Cannabis bill labouring under legislative laziness

Labour has made a mess (so far) of their attempt to appease people wanting cannabis for medicinal purposes.

John Roughan describes this as a symptom of legislative laziness in Two big concerns for returning PM Jacinda Ardern:

If maternity leave has given the Prime Minister any time to reflect on the team’s performance in her absence she might have returned with two big concerns. One is obviously the decline in business confidence, the other may not so obvious.

It is legislative laziness that ignores practical flaws in the policy behind it.

It was a weakness of the previous Labour Government and it has now appeared in this one, on the subject of legalising cannabis for medicinal use.

I don’t know whether Minister of Health David Clark has been lazy, but on this he has certainly been lax.

Labour mainly wants to be seen as compassionate to the terminally ill. Who doesn’t? But good government requires more than good intentions. The hard part is working out the practicalities of putting good intentions into effect.

The new Government put a bill before Parliament that would have allowed terminally ill people to possess and use a drug that would remain illegal for anybody else. Quite how the drug would be cultivated, manufactured and supplied only to the terminally ill were details that did not unduly concern Labour MPs on the select committee that would have let the bill proceed if Labour and the Greens had a majority.

Labour MPs on the medicinal cannabis select committee have published their view of the issues the committee considered and it shows Labour’s lack of intellectual rigour on subjects such as this. The word “compassion” features a lot.

Repeating ‘compassion’ ad nauseum does not make it a compassionate solution.

Labour simply proposed to provide a legal defence for people charged with possession if they were “terminally ill”. It would have been a defence lawyers’ picnic, probably invoked for growers and dealers too. Labour MPs did not sound much interested in the form of the products for medicinal use or their quality.

Their report declared, “The overall standard of cannabis products is not expected to match that of pharmaceutical grade products, e.g. manufacturers will not be required to provide clinical trial data. The setting of quality standards will be led by the Ministry of Health and will be informed by approaches taken in other jurisdictions, expert technical advice and stakeholders.” In short, “Whatever”.

So what was its purpose, other than to give Labour’s voters the impression the Government was doing something on this subject while, in fact, the difficult details it was ducking would very likely prove insurmountable.

Labour ministers and legislation advisers seemed unprepared for getting into Government, and they haven’t performed well since they took over last November.

Meanwhile, on medicinal cannabis it has been overtaken by the National MP Shane Reti who has drafted a bill resolving the practical details and has convinced his caucus to support it.

Reti’s bill would allow cannabis products currently available only on prescription to be available from pharmacies on presentation of a medical cannabis card issued by the patient’s doctor or nurse practitioner. A licence would be needed to cultivate or manufacture the products, which would not include cannabis in loose-leaf form.

Unlike Labour, Reti has done some hard work. He visited the US and researched what has worked with cannabis law reform.

Then he put together a bill that isn’t perfect – he had to compromise to get approval from the conservative National caucus – but it looks far better than Labour’s deficient attempt.

Labour’s Louisa Wall has been working on trying to make things happen, but she has never seemed to have much clout in Labour. She became a list MP in 2008 and has been an electorate MP (Manurewa) since 2011, but she is outside Cabinet well down the Labour ranks at 24. She is limited with Clark inn charge of health.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has been working hard with all parties to try to get agreement on a sensible way forward.

It’s a shame that Labour’s legislative laziness, and their unwillingness to work things out with other parties, has made what should have been a straightforward compassionate consensus so hard to achieve.

Quiet performers and hard workers Swarbrick and Reti may be the key to getting something worthwhile into law,

 

National’s primary teacher policy

The new policy announcement made by Simon Bridges at National’s conference in the weekend seems a strange choice – a promise to increase the number of primary school teachers and lower class sizes.

Typically National really struggles with teacher related policies. It is fairly well known that Labour works very closely with teacher unions, and the unions don’t like working with National.

I guess it signifies a change in direction for national under Bridges’ leadership. Press release (edited):


National commits to more primary teachers

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has announced National’s commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and give kids more teacher time.

