Davis threatens to resign if charter schools closed

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has said he would resign if two Northland partnership schools (the media persist in calling them charter schools) were closed down, but he would be happy if they remained but were renamed.

Labour have always strongly opposed the setting up of partnership schools.

RNZ: Davis threatens to resign if two charter schools closed down

Te Kura Hourua O Whangārei and Te Kāpehu Whetū are both charter schools in Northland.

The MP Kelvin Davis said Māori wanted a measure of autonomy over the education of their children.

“So if they were to close they would no longer exist, that would be a bottom line for me, so the fact is they can exist as special character schools, that’s the bottom line to me.”

Mr Davis said the Labour Party wouldn’t close schools that were performing well.

The partnership schools have also been strongly opposed by teacher unions, and Labour education spokesperson Chris Hipkins seems the be a virtual spokesperson for the unions.

Partnership schools are a contentious issue in Labour. High profile candidate Willie Jackson is involved with one in Auckland and supports them.

RNZ: Jackson at odds with Labour’s charter schools policy

Mr Jackson said he saw no reason why any of the charter schools operating now should be closed under a Labour government.

Mr Jackson also questioned why any charter school should be closed under a Labour government.

“I think just about all the schools are doing well, there’s been one or two hiccups, but there would be no reason, from my observation, to close any schools.

From May  Labour committed to anti-charter school policy – Little

The Labour Party remains opposed to charter schools despite new candidate Willie Jackson being involved in running one.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little told Morning Report that Labour’s policy was clear – it opposed charter schools. He said the funding model for the schools was a “con”.

“Willie Jackson is a Labour Party candidate and he signs up to Labour Party policy, that’s it, that’s a fact and that’s what has happened and is going to happen.”

He said he and Mr Jackson shared the same view – they wanted Māori children to succeed in schools.

“But we do have some bottom lines which is that the people who stand in front of our children need to be trained, registered teachers, and they’ve got to teach to the national curriculum.”

If Labour won the election it would continue to support Kura Kaupapa schools and special character schools, Mr Little said.

RNZ:  Labour MP backs Jackson on charter schools

New Labour Party list candidate Willie Jackson has received backing from a party Māori caucus member, Peeni Henare, who also says not all charter schools should be shut down under a Labour government.

Peeni Henare, the Labour MP for the Auckland Māori electorate of Tamaki Makaurau, was described as having made an error of judgement by Mr Little when he attended a fund-raiser at a charter school in 2015.

Mr Henare said Labour had been keen to see if some charter schools could continue to operate as special character schools.

“The bottom line is, why would you stop something that is working.”

He said there was some discussion within the caucus about this issue, but he did not believe it would cause any internal conflict.

The Maori MPs and candidates are speaking to their constituency in favour of the schools, while Little and Hipkins seem to be staunch in their and the teacher unions’ opposition.

Labour’s Maori MPs and candidates will be wanting to do maximise their vote as well as well as supporting schools that are potentially life changers for Maori pupils, which puts their party in an awkward position.

Partnership Schools:

Partnership Schools | Kura Hourua are an opportunity for communities, iwi, philanthropists and business organisations to partner with educators to raise achievement among Māori, Pasifika, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, and students with special education needs. The schools contract with the Government to meet specified, rigorous educational standards in return for freedom to innovate to do so.

Maori versus Peters on referendum bottom line

I think NZ First have always had a policy to have a referendum on whether to retain the Maori seats in Parliament or not.

The only different yesterday was Winston Peters saying it was a non-negotiable policy this election. He repeated his party’s referendum policy but made it clear which outcome he wanted – scrapping the seats. The other outcome he no doubt wants is picking up some anti-Maori votes, an easy target against a minority.

Parliament has to balance the need to represent majority wishes with the need to protect minorities. Referendums are useful for some things but are a democratic risk when they attack a minority representation in Parliament.

RNZ:  Peter’s referendum call would sideline Māori – Fox

At his party’s annual convention in Auckland, Mr Peters said the Māori seats should go and promised a mid-term binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven seats. Voters would also decide whether to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament to 100.

“My strategy is to tell everyone out there that you will not be talking to New Zealand First unless you want a referendum on both those issues – mid-term after this election.”

Maori Party list MP Marama Fox (in Parliament through the overall party vote)…

…said the seats could go only when disparity was removed for Māori in this country.

“We have the highest … rates of youth suicide in the world. We have the highest rates of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) for Māori women in the world.

“We have a shorter life expectancy – and so on and so on and so on, and Winston Peters is merely politicking for votes and trying to take us back to the good old days of colonisation where you stick Māori in the corner and don’t give them a voice.”

Labour Maori electorate MP Kelvin Davis…

…said it was probably smart politics on Mr Peters’ part to attack Māori and politicians in the two-pronged referendum.

“The majority love hearing that sort of stuff: ‘we’re all New Zealanders, we should all be the same’.

“Well, the reality is, tangata whenua have different views, different values and we should be the ones that decide whether those seats stay or go.”

