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

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

And it was promoted as a 100 day promise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A press release from Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand

https://mcawarenessnz.org/


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

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

My friend was dying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most damaging effects of the waka jumping law will be invisible and immeasurable

It is difficult to know what the effect of the ironically named Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill that passed it’s final vote in Parliament this week. We may never know for sure.

We do know that it has made Labour look like Winston’s patsies, especially Andrew Little who had to front the bill as it went through Parliament. And it showed the Greens as far less principled than they had made out for so long while out of government – this could be damaging to them in the next election.

However Audrey Young says that the most damaging effects will be “invisible and immeasurable” in Winston Peters wastes hard-won power on wretched law.

…the party-hopping bill passed in Parliament ahead of the party’s convention can barely be called an achievement, let alone qualify as a proud one.

It has been Parliament at its worst – indulging a powerful politician with an obsession with defectors.

The law is a fetter on dissent, and Peters’ decision to demand its passage as the price of power stands in contradiction to his own history as a dissenter and maverick.

The law will enable a caucus to fire a duly elected MP not just from the caucus but from Parliament if they decide that MP no longer properly represents the party.

The hypocrisy is galling. Peters built New Zealand First on party-hoppers such as Michael Laws, Peter McCardle and Jack Elder.

In those days, Peters was upholding the freedom of any MP to leave a party without having to leave Parliament if their conscience demanded it.

Self-interested hypocrisy is nothing new for Peters.

It was only when party-hoppers left New Zealand First rather than joined it that the notion became objectionable, to Peters. It was only after MMP that what the voters decided on election day suddenly became sacred to Peters.

Essentially, the new party-hopping law is based on self-interest disguised as principle.

It is a draconian solution to a problem of defection that has not existed since those formative days of MMP.

And Labour and the Greens went along with this and enabled it.

New Zealand First did not campaign on party-hopping at all last election but then put it up as a bottom line in coalition talks, while the vast number of bottom lines actually enunciated by Peters in the campaign were surrendered in the horse-trading of coalition talks.

The law does not have the true support of the majority of the House but the Greens have been blackmailed into supporting it against the alternative – a toxic relationship with Peters.

Electoral law changes should have wide support of any Parliament but the law was railroaded through by a party with 7 per cent of the vote because it held the balance of power at the election.

Will Greens learn from being backed into a corner by Peters and then painting themselves in? They could perhaps gain back some of their credibility on being principled it they  don’t campaign next election on a status quo governing arrangement leaving Peters in a dog wagging position.

The most pernicious effect of the new law is not the actual expulsion of an MP from Parliament. Rather, it is the chilling effect it will have on strong, independent thought and voice of MPs within parties and within Parliament. In turn that will have an impact on the selection of MPs.

The most damaging effects of the law will be invisible and immeasurable.

It was the impact on dissent that drew the harshest criticism from Green luminaries Jeanette Fitzsimons and Keith Locke.

Did Green support of this bill go to party membership for a decision? They used to claim that their membership played a part in any important decisions. Surely they must have done that, especially given that it was a change to electoral law, and it had an obvious impact on the party ethos and integrity.

It has been sad to see a raft of new Labour MPs kowtowing to Peters to convince themselves that the law will enhance democracy when it is really a management tool for Peters to keep potentially difficult MPs in check.

One could wonder what threats or promises were made between Peters and Labour and Green leaderships to make both parties roll over on this for Peters.

Dissent has been a strong theme throughout Peters’ career.

He talked about in his maiden speech in 1979 when he lambasted people whom he saw as destructive critics who criticised for the sake of it: “Opposition, criticism and dissent are worthy pursuits when combined with a sense of responsibility. They have a purifying effect on society. Areas in need of urgent attention can be identified and courses of action may be initiated. However embarrassing to community or national leaders, the results are enormously beneficial to the total well-being of the community. The critic I am [condemning] has no such goals. He sets out to exploit every tremor and spasm in society, the economy or race relations, seeking to use every such event as a vehicle to project his own public personality.”

An unkind person might say that Peters has gained power in New Zealand politics by becoming the sort of critic he so despised in his maiden speech.

It is a remarkable achievement to have built a party, and sustained it, and to be at the peak of his political power when most people his age are checking out retirement villages.

It is also remarkable that Peters should be wasting that power on such a wretched law.

And that Labour and especially the Greens have wasted their integrity by enabling the wretched law to pass with barely a whimper.

 

 

 

 

Labour lacking in gender balance – and female capability?

Labour is going backwards with their ideal, gender balance, especially in their senior ranks.

