Clutha-Southland MP refused to cooperate

The ODT and NZ Herald have dug into the Police investigation into Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, who last year became embroiled in a staff dispute in his electorate.

Their investigation reveals that Barclay refused to cooperate with police

National MP Todd Barclay refused to cooperate with detectives carrying out an investigation into allegations he had secretly recorded staff in his electorate office, according to documents released from the official police investigation.

Instead, Mr Barclay did not return phone messages left for him by the lead detective on the inquiry and had a lawyer contact police to say he would not be making a statement.

Mr Barclay had earlier told the Otago Daily Times: “If they do contact me on any matter, then I will co-operate fully.”

The police investigation was into whether Mr Barclay had breached a section of the Crimes Act around “use of interception devices”.

There were no charges laid following the 10-month long investigation with police eventually stating there was insufficient evidence.

The police investigation file was released through the Official Information Act and gives a detailed account of the breakdown in relations between staff working in the Clutha-Southland and Mr Barclay, who took over the seat from Prime Minister Bill English in 2014.

The investigation file includes a statement from Detective Inspector Antony Hill detailing attempts he had made to arrange an interview with Mr Barclay about the allegations.

He said he was brought in to manage the investigation in March last year and contacted Mr Barclay twice in July 2016 to request an interview about the claims which had been made.

The first attempt to contact Mr Barclay by telephone took place on July 12 2016 with Det Insp Hill’s call going to an answer message. He was sent a text saying Mr Barclay was out of the country until July 29 2016.

On July 29 2016, Det Insp Hill tried to reach Mr Barclay and again left a message. His statement reads: “I subsequently received a call from Mr Barclay’s solicitor advising he would not be making a statement in relation to this investigation.”

That in itself is a recommended way to respond to an investigation.

But Barclay misled the public.

While Mr Barclay had earlier said he would cooperate with police, he later said he had not spoken with detectives.

In November, he said: “I have not spoken to the police about any alleged complaint. Parliamentary Services is responsible for staffing issues so, at the end of the day, they are the employer and it’s not appropriate for them, or me, to be talking about employment matters.”

Asked directly if police had asked to speak with him, he said: “As I have made clear, I have not spoken to the police about any alleged complaint.”

That was a crooked answer, what is clear is that he was deliberately misleading.

What was known already is that Barclay had an ugly falling out with some of his electorate staff. Perhaps that was due to his (young) age and inexperience, and perhaps some arrogance as well.

He has got away with this mess and will hopefully have learnt from it.

The ODT report goes into a lot of detail in Barclay refused to cooperate with police.

 

Should MPs serve their whole terms?

I think that normally someone who stands for Parliament as an electorate MP or via a party list should be expected to serve the whole three year term. There must be a responsibility to do what they put themselves forward to do.

If an electorate MP resigns there is considerable cost involved in by-elections. There must also be quite a bit of disruption to workloads expected of both electorate and list MPs.

David McGee, ex Clerk of the House and Ombudsman, suggests Impose a bond on MPs to stop them quitting

In the early years of parliamentary government members often resigned their seats.

But, with the development of political parties, resignations became less common and had virtually disappeared for a century until the adoption of MMP in 1996.

Since then resignations have come back into fashion, especially among list members who are replaced by the next unsuccessful candidate on the party list (or even lower down the list if the party “persuades” the next candidate not to take up the vacant seat).

So far this term there have been quite a few resignations:

  • Mike Sabin (Northland electorate) – this wasn’t by choice
  • Russel Norman (Green list)
  • Kevin Hague (Green list)
  • Phil Goff (Mt Roskill electorate) – chose another political job
  • David Shearer (Mt Albert electorate) – chose to go back to the UN

A number of other electorate MPs have indicated they will stand down when they can avoid a by-election. This includes David Cunliffe and John Key. If they do this before the end of the term that leaves their electorates without an MP until after the election.

New Zealand has a three-year term for Parliament. This is short by international standards.

