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.”

 

Kingi steps down, Martin grizzles, move on

I think that despite ongoing support from NZ First MPs Tracey Martin and Winston Peters, Pauline Kingi had little choice but to step down from her role as chair of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Chief Police Commissioner.

Yesterday she did this. Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin announced it in Parliament yesterday.

Newsroom: Pauline Kingi steps down over LinkedIn endorsements

Dr. Pauline Kingi has stepped down as the chair of the inquiry into the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Chief Police Commissioner.

Haumaha’s appointment has been mired in controversy since it emerged he had a close relationship with the police officers accused of raping Bay of Plenty woman, Louise Nicholas when she was a teenager. Two of the officers, Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, were later convicted of the rape of a Mount Maunganui woman.

The appointment was also controversial as Haumaha had once been selected to stand for New Zealand First, although he withdrew his candidacy before he ran.

The appointment of Kingi, a prominent Māori lawyer and community leader, was announced on July 23.

But it emerged on Tuesday that Kingi had endorsed Haumaha 23 times on the social networking site, LinkedIn. The endorsements from an account in the name of Kingi endorsed Haumaha’s skills in 23 areas, including leadership, public sector and public safety.

Martin had a grizzle in Parliament.

However, it is with regret that I have to inform the House that Dr Pauline Kingi advised the Government just before I came to the House that she is going to stand down from the inquiry and to the appointment process for a Deputy Commissioner of Police. Ever since she was appointed to the role, she has been the subject of political attack.

Those have been attacks on her integrity, attacks on her reputation, and even attacks on her legal qualification. Dr Kingi has a 28-year career in public service as both a community member and senior public servant, and as a lawyer. She was asked to perform a public duty, and yet became the subject of an undue and unwarranted criticism.

Ms Kingi resigned because of disgusting accusations by the Opposition that impinged on her integrity, based on a LinkedIn profile, which is a social media account that has been shown, and advice has been received, does not—[Interruption]

Winston Peters joined in:

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Should people who have offered to fill a public office be the subject of vituperation, defamatory statements and comments, and have their integrity challenged purely for a venal political purpose?

Hypocrisy hyperdrive – how often has Winston challenged the integrity of how many people for venal political purpose over the years?

The challenges on Kingi may have been overhyped, but this is a mess largely of Martin’s and NZ First’s own making.

It marked an inglorious end to Winston’s tenure as acting Prime Minister.

I suspect that Jacinda Ardern will be relieved this is largely over before she takes charge again today.

Futile Peters posturing on Māori seats

In May a member’s Bill was drawn that aims to improve protection the Māori seats in Parliament. Winston Peters says he wants the bill to include a referendum or two on whether the Māori seats should be retained at all.

Given that it is a Labour Māori MP’s bill, and there is no coalition agreement for NZ First’s policy to have a referendum on the Māori  seats, it must be futile posturing by Peters.

In July last year in his speech to the NZ First congress:

I am therefore announcing today that the next government we belong to will offer a binding referendum mid-term to do two things:

Retain or Abolish the Maori seats.

And there will be second referendum on the same day and that will be to Maintain or Reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs.

More in Peters wavers over Maori seat referendum

See also (RNZ): Peters promises referendum on Māori seats

However as we know, a campaign ‘promise’ is no more than policy posturing, wholly dependent on what is negotiated in setting up a Government after the election.

Just after last year’s election (RNZ): Peters appears to shift on Māori seat referendum

New Zealand First appears to have shifted its position on a referendum on the Māori seats, now the Māori Party has been voted out of Parliament.

Before the election campaign, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters pledged a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven Māori electorate seats. He argued Māori electorates had failed to deliver what Māori really needed and were a form of “tokenism”.

During an interview yesterday on Australia’s Sky News, Mr Peters was asked how the referendum could affect coalition negotiations.

“The Māori Party itself – which was one of the driving things behind us saying it – the Māori Party itself, a race-based, origin-of-race party, got smashed in this election, and it’s gone.

“And so some of the things that, or elements to the environment on which a promise is made have since changed. That’s all I can say.”

That doesn’t say much. It is typically vague of Peters.

Labour, having just won all Māori seats, did not concede anything to Peters on the seats in their coalition agreement.

Then in May this year: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

A bill which will entrench Māori electorate seats in Parliament has been selected from the members’ bill ballot today.

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats. Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

Yesterday: Winston Peters wants ‘two-part referendum’ on Māori seats

Acting Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is calling for a two-pronged referendum on whether Māori seats should be entrenched, or should go altogether.

New Zealand First campaigned on holding a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seats.

At the time as Labour leader Jacinda Ardern ruled out a referendum, saying that would break faith with Māori voters.

Mr Peters said he still believed the matter should be put to the public.

“If you want to make changes to the electoral system, you should go to the country, not just do it unilaterally,” he said.

New Zealand First would not support the bill as it stands, Mr Peters said, but would reconsider if an amendment was made in the committee stages to include the referendum.

“If they put an SOP [Supplementary Order Paper] in for referendum, then it will be all on.

“That’s when we put all our cards on the table as to whether there should be Māori seats and, if so, should they be entrenched.

“There should be a two-part referendum,” he said.

‘They’ – Labour – are unlikely to put a SOP in the bill for referendums. Labour’s Māori MPs are not going to want a turkey vote for Christmas.

Peters and NZ First got nowhere near any mandate for this in the last election. They got nothing on it from their published coalition agreement.

If Peters pressures Labour and they roll over on this they risk getting slammed by Māori voters. They surely aren’t that silly.

This looks like futile posturing by Peters.

I presume he was speaking as NZ First leader and not as acting Prime Minister.

Beef-less burger bull

Two days ago it was reported that Air New Zealand was going to serve a beef-less burger on a couple of flights, and it has prompted some political bull.

Stuff: Air New Zealand to serve plant-based burger on Los Angeles-Auckland flights

Our national carrier is the first airline in the world to partner with Impossible Foods, a Californian start-up whose non-meaty meat is stocked by more than 2500 restaurants across the US, from renowned chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi restaurant in New York to White Castle and Umami burger outlets.

There’s usually a burger on the Business Premier menu but Chave believes the Impossible Burger will appeal to all palates.

“Whether you’re a vegetarian, flexitarian or a hard-core meat lover, you’ll enjoy the delicious taste of the Impossible Burger.”

The burger, which is prepared in Air New Zealand’s Los Angeles kitchen and assembled at altitude, comes with two plant-based patties, smoked Gouda cheese, caramelised onions and a smear of tomatillo cream. Because fries don’t hold up in the air, it’s served with a side of beetroot relish and pickle.

Sounds like it could be quite nice. I had a delicious meatless burger in a Curio Bay cafe (in the far south of the South Island) last month.

It isn’t the only food option, and won’t be compulsory. It is a choice for Air New Zealand customers, who are using a US product when stocking up when in the US.

But for some reason it has irked some politicians here.

NZ First MP Mark Patterson put out a press release: Air New Zealand needs to review its decision to promote synthetic proteins

Air New Zealand has dealt another blow to regional New Zealand by promoting the meat substitute ‘Impossible Burger” says New Zealand First Primary Industries spokesperson, Mark Patterson.

Mr Patterson described the decision as a “Slap in the face” for New Zealand’s Nine Billion dollar Red Meat Sector. “The National Carrier should be showcasing our premium quality grass fed New Zealand Red Meat not promoting a product that has the potential to pose an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner”.

“There has been widespread concern in the regions at the loss of services from provincial airports and now we have Air New Zealand actively promoting synthetic proteins which have a genetic modification component to them. This is not a good example of New Zealand Inc working together for the greater good.”

I don’t think regional New Zealand could economically supply food to flights originating in the US.

“Promoting a product that has the potential to pose an existential threat to New Zealand’s second biggest export earner” is a bit over the top.

NZ First leader and acting Prime Minister was also critical – RNZ Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters hits out at fake meat burger

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said he would not eat a burger with lab-made meat, particularly if there’s one with the real thing available.

“I’m utterly opposed to fake beef,” he said.

That’s his choice. No one is making him eat it.

Mr Peters said the farming industry was made up of New Zealand taxpayers who wanted to ensure they get the top end of the product market offshore.

“Our airline should be its number one marketer.”

Generally Air NZ does a very good job of promoting New Zealand and New Zealand produce.

It isn’t just NZ First MPs complaining.

A different response from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor:

“Customers will ultimately make the decision as to whether they like this burger. In fact it may be a really good positive thing for the meat industry if people taste it, don’t like it and eat real meat.”

He’s right that customers, and businesses like Air NZ, should be able to decide for themselves, but he’s being a bit lame suggesting a positive from a negative response.

I thought that the Greens might be opposed to a GE meat substitute but apparently not.

However, the Green Party said a move away from eating so much meat would ultimately be a huge plus for the planet as it would help cut emissions, lead to less intensive farming, and improve animal welfare.

Would the Greens be happy with GE meat substitutes being grown in New Zealand laboratories?

I have concerns about concocted food products myself, but simple meatless burgers can be delicious and healthy without needing to be manufactured.

But, why the sudden interest in trying to act as nanny to airline menus?

I think that our MPs should have better things to do than manufacturing outrage over a non-problem that really is no of their business.

Controversy over inquiry into controversial appointment of deputy police commissioner

The appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Commissioner of Police has become quite controversial, first sparked by strong criticism from victim supporter Louise Nicholas, and now through NZ First’s involvement in an inquiry into the appointment,

NZH: Louise Nicholas ‘hit the roof’ when Wally Haumaha appointed as deputy police commissioner

Louise Nicholas has worked for years to help change police culture but called for a crisis meeting when Wally Haumaha – friends of the men she accused of raping her -was appointed deputy commissioner.

New deputy police commissioner Wally Haumaha questioned why Louise Nicholas publicly accused his friends in the police of raping her in the 1980s and continued to support them after the scandal broke, according to interviews with fellow officers.

One officer told the 2004 Operation Austin investigation into the police sex allegations that Haumaha, who was appointed to the senior role by Police Minister Stuart Nash last month, described Nicholas’ allegations as “a nonsense” and that “nothing really happened and we have to stick together”.

Nicholas, who now works with the police advising new recruits and supporting victims of abuse, was so angry to hear of Haumaha’s appointment that she demanded a meeting with him and Commissioner Mike Bush to voice her opposition.

“I didn’t hold back. I said ‘I’ve read your statement, Wally, and I know what you said. You put it out there about how wonderful these men were’,” said Nicholas.

Police Minister Stuart Nash has been dumped inadvertently into a difficult situation. RNZ:

Police Minister Stuart Nash said while he was was unaware of Mr Haumaha’s comments, he did know Mr Haumaha had been interviewed during Operation Austin.

“The comments are deeply disappointing and are unacceptable. DC Haumaha has learned from that and has gone on to do substantial and worthwhile work to improve the safety of women and youth.”

On Friday Deputy Police Commissioner issues apology for comments made about Louise Nicholas rape case in 2004

Today the Deputy Commissioner apologised for comments he made in 2004. His full statement is below.

“I want to acknowledge the concerns expressed by Louise Nicholas and others around my comments from 2004 regarding Operation Austin.

“It is important to say outright that I take responsibility for those comments, I deeply regret them, and I unreservedly apologise for the hurt and concern they have caused.

“That does not reflect my view or the values I bring to the job every day.

“In the 14 years since those comments, and particularly through the changes following the 2007 Commission of Inquiry, I have reflected deeply and often on what it means to live the values that New Zealanders rightly expect from their police.

“I recently met with Louise to assure her of my commitment to the work the organisation has done as a result of the Commission of Inquiry to improve our culture, and our service to victims of sexual assault.

“My previous association with those individuals does not reflect who I am now nor what the NZ Police stands for today.

“The culture of NZ Police has changed for the better in recent years as a result of the Inquiry and an ongoing commitment to our values, but there is still more work to do.

“My focus is on working tirelessly in NZ Police to build the trust and confidence of our communities.”

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters followed up: Government to hold inquiry into appointment process of Deputy Commissioner of Police

“Cabinet will consider the matter on Monday to determine the specific details of the inquiry and its terms of reference,” Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters said today.

But this has created further controversy. RNZ: National Party’s outcry over appointment of NZ First MP to inquiry role

National is crying foul after the Internal Affairs Minister and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin was picked to oversee an inquiry into the appointment of the deputy police commissioner.

The party alleges it is a conflict of interest, given Deputy Commissioner of Police Wally Haumaha himself put his hand up as a New Zealand First candidate in 2005.

His appointment to the senior police job is being scrutinised following revelations he stood up for three of his colleagues accused of rape in 1993.

The inquiry:

“Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin will initiate a government inquiry into the process. The terms of reference will focus on the State Services Commission’s appointment process,” Mr Peters said.

The inquiry will investigate whether all the appropriate information was gathered by the State Services Commission during the appointment process and if not, why not.

It will also look into whether that information was provided to ministers – specifically the police minister – who officiated the appointment.

The criticism:

National’s police spokesperson Chris Bishop questioned Tracey Martin’s appointment to the inquiry role.

“Well hang on a minute, how can we have a New Zealand First minister overseeing a process that is looking into potential conflicts of interest around a possible New Zealand First candidate? I really don’t think that passes the sniff test.”

The New Zealand Herald has newspaper clippings from August 2005 that show Mr Haumaha was announced as the party’s candidate for Rotorua at a local event.

Just four days later the same paper reported the now-deputy leader of New Zealand First Fletcher Tabuteau would instead be running that year.

Peters has just been interviewed on RNZ about this and is in his usual combative attacking/defensive mode.

It would be better if NZ First were not involved in the inquiry, but Peters looks determined to do it his way.

 

Electoral Commission ineffective again after advertising breach

The Electoral Commission as tut tutted a bit, nine months after the election, and not even slapped Patrick Hogan over the hand with a wet tote ticket after he claimed that he didn’t know the rules when advertising in support of NZ First during last year’s election campaign.

The rules are effectively a waste of time.

Stuff reported (in Officials warned against racing tax breaks):

Former Cambridge Stud owners Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan broke electoral rules by paying for a full-page advertisement in industry newspaper The Informant in September.

That earned them a slapdowns from the election watchdog this week.

A spokesperson for the Commission said: “It is the Electoral Commission’s view that the advertisement was a ‘party election advertisement’ as defined in the Electoral Act. The advertisement should have had the written authorisation of the party secretary from New Zealand First prior to the advertisement being published. In addition, the advertisement should have contained a promoter statement. ”

She said the Commission accepted that the breach was unintentional and the Hogans were unaware of the rules.

Hogan has been around long enough, and I think promoting NZ First long enough, to have known there were electoral advertising rules. It could have been some sort of deliberate ignorance, but I don’t see how he wouldn’t have known what he was able to do within the rules.

“Having considered all the circumstances including the modest expenditure involved and the circulation of the publication, the Commission will not be taking the matter any further.  The Commission has explained the rules to Sir Patrick and The Informant and recommended that they seek advice on election advertising in the future.”

So breaking the electoral rules isn’t a big deal as long as you say that you will check them out before doing it again.

In the meantime the race horse breading industry has been given tax breaks in this year’s budget despite IRD recommending against it again.

Jones praises himself, speaking as a Minister

NZ First MP Shane Jones continues to impress himself with his eloquence. I’m not sure how widely he is admired beyond a mirror.

Getting anything serious or of substance out of Jones is nearly as hard as getting a straight answer from Winston Peters.

And both of them may feel further unleashed now that Peters has taken over as acting Prime Minister (he is not prime Minister as Jones claimed, Jacinda Ardern retains that role).

In Parliament yesterday:

Question 9 – Hon Paul Goldsmith to the Minister for Regional Economic Development

Does he stand by his statement to the House last week, “Fonterra cannot wander around making advertisements, such as they did this year, drawing on the countryside and the personalities of country people and not expect the ‘champion of the country’ to hold them accountable”?

 

9. Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH (National) to the Minister for Regional Economic Development: Does he stand by his statement to the House last week, “Fonterra cannot wander around making advertisements, such as they did this year, drawing on the countryside and the personalities of country people and not expect the ‘champion of the country’ to hold them accountable”?

Hon SHANE JONES (Minister for Regional Economic Development): In response to the question, the word “champion” is a verb and a noun, and I am delivering it by deed and by word.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Was he speaking in a personal capacity at the time he made that statement to the House?

Hon SHANE JONES: I repeat: I will remain an avid defender of the standards of accountability. Unlike that member, I will not be sucked in by this corporate-based pecuniary prattle, smooth tongue, and what I said, I owned.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I probably should have ruled the question out. I mean, it is absolutely obvious that if a member makes a statement in the House in response to a question, as a Minister, then he is speaking as a Minister.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: How does he reconcile his response in the House with the statements of the Prime Minister, who repeatedly said that his comments regarding Fonterra were made in a personal capacity—”end of story”?

Hon SHANE JONES: Just to remind the House, those candid remarks were made to an audience organised by KPMG, where we were told it was Chatham House Rules. And then, when I returned to the House, obviously someone associated with the National Party leaked those remarks to the press gallery. And as befits a plain-speaking, forthright advocate, champion, citizen of the provinces, I own what I said.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: When he told the House last Thursday, the day after the Prime Minister had asserted that his comments about Fonterra’s leadership were made in his personal capacity, “I stand by my remarks in terms of accountability [they] should be shown by failing corporate governance culture at the highest levels of our largest company, and if the cab doesn’t suit then shanks’s pony is just as good”, was he intentionally setting out to make the Prime Minister look weak?

Hon SHANE JONES: My style is strong and forthright; however, nothing that I have said, done, or am contemplating to do is designed to undermine the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, or indeed the Deputy Prime Minister, soon to be the Prime Minister. And I think what the member needs to understand, it was a rapidly changing narrative. It started where I was invited as the “champion of the country”, I gave the remarks to an adoring audience, and I said them to the face of the chairman of Fonterra, not behind his back, like other people on that side of the House.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Has the Minister seen the supportive comments of the New Zealand Herald writer Fran O’Sullivan, and why would it be that she is allowed to see the common sense of the argument about Fonterra’s lack of accountability but the National Party can’t?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! [Interruption] Well, you know I am allowed to make my own rulings. The member can answer the first part of the question but not the last.

Hon SHANE JONES: The journalist referred to is a highly respected, well-versed, leading writer about matters of governance and accountability, and I’ve got every confidence when she congratulates my call for accountability she speaks truth to power.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: So have I got the sequence right? The Prime Minister told him off for attacking corporate leaders; then he did it again; then she said he was only speaking in a personal capacity, not as a Minister; then the Minister rode over that fig leaf in a steamroller and repeated those statements in the House—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I’m now going to ask the member to very quickly come to a question that doesn’t have the level of embellishment—even if the fig leaf embellishment he used is a small one.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, I started with the question, Mr Speaker. The question was—

Mr SPEAKER: Well, if the member started with the question, has he finished?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, no, because I was continuing the question and I haven’t got to the end of it.

Mr SPEAKER: OK, right, get to the end quickly.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, I’ll start again if I—

Mr SPEAKER: No. No. Does the member have a further supplementary?

Hon Paul Goldsmith: No. I haven’t finished this particular question.

Mr SPEAKER: No. No. You have.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Well, I’ll let him answer it then.

Hon SHANE JONES: The member obviously doesn’t understand the reproductive cycle. This was a story where seeds were planted in an audience full of farmers and their grandees. It changed. At what point he missed the impregnation, I’m not sure.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I could see that throughout that question you were asking yourself whether or not it should progress or otherwise and what was right and what was wrong. You at one point said that you thought the simple question about whether he was acting in a personal or ministerial capacity was irrelevant, because, clearly if he’d spoke about it in the House, he was acting ministerially. I wonder if you might consider asking the “provincial champion” to provide some sort of timetable for when he is acting personally and when he is acting as a Minister? Because our understanding is that Ministers are at all times Ministers, and when they are invited to speak somewhere as a Minister, they are accountable as a Minister for what they say.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, there is no other authority than the member’s former leader John Key, who made the very distinction which everyone else got but Gerry didn’t.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, now the Deputy Prime Minister will stand up and address the honourable member for Ilam in the appropriate manner.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: Well, which the honourable member for Ilam didn’t get.

Mr SPEAKER: Right, now, what—[Interruption]—no. I’m—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, hang on. We’re dealing with a point of order and someone makes a contribution on it. Everyone’s got to understand it. What circumstance is the Deputy Prime Minister referring to? Because there was a long discussion in this House where someone can be considered a party leader, and the Speaker will remember those long discussions some time back. That has been a long-held tenet in this country that if someone is doing something as a party leader, that’s separate from their other roles, but a Minister is always a Minister as long as they hold the warrant.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The former Prime Minister, Mr Key, said that he was not always acting as a Prime Minister and he gave examples such as when he was put the putting the cat out. So the very principle that that member outlaid to the House just doesn’t stand.

Mr SPEAKER: Right. I want to thank both members for their contributions. I think they have highlighted something which is an important issue and one which I think in New Zealand we haven’t quite got our heads around. I was reminded earlier today of some comments, I think, attributed to the honourable Mr Finlayson when he referred to the Roman habit of indicating whether or not senators were on duty—whether they were acting as senators—via the colour of their toga. It mightn’t have been Mr Finlayson, but in those days it was very clear whether or not people were acting as Ministers or not. [Interruption] Amy Adams—

Hon Amy Adams: Sorry.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, we have had in this House some quite long discussions, I think, without any real conclusion as to when people are Ministers and when they are members and when they are acting in private capacities. It is clear that Ministers do at times act in all three different capacities. Clearly, there are things which they do, especially those who are constituency members, which they’re not doing as Ministers; they’re doing on behalf of constituents, and that is clear. There have been a number of examples given by Mr Key—I think putting out the cat was one of them. I think there were some others which weren’t quite as repeatable in the House—and we wouldn’t want to get into them in the House—which were done in a personal capacity rather than in a ministerial capacity. So it has been accepted by the House previously that there are occasions where, effectively, the ministerial hat is taken off and people act in a personal capacity. But what I’m not certain of—and maybe we need to have a discussion at Standing Orders at some stage is to get things a bit more codified so members can better understand these things.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That process will be a good one, but it’s a long process, as you’re aware. In this case, Mr Jones was at a function, invited to speak, because he is a Minister. At no point, as far as we know, did he say, “Look, I’m happy to speak, but I’m speaking to you in a private capacity.”, and if he was speaking in a private capacity, then clearly the criticisms he could make could stand, but certainly would not have got the publicity they did as result of his making those statements. So I think some sort of interim ruling from you about what is in and what is out as far as Ministers acting would be useful for the scrutiny of the House.

Mr SPEAKER: I will see if I can get my head around the issue.

Consensus government or an awful mess?

It’s certainly been a messy week for the Government. Is it a sign of a bigger, awful mess?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern tried to paper over some of this weeks cracks by claiming it was consensus government in action, but there were worrying suggestions it was the opposite – both Labour and NZ First ministers look like they are pushing their own agendas with poor or non-existent communication between them.

There are worrying signs of a lack of overall leadership, and this is at a very tricky time, with Ardern distracted by having a baby and due to go on maternity leave as soon as her baby is born (actually as soon as she goes into Labour and goes into hospital).

The big unknown is whether things will spiral more out of control with Winston Peters in charge.

The media have observed this weeks mess and many have commented on it.

Stacey Kirk (Stuff): Three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre – buckle in for a wild ride

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess?

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave.

Her MPs don’t exactly make it easy for her.

And if this week has illustrated anything it’s what lies at the beating heart of any coalition-related controversy – Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has been at the centre of everything.

I don’t think he has. He had nothing to do with the David Clark revelations. And nothing to do with the Green uprising over granting water bottling rights.

And nothing to do with Stuart Nash telling a parliamentary committee he didn’t bother reading advice on what effect increasing poluice numbers might have, and would have ignored the advice if he had read it.

Peters  wasn’t directly involved in Kelvin Davis announcing a new prison that will rely on double bunking to cater for growing prisoner numbers – and Davis went as far as saying they could resort to mattresses on the floor. Peters didn’t directly cause that brain fart, but Labour are limited in becoming more lenient on imprisonment when they require NZ First votes to do any law changes.

But Peters dumped Little in a big mess over 3 strikes.

It began with a hastily-arranged press conference by Justice Minister Andrew Little, to reveal that his grand plan to repeal the three strikes legislation had been shot out of the sky.

He’d spent the previous week giving interviews about his plans to take it to Cabinet and push forward – the only issue was, he did not have the numbers to do so. More embarrassingly for Little, Peters decided to wait until the 11th hour to let him know.

Total humiliation  awaits any member of Cabinet who threatens to step outside the bounds of MMP and attempt a “first past the post”-style power play to get ahead of public opinion – that’s what Little got and really, he should have expected it.

That was in part self inflicted, but Peters played Little then dumped on him big time.

Never one to play second fiddle, Peters also took a starring role in a different drama. Days out from assuming the seat at the head of the Cabinet table was the moment he chose to file papers in the High Court, suing the Government and top officials over their handling of his private superannuation details.

Ardern’s assertions rang out more as pleas, that his actions were a totally private matter. Presiding over a Cabinet that may be liable for an eventual payout to Peters is awkward at best, and a clear conflict at worst – a matter that is most certainly in the public interest.

Peters’ court action looks debatable, but he has made Ardern look weak – or more accurately, Ardern has made herself look weak, just as she is about to hand over most of her power to Peters.

