Peters drops leak accusations against Bennett, Tolley

It was obvious that all the Winston Peters accusations and litigation couldn’t stand up. He launched what was clearly a fishing expedition to try to expose the culprit.

Peters, via his lawyer Brian Henry’s closing address in court, has conceded that neither Paula Bennett nor Anne Tolley leaked information about his seven year superannuation overpayments.

Newsroom: Peters accepts National ministers didn’t leak

Winston Peters’ has accepted in the High Court that two former National ministers he had been suing for $450,000 for breaching his privacy were not the source of the leak or responsible for it.

In his closing submission today, Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry said both Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett denied in their evidence leaking information on Peters’ seven-year overpayment of superannuation – and the lawyer for the Ministry of Social Development and public servants did not challenge those denials.

“That left the MSD in the position that they now cannot avoid a finding that the breach was on MSD,” Henry said. “The plaintiff was expecting a challenge from MSD to the ministers, but the MSD has not challenged the evidence that they [the ministers] did not leak.

“That dual denial removed two of the options that the plaintiff, when it opened its case, was expecting to have examined in the court.”

That means Peters is no longer suing the National pair for damages.

This raises questions about Peters’ claims, and the cost he has inflicted on taxpayers to try to justify his accusations.

It also makes Barry Soper’s assertions that it must have been a National leak (with no evidence provided) look a bit silly.

Henry said Peters’ case was that under the tort of privacy he had a reasonable expectation that his private information would not be made public and what was disclosed had been highly offensive.

“In this case, the MSD exclusively held the plaintiff’s private information. Unless they can rebut the evidence there arises an evidential presumption.

“The larger the group [who had become aware in the ministry] the greater the foreseeability the matter would be leaked.

“The perpetrator will never front. Someone in MSD in full knowledge breached the plaintiff’s privacy and set off a chain of communications causing damage to his reputation.”

Henry said: “This is not likely to be a mistake.”

So he now asserts that someone in MSD leaked the information, but as there is no evidence suggests the assumption can be made. I don’t know how proof or lack thereof works in cases like this.

The ‘chain of communications’ led to journalists asking Peters about the overpayment, and Peters then went public himself. There is no certainty that media would have published the information. This is an interesting situation.

MSD lawyers claimed that Peters’ reputation hadn’t been affected by anyone but himself.

It is arguable that if Peters had just admitted making a mistake on his application and not noticing the overpayment, then paying it back when brought to his attention, then this would have blown over and would be virtually forgotten by now.

Instead Peters accused a swath of people for the leak with no evidence to back his claims, made assertions and denials that were inaccurate or wrong, filed legal action against National MPs just prior to going into coalition negotiations with National (I think without revealing the legal filing), and then proceeded with the case over the next two years.

Some have suggested he has simply enhanced negative aspects of his reputation.

There is a serious issue of the revealing of private information held by  Government department. That should have been investigated – although leaks are common and culprits are often not identified.

But the initial information Peters revealed himself, and revelations through the court hearings, have been self damaging more than anything.

As well as damages, Peters wants a declaration from the court that his privacy was breached.

The NZ First leader says it is necessary to have the tort of privacy recognise such a breach because in the digital world “the dissemination of [private] information is now in the hands of irresponsible persons… and politicians are not extremely vulnerable”.

At the end of his submissions, Henry clarified for the judge that Peters was now seeking the $450,000 in damages under his first course of action from all defendants together rather than seeking that sum from each.

That’s an odd switch. Maybe he realised Peters was seeking too much with Bennett and Tolley out of the firing line.

Questioned further by Justice Venning, he said the fact Bennett and Tolley could no longer be accepted as the source of the leaks meant that they could not continue to be included in the cause of action seeking that money. So the damages are sought, together, from Boyle, Hughes and MSD.

In three further causes of action, Peters is seeking declarations from the judge that his privacy was breached by the public servants in briefing their ministers and by the two ministers in accepting those briefings.

A challenge for the judge to address all of that.

A swipe at Kiwiblog fizzled:

Henry disputed a claim by Bruce Gray QC, for the ministers, that there had been no social media reports of Peters’ overpayment presented to the court that had occurred before Peters issued his press release announcing that news.

He pointed to a Kiwiblog posting about the risks for Peters if the overpayment news was correct. However he gave the court the date August 28 for the Kiwiblog comment, and that was actually the day after Peters issued his press release.

Whoops.

The only social media content appearing before Peters went public had been three tweets from the writer of this article about a possible major political story, and the tweets did not mention him, his party, gender, age or superannuation.

The writer had to provide a sworn statement in the earliest part of the proceedings and pointed out that intense speculation on Twitter had followed those tweets but that not one that was connected to his tweets had referred to or even hinted at Peters being involved.

The writer is Tim Murphy who has provided excellent coverage of the hearing.

Earlier, Victoria Casey QC for Hughes, Boyle and the ministry, said Peters’ pleading alleging bad faith by her clients would, if found to be so, be “catastrophic” for the officials. “If established, it would be the end of any career for them in the public service.