It is not unreasonable to expect that persons who are elected to Parliament will serve out the full term of this relatively short period. That is, after all, the basis on which they offered themselves for election in the first place.

I agree.

Yet, increasingly, membership of Parliament for a maximum of three years is seen as being at the convenience of each member perhaps more accurately at that of the member’s party, rather than as an obligation undertaken when elected.

Thus there has been a noticeable tendency for list members who are intending to step down at the next election to resign in the final year of the term (either voluntarily or at the party’s prompting) so as to make way for a candidate who is expected to have an ongoing interest in a parliamentary career.

It’s not so disruptive or expensive when list MPs resign mid-term, but it is still a failure to fulfil their commitment as an elected representative.

In this way, for many members, the already short parliamentary term becomes an even shorter one. For every member a parliamentary career is converted into something that one has the ability to leave costlessly in political terms at any time, rather than being a commitment to public service for the life of a parliament.

In my view this is deleterious to the institution of Parliament and to the sense of obligation that members should feel to it.

That is also my view.

Members in the final year of a Parliament can and should be expected to contribute to it’s work for the full term that they have signed up to regardless of their intentions to stand or not at the next election.

Another issue is MPs who seem to disappear after they announce they will stand down at the next election. For example what have Maurice Williamson and Clayton Cosgrove been doing this term?

Perhaps they have been beavering away tirelessly, Williamson at least has an electorate to look after.

A list MP like Cosgrove must also have a responsibility to serve the party that enabled him to have a seat and a generous income.

Consequently, there should be stronger disincentives both to members and to parties to prevent the early jumping of ship that has become endemic.

This is contentious.

In the case of list members, the remedy is quite simple: any vacancy occasioned by resignation should not be filled.

List members, whatever they may pretend to the contrary, are not elected to represent individual constituencies of a geographical or other nature.

Our electoral system allows the voter to make no such distinctions when casting a party vote.

So there can be no question of a denial of representation in leaving such seats vacant.

Not filling such a vacancy would largely eliminate list resignations as they are almost always promoted by the parties themselves.

They would cease to occur if this meant that a party’s votes in Parliament would be permanently reduced.

It would certainly be a deterrence, but is it fair? Would it be fair if someone had a genuine need to resign (compared to a better job offer)?

Not filling such a vacancy would largely eliminate list resignations as they are almost always promoted by the parties themselves.

They would cease to occur if this meant that a party’s votes in Parliament would be permanently reduced.

It would almost certainly be effective.

Electorate members, on the other hand, do represent constituents and it is unacceptable not to full such vacancies.

The present law allowing vacancies arising within six months of a general election to be left unfilled is inherently undemocratic and should not be extended.

Leaving an electorate without an MP for 6 months (out of 3 years) is an issue in itself.

Consequently, as a condition of being declared elected, electorate members should be required to enter into a bond to serve through the full term of the parliament.

The amount of the bond would not cover the full cost of a by-election (indeed, that would not be its intention) but it should be sufficiently high to provide a financial disincentive to resignation for the member and for the party backing the member.

Allowing for exceptional circumstances:

In the case of both list and electorate members, resignation without these consequences would be permitted on health grounds proved to the satisfaction of the Speaker or the Electoral Commission.

fair enough.

Membership of Parliament ought not to be a mere convenience for political parties, nor should it be a status that can be discarded lightly. It is time that this undesirable development was addressed.

But how can it be addressed? It would require commitments from parties that like the convenience of dropping and replacing MPs. Parties and increasingly MPs are selfish, and are unlikely to change something that suits them – at the expense of voters and taxpayers.

MPs are representatives of the people, and when they put themselves forward for election they should commit themselves to a full term. It should be in their oath.

Political awards

I’m not going to dish out political award – like that vast majority of New Zealanders I have no idea how our MP’s actually work beneath the vanity veneer of PR and the fog of media wars.

Journalists have been somewhat distracted this month with actual political news to deal with but some have managed to review the year.

Tracy Watkins and Vernon Small: Didn’t see that coming: A year of political bombshells

It was the year no-one saw coming. A year when everything we thought we knew about politics was tipped on its head. Brexit. Donald Trump.

