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.

 

Ghahraman reveals domestic violence, gets abused

In an interview Green MP Golriz Gahraman has revealed she has been the victim of domestic abuse – ‘I got strangled’ – and has again been the victim of reprehensible abuse on Twitter.

In an interview with Vice, the Green MP discussed the disproportionate amount of threatening messages she receives online – more, she says, than politicians much more powerful than her.

She said she’s had first-hand experience with how verbal abuse can quickly spiral into physical violence because she was once in a deeply unhealthy relationship.

“I’d go out with my friends, there’d always be a massive fight,” she said.

“I couldn’t turn on my phone because every time I’d turn it on I’d just get a barrage of messages that would just be something like, ‘slut-slut-slut-slut-slut,’ or ‘bitch-bitch-bitch-bitch-bitch-bitch’. And I’d just be like, ‘oh well I’ve got to turn my phone off’.”

The relationship got worse and worse, to the point where her partner began hurting her.

“Eventually, it got really physical. It was just like pushing and shaking and whatever. And then it got to a point where a couple of times I got strangled.”

This is awful, but if you follow court news in New Zealand you will know that this sort of abuse and violence is not uncommon (and gets worse than as described here).

Here is the full interview:

Some of the responses:

It wasn’t just on Twitter. SB at Whale Oil: Great News: Social Justice Warrior & virtue signaller extraordinaire may quit

It seems that the Green list MP we love to hate for her mistruths, incompetence, general stupidity and activism has finally seen the writing on the wall. However, given this nobody list MP’s penchant for the limelight I suspect that she has zero intention of actually quitting. 

In the article, the criticism and the facts revealed by critics were dismissed as baseless trolling likely fueled by racism. Golriz is portrayed as a poor widdle immigrant who just wants to be loved. A  fragile figure, who needs protection from the harsh reality of life and who seems astounded that her words and actions have consequences in the real world. Why can’t everyone just be nice?

The article also reveals another reason why we should be sympathetic towards a woman who spent her time as an intern helping defending violent and murderous men. One of her previous relationships was with a violent man and she is a survivor of domestic violence.

Atkins quotes the Vice account of the domestic abuse she has been subjected to and responds:

Her lying by omission and the role the Green party played in the deception is explained.

Given how much ‘lying by omission’ and deception Slater et al have been involved in this is hypocritical, and also sick.

And highly ironic given his recent post playing the victim and seeking sympathy and donations.

In comments, Nige:

She describes anyone who asks her about her past as a right wing troll.

Given Nige’s prominence in supporting and promoting Whale Oil as  self described ‘super-blog’ and still claiming to be ‘the fastest-growing media organisation in New Zealand’ perhaps it’s time to starting asking questions about his past.

There are a number of typically nasty comments, with blog manager Spanish Bride joining in (in reaction to “Is she predicting the Greens will be wiped out at the next election?”):

If she and her fellow Gunts keep up with the economy wreaking and activist behaviour it just might happen ( fingers crossed).

She is deeply involved in an activist blog often intent on political career ‘wreaking’ (sic). There are a few fingers crossed that Whale Oil may be wiped out before the next election (I think it may survive in some form).

The Whale Oil post became a part of the Twitter attack on Ghahraman:

This is a crappy indictment on social media and political blogging in New Zealand, albeit just an extreme portion of it.

I expected some nasty comments on Kiwiblog, but there are no posts and no comments I can see in General Debate – perhaps David Farrar is moderating on this topic. If so, good on him, it should happen more there.

I’ve been critical of Ghahraman as an MP, and I have my doubts she will succeed in politics unless she learns from her mistakes and improves somewhat.

But I think there is no excuse for the levels of abuse (the latest being just more of the same old crap that has been thrown at her) that she has inflicted on her.

Domestic abuse is a huge problem in New Zealand. There are many victims scattered across all demographics. Abusing people who publicly reveal the abuse they have suffered is despicable, and with an MP it is dirty, dirty politics.

It is difficult to stop individual cretins using via social media (confronting and standing up to them is one way that may help).

