NZ First $4.6b student bribe

A significant factor in the 2005 election was Labour’s campaign promise of interest free student loans. They won the election. This policy was later projected to cost about $0.5b per year.

NZ First has a much bigger campaign promise – to wipe loans for students who stay and work in the country. They say it will cost $4.6b a year – but that may not take into account the likely increase in student numbers.

Stuff:  Winston Peters promises to wipe student loans

New Zealand First is promising to wipe student loans for new students who stay and work in the country for five years, and it says that it will only cost $4.6b a year.

People who bond themselves to regions in need of workers or study for less time could wipe theirs even faster.

Under the proposed scheme, the universal student allowance of about $200 a week would cover living costs while the government would cover all of student’s tuition fees upfront.

Every year of study would bond a student to one year of work in New Zealand. So a student who completed a three-year BA would only need to work for three years in New Zealand to pay off their entire loan.

However these fully-funded places would not be guaranteed, with industry groups and a reinstated Careers NZ setting a number of jobs they would need when the degree ended. There would be competition for fully funded places, but also safeguards to preserve diversity.

The policy would only apply to new students.

Martin said the scheme would cost $4.63b a year – only about half a billion more than the Government currently spends and 1.86 per cent of GDP – but both Labour and National said it was fiscally unachievable.

They can’t do it without either National or Labour support and neither could afford that sort of budget without having to significantly cut elsewhere.

She said it was more likely that she could negotiate the scheme in a coalition government with Labour, as the National Party and ACT would likely be philosophically opposed. Labour agreed – broadly.

“If we’re in a position to negotiate with other parties, then obviously more funding for education is something that we are going to be happy to talk about,” Hipkins said.

I expect Labour will have their own budget bribe priorities, and National won’t want to give up their tax cuts and family support package.

NZ First campaign launch speech

Winston Peters launched NZ First into the election campaign with a speech in the weekend.

Conclusion

New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.

To make it a better place for you and your families.

It’s time for a change.

New Zealand was once called “God’s own country.”

We believe it can be again.

Together we can do it.

Interesting to see “It’s time for a change” in there. That’s similar to what Greens and Labour have been campaigning on (they say ‘change the government’ or ‘campaign for change’).

Full speech:


The regions – Together, for New Zealand

It has been an explosive week in politics.

A week that will go in the history books as the time two Prime Ministers covered up a crime and were party to a payout to buy off a witness.

We have heard the people of Clutha-Southland feel hurt, fragile and let down.

They have every right to be.
While The Barclay Debacle revealed the corrupt inner workings of the National Party machine, it told us also that National Party takes the regions for granted.

One television commentator said National could stand a blue sheep in Clutha-Southland and it would still win the electorate.
The sheep would also be more honest. On television yesterday Mr English said in excusing his behaviour, “I am not a lawyer”. He conveniently forgets the adage, “ignorance of the law is no excuse”.

This is a sad state of affairs.

“Defibulators” – for National

The National Party Cabinet are into spin, downright deceit and Fibs. As Mr English displayed alongside Paula Bennet and others, they simply can’t tell the truth. So as part of our Heath Policy this election we’re going to order up a whole lot of defibulators and send them to their offices. Every time they tell a lie this machine will give them a shock. It might be painful but that’s what it will take.

Men like Keith Holyoake must be rolling in their graves.
Not only that – National has no sound policies to progress all of New Zealand.

They have let the wealth get sucked out of our regions with little payback.
They have let much of our assets and land be sold off to foreign buyers.
They have under-funded regional roads and hospitals.
They have no coherent plan for our regions just as they have no coherent economic plan for this country.
And they’ve have turned their backs on our young people.

They’ve allowed the situation to descend to the point one economist has said some of our provincial centres are “zombie towns.”

We’ve got zombies alright – but they’re not in our provinces.
They’re in the Beehive.

It is the regions that produce by far most of our country’s wealth.

Our biggest export earners, the sectors that pay our way in the world, are tourism, dairying, meat, and forestry.

We have Queen Street farmers but what are they doing for the wealth of this country?

Within a few years experts tell us more than half of New Zealand’s population will live north of Taupo.

Thats because of a lack of political vision and a contempt for the real wealth creators of this country.

