Q+A: free speech versus hate speech

On NZ Q+A last night Labour MP Louisa Wall and Act MP David Seymour debate free speech versus hate speech.

Louisa Wall:

We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist, and hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia.

And from my experience we haven’t really looked at whether out current legislation is fit for purpose, and specifically section 61 of the Human Rights Act, which is what I took the old Nesbitt cartoons in 2013 to the Human Rights Commission. So that was about racial disharmony.

But in fact I think civil disharmony has now become an agenda item that we all are investigating.

David Seymour:

I find it detestable that people target each other based on their race or their gender or their sexuality, and I’ve got a track record for that, when the Labour Party went through the phone book and targeted people for having Chinese sounding names I was the first politician to stand up to that. When the New Zealand First Party said that Kanwaljit Bakshi and Melissa Lee should go home to their home countries I stood up to that.

My concern is that, free expression is one of the most important  parts of the human condition. We all experience the world differently, and we should be able to talk about that and express our thoughts and feelings.

Secondly, not only is it a very important human value, but it’s an important part of how we work through our troubles as a society, so if you look at the places in the world that have managed to actually fight bigotry and racism, it’s the places where we actually allow people to discuss their differences and work through them on the basis that sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will not hurt me.

1 News cover:  MPs David Seymour and Louisa Wall clash over Israel Folau case during hate speech debate

Mr Seymour called the Australian rugby player’s anti-gay Instagram post “so ridiculous” and Ms Wall hit back that it’s not ridiculous if you’re a young gay person coming out.

“You’ve had a series of really quite absurd cases where people have been spoken to by the police for things they said on Twitter. And yet as they’ve measured it, the amount of hateful rhetoric in the UK has increased there too,” Seymour said.

“So I’m just not convinced that these laws will work, and they can actually create cynicism.”

“Can I give you the example of Israel Folau. Now what the guy recently put on Instagram is that if you’re gay, when you die you will go to a fiery pit in the ground. I mean it’s so ridiculous. He’s been ridiculed…”

Ms Wall interrupted saying, “It’s not ridiculous if you’re a young gay person, David, who’s coming out. And he has done this three times. Last year when he said it there was nationwide and also Australian wide condemnation.”

Seymour: “Look, you know if he had had the Australian police show up at his door and say, ‘we’re going to arrest you, we’re going to discipline you’ or whatever, I think he would have actually instead of being ridiculed around the world as he was, quite rightly, I think he actually could have become a martyr.

“And that’s what’s happened to some extent in the UK. You can actually end up creating more resentment with these kinds of laws.”

Ms Wall said she believed tighter hate speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch attack, saying “we would have been able to call them out”.

“We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist. And hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia,” she said.

I think that Wall is right, hate speech can normalise attacks on groups of people, it can encourage and incite more hate speech.

But I don’t think it is possible to claim that tighter speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch massacres. They may have helped prevent the attacks, but they may have made no difference, and they may even have made an person like Tarrant more determined to attack.

The full debate:

 

Louisa Wall: “The Media have a responsibility to do no harm”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that she is is chairing a meeting in Paris next month in a attempt to find a way to prevent terrorists from being able to social media to promote and publicise terrorism.

Labour MP Louisa Wall on Facebook yesterday widened her focus to ‘The Media’:

Kia Ora. The Media and those that transmit their political content and other political content generated for these public mediums, are defined as The Fourth Estate or fourth power that refers to the press and news media both in explicit capacity of advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues. It is time that it was formally recognized as part of a political system, as it wields significant indirect social influence.

This would impose a Duty of Care on The Media – a formalisation of the social contract, the implicit responsibilities requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others.

The Media have a responsibility to do no harm. Kia Kaha PM Jacinda Ardern for the meeting on May 15 – two months after the Christchurch terror attacks which claimed the lives of 50 people – which aims to see world leaders and tech company bosses agree to the “Christchurch call” – a pledge to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

Linked to NZ Herald: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to lead global attempt to shutdown social media terrorism

This prompted a reaction from some journalists.

Andrea Vance (@avancenz):

Uh, what? Bringing media under control of Parliament … is this govt policy ?

(Facebook post image included)

Liked by SamSachdeva, Hamish McNeilly, Hamish Rutherford, Stacey Kirk, Laura McQuillan, Richard Boock, Paul Harper, Kim Baker Wilson, Tracey Watkins, John Campbell (all media/journalists) plus Chris Bishop (MP).

