Peters the elephant in Labour’s CGT room

Labour told the Tax Working Group what they couldn’t do, and the Tax Working Group final report seems to be largely a Labour prescription. It even uses Labour-like terms such as Future of Work as well as Future of Tax. This isn’t all that surprising given the involvement of Michael Cullen.

But while the Group’s recommendations, especially on Capital Gains Tax, may look like a Labour wish list, the elephant in their room is Winston Peters and NZ First. With National saying they are against the CGT Labour will need NZ First support to get anything done.

Greens have already said that the Government won’t deserve to be re-elected unless they introduce a CGT – see James Shaw slams tax timidity, calls on Labour, NZ First to be bold with CGT.

An exchange in Parliament yesterday after the release of the report gives a good indication of where Peters is at on the CGT.

Question No. 2—Prime Minister

2. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her Government’s statements, policies, and actions?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with comments by the Rt Hon Winston Peters in regards to capital gains tax that, “They won’t work in this country. They won’t work in any other country. They never have worked.”?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, the responsibility of the Prime Minister is for comments made by Ministers when they were Ministers, not beforehand. And, on behalf of the Prime Minister, I should not have to tell that member that.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with comments by the Rt Hon Winston Peters that, “You can’t possibly go into an election saying, ‘My tax policy will decided by a committee.’ “?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, for the second time now, I am not responsible for comments made by members of Parliament before they held a ministerial warrant under my premiership. That’s the substance of the matter and whether she agrees or not here’s the fine point about a democratic constitutional Government: that is, we’re going to consult with the people of this country in the next two weeks. [Interruption] I tell you what we can trust: somebody that hasn’t got a massive vested interest in this case, somebody that hasn’t got a massive vested interest in property, and is not now thinking about the country but just her narrow, selfish, egotistical self.

SPEAKER: I am going to remind the Deputy Prime Minister that he is speaking as the Prime Minister.

Hon Paula Bennett: No, no, let him go. Does she agree with the comments by the Deputy Prime Minister just yesterday who said, “The farming community, they are in for the long haul and there is no way a capital gains tax would have any effect on them at all.”, when today’s report says it will cost farmers $700 million a year?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, I have read the Deputy Prime Minister’s comments on the farming show. I know that he comes from a seriously agrarian background and understands the long-term ownership aspirations and intergenerational aspirations of farming families around this country, and not one of them who aspires to that will be affected by any capital gains tax.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: That’s not right. That’s not right. Read it.

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: No, I’ve done some work in my time, son, not like you.

SPEAKER: Order! The pair of you.

Hon Paula Bennett: If the Prime Minister is correct in her comments, then why on earth would they be saying that it would cost $700 million a year if a capital gains tax is applied to farms?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, there is the rub. Who is saying that and what do they mean by “if”? I mean, the criteria would be whether or not this is an expanded tax, and at this point in time it is not. It’s merely a report with a number of options—all 99—and what I’d like to know on behalf of the Prime Minister is: how come they had only four hours to study this and yet had already put out their views before the report came over their desks?

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with the comments by the Hon James Shaw recently who said, “The only question we should be asking ourselves is: do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t.” with regards to implementing a capital gains tax?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, that is a fact, and I’m glad about that. This is the first fact I’ve heard thus far in question time—that Mr Shaw said that. Mr Shaw’s a visionary Minister and is looking to the full debate and discussion that’s going to take place over the next eight weeks. Why don’t we all show some patience and be prepared to consult with the public of this country, the businesses of the country, rather than give your own narrow venal views.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can she confirm that any changes as a result of the recommendations in the Tax Working Group’s report will be revenue-neutral?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, it’s very difficult to come to a report—

Hon Paula Bennett: Grant just told you to say that you haven’t made any decisions.

SPEAKER: Order!

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Unlike that member, doesn’t need instructions, able to think for himself, doesn’t need a speech writer, not embarrassed by being shown up every day—no. On behalf of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister and her colleagues are not going to come to a decision until they have had the full consultation. And I must say, the most interested person in this is the Minister of Finance—the consultation process—and when that consultation is finished, we will share with the public our findings.

Hon Paula Bennett: You got that right.

 

Bennett takes pot shots at cannabis debate

Paula Bennett has launched into her new role as National’s spokesperson on drug reform with a lot of gusto and questionable assertions – put another way, with bullshit bluster.

Claire Trevett (NZH): National’s Paula Bennett takes on Big Pot

Bennett’s job is to appease the conservative base in National while trying to look as if the party is being constructive about the issue of liberalising cannabis laws.

Bennett announced she was undecided on the matter and a realist rather than “a prude”.

She has not led a sheltered life and can not be dismissed as an arch-conservative on this issue, although her initial comments might look that way. There are political reasons for that.

The issue feeds in nicely to the law and order narrative National is pushing, and the hope voters will decide the Government is distracted by social reforms and punish Labour accordingly.