National is most at home when they are in Wellington, among all the shiny suits and bureaucrats, adjudicating on New Zealand from their ivory towers.

Mr English has just finished his speech to the National Party conference. Bereft of ideas and excuses, all he could promise after nine years of National was increased incomes and lower taxes by 2020. Surrounded by all manner of deficits, Canute like he promises surpluses and tax cuts.

The Regions and Reserve Bank Reform

Fundamental to a successful economy – and thriving regions over the long term – is an exchange rate that supports exporters and the regions.

Our Reserve Bank Act is out of date.

We have an overvalued NZ dollar that has been a bonanza for financial speculators and traders but not exporters.

Despite the relatively small size of our economy our dollar is one of the most heavily traded international currencies

We need an exchange rate that serves real economic goals like strong and growing regional exports

The Bank’s outdated focus on inflation must be ditched.

As a small open economy New Zealand is dependent on a competitive exchange rate.

NZ has a persistent and chronic balance of payments deficit – and this shows the New Zealand dollar does not reflect the underlying reality.

Risks abound in the global economy and New Zealand is highly exposed and vulnerable to any volatility.

NZ First is committed to reforming the Reserve Bank Act as a vital step in safeguarding our economic future –and the future heath of regional New Zealand.

The Regions and Small businesses

Small businesses are the engine room of New Zealand’s economy and are critically in regions such as Manawatu.

Ninety seven per cent of all businesses in New Zealand are small businesses. They employ over 2 million people and produce 27 per cent of GDP per year.

By helping more businesses become profitable, sustainable and competitive will ensure they are in the best position to hire new employees and create jobs.
To boost small businesses New Zealand First will in this Campaign, set out its policies, to really help them start and grow by:

•  A wage subsidy for small business that take on job seekers and provide work experience.

•  Real incentives for small businesses to help disengaged youth become work ready and support mature age job seekers back into work.

•  Immediate Tax deductions for every new business asset costing under $20,000

•  Immediate Tax deduction for professional expenses when starting a business, and by

•  Streamlining business registration for those planning to start a business

• And we are going to get Nationals Ninny, Nosey Nannie state off your back.

Virtually overnight, New Zealand’s oldest licenced premises at Russel, The Duke of Marlbourgh Restaurant had to pull a burger that is a cornerstone of its menu –because it offended MPIs food preparation guidelines by the meat being “pink and raw”.

“Basically the Ministry is telling us how our customers need to eat their food”, said the good people at the Duke.

In Wellington now more tedious bureaucrat’s regimes of food preparation are being dreamt up requiring small businesses to pay thousands of dollar to comply or shut down.

You vote for New Zealand First and we’ll put a leg rope on them whilst reminding these bureaucrats who pays their wages.

The Regions and Student debt

Palmerston North is a university town.

Let’s face it there are a lot of hard-up students here, wondering how they’re going to get by with the weight of massive debts on their shoulders.
New Zealand First will get rid of the student loan for Kiwi students staying and working here in NZ after they finish their studies.

The only requirement is that they work for the same number of years as they have studied.

So three years in tertiary education requires three years in the workforce – five years tertiary means five years in the workforce.

But if they leave for a big OE, and decide to work overseas, they will have to pay back the cost of their tertiary education.

Where they have a current student debt then the system changes to our dollar for dollar policy.

For graduates with skills required in the regions, like teachers, nurses, doctors, police and other much needed regional skills, we plan to use a bonding system.

We will also introduce a universal student allowance.

These are our practical solutions to the huge debt students have to grapple with.

Our policies will also address many of the skills shortages we have in our regions.