No one sees what’s coming, but Brexit and Trump certainly went against most predictions.

Brexit means major changes for the UK and for Europe.

Trump looks like meaning major changes for the US and potentially for the world.

John Key quitting. So much for a quiet year between elections.  There wasn’t a Beehive staffer or Press Gallery journo who wasn’t wilting in the final week before Christmas.

While Key’s resignation excited the local pundits in what is usually a wind down period it is not anywhere near being in the same league.

So far the only changes are a few tweaks to Government under a Prime Minister who was already a major influence, and a few tweaks to ministerial responsibilities that most people won’t notice.

It perhaps opens up next year’s election a bit, but despite Labour’s glee it may not end up making much difference in what was already regarded as an uncertain election. Everyone is still predicting Winston will be ‘king maker’ – and even that’s no change from the last couple of elections.

Watkins and Small name Key as Politician of the Year – for resigning?

Apart from that it was a fairly uneventful and unremarkable year for Key. Most notable was his lack of success in changing the flag and despite getting the TPP over the line it now looks to be dead in the US  water. I wouldn’t say that Key had an award winning year.

They dish out a number of corny awards, but there is one that looks to be a deserved mention:

Backbencher of the year. National MP Mark Mitchell. He chaired the Foreign Affairs and Trade select committee through the divisive Trans Pacific Partnership legislation and helped turned hearings from being fractious to respectful, and even good-natured. On top of that he seems to have earned a reputation as an all-round nice guy, even from his political opponents, and got his reward with a ministerial promotion.

Most of the public probably haven’t heard of Mark Mitchell let alone are aware of his quiet achievements in Parliament.

There are 121 MPs in Parliament most of whom (if not all) are working hard and doing their best. Voters get to see little of this – all we usually see is a few attention seekers granted coverage by media who tend to accentuate the absurd and exaggerate a few issues and events.

If I was to do any award it would be not singling out a single person, it would be for the quiet achievers in Parliament who make a difference without being noticed by most of the people most of the time.

These MPs are the unsung backbone of our democracy.

Trans Tasman’s MP ratings

Trans Tasman has publi their 2016 MP ratings. These are under subscription but Stacey Kirk has some of their more notable scores in  ‘Our best and worst MPs: Quiet achiever Amy Adams takes top gong

National

  • Amy Adams 8.5
    “She’s had an outstanding year as Justice Minister. She’s handled a huge workload with calm and confidence, and through it she’s been media-friendly, unflappable and accessible.”
    (see MP of the year – Amy Adams)
  • John Key 8.5Key’s “extraordinary media schedule”, may have seen a more subdued Prime Minister, “no one questions his vital importance to winning a fourth term”. 
  • Bill English 8.5English’s “vast experience” had given much the same quiet confidence Adams was now finding, which mean English had “the ability to take the heat out of issues that threaten to run out of control”. 
  • Murray McCully 8.0Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully had “huge year on the foreign affairs front”, particularly with the UN Security Council. But if it wasn’t for the Saudi sheep deal, he may have scored higher.
  • Chris Finlayson 7.5
    Due to his treaty negotiations.

At the bottom:

  • Sam Lotu-Iiga 4.5
    “needs to be faster on his feet”
  • Louise Upston 4.5
    “poor performer in the media”

Labour

  • Andrew Little 6.5
    – leadership was “solid”, which on it’s own meant he had a good year. The transTasman editors said he lost marks for sounding like union leader, rather than alternative Prime Minister. 
  • Kelvin Davis 6.5
    “cracked open the Serco scandal and made the most of it,” but had to be cautious about “going over the top”
  • Annette King 6.0
    “invaluable” deputy leader, who kept the caucus “and occasionally the leader”, in line
  • Phil Twyford 5.5
    He has a tendency to get “over the top”, and loose data based on the number of Auckland houses sold to people with Chinese- sounding names, does not make a story of overseas property speculation.It does make it impossibly hard for his leader and caucus colleagues to defend however, when allegations of xenophobia inevitably start flying.