Judging from Bennett’s beginning, National is likely to continue to beat the drum against liberalisation.

It is ripe for a bit of scaremongering and Bennett was up for the job.

She said she had many questions and her own vote would depend on the regime wrapped around any reforms.

She had many answers too which indicated she may well not be undecided.

She warned of the downfall of decent society as we know it should marijuana be decriminalised. Not a crevice of New Zealand would be weed-free.

She predicted that in 30 years time, those who voted to decriminalise in 2020 would be apologising to their children.

Weed iceblocks would be there right in the supermarket chiller next to those delicious Kapiti plum ice creams. Children would be buying dollar mixes of electric puha lollies. Mr Whippy would become Mr Ganja.

Russell Brown, an authority on drug issues, took issue with Bennett.

I can’t help but note that both of the above claims are well-worn Bob McCoskrie talking points. Does National really want to go *there*?

Going by Bennett’s opening pot shots it appears that it is a deliberate strategy by her and National.

And finally for now: if you don’t want kiddy cannabis lollies, propose that we follow all the other jurisdictions that prohibit them. We’re not fucking helpless here. Parliament will define exactly how this works.

Chloe Swarbrick also takes issue with Bennett’s bullshit bluster. Stuff: Chloe Swarbrick accuses Paula Bennett of ‘cynical politics’ over drug debate

When asked by host Hayley Holt if the ‘War on Drugs’ was working, National’s deputy leader said it wasn’t.

“Oh goodness, it can’t be. We see too many people addicted, too many ruined lives, too much of it in our streets, from meth to synthetics and others.”

Bennett called herself “relatively open minded” to drug reform and potential marijuana legalisation, but said there were still many more questions to be answered.

If she is open minded it doesn’t show. It looks like she has a deliberate anti-reform agenda in mind.

“It scares me and it should. I’ve got kids I don’t want people dating people who are addicted.”

Bennett said she was concerned that legalisation would mean more companies marketing towards children in the same way that alcopops or RTDs appealed to younger drinkers.

“Where it has been legalised, there has been a huge increase in the number of people under the age of 18 who have taken marijuana and there is evidence that it can fry little brain cells when you’re younger. That is of concern to me.”

Swarbrick agreed that there were concerns that were being addressed, and they were being debated openly.

Swarbrick challenged Bennett, asking what evidence the National MP was referring to. Bennett said that the lack of evidence was part of the problem, because it had been on the market for such short time, but claimed that in Canada and the eight US states where cannabis has been legalised, there had been a six per cent increase in car crashes and “more young people showing up to emergency departments with drug issues.”

Swarbrick accused Bennett of relying on the “thoroughly debunked” Rocky Mountain report. She was referring to a 2017 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a US government funded drug prohibition enforcement program in Colorado.

The report was widely criticised for inaccuracies and bias. Forbes labelled the report “dishonest.” In one instance, the report included a column chart showing a dramatic increase in “marijuana-related emergency department visits” between 2012 and 2013 when the legislation took effect, even though the report’s own footnotes noted that “2011 and 2012 emergency department data reflects [sic] incomplete reporting statewide. Inferences concerning trends, including 2011 and 2012, should not be made.”

Swarbrick said the use of that report “seems a lot like a bit of a cynical political move that belittles and degrades the tone of the debate”.

More than a bit of cynical politics from Bennett.

Bennett said Swarbrick was being “passive aggressive and “trying to put me down,” but said she’s “been in politics for far too long to jump at that one”.

That’s a ridiculous and worrying retort from Bennett. She wasn’t being put down, her bullshit and unreliable sources were challenged with facts.

As I have already said, this is a very disappointing move by Bridges, National and Bennett. They have cynically decided to disrupt the drug debate for political purposes – but I think they will lose support with this approach. I for one am moving further from voting National than I have been for a decade.

Bridges and Bennett say they want ‘drug reform’ debate but would vote no anyway

National leader Simon Bridges has announced that Paula Bennett will take on a new role as National’s spokesperson on ‘drug reform’. This could end up being a positive move, but Bridges has tainted the announcement with political niggles that don’t set things off on a positive non-partisan footing.

Simon Bridges: National announces spokesperson for Drug Reform

National Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Paula Bennett to the new position of Spokesperson for Drug Reform as the Government pushes ahead with its agenda of drug decriminalisation, to signal National’s commitment to holding them to account.

This is disappointingly negative from Bridges. Re-evaluating New Zealand’s failed drug laws is long overdue, and there is a lot of public support for some sort of reform, but Bridges has chosen partisan niggling.

“New Zealanders expect their Government to be firm but fair. When it comes to drugs we need a well-thought through and evidence-based approach to drug reform that balances public safety with the need to help vulnerable people.

“This Government’s confused and dangerous commitment to decriminalisation and its soft approach to crime shows it’s not up to that task.

More petty swipes.

“Our work creating a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime shows we are and that’s why I’ve created this new portfolio which will coordinate the work being done across our policy teams in health, education and law and order.

