NZ First proxy voting for Jami-lee Ross

Winston peters has announced that NZ First will proxy vote for Jami-lee Ross in Parliament in his absence – the vote will be the same as the national party vote. Peters has claimed it is for democratic integrity and ensuring Ross’ electorate gets a vote in Parliament, but that sounds bogus. The vote will make no difference to anything.

Peters said that NZ First whips were asked ‘weeks ago’ by Ross and have just agreed to vote on his behalf, despite Peters saying that Ross should resign.

It does nothing to give Botany voters representation in Parliament – only Ross can do that, or better, by resigning someone with a mandate could do that.

Peters may think this is getting one over National but it just makes him and NZ First look stupid.

Peters sounded grouchy when interviewed on Checkpoint trying to explain this.

 

Stemming the surge in superannuation costs

The cost of providing universal superannuation has been contentious for decades. As the 65+ population grows, so does the already considerable costs.

Attempts have been made in the past to make changes.

UnitedFuture tried to nudge National towards ‘flexi-super’ where people could choose the age they started to get super (with varying rates) a couple of terms ago. National fobbed this off by allowing an investigation that was always going to achieve nothing under John Key’s leadership.

In 2013 Labour proposed an increase in the age of eligibility to 67 but got hammered by the left so dropped their proposal. With NZ First holding the balance of power there seems no way that the age will be increased this term.

But a NZ First MP has proposed a change that will cut the costs.

ODT: Cutting cost of superannuation

Last month, a New Zealand First private members’ Bill in the name of MP Mark Patterson, who is based in Clutha-Southland, was put forward. It proposes increasing the minimum residency requirement from 10 to 20 years after the age of 20, so a childhood in New Zealand would not count. The current 10-year law only stipulates five of those must be after the age of 50.

Given the last National-led government proposed an increase to 20 years, there should be sufficient support for a Bill to pass. Mr Patterson cites Berl research which says the change to 20 years could save $4.4 billion over 10 years.

That will only reduce the ongoing costs slightly.

And it’s fair to ask why NZ First staunchly defend the age of eligibility for non-immigrants while they want to toughen things up for immigrants.

But is even 20 years enough? The 2016 policy review by retirement commissioner Diane Maxwell recommended 25 years, noting an average in the OECD of 26. Any change would not apply to those living in New Zealand now. She calls for action now in part because of the time lag. Superannuation cost $30 million a day and that would rise to $98 million in 20 years’ time, she said.

The 10-year rule goes back to 1972. Most migrants were from Britain and the UK state pension could be taken off NZ Super. But these days many come from the likes of China where there is no state pension. There is a clear monetary incentive for Chinese residents to try to bring out their parents under family reunification. After only 10 years they can be receiving this country’s state pension, as well as public healthcare.

It may look racist trying to double the residency requirement now there are proportionally a lot more Asian immigrants, but a lot of other things have changed since the 1970s. The age of eligibility was increased from 60 to 65 in the 1990s.

Twenty years is still a long time. To be eligible for super at 65 you would have to be resident in New Zealand by age 45.

How else can the increasing cost of superannuation be limited? Or should it?

Grading one year of government

After a year in charge here are some gradings of the parties in Government.

Labour: B-

There have been some wins, let’s be clear about that.but at some point the pain of those on the bottom must shame this Party into actually doing something, not just pretty words and symbolism.

Jacinda continues to be their strongest performer with Grant Robertson, Andrew Little, David Parker, Willie Jackson, Kiritapu Allan, Deborah Russell, Marja Lubeck, Tamiti Coffey, Damien O’Connor, Greg O’Connor and Michael Wood being star performers to date.

Lot’s of talking, very little walking at this stage.

NZ First: B+

…they’ve done enough to keep their voters happy. The weird thing about the NZ values was just laughable. If Jones can get the forestry side working from planting, to cutting to working the wood here to building with it, he will be one of the greatest economic architects NZ has ever produced.

Greens: C-

After the meltdown of the 2017 election, there have been some wins, of that there can be no doubt, while Chloe, Jan Logie and Julie Anne Genter continue to be their best performers…but unfortunately it’s the fuck ups that gain media attention.

