Mark Patterson (NZ First MP) supporting the Arms Amendment Bill

It is significant that Mark Patterson, a farmer, spoke on behalf of NZ First in the third reading of the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill.

I would also like to talk too on behalf of farmers. For farmers, this stuff’s not “nice to have”; it’s actually a tool of the trade in some cases, and they will be feeling a little bit as if they have been restricted unfairly in the sense of the need that they have: things like wallabies, geese, goats, tahr, deer—of course, which not only damage pasture and crops but carry TB—and pigs that can do so much harm.

There is some need for cullers to have access to these semi-automatic weapons over and above the criteria that we have set and we have carved out an exemption for cullers on private land. It wasn’t in the first draft of the bill but we have added that within the select committee process. But we will have to look at that in the second tranche because there are 5 million hectares of private land—hill country—out there under some pressure from these pests and wild animals, and we will have to assess that.

But New Zealand First fully supports in the first tranche being tight, because the tighter we make it at the start it’s easier to make exemptions as required rather than try to do it in an ad hoc manner at the start.


MARK PATTERSON (NZ First): It is an honour for me to stand and add New Zealand First’s support for this significant piece of legislation. In doing so, we stand behind and beside our Prime Minister and I would like to acknowledge her in the leadership she has shown and it has been comforting to us all. Her response has been noted not only nationally of course but internationally.

In a dark time of international politics she has stood out and New Zealand First, right from the get-go, had absolutely no trouble falling behind what was, in one word, “leadership” in this time of national crisis. In fact, our own leader, the Rt Hon Winston Peters, his initial reaction was that at 1.30 on 15 March our world changed forever. And so will our gun laws.

I will acknowledge too the National Party. I know that the politics for them, as Chris Bishop alluded to earlier, is not easy either as it is not for us, but their response and their leader, Simon Bridges, falling in behind and getting alongside—this effort has been incredibly important. I acknowledge you on that side of the House—well, the National Party in particular on that side of the House—for taking the principled stand and you have done that for the same reason that New Zealand First and the rest of the House has: because it is the right thing to do.

The gunman, it has been referenced, was operating legally on an A category licence—the garden variety licence that any one of us with a reasonably limited background can qualify for. He had a legal firearm purchased over the counter at a retail outlet. He did modify that firearm but he did expose the gaping holes in our firearms law.

These changes are long overdue and the genesis of this is actually not Christchurch. The genesis was Aramoana, and, as has been referenced earlier, we did fail to act there. John Banks has admitted recently it’s his greatest regret. Mayor Dalziel in the select committee process, in her presentation to us she referenced the fact that she sat where we sat in 1992. She heard the same arguments that we heard and they were unable to get it across the line, and today we have the ability to right that wrong.

The Thorp report of 1995—it came out and recommended restricting handguns, banning these military-style semi-automatic rifles, limiting magazine capacity, having a full firearm registry. We had Port Arthur and we saw the exemplar of John Howard. We had Matt Robson’s attempts to get bills before the House and one successfully in 1999 and then again in 2005. The 2017 select committee recommended 20 changes off the back of a full investigation; only seven were implemented. This is not the time to point fingers but certainly, for anyone that questions the process, how much process do you need? We have been too timid. We have paid the price.

It is important though, as Ian McKelvie referenced in his previous speech, to acknowledge the lawful firearms owners of this country. New Zealand is amongst those with the lowest rate of firearms-related incidents in the world. There are 250,000 or thereabouts firearms licence holders and there are estimated between 1.5 million and 2 million guns. There is a lot of firepower out there and the vast majority of these New Zealanders use their weapons, as described, legally and safely and comply.

For those New Zealanders, some of whom are hurting and feeling somewhat victimised, we do understand that hurt but we hope that you will see the greater good in what we are doing. There is no alternative for us. We cannot and will not suffer a repeat of this tragedy.

In terms of the exemptions, I would commend the Minister actually in his pragmatic approach to this with the collectors’ items, vintage firearms. These are history and, as one of these collectors said to me, they touched history—they lived and touched history. And to be able to keep these with very strict controls and having this amendment where you have to have a vital part stored at another address, we are making sure that that is a safe provision but an important provision nonetheless.