“It’s important that Mr Peters is held to his pleadings,” she said.

The bad faith accusation was raised by Peters in his fourth ‘statement in reply’ before the hearing began. “Mr Peters is not entitled to pursue new allegations of bad faith.”

(Henry later told the court he was saying officials had not acted in good faith rather than they had acted in bad faith. That was so those defendants had to disprove his claim rather than Peters having to prove ‘bad faith’.)

Justice Venning has reserved his decision, which he said was unlikely before the end of the year.

I expect he will want to take some time and care in writing his decision. I wonder how close to next year’s election campaign the decision will be released.


A (lawyer) comment from Kiwiblog (typos corrected):

I was astonished to read of Mr Henry’s concession that neither of Anne Tolley or Paula Bennett leaked anything.
If that is the case the claim against them will fail absolutely.

I would anticipate that Mr Gray will ask for judgement for Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett and that there be an order for costs against Mr Peters on an indemnity basis.

Yeah, costs. They could amount to a lot. Peters will be hoping to have costs warded in his favour for his remaining claims, but that my only balance out these costs.

Thinking about it, Peters was hardly likely to succeed in all of his claims, so was always going to be exposed to costs.

The Sarah Dowie media dam has burst, as has her political career

After Sarah Dowie was named by the Herald yesterday as the MP who had an affair with Jami-Lee Ross and who sent the text that is now revealed to be the subject of a police inquiry, the dam has burst in mainstream media, who had held back from naming her since October, despite Ross naming her on radio and being named frequently in social media.

Also revealed openly yesterday is that Dowie was one of the women who featured in Newsroom coverage of four women who claimed to have had bad experiences with Ross – see Profile of a narcissist in Four women speak out.

Fran O’Sullivan (via Facebook):

“Is the unnamed person in this Newsroom story Sarah Dowie? If so, I would suggest the police investigation is misdirected.”

But accepting one side of a relationship breakup is fraught with potential problems. There is often blame on both sides.

And there’s an issue when an MP makes serious anonymous accusations through the media, as Jock Anderson says:

Why does the media accept such allegations without naming the person making them??? They name the person against whom the allegations are made…

If a source is a primary complainer/alleger it is unsafe to give them anonymity…Otherwise they could say whatever they liked…And if it is good enough to name one it is good enough to name the other…

It’s up to any newsroom to talk the complainer round so they can be identified, otherwise what credibility can be put on what they say??? It’s far too easy to let unidentified complainers simple rabbit on without any checking or corroboration of what they say…When people are identified they are more careful about what they allege…It’s basic journalism…

Dowie may (or may not) solely be a victim of Ross, but she has done a number of things that I think it’s valid to question – like having a relationship with another MP which complicates (and potentially compromises) doing her job enormously, like sending the text, like biting back anonymously through the media, like not fronting up and outing herself.

This article by Graham Adams at Stuff is harsh on Dowie, but it may in the main be a fair enough critique: Parliament’s star-crossed lovers who crossed each other

It’s always an interesting — and often sobering — exercise to reread the maiden speeches of MPs years after their debuts in Parliament and to compare their stated values and ambitions with how they have fared since their first foray into the heady realm of national politics.

Dowie’s career as an MP is now severely compromised. If she doesn’t resign or stand down at the next election there will be a lot of pressure on National to stand her down. It looks like she has already lost a lot of support.

One thing that Dowie’s speech in 2014 made abundantly clear was that no one would ever be able to accuse her — the first female MP for Invercargill and a graduate in both law and environmental science — of modesty, despite her mentioning the virtues of humility.

She began by congratulating herself on her decisiveness in seizing the opportunities that had come her way on her path to Parliament. “I am mindful of the journey that I have travelled to be here. I am reflective on the definitive decisions I have made, the key opportunities I have seized, my discipline, my faith in the end goal…”

She went on to speak in favour of self-determination and making your own luck. She believed that you “reap what you sow” and that you should “play the hand you’re dealt” as well as you can, and “with hard work and perseverance, eventually things must go your way”.

Above all, her speech appeared to be designed to show her parliamentary colleagues that she was a true-blue Nat. She was one of them. They could count on her.

Four years later, it seems that her emphasis on personal responsibility was merely a handy slogan used to impress her House mates and not a guide to live by.

We now know that she thought it was a good idea to launch an anonymous hit-job on Newsroom against her former lover and fellow MP Jami-Lee Ross, in which she implied she was a victim and that she was sucked into the relationship by a very bad man who had pursued and flattered her.

So much for personal responsibility and self-determination you might think — or her avowed principle of fighting “hard but fair”. A fair fight would have seen her identifying herself as one of the authors of the Newsroom mugging at the time it was published.

It would also have included the fact that she was, like him, a married MP with two children, and that she was 10 years older than him and an experienced lawyer.

How different that anonymous attack would have appeared if readers had been given all that information at the time the article was published. Her casting herself as a victim would have seemed to many to be far-fetched and extremely self-serving.