No rating given but didn’t ‘fare as well’:

  • Jacinda Ardern
    “at risk of losing her lustre altogether”, “pleasant MP who smiles a lot”, but she had done little with her justice portfolio.
  • Grant Robertson
    Labour’s “strongest debater in the house”, but was failing to land any blows on English. “Must get traction in the finance portfolio”.

Robertson and Ardern went close to becoming Labour’s leadership team.

No MPs from other parties rated a mention from Kirk apart from: Winston Peters’ NZ First party to sap up the protest vote in any “Trump” style rebellion at next year’s election.

The NZ First vote probably tends to be more a vote against the others than a vote for them.

Boardroom rates Ministers and MPs

The ‘mood of the boardroom’ survey has rated the Cabinet Ministers, scoring them out of 5. Finance Minister Bill English was rated the best, scoring a fully 5 out of 5 for 55 chief executives.

1=Not impressive to 5=Very impressive – where known the 2015 rating is shown.

  1. Bill English 4.51 (down from 4.60)
  2. John Key 4.04 (down 4.28)
  3. Steven Joyce 3.51 (down from 3.65)
  4. Amy Adams 3.47
  5. Nikki Kaye 3.36
  6. Paula Bennett 3.24 (down from 3.85)
  7. Chris Finlayson 3.23 (down from 3.41)
  8. Health Minister Jonathan Coleman 3.17 (down from 3.28)
  9. Energy Minister Simon Bridges 3.12
  10. Social Development Minister Anne Tolley 3.09
  11. Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse 3.06 (down from 3.22)
  12. Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy 2.91
  13. Trade Minister Todd McClay 2.90
  14. Education Minister Hekia Parata 2.85
  15. Police Minister Judith Collins 2.85
  16. Foreign Minister Murray McCully 2.77
  17. Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee 2.66
  18. Environment Minister Nick Smith 2.52
  19. Seniors Minister Maggie Barry 2.34 (up fromn 2.22)
  20. Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga 2.15

Opposition MP ratings – Labour:

  • Jacinda Ardern 3.37
  • Annette King 3.10
  • Phil Twyford 2.93
  • Grant Robertson 2.86
  • David Shearer 2.72
  • David Parker 2.55
  • Chris Hipkins 2.46
  • David Clark 2.35
  • Andrew Little 2.22

Not flash for the Labour leader.

Greens:

 

  • James Shaw 3.21
  • Julie Anne Genter 2.42
  • Metiria Turei 2.37

NZ First:

 

  • Winston Peters 2.90
  • Ron Mark 2.13

 

 

Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

Little trying to forbid MPs associating

Andrew Little is trying to control who Labour MPs can associate with, but not very successfully.

Newstalk ZB: Labour MPs forbidden from associating with “right-wing” Wellington mayoral candidate

Wellington Mayoral candidate Nick Leggett appears to be public enemy number one for the Labour Party as its MPs are forbidden from associating with him.

Labour Leader Andrew Little has pulled rank, preventing MP Stuart Nash from speaking at an event where Mr Leggett was also speaking.

Mr Little said the event was for right-wingers who have routinely sought to undermine the Labour Party and it’s not right for a Labour MP to share a platform with people who do that.

And he’s making it clear he considers Nick Leggett, a former Labour Party member, a right-winger.

“His campaign manager is well-known ACT party identity. We know that there’s money from the right-wing that has gone into his campaign. He’s a right-wing candidate.”

This is stupid. Is Little going to stop Labour MPs and candidates from associating with right wingers and people who try to ‘undermine’ Labour during next year’s election as well as this year’s local body elections?

However, Leggett is laughing off suggestions he’s right wing.

Mr Leggett said he’s standing as an independent and doesn’t believe there’s a place for party politics in local government.

“I’ve got people that have worked on my campaign from all parts of the political spectrum, mainly Labour and National obviously. That’s local government, you unite around good ideas for the communities that you live in.”