In October 2017 (just after she became Prime Minister) Ardern vows to improve Cabinet gender balance

Women would hold just six of Labour’s 16-strong Cabinet posts, and just one of its five ministerial roles outside of Cabinet.

Ms Ardern said that was not good enough and she was vowing to bring more women up to the top level.

“I’m going to make sure that we continue to work on bringing through more of our team”.

“We set ourselves a goal as a Labour Party that we would bring more women into our caucus. When we set that goal we set it at 50 percent, and we came very close to achieving that this election and I’m proud of that”.

“We’ll continue to make sure that we try to see that reflected in our membership as they come up through roles and responsibilities through both our caucus and through our Cabinet.”

That’s not happening yet – in fact it’s deteriorating.

With the resignation of now ex-Ministers Clare Curran and the sacking of Meka Whaitiri there are now:

  • 8 female of 26 ministers
  • 6 female ministers of 19 in Cabinet
  • 3 female ministers on the front bench (top 10)
  • 5 female Labour ministers

As a comparison, the last National-led line-up (April 2017):

  • 9 female of 27 ministers
  • 7 female of 22 in Cabinet
  • 2 female ministers on the front bench
  • 9 female National ministers

In the Labour-led government, NZ First and Greens balance each other out. NZ First has 1 female of 3 ministers, while Greens have 2 female of 3 ministers.

Labour now has just Jacinda Ardern (1), Megan Woods (6), Carmel Sepuloni (9), Nanaia Mahuta (12) and Jenny Salesa (15) – five out of fifteen.

And there’s not many stand outs there, yet at least.

Gender balance in Parliament and in Cabinet are great ideals, but to achieve that requires enough quality female candidates standing for Parliament, and enough of them capable of handling roles as ministers and in Cabinet.

Both failures as ministers have been Labour MPs.

While I think that most people would like to see approximate gender balances in Parliament, I think that most voters – male and female – would choose competence over tokenism and making up the numbers with MPs not up to the job.

Spin winds up as Labour battles

Labour have had a bad week, on top of bad weeks before it. They have been widely criticised for conceding power to Winston Peters, and have been dogged by problems, especially the Clare Curran/Derek Handley saga that continues to cause them embarrassment.

The weekend commentary continues to challenge Labour’s credibility.

Audrey Young: Failings in Coalition Government become glaringly apparent

Illustration / Guy Body

In March, the honeymoon between the new Coalition Government and the public ended after the mishandling of Labour’s summer school complaints and the bumbling around New Zealand’s position on Russia.

September marks the end of another honeymoon – between the partners in the Coalition Government, Labour and New Zealand First.

This week also marks another milestone: Peters finally came clean about how he sees his party’s status in the relationship, as an equal partner to Jacinda Ardern’s Labour which explains a lot.

This week has been more like the first falling-out rather than a crisis in the relationship but both parties behaved very badly to the other.

Young details a plethora of problems.

Duncan Garner:  Don’t write this fumbling coalition off just yet

It’s been a messy, incoherent and rudderless 12 months. The winner has been the surplus National left behind. It has given Labour options. The loser has many names. Clare Curran, and all those average jocks posing as ministers, and those using the “c” word.

Peters prefers to describe criticism of this governing hybrid with a turn-of-the-century word, “balderdash” which is ultimately a pretentious gum movement meaning utter nonsense. The use of such a silly word should be a warning to voters to stay well clear, but you simply can’t save all the conspiracy theorists all the time.

If you wanted a trainer wheel Government, this is it. Yes, there are a few policy scraps and differences right now. That’s because there are three partners and the tail does wag the dog more often than it should. That’s called MMP in action. They’ll sort it. It’s the only option.

So what do they do to try and improve things? It seems like they are spinning up their PR department to try and look better (or at least less bad).

I have noticed a change in attitude at The Standard recently, back to being very sensitive about any criticism of Labour.

MickySavage has kept plugging away with post attacks on National, nothing much new there. (And he puts up some good posts on less party orientated subjects as well).

But some with close Labour (and Green) ties have started to pop up in the mix.

Mike Smith (ex Labour general secretary): Is Politik a propaganda mouthpiece for the UK Embassy?

It very much looks as though Richard Harman would have been one of the selected journalists. I know Richard well, like and respect him, but I think he is barking up the wrong tree on this issue.

Winston Peters is and deserves to be treated as a substantial politician and diplomat. One doesn’t have to agree with everything he says, but he is no fool. On this issue, for our country’s sake, I am very glad he is not knee-jerk following the “western” group.