While Ross clearly looks bad she doesn’t look very good herself in this.

Mike Houlahan (ODT): Dowie’s reign as Invercargill MP looks to be over

Sarah Dowie’s short-lived political career looks all but over.

The Invercargill MP from 2014 is almost certain not to be a National Party candidate in the 2020 election – assuming she does not resign beforehand.

Well-informed sources said the affair had caused turmoil in National party circles in Invercargill.

Several members of Ms Dowie’s electorate committee had resigned in recent months, their departures due to Ms Dowie’s behaviour and conduct.

”It doesn’t reflect the values of the National Party,” one source said.

The Otago Daily Times understands several members of Ms Dowie’s staff have also resigned. She is advertising for staff to work in her Wellington office.

Her political future looks bleak.

National have been let down badly twice now in Southland by new MPs, with Todd Barclay also crashing and burning in Clutha-Southland (his replacement has started promisingly though).

While the police complaint over the text could feasibly force Dowie out if she is charged and convicted I think this is unlikely, as the charge looks weak and motives behind it highly suspect, as does Ross’ claims around it.

But Dowie has more immediate problems to deal with. While she may be able to lay some of the blame on Ross and his dirty politics associates she also has to take responsibility for her actions and her predicament herself. Her position as an MP looks untenable to me.

 

Keith Locke on SIS apology for labelling him a threat

Keith Locke was a Green MP from 1999 to 2011, having been a long time political activist. One of his aims in Parliament was to be a civil liberties watchdog, so it is ironic that he was the target of SIS attention.

Locke has recently revealed that he received an apology from the SIS for calling him a threat.

The Spinoff: Spy chief’s apology to me reveals scandalous truth about the SIS

The revelation in 2009 that Green MP Keith Locke had been spied on since age 11 caused an uproar and prompted an inquiry into SIS surveillance. Now, he writes, the SIS has been forced to apologise for calling him ‘a threat’ in internal documents.

Last April I received a letter from Rebecca Kitteridge, the director of the Security Intelligence Service, apologising for the way I was referred to in internal SIS documents. She wrote that I had been described as a “threat” in speaking notes for a Joint Induction Programme run by the SIS and the Government Communications Security Bureau since 2013.

AN EXTRACT FROM SIS DIRECTOR REBECCA KITTERIDGE’S LETTER TO KEITH LOCKE, DATED 16 APRIL 2018

In the SIS documents I was identified as an “internal” threat because I “wish[ed] to see the NZSIS & GCSB abolished or greatly modified”. The documents labelled this a “syndrome”.

In her apology, Kitteridge said “the talking point suggests wrongly that being a vocal critic of the agencies means you are a ‘threat’ or a ‘syndrome’. In fact, people who criticise the agencies publicly are exercising their right to freedom of expression and protest, which are rights we uphold, and are enshrined in the Intelligence and Security Act 2017.”

I haven’t gone public on this until now, but given the recent news about several other state agencies spying on people, I decided that what happened to me should be in the public domain.

In his December report, State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes described the state spying on critics of deep-sea oil drilling, like Greenpeace, “an affront to democracy”. Like Kitteridge in her letter of apology to me, Hughes said that it was “never acceptable for an agency to undertake targeted surveillance of a person just because they are lawfully exercising their democratic rights, including their right to freedom of expression, association and right to protest.”

Most disturbingly, many civil servants in the cases Hughes identified must have known about this illegal, anti-democratic surveillance without blowing a whistle on it.

In my case, many SIS and GCSB officers must have heard me being identified as a “threat” without challenging it. How else could the disparaging reference to me have stayed in the officer training material for ten years. Kitteridge told me the “threat” label was carried over into the Joint Induction Programme speaking note from a “Protective Security Advice presentation (believed to have been developed in about 2008)” and “a historical security aide-memoire (believed to have been developed in 2012).”

To make matters worse, the ten year period when I was deemed to be a “threat” includes the last three years (2008-2011) of my 12 years as an Member of Parliament.

It seemed pretty clear that the SIS had breached to MOU requirements for political neutrality, by treating a sitting MP and his views as a “threat”, so I wrote to the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, about it. He didn’t think the MOU had “been breached in any way.”

Mallard side-stepped my contention that the SIS had acted in a politically biased manner, but did admit that “certain materials being used by the security agencies contained inappropriate expressions of opinion regarding your conduct, including during a time that you were a member of Parliament.”

He said he met regularly with the SIS Director “and will continue to ensure that she is aware of the need for security agencies to respect the role and independence of Parliament.”

I have to disagree with the Speaker that it was just a matter of the SIS using “inappropriate” language. For a spy agency to describe someone as a “threat” is serious. It identifies them as a target for some form of monitoring or surveillance, and this is what has happened to me over many years.

My file illustrates the main function of the SIS over the years, which hasn’t been to track down criminals (which the Police do quite well) but to spy on political dissenters.

This is a serious issue in what is supposed to be an open democracy.

 

 

Is Simeon Brown a Bannonite or just a deceitful right winger?

