Greens confirm they will vote for ‘waka jumping’ bill

The Green caucus decision to vote for Winston Peters’ ‘waka jumping’ bill has been a contentious issue in the party, as they have had a history of strongly opposing similar legislation.

They affirmed their decision to vote for the bill at their conference in the weekend.

RNZ: Green leadership stands firm on Waka Jumping Bill at AGM

The Green Party leadership have dug in their heels and will not be reversing any of the decisions they have made in government.

Party stalwarts Jeanette Fitzsimons and Sue Bradford had hoped the caucus might be persuaded this weekend to pull its support from the Waka Jumping Bill.

Co-leader James Shaw was pushing the party’s biggest wins, ending oil and gas exploration and committing the country to a zero carbon future.

But the concessions they have made got a brief mention in his speech too.

“We haven’t won every debate, and the menu does feature the occasional dead rodent,” he told the party faithful gathered in Palmerston North.

He was referring to the Waka Jumping Bill, described by their own MP Eugenie Sage as a dead rat they had to swallow as part of a coalition government.

One of the party’s founding members, Jeanette Fitzsimons, said it went against everything the Greens stood for, making it clear there were parts of the core base that were still hugely unhappy with that decision.

“I simply don’t buy the line that the government would have fallen,” she said.

“Simply don’t buy the line that Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters were going to say ‘ah well we don’t want to be in government anymore’ and let it all collapse, because they didn’t get this bill through? I mean, really.”

Ms Fitzsimons said they had tried everything to change the caucus’ mind, but described the eight MPs as a “brick wall.”

That’s not a good sign. The Greens used to promote their practice of the party making important decisions rather than the political leadership.

“This is a compromise that we had to make. I understand the different perspectives on that, but the decisions that we came to as a caucus and a party arrived to this,” Ms Davidson said.

“Because we think that providing New Zealand with stable government, is more important than that one issue,” Mr Shaw said.

That’s bullshit. It’s very difficult to see how Greens making a decision based on important party principles should destabilise the Government. The governing arrangement should not force such a contradictory stance on a party.

Unless perhaps Shaw is not being up front about threats made to him (by Peters and/or Labour) if the Greens don’t vote for the bill.

This is a prominent stain on the green stint in Government that they are going to have difficulty washing off.

I think it’s also fair to ask why Jacinda Ardern has allowed this situation to be forced on the Greens.

Q+A – Marama Davidson and James Shaw

Colrin Dann interviewed both Green leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson on Q+A last night.

James Shaw on Greens in Government: “you’re not going to please all the people all the time”

Marama Davidson: no campaign on c-word, at a rally for racism I talked about the words used against me

Davidson may have heeded feedback and decided it was not going to be a popular issue to pursue.

 

Marama Davidson’s conference speech

Co-leader Marama Davidson’s speech at the 2018 Green party conference.

Karanga Hokianga, ki o tamariki, he uri rātou, he mōrehu.

Kohikohia rā, kei ngā hau e wha

Kōrerotia – ko wai rātou.

Kōrerotia – ko wai rātou.

Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, i te tī, i te tā – tēnā koutou.

Rangitāne, ka tū te manawa i tō whenua ātaahua, i ō manaaki ki a mātou, hei te mana o te whenua – tēnā koutou.

Ki a koutou te hunga kākāriki, nāku te whiwhi kia kōrero atu ki a koutou i tāku hui-ā-tau tuatahi hei kaiārahi takirua o te rōpū nei – tēnā koutou.

Kia ora tātou katoa.

Hokianga Whakapau Karakia

Exactly a week ago I was being called on to my marae in Whirinaki, in Hokianga, by my home people.

They had been planning this event for months to celebrate my election as Co-leader of the Green Party. Their pride in me was humbling.

I was joined by my other hapū from across the Hokianga harbour, Ngāi Tūpoto, and a large presence from the Green Party, including my Co-leader James Shaw.

In my kōrero to my hapū I recalled stories of my childhood.

Of being raised at the foot of my maunga, Te Ramaroa.

Of swimming in my Whirinaki awa.

Of gathering seafood from our Hokianga moana.

Of being sustained and nourished by the bounty of our whenua, our gardens and our trees.