Shane Jones agreed with this earlier this month:

That was also the view of new New Zealand First candidate for Whangārei, Shane Jones, when asked earlier this month on TV3’s The Hui whether Māori seats should stay or go.

He said Māori seats should continue to exist “as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them and want them to continue”.

I think that’s a fair position. As long as every vote is equal as it is under MMP then I don’t have a problem with whether we have Maori electorates or not – in fact if it gives Maori better representation that’s a good thing.

The rest of us should look at how to improve our own representation. Our best way of doing that is by tactical voting in general elections, not in voting away a minority’s preference for their own representation.

Time to try Maori prisons?

When I first heard the suggestion by Maori MPs that a Maori run prison be set up in Northland my immediate reaction was nah, we shouldn’t have separate penal systems. But I’ve thought it through and think that it merits serious consideration.

Maori disproportionately feature in prison  and re-offending rates. The current system is not working well. So why not try something different that tries to address core problems.

Critics often say it is up to Maori to fix their own problems, and this Maori Prison proposal does exactly that.

Newshub: Labour proposes Māori prison to fix rising numbers

Labour has come up with a radical solution to the high number of Māori in jail – it wants a separate Māori prison.

It wants to convert an existing prison into one run entirely on Māori values.

“A prison based on Māori values, not exclusively for Māori but for anybody, but they’ll know that the values that the prison will be run under will be based along Māori lines,” Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis told Newshub.

Why not try it? It can’t do much worse than the current penal system.

There are 10052 prisoners and 5077 of them are Māori, making up 50.5 percent of the prison population.

Mr Davis says if Labour wins, he wants to make one of New Zealand’s 18 prisons a prison for Māori, run by Māori on Māori values.

“Why don’t we just try, have the courage to try one of those 18 prisons and run it along kaupapa Māori lines,” he said.

The Maori party supports this: Māori Party backs Māori-run prisons as ‘inevitable’

It is just a matter of time before New Zealand introduces prisons run by Māori applying Māori values, the Māori Party says.

Prime Minister Bill English shot down a proposal, by Labour corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis, on the idea this morning, saying rehabilitation efforts already took Māori values into account.

“It’s incorporated into our [prisons] where it’s appropriate,” he said.

And it’s obviously not working very well.

“We just didn’t see the point in trying to designate – you know, a prison’s a Māori prison and other prisons are not Māori – because actually there’s going to be Maori in all our prisons.”

However, Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said she had repeatedly raised the idea with the government and did not think it was dead in the water just yet.

“Eventually, in the future, this is going to be inevitable.

“I don’t think it is happening now, but we need to look at what is the pathway to get there – and that is what we’re in discussions about.”

Andrew Little sort of supported the proposal but then as good as ruled it out.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the idea was worth debating, but was not Labour’s official policy.

He did not have “a firm view” on whether separate Māori prisons should be introduced, but said the prison system was not working and something needed to changed.

Mr Little suggested it was sometimes important to have a public debate before forming official policy.

“I’m glad that we’ve got an MP… coming up with creative ideas, new ideas, fresh approaches. That’s important.”

Asked whether it could become official policy before the election, Mr Little said the party was at the “tail end” of its policy formation and the idea was not there.

So he wants to kick the can down the road and fob off the initiative.

But Labour are also trying to secure a big proportion of the Maori vote and are promoting the possibility that 25% of their MPs after the election will be Maori. So why not have 25% of their key election policies addressing big Maori issues?

But one of Labour’s Māori MPs, Adrian Rurawhe, said he would like to see it become formal party policy.

“It’s totally in line with how staff in Māori focus units already operate. So lifting it to another level would have really good outcomes.”

National MP Nuk Korako also said he liked the idea and planned to raise it with Corrections Minister Louise Upston.

“I think a Māori approach to anything is really important. Not only just prisons. If [Kelvin Davis] can get some traction on that, that would be great,” he said.

Mr English said it would not be desirable to create the impression of “some sort of separate system”.

So not just Labour’s Maori MPs, but also a National Maori MP supporting it. And the Greens: Bigger dreams needed for prison reform

Te Taitokerau MP Kelvin Davis is keen to see Northland regional prison at Ngawha run on kaupapa Maori lines, with Greens and Maori Party MPs also sympathetic to the idea.

Unfortunately both Little and English are dismissing it.

Who is more likely to shift on this when they think it through, National with pressure from the Maori Party, or Labour with pressure from their Maori MPs, and perhaps the Maori Party and the Greens?

Others are warming to the idea too.

Martin van Beynen: ‘Lamentable’ Maori incarceration figures demand fresh approach

The idea of special prisons run entirely on Maori values sounds like it is worth a crack.

Things couldn’t really get much worse if you look at the statistics about Maori imprisonment.

Given these lamentable figures and the cost to society – including to the families of offenders – just about anything is worth trying.

The reservation I have with the idea of Maori values is that it’s difficult to know what they are and if they are really going to make a difference.

Nothing much now seems to be making a significant difference, so something else, anything else, is surely worth a try.