The Greens have become a middle class vehicle for alienating woke identity politics…

The Greens have gone backwards every election for the last 3 elections, tone policing on Twitter (I’m not making that up, there really is a ‘tone policing’ call out) doesn’t seem the way forward.

That’s from Martyn Bradbury in One year of the new Government: The faded hope of a hollow promise – grading Labour, NZ First & Greens

Conclusion:

There have been small victories but essentially the neoliberal bureaucracy and Ministries rule this Government, not the other way around and unless Labour, NZ First and the Greens find a way to shame the Ministries into reform, the Wellington Elites will continue to run the agenda, not the representatives of the people.

So the revolution driven by the Auckland Left has not transpired, yet at least.

Another left wing view (David Cormack): The politics of doing jack-all

Government, it’s time to start dominating the story. This last quarter you did jack-all and went up in the polls anyway.

When you started you were a shambles. You were disorganised, you didn’t know what you were doing, you clearly hadn’t expected to be in government and you out-sourced all your actual governing to others.

Oh sure you have done some things, and you’re running a lot better now, but if the government was a movie, this last year felt less like an action packed resolution scene, and more like a long establishing shot. An establishing shot full of working groups.

So while the past 12 months has been marked by the Government slowly getting its act together …the next 12 months promise more. But with that promise comes risk, because there’s a lot of hype about this politics of kindness. And if people start to feel like they’re not getting what they voted for then you’ll burn through a lot of capital. And it’s debatable whether you’ve earned much capital to burn.

More from Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Verdicts on the Government’s first year

And an editorial from ODT: Labour’s satisfactory first year

The passing of the one-year mark by the coalition Government has provided opportunities to assess its performance. Generally, these reviews have been positive, and we agree with these opinions.

But, when all is said and done, the Government will flourish or flounder on economic conditions. If the lack of business confidence is reflected in employment and growth, if changed industrial laws affect competitiveness, if New Zealand becomes too expensive and less efficient as it is in danger of becoming then Labour will suffer.

Just as the strong United States economy has helped add a layer to President Donald Trump’s support, so Labour’s success will depend on the economy and on-going effects of Labour’s policies on people’s monetary wellbeing. So far so good. Labour and its coalition have navigated the first year satisfactorily.

And they are still in, which has exceeded some expectations. They have the opportunity to do a lot more over the next two years and live up to some of their promise and promises.

 

After a year how transformative has the Labour-led Government been?

Not much, yet.

The Labour-NZ First-Green government is now a year old. Thomas Coughlan at Newsroom asks whether the current Government is truly a government of change – One year on: Change worthy of its name?

Transformation is a word we hear a lot to describe this Government.

The Government’s speech from the throne promised a “government of transformation”, and followed that up in May with a Budget that Finance Minister Grant Robertson said was “the first steps in a plan for transformation”.

The second word we hear a lot is “transition”.

What they mean to say is “government of change”, which was Ardern’s wording in what became known as her reset speech, which she made in September.

All governments change things, and the world changes. The pertinent question here is whether Ardern and her government are living up to her hype.

The Government has finished just 18 KiwiBuild homes (although it has started construction on more), the waitlist for social housing has grown, and the $2.8 billion investment in fees-free tertiary education hasn’t changed enrolment numbers, although the University of Auckland has tumbled down global league tables.

As for climate change, apparently our “nuclear-free moment”, under the current Government, big dairy can still dial up a a $600 million M. Bovis bailout for a self-inflicted crisis, while the much-lauded Green Investment Fund gets just $100 million.

Nuclear-free moment? Pardon me, but I think I can smell the methane on your breath …

The problem for this Government is that it knows what change looks like and it’s afraid.

It knows that true change is ugly and real people get hurt.

People living under the big-change governments of the 1980s knew they were living in a time of massive change.

So, can Ardern be kind and transformative at the same time?

One year on, we’ve seen this Government’s definition of change.