There was laughter across the wharekai as I talked about a bunch of my tutu cousins and I almost setting the hill on fire.

My home peoples’ faces burst with love as I talked about our old people, who have mostly passed on, who cooked for us, looked after our marae, embraced our traditions.

They taught us how to care for our whenua and our water, taught us how to care for each other collectively, ensured that we knew who we were, and how we connected to our place.

I talked about Aunty Josie’s delicious cooking.

And Aunty Lucy’s quiet yet staunch karanga.

And about Aunty Queenie Broughton’s beautiful flower garden.

I recalled Uncle Brian and Aunty Kiri Wikaira taking my whole family into their home because we felt we urgently needed to be back there.

And about my Uncle Nia who is like another father to me, who was always taking a bunch of us Valley kids to kapa haka, to sport, to the Ngāwha pools.

As my home people sat there listening to me I admitted that while I never dreamed of being Green Party Co-leader, being there with them that day made me realise that maybe my tupuna did.

It was these basic things that defined our existence; a need for our river to be clean, a reliance on our moana to be healthy and when one of us needed support, the whole Valley stepped up.

It is those realities that also define my politics.

Those teachings drive my aspirations for our communities, for Aotearoa, for the world.

Planning for future generations

Our country faces huge challenges that we must meet head on.

People are struggling even in paid work to pay their rent and buy healthy food.

More and more rivers are becoming too polluted for us to swim in.

Too many families are continuing to be harmed by persistent violence.

This degradation is the result of a system that pits us against each other and collectively against our earth, for the benefit of the few.

This stands in complete contrast to my upbringing that I just talked about, which made me recognise that our power lies in coming together and understanding our role as kaitiaki of our natural world.

Recalling our ancient wisdoms, harnessing our innovations, and pulling together for the generations ahead, is the only way we will get through.

When my hapū talk about strategic planning we don’t talk about one-year, or three-year, or even ten-year strategies, we talk about planning for seven generations ahead.

Looking at the challenges ahead of us through that lens, we realise just how immense they really are.

In seven generations will my hapū still be able to sustain ourselves from our land and water as we have always done?

Will our indigenous species, such as the majestic kauri trees of Waipoua forest, still exist?

Will we even have a habitable planet to live on?

There is no time for complacency or half-measures.

No time for tinkering around the edges of the status quo.

We know that what is required is transformative and systemic change.

Delivering in Government

In the short time the Greens have been in Government, we have set the country on that path.

We have delivered a fundamental shift in environmental policy in Aotearoa.

In Budget 2018, the greenest Budget in our history, Hon. Eugenie Sage, as our Green Minister of Conservation, negotiated the largest funding increase for DoC in 16 years.

After years and years of neglect, we have a government that is backing nature and investing in conservation.

The dollar figures are huge, an extra $181 million over the next four years is a massive boost for conservation – for DOC to work with hapū and iwi, councils and communities, to turn our predator crisis around and protect our indigenous species and the places they live.

Ending offshore oil and gas exploration has long been a key goal of the Greens.

Before I entered Parliament, I stood with communities in the North, on the East Coast and in Taranaki, to stop oil exploration and drilling in our oceans.

And now we’ve delivered on it, making history.

This Government drew a line in the sand and said no new offshore oil and gas permits.

But the decision to stop new exploration wasn’t in our Confidence and Supply Agreement with Labour.

It was possible because we are partners of this Government, because we are committed to transformational change, and because we can influence what happens at the highest levels.

I want to acknowledge the amazing work of Green MP Gareth Hughes in negotiating this end to offshore oil and gas permits.

And backed up by the sustained and powerful campaigning of tangata whenua, activists, communities and environmental NGOs, change happened.

When the pundits and mischief makers try and tell you the Greens no longer know what it means to be Green, or that we’ve lost our environmental focus, just remind them of this.

In the space of only ten months we have already put an end to offshore oil drilling and stopped an open-cast coal mine at Te Kuha.

We’ve put us on the path to phase out plastic bags, and secured massive funding commitments on conservation, climate change and public transport.

While there is still much work to do to implement that agreement, we are also not content with that alone.