The Regions and Infrastructure Deficits

If you were at the National Party conference you would have heard the sound of coughing and spluttering. That’s the sound of their Auckland delegates choking under the sheer weight of numbers due to a reckless and irresponsible open door immigration policy.
Billions are being spent to address Auckland’s chronically overloaded infrastructure.
Last weekend marked the official completion of the Waterview Motorway Tunnel in Auckland – the bill $1.4 billion.
The Auckland City Rail link is underway – there will not be any change out of $3 billion when that project is completed.
Yes Auckland’s infrastructure deficit is plain to see.
But what about regional New Zealand?
Regional infrastructure is the poor cousin – it is being overlooked and put at the end of the queue when it comes to funding.
And this is despite the massive growth of tourism – the costs of which fall primarily on regional NZ
The government boasts of a tourism bonanza, which is based in the Regions, and yet gives almost nothing back to the Regions to fund the cost of it.
We have 30,000 Kilometres of unsealed roads, single lanned bridges and a serious lack of toilets, parking and basic infrastructure.
In this campaign New Zealand First will detail how we are going to return the full GST from Tourists back to the regions in which they spent the money. The data, easily accessible which measures this spend already. You make the money here and you’re going to get your fair share back.
NZ First is committed to a massive campaign to seal local roads, improve overall road quality and double-lane bridges where sensible.
The Regions and Rail
Rail has a valuable role to play in the development of regional NZ.
But the National Government has run the railway network down to a neglected and parlous state.
NZ First will give rail a real role in regional NZ by properly investing in the rail system.
And we will stop the made conversation to diesel from electrification.
We will stop National’s Luddite behaviour.
Broadband
Regional NZ also has to deal with the unreliability of cellular services and patchy broadband.
This is another illustration of where the government’s heart lies and it’s not in rural and regional New Zealand.
Regional NZ needs massive infrastructure improvement – urgently.
That will take substantial investment and NZ First is committed to making that happen.

The Regions and Stopping the Selloff of our Country
New Zealand under the old parties has been a soft touch for foreign buyers.
The wealth generated in regional NZ is increasingly flowing into the pockets of overseas owners.
The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is a facade – a token exercise intended to give the impression that someone actually takes the national interest into account before foreign buyers get the green light.
The losses of land into foreign ownership are staggering 460,000 hectares alone last year.
The deals invariably get the usual Overseas Investment Office rubber stamp.
There is no requirement on foreign buyers to invest locally in downstream production or new technology.
Under our policy the rules would be strict – there would need to be clear, unequivocal and quantifiable benefits to New Zealand before foreign ownership was allowed.
The Regions and Water
A few years ago the Manawatu River was rated the most polluted river in the Southern Hemisphere.
Three hundred rivers and streams across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand were assessed.
And clean, green NZ came up with the worst river of the lot.
Most of the Manawatu River’s was due to nitrogen runoff from farms; but treated sewage discharged by councils was also a major contributor.
No doubt councils and most farmers would accept such degradation of waterways around New Zealand is not acceptable.
New Zealand First is calling for the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management to be reviewed.
We cannot allow our rivers and waterways to descend to the level of cesspits.
New Zealand Frist would ensure that only the sustainable taking and use of water for commercial purposes is permitted by developing a national water use strategy.
Legislation must be in place to make sure that the granting of RMA consents is consistent with the proposed new national policy statement and the Strategy.
But we are going to properly finance rural New Zealand into environmental recovery because we are all in this together.

Royalties to the Regions

NZ First has a Royalties for the Regions Policy.
Under this policy, 25% of royalties collected by the government from enterprises such as mining, petroleum and water stay in the region of origin.

As an example, the government collects over $400 million in royalties.

Under our scheme over $100 million, year on year, would remain in the regions for investment.

That money would help to regenerate regional New Zealand.

It is demonstrably wrong that companies like Coca Cola, Suntory Holdings, Oravida, Fiji Water – can take our water for a pitiful token fee while they make millions of dollars from it.

National says no-one owns the water – so foreign companies can come in and take it.

Do you think that is right? No. And nor does New Zealand First.

National arrogance

As we said at the start, National have been a major disappointment, not just to the wider population of New Zealand but to their own faithful followers.

Arrogant National MPs –  Alfred Ngaro acting like a Mafiosi heavy telling the Salvation Army to shut up or else.

Nicky Wagner tweeting frivolously and insulting the disability community.

Simon Bridges blocking information being released on KiwiRail in reply to an OIA.

And now hush money and a prime minister donkey deep in a cover-up.

The true economic reality

In spite of all the pixie dust Mr English and his colleagues come up with, there is not a lot to be optimistic about.

The government says we have GDP growth rate of 2.8%.
But New Zealand’s population has been growing at 2% annually, mostly from overseas.

So, 2% has to be deducted from GDP numbers before any real growth can be claimed.

The real barometer of prosperity, GDP per person is pitiful – less than 1 per cent a year.

We have homelessness.
Growing inequality.
Thousands of young New Zealanders aimlessly going nowhere.

