129 countries support Trump’s war on drugs, but not New Zealand

Reuters: Some 129 countries sign up to Trump’s pledge at U.N. to fight drugs

Some 129 countries at the United Nations signed on to a U.S.-drafted pledge to fight the global drug problem on Monday that U.S. President Donald Trump warned presented a public health and national security threat.

In order to attend the brief U.N. event with Trump, countries had to sign the one-page “call to action on the world drug problem.” Trump held a similar event at the annual gathering of world leaders in New York last year, focused on U.N. reform.

Countries signing the nonbinding U.S. statement pledged to develop national action plans to reduce demand for illicit drugs through education, expand treatment efforts, strengthen international cooperation on justice, law enforcement and health, and cut off the supply by stopping production.

“If we take these steps together, we can save the lives of countless people in all corners of the world,” Trump said in brief remarks.

“Illicit drugs are linked to organized crime, illegal financial flows, corruption and terrorism. It’s vital for public health and national security that we fight drug addiction and stop all forms of trafficking and smuggling that provide the financial lifeblood for vicious transnational cartels,” he said.

But New Zealand gets a mention in opposition:

Among countries that did not sign the U.S. drugs pledge was New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern noted that the United States itself was particularly focused on tackling opioids.

“We have a number of challenges that are quite specific to New Zealand and the particular drugs that are present, but also on taking a health approach. We want to do what works and so we’re using a strong evidence base to do that,” Ardern told reporters on Sunday.

Addiction to opioids – mainly prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl – is a growing U.S. problem, especially in rural areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in more than 49,000 deaths in the country last year.

The biggest drug problems here are synthetic concoction alternatives to cannabis and P (methamphetamine).

UN support for trump (CBS News) – Trump to U.N.: “We commit to fighting the drug epidemic together”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres applauded Mr. Trump for “focusing a global spotlight on the world drug problem,” adding, “we have never needed it more.”

Global production of opioids and cocaine has reached an all-time high, with 31 million people around the world requiring treatment for drug use and 450,000 people dying every year from overdoses or drug-related health issues, Guterres told the conference. He called the U.S. opioid crisis “heartbreaking.”

Sharing intelligence among member states, he said, will help the crackdown, and Guterres urged U.N. members to work together to deny safe haven to drug traffickers, pursue kingpins and dismantle their networks.

But Trump’s talk doesn’t match his actions:

Despite campaign promises and a high-level focus on international drug trafficking, Mr. Trump has slashed the U.S. counter-narcotics budget by cutting back on personnel at the State Department and other agencies who fight the international drug trade.

“One of the clearest constraints imposed by these cuts is on our ability to counter global threats, including narcotics,” Brett Bruen, a former White House official who now teaches at Georgetown University, told CBS News.

RNZ yesterday quoted criticism from Simon Bridges in Jacinda Ardern rejects Trump’s call for war on drugs

National leader Simon Bridges said a government led by him would sign up to the US document.

He said Ms Ardern was distancing New Zealand from more than 120 countries – including Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada – who had all signalled their intention to take part.

“The Prime Minister’s excuse for not signing up, that the government is taking ‘a health approach’ isn’t good enough. The strategy calls for countries to do more to address addiction and provide more treatment as well as working more closely together to clamp down on manufacturing and supply.

“Taken together, that’s how we will deal with the drug problem.

“But by distancing New Zealand from that work the Prime Minister risks making New Zealand an easy target and sending the message that her government is soft on crime and drug dealers.”

That’s a repackaged attack Bridges and Judith Collins have been repeating.

Mr Bridges said National would support people with drug and alcohol problems, but would also hold those who peddle drugs to account.

Which is what happens under the current Government. The methods and balance are flawed, much like under the previous government that Bridges was a minister in.

Ardern needs to step up and her Labour-led needs to do better and more in addressing insidious drug abuse problems and casualties (ruined lives and deaths). Bridges should be working positively with the Government on this, not mudslinging on the sidelines.

Iraq, Afghanistan ‘peacekeeping’ and the realities of international ‘leadership’

Jacinda Ardern has been promoted (or has promoted herself) as one of a radical new breed of young progressive wanting to lead the world in a new direction. But the realities for a small distant nation is that the leader largely has to follow along with allies, even in war situations.

So despite in Opposition promising to pull the troops out the Government has just announced an extension of New Zealand’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Greens remain opposed.

Official announcement: New Zealand to extend NZDF deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and 3 peacekeeping missions

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, and Defence Minister Ron Mark have announced an extension of the New Zealand Defence Force military training deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a renewal of three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Africa.

“The decision to deploy defence force personnel overseas is one of the hardest for any government to take, especially when these deployments are to challenging and dangerous environments,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The Government has weighed a number of factors, including carefully considering the risks to our servicemen and women based on advice from the New Zealand Defence Force. The decisions themselves were taken following careful Cabinet deliberations.”

The Iraq deployment will be extended until June 2019, and the Afghanistan deployment will be extended until September 2019.  This allows New Zealand to fulfil its current commitment to both missions.

In the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan the Government will be using the coming year to consider all options for New Zealand’s future contributions.

The three peacekeeping missions are to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) in the Golan Heights and Lebanon and the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) mission in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt.

“The Government has decided to continue with our current commitments to three peacekeeping missions in the Middle East and Africa, where we have an established presence and proven track record,” Winston Peters said.

A quite length explanation of all the deployments and their histories then followed.