“It will build on our significant work in Government around the Meth Action Plan, cracking down on drug dealers and stopping trafficking at our borders, while ensuring those who need rehabilitation get access to the best services.

“There is no better person than former Police Minister Paula Bennett who has a thorough understanding of the issues to coordinate this work.

Paula Bennett also took a negative approach:  Coordinated approach to drug reform needed

A coordinated approach across health, education, law and order and border control is needed to counter the complex issues around drugs in New Zealand, National’s new spokesperson for Drug Reform Paula Bennett says.

“The Government’s confused, contradictory and ad hoc policy on drug reform is likely to cause more harm and shows that a measured, sensible and coordinated approach is needed.

“As we see changes coming in by stealth, along with the upcoming referendum there are many unanswered questions and no evidence that the Government is thinking them through.

If it is decided by public referendum, probably in about 20-22 months, with a lot of discussion and debate already, then it can hardly be ‘by stealth’.

In an interview yesterday Bennett conceded that the Police already took a very light handed approach to enforcing current drug laws regarding cannabis use – this was happening under the previous National government.

“When it comes to legalising marijuana, there are serious questions around drug driving, the effects of younger people accessing and using, youth mental health, and how this fits with our ambitions to be smoke free.

These things are already being widely discussed.

“What would a regulated industry look like? Will gangs be able to grow and sell marijuana? Will THC levels be regulated? Will drug testing be done on the roadside? What will the legal age be?

“There is evidence from other jurisdictions that have legalised marijuana that road deaths have increased, younger people have increased consumption and there are negative neuro-psychological issues for teenagers that use marijuana while their brains are still developing.

“National has shown that it understands the issues around drugs through our Members Bill around medicinal marijuana which was widely recognised as superior to the Government’s legislation.

This is partisan crap.

“We welcome a debate on legalising marijuana however I am concerned that the Government has gone into this half-heartedly and as a distraction. The debate needs to be informed and at this stage all we have seen is an announcement by the Prime Minister about a referendum without her even knowing what the question will be.

“I will be holding her and the Labour-led Government to account.”

Bennett and Bridges seem more intent on trying to score petty political points here than working together for the good of the country.

Bennett raises some valid issues, but her language is laden with negatives.

And it gets worse.

Stuff:  Paula Bennett appointed National’s drug reform spokesperson

Bridges, meanwhile, told reporters he’d never tried the drug.

The Opposition leader said the new portfolio was intended to hold the Government to account ahead of a binding referendum on personal cannabis use at the 2020 general election.

“Let’s learn from Brexit. Let’s not have a simple ‘Yes, no,’ thing, and then after that go through and answer all the complex, hard questions. Let’s have that debate beforehand.”

Bridges said he was likely to vote against legalisation, and that without major debate, the referendum risked being a “cute distraction” from more serious issues.

Bridges is insisting we “have that debate beforehand” (which is already happening), but seems to have already made up his mind to “likely to vote against legalisation”.

Bennett, too, said she was tempted to vote “no”.

“When it comes to legalising marijuana, there are serious questions around drug driving, the effects of younger people accessing and using, youth mental health, and how this fits with our ambitions to be smoke free,” she said.

“I’m one of the more liberal, and if the vote was tomorrow, based on all of these questions that we’ve got that haven’t even been answered, I would be voting against it.”

She says she would vote against something that is not defined yet. That’s a very poor position to take.

Bennett was worse in an interview where she scaremongered, suggesting the possibility of drug laced lollies. Newshub:  Paula Bennett gets new drugs portfolio in National Party shake-up

She issued a series of warnings over the legalisation of cannabis on Tuesday morning, saying cannabis-infused ice creams and lollies have been sold overseas.

This is a very disappointing start in her new role, and Bridges is just as bad.

This is a very poor start to the political year for National – not just on their drug reform stance (more like anti-reform), but also on their partisan approach. They look to be out of touch with wide public support for reforming our current failing drug laws.

Mixed messages from Jamie-lee Ross

Newshub gave Jami-lee Ross top billing on their news tonight with an exclusive interview.

He gave mixed messages, saying that he didn’t want to throw bombs or be vindictive, but he wants to put his side of stories forward, which targeted Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett, who both disputed his assertions.

Ross also raised a police investigation of the MP who he had had a relationship with and who texted him saying she thought he deserved to die, which is apparently being investigated as possible incitement to self-harm.

Ross also said that the people of the Botany electorate ‘didn’t deserve’ the cost of a by-election, but clearly a by-election wouldn’t cost them anything. Ross won’t want a by-election as it would likely mean the end of his career as an MP.

This doesn’t look like the end of the Ross saga, but he has a lot to do to get some credibility as an MP back. His return to Parliament in a few weeks is likely to be quite awkward for him.

It is notable that the journalist who started the unravelling of Ross, Tova O’Brien, was the one who secured this interview. her role in all of this has been justifiably been questioned.