I would also like to talk too on behalf of farmers. For farmers, this stuff’s not “nice to have”; it’s actually a tool of the trade in some cases, and they will be feeling a little bit as if they have been restricted unfairly in the sense of the need that they have: things like wallabies, geese, goats, tahr, deer—of course, which not only damage pasture and crops but carry TB—and pigs that can do so much harm.

There is some need for cullers to have access to these semi-automatic weapons over and above the criteria that we have set and we have carved out an exemption for cullers on private land. It wasn’t in the first draft of the bill but we have added that within the select committee process. But we will have to look at that in the second tranche because there are 5 million hectares of private land—hill country—out there under some pressure from these pests and wild animals, and we will have to assess that.

But New Zealand First fully supports in the first tranche being tight, because the tighter we make it at the start it’s easier to make exemptions as required rather than try to do it in an ad hoc manner at the start.

So this is just the first tranche of legislation and we note the royal commission that’s coming—Sir William Young, a wise head to lead that effort. We will look at things like the licencing regime. We will look at things like registry. We will look at sentencing. Just looking at the bill as it is, I think there is room for toughening some of the sentencing. Prohibition orders have been mentioned by the Opposition, once again, where those exemptions may be able to be increased for our farmers, if indeed they are demonstrated to really need these weapons.

Of course, there will be these wider social issues such as hate speech that will be looked at, and the wider social context of how this tragedy has been able to come about. But these are questions for another day. This is a very, actually, narrow bill around hardware—where the line is drawn in terms of what weapons New Zealanders will be able to have access to and those that we won’t.

Could I commend the Minister Stuart Nash on the way that he has shepherded this through the select committee. I’ve previously acknowledged the chair, Michael Wood, who did an outstanding job in this, and all members of the select committee contributed constructively. Our public service: I understand that there were members from 10 departments seconded on to this bill. There were 13,000 submissions in 48 hours.

We, of course, did not get to read them all individually ourselves, but I’m sure—with other members of the select committee—we did all read a select few, and it has also been referenced that we did get a very broad selection, and wisely picked selection of oral contributors that contributed so much to the drafting of this bill.

To the Police Assistant Commissioner Penny, who I see here, and your team, Mike McIlraith, I might reference, who found out he’s a long lost cousin of mine through this process, but everyone who contributed through that select committee.

Could I quote, finally, from Lianne Dalziel, who quoted a contributor to the ’99 select committee: “If the Aramoana experience has failed to teach our legislators that these and similar weapons must be banned, regardless of the power of the lobby opposing such action, one can only speculate at the extent of the tragedy needed to spur our politicians into position action to protect our lives.” Today we know the answer to that question.


See Arms Amendment Bill passes third reading

Stemming the surge in superannuation costs

The cost of providing universal superannuation has been contentious for decades. As the 65+ population grows, so does the already considerable costs.

Attempts have been made in the past to make changes.

UnitedFuture tried to nudge National towards ‘flexi-super’ where people could choose the age they started to get super (with varying rates) a couple of terms ago. National fobbed this off by allowing an investigation that was always going to achieve nothing under John Key’s leadership.

In 2013 Labour proposed an increase in the age of eligibility to 67 but got hammered by the left so dropped their proposal. With NZ First holding the balance of power there seems no way that the age will be increased this term.

But a NZ First MP has proposed a change that will cut the costs.

ODT: Cutting cost of superannuation

Last month, a New Zealand First private members’ Bill in the name of MP Mark Patterson, who is based in Clutha-Southland, was put forward. It proposes increasing the minimum residency requirement from 10 to 20 years after the age of 20, so a childhood in New Zealand would not count. The current 10-year law only stipulates five of those must be after the age of 50.

Given the last National-led government proposed an increase to 20 years, there should be sufficient support for a Bill to pass. Mr Patterson cites Berl research which says the change to 20 years could save $4.4 billion over 10 years.

That will only reduce the ongoing costs slightly.

And it’s fair to ask why NZ First staunchly defend the age of eligibility for non-immigrants while they want to toughen things up for immigrants.

But is even 20 years enough? The 2016 policy review by retirement commissioner Diane Maxwell recommended 25 years, noting an average in the OECD of 26. Any change would not apply to those living in New Zealand now. She calls for action now in part because of the time lag. Superannuation cost $30 million a day and that would rise to $98 million in 20 years’ time, she said.