This would normally be seen as a pragmatic decision with New Zealand being seen to contributing to international peacekeeping obligations, which it is. But this is a reversal of Labour’s position. National found themselves in a similar position.

Labour press release (June 2016): Iraq mission extension case not made

The Prime Minister has not made the case for extending the Iraq deployment another 18 months nor the expansion of their mission, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.

“Labour originally opposed the deployment because the Iraqi Army’s track record was poor, even after years of training by the American and other armies. Having visited Camp Taji, my view on this has not changed.

“It was always obvious that the Iraq deployment would not be complete within the two years originally set for the mission, and the Prime Minister has not been open with the public about the demands being made on our troops by Coalition allies.

“Today in his post cabinet briefing Key could not even confirm the troops would be home in 18 months. He has not been straight with New Zealanders, nor has he made the case for mission creep. He owes it New Zealanders to explain why we’re committing our forces to an ongoing volatile theatre of war.

The Government has announced an extension to the two-year deployment, keeping up to 143 personnel in Iraq for an extra 18 months.

John Key admits it’s a change from the initial promise, but said there’s still work to do. He said the other options are to “do nothing”, or do “something that in hindsight may be more dangerous”.

Labour leader Andrew Little…

“We can be a good global citizen by looking after the civilians who are displaced. What we don’t want to be is caught up in a conflict that goes way out of control.”

“The fact that he’s now completely indefinite about how long we might be there – we could be there for a long, long time. The real threat then is of civil war and who knows where that will go.”

Green co-leader James Shaw…

…said we shouldn’t have our military in Iraq at all

“This is mission creep, and it’s extremely dangerous. He’s broken a promise about how long we were going to be there in the first place, it could easily get extended again, both in terms of the length of time we’re over there and also in terms of the scope of the mission.’

“Our good global citizenship role would be much better deployed as part of the humanitarian effort, rather than part of the military effort. We’ve got a lot more skill in humanitarian aid.”

SBS News/Reuters (November 2017 just after Ardern became Prime Minister): NZ could pull out of Iraq deployment

Australia may lose New Zealand as a partner training Iraqi security forces to fight Islamic State militants next year.

Ms Ardern said her government will review NZ’s commitment of just under 150 military personnel in November next year.

“We will look again at the circumstances when that mandate comes up again,” she told reporters at Sydney airport before her departure.

“It’s a complex conflict and things could change dramatically between now and then.”

Former NZ Labour leader Andrew Little, who Ms Ardern replaced, has previously cast doubt on the benefits the country’s role in Iraq and had vowed to bring the troops home.

Incline (February 2018): Groundhog Day for New Zealand’s Iraq Deployment?

National’s decision might have been broadly predictable, but the same cannot be said for Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-led coalition. What the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues choose to do on Iraq presents a series of challenges in the weighing of international and domestic expectations.

For New Zealand First, which holds both the Defence and Foreign Affairs portfolios, the shift in position is a slightly easier one. Ron Mark prides himself on his commitment to a Defence Force that is ready to undertake missions in difficult conflict zones. At a time when his portfolio is not among the government’s top spending priorities, he needs a win for his view of the Defence Force. That Mr. Mark has been in Iraq, and has reported that the New Zealanders are doing “vital tasks” in the national interest, says all we need to know about his position on the issue.

His New Zealand First boss also seems a very likely supporter of extension. As Foreign Minister, Peters will be keenly aware of Australia’s interest in seeing New Zealand commit to a further six months and more.

We can be certain that if Jacinda Ardern announces that New Zealand will extend its mission she will not use the “price of the club” argument which landed John Key in political hot water. Explaining New Zealand’s involvement as a consequence of its five eyes connections would be exactly the message that would fire up opposition from the Greens and the Labour left.

…the Iraq decision is a more difficult test. Unlike the TPP, where significant parts of New Zealand’s business community have been strong supporters, there is no comparable domestic constituency for the Iraq deployment.

This raises an obvious challenge for the government if it does choose to extend. How does it show this choice is consistent with an independent foreign policy? Labour may think it owns that concept by virtue of its nuclear free push in the 1980s. Will Ardern be tempted to repeat the Key-English argument that New Zealand has made its own (i.e. “independent”) choice to work with traditional partners in Iraq? That will hardly convince many of the people who brought her to office.

Newshub (yesterday): Jacinda Ardern’s U-turn on pulling troops out of Iraq

The Labour-led Government is extending New Zealand’s deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan despite promising in Opposition to pull troops out.

The Prime Minister is refusing to comment on whether New Zealand’s elite soldiers, the SAS, will or have joined them.

This is another example of Labour leaning towards NZ First preferences, with Greens opposed. The Green Party doesen’t seem to have put out an official statement, but…

In the context of the ‘War of Terror’ & ‘peace in the Mid East’, one thing we know is more foreign military presence is not working, has never worked, & has made things far worse. Bring on the sustainable, non-military led humanitarian, conservation, restoration focus.

Stop spending Mills$ joining failed military campaigns that only help weapons manufacturing nations/corporates. Instead invest in helping victims access medicine, rebuild schools, roads…And flex our diplomatic muscle to tell everyone we won’t stand for them profiting from war.

She has a point – Iraq and Aghanistan seem to be bottomless pits and graveyards when it comes to military involvement, and perhaps futile: Seventeen years after September 11, al-Qaeda may be stronger than ever

In the days after September 11, 2001, the United States set out to destroy al-Qaeda. US President George W Bush vowed to “starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place, until there is no refuge or no rest.”