With the exception of KiwiBuild, its flagship change policies signal change in direction without enacting specific policy.

Supporters say this means the change will be more lasting – and they’re probably right. Both the Child Poverty Reduction Bill and the Zero Carbon Bill have bipartisan support, meaning they will likely survive into the future. Likewise, the Wellbeing Framework has the potential to change how we look at the economy, although proof of that is many years away.

But, especially on the issue of climate change, its slowly-softly policy platform absolves the current Government from making any of the tough decisions necessary when implementing change.

It’s an unpalatable truth that change means picking losers as much as picking winners.

The question hanging over the Government now is whether there is time to implement what it calls a “just transition”, to a halcyon economy of low unemployment, high productivity, and fair incomes.

“Just transition” is essentially the oil and gas exploration ban writ large — big change, but slowly. But a just transition doesn’t need to be slow and there’s nothing just about waiting 30 years for house prices to stabilise.

Just transitions could mean using the power of the welfare state to cushion the pain of change, like the governments of the 1980s should have done.

There’s little room to be complacent. The window of opportunity is closing.

Change is the sword of Damocles hanging over all our governments. And while this Government thinks the lesson from the 1980s is that slow change is best, it would be wise to pay attention to the other lesson from that decade: governments are not the only agents of change and those who fail to act in time will often find their hand forced by events.

Governments are always forced by events to act. They need to manage forced change along with reforming or transformative change, if they can.

In their first year the Government has changed some things, but they have only talked about most changes they propose, and it’s still not clear what they are going to change this term as they await the outcome of their many working groups/inquiries etc.

Also from Newsroom – One year in: the fault lines ahead

The first anniversary has provided a chance for Ardern and her team to look back on their successes and failures so far – but what challenges lay in wait for them before the next election?

Here are some of the fault lines the Government may need to navigate if it is to hold onto power in 2020:

Waterfall of working groups

National’s gleeful mockery of the coalition’s working group fixation seemed a little insincere at the start, given the party was not averse to the odd policy review and panel during its first term.

However, there is a kernel of truth in that the Government is now waiting on the results of numerous inquiries into some critical policy areas, some of which will not report back until just before the next election, until it takes action.

As the reports and recommendations trickle in, the potential bill for implementing all that is asked for will slowly mount up.

Justice reform:

The Government’s plans to shake up the criminal justice system loom as perhaps its highest-risk, highest-reward reforms.

If Justice Minister Andrew Little and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis succeed, the prison population will be reduced by 30 percent within a decade, addressing what Bill English once called the “moral and fiscal failure” of prisons.

However, National’s cries of the coalition being “soft on crime” provide a taste of its likely campaign against any firm proposals for reform, as well as the outcry which may result from any crimes following law changes (no matter their merit on balance).

Tax reform:

Part of that proliferation of working groups, but worthy of mention in its own right, is the Government’s Tax Working Group – a political slow-burner that could divide the coalition right up to the next election.

Chaired by former finance minister Michael Cullen, it will present its final report on the future of New Zealand’s tax system next February.

However, the Government has committed to putting any recommendations from the group to the electorate in 2020, meaning any changes would not be implemented until at least April 2021.

The sticking point is the issue of a capital gains tax.

So at best this will be a plan for transformation put to voters at the next election.

Climate change

It’s one thing to call climate change the nuclear moment of our generation, it’s another to do something about it.

Climate Change Minister, and Green co-leader, James Shaw said the IPCC report was broadly in line with the Government’s direction on climate change. But talk, as they say, is cheap.

There have been some climate-related policy changes, including a ban on new oil and gas permits and the establishment of a $100 million green investment fund. Also in the wings are a Zero Carbon Bill, emissions trading scheme changes and the creation of a Climate Change Commission.

The biggest pressure on the Government is its own rhetoric. Those disappointed by the environmental record of Helen Clark’s Labour-led coalition will be looking to the Green Party to push the Government into taking stronger, tangible steps.

Ardern has talked big on climate change, but we are yet to see how her Government will transform things.