I am so proud of my role as a non-ministerial Co-leader. It is my job to lead our engagement with communities and with our membership – to always be a champion for our kaupapa and the flaxroots of the movement.

We know that in some areas we need to negotiate and work with our Government partners to go even further, to be even bolder.

One of those areas is freshwater – our wai.

Championing freshwater

Our environment depends on it.

It’s the lifeblood of our communities – ko te wai te ora o ngā mea katoa.

The Greens have long championed protecting freshwater and cleaning up our rivers and lakes. We put this issue on the political agenda and now all parties acknowledge it needs addressing.

This term we have already secured a win to wind-down Government subsidies of large-scale irrigation schemes.

It cannot be overstated just how significant this is.

We have negotiated stronger regulatory instruments to deal with pollution, and more funding for freshwater restoration.

And I am proud to say that the Green Party has secured yet another Government commitment to further protect our water.

We heard the calls from communities around New Zealand and have worked with our Government partners to protect our water from sale.

I’m stoked to announce today that the review of the Overseas Investment Act will now look at putting the protection of water at the heart of decision-making.

Changing the law and making water extraction one of the issues to be considered when overseas corporates apply to buy rural land would ensure that this and future governments recognise that water is ours, and that it’s a vital natural asset.

Water should not be for sale to the highest bidder. Changing the law is a key step towards protecting it for the generations ahead.

Minister Sage and I will keep pushing hard to see that this change is included in the reforms that come out of the review.

We need to ensure that we are not giving away water to foreign corporations to bottle, export, and reap profits from, at the expense of New Zealand’s long-term interests.

The Greens leadership is still needed.

Our rivers are clogged with excess nitrates, sediment and e-coli contamination.

They are literally drying up due to over allocation.

The freshwater standards for pollutants need to be drastically strengthened and rigorously enforced.

As was highlighted in a report released just this week by Forest & Bird, we cannot only rely on nitrate measurement and farm plans monitored by overstretched regional councils.

Government must actively promote sustainable land use; we need to accelerate riparian planting, and support farmers to shift up the value chain to grow the value of our rural economy.

But we cannot go on the way we are.

I want to acknowledge and celebrate the Government farmer, Landcorp, for their leadership towards a modern greener model of agriculture.

We should be a world leader in organics and in sustainable agriculture.

Our point of difference on the world stage lies in our clean green brand and we can be adding even more value to our exports by following the example of many farmers who have already recognised this.

Clean freshwater is not a nice to have after we make a profit off it, it is life for land and people.

And we must honour the rights, interests and responsibilities of tangata whenua in freshwater.

It should be for hapū and iwi to lead us on what that looks like.

Outright ownership of water is anathema to both Māori and Green values.

If anything, the water owns us.

The Greens recognise the intrinsic value of freshwater and its inalienable right to be protected from pollution and over-use.

But we are also very clear that Māori have rangatira and kaitiaki rights over water, guaranteed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The Crown has a responsibility to work alongside tangata whenua in a spirit of true partnership for the protection and restoration of our water.

On this, the Greens are holding true to our longstanding position.

The Te Awa Tupua Act 2017 received huge international coverage as it set a precedent in law to recognise water, the Whanganui awa, as a living entity, and for mana whenua decision making authority to be recognised as central to its protection and restoration.

We need to build on this work.

Protecting the environment and recognising Māori rights go hand-in-hand.

You cannot achieve one without the other.

As we saw in our Rivers Tour in the last parliamentary term, led by former Green MP Catherine Delahunty, tangata whenua and communities are at the forefront of cleaning up our waterways.

Right around the country it is hapū, iwi and rural communities who are doing the urgent work on the ground; fencing, riparian planting, and pushing for sustainable land use decisions.

As Co-leader and Water spokesperson I will continue to stand alongside those communities in pushing for what’s needed to restore the right of all children in Aotearoa to be able to swim in their local river.

E te whānau kākāriki, as we reflect on nearly a year as a first-time party of government, we have so much to be proud of.

But there’s still so much more work to do.

To restore our natural world, stabilise our climate and bring about economic justice for all people.

We need you, our members, alongside us every single step of the way. James, the MPs and I cannot do this on our own.

It’s going to take every one of us if we are going to succeed in transforming our country and our world.