Curious to see a Labourite supporting Peters, who copped more criticism than from Harman.

Simon Louisson (former journalist who reported for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, the New Zealand Press Association and Reuters and has been a political and media adviser to the Green Party): What does it take for bosses not to get their bonus?

Fonterra’s $196 million loss for the June year – the first loss in the co-op’s 17-year history and a staggering reversal of last year’s $745m profit – failed to seriously dent the remuneration of its former CEO Theo Spierings.

Part of the trouble lies in the fact that people on very high salaries get the same employment protection that ordinary workers receive. I would argue that the law should be changed so that once an employee receives remuneration of over ten times, or even five times, the average income, he/she should be prepared to take the responsibility that they live or die by their performance.

As a former businesses reporter, time and again I would see bosses fired for incompetence but paid enormous “golden parachutes”.

Louisson is back posting at The Standard after a break of six month break, since authoring a flurry of posts (six) at the start of the year).

Te Reo Putake (an active Labour member and activist and seems to be close to some Labour MPs): Coalition Problems? Tell ’em they’re Dreaming!

The National Party and their paid stooges have been promoting the narrative that NZ First is the party that’s really in control of the new government. That’s bollocks.

“Their paid stooges” is a dirty politics type allegation. Trying to blame critics for Labour’s run of incompetence is not going to fix or even paper over the bad press they have been getting.

What’s actually happening is that we have an MMP Government that is functioning in exactly the way it was envisaged to work. The three parties negotiate, they argue for their positions, they seek consensus and then they enact legislation. And, yes, it is a three way deal. The Greens have managed to find ways to build a relationship with NZ First that must be annoying the hell out of the Nats.

It’s not ‘the Nats’ who seem annoyed as hell by Labour’s bad media coverage.

And that’s because the strength of this coalition is respect for different opinions and a way of working that emphasises consensus.

Consensus as long as Peters approves? That is how it is being portrayed, with some justification.

How very different from the undemocratic FPP when a one seat majority ensured an effective dictatorship over legislation.

Inseat there’s a growing perception of one MP who dictates what goes in a small party now dictating to a party with five times as many seats.

No, this is the modern way. No wonder the right can’t understand why they lost the last election.

They’re dinosaurs, watching the comets fall.

It’s not National who look to be in danger of falling at the moment. As self inflicted comets fall around labour their PR dinosaurs try to patch up yesterday’s mess. Too late as the rapid news cycle continues to steam roll them.

A comment on that thread: from Incognito:

Very good post! Bryan Gould wrote a similar post: http://www.bryangould.com/coalition-government-working-as-it-should/

Gould often trots out pro Labour pieces, and plays a similar tune to TRP:

It is increasingly clear that some supposedly expert commentators on the political scene have a poor understanding of how a parliamentary democracy actually works.

When the coalition partners occasionally do not agree on a particular issue, here is no reason, in other words, no reason to froth at the mouth, or bemoan the fact that National, with the largest number of seats but not a majority, is not in government, or to ask, who is running the government. A coalition government that has to muster a parliamentary majority to get its measures passed is what both our constitutional principles and the will of the people as represented by the outcome of the election both dictate; it is called democracy at work.

So, when New Zealand First declines to support a particular proposal put forward by Labour, or if the roles are reversed so that Labour fails support something New Zealand First wants, we should celebrate, not fulminate. We have the best of all worlds – a more representative parliament, a government that has to take account of a wider range of opinion than just its own, and a coalition government that provides stability and a consistent strategic direction.

Perhaps some of our commentators should pause to reflect for a moment before going into print.

Jacinda Ardern has often batted away suggestions of dysfunction by saying it is just how MMP works. In a just released book on the 2017 election (see ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election) she says:

The rest really is history, and now with the most genuine MMP government we’ve ever had, it’s also up to us to make history.

What makes the current government any more ‘genuine’ than past ones?

Tracy Watkins: Is Winston Peters Labour’s dud Lotto win?

There might have been lots of calming words spoken about  MMP in action – but that’s just Labour putting on a brave face.

Seems like a few brave faces are being trundled out by Labour’s PR department.

Ardern, Labour and their mouthpieces can claim as often as they like that ‘MMP is working as it should be’, but they currently look like they are insisting the seats look comfortable as the wheels get very wobbly.

‘Labour has been outsmarted and outmanoeuvred’

Discussion on the Labour versus NZ First power struggle in Government continues.