Also, not mentioned in the Newsroom article, is another issue that Ardern has staked her reputation on, child poverty. Her Government quickly increased some benefits, but there has not been much sign of a revolution on poverty yet.

The Government has another two years to prove to voters that they are capable of walking the walk and delivering meaningful transformation at the same time as they competently manage normal management and also dealing with things that are thrown at them.

Greens also have a lot at stake – they have talked about a green revolution for long enough. They have to deliver something significant to justify voters’ trust in them.

NZ First probably just need to deliver Winston Peters to the voting papers for the party to survive.

As a whole the Government has been far more talk (and working group) than walk.  They may end up sprinting to the next election hoping voters will pass them the baton for another term.

More on ‘Kiwi values’ and NZ First and MPs

One of the things to come out of the NZ First conference last weekend was a call for legislation to ensure immigrants comply with some vague ‘Kiwi values’. There was a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it from Labour, Greens and National, but they weren’t the voter demographic that NZ First would have been targeting.

Danyl Mclauchlan (The Spinoff):  Whistling on migration yet leaving migration high: what’s Winston playing at?

But here’s the thing about Peters’ perennial race-baiting – given airing most recently following a remit at the party’s 25th birthday over the weekend. He campaigns on the immigration issue every election, but Peters has been in the powerbroker position in government three times now, and each of those governments has seen very high levels of net migration of what his supporters and voters consider “the wrong sort” of people.

There are a few reasons for this. Most populist, anti-migrant politicians believe what they say about “our values” and “preserving our way of life”, and at least attempt to reduce migration when they get into office. Trump has his Muslim-ban; the conservatives have Brexit. But Peters’ statements about migrants appear to be as meaningful as so much else he says, ie nothing. It is useful for him to race-bait by grandstanding about immigration but never useful for him to ever do anything about the issue.

He could probably make the government reduce its intake of non-white migrants, if he was so inclined: we’ve just seen the passage of the waka-jumping bill; it appears that Peters can get Labour and the Greens to do pretty much anything. But so long as his voters and the true-believers in his party never figure out the nature of his MO there’s no incentive for him to act.

If Peters actually forced a significant reduction in immigration it would remove one of his campaign tools – attacking immigrants to attract votes from suckers.

…New Zealand First’s donors in the fishing and forestry sectors rely on high levels of migration to preserve a low-wage workforce working in high risk conditions. Maintaining those conditions is core business for Peters and Shane Jones. The people who pay for the party, who occupy the boardrooms of the fishing industry, are far more exacting than the suckers occupying the TV rooms of the retirement villages, who vote for it.

And talking about values, Andrea Vance (Stuff):  NZ First MP campaigning for ‘Kiwi values’ was ruled unfit to run a pub

The NZ First MP behind a “values” bill which could expel migrants was once judged unfit to run pubs because of his criminal record.

Clayton Mitchell wants new migrants to sign up to a cultural “code of conduct” that includes a commitment not to campaign against the legality of alcohol.

Mitchell is a former publican – but his licence to run a bar was cancelled after a series of incidents. They included a suspended prison sentence for assault – which a judge called an act of serious violence – and a dangerous driving conviction.

Two years later, Mitchell won back his certificate –  supported by a reference from former police officer Brad Shipton, who was subsequently disgraced over a rape conviction.

Those values have been under a lot of criticism lately, with #meto and the controversy over the appointment of Wally Haumata as Deputy Police Commissioner – Haumata has what looks like close links with Peters and another NZ First MP, Fletcher Tabuteau.

A couple of ex-MPs joined the discussion on Twitter:

 

Perhaps we need better vetting of the values of party list MPs before we worry too much about immigrants.

Oh, and talking of MP values, this is what Mitchell said when informed Vance was investigating his past:

The second term MP initially didn’t want to be interviewed by Stuff. “Is this one of your dirty little stories? You better get your facts right, because I tell you what, you better get your facts right or you’ll get yourself in a hell of a lot of trouble,” he said.

Taht sort of threat ois more likely to get Mitchell in trouble, but that’s unlikely with Peters who often attacks and threatens journalists.

Vance hopefully got these facts right.

In a subsequent response to emailed questions, however, he acknowledged:

* A conviction of assault with intent to injure in what a judge described as an “act of serious violence on your part.”
* A conviction for dangerous driving.
* A conviction for a “lock-in” at one of his bars – allowing customers to drink outside of the licensed hours.

They came from Mitchell so they should be accurate.

 

 

Ardern does not support NZ First’s ‘Kiwi Values’ bill

I guess NZ First got the publicity they wanted over promoting some sort of legal requirement for conformation with ‘Kiwi Values’ for immigrants – see NZ First want to make immigrants ‘respect’ stipulated values – but politically it should be a non starter.

Jacinda Ardern has said she doesn’t support the concept and thinks that Labour would not support it either.

So it looks unlikely to be a government bill – unless NZ First make it a bottom line that they use to negotiate power again in 2020.

Ardern said “Literally put it in a ballot”.

As a Members’ Bill it would go in the biscuit tin lottery. If drawn it would have to get the support of either National or Labour+Greens. I think both of those options would be very unlikely – especially if NZ First MPs want to define what compulsory ‘Kiwi values’ would be.

RNZ – NZ First’s Kiwi values plan: ‘How do you actually test people?’

New Zealand First’s proposal to ensure migrants respect Kiwi values has been labelled “dog-whistle politics” and has won little support within Parliament.

The plan – raised at the party’s conference over the weekend – would require new arrivals, including refugees, to sign up to beliefs such as gender equality and religious freedom.

Other values include respect for “all legal sexual preferences” and a commitment not to campaign against alcohol consumption.

The Green Party has also pushed back, although it won’t go as far as accusing its government partner of “dog-whistle politics”.

“It’s not for me to say [NZ First’s] motivations,” Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said.

Ms Ghahraman said new arrivals should be treated with trust rather than presumed to be problems.

Immigrants are already pre-vetted on a range of things. promising to vote for Winston should not be added as a requirement.

National leader Simon Bridges told TVNZ’s Breakfast the proposal was “headline-grabbing nonsense” to distract from problems with the Government.

“Of course we’ve got our unique set of values – whether it’s tolerance or a fair go and so on,” he said.

“But the immigrants I meet, they actually very quickly become passionate, patriotic New Zealanders and they don’t need to go through some course or sign a document.”

ACT party leader David Seymour said he supported the proposal, but feared it was an empty promise.

“[NZ First] claim to have had a version of this policy for 25 years, then they say it’s new, and yet they haven’t done anything about it.”

It’s a dumb idea as far as a bill goes. It is really just an attempt by NZ First to appeal to a minority voter demographic to try and prop up their support.

 

NZ First want to make immigrants ‘respect’ stipulated values

Respect is usually earned, not imposed, but somehow want to make immigrants respect values that they want to stipulate.

What next – making non-immigrant New Zealanders adhere to prescribed values?

RNZ: ‘Their values do not necessarily match up with our values’

The obvious point to make here is that ‘our values’ are quite diverse.

New Zealand First is one step closer to campaigning on a law that will force immigrants and refugees to sign up to a set of core values.

They already have to do something that none of us who were born here have to do – pledge allegiance to the Queen. That’s a value I don’t put much weight on – I’m glad I haven’t been made to pledge to that.

The remit, which passed with some opposition, was hotly debated by party supporters at the 25th annual conference in Tauranga at the weekend.

If enacted the Respecting New Zealand Values Bill would require new migrants to respect gender equality, “all legal sexual preferences,” religious rights, and the legality of alcohol.

Respect the legality of alcohol? Would that disallow disrespecting the huge amount of problems caused by alcohol abuse?

Wairarapa NZ First supporter Roger Melville said the law could not come soon enough.

Mr Melville described the attitudes he had encountered from immigrants throughout the North Island.

“Arrogance, downright ignorance of putting people down and forcing their ways and means.”

Former NZ First MP Mahesh Bindra also supported the remit.

Born in Mumbai, Mr Bindra came with his family in 2002 and was the party’s ethnic affairs spokesperson.