And there’s no time to waste.

Nō reira, huri rauna i tēnei whakaruruhau o tātou​

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

Shades of Green – “cracks in the green revolution”

Greens have not been united on everything in the past, but in opposition they were at least able to appear to be largely working together.

A simple reality of being in Government means that those MPs who are ministers – James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter and Eugenie Sage, and to a lesser extent Parliamentary Under-Secretary Jan Logie, have heavy workloads, and have had to make decisions that follow the will of Government rather than the ideals of the party.

The other four MPs have much more of a free rein, and three of them in particular are fairly prominent doing their own things on social media.

Image result for shades of green

It is now effectively a party of two halves.

And party has been particularly divided over their historic strong opposition to ‘waka jumping’ type legislation and their current opposition, and their decision to vote in favour of Winston Peters’ controversial bill.

Green supporters often react badly to criticism – some of them fervently believe their own hype and can’t countenance any possibility they and their ideals may not be perfect.

So they are not likely to take Matthew Hooton’s column in the Herald today very well – Cracks in the green revolution

True Greens are not concerned about climate change, poverty or endangered species per se, but see them as mere symptoms of the real problem, which is capitalism and the population growth it allows.

I wouldn’t call them ‘true Greens’, that’s a label more appropriate for Jeanette Fitzsimons and Rod Donald, but there is a strong green mantra that social revolution is the main aim, with the claim that that will somehow fix environmental problems.

Hooton describes the current shades of Greens. James Shaw:

Far from having Norman’s True Green whakapapa, Shaw is a Wellington technocrat more at home at his former employer PwC than at a radicals’ rally.

He is part of a three-strong faction in Parliament but the other members are Labour’s David Parker and National’s Todd Muller, with whom he is trying to establish a multiparty consensus on climate change that might not save the planet but would certainly destroy the party.

Many Greens seem to abhor any attempt to work with ‘the enemy’, National.

Recently appointed co-leader Marama Davidson:

Davidson joins Hone Harawira as the only genuine radicals to have become party leaders.

It’s unsurprising that Davidson declined to participate in post-election negotiations with Labour.

Such processes are far too bourgeois for someone who deeply believes the New Zealand state is illegitimate.

Davidson may lead a faction of one in Parliament but she is a cult figure among Green activists who plan to insert her disciples into key party positions at its AGM this weekend.

The rest of the Green caucus:

Julie-Ann Genter is the smartest Green Minister and a genuine expert on transport and urban planning but her American heritage is a problem among the base.

Eugenie Sage is a genuine environmentalist rather than True Green but gets no credit for her wins on oil and gas, conservation funding and plastic bags.

Jan Logie worries more about the spirit of Te Tiriti o Waitangi than about the details of the Paris Climate Accord.

The party’s longest-serving MP, Gareth Hughes, is on the outer, having been overlooked for promotion despite more than eight years in Parliament.

Hughes has a very low profile. He has championed environmental issues, but seems to have lost any drive he may have had – and that’s debatable. He is perhaps best known for his ‘Hey Clint’ moment, asking a staffer what he should say.

Chloe Swarbrick, 24, and Golriz Ghahraman, 37, compete to be the darling of the party’s millennials with their eyes on the longer term.

Swarbrick seems to have taken on her job as MP seriously and has been prepared to work with any other MP or party to try to achieve some wins, especially on cannabis law reform. I think that her efforts so far have been impressive, more so because she is a first term MP.

However Ghahraman has stumbled from controversy to controversy on social media. She joined with Davidson and supporters this week claiming to be female and non-white victims.

Are Davidson and Ghahraman a serious threat to ‘the establishment’? Or are they more of a threat to the Green Party.

While the Green ministers have low profiles buried in their portfolios, the party revolutionaries have time to get attention. I’m not sure this face of the Greens is attractive to the soft Green voters they need to rebuild party support.

All the Green MPs are learning the realities of being a part of Government, and this will evolve over the current term.

They have major challenges in trying to avoid being split by fights for power that any political party (ok, except NZ First and ACT) have.

If Davidson and her supporting faction see a revolutionary takeover within the Greens as necessary on the road to drive out ‘the establishment’ then the Greens are in for challenging times.