Seventeen years later, al-Qaeda may be stronger than ever. Far from vanquishing the extremist group and its associated “franchises,” critics say, US policies in the Middle East appear to have encouraged its spread.

New Zealand is now extending support of US policie.

What US officials didn’t grasp, said Rita Katz, director of the Site Intelligence Group, in a recent phone interview, is that al-Qaeda is more than a group of individuals. “It’s an idea, and an idea cannot be destroyed using sophisticated weapons and killing leaders and bombing training camps,” she said.

The group has amassed the largest fighting force in its existence.

It is a dilemma. Pacifism would also not have contained Al Qaeda nor ISIS. But a seventeen year military approach hasn’t solved Middle East problems either.

Ardern, Peters and their Government are doing their bit, but it’s very debatable whether that is going to help anything other than their standing in the US and it’s military industrial complex.

Russian retaliation over poisoning expulsions, NZ excluded

Twenty nine countries expelled Russian diplomats over the nerve gas poisoning in Salisbury, England – with the notable exception of New Zealand. Russia threatened retaliation against those countries who joined the UK measures, and they have followed through.

BBC: Spy poisoning: Russia escalates spy row with new expulsions

Russia has announced further measures against UK diplomats while at the same time declaring tit-for-tat expulsions of officials from 23 other countries.

It has told the British ambassador to cut staffing to the size of the Russian mission in the UK.

Moscow has rejected UK accusations that it is behind the nerve agent attack on an ex-spy and his daughter in the UK.

However, some 150 Russians have since been expelled by mainly Western countries.

Russia initially hit back at the UK, but then announced 60 US expulsions. On Friday it called in a string of foreign ambassadors with news that their own countries’ measures were being matched.

British diplomats left Moscow a week ago, but ambassador Laurie Bristow was summoned back to the foreign ministry for additional punishment.

It’s not immediately obvious what it means in practice, but it’s clear that Russia sees Britain as the ringleader of an international conspiracy which resulted in the biggest mass expulsion of Russian diplomats in history.

A number of countries backed the UK with their own expulsions, and Russia is also retaliating against them.

Twenty-nine countries have expelled 145 Russian officials in solidarity with the UK – and Nato has also ordered 10 Russians out of its mission in Belgium.

The US expelled the largest single number – 60 diplomats – and closed the Russian consulate general in Seattle.

Russia reciprocated on Thursday declaring 58 US diplomats in Moscow and two in the city of Yekaterinburg to be “personae non gratae”. It also announced the closure of the US consulate in St Petersburg.

On Friday, ambassadors from Albania, Australia, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Ukraine were told to send home staff from their missions – corresponding to the same number of Russians their countries had expelled.

A statement by the Russian foreign ministry also said that Russia “reserves the right to take retaliatory measures” against Belgium, Hungary, Georgia and Montenegro – countries that had joined the co-ordinated action against Russia “at the last moment”.

But New Zealand has remained on the sidelines. The Press writes on The Government’s Russian dilemma

At last count, 26 countries have expelled Russian diplomats and intelligence agents in a remarkable response to the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal​ and his daughter Yulia.

The BBC report said that 29 countries had acted against Russia.

The leaders of the UK, the USA, Germany and France made a rare joint statement that stressed there is no plausible alternative to Russia being responsible for the attack on British soil. They described a wider pattern of “irresponsible behaviour”. Russia’s denials have not been taken seriously.

But so far, New Zealand has not joined the other 26 countries in solidarity, although all four of our Five Eyes partners – the UK, the US, Canada and Australia – have led or followed in the mass expulsion of agents and diplomats.

The Government has been criticised at home over it’s vague and slow responses, and ridiculed abroad for claiming there were no spies here that could be expelled.

There is another way to view the reluctance of the Ardern Government to jump on the anti-Russia bandwagon and that is to see it in a proud tradition of New Zealand independence that would be recognisable to previous Labour prime ministers such as Norman Kirk, David Lange and Helen Clark. There is a streak in the New Zealand psyche that resists being anyone’s puppet.

But it has raised questions about the pro-Russian inclinations of Winston Peters in particular.

It is more likely that the Ardern Government’s motivations are submerged in murkier politics as far as the wider public is concerned.

The public is more likely to share the UK’s worries about the Vladimir Putin regime and to recognise the symbolic value of expulsion.

Some may even see more cynical thinking behind our neutral stance. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has been keen to reopen negotiations with Russia for the Free Trade Agreement that was scuppered after the Ukrainian crisis in 2014. Even this month, Peters seemed unwilling to condemn Russia after news emerged of the Skripal poisoning. He also doubted Russian involvement in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 and US election meddling.

Ardern has appeared to have difficulty dealing with balancing the request for solidarity with allied countries and the Russian leaning of Peters.

Newsroom: Ardern finally acts to ban Russian spies

Facing accusations of being soft and becoming isolated on Russia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has moved to take some concrete action in solidarity with New Zealand’s allies. Ardern announced late on Thursday that New Zealand would impose travel restrictions on individuals expelled by other countries after a recent nerve agent attack in Britain.

The Opposition questioned why New Zealand appeared soft on Russia and was not joining with its allies in a more concrete condemnation of Russia.