Two lawyers add their views:

Graeme Edgeler (@GraemeEdgeler):

It sounds bad, but I kind of feel most of these things are already present, certainly for online and broadcast media anyway. Duty of care is not a ridiculous paraphrase of the duties on media in some defamation defences, and under the HDCA.

Stephen Franks (@franks_lawyer):

Without the defences of truth and honest opinion it is completely sinister and as far from the law that protected both freedom and honest public discourse as we could get.

Graeme Edgeler:

I was thinking, for example, of the defamation defence of responsible communication on a matter public interest as provided in Durie v Gardiner [2018] NZCA 278.

Stephen Frank:

I understand that and am very conscious of NZ judges massive indifference to the vital role of liability for lies, as a condition/corollary of free speech, but your comment is still misleading rationalisation of sinister nonsense from Ardern and her fumbling Minister of Justice.

That is widening somewhat from what Wall posted.

Despite the concerns shown by journalists I don’t think Louisa Wall has much sway in Labour let alone in Government. She is ranked 23 (Clare Curran is 22), despite being an MP for 11 years, a term and a bit from 2008 as a list MP, and since 2011 as MP for Manurewa (2017 majority 8,374).

Louisa Wall’s speech at Pride Parade hui ‘circus’

Labour MP Louisa Wall was recorded speaking at a recent Pride Parade hui that has further highlighted the fraught factional gender debate surrounding this year’s parade, and also on “the whole gender identity issue”.

Wall “To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us”.

Wall made some controversial comments, in particular:

“So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade”. But Wall also provides context around the current debate. The whole context of her speech is important.

The organisation of the Pride Parade this year has highlighted growing problems in the LGBTQ+ community, with division and exclusion – the opposite of what the Pride Parade was supposed to be about – festering and sometimes blowing out into the open.

There have been claims that the organising committee has been hijacked by radical activists – and if People Against Prisons Aotearoa (they want to shut all prisons and disband the police force) have taken some degree of control then others should be concerned.

Media were excluded from the hui, but Stuff reported: Auckland Pride Parade’s hui over police uniform ban turns into ‘a circus’

A physical scuffle broke out at a meeting of the Auckland rainbow community to discuss the ban on uniformed police marching in the city’s 2019 Pride Parade.

Before the start of the meeting, Tim Foote, an independent facilitator on behalf of the Pride board, also asked media if they had taken any notes and told them to leave the meeting at Grey Lynn Community Centre on Sunday night, which was attended by about 250 people.

The meeting was described as “emotional” and “a circus” by an attendee.

A number of attendees walked out when the scuffle broke out between an older man and a founder People Against Prisons Aotearoa. Its “No Pride In Prisons” group has been advocating for police to be excluded from the parade.

Another attendee, who requested not to be named in fear of the repercussions, told Stuff the meeting was a farce from start to finish.

Tracy Phillips, co-ordinator of the New Zealand Police’s diversity liaison officer (DLO) service, responded by saying: “We’re certainly not going to force our way in, and we’ve taken that message as we are not welcome.”

In a Facebook post made while the meeting was still underway, Rainbow Tick chief executive  Michael Stevens said organisers had underestimated the number of people wanting to attend, and the meeting had been “a shambles”.

Stevens said the Pride Board had “totally underestimated the depth of division they’d created with their decision. If that’s how they’re running the Pride Parade then God help them”.

A source told Stuff it was “the ugliest meeting I have been to in a long time”.

Louisa Wall, Labour’s MP for Manurewa, said she had gone to the meeting as a member of the community, because she had “wanted to understand how we got to this place”.

A recording of Louisa Wall addressing the hui has emerged via Speak Up for Women:

Stop Hate Speech

Here’s the full recording of MP Louisa Wall’s hate speech targeting women during the Pride Hui earlier this week.

The recording was made in secret by a hui attendee who will not speak publicly for fear of the attacks and threats they have already been subjected to. We demand that our MPs promote respectful dialogue on women’s legitimate concerns with proposed changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Act.

Some of what Wall said:

I want to actually commend you on your consultation, I think it’s really important. As you began the journey you actually listened to the community.

And the other bottom line for us all, I mean the whole gender identity issue and trans exclusion is huge. Right? It’s a global issue at the moment, and I think none of us want to see the exclusion of our trans sisters.