Will they split or grow?

Marama Davidson dismays with vulgar campaign

On Monday I posted about Marama Davidson’s use of what is generally refereed to as ‘the c-word’ in a speech in the weekend – Davidson and “women get a free pass” to use C word.

Davidson has picked up on publicity over her swearing, now campaigning on it.

‘Claiming it back’ is a bit dubious – I doubt that it is a word commonly used by women now, let alone when Davidson is trying to claim it back from.

She has been getting some coverage, generally negative.

Newstalk ZB: Marama Davidson defends calls to reclaim ‘c-word’

“Part of my responsibility as a leader was using my platform to resist misogyny and men using these words against us.”

I’m not sure that this will be an effective way to do that, going by the levels of derision online.

Newshub: Green co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand must reclaim the ‘C-word’

Green co-leader Marama Davidson is on a crusade to reclaim the word Kiwis find most offensive.

At an anti-racism rally attended by families, she dropped the ‘C-bomb’ not once, not twice, but three separate times. She was later unapologetic about her language.

“I think it’s a word that we have to disarm and reclaim”.

“That word is a powerful word for women and shouldn’t be used as abuse,” Ms Davidson says.

It has a history of being used as a term of abuse, a swear word. I’m not sure how it can now be turned into a “powerful word for women.”

From the video:

…she has barely any support from her parliamentary colleagues.

Marama Davidson and James Shaw, next to each other but miles apart, Shaw refusing to talk about his partner’s campaign to reclaim the c-word.

Jacinda Ardern:

“I certainly wouldn’t use that language”.

Winston Peters:

“This is my personal opinion, I think the use is appalling, it is terribly degrading”.

Paula Bennett:

“So she may want to reclaim whatever she likes. She doesn’t get to make that decision for other people’s children whoo were in that audience.”

Peters is old school, of a different generation where swearing in front of women was generally not done, but Ardern and Bennett are more Davidson’s age.

Marama Davidson:

“I can be called it in a death threat, but I’m not allowed to say it myself at a protest rally. I’m really happy to stand behind what I said”.

“Part of my responsibility as a leader is using my platform to resist misogyny and men using words against us.

Journalist: “Is reclaiming the C word now part of the Green Party kaupapa?”

“No it’s just something I said at a protest rally”.

Female Green MPs don’t look particularly supportive:

Davidson and “women get a free pass” to use C word

There has been some criticising of Green co-leader Marama Davidson liking a tweet that uses the C word, but that has been defended, saying “Women get a free pass to use it especially in the context it was being used”.

Is this another example of different rules of acceptability of language for different groups of people?

Ironically, this began with a speech on free speech.

I’m sure if some people called her that there would be an uproar.

People have been slammed for liking tweets with no swear words in them – see National leader Simon Bridges accidentally ‘liked’ social media post mocking Clarke Gayford (although ‘Whaleoil’ has become a bit of a swear word these days).

Context does matter with speech. Davidson’s comment was directed at herself (more or less) and not at one specific person as abuse.

And social acceptance of swearing, especially by women and in public, has changed a lot over the last half century.

But ‘the real meaning of free speech’ surely must mean it is free for anyone to speak, not just some groups of people.

And it seems that increasingly there are attempts to have different rules about what can be said and who can speak on certain topics based on the group that a person belongs to (or is labelled as belonging to).

Peters, Bridges support free speech

Both acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and national leader Simon Bridges have spoken in favour of free speech after Auckland mayor Phil Goff banned Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from speaking at an Auckland City Council owned venue. Southern and Molyneux subsequently cancelled their New Zealand visit.

Concerns were initially raised by Auckland peace action – Auckland ‘alt-right’ event cancelled due to ‘health and safety’.

“Auckland Peace Action (APA) called on the Government to not allow the speakers entry to New Zealand.” The group also threatened to disrupt the event, saying: “If they come here, we will confront them on the streets. If they come, we will blockade entry to their speaking venue”.

Goff:

Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues.

1 News: Winston Peters would have let far-right commentators talk at venue on ‘basis of free speech’

During a press conference today, Peters said if it were up to him he would have let the Canadian pair talk, after Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he would not let any Auckland Council venue to be used by them.