Who is Simeon Brown? Most people are unlikely to know much if anything about him. He is young for an MP (27) and seems to lean right/conservative.

He won the candidacy for National to contest the Pakuranga electorate last election, which allowed him to romp in to a safe seat vacated by Maurice Williamson. Brown actually increased the MP majority by 2,000 votes, and helped National increase their party vote by about 1,300 votes, giving them 61.69% in the electorate. It must be one of if not the safest electorate.

Like most back bench MPs in a large party Brown has not had much attention. However he was lucky to have a Members’ Bill drawn from the ballot giving him some publicity – it would ensure anyone who supplies illegal synthetic drugs receives a penalty consistent with the penalty prescribed for supplying a Class C Drug.

This is the opposite of most current moves to combat drug problems in dealing with them more as health and addiction issues and providing far better treatment and rehabilitation rather than lock ’em up for longer.

Yesterday after the passing of the Medicinal Cannabis bill in Parliament:

Other reactions:

Yoza: This is how backwards some segments of our society truly are. While sanity is prevailing in other parts of the world, we still have drug war fanatics here pushing a prohibitionist model that has been an utter social disaster for decades.

Mark sanders: So the party would reverse this if given the chance? Cool, add another reason to never vote for you…

Matthew Whitehead: The hilarious hypocrisy of National, a party full of MPs who have big issues with alcohol, moralizing on drugs is astounding. It’s also grossly inaccurate to pretend this is the forthcoming decrimalization decision. This allows prescription by GP, and we don’t see people abusing prescription drugs outside schools or addiction centres. (inside might be another matter ofc). Coincidentally, requiring prescription by GP is a control and a regulation, Simeon.

“Misleading at best and you know it.

“So out of touch fella”

“Perhaps you could try smocking it?’

This follows a recent exchange on Twitter over immigration, with speculation that he may be some sort of a Bannonite (a follower of Breitbart/Steve Bannon).

Peter Dunne: I think you know the answer to your question already Peter!

Peter Aranyi: No, I haven’t worked Simeon out yet. I recognised the ‘socially conservative’ aspect, & we (he & I) had a private conversation about his stance on abortion law reform (he’s agin it) but this migration thing, given the demographics of Pakuranga (even more so Botany) seems oddball.

>> Surely he’s not a Trumpette? Bannonitte?

Peter Dunne: Without the stridency or ideological precision, NZFirst here touches many of the same themes. But it is not as intellectually organised as the Bannonites.

An individual attempt at right wing populism? Whatever, Brown was not very popular on Twitter yesterday:

 

The ‘grey area’ of political and non-political work done by parliamentary staffers

When politicians talk about ‘grey areas’ in separation political from non political work done by the staff of MPs they to an extent are correct – much of what an MP does has political connotations. But I think that MPs and parties have also used ‘grey areas’ as a way of excusing pushing boundaries on what work staffers can do. I know that at times these boundaries have been deliberately exceeded.

This can get tricky for parliamentary staff, whose jobs caan be reliant on the political success of the MPs they work for.

Misuse of parliamentary staff is one of the issues raised in the allegations of bullying and inappropriate use of staff made against National MP Maggie Barrie.

NZ Herald: Bridges says Barry management was no cause for concern, welcomes advice on definition of ‘political work’

National Party leader Simon Bridges said there is “an area of grey” in terms of what constitutes political and non-political work by parliamentary staffers and he welcomed scrutiny by the review into bullying at Parliament.

“Where there is a parliamentary purpose, it is clearly acceptable,” Bridges told the Herald.

“But it is really important the Parliamentary Service ensure that MPs and staff know where the line is so that the rules are followed.

“That does require Parliamentary Service to make sure they are educating and showing us the way.”

That’s putting the responsibility on staff. They should be clear about what sort of work they are required to do, and what sort of work is outside their job description.

He was commenting in the light of claims by a former staff member of North Shore MP Maggie Barry, that staff were expected to conduct party-political work such as writing the MP’s regular column including on the Northcote by-election and pamphlet for a National Party conference for over 60-year-olds.

Electoral law expert Andrew Geddis…

…says that MPs pressing their staff into doing political work gave them a far greater advantage in elections than non-MPs and the situation may need closer scrutiny.

“Taxpayer funding to hire MPs’ staff is given so that they can do their jobs as elected representatives, not to help them win re-election,” said Geddis, a professor of law at Otago University.

“If it gets misused for party purposes, sitting MPs get a massive advantage against their unfunded challengers.”

This is one of many financial and logistical advantages for sitting MPs and established parties. Free travel is another.

This can get tricky. Bridges was criticised for clocking up a big travel bill in his tour of the country earlier this year. It is important for the Leader of the Opposition communicate and connect with people around the country, but this is also a form of preliminary election campaigning. And their staff are involved in this.

Another electoral law specialist, Graeme Edgeler, said staff were allowed to be political to quite a large extent and it would boil down to what been in their employment contract.

