Hipkins’ ALP colluder has worked for NZ Labour

More details on the Australian Senator’s chief of staff named as the person who colluded with Chris Hipkins over citizenship questions – he was a New Zealander who has worked in Parliament here for Helen Clark, Michael Cullen and Phil Goff.

NZH: Citizenship saga: Man who spoke to Hipkins is a Kiwi

A former staffer for former Prime Minister Helen Clark and Finance Minister Michael Cullen was the Australian Labor Party staffer who spoke to Labour MP Chris Hipkins, prompting questions by Hipkins about citizenship in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported Marcus Ganley, Australian Senator Penny Wong’s chief of staff, was the Australian Labor Party staffer who had spoken to Hipkins – a conversation Hipkins said prompted him to ask questions of Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne on the legal citizenship status of an Australian born to a New Zealand father.

Ganley was an adviser to former PM Clark and former Finance Minister Cullen during the Labour Government until 2008. He then advised Phil Goff as Opposition Leader.

Hipkins worked as a policy adviser to Trevor Mallard and Helen Clark prior to becoming an MP in 2008, initially under Clark’s and then Goff’s leadership.

In a written statement, Wong said a staff member in her office had “informal discussions with New Zealand friends about domestic political issues, including the section 44 debate.”

She said the questions Hipkins asked were not asked on behalf of Australian Labor.

“At no point did [Ganley] make any request to raise the issue of dual citizenship in Parliament, a fact confirmed today by Hipkins and the New Zealand Labour Leader.”

So, prompted by Ganley, Hipkins did some digging on citizenship here, supposedly  having no idea about the interest in Barnaby Joyce’s citizenship status.

Was it general dirt digging by two individuals independent of their parties? If so they have both seriously embarrassed their parties, and raises questions about the way they operate.

Julie Bishop, the Australian Foreign Minister, has said she would find it difficult to work with NZ Labour, prompting a strong response from Ardern.

Hipkins is currently the sixth ranked Labour MP, he is 7th on the party list for this election, and is Labour’s Shadow Leader of the House.

Julie Bishop versus Jacinda Ardern

Julie Bishop, Australian Foreign Minister, said today in Canberra: Trans-Tasman relationship ‘at risk’

Ms Bishop said Mr Shorten had “sought to use a foreign political party to raise serious allegations in a foreign parliament designed to undermine confidence in the Australian government:”.

“Bill Shorten has serious questions to answer,” she said.

“This is highly unethical, at least. But, more importantly, puts at risk the relationship between the Australian government and the New Zealand government.

“Bill Shorten must reveal who he put up to this dirty task and the details of the urging of a foreign political party.

“We’re used to the dodgy back room deals from Bill Shorten when he was leader of the union movement.

“He’s now brought that not only into Australian politics but now into the international politics and Bill Shorten should be called to account for this appalling behaviour.”

Ms Bishop said she it was “nonsense” that the ALP question had not played a role in the revelation of Mr Joyce’s dual citizenship and that it was actually a media inquiry which kicked off the process.

“I don’t accept that,” she said.

“The New Zealand Labor leader confirmed that a Labor member of parliament was contacted by an unnamed Labor member here in Australia.

“Bill Shorten must reveal the name of that member.”

Ms Bishop said she would find it difficult to trust a future NZ Labour government.

“I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to undermine the Australian government,” she said.

“I would find it very difficult to build trust with members of a political party that had been used by the Australian Labor Party to seek to undermine the Australian government”.


Statement on Julie Bishop’s comments

Posted by Jacinda Ardern on August 15, 2017

It is highly regrettable that the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has chosen to make false claims about the New Zealand Labour Party.

I have been utterly transparent about this situation. I stand by my statements this morning that I knew absolutely nothing about the Barnaby Joyce case until it broke in the media yesterday afternoon.

I had no knowledge about the Parliamentary Questions lodged by Chris Hipkins MP.

I have also been clear that those questions were not appropriate.

I also note that Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne has confirmed that the Australian media inquiries were the instigator of this issue and that he has described connections of the New Zealand Labour Party to this issue as “utter nonsense.”