John Armstrong: ‘Labour has been outsmarted and outmanoeuvred’ by Winston Peters

Don’t listen to those who dismiss the current muscle-flexing by Winston Peters as nothing more than the standard fare of MMP politics.

It is anything but.

Were there a handbook covering the mechanics of forming and running a coalition government, the New Zealand First leader would currently be writing a new chapter—one which would be without a happy ending for Jacinda Ardern, her coalition managers and the rest of the Labour Party.

The latter should be worried — very worried.

What began as an isolated case of New Zealand First thwarting Labour’s desire to eradicate a hardline law and order statute — namely the three-strikes law — has become what looks suspiciously like a carefully orchestrated campaign which has the junior partner in the coalition making ever more frequent raids deep into territory where Labour would insist it has the right to call the shots.

Labour can tolerate having to keep living with the three-strikes law. It can tolerate not being able to raise the annual refugee quota.

After all, prior to a National government-instigated rise in the quota which took effect this year, the quota had been held at 750 for the previous 30 years, believe it or not.

What Labour cannot accept is its coalition partner blocking its long-promised legislation rolling back some of National’s so-called “reforms” in the industrial relations arena.

If Labour is not seething over that, it should be. The dominant partner has to bite its tongue, however.

Laura O’Connell Rapira (from ActionStation) has concerns about the lack of action.

https://twitter.com/laura_oc_rapira/status/1039991246435934208

Is Labour failing to deliver, or is Winston not letting them?

There has been a flurry of news and commentary lately on what the Labour led Government seems to be reneging on, and what Winston Peters’ influence may be in preventing Labour from doing what they ‘promised’ (election ‘promises’ are selling points that I think most people know may never be delivered due to governing arrangements or reality).

Labour (Andrew Little) had already three strikes repeal rug pulled from under them by NZ First, and then last week Winston Peters pulled the refugee quota rug out from under Jacinda Ardern.

I don’t know if this is just Tax Working Group being luke warm on a Capital Gains Tax, or not able to recommend one within the limitations Labour put on it, or whatever, but Cullen confirms CGT will not be addressed in interim TWG report.

Also yesterday (Newshub): Unions worried by NZ First’s ‘dominance’ in Jacinda Ardern’s Government

Labour is under fire from the most unlikely of critics – its staunch allies, the unions, are raising concerns about the rising dominance of New Zealand First.

Two of the biggest unions, FIRST Union and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), fear the Government’s employment law reforms could be hijacked by Winston Peters.

The Labour Party and the unions were bedfellows from the beginning, which is why Wednesday’s comments from FIRST Union’s Robert Reid are so surprisingly scathing.

“We are a bit worried in the union that the dominance on a number of issues that is coming from New Zealand First,” he told The AM Show.

CTU is also worried, concerned New Zealand First will hijack planned employment law changes.

“It’s a real concern if Labour, who stand for working people, are having trouble with their coalition partner on this,” president Richard Wagstaff told Newshub.

That clearly shows “worried” and “concern”. Reid did respond via twitter:

Reid can think that the sun shines out of Ardern’s magazine style coverage and at the same time be “a bit worried” that “the dominance on a number of issues that is coming from New Zealand First”.

Also yesterday (RNZ):  NZ First pull support for Labour-led initiatives at last minute

The government was forced to halt a planned announcement about its Crown/Māori Relations portfolio after New Zealand First raised last minute objections.

Media were briefed and invited to attend an announcement by Crown/Māori Relations Minister Kelvin Davis and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday, where the new agency was set to be unveiled following sign-off at Cabinet.

But Ms Ardern and Mr Davis had to roll back the announcement after NZ First refused to support it.

Instead it was used as a symbolic display of the consultation process and brought together Māori leaders who would be pivotal in helping shape the partnership between Māori and the Crown in the future.

NZ First was not at the watered-down announcement with its ministers all claiming to be busy with other meetings.

It’s the latest disagreement between the coalition partners.

Ardern can claim this is just coalition government in action, but there is a risk that she be seen as a puppet leader doing the  fluff stuff with Peters calling the serious shots.

Ardern and her PR team can promote all the soppy celebrity coverage they like, but there is a growing perception that Ardern is lacking in the real leadership department. She seems to be losing credibility with political journalists, and also in social media.

No Right Turn (left leaning but willing to be critical of the left): Labour isn’t delivering

Labour was elected on a platform of hope and change. But in office it doesn’t seem to be delivering much of either. In addition to the two backdowns highlighted above, its also refusing to eliminate 90 day trial periods and may not even abolish youth rates. Its dawdling on doubling the refugee quota and looks like it will keep on grovelling to farmers on climate change.