Concerns about New Zealand’s stance have grown after Foreign Minister Winston Peters refused earlier this month to accept that Russia had been involved in the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, despite internationally accredited reports to that affect. Peters has also advocated further trade negotiations with Russia, forcing his Prime Minister to say any talks were suspended indefinitely because of the nerve agent attack.

Peters again muddied the waters on Thursday in Parliament when he was asked whether Russia was responsible for the attack, appearing not to back Britain’s more robust assessment.

The Government faced increased scrutiny as the Prime Minister’s assertion the Government could not find any spies in New Zealand was ridiculed in the international media.

Former KGB agent Boris Karpichkov told Newshub Ardern was either naive or misinformed if she thought there were no spies in New Zealand.

University of Waikato Professor Alexander Gillespie said the Prime Minister had been poorly briefed on her response.

“She’s getting some very bad advice somewhere along the line,” he said. “Someone in Foreign Affairs should have explained to her that this is not about whether we have spies in the county or not. This is a question about solidarity with our allies”.

Gillespie said the Government could find the lowest order person in the embassy and ask them to leave as an act of solidarity.

But Ardern appeared to have put appeasing Peters ahead of international solidarity. Her international mana is likely to have taken a hit over this, and Foreign Minister Peters may find his job abroad a bit harder. If he waffles vaguely on international visits like he does in Parliament and in media interviews New Zealand’s international image is in for a difficult time.

 

Poll: most important problems facing New Zealand

A Roy Morgan poll on most important general issues facing New Zealand compared to the world shows that economic issues, inequality and housing are of most concern.

Most Important Problems Facing New Zealand and the World - February 2018

And the most important specific New Zealand issues compared to the world.

It’s not surprising to see economic issues so high, including inequality, and in New Zealand housing is also of major concern.

Interesting to see that New Zealand is significantly less concerned about environmental issues.

Perhaps this is why the Greens are so keen on advocating on social issues.

Source: Economic Issues dominate New Zealand concerns early in 2018

 

Russian trade talks suspended indefinitely

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced – late on Friday – that the Government has suspended trade talks with Russia, and had she didn’t know when or if they would be started again. Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has agreed with the suspension.

Stuff – PM: ‘The situation has changed’ – trade talks with Russia put on ice

The Government has suspended efforts to restart negotiations for a free trade deal with Russia.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says “the situation has changed” and both her and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters were agreed that any trade talks that had restarted would now be suspended again.

Ardern said she didn’t know when, or if, the Government would be in a position to restart those talks.

The commitment towards an FTA with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union is included in NZ First’s coalition agreement with Labour.

The change of direction comes after months of Peters being clear on his plans to work towards a FTA with Russia.

Just yesterday via RNZ – Russia talks won’t hinder EU trade deal – Peters

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says he has had no indication that New Zealand’s pursuit of a free trade deal with Russia would hinder ongoing negotiations with the European Union.

Mr Peters said there was no indication from the European Union a deal with Russia would compromise the talks with the EU, which have been ongoing since 2015.

“And I would not expect them to make a comment like that, I know that we’ll taking up conversations with them in a matter of weeks.”

There was a conversation of “some length” with the the Russian foreign ministry about a trade deal at the East Asia Summit in the Philippines last November, Mr Peters said.

It was too early to say how the attempted poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, could affect the relationship between New Zealand and Russia, and any trade talks, he said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said today there was “no alternative conclusion” than to believe Russia was “culpable” for the attempted murders.

The incident had “somewhat complicated” the issue of a trade deal, Mr Peters said.

“However, other past events saw the conversations continue so I don’t at this point in time see it as our number one priority.”

Complicated enough that a day later Ardern has ruled out any continuation of conversations with Russia on trade.

 

Ardern’s dilemma, TPP-11 or TPP-0

One of the biggest tests for new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Labour led Government is dealing with the Trans Pacific Partnership that, renegotiated after the withdrawal of the US, is referred to as TPP-11.

Labour have long insisted changes needed to be made before they would support the TPP, but the reality of trying to secure a major trade agreement that includes Japan makes it a tricky situation.

Japan has threatened that if New Zealand tries to restart negotioations then TPP-0 is likely.

RNZ report:

Ms Ardern also said the government would try to find a solution on foreign home buyers before she left for the APEC meetings next week.

She said if the government was able to find the right mechanism, it could legislate against purchases of existing properties by non-residents before the TPP trade deal is ratified.

Ms Ardern told Morning Report that would remove one of the government’s main stumbling blocks to signing the TPP, and that would then allow the government to focus on dispute settlement provisions in the trade deal.

Also:  Labour softening on TPP clauses, says critic

A critic of the Trans Pacific Partnership says Labour has softened on a provision to allow foreign investors to sue governments even though its coalition partners have spoken out about it.

New Zealand First and the Greens have questioned the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) schedule in the original TPP and the updated TPP-11 which excludes the United States.

The settlement provisions allow a corporation to take legal action against a foreign government for introducing legislation that harms their investment or profits.

But the government was missing a crucial opportunity ahead of APEC next week, said Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.

It was disappointing that Labour stepped back from the criticism it had that the economics of the agreement did not stack up, Professor Kelsey said.

“[The government] seems willing to proceed now with the agreement largely unchanged and indeed possibly unchanged at all if they can get through their ban on foreign investment in residential housing under the existing wording,” she said.

Kelsey has always strongly opposed the TPP.