“With the right education we can overcome the challenges that some children face purely because of the circumstances they were born into,” Mr Bridges said at the National Party’s annual conference in Auckland today.

“There is one thing every child needs to help them achieve their potential, from the one that struggles to sit still and follow instructions to the bright child that wants to be challenged to the gifted child that doesn’t know how to channel their talent.

“And that’s attention from one of New Zealand’s world class teachers who can cater to the needs of each child, and spend more time with each of them.

“More teachers means more attention for our kids at a stage of life when they need it most.

“To achieve their potential and reach their dreams our kids need less Facebook and more face time with teachers.

“National is committed to delivering that by putting more teachers in schools to ensure smaller class sizes for our children.

“We’re also committed to attracting more teachers and ensuring they are highly respected professionals in our communities. Part of that is pay, and it’s also about conditions such as class sizes and the investment we put into teachers to deliver quality learning to our kids.

Mr Bridges said National would spend the next two years working with teachers, parents and communities on the details of the policy, along with the others it will take to the electorate in 2020.

“This year is about listening to our communities, next year about getting feedback on the ideas we put forward and 2020 about delivering the concrete plans that show New Zealanders we are ready to lead.

“We will make every day count. National will bring strong leadership, the best ideas and the ability to make a difference. I’m backing New Zealanders and I’m starting with our children.”


Labour used to propose reducing class sizes (2014 campaign) and criticised National on class sizes, but I can’t find anything specifically in their education manifesto on this.

Chris Hipkins two years ago (July 2016): Bigger class sizes on the way under National

Hekia Parata’s refusal to rule out bigger class sizes as a result of her new bulk funding regime speaks volumes about the real agenda behind her proposed changes, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Hekia Parata has proposed that schools should have the ‘flexibility’ to spend money that currently goes towards teaching salaries on other expenses. That can only result in bigger class sizes, a reduction in the number of courses on offer, or both.

“I’m not surprised that Hekia Parata has refused to rule out bigger class sizes. In Western Australia, where she has drawn inspiration for her new model from, at least the Minister for Education was honest enough to admit class sizes going up was a likely consequence of bulk funding.

NZH a year ago (July 2017): Modern classrooms in all schools by 2030: Labour’s election pledge

Ahead of the 2014 election Labour focused on reducing class sizes to one teacher to 26 students at primary and a maximum average class size of 23 at secondary schools. Those specific goals have been dropped.

Hipkins told the Herald the 2014 policy to cut class sizes would have been funded by scrapping National’s flagship education policy, Investing in Educational Success (IES).

“A lot of money is committed now. It remains a goal to reduce class sizes and we will have more to say on that in due course.”

In due course hasn’t arrived yet. National seem to have taken over a Labour policy.

This looks a bit like more Tweedlenats and Tweedlelabour.

Politics pissing on people over cannabis bills

Parties playing politics are taking precedent over popular public opinion on cannabis laws.

Newsroom: Cannabis bill more politics than policy

National has drawn up its own medicinal cannabis bill, but the real story isn’t the policy, but the politics behind it, Thomas Coughlan reports.

National has released its alternative medicinal cannabis bill, which it says will make cannabis medication products more widely available.

The party also says that the bill adds some much-needed regulatory detail to the Government’s bill, which largely delegated such detail to officials.

But the real story of the day was a political one, with National blindsiding Labour, whose medicinal cannabis bill returned from select committee today.

Surprised Government MPs were unable to comment on National’s bill, which they had only been made aware of after it was reported by Newshub on Wednesday night.

The bill puts pressure on the Government’s support parties, particularly the Greens, whose own medicinal cannabis bill brought by Chlöe Swarbrick was defeated in January.

I don’t think it puts pressure on the Greens. They are the only party to come out of this shemozzle with any credit.

If National’s bill is drawn from the ballot and found to be popular, pressure could mount on the Green party to break ranks with the Government and support it.

The obvious problem with National’s bill is that there is no chance of it getting anywhere in the short term and there’s a low chance of it being drawn in the medium term.