I greatly value New Zealand’s relationship with the Australian Government. I will not let false claims stand in the way of that relationship.

I would happily take a call from Julie Bishop to clarify matters.

I have also contacted the Australian High Commission to register my disappointment and will be meeting with the High Commissioner later today.

2017 election quiz

The ‘I Side With’ political quiz tailored for New Zealand: 2017 election quiz

My results:


This is based on policies only, and doesn’t take into account the perceived competence of MPs and candidates, competence of the party, size of the party, their record, and more.

I wouldn’t be disappointed if National got back in to government, so long as they were moderated by other parties – I’d be happy for most other parties to fill this role except NZ First. But if NZ First were relatively small (<10%) it wouldn’t be a big deal.

I wouldn’t be disappointed if Labour led the next government in some coalition arrangements, dependant on which parties were in coalition with them and what the relative balance of power was.

I’d be happy with The Opportunities Party holding the balance of power (but with changes over the last week think it’s unlikely they will get close to the 5% threshold.

I would be interested in a a National+Labour or a National+Green coalition but think they would be unlikely due to the attitude of the parties.

The link again: 2017 election quiz

UPDATE: I’ve been thinking about this and realise how I think it is particularly flawed. It measures things across a wide range of policies, but I think that many voting decisions made, or at least my voting decisions, are based mostly on a few key policies, most of which are mostly already in place, like tax and benefits and the balance of spending.

No matter what a party’s policies are how they will deal with what is already in place and how much the will change things is more important than a wide range of general policies.

Modern living impacts on mental health and suicide

Peter Gluckman, from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, has released a discussion document on youth suicide.

It says that complex issues are involved but the pressures of modern living are a major stress factor.

An edited version of the report:

Youth Suicide in New Zealand: a Discussion Paper

Not all suicide is the same and youth suicide often has different drivers to suicide at later ages. Further while much is spoken and argued about its prevention, it remains a complex and contentious area with much advocacy for unproven interventions.

In particular this paper makes the point that youth suicide is more than simply a mental health issue and that, with what we know at present, the focus must also include an emphasis on primary prevention starting from very early in life. This means promoting resilience to the inevitable exposure to emotional stresses and building self-control skills in early childhood and primary school years, by using approaches that we already know about.

It means promoting mental health awareness and ensuring that there are competent and adequate adult and peer support systems in secondary schools. This must be backed up by a capacity to find and rapidly support those children and young adults who are in mental distress and ensuring that the needed interventions and therapy are early and effective.

The changing context of a young person

The way that young people live their lives has changed greatly over recent decades and this has created a range of poorly understood but probably critical pressures that affect their psyche and behaviour.

Family structure has changed; childrearing practices have changed; for many, the level of parental engagement has changed. Technology has changed the nature of their social networks and communication; media, celebrities and other social factors can create unrealistic expectations and pressures on young people.

Compared to previous generations, youth face many more choices at an earlier age, but at the same time may have less clarity as to their path ahead. The role of traditional community supports such as sports, church and other youth groups has declined. Youth now have more access to credit cards and money that gives them greater freedoms.

The pace of these sociological and technological changes is unprecedented and it is not surprising that for many young people, particularly those with less psychological resilience, it can leave them with a growing sense of dislocation.

The many factors that impinge on the risk of youth suicide

Youth suicide cannot be considered as just a mental disorder. A number of factors interplay. Studies in the US5 and elsewhere4,6 show that the likelihood of a suicide attempt is associated with a number of factors including:

  • socio-demographic factors and restricted educational achievement;
  • family discord and poor family relationships;
  • the tendency to being impulsive;
  • what is termed externalising behaviour (anti-social behaviours, and alcohol
  • what is termed internalising behaviour (e.g., depression);
  • low self-esteem, hopelessness, loneliness;
  • drug and alcohol misuse;
  • a history of suicidal behaviour among family and friends; and
  • partner- or family-violence exposure in adolescence.

Impulsive-aggressive behaviours are commonly associated with suicide in young
people and decline as a factor with age. Youth who demonstrate antisocial or
delinquent behaviours are 10 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

The key conclusion from these studies is that youth suicide needs to be regarded as much more complex than simply outward evidence of mental disorder. Rather, it needs to be seen as the result of a state of stressed, impaired or underdeveloped self-control in which mental health, emotional and brain development, alcohol, sociological, economic, and other factors interact to put some young people at greater risk.

Adolescence as a vulnerable period – brain, biology, and behaviour

There is now compelling evidence that children who enter puberty at a younger age
are at far greater risk of behavioural, psychological, and emotional disorder. There
are probably multiple reasons for this but most relate to:

  • a longer period before those counterbalancing inhibitory brain pathways
    fully mature;
  • greater sociological and sexual pressures related to the mismatch between
    the earlier onset of physical signs of maturity and psychosexual ideation and
    chronological age: and
  • socialising with older peers who may be engaged in or express anti-social

There is unequivocal evidence that children who enter puberty relatively early:

  • are more likely to indulge in alcohol and drug abuse;
  • often demonstrate more impulsive behaviours; and
  • boys show greater impairment in the quality of their relationships.

Variation in suicide rates across population groups

Many factors appear to contribute to explaining the different prevalence of youth
suicide across different population groups. They include:

  • living in environments where low self-esteem within the peer group is
  • poverty, inequality, and social fragmentation;
  • having a high rate of engagement with the justice sector and a greater
    presence of gangs;
  • higher use of drugs and alcohol2; and
  • suicidal behaviour becoming a means of demonstrating worth to the peer

Deficits in self-control

Adolescence is a period of relatively poorly developed self-control and heightened impulsive behaviour. This is why some stressors that do not lead to troubled emotional responses in more mature individuals can do so in some in this age group.

So, rather than resilience, which might be expected – and needed – we see severe and harmful (including self-harm) responses. These stressors can include aspects of engagement with peers (e.g., bullying, including cyber-bullying) and emotional situations (e.g., break up of relationships).

A further possible factor is a substantial change in the way we raise children: they now tend to be under tight control in the pre-pubertal period but less control postpuberty (as reflected in: school subject choice; parental controls on time, place and behaviour; access to credit cards; access to internet, etc.).

In contrast, 50 years ago, western child rearing practice followed a loose–tight pattern in which pre-pubertal children had more freedoms, especially to undertake risky play, but adolescence was much more constrained. This reversal may have resulted in a reduction in the capacity to self-assess risk in adolescence.

Alcohol and drugs

Alcohol intoxication or a history of alcohol abuse are often associated with youth suicide30. Alcohol misuse is often associated with triggering events (conflicts in peer and intimate relationships) and, in relation to suicidal behaviours, is probably underestimated and under-reported. Furthermore, alcohol reduces self-control, can increase despair and depression and, among those with mental disorders, exacerbates symptoms.

New Zealand data show that considerably more than half of youth suicides involve alcohol or illicit drug exposure.

Peer influences, bullying and cyber-bullying

Adolescence is a stage of life when there is a “trading of dependency on parents for dependency on peers”: it is therefore not surprising that peer relationships affect mood and behaviour, including possible suicidal behaviour.

Peer influences may be particularly evident in the growing evidence for online bullying leading to self-harm. Bullying in schools occurs in many countries to varying degrees but the reported rates are high in New Zealand.

Implications for reducing the incidence of youth suicide

Suicide prevention is complicated because we do not understand the causes well enough at the individual level. Completed suicide is a rare event so it is difficult to study in the way we can study influenza or diabetes. It is really hard to predict at an individual level, with perhaps the best indicator being a previous suicide attempt/self-harm even though most who commit self-harm (which may or may not be an attempted suicide) do not go on to commit suicide.

Nevertheless, the 8–9% of all youth who are suicide attempters – with their high subsequent life-course costs (as they often have long-term psychological morbidity) to themselves, family, whānau, and society – are an important risk-group to target.

There is no definitive solution but there is a growing consensus on the following.