The Acting Prime Minister said “despite the fact that what they might have to say is a very antithesis of what nearly all of us believe here, we still believe in their freedom and their right to express it in free speech.”

He said if it had been up to him, “we’d have allowed them to come on the basis of free speech”.

“We should be very careful who we expel on that cause because the downstream historically record on that has been just disastrous,” Mr Peters said.

Good to hear him saying this.

He also questioned whether the mayor had made the decision alone or with council approval.

Fair question…

Auckland Live, who run the Bruce Mason Centre where they were to speak, tweeted the cancellation was due to “security concerns around the health and safety of the presenters, staff and patrons”.

This came after Mr Goff tweeted the pair would not be speaking at Auckland Council venues last Friday.

…that will probably go unanswered by Goff.

Simon Bridges backs free speech for far-right writers banned from Auckland Council venues

National leader Simon Bridges says two Canadian far-right writers should be able to come to New Zealand and speak, even if people disagree with their views.

Bridges told TVNZ’s Breakfast show today he strongly disagreed with the pair’s views but freedom of speech was important.

“I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it’s a dangerous thing to say ‘because we don’t like what you’re saying we won’t let you in’.

“I can see how [Goff] made his decision but I wouldn’t have banned them from coming to New Zealand. We should allow people we strongly disagree with to come. We’re a mature, liberal democracy.”

With some of the comments made over the cancelled visit of Southern and Molyneux, and a lot political commentary and debate, I would question how mature our democracy is.

In contrast Green co-leader Marama Davidson backed Goff’s decision:

Good to use our freedom of speech to say your racist bigoted views aren’t going to be catered for here. Thanks Phil. These two can get out.

It wasn’t ‘freedom of speech’ that Goff used, it was abuse of mayoral power to suppress free speech at a council owned venue.

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman‏ also backed the Goff/Auckland Council ‘public safety’ excuse for not allowing the Canadians to use the North Shore venue.

I haven’t seen anything from Auckland Live or Ghahraman‏  that backs up their concerns about public safety.

Penny Bright responded to Ghahraman‏ on Twitter:

I have a proven track record in defence of freedom of expression (particularly under former Auckland City Council at Town Hall and the former Ak City Council Building). I don’t accept Mayor Phil Goff has the lawful right to decide who has access to Ak Council venues.

Rogan Mortimer has started a petition Protect Lauren Southern Event but it has just 145 ‘signatures’ in four days.

Juana Atkins also has a petition: Defend Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux’s right to freedom of speech in New Zealand.

This petition is to send a strong message that we will not allow people who are scared of criticism of their ideas to silence their critics and to prevent those who want to listen to them from attending the events of their choice.

When we book tickets we expect the venue to not be cowed by bullying groups who are NOT their customers into cancelling the event.

That includes a stupid photo of Southern holding two firearms – it has more signatures (currently 1204), presumably promoted on Whale Oil, but that won’t make many free speech waves.

It’s always funny to see people from Whale Oil promoting free speech when it suits them, given their history of banning many people trying to speak freely there.

Another petition, this one opposing free speech: Stop Lauren Southern from entering New Zealand

We, the undersigned concerned residents of New Zealand petition the Minister Of Immigration of New Zealand to stop Laurence Southern from entering New Zealand.

Laurence Southern is a Canadian born far right political activist. She has blasphemous views on Islam where she has used terms like “‘Allah is gay God”. She also has very strong anti-cultural / multi-racialism views. NZ is a very multi racial country with a rich mixed cultural heritage.  According to section 61 of NZ Humans Rights Act, this is hate speech. Her visit to NZ and public appearances are conducive for upheaval in the tolerant multiracial New Zealand.

By allowing Lauren into the country can easily stir religious and cultural sensitivities. This can manifest itself chaos and disharmony within our peaceful community and country.

UK have banned Lauren Southern and we request that the New Zealand Government do likewise.

Currently 2,696 signatures.

And yesterday a fund raising campaign was launched to force Auckland Council to respect free speech

A crowd funding campaign has been launched to raise money to bring judicial review proceedings against Phil Goff and Auckland Council for their banning of speakers Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern at Council-owned venues.