UPDATE: Ross has followed up this news spot with a lengthy statement on Facebook. See JLR: “…didn’t get everything right. I am sorry. I will do better.”

Bridges continues inquisition of Government over Sroubek

Simon Bridges and National have continued to niggle away at the Government, in particular Jacinda Ardern, trying to uncover a connection between the Prime Minister and the decision to not deport Karel Sroubek (now reversed).

Bridges wasn’t in Parliament yesterday (as is the custom on Thursdays for National and Labour leaders), but tweaked by tweet:

This followed Question Time (transcript edited)

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all her answers to oral questions in the last two weeks in relation to Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Deputy Prime Minister) on behalf of the Prime Minister: On behalf of the Prime Minister, yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she still say, “There’s no way that I can answer that question.” regarding who made representations on Karel Sroubek’s behalf; and, if so, has she asked who made those representations?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, the answer is we don’t know, other than of the ones that did go public, such as Mr Sweeney—and there may be others, but we’re not aware of them.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is she concerned that there might be Cabinet Ministers who have links to people who have made representations on behalf of Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: We’re not in the business of engaging in the permission of this House to allow someone to enter a fishing competition in the hope that somehow they might catch something. Here is the reality: I made a very clear statement, on behalf of the Prime Minister, that there are hundreds of people who would have been associated for a number of reasons with Mr Sroubek. To incriminate them all on the basis of their innocent association is just so wrong.

Hon Paula Bennett: Has she asked whether her Ministers have links to any of the people who made representations on behalf of Karel Sroubek?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: The answer to that question is, on behalf of the Prime Minister, there will be a number of members of Parliament, who, if they go through their recent decade-old associations, would quite possibility, because of their sporting engagement and interest, have been associated. But that in no way means that they are responsible for the criminality for which Mr Sroubek’s in prison at the moment.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she still believe the Deputy Prime Minister and Iain Lees-Galloway are the victims in all of this, as she said last week?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, when one is seeking to arbitrate or decide on a process and critical information is denied to that referee, arbitrator, or in this case judge, or in this case Minister, then, yes, they do become a victim, because the system that we would have expected and had a right to expect was in place when we became the Government was a system that would work, not one that was shot full of holes and inadequacy.

The key quote from that is “The answer to that question is, on behalf of the Prime Minister, there will be a number of members of Parliament, who, if they go through their recent decade-old associations, would quite possibility (sic), because of their sporting engagement and interest, have been associated.”

That’s a fairly vague ‘confirmation’, as Bridges put it:

Winston Peters just confirmed in Parliament that Govt members “quite possibly” will know Sroubek. More to come I would say.

But this suggests that this inquisition is not over yet. This continues to have legs because of the evasiveness of Ardern in response to questions aiming at an admission she may have been more closely associated to the deportation decision (made by Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway) than she has been willing to admit so far.

The media seem to be largely leaving the inquisition to Bridges and his National colleagues.

Paula Bennett on her weight loss

Paula Bennett has posted a ‘personal’ message about her weight loss on her Facebook page. It has been widely reported in news.

A personal post

It’s been 12 months since I had a gastric bypass. It’s been quite a journey. It was a drastic thing to do, but 50kgs lost and it has had drastic results. In general I have had very good health all the way through but it has been the hardest thing physically I have ever done.

It has been life changing, mainly for my health. I feel exactly the same and completely different! Completely the same because I haven’t changed, I’m not happier or more confident, I’m the same. Completely different because I am healthier and have more energy. 

My weight has never defined who I am and it still doesn’t. My body is simply the vessel that carries me around and currently it is smaller. 

Here’s my answers to my most asked questions

  • Yes I eat differently and much less (was kinda the purpose of the op)
  • Yes I can drink wine (and eat chocolate and pies)
  • No I don’t have huge amounts of extra skin
  • No I don’t know what you should do, it’s very personal

Yes, I know I am over sharing!!!

Lastly, thanks to everyone for their really kind and positive words over the past year

Many people have a lot of challenges and problems managing their weight.

Jami-Lee Ross continues attacks with another recording reported on

I thought hard about posting in this – another secretly recorded conversation between Jami-lee Ross and Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett. It appears to be released as another attack on Bridges and National, being headlined as ‘a cover-up’, but it looks to me like fairly normal political management, plus an attempt to go relatively easy on Ross.

Previous claims by Ross and released recordings have been more damaging for Ross’ credibility and more supporting of Bridges’ handling of an alleged miscreant MP.

Bridges promised to keep problems quiet, but Ross seems intent on broadcasting his own failings, and reinforcing again his serious breach of trust in making the recordings in the first place, and then giving them to media (I presume he has at least approved of the release of the recordings).

Newshub are the means of distribution again: New leaked recording suggests Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett planned Jami-Lee Ross cover-up

“You haven’t even told me what I’ve supposedly done,” Mr Ross says.

“Simon told you all about the disloyalty stuff Jami-Lee, and quite frankly if that was put to caucus, that would be enough,” replies Ms Bennett.