Up until this stage the speech was interspersed with clapping.

To be honest I think fundamentally that is part of the issue, that we’ve been infiltrated by people who are trying to divide and rule us.

No clapping after this line, but some inaudible comments could be heard, after which Wall continued uninterrupted.

Part of the issue is we have had a decision made based on as Sissy has articulated, a series of consultations. but what is really difficult for the community is actually since 2013, and we need to look at the context, the police were initially asked not to march in uniform.

Ok, so in 2013, when the Pride parade started, the police participated not in uniform, but since 2014 the police have been able to participate and march in uniform.

Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with the police. Historically as a community we know we’ve had an issue with Corrections.

So these issues are not discrete.

But I think what’s happened is the board has made it’s decision based on listening to the community, and we are all now here together because the decision they made was actually to listen to our community. So we have to thank them, which is why i have started by thanking Sissy and her team for what they have undertaken. Now…

Clapping and ‘hear hear’.

And as we move forward, and herein lies a bit of a, it’s an ironic, h, part of the police’s history, ’cause I do want to acknowledge you Tracy, and I also want to acknowledge our brothers and sisters, LGBCQ, whanau and the police.

I’m actually here representing my friend Whiti Timutimu, who is the Maori Responsiveness Adviser for the New Zealand Police…she’s the first Maori woman serving in the Police having a moku. She couldn’t be here, she’s based in Gisborne.

But the Police are doing an amazing job at diversifying…The Police are exemplifying at the moment diversity and inclusion, and that’s the irony of this decision…

And having a meeting, and possibly rolling the Board, we all need to just take a big deep breath, and actually focus on what Pride is all about.

Everybody who’s here has been motivated to get here tonight because we are proud to be members of the LGBT community…all of us want the same thing,

But, what we also have acknowledge is for our trans community, I believe they are still the most marginalised, excluded group in our LGBT community, and I stand here as takaatapui Lesbian woman, who feels fucking grateful that my identity means I get access to services that I need.

And our trans whanau do not experience life like we do. We have to fight and support their rights and their ability to speak up, and I do also want to acknowledge what you said Bobby, ’cause it’s true when we look at the Police Complaints Authority, the Human Rights Authority (I’m there tomorrow), and our trans whanau too, if you are feeling victimised and abused and not listened to, and your complaints are not getting through to institutions which again highlight the fact that if there are some discrimination and issues in our community, then we’ve got a problem.

But the people we need to be working with are those diversity liaison officers, and ourselves with our community. We’ve got the capacity, we’re bloody strong, and when we speak in a unified voice, we can get change.

So I’m here to say, that my whole thing is I don’t want any fucking Terfs at the Pride Parade.

Much cheering and clapping.

Speak up for Women define terf: The word ‘terf’ is hate speech used to belittle and threaten anyone who rejects the premises or conclusions of transgender ideology.  It is used to dehumanise and incite violence.

Sorry about swearing everybody

So that’s why I’m sorry I took a bit more time, but can we just show some compassion, some aroha, some love, some support for one another. And that’s my korero for tonight.

So spoke a bit more after that and then closed her speech.

Small parts of that speech have led to a reaction, including frowns over a ‘secret’ recording, but I think that if small parts are going to be quoted then wider context is important.

 

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,

 

Labour and South Auckland

Chris Trotter writes about the importance of South Auckland to Labour’s chances this election.  Much has been said lately about Labour and the Maori vote, but the Pacific Island vote is a big deal too.

Stuff: Chris Trotter: Labour appeals to its South Auckland base

South Auckland is also Labour country – and that is not something one can say about many other places in New Zealand. In 2005 it was the voters of South Auckland that saved Helen Clark’s Labour-led Government and sent her back for a third term as their Prime Minister.

If Labour is saved again – if it avoids a fourth consecutive defeat at the hands of the National Party – then it will be the people of South Auckland that Andrew Little and his party have to thank.

In part – party votes across the country are what count.

To be sure, the Labour MPs from that part of the world: Jenny Salesa (Manukau East) Su’a William Sio (Mangere) Louisa Wall (Manurewa) and Peeni Henare (Tamaki Makaurau) all offer a comfortable ethnic fit with the communities they represent, and all of them were present in the hall. But, none of these politicians are members of Labour Leader Andrew Little’s inner circle of confidants and advisers. That group remains an overwhelmingly Palangi affair.