Labour has endorsed current deputy mayor Justin Lester for the position.

Little doesn’t think it’s a good idea though. If Labour candidate Justin Lester wins the Wellington mayoralty will Little try to tell him who he can’t associate with? Councillors who until recently were members of the Labour Party?

And it gets stupider.

When it was pointed out to Little that David Shearer had attended the same function, Little said: “I’m saying it is not right for Labour MPs to be associated with events like that and with people who seek to undermine the Labour Party.”

Shearer attended – as any MP should be able to – but Nash was prevented from associating with Shearer and others by Little.

Will Little try to stop Labour MPs from associating with right wingers and people who try to undermine Labour in Parliament?

Chester Borrows charged

National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows has been charged with had been charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury to two people following an incident in March where Borrows ran over the foot of a TPP protester – see Foot runneth over.

Stuff: MP Chester Borrows charged over protester incident

Former police officer and National MP for Whanganui Chester Borrows is being charged over allegations he drove into a group of protesters.

Under section 38 of the Land Transport Act, the maximum penalty for careless driving causing injury is three months’ jail, or a fine of up to $4500.

An MP must resign from Parliament if convicted of a crime with a maximum penalty of two or more years’ jail time

So whatever the outcome it won’t force a resignation.

Borrows’ first appearance would be on Tuesday, August 2, in the Whanganui District Court. 

“Mr Borrows intends to defend the charge and says he will be making no further comment as the matter is before the court,” a statement from him said.

There’s been some interesting comment on this at The Standard in Borrows charged for injuring protestors.

Some of the comments are typically ridiculous, like the lead comment by ‘One Anonymous Bloke’:

Hard not to be cynical about the fact that the charge makes a by-election unlikely. Or is it more a case of no-one who has a public difference of opinion with Oravida Collins is above the law?

I can play at insinuations too. The post was under the authorship of ‘Natwatch’. One Anonymous Bloke was quick off the mark, first to comment, and had a lot of interest in the discussion, posting 30 of the 103 comments (to date).

A debate about the right to protest versus the right of free passage came up, with OAB prominent both in dumping on Borrows but also in abusing people who challenged their messages. Like:

One Anonymous Bloke:

Observation isn’t your strong point: the protesters were on a footpath (yes, they were). I suggest you remove your bullshit-smeared right wing facemask and have a look at the photos.

Even if they’d been on a road, the police response to the TPPA protests – ie: to allow them – shows exactly how grounded in reality your lickspittle opinion is.

Psycho Milt:

Being on a footpath and/or being a protestor doesn’t magically endow you with the right to obstruct a vehicle entrance or other public way. That’s why the cops will come along and tell you to fuck off. Also why they’ll drag you out of the way and arrest you if you don’t. Borrows’ offence was more serious than the protestors and resulted in injury, which is presumably why he’s been charged, but both parties were committing offences.

Seems like a fair comment and seems to sum up the situation well.

One Anonymous Bloke:

@Psycho Milt: I’d like to see the argument in court. They weren’t obstructing a right of way they were expressing their disapproval of government policy.

Borrows and Bennett aren’t Joe Public going about their lawful business. They’re ministers of the Crown ripping the guts out of this country.

They have every right to expect hostility, obstruction and contempt wherever they go. Diddums.

Further on Psycho Milt addresses the law:

they are standing on the footpath- look up rules about cars and footpaths

Yes, do look up the rules, for instance the Summary Offences Act 1981:

“22 Obstructing public way

(1) Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding $1,000 who, without reasonable excuse, obstructs any public way and, having been warned by a constable to desist,—

(a) continues with that obstruction; or

(b) does desist from that obstruction but subsequently obstructs that public way again, or some other public way in the same vicinity, in circumstances in which it is reasonable to deem the warning to have applied to the new obstruction as well as the original one.

(2) In this section—

obstructs, in relation to a public way, means unreasonably impedes normal passage along that way

public way means every road, street, path, mall, arcade, or other way over which the public has the right to pass and repass.”