In the House, Bridges accused the Government of not “doing the work” and said National’s detailed bill was evidence of a “Government in waiting”.

But National has been accused of time wasting and petty politicking.

Instead of using the select committee to recommend changes to the legislation, the party opted to draw up its own bill.

Woodhouse said the Government members on the Health select committee were “ambivalent” about National’s proposals, while Bridges said the Government’s bill didn’t even have “the makings of a framework”  to look at the regulations National members demanded.

But Government sources who have seen the bill said the issue was not so much the difference between what the two bills permit, but whether Parliament or officials dictate the regulatory regime.

The Health Select Committee’s Chair, Labour’s Louisa Wall, said the introduction of a new bill on the day the select committee was to release its report undermined the integrity of the select committee process.

Her comments implied it was unlikely Labour would support National’s bill, even if it was found to be an improvement on their own.

Disappointing crap from National and Labour.

With polls showing 80-90% support for decent medical cannabis law the public are getting pissed on by politics and parties.

 

MP mother wants more free travel for partners

MP Kiri Allen had a baby at about the same time she got into parliament via Labour’s list. She is trying to get more free travel for MPs with young children so they can have more time with their family together.

Every parent who works has to compromise on family time, it just goes with the job.

MPs already have fairly generous pay and travel allowances.

Stuff:  Mum MP calls for travel cap change to help politicians with babies

One of Parliament’s new parents, Kiri Allen, has argued for a cap on taxpayer-funded travel for MPs’ partners to be lifted for those with young babies.

While MPs’ partners used to be allowed unlimited travel to be with the MP, the so-called “perk” was cut back in 2014 after excessive use by some.

…the partners of ordinary MPs get 20 trips a year maximum while ministers’ partners get 30 trips a year. The caps are set by the Remuneration Authority and can only be used to accompany MPs on work-related travel.

Twenty free trips a year doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Allen said the cap was difficult when her baby was less than six months old as it restricted her partner and baby to visiting Wellington only once every six weeks at a time the family wanted to spend as much time together as possible.

Speaking to the Herald afterwards, she said she knew calls to widen the entitlements could be “politically unpalatable”.

“But that would be an amendment I would advocate for if we were striving to make Parliament more family-friendly. I would advocate for an amendment for people for those first six months of a baby’s life.”

She said the entitlement should also be extended to caregivers rather than just partners.

So parents with babies can have anyone they like travelling with them to help them?

Parliament sits for 30 weeks per year between Tuesday and Thursday, and MPs living out of Wellington get to fly home at the end of short weeks in Parliament so it is hardly a long amount of time apart from both parents.

And being a list MP Allen doesn’t have the weekend commitments that electorate MPs have. It really isn’t a very onerous job for a fback bench list MP.

Allen knew what sort of job she was putting herself forward for, and will have known she was pregnant when campaigning to become an MP. But she wants more perks laid on.

I think she is trying to push her working conditions too far.

 

 

Futile Peters posturing on Māori seats

In May a member’s Bill was drawn that aims to improve protection the Māori seats in Parliament. Winston Peters says he wants the bill to include a referendum or two on whether the Māori seats should be retained at all.

Given that it is a Labour Māori MP’s bill, and there is no coalition agreement for NZ First’s policy to have a referendum on the Māori  seats, it must be futile posturing by Peters.

In July last year in his speech to the NZ First congress:

I am therefore announcing today that the next government we belong to will offer a binding referendum mid-term to do two things:

Retain or Abolish the Maori seats.

And there will be second referendum on the same day and that will be to Maintain or Reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs.

More in Peters wavers over Maori seat referendum

See also (RNZ): Peters promises referendum on Māori seats

However as we know, a campaign ‘promise’ is no more than policy posturing, wholly dependent on what is negotiated in setting up a Government after the election.

Just after last year’s election (RNZ): Peters appears to shift on Māori seat referendum

New Zealand First appears to have shifted its position on a referendum on the Māori seats, now the Māori Party has been voted out of Parliament.