  • As with all of Labour’s current Maori electorate MPs Henare is not on the party list. He is currently ranked 20 in their caucus.
  • Jenny Salesa is ranked 19 in caucus and is 18 on the party list.
  • Su’a William Sio is ranked 15 in caucus and 15 on the party list.
  • Louisa Wall is ranked 28 (near the bottom) and 25 on the party list.

The party list placings are better than they would be if the Maori electorate MPs were on it, with three of them ranked above all the South Auckland MPs in caucus.

So the South Auckland MPs are all ranked near or in the bottom half.

The Pacific Island vote may be as crucial for Labour as their Maori vote, but how much will South Auckland benefit from their support?

Claim that talk of euthanasia encourages suicides

Bob McCoskrie has made an odd claim about the euthanasia Parliamentary select committee discussions – he has suggested it is encouraging suicides, but he says there is no scientific basis for this.

NZ Herald: Talk of euthanasia encouraging suicides, conservative lobby group says

Bob McCoskrie, the national director for Family First, said today that suicides and attempted suicides appeared to peak every time Parliament debated a law change around assisted dying.

He acknowledged there was no scientific basis for his theory and that other factors could have contributed to the rise in suicides in 1995, 2003 and 2012, when Parliament considered bills or proposed bills on euthanasia.

“But it cannot ruled out that there is risk related to the increased publicity given to the idea of euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

Many things “can’t be ruled out” but making claims like this with nothing to substantiate it is poor in a submission from Family First.

It also can’t be ruled out that openly talking about euthanasia, and openly talking about suicide, helps lead to prevention of suicides.

McCoskrie made the comments to a select committee which is investigating public attitudes to voluntary euthanasia and deciding whether it should be legalised in New Zealand.

McCoskrie said any discussion of suicide should focus on prevention.

“In complete contrast, this inquiry is initiated and is driven by a desire to promote assisted suicide. You don’t discourage suicide by assisting suicide.”

The euthanasia discussions have only come up this year, and there are no recent statistics on suicide rates so it’s impossible to tell whether McCoskrie is right.

McCoskrie hasn’t attempted to analyse trends and patterns, but avoiding talking about suicide in public, as has been the norm in the past, has done nothing to stem the growing number of suicides in New Zealand.

When publishing items on suicide media commonly also publishes help line numbers and links to resources about suicide prevention. Trying to ignore a growing problem hasn’t worked.

And:

One of the committee’s members, Labour MP Louisa Wall, said his argument was “fundamentally flawed” because he did not differentiate between medically-assisted dying and suicide.

“I don’t see them as congruent,” she said. “There is a huge contrast between people who are facing imminent death and people who are hopeless or depressed.”

“To say that someone like [euthanasia advocate] Lecretia Seales was committing suicide is just wrong.”

But to some people, like McCoskrie, anything other than letting life and death take it’s natural course is wrong.

Except that medical interventions that prolong life seem to have become acceptable.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

The Nation – vulnerable children and Hobson’s Pledge

This morning on The Nation (TV3 at 9.30 am, also Sunday at 10.00 am):

Andrew Becroft on the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children… is it the fix we need?

Becroft is the Children’s Commissioner – website.

Andrew Becroft says we’ve got a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise the youth justice age.

Does Becroft share ‘s concerns about resources? We ought to be able to cope with slight adjustment.

After this interview, ‘s Becroft is meeting with the Indian Association about the youth justice age.

The youth justice system is not milo-drinking kumbaya says Becrof.

NZ needs some do-able targets for child poverty says Becroft. Becroft wants to see a 5-10% reduction of child poverty by the end of next year.

“A once in a lifetime opportunity to get it right” again.

“Unless this agency is resourced properly upfront… we’re just setting ourselves up for another review” says Becroft on new Ministry.

Says is not sufficiently resourced, and he’s talking with Minister Tolley.

Don Brash and Labour’s Louisa Wall go head to head on his new lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.

Hobson’s Pledge website: “He iwi tahi tatou : We are now One People”

That’s not really a pledge, it’s a vague statement from one person who was involved which hardly represents ‘One people’.

Louisa Wall is an MP well down Labour’s pecking order (ahead of only one MP who hasn’t announced they are quitting). She was prominent during the marriage equality bill debate but otherwise has a low profile.