“The stuff around harassing staff which I reject, that is the worst. I don’t even know what that is,” says Mr Ross.

“Well you do know what the disloyalty stuff is, and that’s been put to you really clearly. If that was put to caucus, that would be enough,” says Ms Bennett. “We are trying to give you the lightest possible way out of this.”

Mr Bridges and Ms Bennett also take Jami-Lee Ross through a plan to minimise media coverage and the fallout for Mr Ross.

“I give you my 100 percent assurance that if you go with the statement along the lines we’ve talked about, I will never badmouth you in relation to this – privately, publicly, in background, off the record in any way,” Mr Bridges can be heard saying.

“I will do everything within my power to keep the things we talked about last week out of the public [inaudible]. I will do everything.”

And Ross seems to be doing everything he can to make it public. It’s hard to fathom what he hopes to achieve. Maybe he has trashed his own reputation so much he can’t damage it any more, so this is an attempt at dragging Bridges and National down.

Ms Bennett and Mr Bridges repeatedly say they care about Mr Ross and his mental health, adding that if he follows their instructions he could be back in Parliament next year – and could even be promoted.

No chance of promotion now, and I think also no chance of a return to any role in the National Party.

It may be that Ross thinks that he has done nothing wrong – whether that was the case before this blew up or not, he has done just about everything wrong possible in how he has dealt with this.

If Ross succeeds in doing what he appears to be trying to do, trashing Bridges and trashing National, he is substantially improving the chances o Labour having a long stint back in Government.

This looks like more self-destruction of Ross plus an ongoing attempt at destroying the prospects of the political right.

If it were possible this will make a return to Parliament even more difficult for Ross, and it may increase the prospects of a waka jumping bumping.

What has come out so far from secretly recorded conversations is in the main unremarkable private party conversations that highlight how untrustworthy Ross is. I wonder how he has lasted in national this long – has he made threats to try to thwart action against him? And is he now delivering? He seems to be digging his own political hole even deeper.

UPDATE – More from Newshub:

“So it would be for medical reasons?” asks Mr Ross.

“Is that what you want?” asks Ms Bennett. “I think either medical or family.”

“Medical is true,” says Mr Ross.

“That’s right,” says Mr Bridges. “There’s no shame in that.”

“And it means everyone will back off you too – the media and all that sort of stuff,” says Ms Bennett.

The media are doing the opposite of backing off, again now.

It seems to be trying to claim that Ross is an innocent victim, but it makes him look more of a political cretin than ever.

Herald aids harassment of National and Katrina Bungard

Two publications from NZ Herald yesterday have unfairly applied extra pressure on the National Party and National MPS and employees over the Jami-Lee Ross issue. They also add to the stress faced by one complainant, Katrina Bungard, who issued a statement yesterday which says she was appalled a meeting between herself and the rogue MP has been “rashly speculated” upon.

The National Party has received a lot of criticism for the way it has handled Jami-Lee Ross over the years, and how they have handled the leak and the following train wreck which has resulted in the commitment of Ross into mental health care.

I have no doubt that in some ways fault will be found with how National handled it, how Simon Bridges handled it, how Paula Bennett handled it, and how party president Peter Goodfellow handled it. It was an extraordinary situation and will have been very difficult to deal with, and mistakes are certain to have been made, and ‘best practice will be open to question, That’s all fair enough.

What isn’t fair is misrepresentation in media that has aided what amounts to harassment of National. Bridges, Bennett, Goodfellow et al may not be suffering from mental illness like Ross, but this will have put them under stress. Their mental health should also be considered.

The media have also had a difficult job to do over the last week in particular. They have also made mistakes and on review should find that they could have done things better.

Yesterday I saw two NZ Herald publications that added to what I think is unfair criticism and pressure on people from National.

NZ Herald: Jami-Lee Ross ‘sectioned’ to mental health facility

In this the Herald included a quote from the National Party which made it look like they were involved in the ‘sectioning’ of Ross. This resulted in criticism on Twitter and elsewhere in social media, where people claimed that National had had Ross committed to silence him.

Like ‘WeTheBleeple’ at The Standard:

Sounds like someone stamped some papers to shut him up. Can’t make coherent statements pumped full of drugs.

This is very seriously scummy.

Dennis Frank:

A reasonable point of view, given the history of how mental health diagnoses have been used to eliminate political rivals in various countries. We need to wait & see how the media report that police got involved today. Media haven’t reported any diagnosis from his prior breakdown(s) as far as I know.

To their credit several challenged this (and other similar comments), like:

Nonsense the police and health professionals do not use their powers to behave in this manner, frankly I find your assertion offenssive.

But it didn’t stop, Half an hour later:

Sounds very much like National did it “Out of concern for his mental health”.

If that is so, the entire party should be disbanded as a corrupt criminal organisation and charges laid against anyone and everyone obstructing the truth and the law.