“We do have certain cultures, or subcultures coming into the country, and their values do not necessarily match up with our values.

“There are certain practises – I don’t want to name any religion – that are not conducive to our way of living.”

That fairly obvious swipe at some religions seems at odds with respecting religious rights.

Pita Paraone, another former NZ First MP who dropped out of Parliament at the last election, is also a fan of the proposed policy.

“I think the fact there’s discussions about young girls being married off at a young age or being betrothed to older men is certainly something that runs against the New Zealand psyche.”

While probably largely historic has he not heard of the New Zealand psyche of shotgun weddings? Threats of having a baby taken away if you don’t get married?

But the youth wing of the party was not convinced.

William Woodward said it was good to have debate but it was not a policy that was needed.

“Speaking form a young NZ First point of view, New Zealand as a free first-world country has all of those avenues for people to be able to express their religion, to express their freedoms in a very free and safe way.”

Good on him for speaking up, but I think that in NZ First the youth voice is a fairly small minority.

Party leader Winston Peters said the law was needed.

“If someone’s over here who wants to change this country and doesn’t want to support this country’s law … who thinks women are cattle and second-class citizens, that person should not be here, sorry.”

What about politicians who see other politicians as second class? What about parties who bring in laws to make MPs not just second class but evict them from Parliament if they don’t agree with their party leader?

What about all the journalists who Peters has made clear he thinks are worse than second class?

I wonder if one value they would consider would be the value of politicians being open and honest with the public and not refusing to give straight answers.

This proposed law trying to impose some sort of conformity is both dumb and dangerous.

The only good thing about it is it is unlikely to get wider support. Labour and National should reject any attempt to set standards or values for immigrants or any group of people here beyond laws for everyone to adhere to – ‘one law for all’. Surely the Greens at least would stand up against it on principle.

This proposed law looks like pandering to intolerant minorities.

Would NZ First want something like determining acceptable values to the people via a referendum?

Or do they only want people who agree with their defined values to decide what values everyone should be forced to abide by?

Respect can’t be forced by law.

NZ First 2018 convention

Stuff: “Just over 200 members were gathered at Tauranga Racecourse for the party’s annual conference.”

So far at least there is not much detail on the NZ First website about the convention they are having this weekend, apart from notices about it.

Convention & AGM 2018 – Tauranga

On behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to invite you all to the 2018 Convention & AGM to be held at the Tauranga Racecourse on the 29th and 30th of September. The Convention and AGM is New Zealand First’s largest gathering and networking event of the year. It will be a pleasure to see you all again as we mark an important milestone in our Party’s history – 25 years.

The Convention weekend will be fun filled and energetic as make the big decisions that will define our party for the next 25 years. Since the last election New Zealand First has had a significant role in shaping the Government of our country and I am proud of the work the Rt Hon Winston Peters, our Ministers and our MPs have been doing.

Make the decision to join the other movers and shakers in our Party and if you have any issues please get in touch with our Convention organising team.

Yours thankfully,

Brent Catchpole

Leader’s Message

On 18 July, New Zealand First celebrates its 25th anniversary. No other new political
New Zealand First was formed to represent the views of New Zealanders concerned
about the economic and social direction of our country after the radical market
reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s. At our founding, we set out 15 Fundamental
Principles which guide us as we negotiate common-sense policy outcomes for the
betterment of our people and our country.

The 25 year milestone is a result of us remaining steadfast in our principles and
enthusiasm for a better New Zealand, whether we are in government, or on the
opposition benches.

Our record precedes us: free health care for our children, a more dignified life for our
elderly, workers receiving a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, safer communities,
and many other achievements that have impacted lives of everyday New
Zealanders.

Today, our mission in Government is restoring lost capacity after nine years of
National neglect, regenerating regional New Zealand, the lifeblood of the country,
and putting the interests of all New Zealanders at the forefront of government
decision-making.

We could not have embarked on this mission without your support and contributions.
On the 29th and 30th of September, we will be holding our Annual Convention and
AGM in Tauranga. I urge you to join me, and my parliamentary colleagues, as we
celebrate our 25-year anniversary and look toward the future.