Record net immigration has now shot up to another record of more than 73,000.

And the government tells us they’re skilled workers and we need them.

Most of them aren’t skilled.

We have a director general of health who can’t get his sums right and a health minister who is so obsessed with taking a hatchet to health, he didn’t notice the funding blunders until it was too late.

Fourteen DHBs overpaid and six under-paid.

This is banana republic stuff.

95% of the NZ banking system is held overseas

NZ’s net debt to the rest of the world has soared up to $156 billion.

We have regions running on empty.

We have unacceptable delays from the Electricity Authority sorting out their pricing methodology creating uncertainty and preventing business owners investing in the regions.

Law and order has fallen apart in many provincial areas with fly-by policing and empty police stations.

These are facts.

The Regions and Personal Security

In the last eight or nine years new Zealanders have been told that crime is falling. It’s a lie of course hidden by the Governments catch and release policy – catch criminals but warn them and not charge them. That’s how National has got lower crime figures but their deceit has been exposed and they’re trying to cover it with and extra 880 police over the next four years. And that’s 1000 short of what’s needed.

New Zealand First will recruit 1800 extra front line police in the next three years. Just like we recruited 1000 front line police the last time we had the power to.

Restoring hope

New Zealand First wants to restore hope in our young people.
Hope so that a job is achievable for them.
Hope so that they can one day own a home of their own.
Hope so they don’t see despair, but a future for themselves, their families and their communities.

And hope in our regions and our whole country.

Conclusion

New Zealand First has the policies to turn this country around.

To make it a better place for you and your families.

It’s time for a change.

New Zealand was once called “God’s own country.”

We believe it can be again.

Together we can do it.

 

More Peters posturing on immigration

Winston Peters gave a speech yesterday to the Auckland Rotary Club, slamming immigration and other party’s policies on immigration.

He started oddly:

Fully aware as one’s experience tells you that this is not an audience susceptible to conversion when the facts are laid out.

That said, it is the intention of this address, to lay some facts before you which you are going to have to live with whether you like it or not.

The first fact is, “you can have great wealth in the hands of a few or you can have democracy and stability – but you can’t have both.”

That is not a fact. It’s nonsense.

Anyone who follows international events knows that we are in troubling, restless and uncertain times.

There is growing discontent in many democracies.

That does appear to be true.

People are increasingly dissatisfied with what the major establishment parties of both the Left and Right have delivered.

Any society that allows a pool of discontented and disaffected young people to grow is playing with fire.

Peters is firing off shots here but I don’t think this is anywhere near as relevant to new Zealand as to some other countries.

People who are buying their own home have a purpose, a direction, and a structure for their lives.

People who are buying a home put down roots in their community – because they have a stake in it.

And secure housing is vital in creating the conditions for raising families.

In general that’s true.

They are not then vulnerable to the blandishments of trouble makers.

That’s an odd statement.

For that reason every New Zealand government prior to this one has worked hard to create the conditions that favour widespread home ownership.

But thanks to both Labour, first, and then National that era has ended.

He seems to contradict himself. Labour ran the government prior to the current National government – and Peters was a part of that Government. There was a major surge in house prices during that time.

It is fashionable for media types to talk about the “gig economy” as something trendy and hip.

I mustn’t be trendy, I haven’t heard of the “gig economy”.

A home and a job – those are core aspects of every adult life.

Labour and then National’s shameful failure in both areas has blighted the lives of countless Kiwis.

The truth is that after 32 years of the neo-liberal experiment the character and the quality of our country has changed dramatically, and much of it for the worse.

Pushing the ‘neo-liberal’ button. Peters has been a part of the establishment Parliament for most of that 32 years (and three terms prior).

  • in 1990 Peters became a Minister in the National Government.
  • In 1996, leading NZ First, Peters helped National form a coalition government and took on the roles of Treasurer (senior to Minister of Finance) and Deputy Prime Minister.
  • In 2005 helped Labour form a coalition government, becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Racing.

He has been a willing participant in “the neo-liberal experiment”, although was sacked twice for being contrary.

For those who try to refute that statement let them give us the evidence of how we have risen in the graphs of real economic comparisons and not have countless alternative facts susceptible to various sociological interpretations and beloved only in the eye of the beholder.