Primary prevention: This must start in the pre-pubertal period and is aimed at  developing resilience to the inevitable stressors of growing up, and promoting development of impulse control. The broader benefits of this approach49 include major spillover benefits to educational achievement and, later, in employment, family stability, and quality-of-life measures.

Such approaches must start early in life – and early childhood is an important opportunity for enhancing these skills and should be an evaluable focus of all early childhood education. There needs to be intense engagement with the most vulnerable families in the first years of their children’s life.

There is clear and strong evidence that a primary prevention strategy using welldefined
and structured activities (e.g., Good Behaviour Game) focused on behaviour in primary school children as young as 6 and 7 contributes to reducing later adolescent suicidality as well as other unwanted behaviours, and we would strongly suggest the introduction of this into all primary schools.

Secondary prevention: This refers to programmes that focus on the adolescent period and seek to identify those at risk and make referrals when necessary. Such programmes include activities that seek to increase understandings and change attitudes about youth suicide and to enhance the capacity to intervene and prevent.

The role of teachers, trained counselors and peer leaders is seen as key. There is some evidence to support the importance of adults actively engaging with distressed students, but outside those situations where close counseling relationships have been developed, these programmes tend to be distressingly ineffective. Better results are claimed when secondary prevention is combined with primary prevention and engaging peer leaders (that is well-trained youth leaders).

Tertiary prevention: This focuses on those who are identified as being at particular risk, for example having attempted suicide. It generally involves CBT or medication or both; as noted above, the effect on suicidality, as opposed to other aspects of mental health, is relatively small. Although investing in youth mental health is a critical priority for the reduction of adolescent and adult mental health disorders, it cannot be the only strategy for reducing youth suicide.

Summary and conclusions

Youth suicide remains a complex, multifaceted challenge. A focus on adolescent mental health, although important, is not sufficient. Rather, we conclude that the high-priority need is to introduce and reinforce programmes focused on primary prevention starting early in life and developing secondary prevention strategiesinvolving well-trained and engaged mentors including peer mentors. Understanding and co-design with our communities and particularly with Māori perspectives will be crucial at each stage as we develop, test and take to scale approaches shown to make a difference.

The primary prevention approach involves strategies to improve impulse control and executive function from early childhood and this has broad spillover benefits. It involves combining these critical interventions in early childhood and primary education with secondary prevention approaches in adolescents and it requires a social investment approach particularly focusing on those communities with low resilience and self-esteem.


Boris Johnson shows up

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson showed up in New Zealand for a couple of days. Media focussed on his showmanship, but most of the serious stuff will have been done privately.

NZ Herald has little of substance in British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson enjoys ‘beautiful’ hongi during visit to Kaikoura

Barry Soper goes a bit deeper in Don’t be fooled by Boris Johnson’s demeanou

Boris’ thinking when it comes to this country is important, given that he’s widely tipped to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister if she she’s rolled, which is very much on the cards following her recent disastrous election effort where her majority became a minority. And if that does happen, it’s being speculated the OE right of passage to the UK for young kiwis could again become a reality, in view of the right noises being made about that by Johnson when he was London’s Mayor.

One of the big issues for Kiwis – their London OE.

But in reality noise is all it’s likely to be considering Britain’s anti immigration and pro nationalist stance exemplified by Brexit, before and since, which was championed right from the start by the Foreign Secretary.

So nothing much of substance to see here?

Tracey Watkins: Boris Johnson comes bearing laughs, but what about gifts?

His visit is largely a flag waving one – it’s supposed to demonstrate that the Brits are back after a near absence of importance in the region in recent decades.

It’s also a demonstration to the domestic audience back home that Britain is reconnecting with the Commonwealth to fill the vacuum left by Brexit.

It’s a measure of how far Britain’s influence in the region has waned, however, that Johnson’s counterpart, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, made it to New Zealand first.

Of the two, it’s no mystery which of their visits is more significant for New Zealand. Tillerson’s presence here so early in the life of the Trump administration was a significant and important signal about the state of relations between New Zealand and the US.