Duncan Garner: Why not try a Maori prison? The current penal system is an abject failure

I’m asking for everyone to think outside the square for a few minutes. Please. I support trying a kaupapa Maori prison – run by Maori, for predominately Maori, along Maori lines. Is your blood boiling yet? Bear with me.

The reality is prison is mainly a Maori issue. And the current prison system is an abject failure – they’re just a finishing school for crims and a recruitment dream for gangs.

I’m not talking about the baddest ones. I accept they probably can’t be helped and being locked away is the best answer.

Maori prisons will still be tough jails. Yes, we lock them up each night. But we also take them home to be taught who they are and to meet their whanau.

I’m not suggesting all our jails go this way – let’s just try one. The prison experiment over the past 70 years has been a debacle. Rehabilitation is woefully low, recidivism is painfully high.

What’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work? Too late – we’re there. Make Maori responsible for turning around Maori. That’s tino rangatiratanga if I’ve ever seen it.

I liked Labour MP Kelvin Davis’ call for a Maori prison this week. Labour leader Andrew Little didn’t have the balls to support Davis – it’s election year after all and it’s time to re-start peddling all this tough on crime bollocks that politicians spout. Plus Labour prefer their Maori MPs on the doormat to be walked over.

It’s time to try something genuinely new.

It’s contradictory to demand that Maori sort their own problems out and then refuse to let them try.

A Maori prison must be worth a try and must be given a go.

 

More defence of Labour Māori rankings

Labour has been doing a lot of defending of the decision of Maori electorate MPs to not stand on the party list, and the resulting lack of Maori candidates in the top fifteen of the list.

Kelvin Davis has joined in the defensive chorus.

RNZ: Kelvin Davis defends Labour’s Māori rankings

Labour’s party list is a “total victory” for Māori despite no Māori being ranked in the top 15, MP Kelvin Davis says.

Willow-Jane Prime is the party’s highest-ranked Māori candidate, at number 16 on the list.

But Mr Davis, who was unranked and would instead defend his Te Tai Tokerau seat, told TV3’s The Hui that the party strategy of not having its Māori electorate MPs stand on the list had been successful.

It’s premature to be claiming success over four months out from the election.

Will Labour MPs keep defending their strategy right through to the election?

On current polling, there would be 12 Māori MPs in the Labour caucus after the election, he said.

“We’re going to have double figures of Maori – this is going to be history-making.”

He was confident Labour would retain its six Māori seats and bring in several others off the list, including Ms Prime, Kiri Allan and Willie Jackson.

One Māori seat loss for Labour would be a failure for the strategy.

And there is a possible unintended consequence if Labour keep promoting the chances of a disproportionate number of Māori MPs – no Māori  voters may be put off voting for Labour. I have heard that sentiment expressed already.

There is still a lot of resentment about Labour’s actions on the Foreshore and Seabed legislation.

And there is also wider historical resentment about how Labour have taken Māori votes but have given little in return.

Can Labour be trusted to deliver for Māori if they lead the next government?

Possibly the best way of keeping Labour honest on Māori issues is also having a stronger voice from the Māori Party – especially if the Māori Party held the balance of power. They could be able to put a lot of pressure on a Labour caucus that is about one third Māori.

And if Labour fails to form the next government at least the Māori Party has a proven record of extracting some wins from a National led government.

Māori have proven to be smart tactical voters.

It could be a smart tactic to ensure Māori  interests are covered by both Labour and the Māori Party.

Q+A: Waitangi and Maori re-offending

On Q+A this morning:

The Waitangi Tribunal has ruled the Crown is in breach of its obligations by failing to address Māori re-offending rates.

Jessica Mutch interviews Māori lawyer Moana Jackson about what needs to change.

Then, Labour’s Kelvin Davis tells us what he’d do for Māori if he was Corrections Minister.

Waitangi Tribunal releases report into disproportionate reoffending rate

The Waitangi Tribunal has found the Crown in breach of its Treaty obligations by failing to prioritise the reduction of the high rate of Māori reoffending relative to non-Māori.

In a report released today, Tū Mai te Rangi!, the Tribunal says the undisputed disparity between Māori and non-Māori reoffending rates is longstanding and substantial. It says high Māori reoffending rates contribute to the disproportionate imprisonment of Māori, who currently make up half of New Zealand’s prisoners, despite being only 15 per cent of the national population. The report looks at how the Crown, through the Department of Corrections, is failing to meet its Treaty responsibilities to reduce Māori reoffending rates.

The inquiry followed a claim filed by Tom Hemopo, a retired senior probation officer. The Tribunal, consisting of Judge Patrick Savage, Bill Wilson QC, Tania Simpson, and Professor Derek Lardelli, heard the claim under urgency in Wellington in July 2016.

The Tribunal looked at recent efforts by the Department to reduce the overall rate of reoffending by 25 per cent. It says the most recent statistics supplied by the Crown show Māori progress toward this target has slowed dramatically, while the gap between Māori and non-Māori progress toward the target has widened.