NZH: David Parker targets trade deal and bar on house sales to overseas buyers

New Trade Minister David Parker is considering advice that an explicit ban on house sales to offshore speculators could be acceptable under the TPP trade deal if it is passed into New Zealand law before the trade deal comes into force.

TPP negotiators from 11 countries, including New Zealand, are meeting in Tokyo today to try to finalise preparations for the TPP leaders’ summit in mid November, which Jacinda Ardern will attend.

With President Donald Trump having withdrawn the US from the deal in January, the entry-into-force provision has to be changed.

Parker would not comment on whether that should be a simple majority of TPP11 countries or whether it must also include Japan – which has taken over leadership of TPP since the US withdrawal.

“We must find a solution to allow us to ban overseas buyers of existing New Zealand homes for us to proceed with TPP11,” Parker said. “We are open-minded as to where that solution sits, whether it sits within TPP or outside of TPP.”

Parker said New Zealand officials in Tokyo were also raising the issue of the Government’s opposition to Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] clauses, although his language around expectations of success on that issue was soft.

“We don’t want the ISD provisions applying to us and so we will be instructing our negotiators to use their best endeavours to fix that.”

It is clear that the issue on which there will be no compromise is the ban on house sales.

“I want to leave Apec assured that we are not trading away the right of New Zealanders to ban foreign buyers of our homes.”

“There are undoubted trade benefits in TPP11. They are obviously not nearly as significant as they were when the US was part of the deal but nonetheless a residue is still important, particularly into Japan.

“But if I was forced to trade between the principle of protecting New Zealanders’ rights to have control over who owns our houses and TPP, which I hope we will not be forced to choose between, then our promise in respect of who buys New Zealand homes will prevail,” he said.

“I am reasonably confident that we can avoid that binary choice.”

Nikkei Asian Review:  ‘TPP 11’ faces new challenges as clock ticks down

New Zealand’s demand for renegotiation could obliterate tenuous agreement

Chief negotiators from the 11 remaining TPP nations are preparing to meet outside Tokyo starting Monday, hoping to hammer out a general agreement early next month in Vietnam on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

But New Zealand, a leading proponent of the “TPP 11” effort, suddenly seems to be wavering. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who took office Thursday, has pledged to renegotiate the trade deal, seeking restrictions on foreign real estate investment.

…if Ardern holds to her demand for a renegotiation, momentum toward an agreement could crumble. The 11 nations already agreed not to alter the original terms of the pact, and “if exceptions are made for New Zealand alone, the whole thing will fall apart,” said an official at Japan’s trade ministry.

Some in Tokyo advocate simply removing New Zealand from the group, a solution that would reduce the amount of milk Japan imports under the deal. But such a step would be difficult given that New Zealand is a founding member of the TPP.

“The only option is to convince them not to renegotiate,” said an official in Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat.

Ardern and Parker seem to be trying to find a way to enforce the one thing they are left trying to insist on, a ban of foreign ownership, without sinking the whole agreement.

TPP-11, TPP-10 (minus NZ), or TPP-0?

Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents

The recent news and discussions on the behaviour of teenagers in relation to sex reminded BJ Marsh of a moral panic in 1954 that resulted in ‘the Mazengarb Report’ on ‘Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents’ that was posted to every household in the country.

NZ History: Mazengarb report released:

The Mazengarb inquiry into ‘juvenile delinquency’ blamed the perceived promiscuity of the nation’s youth on working mothers, easy availability of contraceptives, and young women enticing men into having sex.

In July 1954 the government appointed lawyer Dr Oswald Mazengarb to chair a Special Committee on Moral Delinquency in Children and Adolescents. They established the committee after a teenage sex scandal in Lower Hutt and other high-profile incidents such as a milk-bar murder in Auckland and the Parker–Hulme killing (see 22 June).

The report, sent to every New Zealand home, blamed lack of parental supervision for juvenile delinquency and advocated a return to Christianity and traditional values. Excessive wages for teenagers, a decline in family life, and the influence of film, comics, and American literature all apparently contributed to the problem. The report provided a basis for new legislation that introduced stricter censorship and restrictions on contraceptive advice to young people.

Despite the public outrage it caused, the Mazengarb report and other government papers and inquiries that followed in the 1960s and 1980s had no observable impact on young people’s behaviour.

This is before my time and I haven’t heard of it before. It is a fascinating window into New Zealand society a bit over sixty years ago.

MazengarbReportheader

‘Preliminary Observations’ from the report:


1) Sensational Press Reports

In the second week of July 1954 various newspapers throughout the Dominion featured reports of proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court at Lower Hutt against youths charged with indecent assault upon, or carnal knowledge of, girls under 16 years of age.

The prosecuting officer was reported as saying that:

The police investigations revealed a shocking degree of immoral conduct which spread into sexual orgies perpetrated in several private homes during the absence of parents, and in several second rate Hutt Valley theatres, where familiarity between youths and girls was rife and commonplace.

He also stated that:

… in many cases the children came from excellent homes.
A few weeks previously reports had appeared in the press of statements made by a Child Welfare Officer and a Stipendiary Magistrate that juvenile delinquency (meaning delinquency in general and not only sexual delinquency) had more than doubled in recent years, and that in many cases the offenders came from:

… materially good homes where they are well provided for.

Such statements naturally provoked a good deal of private and public comment throughout the Dominion. The anxiety of parents deepened, and one leading newspaper asserted editorially that:

It is probably quite safe to assert that nothing that has occurred in the Dominion for a long time has caused so much public dismay and so much private worry as the disclosure of moral delinquency among children and adolescents.