Wall is responsible for:

  • Spokesperson for Courts
  • Spokesperson for Youth Affairs
  • Associate Justice Spokesperson (Legal Aid)
  • Associate Sport and Recreation Spokesperson

So not sure why she has been put forward here.

Nanaia Mahuta is spokesperson for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Peeni Henare has several Maori spokesperson roles.

There is also a report on the anniversary of the battle of the Somme.

Also something on the Trans-Pacific Partnership apparently.

 

 

A Little chance of bridging the divides

One of Labour’s biggest problems is disunity, and in particular a growing gap between the activist/union leaning left of the party versus the centre-left. At times it looks like a gulf, especially tight now.

David Cunliffe tried to shift to the left and he partly succeeded, he got majority union (affiliate) support in last year’s leadership contest and he still has the support of the labour left leaning Standard blog. But Cunliffe also tried to lean back to the centre at times and with his authenticity problems, the dire election result and his poor handling of the aftermath he is going to have trouble getting the leadership back.

The other confirmed contender Grant Robertson may be able to work across the divide in caucus but there’s substantial doubt he could do it across the party. He doesn’t seem popular in Auckland, and he would have to win over the union left and that would be very difficult. The left of the party are far more entrenched in their views than the more impressionable centre.

Labour’s best chance of bridging the divide is someone who already has some union support but who is able to reach across to the center.

Andrew Little is an obvious option here. He has a union background but seems pragmatic and conciliatory enough to connect with employers and with Labour’s centre left and just as importantly, the swing voters in the centre that Labour has to win win back if they want to regain major party status.

On bridging the divide Little said yesterday:

I think the issue is crucial which is why my main contribution to Labour’s IR policy this year was to back off major change to the present framework pending an audit of the labour market. We need to get a decent picture of how people are engaged for work and exactly what is happening work wise before we think about how we might improve job security and lift wages more fairly. It means engaging with employers too since they have more influence over more workers than ever before.

He says he wouldn’t have delayed the scrapping of the 90 day trial law “because it would have been accompanied by clarification of probationary law” but would have “wanted a more moderate pace on minimum wage increase”.

Stuff reports that Andrew Little considers Labour leadership bid.

Little faced the prospect of losing his place as an MP as Parliament waited for special votes to be counted.

Shortly after the result was confirmed, Little said that he would now mull whether to throw his hat in the ring.

“It’s not something I’ve considered, because  I’ve been waiting to see whether I would be confirmed in Parliament, it’s something that I may well now consider, but I will also be considering how realistic my prospects are, and that’s where it’s at,” Little said.

Little has little to lose by joining the leadership contest, and potentially a lot to gain. He is only an outside chance but if he can promote himself as union sympathetic but pragmatic and conciliatory towards the centre he would improve his credentials in the desperately needed Labour rebuild.

And there’s a small chance the leadership contest could swing his way as an alternative to the failed Cunliffe and a potentially to unpalatable Grant Robertson.

Little is one Labour MP who looks like he has learnt from initial mistakes and has grown into his job as an MP.

Labour would also benefit if Little joined the contest. His presence would diffuse the tension that’s obvious between Cunliffe and Robertson. He could highlight the need to join the factions in a common purpose.

There seems little downside as long as Little is prepared to expose himself to a higher level of scrutiny and inevitable attack.

Another prospect for bridging the divide is Louisa Wall. She would would add an up and coming Maori presence and reward South Auckland support for Labour, she has a good tertiary qualifications plus a high profile sporting background, and she proved her political worth working successfully cross party to be a driving force behind the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill last year.
Both Little and Wall are relative rookies in politics but Labour desperately needs new blood to rebuild – with strong support from the old hands.

David Parker is one of Labour’s best bets for a steadying hand at deputy level and with Little as leader and Wall high on the bench pecking order Labour might finally start to look like a party intent on putting failures and animosities behind them with the  capability to build a party that can seriously contest the next two elections.

Two of the worst outcomes of Labour’s leadership contest:

  • Cunliffe to get back in despite a major loss of confidence from the Labour caucus and the electorate.
  • Robertson to win and appear to favour cronies over rebuild capability.

If Robertson wins the leadership contest then Parker, Little and Wall should be a prominent part of his rebuild plans.

If someone like Little sneaks through and he gets the caucus support that should be a given then Labour will lack in experience but will gain substantially in future prospects.