Before the election campaign, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters pledged a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven Māori electorate seats. He argued Māori electorates had failed to deliver what Māori really needed and were a form of “tokenism”.

During an interview yesterday on Australia’s Sky News, Mr Peters was asked how the referendum could affect coalition negotiations.

“The Māori Party itself – which was one of the driving things behind us saying it – the Māori Party itself, a race-based, origin-of-race party, got smashed in this election, and it’s gone.

“And so some of the things that, or elements to the environment on which a promise is made have since changed. That’s all I can say.”

That doesn’t say much. It is typically vague of Peters.

Labour, having just won all Māori seats, did not concede anything to Peters on the seats in their coalition agreement.

Then in May this year: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

A bill which will entrench Māori electorate seats in Parliament has been selected from the members’ bill ballot today.

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats. Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

Yesterday: Winston Peters wants ‘two-part referendum’ on Māori seats

Acting Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is calling for a two-pronged referendum on whether Māori seats should be entrenched, or should go altogether.

New Zealand First campaigned on holding a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seats.

At the time as Labour leader Jacinda Ardern ruled out a referendum, saying that would break faith with Māori voters.

Mr Peters said he still believed the matter should be put to the public.

“If you want to make changes to the electoral system, you should go to the country, not just do it unilaterally,” he said.

New Zealand First would not support the bill as it stands, Mr Peters said, but would reconsider if an amendment was made in the committee stages to include the referendum.

“If they put an SOP [Supplementary Order Paper] in for referendum, then it will be all on.

“That’s when we put all our cards on the table as to whether there should be Māori seats and, if so, should they be entrenched.

“There should be a two-part referendum,” he said.

‘They’ – Labour – are unlikely to put a SOP in the bill for referendums. Labour’s Māori MPs are not going to want a turkey vote for Christmas.

Peters and NZ First got nowhere near any mandate for this in the last election. They got nothing on it from their published coalition agreement.

If Peters pressures Labour and they roll over on this they risk getting slammed by Māori voters. They surely aren’t that silly.

This looks like futile posturing by Peters.

I presume he was speaking as NZ First leader and not as acting Prime Minister.

Nine years of neglect

When National were in Government they kept harking  back to the previous Government, blaming Helen Clark and her ministers for nine years of doing some things different to how National might have done them.

Now Labour and Winston Peters are laying the ‘last nine years’ on rather thick, with Simon Bridges reinforcing the past time frame.

From Question time in Parliament today – Question No. 2—Prime Minister:

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he accept that more than 32,000 people have either gone on strike or have signalled they will go on strike this year and that this figure exceeds the number of people that went on strike in the last nine years?

Hon Simon Bridges: Does he disagree, as he said this morning, with the statement that more than 32,000 people have either gone on strike or have signalled they’ll go on strike this year and that this figure exceeds the number of people that went on strike in the last nine years?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Can I say that there are a number of negotiations going on, because this Government does not have a tin ear. We understand the conditions under which they have suffered after nine years of neglect where the whole intent of the Government was to govern for the few against the interests of the mass and the many.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The reality is that if, for example—to use an analogy—there is a so-called bus stop where no bus bothers to turn up, then it’s quite likely no one actually goes to the bus stop. But we run transport services and we listen. And so a whole lot of people out there say, “Maybe we should approach the new Government and get a fairer deal.”, and we are saying to them, “You will get a fair deal, but we can’t turn around nine years of neglect in the space of one Budget.”

Question No. 5—Finance:

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Actually, if we look at per-person growth since New Zealand exited the recession, it’s shrunk nearly a quarter of the time since the recession. So under the previous Government’s policies, it was actually going backwards. In this case, it’s not growing quite as fast as we would like, because it will take a little longer than one quarter of activity to correct the last nine years.

Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: Of course I agree with the Minister of Energy and Resources, who’s doing a fantastic job. From time to time in the economy, we have to deal with certain supply constraints. What I do know is that sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring issues like climate change isn’t going to deliver New Zealand a sustainable economy. We’re doing something about it after nine years of the previous Government doing nothing.