A further exchange with William:

But the protesters haven’t been charged with an offence under the Summary Offences Act, so that’s all irrelevant.

Possibly the police examined whether that would have been a goer but observed the constable didn’t warn them to desist, he merely ushered them to the side. They were moving there when silly old Chester drove on through before the way was clear.

Psycho Milt:

It’s not irrelevant to the implied claim in 5.1 and 5.1.1 that the protesters had the right to block the footpath – the Summary Offences Act makes it clear that they didn’t.

And just in case that particular logic fail comes up again: no the fact that the protesters were illegally obstructing a public way doesn’t imply Borrows had a right to drive into them.

William:

Read the section of the act you quoted. It doesn’t create an offence of blocking a public way, only of unreasonably blocking it. The corollary of that is that it is possible to block it in a reasonable manner, which is not an offence.

Watch the video, the blockage lasts no more than 15 secs before they’ve moved aside. I don’t envy you arguing in a court that they created an unreasonable blockage.

Psycho Milt:

The concept that you have a right to obstruct a public way if you want to is as bizarre, if not quite so scarily insane, as the Kiwiblog commenters’ view that you have a right to run people over if they’re in your way.

For future reference, no it’s not “reasonable” to deliberately obstruct other people, regardless of how long you do it for or what you personally feel about the people you’re obstructing, and yes you can be arrested for it.

For a different take Te Reo Putake is a tad contrarian (the the standard bashing):

If I can be a tad contrarian , I can see a couple of points worth making about the debate so far.

First up, the protesters were not pedestrians. They weren’t using the footpath for the purposes of travel. Having been on about a zillion protests and pickets (and having organised a good percentage of the same), I can assure readers that blocking driveways isn’t legal. But it is terrific fun.

Secondly, Borrows is actually one of the better Tory MP’s. He’s an old fashioned kind of Nat and tries to behave decently. He’s also publicly anti-racist. That combination possibly explains why he has never been given senior posts by Key and Joyce.

If the Whanganui seat was redrawn to reflect the wishes and needs of the town and district, he wouldn’t be the MP. The excellent Hamish McDouall would be instead. But the electorate is gerrymandered so that the urban majority are disenfranchised in favour of the Taranaki rump. So, a by-election would be likely to return a Nat MP, which is a boost I don’t think they deserve, So lets be careful what we wish for there.

For all of the above, Borrows has broken the law and deserves a conviction. However, I wonder if he’ll be offered diversion, as I imagine this will be his first serious offence (other than a speeding ticket a few years ago)

A good comment despite a bit of political snark, and quite a contrast to the OAB approach.

Rino Tirikatene on Twitter

A number of MPs have got into trouble with Twitter. Last term NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor earned a reputation for tweeting gaffe after gaffe. She was dumped down the list by her party.

Yesterday someone suggested that Labour MP for Te Tai Tonga, Rino Tirikatene, may be headed for similar infamy.

He had this exchange with a journalist:

Well, stage a walkout then.
And miss all the fun? Not likely.Best I stay here and observe the shenanigans.
You are not paid to “have fun”. You are paid to hold the govt to account.

As if I needed reminding. Don’t worry, I’m only having fun at Nationals expense in my own snarky way. Much like yourself.

Yes.I particularly like spending your miniscule portion of tax while I’m here. It won’t make you happy but,hei aha

Gee there are some humourless people. Why do National’s trolls even bother.

Caffeine Addict is nowhere near being a National supporter or troll. His Twitter description: “NZ Journo/comms, and social media”.

Also:

Who’s ‘s press secretary. Who checks the checkers. Watch out for the bus cause the Nats. like rolling people in front.

Perhaps a press secretary/media person from Labour could have a quiet word with Rino.

Possibly the worst action of the day was this re-tweet:

RinoTirikateneRetweet

It doesn’t look good for an MP to associate with and distribute comments like that.

More generalist and careerist MPS

A new study has put numbers to what has often been suggested – that today’s MPs have less traditional backgrounds (like farming and unions).