A press secretary working for the National Party would be writing political press statements attacking the Government and calling for, say, Minister Iain Lees-Galloway to be sacked.

A primary role of an opposition MP is to criticise and attack Ministers, so staff helping with this are an integral part of the political process.

That would be a parliamentary staffer paid by Parliamentary Service doing a clearly political job.

“You are allowed to employ people to be highly partisan…according to parliamentary rules, the employees that you have can be expected to be highly partisan.”

He said there would be limits about how partisan a staffer could be and that assisting an MP for a parliamentary purpose would exclude seeking votes for the MP or fundraising.

Being political is what politicians do, so their staff can’t be disconnected entirely from it.

As Edgeler points out, the biggest issue here may not be that staff do political work, but the imbalance of power and the advantage this gives incumbent politicians over candidates who wish to challenge them – another very important part of our democratic process.

And incumbent MPs are the ones who are involved in making the employment rues for their staff.

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.

 

Green Minister criticised for ‘rubber stamping’ foreign purchases of land

Green MP and Minister of Land Information Eugenie Sage is under fire again, this time for approving 21 applications to sell land to ‘foreigners’.

I think this illustrates the contrast between the ideals when in opposition and the reality of Government responsibilities – “I’m bound by the law, and as a minister, I implement the law.”

RNZ:  Green MP Eugenie Sage accused of ‘rubber-stamping’ land sales to foreigners

Eugenie Sage is being accused of continuing National’s practice of “rubber-stamping” the sale of sensitive land to foreigners.

New figures reveal the land information minister and Green MP has approved nearly every application to cross her desk over nine months, rejecting just 30 hectares out of almost 60,000 hectares.

Between 1 November and 26 July, Ms Sage approved 21 applications covering about 55,957 hectares. She turned down two requests relating to 30 hectares.

But Ms Sage said most of approved land – roughly 40,000 hectares – related to the sale of Mount White Station, a sheep and beef farm in Canterbury.

In that case, the Czech buyer already had permanent residency and his wife and children were New Zealand citizens.

“There was very limited opportunity for discretion because … it had only been triggered as an application under the Overseas Investment Act because he was out of the country for a period.

“I’m bound by the law, and as a minister, I implement the law.”

Many of the other applications related to forestry which was a government priority area, she said.

“We need more investment in forestry to meet the billion trees’ commitment to ensure that we are sequestering enough carbon to meet our climate change objectives.”

There appears to be a clash of policy priorities here – something common in Government, especially when several parties want different things done.

But I think that Labour and NZ First had both campaigned against foreign purchases of land, so all three parties seem to have taken different positions on this once in power.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford is warning the news will stir up more disquiet among the party’s supporters after an earlier backlash over Ms Sage’s decision to allow a Chinese water bottling giant to expand.

“Her role is meaningless. The party’s role is meaningless,” Ms Bradford told RNZ.

She was shocked Ms Sage approved the sale of so much land to overseas people.

“It’s virtually just rubber-stamping.

“You’d think that either [the Greens would] move their person out of the role or they’d negotiate a damn sight harder with their coalition partners about changing policy on it.”

Bradford has never experienced being in Government.

Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa spokesperson Murray Horton said the approval rate made a “mockery” of the government’s promises to curb foreign investment.

“The Greens need to be a bit bolder, frankly. They’re in government for the first time ever.

“They have a mandate from their members and the people who vote for them to actually establish a point of difference.”

A mandate from 6% of voters is hardly a mandate to make bold changes.

It could also be argued that there is no mandate for Labour+NZ First+Greens to slash foreign purchases because that was never put to the voters as a joint policy.

However some changes have been made, and it is subject to one of the many reviews initiated by the current Government:

The government extended the Overseas Investment Office’s oversight in November and banned house sales to most foreigners in August.

Ministers also directed officials to review the Overseas Investment Act with changes expected by 2020.

Perhaps they can jointly seek a mandate in the next election for stopping foreign purchases.


More pressure on Sage: Minister challenged over Mackenzie greening (Newshub)

Crown decisions are allowing greater agricultural intensification in the Mackenzie Basin, new research has found.

The academic research, published last week in the Journal of NZ Grasslands, and funded by the business ministry, reveals two-thirds of intensive development in the Mackenzie since 2003 has been on Crown-owned land or land freeholded through tenure review. (Tenure review is a voluntary process which allows farmers to buy a portion of a Crown-owned pastoral lease, with the balance added to the conservation estate.) That reversed the trend before 2003, when almost two-thirds of intensification was on land that was already privately owned.

A big factor in the increase in farm developments was discretionary consents issued by the Commissioner of Crown Lands on pastoral leases.

Given Eugenie Sage is minister of both Land Information and Conservation, the article says it’s clear who has the power to make enduring and effective changes, to protect vulnerable land. “It is the Crown itself that can change its patterns of decisions to alter the trends in intensification. The choice and the power reside with the Minister of Land Information.”

Being a Minister can be a tough job.