Question No. 6—Housing and Urban Development:

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Housing and Urban Development): Yes. After nine years of neglect, we can’t go from zero homes to 10,000 overnight, but we are making solid progress in increasing the capacity of the construction industry.

Question No. 8—Health:

That is the result of nine years of underfunding.

I hope we don’t get nine years of talking about the last nine years. It’s already stale and lame.

At least the Green ministers just get on with trying to do their jobs in however man years they get to do it. And David Seymour gets to go dancing.

Kirton resigning from Labour

Andrew Kirton moved to New Zealand two years ago to run the Labour Party as general Secretary, helped them to an election win and to negotiate a governing deal.

He ran into difficulties in handling of the Labour camp where it was alleged sexual harassment occurred. With the results of an investigation into the camp thought by some to be imminent (of course that could be coincidental), Kirton is leaving Labour.

Newsroom: Labour Party chief resigns

The Labour Party’s general secretary Andrew Kirton announced his resignation this afternoon – after the high of an election win last year and the low of allegations of sexual assault and drunkenness at a Labour Youth Camp in February.

But when Newsroom broke news of the allegations from the summer camp near Waihi, Kirton’s handling of the matter was under intense scrutiny. Labour took what it called a “victim-led” approach to the complaints and no outside investigation was sought.

Newsroom revealed Kirton’s plans at lunchtime today and he announced this afternoon he was heading to a new role as government relations executive at Air New Zealand.

Some eyebrows could be raised over the timing of the announcement, coming at a time when political and media eyes are on Ardern’s new baby at Auckland Hospital.

On the investigation:

Police have been investigating and have indicated a charge may yet be laid against the person accused of the late-night assaults on young party supporters, one as young as 16.

Labour commissioned Wellington lawyer Maria Berryman in March to investigate how it handled the affair, its general culture and any other incidents of sexual harassment or abuse within the party. She had three months to report back and her findings were not to be made public but go to key party leaders.

Berryman only recently spoke to some of the five victims of the assaults at the camp.

So it could be a while before the investigation is completed. Kirton could be gone by then.

Another Labour big money fundraiser

Fund raising is a necessity in New Zealand politics. You need money to campaign, you need to campaign to get votes, and you need votes to succeed.

So generally fund raising shouldn’t be a big deal. Unless you do what you blasted another party for doing. Labour has been spotlighted for big money fundraising again.

NZH: Labour’s Stuart Nash defends $1000-a-head fundraiser

MP for Napier
Minister of Police, Fisheries, Revenue, and Small Business

Weeks after Labour was criticised for holding fundraisers featuring ministers, Labour’s Stuart Nash will hold a lunch fundraiser at the swanky Northern Club where about 20 people will pay $1000 each to hear him talk.

Nash said the fundraiser in Auckland today was to raise money for his Napier campaign in 2020.

Those invited were friends and acquaintances “who have done well in life” and he was speaking as Napier MP rather than in his capacity as a minister.

The old ‘not as a Minister’ trick.

It seems odd to put on a swanky show for friends and acquaintances. They shouldn’t need to be lavished with luxury to extract money from them.

Why fund raise in Auckland for a Napier campaign? That seems odd.

And it’s two years until the campaign will start to wind up.

It comes a fortnight after Labour was accused of hypocrisy for a fundraiser at the Wellington Club where attendees paid $600 a head to listen to Finance Minister Grant Robertson speak about the Budget.

Funny how generally parties and politicians change their views on what is acceptable or not depending on whether they are in Government or not.

But this isn’t new territory for Nash.

Stuff 28 September 2014 – Stuart Nash: it’s all about ‘bloody hard work’

“You would be surprised by some of the people who contributed to my campaign,” Nash says, smiling.

He mentions a fundraiser at the exclusive Northern Club in Auckland, chasing lawyers, accountants and businessmen, “people who never vote Labour but believe in me and what I’m doing . . . a lot of time you are hitting up your wealthy friends for money”.