The Tribunal says that for the Crown to be acting consistently with its Treaty obligations in this context, it must be giving urgent priority to addressing disproportionate Māori reoffending rates in clear and convincing ways.

The Tribunal says that, while the Justice sector announced in February 2017 a broad target to reduce Māori reoffending, the Department has no specific plan or strategy to reduce Māori reoffending rates, no specific target to reduce Māori reoffending rates, and no specific budget to meet this end.

The Tribunal therefore concludes that the Crown is not prioritising the reduction of the rate of Māori reoffending and is in breach of its Treaty obligations to protect Māori interests and to treat Māori equitably.

The Tribunal finds that the Crown has not breached its partnership obligations, given that the Department of Corrections is making good faith attempts to engage with iwi and hapū. However, the Tribunal says the Crown must live up to its stated commitment to develop its partnerships with Māori.

Among the Tribunal’s recommendations is that the Department work with its Māori partners to design and implement a new Māori-specific strategic framework, set and commit to a Māori-specific target for the Department to reduce Māori reoffending rates, and regularly and publically report on the progress made towards this.

The Tribunal also recommends the Crown include a dedicated budget to appropriately resource the new strategic focus and target.

The Waitangi Tribunal’s report is now available to download: Tū Mai te Rangi! [PDF, 2.43MB] (external link).

Moan Jackson and Kelvin Davis both say the prison system is racist.

Kelvin Davis wants a non-partisan target set to reduce prisoner numbers by ‘say 30%’ in fifteen years.

Mike Williams say that the report recommendations are politically correct piffle. He wants the focus on tackling the prisoner illiteracy rate.

He doesn’t think the suggestion of separate Maori prisons is a good idea.

The first offence that gets 65% of Maori into jail is a driving offence.

Anton Blank (child advocate) says the report is ‘a yawn’.

Police need to address ‘unconscious bias’.

Fran O’Sullivan talks about the three year problem of voters demanding expensive and ineffective ‘get tough’ response.

Q+A:

The Waitangi Tribunal’s damning report on Māori re-offending was released earlier this week. Jessica Mutch with this extended interview with leading Māori lawyer Moana Jackson.

“We live in a society which was established as, as I said, on the race-based process of colonisation. Where people from Europe assumed they had a right to dispossess those whom they classed as ‘racially inferior’. Colonisation, by its nature, is racist, and the systems which then it imposes are necessarily racist as well,” said Mr Jackson.

“That does not mean individual people in this country are necessarily racist, but the system within which, say, the justice process operates is inherently racist and until we are willing to discuss that honestly, then I believe meaningful change cannot occur.”

Interview: The systems imposed “were racist ones” – lawyer Moana Jackson. (9:17)

Labour versus Maori/Mana continues

Labour seems to be ramping up it’s attacks on the Maori and Mana parties, especially through Willie Jackson who won’t have to attract votes of his own, but Marama Fox has returned a co-operative serve.

List candidate Willie Jackson: GUEST BLOG: Willie Jackson – Courageous Move from Labour Māori MPs

Congratulations to Labour’s Māori seat Members of Parliament who have asked to not be included on the parties list for this year’s election.

It is a brave decision from the MPs who have surprised and outmanoeuvred their opponents.

Of course Jackson likes it, one of the aims was to allow him to jump a few more places up Labour’s party list to enhance his chances of getting into Parliament.

The line that Andrew Little pushed his MPs off the list is an insult to our Labour MPs’ intelligence, and Marama and Hone should do themselves a favour and engage their brains before they open their mouths. And in terms of this constant waffle about Andrew not being allowed to talk about Kaupapa Māori, what’s that about?

How is it that Marama Fox, Te Ururoa Flavell, and even Hone Harawira talk about Kaupapa Pākeha every day and then Marama and Te Ururoa chase their Pākeha rangatira Prime Minister Bill English around the house, challenging him ‘supposedly’ over kaupapa Pākeha issues, but the minute the Pākeha leader in Labour talks about Kaupapa Māori, they label him a racist! What a load of rubbish.

The reality is that they are shocked and hurt by how brave the Labour MPs are, and are now looking to defame and smear the decision to not go on the list because they realise that political oblivion beckons.

Loads of irony as Jackson goes hard out trying to smear them.

The Māori/Mana’s political strategy is in real trouble – we know that because they are now telling outright lies about the Labour Māori strategy. Sadly, they are desperate, worried, stressed and on edge because they know the end is near and they have been totally trumped by this move from our MPs to not stand on the list.

I guess Jackson feels he can safely attack like this because he is not putting himself forward for election himself, he has tried to work his way up the list and get in on the party vote rather than on his own merits (like the Labour Maori MPs are doing).

Kelvin Davis takes a more careful swipe: Kelvin Davis defends Labour Māori MPs’ decision not to stand on list

In an interview with The Hui, Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis described the strategy as providing “more choice to Maori”.

“It’s the greatest thing for Māori since Kupe spotted land.”

Maybe that’s just Maori rhetoric but it sounds fairly over the top.

Mr Davis told Mihingarangi Forbes he believes the strategy will bring “three of four new Māori MPs into Parliament”.

By trashing some other Maori MPs? Davis, Jackson and Andrew Little want all Maori MPs to be under Labour, which must surely reduce their power.

Meanwhile despite Jackson’s outburst Marama Fox has taken a quite different approach.

Newstalk ZB: Maori Party says it would jump sides if Labour changes govt

Party leader Marama Fox said all her party wanted was to address disparities for Maori.

She told Newstalk ZB’s Andrew Dickens if Labour changes the Government in this year’s election, the Maori Party would jump sides.

“If they are successful then we will happily work with them,” she said.

“It is better to be at the table at the decision-making end, and have as much influence as we’re able.”

This could be a clever move to counter Jackson’s confrontational approach.

But would Labour want to deal with the Maori Party? It would be interesting to see which way Labour went if they had a choice between Labour+Green+Maori Party and Labour+NZ First – especially given that the Greens are getting more pro-Maori and NZ First oppose having the Maori seats.

Labour’s Maori MPs opt off list

Just last week Labour’s Maori MPs seemed at odds with leader Andrew Little over their wishes about their placement on this year’s party list. See Little versus Maori MPs on list placement.

During an interview on Morning Report responding to that deal, Mr Little said his Māori MPs were definitely not seeking the protection of a high list ranking.

“They are fearful of a high list place because they don’t want to give the impression that they are kind of being held up by belts and braces.”

When asked if they were advocating for a low list place, Mr Little said yes.

But:

The MP for Hauraki-Waikato, Nanaia Mahuta, and Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau – who will be going up against the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, at the election – would not say whether they had sought a low list spot, saying that was a matter for the party.

The MP for Tai Hauauru, Adrian Rurawhe, said while he would always prefer to be an electorate MP, he had not requested a low list ranking.

The MP for Tāmaki Makaurau, Peeni Henare, also said he had made no requests about list placements.

These MPs seem to have suddenly decided to jump on board with their leader, in fact they have now said they don’t want to be on the list at all.

Andrew Little yesterday: Māori MPs backed to win seats

The Labour Party is backing a request from its Māori seat MPs to stand as electorate MPs only, says Labour Leader Andrew Little.

“We’re confident our outstanding Māori electorate MPs will win their seats.

“We take nothing for granted and our MPs will be working hard to win the trust of voters. But we’re very confident they’ll make the case this coming election given the strength of our plans and Labour’s record of delivering for Māori in government.”

Under Labour Party rules a waiver can be granted for MPs wanting to be exempted from the party list in special circumstances.

“This is a statement of Labour’s intent,” says Labour Party President Nigel Haworth.

So “special circumstances” seems to mean simply if Labour considers it a good campaign tactic.

“We back our Māori electorate MPs 100 per cent to win their seats which is why the Party agreed to the waiver. They’re an excellent group of MPs who have Labour values and Maori aspirations in the forefront of all their work.”

Māori Vice-President Tane Phillips said the decision to grant the waiver underlined how important it was for Labour to secure all the Māori seats.

“We have a strong Māori team who have worked hard to promote what matters to Māori. They are looking for a mandate so we can really start making a difference for Māori in government.”

Andrew Little says the decision was a direct challenge by the Māori MPs to the Māori Party.

“The Māori Party has failed Māori during the nine years they have been shackled to National.

“They have neglected their people for too long, thinking that the crumbs that fall off the Cabinet table are all that matters. What matters to Labour is making a positive difference for Māori.

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

That was followed soon after by Kelvin Davis in Labour’s Māori MPs show strength

All of Labour’s Māori electorate members of Parliament have opted out of being on the list, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis.

“We approached the party and asked to stay off the list as a show of strength, unity and confidence in our ability to build on the success that we enjoyed at the last election.

“Labour winning six of the seven Māori electorate seats was Māori showing us we’re the preferred political party to address Māori issues. The numbers were in our favour and we’re looking to improve.

“Our election strategy is about showing how the Māori Party has failed Māori during nine years of being tethered to National’s waka.

“We back ourselves to help Māori make progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education.

“Labour has five Māori MPs in the Shadow Cabinet and we’re all up to prove why we should have the party vote.

“We’re determined to show we’re an integral part of the Labour movement. We’re committed to working together to show how Māori will be much better served with a strong Labour Māori voice in Cabinet,” says Kelvin Davis.

This could be a smart and gutsy move, but it could just as easily backfire.

It is a clear attempt to try and have the Maori Party dumped from Parliament. Labour is claiming to be the sole party necessary to represent Maori interests. I don’t know where the growing Green Maori caucus fits in there.

Maori voters have proven to be good at tactical voting, far more so  than most general electorates. They have shifted support to NZ First in the 1990s, then back to Labour, then went with the Maori Party when they split, and has been shifting back to Labour.