There is room for difference of opinion as to whether or not the ensuing public discussion of sexual offending was desirable. On the one hand it provoked many conversations on the subject between children themselves and a noticeable desire to purchase newspapers on the way to and from school. On the other hand the focusing of attention on the existence of the peril to school children caused many parents, temporarily at any rate, to take a greater interest in the training and care of their children than they might otherwise have taken; it caused some heads of schools to arrange for sex instruction; and it also resulted in a public demand that something should be done to bring about a better state of morality in the community.

Following hard upon the newspaper reports of these cases in the Hutt Valley there was the news that two girls, each aged about 16 years had been arrested in Christchurch on a charge of murdering the mother of one of them. It soon became widely known (and this fact was established at their subsequent trial) that these girls were abnormally homosexual in behaviour.


XVII. Summary of Conclusions

1. Sexual immorality among juveniles has become a world-wide problem of increasing importance, but the great majority of the young people of this Dominion are healthy-minded and well-behaved.

2. As sexual immorality is generally clandestine, is often not criminal, and even when criminal may not be detected, there are not any statistics from which it can be shown whether, or to what extent, it has increased.

3. During recent years the pattern of sexual misbehaviour has changed: it has spread to younger groups; girls have become more precocious; immorality has been organized; the mental attitude of some boys and girls towards misconduct has altered; and there is evidence that homosexuality may be increasing.

4. The new pattern of juvenile immorality is uncertain in origin, insidious in growth, and has developed over a wide field.

5. Objectionable publications ought to be banned by establishing a system for the registration of distributors of certain printed matter. Urgent action is necessary so that publications now banned in other countries will not be dumped into this Dominion.

6. The absence of regulations necessary to make the Film Censor’s recommendations effective deprives parents of the protection which the Legislature intended for them.

7. The possibility that children may hear radio programmes unsuitable for them calls for firmness and discretion on the part of parents and more care by the Broadcasting Service in arranging and timing programmes. Serials and recordings giving undue emphasis to crime or sex are not desirable, nor is the frequent repetition of recordings that are capable of misinterpretation, particularly in times like the present.

8. Advertisers should realize that the increasing emphasis on sex attraction is objectionable to some and, possibly, harmful to others.

9. Although television may not be introduced into New Zealand for some time, plans to cope with its effects on children should be made well in advance of its introduction.

10. There should be a closer bond between school and home. The system of visiting teachers should be expanded and as much liaison as possible established between them and public health nurses.

11. The evidence that the propinquity of boys and girls at co-educational schools contributed to sexual delinquency was not convincing.

12. The value of insisting upon all children remaining at school till they are 15 years of age should be further investigated. When the underlying cause for an application for exemption is misconduct, the exemption should only be granted subject to supervision by a Child Welfare Officer.

13. Whenever a pupil under the care or supervision of the Child Welfare Division is enrolled at a school the principal should be informed of any matters pertaining to the pupil which are within the knowledge of that Division. He should also be consulted as to any recommendation which it is proposed to make to the Court in respect of any of his pupils.

14. The school is not the proper place for fully instructing children about sex, although it may be a convenient place in which mothers and daughters together, fathers and sons together, or parents together, may listen to addresses or see appropriate films. This would help to break down some of the barriers of self-consciousness.

15. In the new housing settlements the younger age groups predominate. They are without the stabilizing influence of older people and established institutions.

16. The work of all organizations which aim at building character is warmly commended as they help to prevent children from becoming delinquent; but facilities for recreation and entertainment will not cure juvenile delinquency.

17. Liquor and gambling are symptomatic of some homes where there is child neglect. The Committee deprecates the growing practice of parents conniving at the consumption of liquor at young people’s parties.

18. Tension in the household, separation of the parents, lack of training for parenthood, the absence of a parental sense of responsibility or poor discipline all help to create an unsatisfactory home environment; the child of such a home often feels unwanted or unloved. This unsatisfactory environment or feeling of being unloved is productive of much delinquency.

19. Nearly one-third of the delinquent children whose cases were considered came from homes where the mothers, possibly out of necessity, went out to work. Fathers themselves are also to blame when they neglect the opportunities available in the evenings or at the weekends to interest themselves in the welfare of their children.

20. The high wages paid to adolescents on leaving school are an important contributing factor especially when those youths have not been trained in the virtues of thrift and self-reliance.

21. In many of the cases investigated by the police the children have either been ignorant of the functions of sex or have too advanced a knowledge of its physical aspects. When, how, and by whom the information should be given is very important.

22. The present state of morals in the community has indicated the value of a religious faith, and of family religion. Encouragement should be given to the work of the New Zealand Council of Christian Education.

23. There has been a decline in certain aspects of family life because of a failure to appreciate the worth of religious and moral sanctions.

24. During the past forty years new concepts have entered into society. These concepts resulted from the unsettlement following two world wars. The changes were the increased use of contraceptives, the broadening of the divorce laws, an increase in pre-marital sexual relations, and the spread of new psychological ideas.

25. The Committee is unanimously of the opinion that adolescents should not buy or be in possession of contraceptives. There is, however, some difference of opinion as to how this decision could be made effective.