The money let him start campaigning early.

He had time to campaign then. He has now an established MP, and a Minister with a much bigger profile.

Labour pressured by friendly fire strike threats

It seems a bit ironic that wage claims and threats of strikes have ramped up substantially now Labour lead the Government. In opposition Labour seems closely associated with unions, the PSA and worker groups like the teachers and nurses, so why are they getting more militant now Labour hold then purse strings?

Payback for their electoral support – large scale payback, because it works.

Hamish Rutherford: Labour’s sympathetic ear means it is destined to feel far more pressure from unions

The timing of strike threats from a growing number of corners of the public sector, must be galling for the new Government.

After years of small increases under National, Labour arrives in the Beehive, makes an offer – then doubles it – and the nurses announce plans to walk off the job for the first time in a generation.

So why now? Why didn’t the nurses strike at any point during the last nine years?

“All of the concerns that you are hearing here, were raised with the previous government,” New Zealand Nurses Organisation chief executive Memo Musa said as the group formally rejected the Government’s $500 million offer. It was “not about sympathy” he added.

“The issue now, is pretty much an issue of timing.”

In part it will be economic timing – National tool over in 2008 as the Global Financial Crisis struck and care was needed in spending during years of deficits. Inflation has also been very low for a decade now, and wage increases have been meagre for most workers.

So Labour taking over at the same that surpluses have come back – more money available and a friendly Government is an opportune time to push for a big lift in wages. And they are pushing hard.

Timing is everything, and the nurses are not alone in realising this.

Teachers – who admittedly have used industrial action regularly – are calling for “action”, with votes on strikes in August.

Thousands of core public servants are also being balloted on strikes. Although the proposed action by more than 4000 members of the Public Service Association – two two-hour strikes in July – will hardly bring the nation to a halt, the way it is being billed is telling.

The PSA has opted for “co-ordinated” action across Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), with national secretary Glenn Barclay saying it was “a big deal because we haven’t had industrial action in the public service for a long time”.

Labour will come under more pressure from the unions for a good reason.

It is not just that expectations are higher, it is that the Government has a sympathetic ear. Unions are likely to protest more under the current administration because it will work.

Labour have already raised minimum wages, and promise more increases. They may get pushed by threats of strikes to give generous increases to nurses, teachers and other public servants.

This will be good for the economy, short term.

But it will put a lot of pressure on companies to pay more too, or public-private wage disparities will increase.

If private sector wages are forced to follow Government wage generosity this will likely lead to price inflation as well.And there will be pressure to increase benefits.

Will we end up any better off?

National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

National have had a rethinks and have done a bit of a u-turn, now saying the support having a Climate  Commission. This makes strong cross party support for addressing climate issues.

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement supports a Climate Commission:

  • Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The number one point in the Labour Green Confidence and Supply agreement was setting up a Commission:

Sustainable Economy

1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050, with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form, energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission

b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.

c. A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.

d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

In a step towards that in April Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced an Interim Climate Change Committee:

The Minister for Climate Change today announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“We need work to start now on how things like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), and we need planning now for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035,” says James Shaw.

“The Interim Climate Change Committee will begin this important work until we have set up the independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

“The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the Climate Change Commission,” Mr Shaw said.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.

“Setting up the Interim Climate Change Committee is a great step in that direction,” says James Shaw.

Last week Shaw announced Zero Carbon Bill Consultation Launch.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges tweeted:

Bridges spoke on this – Speech to Fieldays on climate change

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister and James Shaw, offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission.

I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bi-partisan progress on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.

The Commission would be advisory only, with the Government of the day taking final decisions on both targets and policy responses.

There are a number of details I want to work through with the Government before the Commission is launched – such as ensuring the Commission has appropriate consideration for economic impacts as well as environmental, and that the process for appointments to the Commission is also bipartisan.

But I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

This is a significant and a good move by Bridges and National.

With all the multi-MP parties working together positively on climate change issues New Zealand should make good progress on addressing climate change issues.