A third of MPs are political careerists with limited experience outside public service and politics. “Over 30% of them have entered Parliament after careers exclusively spanning government, public sector or politics.”

“If you have no real career other than politics, you are unlikely to want to rock the boat. Challenging the establishment will seldom be in a career politician’s best interests.”

New Zealand MPs are now less likely to be from traditional careers in business and unions, and more likely to be generalists who turn to politics as a career, according to a study released today.

The study, by political researcher Geoffrey Miller and public relations expert Mark Blackham, researched and compared the career histories of all 121 Members of the current Parliament.

They found that business owners, agriculturalists and unionists have a falling share of voice in their traditional parties, and have been replaced by people with no specific career interests, or careers limited to government and politics.

Miller said 23% of National MPs had experience working in a business, and only 10% of Labour MPs had worked in a union.

Miller said that while Parliament had become more ethnically and gender diverse under MMP, the range of prior occupations was becoming increasingly narrow.

Miller added that younger MPs were especially likely to be beholden to the parties they represented because of their decision to pursue politics as a profession.

Blackham said the rise of generalists reflected both a change in employment patterns in the wider community, and a perception that politics was an employment option as well as a calling. Almost a fifth of MPs had no definable career before politics.

“Parliament is reflecting something ordinary people are experiencing; the tendency to go through a range of jobs rather than a single career. Wide experience of life may well help MPs to understand the public they represent.

“But there is a less creditable trend toward seeing politics as an employment option. For these MPs, the job follows a working life solely in government or politics. This is a new phenomenon.”

Three major conclusions from the report:

  1. The traditional difference in economic sectors represented in the major political parties is extinct;
    National now has proportionately few farmers or business people.
    Labour has few unionists or blue collar workers, but is strongest in MPs with varied non-specific employment experience.
    The Party with proportionately the most business experience is New Zealand First.
    The party with proportionately the most activists is the Green Party.
  2. One third of our politicians have only ever worked in political jobs. Over 30% of them have entered Parliament after careers exclusively spanning government, public sector or politics.
  3. MPs are now reflecting the wider employment trend of having multiple careers or having worked in a wide range of jobs. Nearly 20% of all MPs have had ‘multiple’ careers.

MPWorkExperience

Noteworthy findings

  1. 34% of MPs have a career history entirely working for the government in some form.
  2. The biggest category was “multiple” careers – where MPs have worked in various employment, and not followed a particular career or field of expertise. Labour had proportionately the greatest number in this category (one quarter of its MPs)
  3. The single most common career has been employment in the business world (19 MPs, and generally management work, not entrepreneurial or operational), followed by a career in government (15 MPs).
  4. There are 10 career politicians (vs. 12 MPs in previous Parliament).
  5. Labour Party now has a notable presence of MPs with careers in the Maori sector (5/32 MPs in 2015 compared to 3/34 MPs in 2014).
  6. New Zealand First remains dominated by MPs with business experience, particularly within SMEs.
  7. The Green Party remains dominated by those with a Unionist or Activist background (5/13 MPs).
  8. The two Maori Party MPs both have a background in education.
  9. Between the 50th and 51st Parliaments, Labour has seen a decrease in MPs with unionist backgrounds (3 vs 5 MPs).
  10. National has fewer agricultural MPs than the previous parliament (6 vs 9 MPs)

National MPs have a wider variety of backgrounds than Labour MPs but part of the reason for this is there are nearly twice as many.

MPNationalWorkBackgrounds

MPLabourWorkBackground

I think that two significant factors behind choices to stand for Parliament now are:

It can be much more high profile with the chance of high media and opponent examination.

The time and cost commitment to standing as a candidate with a chance of being elected is high, especially standing for electorates. You pretty much have to dedicate several months at least to full time campaigning.

This is easier for people already employed by parties.

This isn’t as necessary for small parties (Greens and NZ First) where political unknowns can get in via their party list placement.

But even NZ First’s most recent MP, Ria Bond, a hairdresser from Invercargill, had spent time working for NZ First MPs in Wellington.