If Labour comes out of the leadership contest with their divides entrenched they may struggle to survive as a major party.

Whoever can step up and look most capable of bridging Labour’s divides will be their best chance of recovery.

Labour really needs to look like a virtually new party that can bridge it’s own divides, widen it’s appeal from the union and activist left across to the centre, and then they might get into a position where they can pose a serious threat to National – and present a credible next government to the voters.

Paddy’s politicians of the year

Patrick Gower makes his political awards.

POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR: Bill English

Key is 52, English is 51 – the prime of their lives in some senses. They are not going to hand over power lightly.
The political reality is that to take down National, the Opposition will have to knock out English too. And that’s what makes Bill English Politician of the Year.

A good call, Bill English has kept a steady hand on Government and on the economy. English works well with and complements John Key.

RUNNER UP (OPPOSITION POLITICIAN): David Cunliffe

Cunliffe went from unwanted backbencher hated by much of his own caucus, to Labour Party leader with a better than even chance of becoming Prime Minister.

Also a fair call. Cunliffe has successfully turned around his political career. Next year he needs to find a way of turning around Labour’s prospects.

RUNNER UP (MINOR PARTY POLITICIAN): Colin Craig

What to say about Colin Craig? Not much, because so much has been said already. But Craig is far and away the Minor Party politician of the year. That’s partly because he’s still standing as the others dropped like flies.

An interesting choice. Craig has finished the year with a flurry of media attention, not all of it positive. The media should be co-winners of this award because they have chosen to promote Craig. His Conservative Party hasn’t lifted in the polls yet.

RUNNER UP (BACKBENCH MP): Louisa Wall

Louisa Wall did what many backbenchers or MPs never do – she changed a law. She got same-sex marriage introduced. Quite an achievement – and it deserves to be saluted.

Well deserved recognition. Wall showed the benefits of working with MPs across all parties and got a far better than expected result with a resounding vote victory. Some of her bitter and twisted colleagues would do better if the followed her positive and constructive example.

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT: GCSB

GCSB – the only Government department that will listen to you.

That award wasn’t from Paddy, I just heard it quoted on Firstline.

Peter Dunne praised in Parliament

Praise in Parliament for Peter Dunne has been in short supply lately, but he was speaking positively and being spoken of positively yesterday during the second reading of the Psychoactive Substances Bill.

It’s been a rough few weeks in Parliament for Peter Dunne, but suggestions (and hopes of some) that he’s down and out are premature.

And Dunne was praised by other speakers for his efforts in initiating and progressing the bill (a notable exception being John Banks who called Dunne a puppy hater).

Hon TODD McCLAY (Associate Minister of Health):

I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the considerable amount of work by the Hon Peter Dunne in getting this bill to this stage. The Hon Peter Dunne has been a driving force behind this world-first legislation, and we need to recognise the great work that has been put in place by Mr Dunne in this area.

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour):

I also ought to recognise the Hon Peter Dunne, who is the architect of this legislation, who steered it through its first stages in the House, and who steered it from its genesis as a set of recommendations out of the Law Commission report to becoming legislation. It is good to see Peter Dunne in the House this evening.

…we simply needed to get this legislation to the House much sooner than we did. In fact, because the Law Commission reported its recommendations over 2 years ago, there has been plenty of time for the Government to make this a priority. This is no reflection in any way whatsoever on Peter Dunne.

Dunne corrected Lees-Galloway on the genesis of the bill – see Psychoactive Substances Bill.

LOUISA WALL (Labour—Manurewa):

I want to acknowledge the Hon Peter Dunne and the leadership that he has shown in bringing this piece of legislation to the House, and to also thank him for tabling a petition on behalf of 3,533 members of the Manurewa community.

Dr PAUL HUTCHISON (National—Hunua):

Thank you for the opportunity to speak on this very innovative Psychoactive Substances Bill. I would like to acknowledge and thank, first of all, the Hon Peter Dunne, who has pressed on with this bill. I was under the impression that it was initially the Law Commission, but he has told us this afternoon that it was through a United Nations committee.

Dunne tripped himself up over the GCSB and the Kitteridge report which led to him resigning as Associate Minister of Health (and Minister of Revenue) but he is still well respected and continues to make a positive contribution in Parliament.

And the Psychoactive Substances Bill will be a notable Dunne legacy.

In The House video of the Psychoactive Substances Bill – Second Reading speeches: