Bridges urges RMA reform now, but National blew it while in Government

Simon Bridges has joined the chorus singing for RMA reform, but Peter Dunne has given a timely reminder that National were off key and blew their chances of reform while in Government.

RNZ: National leader Simon Bridges urges RMA reform over $100m for Māori land ownership

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced that the government’s Provincial Growth Fund would spend $100 million on supporting Māori landowners to make better use of their land.

Today Mr Bridges told Morning Report the government was just throwing money at the issue and although $100 million sounded like a lot of money it would just “scratch the surface” for a select few.

“It may be a bit harsh but I think it’s a waste of money. You’re throwing it at a select few but you’re not actually going to help Māori.”

Mr Bridges said he would instead help Māori land ownership through law reform.

At yesterday’s announcement Ms Ardern said 80 percent of Māori freehold land was under-utilised and unproductive because the special status of some land made getting loans difficult.

Mr Bridges said the government was making the same mistake as it had with KiwiBuild.

“The one thing that is required is Te Ture Whenua Māori land reform. That’s what’s got to happen because the complex legal intricacies of multiple owners mean it’s always going to be incredibly difficult to do this unless you get that law reform. It’s not a question of the financing.”

“They think if they splash some cash at something there’s good politics in it. But just as with Kiwibuild what you actually have to do is hard law reform around the Resource Management Act,” he said.

Fair point. It is widely known that the Resource Management Act generally is stifling development.

Last month Dave Cull, president of Local Government New Zealand, said RMA ‘broken’, not fit for purpose for local government

To build at scale, the Government is looking to give the UDA the power of compulsory acquisition to assemble large parcels of land and the ability to shortcut the onerous public consultation processes required under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

It is an acknowledgment that the RMA is too consultative and encourages a tragedy of the anti-commons. This is where everyone gets a say in a development, not just affected parties, and as a result many worthwhile projects never get off the ground.

The RMA’s consultation requirements also vastly complicate the already fiendishly difficult matter of assembling land for urban development.

The current Government is trying to work around the RMA with new Urban Development Authority (UDA), responsible for delivering on the Government’s KiwiBuild programme.

The Government is also going try to fix the RMA: Two-step RMA reform to start by fixing the previous government’s blunders

The changes are separate from the legislation to set up an Urban Development Authority to fast-track housing and urban development projects.

“The Resource Management Act is underperforming in some critical areas and needs fixing,” David Parker said.

Stage One will reverse some objectionable changes made by the previous government in 2017 that were widely criticised.

For example, the Bill would repeal measures that prevent public notification and appeals by applicants and submitters in residential and subdivision consent applications.

Another change, recommended by Regional Councils, is the ability to upgrade groups of consents in line with updated standards. This will help speed the cleaning up of our rivers, which otherwise can be delayed for decades.

A Bill addressing changes that can be made straight away will be introduced to Parliament early next year.

It will address particular issues with resource consenting, and monitoring and enforcement processes in the RMA.

Stage Two will be a more comprehensive review of the resource management system. It will build on current Government work priorities across urban development, climate change, and freshwater, and wider projects being led by various external groups. Stage Two is currently being scoped and is expected to start in 2019.

Good luck with getting agreement with both the Greens and NZ First on meaningful reform. This could take some time.

National tried to reform the RMA while in Government, but failed. Now National blames MMP, minor parties for housing crisis

A National MP has blamed the former Government’s partners for his party’s failure to stop house prices rising beyond the reach of many Kiwis.

“We did a lot in housing – we did a lot of work around the Resource Management Act (RMA). The problem with MMP is we had a partner that actually wouldn’t allow us to make the changes that we wanted to make.”

National actually did poorly in addressing the growing housing problem. This was a significant reason why they failed to retain power in 2017.

RMA changes passed into law in April 2017 after changes were made to satisfy minor partner the Māori Party, while United Future and ACT voted against.