Odd Stuff on MP ‘best before date’

It is not new asking whether MP terms should be limited. What is new is some confusing stuff on it from Stuff. They have two different links to the same story, with different headlines and different text.Once at the link both these stories have the same headline, but the URLs show the link headlines. And there are some text differences.

  • Stamp MPs with a best-before date
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/107912277/andrea-vance-mps-should-carry-useby-dates

    Is it time to stamp a best before date on our MPs?

    Simon Bridges brutally retired some of his long-serving MPs in an indelicate, secretly recorded, conversation with Jami-Lee Ross.

    Once people become members of that exclusive club – being a politician – they are reluctant to give it up.

    Of our current current crop, 16 have been hanging around Parliament for more than a decade, including leaders Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges. Six have been drawing an MPs salary, on and off, since the 1990s. Winston Peters claims the record – first elected in 1978.

    Ross himself has been an MP for more than seven years. He won’t be remembered for any exceptional achievements in office.

    Time-servers risk staying in office long past their prime. The more comfortable they become in their Beehive offices, with staff, perks and tax-payer funded travel – the more distant they become from those they represent.

    They come bursting into Parliament with big ideas and naive ideology but are eventually worn down by the grind and disappointment of real politik. Most get jaded, cynical, and too involved in playing the game.

    Ross’ spectacular self-immolation stems from his disappointment in not making it far enough up the greasy pole

    Far too much time spent in the capital’s cafes and bars makes MPs weak to the corruptive influence of lobbyists and special interests. They become beholden to the type of politics that’s leaving voters frustrated and disillusioned.

    Term limits would allow MPs to spend less time worrying about re-election or scrabbling up the caucus ranks. More policy-making, less plotting. They’d be able to take unpalatable but necessary decisions without fear of being punished in the polling booths.

    New blood is a good thing, especially for party leaders. The ranks are automatically refreshed with new talent, free from factional alliances, and all without rancour and sulking.

    There would be no need to carry incompetent MPs or prise them out of safe-seat with other career inducements. Those past their prime would be saved the indignity of being “retired” by the party.

    Politics would no longer be seen as a comfy job-for-life, rather a short spell in public service.

    But draining the swamp does come with many problems. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Navigating the labyrinth of Parliament’s procedures and rules takes time. Crafting legislation and regulations that solve complex problems with no unintended consequences is a skill learned on the job.

    Swapping out acumen for inexperienced lawmakers might not best serve the public.

    Voter choice is also restricted when a candidate is barred from being on the ballot.

    It’s also not easy to step away from Parliament – the loss of position, status, and perks is painful and usually involuntary.

    Elections should be the best mechanism for dumping ineffective MPs from office. However, a shallow talent pool makes it easier for parties to offer up incumbents and retreads instead of searching out new candidates.

    So, if not a use-by date, perhaps our system needs a sell-by date. If you buy that product,it’s safe. But it serves as a warning to retailers: time to get it off the shelves.

  • Stamp MPs with a best-before date
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/107785506/stamp-mps-with-a-bestbefore-date

    Is it time to stamp a best before date on our MPs?

    Once politicians become members of that exclusive Wellington club, they are reluctant to give it up.

    Of our current current crop, 16 have been hanging around Parliament for more than a decade, including leaders Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges. Six have been drawing an MP’s salary, on and off, since the 1990s. Winston Peters claims the record – first elected in 1978.

    Time-servers risk staying in office long past their prime. The more comfortable they become in their Beehive offices, with staff, perks and tax-payer funded travel – the more distant they become from those they represent.

    They come bursting into Parliament with big ideas and naive ideology, but are eventually worn down by the grind and disappointment of real politics. Most get jaded, cynical, and too involved in playing the game.

    Far too much time spent in Wellington’s cafes and bars makes MPs weak to the corruptive influence of lobbyists and special interests. They become beholden to the type of politics that’s leaving voters frustrated and disillusioned.

    Term limits would allow MPs to spend less time worrying about re-election or scrabbling up the caucus ranks. More policy-making, less plotting. They’d be able to take unpalatable but necessary decisions without fear of being punished in the polling booths.

    New blood is a good thing, especially for party leaders. The ranks are automatically refreshed with new talent, free from factional alliances, and all without rancour and sulking.

    There would be no need to carry incompetent MPs or prise them out of safe-seat with other career inducements. Those past their prime would be saved the indignity of being ‘retired’ by the party.

    Politics would no longer be seen as a comfy job-for-life, rather a short spell in public service.

    But draining the swamp does come with many problems. There’s a lot to be said for experience. Navigating the labyrinth of Parliament’s procedures and rules takes time. Crafting legislation and regulations that solve complex problems with no unintended consequences is a skill learned on the job.

    Swapping out acumen for inexperienced lawmakers might not best serve the public.

    Voter choice is also restricted when a candidate is barred from being on the ballot.

    It’s also not easy to step away from Parliament – the loss of position, status, and perks is painful and usually involuntary.

    Elections should be the best mechanism for dumping ineffective MPs from office. However, a shallow talent pool makes it easier for parties to offer up incumbents and retreads instead of searching out new candidates.