Meanwhile, as sources across multiple polls have suggested NZ First has well and truly settled below the 5 per cent MMP threshold, Shane Jones has pulled out the megaphone to tear strips off Fonterra. A total overstep many might say, of a Minister of the Crown. However, Ardern is adamant these comments were made in a private capacity, despite Jones as good as repeating them in the House.

This again makes Ardern look weak if not impotent in her own Government.

And she is now sidelined, leaving Peters and Jones to take on board this week’s signals and likely do as they please to raise their profile, putting the government at risk.

And Labour’s ministers look increasingly arrogant, uncoordinated and messy.

The Government looks like a bunch of headless chooks, with the fox about to take over the hen house.

 

National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

National have had a rethinks and have done a bit of a u-turn, now saying the support having a Climate  Commission. This makes strong cross party support for addressing climate issues.

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement supports a Climate Commission:

  • Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The number one point in the Labour Green Confidence and Supply agreement was setting up a Commission:

Sustainable Economy

1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050, with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form, energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission

b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.

c. A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.

d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

In a step towards that in April Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced an Interim Climate Change Committee:

The Minister for Climate Change today announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“We need work to start now on how things like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), and we need planning now for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035,” says James Shaw.

“The Interim Climate Change Committee will begin this important work until we have set up the independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

“The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the Climate Change Commission,” Mr Shaw said.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.

“Setting up the Interim Climate Change Committee is a great step in that direction,” says James Shaw.

Last week Shaw announced Zero Carbon Bill Consultation Launch.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges tweeted:

Bridges spoke on this – Speech to Fieldays on climate change

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister and James Shaw, offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission.

I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bi-partisan progress on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.

The Commission would be advisory only, with the Government of the day taking final decisions on both targets and policy responses.

There are a number of details I want to work through with the Government before the Commission is launched – such as ensuring the Commission has appropriate consideration for economic impacts as well as environmental, and that the process for appointments to the Commission is also bipartisan.

But I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

This is a significant and a good move by Bridges and National.

With all the multi-MP parties working together positively on climate change issues New Zealand should make good progress on addressing climate change issues.

Peters successfully played to support base over 3 strikes

While Andrew Little has taken a hit after his back down on repealing the 3 strikes legislation, Winston Peters will be feeling quite happy with himself – and many NZ First supporters and potential voters will also be happy.

But Ardern’s leadership of Government has also taken a hit.

Peters has played Little and won handsomely. And the timing of the Peters power play is smart (or fortuitous) too, just before Peters takes over as acting Prime Minister

Tracey Watkins (Stuff): Three strikes lesson – Winston won’t be a token prime minister

Little has been dealt a short, sharp and brutal lesson in real politik by the master of MMP, Peters.

In doing so, Peters has reinforced NZ First’s credentials with its supporters as a vital handbrake on Labour and the Greens, especially when they get too far ahead of public opinion, particularly on touch-stone issues like law and order.

Some valuable credibility for peters and NZ First.

And he has given warning that Peters will be far from a token prime minister whenArdern hands over the reins sometime in the next week or so to give birth.

It has been Peters’ bug bear for years that the big parties still act like first past the post governments under MMP.

…Little fell right into the same hole when he publicly announced two weeks ago he was taking a paper to Cabinet proposing to repeal the law, when he hadn’t even bothered to consult NZ First.

It should have been as obvious to Little as everyone else that repealing the three strikes law was anathema to a law and order party like NZ First.

Little’s face has copped the egg this time, but ‘everyone else’ includes Ardern and her office too. It must have been obvious to them that Little was heading for an embarrassing back down.

So did Ardern let Little walk into this? She and her advisers can’t have been blind to the obvious Peters position on this. otherwise it looks like a major oversight – incompetence.

Regardless of how this came about Peters heads into his role as acting PM with Little’s power pricked somewhat, with a clear warning to other Labour Ministers too.


Ardern is on RNZ now saying a 3 strikes repeal was ‘one small part’ of judicial reform. Trying to play down the debacle.

When pushed she concedes that the repeal is ‘off the table’, despite Little claiming yesterday he would still try to get NZ First support.

Ardern claims the public promotion of a policy that could never succeed ‘is simply democracy and MMP’. It’s a cock-up by Labour, and Ardern is as responsible for it as Little.

Ardern closes saying that the 3 strikes disaster speaks to the strength of the multi party Government. This isn’t a good example to promote.