Bridges has also blamed ACT and United Future for National’s failure to reform the RMA

David Seymour has been scathing – ‘Promise. Win. Fail. Apologise’: David Seymour rips into National’s ‘failure’ in Government

On Thursday, National Party leader Simon Bridges expressed regret at his party’s failure to reform the Resource Management Act (RMA), and said it was getting a new RMA reform bill ready.

“The reality is, we should have [reformed the RMA] in the first term,” Mr Bridges said, blaming later support partners for failing to allow changes to be passed.

“The reality is though, by second and third terms we were reliant on partners whether it was the Māori Party, whether it was Peter Dunne – they weren’t up for changes there.”

However ACT Party leader David Seymour says he’s heard similar promises before – but National has always failed to deliver.

“They promise action in Opposition, win Government, fail to do what they said they would, and then apologise after New Zealanders boot them out.

“The four stages of the National Party political cycle are: Promise. Win. Fail. Apologise.”

Mr Seymour says part of the blame of that cycle is down to National’s governance style, which he claims operates “from the left” despite the party “campaigning from the right”.

“Only ACT has been consistent on fundamental RMA reform. The next Government will need a stronger ACT to get National back on track,” he said.

Peter Dunne has explained why National failed to get the support of United Future and ACT in Peter Dunne looks at the challenges for a possible ‘blue-green’ party and the National Party’s quest to get the numbers to allow it to govern:

There is also the delicious irony of National‘s excitement at the prospect of such a party emerging occurring the same week that it blamed previous support partners, UnitedFuture and Act, for the current housing crisis because they would let it gut the Resource Management Act the way it wanted.

National’s approach then was all or nothing – I well recall their Minister telling me he was only prepared to negotiate about the RMA if I gave him an assurance in advance that we would reach an agreement. On another occasion, that same Minister told me he was unwilling to talk further because he suspected (correctly) that I was also consulting with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the architect of the RMA, and he did not want that.

I think that minister was Nick Smith. He was probably National’s biggest problem with failing RMA reform and letting the housing problems escalate.

Yet, all the while, right up to the eleventh hour, UnitedFuture and Act were putting up separate proposals to the Government for possible changes to streamline the way the RMA operated, and to remove perceived procedural roadblocks. UnitedFuture even suggested bringing the provision of affordable housing into the objectives of the RMA but that was rejected because we would not agree to National’s planned watering down of the RMA’s principles and objectives.

Ideally with something as important as the RMA both Labour and National should work together to sort out it’s weaknesses while retaining important environmental protections.

But National, with a near majority Government, could not work out decent RMA reform with two one MP parties, and still blames them for their own failure.

The Government is trying to throw money at Maori land development, and it’s fair for National to question that approach. They can’t undo their reform blunder while in Government, but they could put petty politics aside and work with Labour on lasting RMA reform.

 

Nick Smith suggests electoral reform

Nelson MP Nick Smith covered a range of topics in his 24th annual speech to Nelson West Rotary, including suggested electoral reform. Smith is National’s spokesperson on electoral reform – but his suggestions are not National policy. This was reported on by Stuff:

Entrench the entire Electoral Act so any change would require a 75 per cent majority in Parliament or a referendum.

“It is an abuse of power for parties in Government to amend the electoral law so as to help them win the next election. Our system is particularly vulnerable to the scrum being screwed this way having no second house or constitution and change being possible with a simple majority.”

There were six entrenched provisions out of 315 in the act covering aspects such as the three-year term and the voting age of 18 but hundreds of others were open to amendment by a simple majority, he said. The entrenchment clause itself could be repealed by a simple majority.

It seems to make sense to require more than a bare majority for amending electoral law, to avoid changes of convenience for the government of that day which tends to have not much more than a 50% majority.

Ban all foreign donations to parties and candidates

Seems sensible – but there is a risk that donors and parties would find a way around it.

Defer the re-drawing of electoral boundaries due to the failed census

This probably should happen. Re-drawing boundaries without reliable up to date information seems to be a bad idea.

Extend the Electoral Commission’s role to local elections

Currently each local body manages their own elections. Some consistency might help – but what if people in different parts of the country want different things, like different voting systems?

A referendum on a four-year term.

The problem with our current short term of three years is that governments spend their first year getting a handle on the job, a year doing it and then the third trying to get re-elected. It would be logical to shift local elections to a four-year timetable two years through each Parliamentary cycle to keep a healthy separation of local and national elections.

Is it a problem? Perhaps for parties who get into government and want to do more then the three year cycle allows – but is this a good thing for the public?

Graeme Edgeler on A four-year parliamentary term? (written in 2013 but still relevant):

The strongest argument I have seen is that a longer term would enable governments to do unpopular but (objectively?) good things, in the hope that short-term pain may have subsided in time for the election. There are obvious flaws with this analysis.

This is a democracy, and politicians should seek mandates for their actions. And I simply do not accept that the vast majority of voters are unable to make tough choices if they are fairly presented to us; sometimes, others may not like the choices we make, but they are ours to make. And as unpopular as we are now told Roger Douglas’s reforms starting in 1984 were, the Government he was a part of was re-elected in 1987. I don’t really see that countries with longer terms are doing all that much ‘better’ that we are in this regard. The ability of economies in Europe to take ‘tough choices’ arising from the Eurozone crisis seems entirely unrelated to their electoral calendar.

We are being asked to relinquish a very real measure of our democratic control for the vague promise of a better tomorrow. If someone want to make the case – with actual evidence – please do. Do democracies with longer terms actually have better long-term planning? What reason is there to believe that a four-year term will actually enable us to ‘fix’ anything that might be ‘broken’ with our system?

And just because our three-year term is somewhat of an international outlier does not mean we should leap from the bridge that every other country has. Differences in the New Zealand political system strongly tell in favour of a shorter term.

The push for a four-year term has failed at the ballot box twice. I don’t really remember the vote being held on either occasion, but it seems to me that those pushing change failed to convince enough people it was actually a good idea. It’s time for those who want this to actually convince a good sized-majority of everyone else that they are right.

Like us Australia is supposed to have 3 year terms. I’m not sure that Australians would be keen on giving their governments a longer shot at stuffing things up.

The US has four year terms for president, but seem to be keen on shortening that by impeachment. The rest of their electoral system is complicated.

The UK has a five year term, unless a Prime Minister has a brain fart and calls an early election as happened in 2017, leading to the current Brexit mess.

I’d like to see far more compelling reasons for changing from three to four years here, from people other than politicians wanting power for longer.

David Farrar has posted on Smith’s proposals: Five electoral reform ides from Nick Smith

NZ First’s $300k clause is old news

It’s surprising to suddenly see that NZ First have a clause in their constitution that seeks to impose a $300,000 dollar cost on and MP who resigns or is expelled from the party.

Surprising because it is not news – I posted on this four years ago


May 2014

NZ First’s $300,000 fine threat

NZ First have a clause in their party constitution that tries to enable the party to fine any list or electorate MP who resigns or is expelled  $300,000 at the discretion of the Board.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST PARTY CONSTITUTION 2013

57 Parliamentary Division

(g) Upon a member of the Parliamentary Division ceasing to be a member of the Parliamentary Division because he/she has resigned from or has been expelled from the New Zealand First parliamentary caucus, or has ceased to be a member of the Party, then whether the member is a constituency member of parliament or a list member of parliament, he/she must resign his/her parliamentary seat as soon as practicable and in any event not later than 3 days after the date of cessation.

(h) In order to provide the means for enforcement of the preceding article 57(g) concerning the obligation of a member or former member to resign his/her parliamentary seat, and as a condition precedent to selection as a New Zealand First parliamentary candidate, and in consideration of selection as such, every member who agrees to become a candidate, and every member who stands as a candidate, and every member who is elected as a New Zealand First list member of parliament or as a New Zealand First constituency member of parliament, before being selected as a candidate, before standing as a candidate, before election as a New Zealand First member of parliament, and before accepting his/her seat in parliament and before being sworn in as such, and at any other time when required by the Board to do so whether before or after election and whether before or after being sworn in as a member of parliament, shall agree to give and shall sign a written undertaking, intended to be a legally enforceable contract (the resignation obligation contract) , under which he/she agrees to uphold observe and perform all of the provisions of this article 57 of this constitution and its amendments, and in particular to a fundamental term of the contract which will be the essence of  the contract, and which will impose a liability for liquidated damages in the sum of $300,000 (three hundred thousand dollars) for any breach of article 57(g) of this constitution and its amendments, concerning the obligation of a member or former member to resign his/her parliamentary seat, if he/she ceases by any means and for any reason and in any circumstances whatsoever to be a member of the Parliamentary Division during the term for which he/she has been elected. The Board may however compromise the amount of liquidated damages payable or waive the imposition of liability for liquidated damages in its sole and unfettered discretion without having to have any reason for doing so, without having to give any reason for doing so, and without being under a any obligation to do so or to consider fairness, natural justice, or any other consideration whatsoever;
and the Board shall not enforce the resignation obligation contract under this article 57(h) at any time that legislation exists which requires or determines that a member of Parliament to resign or relinquish his/her parliamentary seat upon the grounds contained in or similar to those specified in article 57(g).

NZ First  Party rules:  nz_first_constitution_nov_2013.pdf

Law professor Andrew Geddis takes it apart: I’m right, Winston’s not, so there

The $300,000 figure here clearly is designed to present an MP who leaves NZ First with Hobson’s choice. Either quit as an MP, or face ruinous financial consequences. And because the rule has this effect – it is designed to force an MP from Parliament – I don’t think it will be enforceable in court. And a rule of this nature only has teeth if there is a court that is prepared to, as a matter of law, make someone actually pay up the penalty figure.


But it has become a thing today for some reason. National call it Revelations, which it clearly isn’t. It’s a rehashed story four years later.


NZ First MPs signed $300k good behaviour bond

Revelations that Government MPs are required to sign a legally enforceable contract meaning they must pay $300,000 if they do not follow their Leader’s instruction is an affront to our parliamentary democracy, National’s Electoral Law spokesperson Nick Smith says.

“The 2016 amendment to NZ First’s constitution states its MPs must pay damages of $300,000 if they personally disagree with Winston Peters, turning them into indentured workers with an extraordinary price tag hanging over their heads.

“It means every time an NZ First MP votes or comments on an issue, they have 300,000 reasons why they should just parrot Winston Peters and not to speak out even if doing so would be in the public’s best interests.

“This is abhorrent. These types of contracts are illegal in other workplaces and would be unconstitutional in most democratic countries, so why are they at the core of our current Government? They turn elected representatives into puppets of a party leader who is now attempting to impose the same restrictions on free speech on Parliament’s other MPs, in spite of universal opposition to the Waka Jumping Bill.

“It is a sad commentary on the NZ First Party and Mr Peters that such draconian contracts are required to maintain caucus discipline – and now to keep the Government together.

“It also contradicts Mr Peters’ previous hollow position that MPs ‘have to be free to follow their conscience. They were elected to represent their constituents, not to swear an oath of blind allegiance to a political party’.

“The contracts were revealed after I was contacted by a concerned NZ First source who advised that all NZ First MPs had signed them except Mr Peters.

“NZ First must publicly release the full details of these contracts, outlined in article 57 (h) of its constitution, so the public can see the restrictions imposed on its elected MPs. This is even more important with NZ First playing such a pivotal role in the current Government.

“Disclosure is also required to be consistent with the Government’s pledge to be the most open and transparent ever, a claim looking increasingly ridiculous when even the Minister responsible for Mr Peters’ Waka Jumping Bill, Andrew Little, had no idea about the clause.

“That’s despite his legislation increasing the legal weight given to party rules and his acknowledgement that MPs should be able to do their job with being subjected to such restrictions.

“New Zealand needs MPs who are not bound by orders or instructions but whose responsibility is to act as representatives of the people.

“The existence of these contracts opens the question as to whether New Zealand needs additional protection to prevent its parliamentary democracy from being manipulated by these sorts of oppressive contracts.”

 

Justice committee fails to report back on waka jumping bill

Greens copped a lot of flak after they announced they would vote for the ‘waka jumping’ bill to keep NZ First happy, despite being strongly opposed throughout the party’s history. See Why the Greens threw their integrity overboard

But they aren’t the only ones divided over the bill.

Stuff: Justice committee fails to report back on Waka Jumping bill

National’s Nick Smith says Labour MPs on a select committee inspecting the Waka Jumping bill refused to consider amendments because Winston Peters wanted it to pass unamended.

Labour and National MPs are bitterly blaming each other for the failure of the select committee to report back on Monday.

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill would allow party leaders to expel MPs from their party from Parliament, if they could get the approval of two thirds of their caucus. List MPs would be expelled for good and replaced by the next person on the list while electorate MPs would be able to compete in by-elections.

The Justice Select Committee was due to report back on the controversial bill on Monday but failed to do so. The committee is evenly split between National and Labour MPs, and would need to pass a majority vote to send the bill back to the House with a report attached.

As a result the bill will go back to the House without any recommendations from the select committee.

That should make it even harder for the Greens to justify voting for it, but they seem to have already capitulated.

“The Labour members of the committee made plain that they were under directives as part of the agreement with Winston [Peters] for the bill to not be amended,” Smith said.

“They said it just that way: ‘No. Winston won’t agree to that.”

It seems odd that NZ First are forcing Labour to support this bill unchanged when it appears to be important only to Winston Peters, in contrast to Peters giving up so easily on a popular policy for NZ First voters – see Government has reneged on immigration ‘promises’.

Peters makes a big thing of letting ‘the people’ decide, for example on cannabis legislation.

But on the waka jumping bill he seems to be against the justice committee from addressing issues in his bill.

Labour MP and chair of the committee Raymond Huo said Smith was “throwing his toys” and could have put comments like that in a minority report had he allowed a report to be sent back.

Huo said by holding back the report Smith was letting down his party and the submitters whose voices would now be lost.

“He has not just let his party down but also the general public, including those submitters,” Huo said.

“The Justice Committee is a very busy committee. We have enjoyed a strong level of collegiality, until, very frankly the arrival of Nick Smith,” Huo said.

Or the arrival of the Winston waka jumping bill?

 

 

Labour slow to restore Canterbury democracy

After slamming the last Government’s sacking of the Canterbury regional council ECan, and of promising to quickly restore democracy, Labour is now in no hurry to act.

Christchurch Labour MP Megan Woods in 2016: ECan legislation an affront to democracy

The Government’s ECan Legislation is an affront to Cantabrians and continues to deny them a democratically elected regional council, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods.

“There is simply no logical, rational or compelling case for a system of regional government in Canterbury that is anti-democratic and radically different from other parts of the country.

“This is not the return to democracy we were promised. This is a continuation of government control.

“It has been six years since the Government sacked the regional council. It is time to put regional governance back where it belongs. That regional governnment has to be in the hands of Cantabrians. There is no justification for controlling Canterbury through appointments made in Wellington.

“I have a Private Members Bill in the ballot to return to a fully elected council at this year’s elections. That Bill stays in the ballot because Labour backs Cantabrians to run their own region,” says Megan Woods.

Labour’s policy on Canterbury (August 2017): Unlocking Potential – Labour’s Plan for Canterbury

Our plan has eight crucial components, each demonstrating Labour’s commitment to get the region moving – and thriving.

Labour will:

  • Restore full democracy to Environment Canterbury

Stuff (November 2017): ECan elections unlikely before 2019

A return to democracy at Environment Canterbury (ECan) appears unlikely before 2019, despite Labour’s long-standing objection to the status quo.

The last Government removed democratically-elected councillors in 2009 and replaced them with seven commissioners the following year.

One of the sacked councillors, Eugenie Sage, is now Minister of Conservation.

Despite promises by former Environment Minister Nick Smith to restore democracy in 2013, it was pushed to 2016. A full return to democracy was delayed again until 2019 – half the current council is elected and half appointed.

During the election campaign, Labour said full elections would be restored “as soon as possible,” but it is understood that is unlikely to happen before 2019, when elections were expected anyway.

Newsroom (today): Labour’s big miss in Canterbury

The Labour-led Government has failed a crucial test in Canterbury.

Despite making an election issue out of a return to full democracy at Canterbury’s regional council, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has confirmed to Newsroom it will follow the last Government’s timetable of waiting until next year’s scheduled local body elections.

That’s little payback for a surge of support for Labour in Christchurch at last year’s election. The decision not to call early elections will disappoint many – including Mahuta’s ministerial colleague Eugenie Sage, who was one of 14 councillors sacked by the National-led Government in 2010, mainly over claims it was mismanaging water.

Labour’s go-slow on Canterbury democracy even leaves it open to a swipe from ex-Environment Minister Nick Smith, who made the National-led Government’s decision, jointly with then Local Government Minister Rodney Hide, to sack councillors at Environment Canterbury (ECan).

Smith, a fading flower in National, says Labour “screamed from the rooftops” in opposition and if it believed the strength of its rhetoric it would have moved to restore a fully elected council. “I think they know, as I did, that a sensible transition through this term of council and full elections in 2019 is actually the right thing for Canterbury.”

After this length of time without an elected regional council it makes sense to restore a democratic body during the Local Body elections next year, but Labour have failed to fulfil their promise. At least they haven’t set up an inquiry on this.

Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary uncertainty

The previous National Government proposed a massive ocean sanctuary in the Kermadec area to the north of New Zealand.

This hit problems largely due to a lack of decent consultation with Maori interests.

The Green Party was caught between it’s enthusiasm for the Kermadec sanctuary – they had been pushing for one – and proper process on Maori issues.

National’s Nick Smith has raised the Kermadec issue again from Opposition – Smith denies his Kermadec bill a coalition wedge:

The National party has put forward its own legislation to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, a move which could drive a wedge between parties in the coalition government.

Nelson MP Nick Smith has lodged a member’s bill to ban all mining and fishing over 620,000km/sq around the Kermadec Islands.

The Greens have previously proposed such a sanctuary, but New Zealand First opposes it and any plans have been put on hold until a solution can be found.

Dr Smith said he rejected suggestions he was stirring trouble.

“It’s gotta be bigger than simply party political gains.

“We gave it our best shot in government. To get there you need perseverance, you need to keep trying. This is National continuing to want to do the right thing for improving protection of New Zealand’s ocean area.”

A follow up from RNZ: Green Party ‘yet to consider’ Kermadec bill

The Green Party has cast doubt on suggestions it can be relied on to support National’s bill to create the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

Dr Smith said he was confident the proposed law would have the support to pass, with National’s 56 votes and the Green Party’s eight.

“The Greens have indicated to me their support for any bill that would put the sanctuary in place,” he said.

But a Green Party spokesperson said its MPs had yet to consider how they would vote on Dr Smith’s bill.

The spokesperson said the party’s priority was for the government to progress the scheme, as noted in its confidence and supply deal with Labour.

That agreement included a commitment to “use best endeavours and work alongside Māori” to establish the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary.

That could prove difficult though.

New Zealand First has previously objected to the plan, saying it curtailed Māori fishing rights.

And the government has put any legislation on hold until a resolution can be found that is satisfactory to all parties.

The chances of the Member’s Bill being drawn from the ballot are normally slim. There are usually three drawn out of around sixty bills.

But it could be different this term with National dominating Opposition. If they limit the number of bills submitted they will increase the odds of preferred bills being drawn.

Rose Renton admits smearing poison on Nick Smith

One of the people who attacked Nick Smith with rat poison has admitted doing it, but denies touching his face.