But if they’re not going to change anything, then people might just decide to vote for the other lot – because at least that way they won’t suffer the bitter taste of disappointment.

Comment on this at Reddit: Labour was elected on a platform of hope and change. But in office it doesn’t seem to be delivering much of either.

bobdaktari:

NRT makes a good point, Labour are if anything pragmatic and vastly more conservative than those like myself would like – this isn’t a national lite govt its a Clark lite one – saying that I still have hope that things will be at worst slightly better for a shitload of kiwis thanks to the change of govt

Left wing neoliberals.

Rather than push for actual social and economic change they used the good economic times to subsidise business with stuff like working for families – which while helpful to those that get it doesn’t address the problems – problems like underpaid teachers

dbuckley:

It’s full National, but with a bit of of soft side, a bit more social responsibility. Hated by the left, hated by the right, but exactly what the voters that count wanted.

That’s a bold claim. Ardern has had a difficult return to the Prime Minister’s office, and Peters seems reluctant to let go of the power he had when in charge for six weeks.

Some like ElSavo say that good things take time:

It certainly doesn’t help that NZF are forcing them to drag their feet a bit and the Greens are seemingly tagging along for the ride.

I mean, change does take time but if people we’re expecting MAJOR change in one or two terms then they’ll be sorely mistaken.

The problem is if the first term isn’t seen as good enough Labour may get dumped before they can make significant changes.

d8sconz:

It’s too soon for any real change, but we’re not getting any indication that change is even being considered. That’s Labours failing to date. I know they’re doing stuff, like tea and scones and gas-bagging. But if anything meaningful is going on there (capital gains tax?) then they’re doing a piss poor job of communicating it.

Ardern needs to step up on substance or she will keep being seen as subservient to Peters, who seems to think she should be  in her kitchen away from his Parliament.

Image result for ardern kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image result for winston peters

Suppression continues in Labour camp assault case

The man facing multiple charges of sexual assault at a Labour Youth summer camp in February has had his name suppression extended until either a verdict or other determination, on the grounds that “there would be a real risk to fair trial rights”. This is a common reason for suppression pre-trial.

NZH:  Labour Party summer camp indecent assault accused keeps name suppression

The 20-year-old was arrested in June and charged with six counts of indecent assault against four complainants.

Today, the accused appeared before Judge Russell Collins in the Auckland District Court seeking to extend his interim name suppression.

The man’s lawyer Emma Priest argued her client should keep his name suppression until determination of the charges, and may seek permanent suppression if there were valid grounds to do so.

Judge Collins granted interim name suppression until either verdict or other determination and bailed the man to appear in court again later this year.

“I am satisfied, and have been satisfied quite quickly, there would be a real risk to fair trial rights,” he said.

The judge continued there had been an “extremely high-level of media coverage” with many people talking in the press “without thinking that a prosecution may ultimately result”.

“Many people have commented publicly with the only inference to be taken from the comments is that the defendant must be guilty.

“His presumption of innocence is paramount,” Judge Collins said.

Given the level of public and media interest in the case I think this is a fair call, presuming that it will be a jury trial.

This suppression means that no attempt to identify the person in any way can be allowed here.

Ardern blind-sided by Peters on refugee quota

An announcement by Winston Peters has asserted a difference between him and Labour’s plans to increase refuge quotas.

The National led Government increased New Zealand’s refugee quota from 750 to 1,000 in 2016, extending a 500 intake of Syrian refugees over two years.

Last year Labour campaigned to increase the quota to 1,500. They allowed for this in this year’s budget. This was reiterated in June – NZ works to double refugee quota as others close their borders:

As countries around the world look to close their borders to refugees and other migrants, New Zealand is working on its plan to lift its refugee intake to 1500 a year.

It’s a move that is being watched around the world, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern having taken a strong stance on the issue, and New Zealand having adopted a community sponsorship model for refugees that has been specifically mentioned by the United Nations as it drafts its latest refugee strategy.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is standing firmly behind the 1500 commitment, saying he is currently working on a Cabinet proposal.

The proposal to lift the quota is expected to get support from coalition partners, with NZ First supporting an increase in the number of refugees ahead of the election, provided people were settled in areas with adequate jobs and housing.

But Peters seems to think otherwise. RNZ: Labour and NZ First differ over refugee increase

In the May budget it put aside $6.2 million over four years of new operating funding, along with $7.7 million over four years to build and operate two new accommodation blocks at the centre.