Stuff: Labour’s Maori MPs opt to go ‘electorate only’ and not seek list places

The move is designed to increase Maori representation in the Labour caucus and could boost the chances of more Maori getting in on the list, such as broadcaster Willie Jackson and Northland candidate Willow-Jean Prime, if they get winnable list spots.

The only thing that will boost the chances of non-electorate Maori MPs is if they are placed on the list in relation to non-Maori who are unlikely to win electorates.

Only three Labour list MPs made it into Parliament after the last election, with Little only just making the cut.

Little and other current MPs like David Parker and Trevor Mallard will be list only and may not be keen on having Willie Jackson placed above them.

The PM’s response:

“Prime Minister Bill English described it as “negative political move” because it was designed to eliminate the Maori Party from Parliament.”
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11822366

Ironically given Labour’s claims of promoting Maori interests National have chosen to give the Maori Party a place in government even though they didn’t need them.

The best way of maximising Maori representation in Parliament would actually be to vote for Labour MPs in the Maori electorates, and party vote for the Maori Party to increase the number of their MPs.

It will be fascinating to see how Maori vote in the September election.

And it will be interesting if the outcome means that Labour would require the support of the Maori party to form the next government.

Literacy leap for prisoners – non-partisan leap for MPs

Mike Williams is Labour ex-president and a staunch party supporter. He is now CEO of the Howard League and is a staunch promoter of penal reform.

In an unlikely alliance he has joined with ACT MP David Seymour in suggesting a policy that should improve dire prisoner literacy rates and potentially improve the prospects of ex prisoners and reduce recidivism.

And Seymour’s suggestions have also got some support from Prime Minister Bill English and from Labour’s Justice spokesperson Kelvin Davis. Whether Seymour retains his Epsom electorate or not this year, and whoever forms the next government, it would be good to see his policy make some progress.

Williams writes: Literacy leap for prisoners. Some background:

 Howard League president Tony Gibbs and I have been running a long-term programme of raising awareness about the inability of a majority of prisoners to read and write sufficiently well enough to function as a normal human in modern society.

To this end we have been inviting politicians and other influential public figures to attend our Howard League prisoner literacy graduation ceremonies.

Many of our political leaders have never visited a jail or talked to a prisoner and most have no concept of the malign results of illiteracy.

Last year we had a graduation at Rimutaka jail and were very fortunate to attract Bill English, then deputy prime minister, as guest speaker.

Tony Gibbs has known former Act party president John Thompson for many years and through this connection, we also invited David Seymour, the sole Act party MP.

The Seymour experience:

At the Rimutaka graduation he chatted with a number of prisoner graduates and talked to the tutors who were there to see their students get their certificates.

Rimutaka jail is one of New Zealand’s largest prisons and can accommodate more that 1000 inmates, and David Seymour asked me why, if two-thirds of the men there were statistically likely to be illiterate, were we graduating only eight prisoners.

One answer to this question is that many prisoners have such negative self-images that they do not seek to improve themselves when there appears to be no reward for doing so.

The Seymour response:

David Seymour suggested that if prisoners were offered a discount on their sentences this might be the circuit breaker that not only inspired prisoners to get the basic skills needed to get work and “go straight” on release, it might eventually reduce prisoner numbers and start addressing the serious overcrowding problem that bedevils our jails.

These thoughts plus a lot of research turned into a new Act party policy which Seymour announced at the conference I attended.

He said: “It’s called Rewarding Self-Improvement in Prisons. This proposal would provide incentives, in the form of reduced sentences, for prisoners to complete basic programmes in literacy, numeracy, and driver licensing.

“Those prisoners who are already functionally literate, numerate, and licensed to drive, can still benefit from Act’s policy. They would earn credits for training as a mentor, and then teaching other prisoners.”

Seymour didn’t just learn from his prison visit, he researched solutions and looked for success with similar approaches overseas:

In the US, states that have Earned Credit Programs in prisons report a lower recidivism rate than states that do not have one. New York saw a 20 per cent lower recidivism rate among prisoners who earned early-release.”

Such a strategy is also likely to be financially attractive as David Seymour went on to point out.

“They save money. A model student serving a two-year sentence could, under Act’s proposal, shave 12 weeks off their sentence and save the taxpayer $14,000. And if their learning prevents future imprisonment, the saving could enter the $100,000s, which could be reinvested in educational programmes.

“And that’s just for one prisoner.

“The New York Corrections Department saved $369 million in a decade thanks to their earned credit policy. A proportionate saving for New Zealand’s population would be $113m for Corrections.

“The savings would be far higher if you include individuals, families, and businesses that would no longer have to face the costs of crime.”

Non-partisan support:

The Prime Minister said that it was worth considering and Kelvin Davis MP endorsed the idea on behalf of the Labour Party. Even the “tough on crime” Sensible Sentencing Trust supported the policy.

This amounts to a great leap ahead and a triumph for common sense.

It’s also a good example of how politics can work positively in a non-partisan way.

But why has it taken so long? Peter Dunne issued this media statement in 2006: Literacy another failure for Corrections

United Future leader Peter Dunne has called on the Government to address the issue of illiteracy amongst New Zealand’s prison population.