26. The state of the law regarding indecent conduct on the part of boys and girls operates very unfairly. Boys who admit this offence are charged in the Children’s Court under sections of the Crimes Act for breach of which they are liable to terms of imprisonment of five to seven years. Their names and particulars of the offence are recorded in the Police Gazette. The girls (some of whom may have incited the boys to offend) cannot be charged; if they are brought before the Court at all, it is only when their parents are summoned for having delinquent children and their names are not gazetted.

27. The Child Welfare Act should be broadened to provide for the doing of preventive work. At present it provides only for the correction of children who have committed offences or who are delinquents. There are also grave weaknesses in this statute and in the whole procedure for dealing with offending and delinquent children.
XVIII. Recommendations

(1) Proposals for Legislation

(a) The definition of “obscene” and “indecent” in the statute law relating to printed and published matter should be enlarged so as to cover all productions which are harmful in that they place undue emphasis on sex, crime, or horror.

(b) All distributors of books, magazines, and periodical (other than newspapers and educational or scientific publications) should be required to register their names and the names of their various publications. If they offend against the proposed law regarding objectionable publications, their licences to produce or distribute should be cancelled.

(c) A new offence should be created whereunder boys and girls who are guilty of indecent conduct with one another should both be liable to be charged as delinquents in the Children’s Court and the practice of recording the names of boys in the Police Gazette as having been summarily dealt with should cease.

(d) In all cases where children are summoned to Court their parents (if available) should be required to attend with them.

(e) The Court should have the power to require the parent or guardian of an offending or delinquent child to pay the fine or costs and to give security for the future good behaviour of the child unless the Court is satisfied that the conduct of the parent or guardian has not conduced to the child’s wrong doing.

(f) The Court should also be given power to direct that the children’s benefit or family benefit payable to any parent or guardian by the Social Security Commission be suspended until he gives the security required by the Court or for such further or other period as the Court may order. The material interests of the child should be preserved by enabling the Court to suspend the operation of the order, or to cancel it upon being satisfied that the parent or guardian has given the required security to exercise due care and control.

(g) Effect should be given to the recommendations regarding enrolment or expulsion of children as set out in Section XVI (5) (d) and (e) of this report.

(h) The Child Welfare Act should be completely recast in such a way as to remove the weaknesses indicated in this report and to suit modern needs. “Child welfare” should be given an autonomous status under the Minister of Social Welfare.

(2) Proposals for Administrative Action

The following outlines of administrative action are not dependent upon the amending of any Acts of Parliament such as were recommended above:

(a) Police Department

The training and duties of policewomen should be considered with a view to deciding the best method of dealing with girls involved in sexual offences.

(b) Department of Internal Affairs (Films)

To facilitate the practical working of film censorship steps should be taken to gazette the outstanding regulations empowered under the relevant Acts of 1934 and 1953.

(c) Broadcasting Service

It is suggested:

(i) That the service ensure that the concept “Crime must never pay” is more prominently featured in crime serials.

(ii) That a married woman be immediately appointed to the auditioning panel.
(d) Censoring Authorities

Any Departments concerned with censorship should maintain a liaison to produce as far as possible a uniform interpretation of public opinion and taste.

(e) Department of Education

(i) The Department of Education should discuss with the Department of Health the respective duties of public health nurses and visiting teachers to prevent overlapping and to ensure the best possible employment of these officers.

(ii) Following upon the conference outlined in the previous paragraph the appointment of additional visiting teachers should be accorded priority.

(iii) The Department should consider what type of officer is best suited to help with problem pupils in post-primary schools.

(iv) The Department should request that residences be set aside for some teachers in housing settlements.

(v) In areas where there is a lack of facilities for recreation and entertainment the Department should consider the possibility of making school grounds and buildings available to responsible organizations.

(f) Research into Juvenile Delinquency

A long-term project for the investigation of juvenile delinquency in all aspects should be undertaken.

(3) Parental Example

New laws, new regulations, and the prospect of stricter administration may help to allay the well-founded fears of many parents for the future of their children. It would, however, be a pity if parents were thereby led into any relaxation of their own efforts. Wise parenthood implies firm control and continual interest in the doings of sons and daughters. But what is most needed is that all people should, by right living and by the regularity of their own conduct, afford the best example for the conduct of the rising generation.

Constitution promoted on earthquakes and Brexit

Geoffrey Palmer is pushing his case for a written constitution again, this time using earthquakes and Brexit as justification.

Stuff: New Zealand is one of three countries without a written constitution: time for change

A constitution could enshrine property rights, which were poorly protected in the red zone following the Christchurch earthquakes, writes Geoffrey Palmer.

OPINION: In our recently published book, A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand, Andrew Butler and I propose a written constitution for New Zealand.

New Zealand is one of only three countries without a written constitution.

That might be sort of correct. Most countries have single document constitutions. There are conflicting claims about exceptions. One Wikipedia page lists:

  • Codified (in a single document) most of the world constitutions
  • Uncodified (fully written in few documents) San Marino, Israel, Saudi Arabia
  • Uncodified (Partially unwritten) Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom

To understand the principal rules of how public power is exercised in New Zealand you have to wade your way through a jumble of statutes – some from New Zealand, but quite a few very old ones from England; a plethora of obscure conventions, letters patent and manuals; and a raft of court decisions. How they all mesh together is obscure and unclear. 

We share this untidy approach to constitutional law with the UK. Anyone who thinks that that’s a situation worth preserving just needs to look at what’s happening over there at the moment.  Brexit has created a massive constitutional crisis. A significant factor is that the constitutional rules there are so unclear, no one knows who has the power to get the UK out of the EU.