New Zealanders who value free speech can pledge money to this cause at http://www.freespeechcoalition.nz.

Supporters of the group include:
Dr. Michael Bassett – Former Labour Party Minister
Dr. Don Brash – Former leader of the National and Act Parties, and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Ashley Church – Business Leader
Dr. David Cumin – Senior Lecturer University of Auckland
Melissa Derby – University of Canterbury Academic
Stephen Franks – Lawyer
Paul Moon – Historian and a Professor, Auckland University of Technology
Lindsay Perigo – Broadcaster
Rachel Poulain – Writer
Chris Trotter – Political Commentator
Jordan Williams – Lawyer

Mayor Phil Goff has opened Auckland Council up to judicial review, as it is likely breaching the Bill of Rights Act (freedom of speech), and potentially the Human Rights Act (freedom from discrimination on the basis of political opinion). The Council is subject to both Acts.

This is an all or nothing campaign. If the $50,000 is not raised by 5pm Friday, then all funds will be returned to donors, and the Coalition will not proceed with further action.

The Coalition’s intention is, firstly, to force Auckland Council to reopen the Bruce Mason Centre to these speakers by August 3, the date that had been scheduled for the event. Secondly, and most importantly, we aim to set a precedent demonstrating that government bodies will face firm legal consequences if they breach the rights to freedom of speech and freedom from political discrimination that are laid out in law.

The visit has already been cancelled – that happened quite quickly – so I think this is fairly futile.

However there does seem to be an important debate here – free speech versus ‘protecting’ people from hearing things they disagree with.

I note that attendance at the proposed event with Southern and Molyneux was not compulsory.

Death and rape threats against Davidson

Yesterday Green MP and co-leader Marama Davidson tweeted:

I think this claim has to be seen as credible. But it seems worse.

RNZ: Green Party co-leader receives rape and death threats on social media

The MP posted on Facebook yesterday morning, supporting Auckland mayor Phil Goff’s decision to ban two controversial Canadian speakers from Auckland Council venues.

Marama Davidson said “vile” comments about death and rape were made by supporters of the Canadian pair on her Facebook post yesterday.

“Quite a lot of tears from supporters of the two…some quite vile disgusting death threats to me, my children…some rape threats and people just calling me the most disgusting names and abuse you could probably imagine.”

She deleted the comments straight away because she did not want the wider public to get offended by what was written.

But she was now trying to recover the messages so she could give them to the police.

“Yeah I think it is worthwhile just putting on record to the authorities. That could include the parliamentary security – that this threat has been received,” she said.

Davidson’s post on Facebook:

Threats against MPs and their families shouldn’t be tolerated in New Zealand.

I have reservations about the Auckland banning of the Canadians, but that doesn’t justify threatening someone who supports the ban. It is something that warrants debate, but not gutless anonymous online attacks.

I don’t know how bad the threats were, I haven’t seen them, but it is still a disgraceful blot on ‘free speech’ and politics in New Zealand.

I know what it can be like to be threatened online, it has happened to me including implied death threats, and also threats against members of my family. It is an insidious part of the Internet – threats and abuse are an abuse of free speech.

 

MP claims death threats against her and children

It appears to have been on Facebook.

I’ve got no reason to doubt this claim from Davidson. It is extremely concerning that anyone gets threatened online, let alone an MP and her children.

I hope the police get involved in this and hold those responsible to account.

Protection from extreme threats must take precedence over so called ‘free speech’.

Greens struggling in Government

I suspected that Greens were naive about the responsibilities and requirements of being in government, and this is being proven by an outpouring of green angst over the granting of water bottling rights to a Chinese company.

Some Green supporters (presumably party members) and some Green MPs are showing that they still struggle with the reality of governing.

Government 101 – you can’t get into power, especially weak power overshadowed by one much larger party and another party whose leader holds most of the bargaining power and influence, and change the law every time one of your own party ministers is required to follow procedures and fulfil their responsibilities.

Stuff: Green Party members revolt over water bottling decision

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is facing intense backlash from members threatening to quit over a decision made by one of her ministers to allow a Chinese water bottler to expand.