What?

Such as – show us one piece of economic analysis, just one piece, that says mass immigration is good for a modern economy.

He throws an alternative fact in – New Zealand does not have anything like “mass immigration”, our immigration is very controlled. Most of the fluctuations in numbers are due to the free movement of New Zealanders.

Allowing unprecedented levels of immigration – a staggering 72,000 net migrants a year – directly impacts housing and jobs.

You heard that correctly. There is no mistake.

But there is a mistake. The current rate of net immigration has risen to 71,900 (year to April 2017), but that is a 10% increase on the previous year, it is not per year.

Annual net migration (to July each year):

  • 2016:  +69,000
  • 2015: +59,600
  • 2014: +41,000
  • 2013: +10,600
  • 2012: -3,800
  • 2011: +2,900
  • 2010: +15,200
  • 2009: +14,500
  • 2008: +

It is as plain as day – immigrants need housing and jobs themselves. Notice they don’t bring housing and jobs with them!

But only one political party in New Zealand understood that for a long time.

Yeah, right.

Labour admitted that last week. On this matter their policy is identical to National’s.

That is not a fact.

So here is their FARCICAL VIRTUOUS CIRCLE.

“We need more migrants, to build the houses and the roads for migrants.”

What utter stupendous, imbecilic, idiotic, moronic nonsense.

Yet these parties are in total denial of the facts – they have either the arrogance or stupidity to pretend this isn’t so.

Peters mentions ‘facts’ frequently but rarely actually cites facts.

If we had a government that was actually serious about improving the housing and employment prospects of young people we would see action.

There has been action, it has just been inadequate.

It would pull the obvious lever it does have – and close the open immigration door.

The Government can adjust immigration levels – but it is difficult switching numbers off and on quickly, especially when a large proportion of movements is New Zealanders, which can’t be controlled.

In an interview on Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report on 12 June the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag and revealed what is actually behind the absurd level of immigration.

When asked why there was not a drastic cutback to immigration his reply was that if that happened it would stall the economy. Bingo!  So that’s how strong the economy really is.

In effect, Bill English is saying “IMMIGRATION IS THE ECONOMY”. So if the brakes are applied, collapse is on the cards.

At last the admission that the whole dishonest show on the economy is a con.

Who is trying to con who?

All our policies are framed with a concern for the future health and security of New Zealand as a whole.

The New Zealand national interest is our starting point.

And there is one overriding imperative right now that is in the national interest and it is to cut back immigration to a sensible level.

We mean closer to 10,000 highly skilled immigrants a year, not 72,000 mostly unskilled immigrants per year.

Many of the 72,000 are skilled migrants and returning New Zealanders.

Our policy will immediately brighten the housing and employment prospects for younger Kiwis.

That’s doubtful, especially on housing, as much as the Government and the Auckland City Council have tried there are no easy or quick fixes to the housing shortage.

If we don’t deal to this crisis created by the other political parties support or condonation of mass immigration we can’t effectively deal with any other concern.

And because of the magnitude of their shorts-sightedness it is going to take well over a decade to fix up.

So it won’t immediately brighten the future.

But beginning with this issue New Zealand First has the policies to rebuild this country and when our manifesto is out soon I trust you will read it.

In the next 96 days you are going to see or hear numerous speculative comment on what New Zealand First is going to do and you can be certain of one thing. None of those commentators will be reciting anything I said.

I have just recited what Peters has said from  Speech: Rt Hon Winston Peters – The farcical virtuous circle, immigration is the economy

But the great news, confirmed from overseas evidence, is that those in politics who speak straight to the people, do gain their support.

And quickly lose that support when their deeds don’t match their rhetoric, as Donald Trump. And Peters barely uses Twitter anyway.

Bad timing by Greens on refugees

Greens want to substantially increase the number of refugees coming into New Zealand.

Newstalk ZB:  Greens push for even bigger intake of refugees

The Green Party is pushing for an even bigger intake of refugees into New Zealand.

It is looking to further extend the country’s refugee policy, and is committing to do more than double the current quota.

Co-leader James Shaw said they would aim to increase the quota to 4000 refugees a year, to be phased in over six years.

“We would need to build an additional refugee resettlement centre, that would not be in Auckland. We would be asking council to apply. We know that there are number who are already keen,” he said.