    So, if not a use-by date, perhaps our system needs a sell-by date. If you buy that product, it’s safe. But it serves as a warning to retailers: time to get it off the shelves.

Either the top article had text added, or the bottom article had text removed.

In any case “Simon Bridges brutally retired some of his long-serving MPs in an indelicate, secretly recorded” is inaccurate. Both David Carter and Chris Finlayson are not “reluctant to give it up”, they have both confirmed that they intend leaving Parliament (Carter at the end of this term, Finlayson by the end of this year).

John Key was not reluctant to give it up, neither were MPs like Simon Power and Stephen Joyce.

Of course some are, like Jami-Lee Ross, but he is hardly a good example. Vance says “Ross himself has been an MP for more than seven years. He won’t be remembered for any exceptional achievements in office.”

MPs are past their ‘best-before’ after only seven years? Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and in fact the whole Labour front bench if not Labour Caucus have been in Parliament longer than seven years.

One of Labour’s better performing Ministers is David Parker, and he’s been in Parliament since 2002, which is 16 years.

The deputy Prime Minister is the longest serving MP in Parliament. Without him NZ First would almost certainly not be there.

Winston Peters’ best before date is probably 1 January 2000.

But he has right to continue on in Parliament as long as enough voters keep deciding he should remain. And voters should continue to make these decisions.

Should political journalists have ‘best before’ dates?

Chinese influence in New Zealand politics

The issue of political donations in return for political influence and even candidacy has come up in the Jami-Lee Ross saga, even though it now seems that Ross has not come close to delivering on his accusations.

The related issue of Chinese influence in New Zealand (and world) politics has also come up.

I think we have to be careful here separating legitimate engagement in our democracy by registered voters, and alleged influence from China. Chinese New Zealanders (NZ and foreign born) make up about 5% of the population so presumably make up about 5% of the voting population. They have a right to stand for Parliament, to support parties, to donate and to vote, like anyone else here.

But there are concerns about influence from China, and some of these concerns may be reasonable.

Martyn Bradbury posted National looks less like a political party and more like a front for Chinese business interests

As China regresses into a censorship totalitarian state, we need to ask how much influence our largest Political Party is under from Beijing and in whose interest does National rule? New Zealand’s or the People’s Republic of China?

The Woke Left feel terribly anxious about any questions like this as they see it as nothing more than Xenophobia, but when we have this level of influence over a Party and when academics are having their homes broken into, such attempts to shut down the debate and questioning is naive at best and aiding China at worst.

That was just a general swipe (and before facts of the Ross allegations became clearer), but a comment from Iain McClean was more informative.

Yes; our Allies are worried:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/28/new-zealands-five-eyes-membership-called-into-question-over-china-links

An example / insight in how some of this infiltration works.

From Your NZ.org:

https://yournz.org/2018/10/17/open-forum-forum/#commentsrobertguyton

robertguyton
/  October 17, 2018
“Explain the primary role of the United Front Work in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The United Front Work Department of the CCP is an integral part of the Party structure, down to sometimes the lowest levels and coordinated at the very top by a United Front Leading Small Group initiated by Xi Jinping. The Department works to reach out, represent, and guide key individuals and groups within both the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and greater China, including Chinese diasporas. The goals include to have all such groups accept CCP rule, endorse its legitimacy, and help achieve key Party aims. Because United Front Work has officially been extended to those who emigrated after 1979 as well as those Chinese studying abroad, some 50 million or more, United Front Work is now of direct relevance and sometimes concern to an increasing number of foreign governments, notably Australia, Zealand, Canada and the United States. United Front Work abroad is not limited to only these countries though.”

https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/chinas-united-front-work-propaganda-as-policy/

And if we do nothing……? This is heading our way.!!

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-19/digital-dictatorship-china-exerts-control-over-population-through-social-credit

I would suggest the same tentacles are within Labour as well.
We need to ‘keep an eye out’.

So we should have concerns about influence from China. If it can be found that political donations are coming from China then we should be concerned (is there any evidence of this or is it just scaremongering?).

But this should not spread out to general attacks on registered New Zealand voters with Chinese ethnicity.

Today in NZ Herald – Tze Ming Mok: Here is the big deal about Bridges’ ‘Chinese’ donations

During his epic Tuesday presser, MP Jami-Lee Ross carefully stated he didn’t think Zhang Yikun did anything wrong by trying to donate money that Ross alleges was illegally separated into legal-seeming bits.

Putting aside whether Mr Zhang (MNZM, gonged by Labour) himself has any links to the Chinese Communist Party, there is no reason anyone who actually is overly close to the Chinese Government would think it wrong to hand over bulky donations to New Zealand politicians, given the embrace of CCP-linked cash by senior figures on both sides of the House for years.

There has been little informed public debate of the scale of such funding, or what it means for the independence of New Zealand’s foreign and domestic policies.