In the UK it is more a crisis of confidence in government being dictated to by the European Union.

Ironically the European Union wrote a draft constitution that was signed by the 25 states that were members in 2004 and ratified by 18 of them, but French and Dutch voters rejected it in 2005.

This evolved into the Treaty of Lisbon that was ratified in 2009.

The Treaty of Lisbon (initially known as the Reform Treaty) is an international agreement which amends the two treaties which form the constitutional basis of the European Union (EU). The Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the EU member states on 13 December 2007, and entered into force on 1 December 2009.

– Wikipedia:

BBC: Q&A: The Lisbon Treaty

The Lisbon Treaty became law on 1 December 2009, eight years after European leaders launched a process to make the EU “more democratic, more transparent and more efficient”.

Like the proposed European constitution before it, the treaty is often described as an attempt to streamline EU institutions to make the enlarged bloc of 27 states function better. But its opponents see it as part of a federalist agenda that threatens national sovereignty.

I don’t think the EU was known for efficiency, and it’s lack of democracy for member states  and threats to sovereignty, perceived or real, were significant factors in the Brexit debate and vote.

Back to Palmer:

“How is any of this constitutional stuff relevant to my life?” is a question we are often asked. Cantabrians know the answer. It’s when the chips are down and there is a crisis in place, that the dangers of short-term politics can overpower longstanding rights and principles. Not because those rights and principles shouldn’t apply, but because the political imperative is to be seen to do something and do something radical and urgent. The rights of individuals can get lost.

In its recently released report “Staying in the Red Zones”, the Human Rights Commission calmly and coolly assessed the Government’s treatment of homeowners in the red zone. The report concluded: “The right to property is fragile in New Zealand. Property rights need to be better enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act”.

But I haven’t seem much sign of Cantabrians, nor the rest of New Zealanders, clamouring for a written constitution.

The latest earthquakes north of Christchurch (Culverden, Kaikoura, Seddon and Wellington) and the lengthy sorting out of the problems created by them are more likely to distract from rather than drive people to setting up a constitution.

The earthquakes have broken a lot of things. These need fixing.

New Zealand’s lack of a single written constitution (the Treaty of Waitangi is sometimes referred to as a constitution but it is far from comprehensive) seems for most people to be in the ‘if it ain’t broke why fix it?’ category.

And there are fears that trying to debate and formulate a constitution will create seismic fractures in our society.

Constitutional Advisory Panel: A Written Constitution

The Panel recommends the Government:

  • notes that although there is no broad support for a supreme constitution, there is considerable support for entrenching elements of the constitution
  • notes the consensus that our constitution should be more easily accessible and understood, and notes that one way of accomplishing this might be to assemble our constitutional protections into a single statute
  • notes people need more information before considering whether there should be change, in particular information about the various kinds of constitution, written and otherwise, and their respective advantages and disadvantages
  • supports the continued conversation by providing such information, and notes that it may be desirable to set up a process whereby an independent group is charged with compiling such information and advancing public understanding

Palmer’s project: A Constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand

Our proposal: a modern constitution that is easy to understand, reflects New Zealand’s identity and nationhood, protects rights and liberties, and prevents governments from abusing power.

The United States of America, with a famous constitution, is struggling with all of those things right now in the aftermath of a very divisive democratic election, during the transition to power of president-elect Donald Trump.

Japan, Canada and US pressuring NZ on TPP

There are various reports that Japan, Canada and the USA are pressring Tim Groser (New Zealand) to ditch demands for better dairy access to enable a Trans Pacific Partnership agreement to be reached.

Fran O’Sullivan in the Herald: Groser under pressure to cave on TPP:

Japan, Canada and US are united in pushing NZ to ditch its demands for better dairy export access to their protected markets.

Groser is coming under what he labels “intense pressure” to cave in on New Zealand’s demands for better access for dairy exports to three heavily protected markets – Japan, Canada – and to a lesser extent the United States – so negotiators from all 12 TPP nations can quickly nail a deal.

Right now it looks as if Japan, Canada and the US have ganged up on New Zealand with some advance blame-storming singling out Groser in particular as the potential fall guy if agreement is not reached within the separate conversations that have been taking place on the remaining sticking points: cars and dairy.

Another sticking point – biologics – has now been solved, according to informed sources.

The big country gang-up – which is implied through news reports out of Japan and Canada and (more obliquely) through trade journals with strong access to the US Trade Representative’s officials and major business and agricultural lobbies – must be strongly contested.

New Zealand shoukld walk away from the TP rather than cave in to dairy trade protection. If we don’t make significant gains in agricultural trade it’s not worth us reaching an agreement, andf certaily not conceding ground on other issues like intellectual rights and medicines.

New #1 flag

Rate The Flag has a new first choice flag. It’s one of the best I’ve seen, if not the best. Familiar and distinctive, and addresses most key issues for me.

I’d be happy to wave a flag like that.

New Zealand Flag (#9397)

Designed by: Aleksandar Dragojevic

This flag has three colors: black, white and red.

Diagonal white strip represent New Zealand. It is the same position/diagonal direction as New Zealand is shown on the map.

Black color is traditional color of New Zealand, Red represent all nations of New Zealand, cultural and historical heritage of the country, and White stands for peace, freedom and independence!

The silver fern as one of most common symbol of New Zealand is situated in the black field. Credit for the fern goes to Kyle Lockwood.