There is some coverage from Stuff. NZ First’s 25th birthday bash a chance to push right into the culture wars

Party conventions serve many purposes. The base of diehard supporters – who you need to enthuse so they can volunteer at the next election – have to be kept happy. But there are also a lot of TV cameras and mischievous journalists there – so the party must project itself as sensible, coherent, and able to win over any voters who have faded away since the election.

And while polling of NZ First between elections is notoriously bad, the party does need to win some votes back. Most of the recent public polls put it below the all-important five per cent threshold, and it seems most of the internal polling has it below there too, with the Greens still above the line. You can’t be the kingmaker if you are outside of Parliament, as Peters knows well from his stint in the wilderness after 2008.

Behind all the blustering there is one large question that faces NZ First: who does the party turn to when Peters finally retires? It could happen in a few years, it could happen in ten, but the MPs behind him have been maneuvering like it could happen tomorrow. Shane Jones has his billion dollar fund and high media profile, putting him solidly in the lead. But don’t count out the very charismatic Fletcher Tabuteau, who won the deputy leadership and will deliver a caucus report speech on Sunday morning, ahead of Peter’s speech in the afternoon. Sometimes a little bit of anonymity goes a long way.

NZ First conference takes aim at banks with several remits

NZ First members have voted for several remits aimed at the banking sector, including a $50m levy to keep banks open in small towns.

The remit seeks to levy $50m from the banking sector that was redistributed to banks as a subsidy to keep banks in small towns open and for longer hours.

Other remits aimed at promoting the Government’s use of New Zealand-owned banks, buying back shares of KiwiBank from the Super Fund and ACC were also passed with no opposition.

However, accepted policy remits from the conference have a long road to becoming actual Government policy, including the caucus policy committee of NZ First and Cabinet itself.

NZ Herald:  Boxer Joseph Parker surprise speaker at NZ First’s annual convention

Boxer Joseph Parker was the surprise speaker at New Zealand First’s annual convention in Tauranga today. What probably made it more surprising is that he is the nephew of National MP Judith Collins.

Parker played down any conflict though, saying he supported everyone.

“I feel like my aunty knows where my heart is. It’s just about going about there and saying something that we hope can inspire and motivate others and help others.”

Parker said he had a close relationship with Peters.

There will be more from the NZ First convention today, but I may not have time to post on it.

The most damaging effects of the waka jumping law will be invisible and immeasurable

It is difficult to know what the effect of the ironically named Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill that passed it’s final vote in Parliament this week. We may never know for sure.

We do know that it has made Labour look like Winston’s patsies, especially Andrew Little who had to front the bill as it went through Parliament. And it showed the Greens as far less principled than they had made out for so long while out of government – this could be damaging to them in the next election.

However Audrey Young says that the most damaging effects will be “invisible and immeasurable” in Winston Peters wastes hard-won power on wretched law.

…the party-hopping bill passed in Parliament ahead of the party’s convention can barely be called an achievement, let alone qualify as a proud one.

It has been Parliament at its worst – indulging a powerful politician with an obsession with defectors.

The law is a fetter on dissent, and Peters’ decision to demand its passage as the price of power stands in contradiction to his own history as a dissenter and maverick.

The law will enable a caucus to fire a duly elected MP not just from the caucus but from Parliament if they decide that MP no longer properly represents the party.

The hypocrisy is galling. Peters built New Zealand First on party-hoppers such as Michael Laws, Peter McCardle and Jack Elder.

In those days, Peters was upholding the freedom of any MP to leave a party without having to leave Parliament if their conscience demanded it.

Self-interested hypocrisy is nothing new for Peters.

It was only when party-hoppers left New Zealand First rather than joined it that the notion became objectionable, to Peters. It was only after MMP that what the voters decided on election day suddenly became sacred to Peters.

Essentially, the new party-hopping law is based on self-interest disguised as principle.

It is a draconian solution to a problem of defection that has not existed since those formative days of MMP.

