NZ First 1 that’s 6, so would Greens agree to have all four of their MPs in Cabinet in women to ensure it was gender balanced?

Or would they refuse to go into coalition unless Labour and NZ First had a 50/50m gender split with their Cabinet MPs?

Or would they just hope their ideal is agreed to by the other parties?

It would be a good ideal to achieve, approximately, but with a multi party coalition it may not be easy.

And – do most women care? How many would prioritise gender balance over merit and competence?

National MP challenge in Wellington Central

National list MP Paul Foster-Bell, who stood in Wellington Central last election against Grant Robertson and James Shaw, is being challenged by Nicola Willis, who appears to be backed by John Key.

Newshub: Prime Minister recruits corporate high flyer for 2017

If the headline is an accurate reflection then Foster-Bell’s chances don’t look great, if he doesn’t get the hint and pull out.

One of Prime Minister John Key’s confidants and former senior advisors is set to enter Parliament, with Newshub learning she is being lined up as National’s Wellington Central candidate.

Nicola Willis has launched a challenge against incumbent candidate and list MP Paul Foster-Bell for the party’s nomination, which opens in January.

When nominations do open, it is my intention to put forward my nomination and to stand for the candidacy,” she told Newshub.

“This is a decision I’ve come to after lots of conversation with my family. It’s up to the National Party members to decide who their candidate is, so it’s them I’ll be focused on,” says Ms Willis.

The Prime Minister says she’d be a welcome addition to Parliament if she successfully challenged Mr Foster-Bell.

“If Nicola decided to try and come into Parliament, and obviously that’s subject to her either having a seat or getting on the list or whatever that might be, but she’s extremely talented. She’d make a very fine MP,” he says.

Implying that he doesn’t see Foster-Bell as such a fine MP.



Wellington Central last election:


A strong National candidate could make that very interesting.

It could create a quandary for Labour and Greens – will Shaw push hard for the best Green party vote again and wink-wink the electorate vote in Robertson’s direction? Or will he go hard out for an electorate win?

Both Shaw and Robertson are probably assured of winnable list positions (unless Labour’s vote crashes further), but there could be some importance on Wellington Central.