Only one China expert here has spoken out consistently on this, Professor Anne-Marie Brady, infamously subjected to burglaries alleged to be the work of Chinese state operatives. When other local experts publicly equivocate or fail to comment about Brady’s research into the United Front campaign in New Zealand, the public is led to believe the scale of Chinese government influence here can’t be that bad, or at least that the situation isn’t clear.

This chilling effect is harming Chinese people in New Zealand. Many people cannot differentiate Chinese people from the actions of the CCP (I mean hey, many people can’t tell a Chinese from a Korean), but this is made worse when hardly any authorities on the topic will address the issue openly. Concerns can only erupt as xenophobia against the Chinese and “Asian” population.

It’s tragic that only Western countries with openly xenophobic leadership such as the US and Australia, have found the political capital to address China’s influence campaigns.

New Zealand needs to be the unicorn that can resist CCP influence as a way to uphold the rights of its own Chinese populations to political independence. We deserve better than to be trapped between knee-jerk racists and Xi Jinping Thought. Abandoning us to this fate is racism too.

And we should have about 6 ethnic Chinese MPs if they are going to be proportionally represented.

A poll last May showed how Chinese voters intended to vote (compared to how they voted in 2014:

If an election was held tomorrow, who would you vote for?

  • National 73.5% (down from 74.1%)
  • Labour 15.8% (up from 14%)
  • NZ First 4.7% (up from 1.1%)
  • ACT 3.6% (down from5.7%)
  • Greens 2% (down from 2.4%)
  • Conservative 0% (down from 2.4%)
  • Other 0.5% (down from 1.6%

– NZH Rise in Chinese voter support for New Zealand First, survey finds

Note that that was before the swing in support back to Labour after Jacinda Ardern took over in August. Another poll in September 2017:

  • National 71.1%
  • Labour 21.6%
  • NZ First 2.4%
  • ACT 2.4%

National will be back in Government if Chinese voters had their way

So there support seems reasonably fluid.

Law and order, health care and education were the issues that mattered most to Chinese voters according to the poll.

National List MP Jian Yang is believed to be the Chinese MP who would be the one to most effectively serve the Chinese community in the next three years on 44.8 per cent, followed by Labour’s Raymond Huo on 18.8 per cent.

Jian Yang cops quite a bit of flak because of his past in China, but he is verywell supported by ethnic Chinese voters in New Zealand.

 

Jami-Lee Ross – political history

Jami-lee Ross is political history, just about. He may resign from the National Party before he is dumped. He may do the honourable thing and resign from the Botany electorate, or he might hang on in disgrace until the next election.

There is no way he will be nominated to stand for National again. No other party would want to touch him with a 12.19 metre barge pole. His only option would be to set up his own party, but it’s hard to see voters supporting him.

Ross chose politics as a career. He joined the National Party in 2003, aged 17, and was elected to the Manukau City Council a year later. He worked as an electorate secretary for Maurice Williamson in Pakuranga. After unification he was elected to the Auckland City Council in 2010, but dumped that job just a few months later when selected to stand for National in the vacant Botany electorate.

His selection to stand for National was aided by Simon Lusk and Cameron Slater, who (wearing his paid political mercenary hat) promoted Ross on Whale Oil, and attacked and smeared opponents. I think Ross and Slater later stopped dealing with each other.

Ross was re-elected in the very safe Botany seat later in 2011, in 2014 and in 2017. He rose through the National ranks as Third Whip, Junior Whip and then Senior Whip in 2017. He was promoted to the front bench by Bridges.

Ross is still showing on the National website at #7  and as Botany MP, but with no responsibilities (since he took medical leave). But the View Website link redirects to a party sign up page.

I must admit I never liked Ross. He came across as smarmy and shifty looking – his look reminded me of a 1930s US gangster.

Ross has stuffed up big time now. It is just a matter of when he leaves Parliament, and it is unlikely he will ever return given his recent history. He will also struggle to get anywhere in local body politics.

Some people who choose politics as a career from a young age do well – take Jacinda Ardern for example. also Nikki Kaye (she started a bit older). And Chloe Swarbrick looks to have good prospects. So it isn’t generally a bad thing for people to become career politicians. Others, like Todd Barclay, quickly crash and burn.

Ross became a local body councillor at age 18, and an MP at age 26. He rose steadily in the National ranks. But at 33 he has failed badly.

He actually helped Bridges win the leadership earlier this year, but according to his tweets yesterday: “Some months ago I fell out with Simon. I have internally been questioning leadership decisions he was making”.

It now seems very likely that he started deliberately trying to undermine bridges by leaking. The expenses information that was leaked was trivial, about to be officially released anyway. But the act of leaking was serious.

We don’t know whether the subsequent pleading for the inquiry into the leak to be called off because of ‘risks to mental health’ was a genuine albeit poor reaction, or a trumped up ploy.

We do know from yesterday’s actions that Ross is not a fit and proper person to be a Member of Parliament. If he jumps he will be political history, and not flash at that (ironically he looked a bit like a flash harry). If he refuses to budge that will just prolong the period until he is dumped by National as a candidate and becomes an unemployed politician.