And Labour and the Greens went along with this and enabled it.

New Zealand First did not campaign on party-hopping at all last election but then put it up as a bottom line in coalition talks, while the vast number of bottom lines actually enunciated by Peters in the campaign were surrendered in the horse-trading of coalition talks.

The law does not have the true support of the majority of the House but the Greens have been blackmailed into supporting it against the alternative – a toxic relationship with Peters.

Electoral law changes should have wide support of any Parliament but the law was railroaded through by a party with 7 per cent of the vote because it held the balance of power at the election.

Will Greens learn from being backed into a corner by Peters and then painting themselves in? They could perhaps gain back some of their credibility on being principled it they  don’t campaign next election on a status quo governing arrangement leaving Peters in a dog wagging position.

The most pernicious effect of the new law is not the actual expulsion of an MP from Parliament. Rather, it is the chilling effect it will have on strong, independent thought and voice of MPs within parties and within Parliament. In turn that will have an impact on the selection of MPs.

The most damaging effects of the law will be invisible and immeasurable.

It was the impact on dissent that drew the harshest criticism from Green luminaries Jeanette Fitzsimons and Keith Locke.

Did Green support of this bill go to party membership for a decision? They used to claim that their membership played a part in any important decisions. Surely they must have done that, especially given that it was a change to electoral law, and it had an obvious impact on the party ethos and integrity.

It has been sad to see a raft of new Labour MPs kowtowing to Peters to convince themselves that the law will enhance democracy when it is really a management tool for Peters to keep potentially difficult MPs in check.

One could wonder what threats or promises were made between Peters and Labour and Green leaderships to make both parties roll over on this for Peters.

Dissent has been a strong theme throughout Peters’ career.

He talked about in his maiden speech in 1979 when he lambasted people whom he saw as destructive critics who criticised for the sake of it: “Opposition, criticism and dissent are worthy pursuits when combined with a sense of responsibility. They have a purifying effect on society. Areas in need of urgent attention can be identified and courses of action may be initiated. However embarrassing to community or national leaders, the results are enormously beneficial to the total well-being of the community. The critic I am [condemning] has no such goals. He sets out to exploit every tremor and spasm in society, the economy or race relations, seeking to use every such event as a vehicle to project his own public personality.”

An unkind person might say that Peters has gained power in New Zealand politics by becoming the sort of critic he so despised in his maiden speech.

It is a remarkable achievement to have built a party, and sustained it, and to be at the peak of his political power when most people his age are checking out retirement villages.

It is also remarkable that Peters should be wasting that power on such a wretched law.

And that Labour and especially the Greens have wasted their integrity by enabling the wretched law to pass with barely a whimper.

 

 

 

 

Waka jumping bill passes third reading

All Green MPs have voted with Labour and NZ First to pass the  Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill (commonly referred to as the waka jumping bill), so it will now become law.

Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill passes third reading

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill has passed its third reading in Parliament and will become law, Justice Minister Andrew Little said.

“The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill is about enhancing public confidence in the integrity of our electoral system.

“The Bill ensures that it is the voters, not politicians or party leaders, who decide the proportionality of parties in Parliament,” Andrew Little said.

The Bill’s passing fulfils the Government’s coalition commitment to introduce and pass a ‘Waka Jumping’ Bill in this term of Parliament.

It has been challenged by some as ‘an attack on democracy’. It is unlikely to actually have much effect, but it will be difficult to know if it has a chilling effect on any MPs who oppose what their party does.

The most notable aspect of the bill is the Greens voting in support of it while strongly opposing it. This has somewhat dented the party’s integrity.

It has also raised questions about Andrew Little’s integrity in promoting the bill on NZ First’s behalf.

The bill is unlikely to make much if any difference to Winston Peters’ control over the NZ First caucus and MPs, but supporting it has been damaging to both Labour and the Greens.  Perhaps that is success for Peters – before Jacinda Ardern took over the Labour leadership last year Peters fancied NZ First’s chances of taking over from Labour as the second largest party in Parliament.