Rose Renton, alsol known as a medical cannabis campaigner, and her husband were the two who accosted Smith, who lodged a complaint with the Police.

Stuff:  Nelson protester Rose Renton explains why she rubbed rat poison on Nick Smith

A protester who rubbed rat poison on Nelson MP Nick Smith’s clothes says she was making a “symbolic statement” against the Brook Valley poison drop.

Rose Renton confronted the Environment Minister near the Nelson Market on Saturday but denies shoving him or touching his face.

Renton lives in the Brook Valley, but says she is not part of the Brook Valley Community Group, which has opposed the drop. She said she only wanted to make “a stand against the environment Mr Smith has poisoned”.

“He is the Minister of our Environment, he did not attend The Brook poisoning unlike half our police force so my husband and I went to him,” Renton said.

“It was a symbolic gesture of his support of the poison drop without the required 48 hours notice to surrounding community.”

According to Smith the incident “became quite frightening when it escalated from verbal abuse and throwing rat poison at myself and volunteers to physical shoving and rubbing rat poison over my face and clothes”.

“It was a complete violation of the wildlife and people living in the Valley. I wanted Mr Smith to see exactly what it feels like to have poison in your backyard.

“He didn’t enjoy it, he felt violated?  Well so do the people in the Brook.”

The Brook Waimarama Sanctuary want to create a predator free area for native wildlife in the Brook Valley near Nelson, along similar lines to Zealandia in Wellington.

It says the poison drop was a necessary step in creating a predator-free zone behind the fence.

RNZ:

Renton says she doesn’t regret what she did, and says there was no risk to Smith.

Whether there was any actual risk or not physically accosting MPs in protest over anything is crossing a line, and she should be held to account under law.

 

 

Poisonous protests in Nelson

Poisonous politics seems to be a thing in Nelson.

Yesterday on Stuff: Three arrests as Brook Sanctuary poison drop in Nelson turns nasty

A controversial poison drop in Nelson has turned nasty, with three arrests and a helicopter’s fuel supply sabotaged.

Sabotaging a helicopter is very nasty, and potentially (human) life threatening.

Two helicopters and 75 people are involved in the first of three planned drops at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary, near Nelson. They are spreading bait laced with brodifacoum, a common rodent poison that is toxic to humans and animals. The operation aims to eradicate all rodents from within a 14-kilometre pest-proof fence that was completed last year at the 691-hectare sanctuary, to allow for the reintroduction of native wildlife.

Wildlife sanctuaries tend to be quite popular and are viewed positively, as is eradicating introduced pests.

Today from Stuff: Pair rub poison in face of Nelson MP Nick Smith, threaten family

Nelson MP and Environment Minister Nick Smith says he has laid a complaint with police after rat poison was rubbed in his face and his family was threatened.

Smith said he was not harmed by the incident, which happened about 11am on Saturday at the Nelson Market.

“It was blue rat poison,” he said. “I went and had a shower afterwards.”

The incident came as the first of three planned drops of bait laced with brodifacoum got under way at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary, near Nelson.

Smith said a man and a woman protesting over the operation threw poison at him.

“The situation became quite frightening when it escalated from verbal abuse and throwing rat poison at myself and volunteers to physical shoving and rubbing rat poison over my face and clothes,” he said.

It was at that point, police were called and the pair walked away “but continued threats to poison myself and my family”.

“I’m quite tolerant of peaceful protest but this has gone too far and I have lodged a formal complaint with police,” Smith said. “The incident was disappointing because people are generally respectful at the Nelson Market even when they disagree with Government policy or my views.”

“You get a bit of lip; that goes with the turf but this went too far,” he said.

Throwing poison and threatening MPs and their families is extreme protest that warrants severe penalties and deterrence.

Green campaign launch in Nelson

The Green Party is launching their election campaign in Nelson. They recently announced they would be campaigning to win that electorate, a different direction for them as they have solely sought the party vote in recent elections.