This is repulsive.

The Herald was challenged on Twitter:

Two hours later:

The Herald changed their story, deleting the dated quote and saying this:

It is understood the National Party is continuing to offer Ross support, though it is unclear it if was involved in Ross’ admission to the facility.

Too late, the attacks on National were raging.

Another article (‘Comment)’at the Herald which posted online at the same time this was raging – David Cormack: National needs to learn to care about people which started:

It has not been a good week for the National Party. It has revealed a craven history of enabling alleged harassment and bullying, making it unfit for governing.

Cormack promoted that on Twitter where he was receiving support for sticking it to National.

Cormack responded with a link to RNZ National aware of Jami-Lee Ross grievances for years whikch opens with:

The National Party has known for a couple of years about grievances regarding Jami-Lee Ross’ conduct, and got one complainant to sign a confidentiality agreement, sources have told Checkpoint.

I replied with: That says “got one complainant to sign a confidentiality agreement”, which could be quite different to “made the complainant sign a non-disclosure agreement”. I have seen no indication she signed it unwillingly. Have you?

Cormack has not responded since then, but someone else did: FFS Pete, stop dissembling and nitpicking. Those details just don’t matter.

I think that details like that do matter. National has been hammered over the non-disclosure agreement. I think that whether an agreement should have been signed or not us up for debate, but what those slamming it seem to keep ignoring is what the person who signed it thinks.

Katrina Bungard put out a statement yesterday (Stuff): National Party’s Katrina Bungard received no money at mediation

National Candidate for Manurewa, Katrina Bungard, said there “was absolutely no exchange of money, or any documents signed that would suggest any kind of compensation”.

One of a number of women allegedly harassed by Ross, Bungard said she was appalled a meeting between herself and the rogue MP has been “rashly speculated” upon.

People with #metoo and political agendas have been either ignoring Bungard while using her to attack National, or have misrepresented what she has said or worse, they have disputed her motives and statements. They have added to the pressure on her in order to promote their own agendas.

In Katrina Bungard’s own words:

“I would like to set the record straight regarding the so-called ‘agreement’ made between myself and Jami-Lee Ross”.

“The party was simply doing their best to facilitate a meeting to bring an end to a situation which I had brought to their attention that was troubling me.”

Bungard said when it became clear issues between her and Ross were not able to be resolved, National Party president Peter Goodfellow orchestrated a mediation meeting where the pair discussed their grievances.

Bungard said a document was signed by the two in which they agreed “we would do our best to move on from what had occurred in the past from our fallout in 2016”.

“Unfortunately, despite president Goodfellow’s best efforts, I don’t believe the meeting fully brought an end to some of Jami-Lee’s behaviour that he still managed to get away with behind the scenes,” she said.

“Although it certainly did lessen many of the more public blows.”

Bungard said she was grateful to the party for the way it handled her complaints.

“[I] believe that they acted in the best way that they could have with the information that they had at the time.”

Unfortunately she is being disbelieved and she is being used by people intent on promoting their own political agendas.

I hope that now Ross is in care many people step back a bit and think through what they are doing. In particular they should consider the stresses and mental health of those they are ignoring, using and attacking. There are many people under pressure here.

Four women claim harassment by Jami-Lee Ross

On Tuesday Jami-Lee Ross claimed that Simon Bridges had confronted him with claims that four woman had made allegations against him. Ross suggested he was in a similar situation to Brett Kavanaugh.

Paula Bennett was criticised for saying that Ross had acted “inappropriately for a married man” – Paula Bennett stands by claim Ross acted inappropriately for a married man, during tense interview with Jack Tame

National Deputy leader Paula Bennett stands by saying Jami-Lee Ross acted inappropriately for a married man but denies accusing him of sexual harassment.

Yesterday, as part of the extraordinary hour long stand-up in which he levelled a number of allegations at Simon Bridges and the National party, Mr Ross accused Ms Bennett of trying to scare him off with anonymous sexual harassment allegations.

Ms Bennett defended herself today, saying Mr Ross has mischaracterised a meeting they had.

“Well he came out yesterday and he said we’d made claims to him of sexual harassment and he likened himself to (US Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh, which I found extraordinary in itself,” Ms Bennett said.

Ms Bennett said she stood by telling media Mr Ross had acted inappropriately for a married MP.

At his media conference yesterday after making a complaint to the police about his allegations of corruption (against Bridges) Ross said:

“Well I’m the one here in front of a police station who’s just spoken to three senior sergeants about my concerns around the Electoral Act being broken, so

“I’ve said that I’m comfortable with all of my conduct, I’m comfortable that I am somebody who is standing up and doing the right thing.

“I know that there’s smears about me at the moment: what I think has always been something in New Zealand politics that we leave personal lives and family out of this.

“I’m comfortable with what I have with my wife – if the way in which we’re about to play politics, when a political party and the leader is under pressure, if they want to start lifting the bedsheets on everyone that works in that building, you guys and MPs, then I think there’ll be a lot of people concerned – even those that are throwing allegations now.”