Shaw said they would also introduce a new community support programme that would allow NGOs and support agencies to take in another 1000 refugees annually.

“When the Syrian crisis really hit the front pages last year, we did hear from a lot of community organisation, church groups and NGO’s to say actually we do have capacity, we do want to be able to support refugees. And so we are taking them up on that offer,” he said.

Immigration is a hot topic leading into the New Zealand election campaign.

Winston Peters and New Zealand First wants to substantially reduce immigration numbers, but they don’t seem to have any policy on refugees – see their Immigration Policy.

Labour announced policy last week that would reduce overall immigration by tens of thousands – see Time for a breather on immigration – but that doesn’t mention refugees. A fact sheet states “These changes won’t affect the Refugee Quota”. It also gives numbers:

Labour will increase the refugee quota to 1,500.

This will continue Labour’s proud tradition of welcoming victims of war and disaster to our shores, which extends back to taking in refugees during World War II and is just as needed today, with conflicts such as in Syria creating the largest number of displaced persons since 1945.

The Green proposal is substantially more, with an eventual aim of 4,000 refugees per year.

There may be many more Syrian refugees looking for a safe haven as their civil war escalates yet again – see US shoot down Syrian jet – but with an escalation in Muslim tensions in the UK – see London Finsbury Park Mosque attack – there are likely to be growing concerns and opposition.

The timing of Green proposal may have been pre-planned but it is unlikely to be well received with the current international situations deteriorating.

 

 

Morgan and the Macron miracle

The UK vote for Brexit surprised, the election of Donald trump in the US shocked, and then Emmanuel Macron came from virtually nowhere to win the French presidency.

Then Theresa May destroyed a significant advantage to end a disastrous campaign still ahead of the rapidly improving left wing maverick Jeremy Corbyn but severely weakened, both in government and as Prime Minister.

Now France is voting for their Parliament, and exit polls suggest that Macron’s party En Marche will win a majority. Not bad for a party that didn’t exist at the start of last year.

So around the world voters are make decisions that seem to stick it to traditional politics and the status quo.

Could it happen in New Zealand?

Winston Peters and NZ First are often promoted as the king maker, with the baubles of power virtually a formality. But Peters is very old hat and has been there, done that before.

Will voters look for something different?

Barry Soper writes:  In politics anything is possible

Think about it, Prime Minister Gareth Morgan, leading a majority government with half of his MPs never having been elected to office before.

Sounds absurd? Yes well it’s highly unlikely to happen but these days in politics anything is possible as we’re seeing in France at the moment which has to be the political story to beat them all.

The 47 million French voters are again today going to the polls and are expected to give their new 39-year-old President Emmanuel Macron a healthy majority. It’s spectacular because Macron’s party was only founded by him in April last year.

After he won the Presidency last month he was on his own, he didn’t have one MP in the French Assembly. Since then he’s had to cobble together 577 candidates to stand for his party and after the first round of voting they led in 400 constituencies, more than half of them women.

And it looks like En Marche has succeeded.

Let Macron’s success be a warning to those established political parties who think elections are a walk in the park. The Socialists who ran the last French Government failed to scrape together even ten percent of the vote.

Here in New Zealand National obviously have the most to lose, but voters here have shown a reluctance to take big risks. They have preferred a stable government but without absolute power.

NZ First are in the box seat to hold the balance of power, but it’s possible a real alternative is considered.

The 5% threshold is a long shot for a new party, something that hasn’t been achieved before here.

The newly formed Conservative Party got a 2.65% in 2011, and increased to 3.97% in 2014, creditable but not enough. They are out of contention now after the political collapse of Colin Craig.

The only option looks to be TOP. Morgan doesn’t look like getting his party close at this stage, but there is three months to go.

Recent overseas elections have shown that anything is possible, even the unexpected, but a major surprise looks unlikely here.

 

 

Turei slams NZ First in child protection

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has strongly criticised NZ First for proposing a referendum on the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Winston Peters brought this up in a speech in March – see Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law? – but it resurfaced on Q+A yesterday, where NZ First MP Tracey Martin was interviewed along with Sue Bradford.

10 years on from the so called “anti-smacking” law – NZ First calls for a binding referendum

NZ First MP Tracey Martin told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the law change has had a “chilling effect” on NZ parents including herself.