‘Media organisations’ and blogs that join the fray – and lead the baying bullshit – should also be confronted for their crappy behaviour and their promoting of crappy behaviour.

 

“Massive increase” in MP funding, most for Government MPs

The Speaker has tabled a report in parliament proposing that MPs, especially Government MPs, may be given substantially more funding – like 20% – plus extra staff for Ministers, just two weeks after two weeks ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a’nobly prudent’ freeze of MP salaries – MP pay frozen and fairer system for increases developed:

“Today Cabinet agreed to freeze MP Pay till July 2019, and to reassess the funding formula used by the Authority to ensure it is fair and in keeping with this Government’s expectations and values,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Ardern made a big deal about this in some sort of principle of fairness and to close the income gap – “It is about values. We are focused on raising the income on lower to middle income earners”.

NZH: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces salary freeze for MPs

The latest pay rise, of 3 per cent, was due to kick in later this month and be backdated to July 1 but Parliament will pass a bill under urgency to freeze the current pay for a year.

Ardern said it is not appropriate for MPs to be subject to such an increase.

“It is about values. We are focused on raising the income on lower to middle income earners,” she said.

Ardern said the way the draft increase had been determined did not seem fair.

“We do not believe, given that we are at the upper end of the scale, that we should be receiving that sort of increase.

“The current formula isn’t meeting our expectations.

“What we have seen in this determination I believe is out of kilt with those expectations.

“This is about us acknowledging that we are at the top end … and this only extends that gap.”

But the salary gesture pales in comparison to expence increases proposed for MPs, especially list MPs.

David Farrar at Kiwiblog: Massive increase proposed for MPs expenses

The Speaker has tabled a report which proposes a massive massive increase in funding for MPs, almost all of it to benefit Government MPs.

We’ve got the Government turning down a 3% pay rise, which is chicken feed compared to the 20% increase in funding that has been proposed for them.

The details will make your blood boil. They overwhelmingly benefit the Government. The major changes proposed are:

are:

  • List MPs to get the same funding as Electorate MPs. 34 of the 49 List MPs are Government MPs. It is a huge boost for Labour, Greens and NZ First. It is also wrong as Electorate MPs have far greater demands on them. They represent an actual constituency and need extra staff to deal with all the constituent issues. Many List MPs do very little constituency work, and any extra funding will go on advertising and campaigning.
  • Parties won’t lose funding if they lose MPs at an election. At the moment a party gets funded based on their actual number of MPs. Totally sensible. This report proposes a gerrymander where National and Labour get guaranteed 38% of the funding regardless of their number of MPs, and NZ First and Greens get 8% minimum, again regardless of their number of MPs.
  • Also outrageous is it proposes Ministers get extra staff. Ministers already get totally funded for their staffing needs through Ministerial Services. And the number of staff is already 13% higher than the last Government. This report proposes each Minister also get an additional staffer funded through The Parliamentary Service. So a huge boost of 30 more staff for the Government. It also may allow Ministers to avoid the OIA by having one of their staff working for The Parliamentary Service instead of Ministerial Services.
  • And bad enough this $13 million increase in funding for MPs, but they want to have it get even bigger every year. They recommend an automatic 3.3% to 3.7% increase every year, which means Parliament will be the only public sector organisation that doesn’t have to make a business case to justify extra spending.

This proposal is a huge rort designed to massively increase funding for Government MPs.

And it is the Government that effectively decides whether or not to accept the recommendations.

Farrar seems a bit against this, perhaps for good reason. The quoted cost is accurate:

Our recommendations include indicative costs where these are available, and these show that the package of
recommendations will involve a significant investment in the first year to support the lift in performance of our
democracy. Across all of the funding, this represents approximately $13.0 to $13.5 million per year.

$13 million works out at $108,333 per MP, but it sounds like it will go disproportionately to Ministers and list MPs.

That’s a lot more than a 3% salary increase would cost.

It will be interesting to hear what Ardern thinks about this.