But four women have indeed made claims, according to Newsroom – Jami-Lee Ross: Four women speak out

Over the past year, Newsroom investigations editor Melanie Reid has been looking into the background and behaviour of former National MP Jami-Lee Ross. She has talked to a number of people who have given detailed accounts, recordings and documents of their close working and personal relationships with the controversial politician.

So this is not just a reaction to this week’s events.

Some felt manipulated and intimidated by the way he goes about his politics and his social interactions. Others felt pressured not to speak out.

Today Newsroom presents, on the condition of anonymity, the stories of four women and the relationships which they now believe saw them variously groomed, used for access to information and power, and abused.

Each saw the MP speak out on Tuesday denying his leaders’ allegations of “harassment”, saying he was raised to respect all women.

Yesterday Ross, who is married with children, told journalists he was happy with how he had conducted his personal life and warned against anyone in politics trying to “lift the bedsheets”.

However, each of the women interviewed below wanted to speak out, now, to set the record straight.

Profile of a narcissist

A woman who moved in the same political circles as Ross says he targeted her for a relationship which evolved into controlling behaviour, “incoherent rages” and “brutal sex”.

The woman, who described herself as the ‘primary supply’ for Ross’s narcissistic tendencies, says she was manipulated during a time of personal vulnerability.

A close friendship developed into an affair after consistent and repeated pressure. She described it as “her biggest mistake”.

“It was very clear to me his political motivation was a lust for power and control.”

She saw her opportunity to get out after noticing him seeking ‘supplies’ in other women.

Playing the long game

Another woman says she “absolutely regrets” having an affair with Ross and now believes he manipulated her for information about key National Party figures.

What started as a work friendship at Parliament became sexual after Ross initiated back-and-forth messaging – often late into the night.

The woman told Newsroom that while the encounters were consensual, she felt Ross had “100 percent groomed her” in order to seek information about National Party members she had access to.

During this time Ross had suggested she sleep with other men in the workplace – including MPs who were married – and made many other inappropriate comments.

“He said things like ‘You’re going to go out tonight and pull’.”

The woman said her reaction to Ross’ claim he respected “all women” was to “laugh out loud”.

Threats and harassment

A National Party member who says she was on the receiving end of Ross’ abuse, says she was “completely floored” by his claim he had never harassed a woman.

“I watched as Jami-Lee Ross looked reporters in the eye and told the nation that he, ‘to the best of his knowledge, had never harassed a woman’.

“He was calm. He was collected. He was every bit the master of deception.”

He went on to say that “he was raised by his grandmother to respect women”.

“Well, during the past two years, I can assure the public that my dealings with Jami-Lee Ross have never left me more harassed and disrespected as a woman in my whole life.”

“This man is a narcissist. He absolutely turns on people when he doesn’t get his own way. He is a master manipulator and a deceitful liar who has no problem looking somebody in the eye and outright lying.”

A pattern of behaviour

A woman who worked in close quarters with Ross says he “nearly destroyed” her.

“Not only was he rude and arrogant, he falsely accused me of things I didn’t do. He really didn’t treat me fairly.”

The woman had a history of many years in Parliament, and says she has never experienced anything like it “before or since”.

Ross continually undermined her and her work.

“He was setting me up and I knew I hadn’t done the things he said I had.”

The stress and anxiety became so bad she had to seek medical help.

“I didn’t even feel like I could enter the building afterwards … he destroyed me as a person.

“It makes me shake, just thinking of him.”

Ross didn’t respond to Newsroom requests for a response.

 

Parliament – ‘anti-Māori’ and racism implications

The referencing of referencing family of MPs, plus hints of and MP being ‘anti-Māori,r arose in an exchange in Parliament today, in relation to the appointment of Wally Haumaha as Deputy Police Commissioner. There’s co clear conclusion (to me) but some interesting discussion.

It came out of this primary question:

8. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does her Government expect high standards from all Government departments and Ministers?

It starts at 2:36…

Chris Bishop: Does she have confidence in her Government’s professional independence from Mr Haumaha when her police Minister gives him a shout-out in his workout videos, her Deputy Prime Minister attended a celebration on a marae for his appointment as assistant commissioner, her foreign affairs under-secretary has whānau links to him, and he was previously announced as a candidate for New Zealand First?

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Sorry, I am going to go back to that question and not require but ask the member to think very carefully about rewording it. We have had a tradition in this House, wherever possible, of not including the actions of family members—certainly within question time. I’d ask the member to reflect on his question and, if he agrees with me that that is unhealthy, to rephrase it.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Surely we have to have some accuracy in the questioning in this House. Mr Bishop began by talking about what, in effect, is an allegation of witness tampering. So the real issue, sir, for you to judge is: who is this witness who is being tampered that he talked about? The fact is the person is not a witness. The person may be a complainant, and there’s a huge difference. He’s putting the two together quite naively and mistakenly and getting away with it in the House when he should be stopped.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I think if we had the degree of exactitude that the Deputy Prime Minister is advocating, we’d have quite a few members on both sides of the House who wouldn’t be able to answer or ask a single question. Mr Bishop—going back to where we were at.