Stuff:  Greens pick Nelson for campaign launch

The Green Party is to launch its election campaign in Nelson on Sunday as it attempts to unseat long-time Nelson MP and National Party Minister Nick Smith.

Nelson City councillor Matt Lawrey is the Green’s candidate for Nelson and said the decision to hold the nationwide launch here  provided a “huge boost” to his campaign.

“I think we have a chance of winning,” he said.

I suppose he has to say that but last election:

  • Nick Smith (National) 20,000
  • Maryan Street (Labour) 12,395
  • Colin Robertson (Greens) 3,449

Even if Labour encouraged voters to go green it looks a very long shot for Lawrey.

Lawrey said he believed part of the attraction was that he was running a strong “two-tick campaign” for the seat and the party vote. He is No. 21 on the party list.

“I believe I have got a chance of winning [the seat] because every day, all sorts of people tell me they think it’s time for a change.

“Nick Smith has been an MP in these parts for 27 years; it’s time for a change.”

Greens haven’t been attracted to two-tick campaigning for a decade so it is an interesting change.

The top 20 candidates on the Green Party list including co-leaders Metiria Turei and James Shaw are scheduled to join Lawrey and West Coast-Tasman electorate hopeful Kate Fulton at the launch on Sunday afternoon at the Trafalgar Centre.

The launch is scheduled to be held from 1pm to 3pm.

Possibly not coincidentally the Greens were bequeathed a substantial amount on the condition it be used in the Nelson and West Coast-Tasman electorates.

I am interesting in whether the Greens will actively contest more electorates. Of special interest will be Metiria Turei’s approach in Te Tai Tonga, the southern Maori electorate that she is switching to.

Greens contesting Nelson electorate

The Green Party has had a policy of not contesting electorates. They have stood in electorates but used the contests to campaign for party votes, which of course are the critical vote under MMP.

But they have signalled a switch from that strategy with an announcement they will actively contest the Nelson electorate.

Green Party to run strong campaign to unseat Nick Smith in Nelson

The Green Party is today announcing that its Nelson candidate, second term local councillor Matt Lawrey, will run to win the electorate and unseat Nick Smith in September’s election.

Mr Lawrey and the Green Party will run a strong two-tick campaign in Nelson, and will offer a positive, solutions-based alternative to Dr Smith and National. It is the Green Party’s first run at winning an electorate seat since Jeanette Fitzsimons won Coromandel in 1999.

This is held by National Minister Nick Smith.  The electorate result from 2014:

  • Nick Smith (National) 20,000
  • Maryan Street (Labour) 12.395
  • Colin Robertson (Greens)  3,449
  • John Green (Conservatives) 1,125

Rachel Boyack will stand for Labour this year. She is 47 on the Labour list so looks out of contention unless she  wins the electorate.

Lawrey is 24 on the Green list so also looks unlikely to succeed this year.

So it looks a long shot even if Labour did what they could to help the Greens. This possibility was raised last December:  Labour denies giving Green light for Nelson

The Labour Party has denied suggestions it is standing aside in Nelson, despite media reports that it is engaging in strategic deals with the Greens ahead of next year’s general election.

Media reports yesterday suggested that Labour was talking about standing aside in Nelson to give a Greens candidate a clear run.

However, Labour general secretary Andrew Kirton said despite an agreement between Labour and the Greens to work together to change the Government there was no such plan for Nelson.

“We have a very strong party in Nelson and that won’t change. I’ve been impressed by how our members have remained committed to winning government next year,” he said.

If Labour stick to that then the Green bid looks to be symbolic rather than realistic.

The Greens were bequeathed a large donation that stipulated it had to be used in the Nelson and West Coast electorates, which is likely to have been a factor in the decision. See Greens say big donation a mystery:

The party declared a donation of $283,835 last week from the estate of Elizabeth Riddoch.

Riddoch, from Nelson, was not a party member and did not appear to have any formal connection to the Greens.

Will Greens actively contest other electorates? They must be tempted given Labour’s obvious weakness going into the campaign period.