“Well, we’ve always argued, for 25 years, around binding a referenda on issues like this, where our citizens need to speak. We have a representative democracy. 113 temporarily empowered politicians decided this for all the parents of New Zealand. The parents of New Zealand need to be able to speak on it,” said Mrs Martin.

“I remember me being a parent when this bill went through, and I felt that the language that was being used, the politicians that were telling me that if I lightly smacked my child, I was then committing abuse. I found that personally offensive. It had a chilling effect on my parenting. And I believe other parents out there feel the same,” she said.

However, Former Green Party MP and the architect behind the law changes Sue Bradford disagrees.

“For New Zealand First to want us to go backwards on something that’s so important for our babies, children and young people, I just find incredible.”

“From the point of view of protecting our children and babies and saying actually our young kids should have the right to grow up without violence,” says Mrs Bradford.

Turei responded: NZ First putting politics before child protection

NZ First has chosen to put political game playing ahead of the safety of children by proposing a referendum on the ten year old amendments to the Crimes Act.

NZ First MP Tracy Martin said on Q&A this morning that her Party wants to hold a binding referendum to repeal the 2007 amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act.

“I think it’s appalling that NZ First is willing to remove a basic protection for our kids in the hope it’ll buy them a few votes in election year,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This law change simply removed a legal loophole that had allowed people who assaulted children to escape charges by claiming it was ‘parental correction’.

“Parents aren’t being prosecuted for lightly smacking their children. NZ First is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

“It’s sad that a political party would choose to use its resources to campaign on removing child protections rather than finding solutions to child abuse,” said Ms Turei.

But it’s election year and populist vote pandering seems to take precedent over protection of children from violence.

 

Support for ‘Family Incomes Package’

A Newshub/Reid Research poll shows that a majority of people support the Government’s $2 billion Family Income Package that was announced in the budget last month.

‘Two thirds’ of voters  support the policy and ‘just over 25%’ oppose it (they don’t give exact overall numbers).

Results based on party preference on: Do you support National’s ‘Family Incomes Package’?:

  • National voters: 88% yes, 7.2% no
  • Labour voters: 48.3% yes, 41.7% no
  • Green voters: 48.4% yes, 40.1% no
  • NZ First voters: 48% yes, 43.7% no

So even with National mentioned in the question more Labour, Green and NZ First voters supported than opposed the package.

Poll: Labour voters like National’s family package

I do wonder how many people who were surveyed have a good understanding of what was in the package.

The Family Income Package includes:

  • Tax Thresholds: Increases the $14,000 income tax threshold to $22,000, and the $48,000 threshold to $52,000. This provides a tax reduction of $11 a week to people earning $22,000 or more rising to $20 per week for anyone earning $52,000 or more.
  • Family Tax Credit: Increases the maximum credit for the first child under 16 by $9 a week, and for each subsequent child under 16 by between $18 and $27 a week. Also increases the abatement rate to 25 per cent, and reduces the abatement threshold to $35,000.
  • Accommodation Supplement: Increases the maximum payment rates for a two person household by between $25 and $75 a week, and for larger households by between $40 and $80 a week.
  • Accommodation Benefit: Increases weekly payments by up to $20 for students to reflect increasing housing costs for students.

The Family Incomes Package will benefit 1,340,000 families in New Zealand by, on average, $26 per week from 1 April 2018. Around 750,000 superannuitants and around 41,000 students will also benefit from the Family Incomes Package.

– See more at: https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2017/family-incomes-package/index.htm#sthash.RUywmMHt.dpuf

Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law?

NZ First wants to repeal the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Or probably more accurately, they want to attract some votes from people who strongly opposed the law change. It’s hard to imagine either National or Labour (or Greens) wanting to go through another smacking debate.

This morning NZ Q+A will look at this with Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford.

It’s 10 years this month since the so-called “anti-smacking” law passed. NZ First wants to repeal the law. We’ll debate the issues with New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the bill.

It’s curious that Tracey Martin is representing NZ First here.

I can’t see NZ First spokesperson roles on the NZ First website, but the last Justice news is from Darroch Ball (although Denis O’Rourke feature’s on their Justice policy page),  and the last Law and Order news is from Winston Peters. Martin features in Education news and policy.