Chris Bishop: Did the panel convened by the State Services Commission to interview the short-listed candidates for the job of the Deputy Commissioner of Police recommend that Mr Haumaha be the preferred candidate for the job?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: I’m not going to get into elements of an issue that is now being independently assessed by an independent inquirer.

Hon Paula Bennett: When the Prime Minister just previously said, as she did yesterday, that, actually, he cannot be either stood down or on garden leave because it would be the decision of the commissioner and that she can’t do it, is she aware that under section 13 of the Policing Act, the deputy commissioner’s role is a statutory appointment that holds office at the pleasure of the Governor-General on the advice of her, the Prime Minister, and that she has the power to act?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: That includes them acting in that role of employment. What the member was asking about was whether I had the ability to stand someone down when there had been no formal process, and we’re undertaking an inquiry to ensure natural justice provisions apply, because the threshold test here is incredibly high. If the member is asking about gardening leave or temporary stand downs, that threshold, of course, is very different, and that is employment matter for the Commissioner of Police.

Hon Shane Jones: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I raise an issue that is troubling a number of us on this side of the House: the regularity with which those of us who enjoy Māori ancestry—and I direct your attention to Speakers’ rulings 39/4-5. I accept in the roundhouse of politics it is tough, but I am particularly irked by the allegation that Mr Bishop made, enjoying private briefings from dissolute elements in the police force, that he has labelled those of us, essentially, by talking about Fletcher Tabuteau and Winston Peters, as somehow not passing the test of parliamentary probity. And I’d invite you to reflect on it, because it will lead to a substantial bout of disorder from the House. Now, I’m not suggesting that Mr Bishop is anti-Māori, and, quite frankly, I don’t care if he is, but it is an important principle, with the number of Māori in the House—whether they’re urban Māori or broader traditional Māori—that you contemplate that situation, because we’re not going to put up with it for one more day.

Hon Paula Bennett: As one of those Māori, there is actually also a convention that we express our conflicts of interest for our whānau and particularly when we are looking at making statutory appointments, and this side of the House has a right to question that.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, yes, I would have made the same point that the Hon Paula Bennett has made, because what Mr Jones is effectively doing is saying that if there is a statutory appointment that involves someone who identifies as being a Māori New Zealander, then that process can’t be questioned and nor can anything that would make the suitability of that person appropriate for that. But further than that, sir, you sat there while Mr Jones referred to another member of this House, effectively, as having some racial bias, and that’s a completely unacceptable thing for him to do.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The allegation that someone is a cousin and therefore is biased in the choice of someone in a governmental job is so demonstrably false when the person doesn’t go to the lengths to describe how far removed that relationship might be. If he were Scottish or Māori, he might understand that this would include 7,500 people. But no such attempt is made. It’s the insinuation that because that relationship, distant though it might be, nevertheless corrupts the member’s mind in being impartial, and that’s unfair.

Mr SPEAKER: I am in a position to rule. Members may have forgotten that I intervened on Mr Bishop’s question and asked him to reword it, because I thought the tone of it was not consistent with the way that we have gone as a country over the last number of decades. He reflected on that and, despite the opportunity, decided not to repeat the question in that form and I want to thank him for that.

There are a lot of elements of judgment in this. I, of course, don’t want to indicate that people cannot be questioned where there are seen to be untoward influences and of course that is the case, but what I did indicate was that I thought it was particularly important where family matters are being brought into account that people are either very specific or very careful and not general in allegations.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Precedent in rulings in this House are very important, because they do guide the House. I’d ask that you have a look back through, I think, the mid-part of 2015 when a then prominent member of the Opposition, now a very, very prominent member of this House, was asking questions of a Minister of the then Government that related directly to a family member. Those questions were allowed, they stood, and they went on for quite some days. When you’ve gone back over those transcripts and perhaps reflected on the wisdom of the course of action taken by the prominent Opposition member, now a very prominent member of Parliament, could you perhaps bring down a ruling that brings all of these things together. I think the general allegation made against the Parliament by Mr Jones today that it is somehow racially selective to bring up an issue that relates to the appointment of a person who is of New Zealand Māori descent is a very, very backward step for this Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER: I don’t feel any need to bring back a considered ruling on it. I think the matter is pretty clear. Speaker’s ruling 41/1 makes it clear that people should avoid referring to MPs families in their private capacities. It is all right to refer to family members who have official roles, and that is a ruling of long standing. It is also all right where there is a clear intersection of the public business of an MP and a Minister and the actions of a family member, and that is an area of longstanding ruling where there is a suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on the part of a Minister in favour of a family member—that is the subject of questioning in the House and will always continue to be.