The 10-year rule goes back to 1972. Most migrants were from Britain and the UK state pension could be taken off NZ Super. But these days many come from the likes of China where there is no state pension. There is a clear monetary incentive for Chinese residents to try to bring out their parents under family reunification. After only 10 years they can be receiving this country’s state pension, as well as public healthcare.

It may look racist trying to double the residency requirement now there are proportionally a lot more Asian immigrants, but a lot of other things have changed since the 1970s. The age of eligibility was increased from 60 to 65 in the 1990s.

Twenty years is still a long time. To be eligible for super at 65 you would have to be resident in New Zealand by age 45.

How else can the increasing cost of superannuation be limited? Or should it?

Beef-less burger bull

Two days ago it was reported that Air New Zealand was going to serve a beef-less burger on a couple of flights, and it has prompted some political bull.

Stuff: Air New Zealand to serve plant-based burger on Los Angeles-Auckland flights

Our national carrier is the first airline in the world to partner with Impossible Foods, a Californian start-up whose non-meaty meat is stocked by more than 2500 restaurants across the US, from renowned chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi restaurant in New York to White Castle and Umami burger outlets.

There’s usually a burger on the Business Premier menu but Chave believes the Impossible Burger will appeal to all palates.

“Whether you’re a vegetarian, flexitarian or a hard-core meat lover, you’ll enjoy the delicious taste of the Impossible Burger.”

The burger, which is prepared in Air New Zealand’s Los Angeles kitchen and assembled at altitude, comes with two plant-based patties, smoked Gouda cheese, caramelised onions and a smear of tomatillo cream. Because fries don’t hold up in the air, it’s served with a side of beetroot relish and pickle.

Sounds like it could be quite nice. I had a delicious meatless burger in a Curio Bay cafe (in the far south of the South Island) last month.

It isn’t the only food option, and won’t be compulsory. It is a choice for Air New Zealand customers, who are using a US product when stocking up when in the US.

But for some reason it has irked some politicians here.

NZ First MP Mark Patterson put out a press release: Air New Zealand needs to review its decision to promote synthetic proteins

Air New Zealand has dealt another blow to regional New Zealand by promoting the meat substitute ‘Impossible Burger” says New Zealand First Primary Industries spokesperson, Mark Patterson.

Mr Patterson described the decision as a “Slap in the face” for New Zealand’s Nine Billion dollar Red Meat Sector. “The National Carrier should be showcasing our premium quality grass fed New Zealand Red Meat not promoting a product that has the potential to pose an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner”.

“There has been widespread concern in the regions at the loss of services from provincial airports and now we have Air New Zealand actively promoting synthetic proteins which have a genetic modification component to them. This is not a good example of New Zealand Inc working together for the greater good.”

I don’t think regional New Zealand could economically supply food to flights originating in the US.

“Promoting a product that has the potential to pose an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner” is a bit over the top.

NZ First leader and acting Prime Minister was also critical – RNZ Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters hits out at fake meat burger

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said he would not eat a burger with lab-made meat, particularly if there’s one with the real thing available.

“I’m utterly opposed to fake beef,” he said.

That’s his choice. No one is making him eat it.

Mr Peters said the farming industry was made up of New Zealand taxpayers who wanted to ensure they get the top end of the product market offshore.

“Our airline should be its number one marketer.”

Generally Air NZ does a very good job of promoting New Zealand and New Zealand produce.

It isn’t just NZ First MPs complaining.

A different response from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor:

“Customers will ultimately make the decision as to whether they like this burger. In fact it may be a really good positive thing for the meat industry if people taste it, don’t like it and eat real meat.”

He’s right that customers, and businesses like Air NZ, should be able to decide for themselves, but he’s being a bit lame suggesting a positive from a negative response.

I thought that the Greens might be opposed to a GE meat substitute but apparently not.

However, the Green Party said a move away from eating so much meat would ultimately be a huge plus for the planet as it would help cut emissions, lead to less intensive farming, and improve animal welfare.

Would the Greens be happy with GE meat substitutes being grown in New Zealand laboratories?

I have concerns about concocted food products myself, but simple meatless burgers can be delicious and healthy without needing to be manufactured.

But, why the sudden interest in trying to act as nanny to airline menus?

I think that our MPs should have better things to do than manufacturing outrage over a non-problem that really is no of their business.