“One of the most effective ways of preventing inmates from re-offending is to teach them the necessary skills to get a job and make a contribution to society when they get out. That is a hard thing to do if they lack the most basic literacy requirements.”

Literacy education is provided within prisons; however only if a prisoner is motivated enough to address their own illiteracy issue can that prisoner be referred for literacy tuition.

The larger parties are unlikely to make addressing prisoner illiteracy a priority, so it may take an election win for Seymour and some vigorous lobbying to get some progress on his proposal.

ACT could make it a bottom line for supporting a National led government again – and National should be receptive to accommodating the policy.

If Labour lead the next Government it may take some pushing from Seymour and some help from Davis.

Labour v Maori Party continued

The election campaign gloves are off between Labour and the Maori Party, and another round was fought in Parliament today. Kelvin Davis tried to score a hit on Te Ururoa Flavell, but Marama Fox joined the fray to hit back with a Willie Jackson jab.

Jackson had heaped praise on the Maori Party’s success in Government in June last year = see Opinion: Willie Jackson at Stuff.

I have to take my hat off to Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Maori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.

Jackson is now putting himself forward for the Labour list.

Winston Peters tried to score with a jab too, but it was a swing and a miss. At least he didn’t end up with egg on his face like Davis and Labour.

Māori Development, Minister—Confidence

8. KELVIN DAVIS (Labour—Te Tai Tokerau) to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he have confidence that his leadership of Te Puni Kōkiri and its programmes are resulting in the best outcomes for Māori?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Minister for Māori Development): Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou. Tēnā koe tēnā pātai. I believe that thousands of whānau up and down the country are being well supported by Te Puni Kōkiri to achieve better outcomes. Our whānau deserve the best possible support they can get, which is why I have high expectations of all Government agencies and their leadership, including myself, to deliver to our people—to Māori people.

Kelvin Davis: How does he reconcile that view that he is doing his best for Māori when the gap in median weekly earnings between Māori and Pākehā has risen 47 percent since his party shacked up with this Government?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The member asked about better outcomes, and to take an example—let me highlight just one or two. I will start with Māori housing, for example: 344 whānau communities like in Kaeō in the member’s electorate are now in safer, warmer, and heathier—

Kelvin Davis: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question was around median weekly earnings.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member then added something that almost caused me to rule the question out of order, and he referred to a coalition arrangement in some rather political terms, so that gives a very wide ambit to the Minister in answering the question.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: If I can continue with this fine record, 344 whānau and communities, like Kaeō, are now in safer, warmer, and healthier homes. Sixty whānau and communities, like Ōmāpere, are now in new affordable rental homes. Homeless whānau are now getting better support in communities like Kaeō and Kaitāia through emergency housing projects. I was pleased to see, for example, the member in Kaitāia—the member and me; both of us together—launching and supporting Ricky Houghton in his housing project. Those sorts of projects are producing good outcomes for our people and I am pleased to be supporting them.

Kelvin Davis: Does he believe, as Minister for Māori Development, that the selling off of State houses is rangatiratanga, as his colleague stated, when Māori are four times more likely to be waiting for a State house despite all of those things he has just gone through?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Speaking about housing, we disagree with the submission put through by that member at the moment. But I can say, on the opposite side, for example, that in the community of Ngāruawāhia, where I had the privilege to be probably just about a week ago, there was the opening of te Turner papakāinga housing. It is a nine bedroom home that will house four generations—10 adults and nine tamariki. Those are the sorts of projects that are really benefiting Māori and getting better outcomes for our people. Those are the sorts of projects that Te Puni Kōkiri are supporting, and those are the projects that I am proud to be Minister to advocate for.

Kelvin Davis: Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: Talking about life expectancy, one of the great things that I have to be proud about is a funding allocation of $2 million this year to support initiatives aimed at reducing rangatahi suicide, including video resources and hui. Those are the sorts of things that are positive.

Hon Members: Answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I am going invite the member to ask that question again.

Kelvin Davis: My point of order is that I asked whether it is fair—

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, I have asked will the member please ask the question again.

Kelvin Davis: OK. Does he, as Minister for Māori Development, believe that, given lower Māori life expectancy, it is fair that the age of superannuation is raised?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: That is a Government policy. In terms of the Māori Party view of that—as one part of the coalition arrangement with the Government—we believe that our policy is clear: to maintain the age as it is at present. That is our view.

Chris Hipkins: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member is answering as a Minister on behalf of the Government. It is not his job as a Minister to give a party perspective; it is his job to answer on behalf of the Government as a Minister in the Government.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Mr Speaker—

Mr SPEAKER: I do not think there is much to talk about, but I will hear from the Hon Gerry Brownlee.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: It was established in this House by Helen Clark and, in fact, Jim Anderton and the new hope for the Labour Party, Laila Harré, that a person who is a Minister inside a coalition Government, when asked a question about their party’s policy, could answer so.

Mr SPEAKER: I need no further help, but I thank both members for their assistance. In this case a very clear question was asked, and I think that the Minister answered it very satisfactorily.