Johnson’s visit? Not so much. It’s a given that as a Commonwealth country we would expect relations to be warm between our two countries – though Britain’s commitment has waxed and waned since it joined the European Union.

When did a British Foreign Secretary last visit New Zealand?

In fact, were it not for Johnson’s colourful and flamboyant personality, his visit would merit about as much attention as his predecessors, William Hague in 2013 and Philip Hammond in 2015.

I don’t remember those visits.

But even if Johnson may not be bearing many gifts on his visit downunder, we can enjoy the theatre.

That probably suits the media.

Inflation down to 1.7%

Inflation over the last quarter was flat and the annual rate has dropped from a recent high of 2.2% to 1.7%.

RNZ: Inflation slows to 1.7 percent

The consumer price index (CPI) was flat in the three months ended June, slowing the annual inflation rate to 1.7 percent from 2.2 percent, Statistics NZ said.

A fall in fuel costs and airfares offset higher prices for household basics such as food, rent, and power, while the housing boom lifted the price of a new house.

One of the main drivers of the lower annual rate was cheaper telecommunications products and services.

The relative strength of the New Zealand dollar also helped dampen inflation by making imported goods cheaper.

Housing rentals rose slightly (up 0.4 percent), held down by a 1.6 percent fall for Canterbury.

Prices for newly-built houses, excluding land, rose 1.8 percent this quarter.

Seasonally lower domestic airfares (down 14.5 percent), lower petrol prices (down 1.9 percent or and average 4 cents a litre), and seasonally lower prices for car rentals contributed most to a drop in overall transport costs.

Higher vegetables prices pushed food inflation up 0.7 percent in the June 2017 quarter to 2 percent for the June 2017 year. Vegetables prices rose 19 percent for the year, with higher prices for lettuce, kumara, and broccoli.

The inflation numbers were below market expectations and Westpac acting chief economist Michael Gordon said that would dampen any notion of interest rate rises by the Reserve Bank in the foreseeable future.

Good news for people with mortgages and other types of loans.

Lack of wage growth is not so good for wage earners.

Inflation since 1990:


NZ teen suicide problem on Al Jazeera

Gezza has brought this to my attention – New Zealand’s terrible teen suicide rate has featured with a discussion on Al Jazeera: Why are so many teens in New Zealand killing themselves?

Mariah Herbert is 20 years old and lives in Northland, New Zealand. A decade ago, she lost her older sister to suicide, and last year a friend for the same reason. She has tried to end her life at least twice, and has a younger sister who has also contemplated taking hers. But her story is not unique.

According to a recent UNICEF report, New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world for teenagers aged 15-19 years old. The rate is 15.6 suicides per 1000 people, which is twice as high as the United States and five times that of the Britain – numbers that have been largely steady for about two decades.

The country has a complicated relationship with the word “suicide”. For the past few decades, schools have been advised not use it, or discuss it in the open. The media has been under gag order for fear of contagion. And laws around it are complex. Recently, though, it has come out of the shadows in the form of prevention and awareness initiatives.

Experts have been looking into the many reasons youth suicide is a such a huge problem. School bullying records are poor, there are high rates of family violence and child abuse. Potentially, there are also cultural reasons – Maori/Pacific Islanders are particularly affected. Others say the issue is simply one of teen confidence and low self-esteem that is being mislabeled and poorly handled due to stigma. And suicide has become political. The government is working on a strategy for suicide prevention and spending millions on initiatives.

On the next Stream, we’ll take a closer look at what’s behind the high youth suicide rate in New Zealand, and discuss potential solutions to solving the problem.

Joining us on this episode of The Stream:

Mike King @themikeking
Mental health advocate

Mariah TeRiaki-Herbert
Suicide awareness advocate

Shaun Robinson
Chief Executive, Mental Health Foundation

David Clark @davidclarkNZ
Opposition spokesperson for Health, Labour Party

A lot is now being talked about teen suicides, both in New Zealand and now in international media. It’s a difficult and complex problem that needs urgent attention.

But what can be done about it?