But yesterday as he touched down on Nauru for the Pacific Islands Forum, Winston Peters, threw the government a curve ball.

“We never made a commitment to double the refugee quota.”

“We’ve got 50,000 people who are homeless back home, and I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, with people living in degradation.

“We have to fix their lives up as well before we start taking on new obligations of the level that some people would like.”

One of those people who ‘would like’ is Jacinda Ardern.

“I would want to check the context of all of those questions [to Mr Peters], but as I’ve said that commitment still remains.”

Ardern was obviously taken by surprise by Peters asserting his position of the quota.

“We haven’t finalised all the details of that commitment, but that remains part of our policy.

“It hasn’t come through cabinet, that’s an accurate representation, but that is still a commitment that we have.”

This appears to be either a reneging on agreed commitments by Peters, or another case of Labour failing to ensure they have coalition support for one of their policies – see Government’s three strikes repeal killed by NZ First:

Justice Minister Andrew Little was forced to backtrack on the proposed repeal that he was planning to take to Cabinet on Monday after NZ First indicated it wouldn’t support it.

One could also ask why Peters has thrown a spanner in Labour’s refugee works at this time, when he is in Nauru and before Ardern arrives there. It has certainly shifted attention from quibbles over costs of travel that was focussed on Ardern.

Was it calculated attention seeking by Peters, to make it clear that Foreign Affairs is his domain?

Or does it go further than that, with Peters making it clear that he is the tail wagging the Labour mutt?

Image result for tail wagging dog

National “too scared” to address cannabis issues

Peter Dunne has said that National were ‘too scared” to address dysfunctional cannabis and drug laws – and Labour seem to be barely better.

It’s widely known that cannabis law (and drug laws generally) are not effective and create more problems than they solve. However successive governments have failed to deal with them.

As Associate Health Minister under the previous National led Government Peter Dunne bore the brunt of political criticism over cannabis and other drug law failures, but he has become increasingly critical of the role the National Party played.

Newshub:  National ‘too scared’ for cannabis reform while in Govt – Peter Dunne

Former leader of United Future, Peter Dunne has called out the National Party for only putting forward a medicinal cannabis bill once they were ‘in the safety’ of opposition.

“In government they were frankly too scared – they were really paranoid about the potential impact any change in this area…would have on their rural and provincial support base. They didn’t want to be seen as soft on these things. That was their prevailing mindset.

“I am frustrated that now they’re in the comfort of opposition, the impotence of opposition, they think this is a good course of action to take,” he told Newshub Nation on Friday.

I believe Dunne on this.

I was approached in 2011 to stand as a candidate for United Future. It was always going to be an extremely long shot, but it gave me a great perspective of politics and our democratic system.

One condition for standing was that if I won the equivalent of political lotto (the odds were probably greater) I would be able to promote cannabis law reform. Dunne was happy with this.

I had contact with him over the years, and he always expressed a willingness to try to deal with drug law issues, and he showed frustration that he was being limited by National.

Dunne was used by National as a scapegoat to take attention away from their own gutlessness in avoiding drug law reform.

Labour haven’t been much better. They effectively trashed Chlöe Swarbrick’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill when it went before Parliament earlier this year – see Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill fails at first reading.

Also Chloe Swarbrick: MPs out of touch over medicinal marijuana (RNZ are out of touch using the term marijuana):

During the first reading Ms Swarbrick told Parliament something had to change.

“You do not find a solution to a problem by beating it with a blunt and broken instrument.

“The law here is broken and good, kind otherwise law-abiding people are risking jail to help their neighbours and those in their community currently experiencing unnecessary suffering.”

Ms Swarbrick urged National MPs who wanted to support her bill to do so – despite the official party line being to oppose it.

“I would like to invite any National Party MPs who support this to stick their neck out and to be on the right side of history tonight – it will not pass without you votes.”

On Tuesday, National MP Chris Bishop said he would be backing the bill, but voted against it.

Nikki Kaye had been given dispensation to vote for it but also ended up opposing it.

Now Labour have put up their own inferior and flawed alternative.

National and NZ First were the main culprits in blocking this bill, but eight Labour MPs also voted against it. Parliament failed to reflect strong public opinion (in one poll 78%) who supported cannabis law reform.

Current Health Minister David Clark has taken the responsibility for medicinal cannabis law has failed to show leadership on this, as has Jacinda Ardern.

It reflects poorly on National and Labour that the most prominent champion of cannabis law reform is first term *and the youngest) MP Swarbrick to try to represent public wishes on this.

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,