In March Peters stated in  a speech at Waipu (and repeated in ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’):

We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

I think that claim is highly debatable, albeit typically vague. I call it button pushing bull.

Peters followed up a few days later in New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants referendum on anti-smacking law

“From the word go, we said this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“I said very clearly that we’ve got young people running amok up here and around the country. They can’t be touched. There’s a hundred reasons given by sociologists and apologists for what’s happening, but these people know what’s wrong, know what they’re doing is wrong, know they can’t be touched, know there’s no consequences.”

“What’s happened since then has been an explosion in violence towards children, the very antithesis of what these people argued would happen,” Peters said.

Without any evidence supplied I call bullshit on this.

The party’s policy was to put the matter to the people and repeal the law, he said.

I can’t find any mention of the anti-smacking law in NZ First’s policies.

Family First praised Peters’ commitment:  NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

Family First NZ is welcoming NZ First’s pledge to repeal the anti-smacking law, and will be clarifying with the party as to whether it is a non-negotiable bottom line for any coalition agreement after the election.

In a speech on Friday in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.”

In 2014, NZ First said “NZ First policy is to repeal the anti-smacking law passed by the last parliament despite overwhelming public opposition. Accordingly, we will not enter any coalition or confidence and supply agreement with a party that wishes to ignore the public’s clearly stated view in a referendum on that issue.”

But Bob McCoskrie has linked a commitment made by Peters in March this year to a bottom line made for the last election. perhaps Martin will say whether this bottom line will also be in place this election.

McCoskrie also  implied links between the law change and increased violence.

“the smacking law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness”

It’s certain that that claim can’t be substantiated, as I expect we will hear from Bradford.

If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now.

Proving something like that – or the opposite – is very difficult with such a complex issue.

“A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents,” says Mr McCoskrie.

That report was done by Family First, who are about as biased as you could get on smacking law. The author was Bob McCoskrie, so he is quoting himself.

While he links the law and “significant or sustained improvement” and “the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents” he makes no claim about a verifiable link between the law change and levels of violence.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

That proves nothing about the impact of the anti-smacking law. McCoskrie is linking the two by association but not with facts.

Sue Bradford also responded:  Winston Peters a ‘dangerous old man’ – Sue Bradford

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

“He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

So it could be an interesting discussion this morning between Bradford and Martin.

It will be especially interesting to see if either of them produce any evidence of impact of the law change.

 

Shaw could work with Peters with gritted teeth

James Shaw has said he would prefer not to have to work with Winston Peters, but would if it meant changing the Government (getting National out of power).

This suggests he sees a NZ First dictated coalition as better for the country than the current Government.

It also implies that he thinks a Labour+Green+NZ First collation would do better for Green policy preferences than National+Green

Newshub: ‘If I have to’ – Greens co-leader James Shaw on working with Winston Peters

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says he’ll work with Winston Peters if that’s what it takes to change the Government.

“If you look at the trends in the polls… it’s about level pegging,” says Mr Shaw. “This is a very close election.”

“I can [work with Mr Peters] if I have to. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be my first choice.”

It may be the Greens only choice if they refuse to work with National.

Last year Mr Shaw and his co-leader Metiria Turei were split on whether working with the National Party was a possibility – Mr Shaw open to it, and Ms Turei “100 percent” against it.

It is claimed that Green Party members, who theoretically at least would make any decision on who they would and wouldn’t go into coalition with, are strongly against working with National.

On current polling Labour+Greens are nowhere near getting a majority, and Labour has gone backwards in the latest Newshub poll to 26%. Greens didn’t pick up all Labour’s shed support, they were on 12.5% but combined that is less than 40%.

NZ First rose more to 9.4% and may challenge Greens for the third party spot. They may have no choice than to go with NZ First and Labour.

If that happens it won’t only be Shaw with gritted teeth.

In an interview with The Spinoff in March, Ms Turei said despite Mr Peters being “annoying as hell” and holding “racist views”, she admired him for his tenacity and the advice he’s given her over the years.

Shane Jones looks set to join NZ First and seems to have more rancid racist views – see Jones signals a rancid approach.

Greens claim to be much better than this, but Shaw suggests they would join with it anyway, ironically to oust National who have more open immigration policies than Labour and especially NZ First.

Who needs principles when you want power?