50 years of decimal currency

Remember these?


Decimal currency was introduced in New Zealand fifty years ago. For those who lived through the change “the 10th of July next year” (and later ‘this year’) is an enduring memory.

What an awful non-Kiwi accent.

I got a certificate or something at school for proving my ability to convert from pounds, shillings and pence.


I don’t remember old notes much, I doubt I ever had any.

NZ History: New Zealand adopts decimal currency

Pounds, shillings and pence were replaced with dollars and cents − 27 million new banknotes and 165 million new coins.

The New Zealand government decided to decimalise in 1963, and set the date for 10 July 1967. There was much public discussion over what to call the new currency. Names suggested included ‘crown’, ‘fern’, ‘tūi’, ‘Kiwi’ and ‘zeal’. In the end, New Zealand followed Australia and settled on ‘dollar’.

The new coins were in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. Designs for the coins were publicised in early 1966 but revised after being criticised. The notes – the first New Zealand paper money to show the reigning monarch – were kept under wraps until June 1967 to thwart counterfeiters.

The new $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $100 banknotes each had different native birds and plants on the reverse, and were distinguishable by colour. Their design featured complicated geometric patterns, including Māori iconography. A $50 note was introduced in 1981, and in 1990 the $1 and $2 notes were replaced by coins.

I was able to get used to the change gradually because I didn’t have much money in those days.


2017 General Election details

Here are a number of sites with information about New Zealand’s general election to be held on Saturday 23 September 2017. Advance voting begins on Monday 11 September. You can also ask to be sent postal voting papers.

Electoral Commission:  2017 General Election – ‘everything you need to know’

Social media & Politics: Online media Details for Parties and Candidates

The database contains the website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram details for candidates contesting the 2017 New Zealand General Election.

Political Hack:


If you know of other useful election information post the link/s in comments.

This post has been added to the Your NZ menu.

Opening up on suicide

New Zealand has an appalling suicide rate, especially young people and especially young Maori people.


Our youth suicide rate (25 and under) is the second worst in the developed world.
The teen rate (15-19) is the worst, so high it raises the global average.

People and publications are becoming increasingly willing to talk openly about suicide.

Earlier this year from Jessica McAllen and MANA: THE LAST GOOD-BYE

Māori youth suicide rates are among the highest in the world. Mana talks to those fighting to turn the tide by helping rangatahi find a place to stand.

It is a detailed and sad article.

Today on Morning Report:  Suicide rates for the general population have reduced in a decade; not so for Maori

In the latest instalment of RNZ’s election year series ‘Is this the Brighter Future?’ our Maori issues correspondent Mihingarangi Forbes explores the state of Maori mental health.

And also today NZ Herald have started a series:

2012 was a particularly bad year.
144 youths took their own lives.

An unprecedented 19 were from Northland,
with one as young as 10.

Alarming and very sad.



I won’t try to précis the article here. See:



Break The Silence: Education Minister Nikki Kaye says time is right for national conversation about youth suicide

New Education Minister Nikki Kaye says the time is right for a national conversation about youth suicide after successive governments have failed to significantly reduce the number of young people killing themselves.

Only eight weeks into the job, New Zealand’s youngest female Education Minister is tackling the issue with ferocity and urgency.

It’s good to see Kaye driving this very difficult topic which until recently was taboo to talk about.

“Over successive governments youth suicide has been a longstanding issue, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need to take responsibility for that and continue to do more.

“This is about accepting that successive governments haven’t managed to design things in a way that’s made a significant difference, so we’ve just got to keep changing things up.”

“You know I’ve only been the Education Minister for eight weeks, but I do feel a sense of urgency about continuing to make change [in this area],” Kaye said.

She has already met the Government’s chief science advisor and education science adviser to ask “what we could potentially do differently as a country to make sure we are doing everything possible to reduce the number of young people taking their life”.

Suicide needs to be talked about more, especially by anyone contemplating ending their life.

Where to get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else’s mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

  • LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
  • SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
  • YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
  • KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
  • WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
  • DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
  • SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
  • NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)