Davidson has said she “doesn’t like” the decision after the co-leader of the Young Greens Max Tweedie wrote on an internal Facebook page that that he was “extremely disappointed” in the decision.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage, one of three Green ministers, announced the decision on Tuesday which allows in principle a Chinese water bottling giant to purchase land in order to expand their existing Otakiri Springs water bottling plant near Whakatane.

The decision was made with associate finance minister David Clark based on advice from the Overseas Investment Office.

In other words, doing what her job required. But Sage was obviously uneasy about some Greens would think so tried to explain to them.

Sage put out a blog post on the decision on the Green Party website.

She acknowledged it was surprising the call had been made by a member of the Green Party as it had an election policy to ban new water bottling consents, impose a levy on water exports, and more concretely respect Treaty of Waitangi rights around water.

“Some people might wonder why a Green MP who is a Minister has allowed such a land purchase involving a water bottling plant to go ahead,” Sage wrote.

“Basically the law is clear about what Ministers can and cannot take into account.”

The Overseas Investment Act only allows Ministers to take into account “substantial and identifiable” benefit to New Zealand and conservation values – but not Treaty of Waitangi rights.

That sounds fairly obvious.

Despite this post, prominent members of the party were fuming on an internal Facebook group on Tuesday night, and asking the Greens to publicly disown the decision.

“What the f… is the point of us being in government and having this portfolio if we throw our Te Tiriti [Treaty] obligations in the bin,” wrote Tweedie.

“This is an absolute joke, I’m extremely disappointed in Eugenie and so angry that this came from us … This is a test for us as to how we respond to this, I would like the non ministerial part of our caucus to oppose this publicly, I’m actually livid.”

Tweedie also seems ignorant of how a democratic government reliant on law works.

Davidson, who ran for co-leader on a platform of greater connection with members, acknowledged in a comment on that post “we don’t like this decision.”

“There were strong legal implications for us opposing this. We will have to seek changes in the legislation to avoid legal consequences. While there are definitely Tiriti implications in this issue, it’s not a core Treaty issue in this case,” Davidson wrote.

A prominent member of the party wrote he was “fuming”.

“I don’t know if I can stay in the party, on principle after this. Ngāti Awa people (who almost universally oppose this) are absolutely livid.”

Davidson responded that this position was “valid and shows how much we need to be accountable on this.”

Speaking on her way into the House Davidson repeated that the decision was not consistent with Green Party values or policy.

“This decision does not sit with Green Party kaupapa and long-time policy.”

Simple fact – Greens have 8 seats in a 63 seat MMP government, so proportionally they have about 1/8 of the power. They don’t have a mandate to change every law they don’t like.

Sage told Stuff she understood why Green Party members would be upset.

“I absolutely understand members’ concerns about the decision. The Green Party leadership and MPs understand our members’ concerns,” Sage said.

“There are opportunities to improve the law and I hope people will get involved in that. Green MPs will push hard for changes to the law and for a charge on bottled water exports.”

“I made a decision under the current law.”

That’s pretty basic stuff. What did Green members think they would be able to do in Government with 8 MPs?

Sage was put on the spot on this in Parliament yesterday, which resulted in Davidson asking patsy questions to try to address party concerns:

From Question No. 11—Land Information:

Hon David Bennett: Has the Minister discussed with the Minister of Trade and Export Growth how the overseas investment criteria could be changed to implement core Green Party policy to impose an immediate moratorium on new bottling?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: I am confident that the Minister who has responsibility for that issue of water bottling is looking at all the issues, and we will have discussions.

Marama Davidson: Was the Minister able to consider the environmental impacts of taking the water when she made this decision?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: That is not a matter that the Minister for Land Information can take into account under the Overseas Investment Act; it is a matter that is considered under the Resource Management Act. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council notified its application.

Marama Davidson: Was she able to take into account Te Tiriti concerns and the opposition of mana whenua when making this decision?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: The application concerned the purchase of sensitive land under the Overseas Investment Act. That Act limits the issues that can be considered. I considered those issues, and I wasn’t able to take those concerns into account.

A Minister has responsibilities beyond their party ideals. No Minister can quickly change laws to appease their party members, especially small relatively weak third parties in Government.

It could be a difficult term for the Greens, and a challenging campaign in 2020 – if they haven’t self destructed before then.