Kelvin Davis: When Māori unemployment is rising, the wage gap is growing, health outcomes are getting worse, and homeownership is a fantasy, how can he, with a straight face, say that Māori are getting positive outcomes under his watch?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: The gist of the questions asked by the member is about responsibility, and I take those responsibilities really seriously. Can we do better? Of course we can do better, and my hope is to do that by way of advocating through my role as the Minister for Māori Development. For example, in Whānau Ora $40 million over 4 years is about addressing those issues that the member has put in front of the Parliament today. In terms of business and innovation, it is about moving families to get into positions of self-sustaining businesses, and so on—again, $4 million over 4 years. Those are the gains that we have been able to achieve to address best outcomes for our people. I think they need to be applauded.

Mr SPEAKER: Question No. 9—[Interruption] The member has used her supplementary question.

Marama Fox: Sorry, we had an agreement to have another supplementary question allocated. That is my understanding.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I can see that the chief Government whip is saying that is true, but it is helpful for me, in running question time, if I am made aware of such arrangements.

Marama Fox: Apologies, Mr Speaker, and thank you for your indulgence. Has the Minister read any reports about the very good work that he and Te Puni Kōkiri are doing?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: As it happens, I do. If I can quote from that report: “I have to take my hat off to the Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell for keeping the kaupapa of the Māori Party beating while gaining wins from the Government in the 2016 Budget.” The quote goes on: “in the past two years, he has done a good job for Māori and can feel satisfied with a new Whanau Ora injection of another $40 million over the next four years—a total of $72 million a year in welfare, education and health spending to go through Whanau Ora providers.” That quote came from the newest member of the Labour Party, Willie Jackson. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! This is a point of order and I expect to hear it in silence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Hon Te Ururoa Flavell said it was a report. That being the case, can I ask him to table it.

Mr SPEAKER: This is easily arranged if the Minister was quoting from an official document. Was the Minister quoting from an official document?

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL: No, Mr Speaker, from a radio broadcast.

Mr SPEAKER: Then the matter is resolved.

 

 

Criticism of ACT prison policy

ACT has succeeded in attracting attention to the prison policy they announced at their conference in the weekend – see ACT: reduced prison sentence for education – with critics claiming flaws.

RNZ: Flaws seen in ACT’s new prison literacy policy

The ACT Party’s new policy aimed at reducing prisoners’ sentences does not match up with its previous hard-line policies, the Labour Party says.

Labour’s corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the policy had merit on the surface because too many people were being imprisoned.

But he said the ACT Party also introduced the three-strikes policy, which was about locking people up.

“It’s sort of counter-intuitive for them to be saying ‘well let’s reduce prison sentences’ but again without any real detail around the policy it’s really hard to measure whether this policy is actually going to make a difference or not.”

It’s not counter-intuitive. Davis should read David Seymour’s speech and read the policy explanation before criticising it.

It’s not difficult to understand that it’s possible to be tough on the worst recidivist criminals while also trying to improve the non-criminal prospects of first time and petty criminals.

Author and researcher Jarrod Gilbert said the idea of cutting prison sentences should be applauded, but the hard-line three-strikes policy fuelled high incarceration rates.

“We’ve got to balance prison policy between a punitive approach which punishes people for what they do wrong but also assists those that require help to change their lives and obviously that’s not just in the individual’s benefit to change but in wider society’s benefit, not only through cost but through reducing victims of crime.”

Gilbert understands that it’s possible to be both punitive and rehabilitate.

Kim Workman, a former head of Corrections who is a research associate at Victoria University’s Institute of Criminology, said any effort to teach literacy and numeracy to prisoners should be supported.

But he said the policy would be unfair on prisoners who can’t join in lessons.

An odd comment. You shouldn’t try and help some prisoners learn to read and write because some can already read and write and some others are too sick to learn?

“Twenty percent of the prisoners for a start, have brain and head injuries and are incapable of taking part in those programmes, 40 percent have mental health issues. So you’re really only looking at a small proportion of the prison community who are able to leave the prison early.”

I don’t believe that all 20% of prisoners with head injuries can’t be helped by education.

Nor all of the 40% with mental health problems. In fact self esteem is a factor in some mental health problems, so better education could help them overcome mental health problems.

But even if only the remaining 40% can be taught to read and write, or even just a half or a quarter of them, that must surely be a very good achievement.

Kelvin Davis said the programmes already running in prisons needed more funding.

Jarrod Gilbert said support for those coming out of prison was urgently needed to help reduce recidivism.

Funding and resources are crucial if ACT’s policy is to succeed.

Mr Seymour said the rehabilitation of prisoners was crucial and the policy would be part of any coalition arrangement, if ACT were in a position to be part of the government after September’s general election.

He said he had spoken with the Prime Minister about the policy and Bill English was open to the idea.

This policy is a good candidate for consideration as a social investment. Putting more money and resources into rehabilitation and education should fairly quickly save costs through reducing the number of people in prison.