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.

 

Marama Davidson dismays with vulgar campaign

On Monday I posted about Marama Davidson’s use of what is generally refereed to as ‘the c-word’ in a speech in the weekend – Davidson and “women get a free pass” to use C word.

Davidson has picked up on publicity over her swearing, now campaigning on it.

‘Claiming it back’ is a bit dubious – I doubt that it is a word commonly used by women now, let alone when Davidson is trying to claim it back from.

She has been getting some coverage, generally negative.

Newstalk ZB: Marama Davidson defends calls to reclaim ‘c-word’

“Part of my responsibility as a leader was using my platform to resist misogyny and men using these words against us.”

I’m not sure that this will be an effective way to do that, going by the levels of derision online.

Newshub: Green co-leader Marama Davidson says New Zealand must reclaim the ‘C-word’

Green co-leader Marama Davidson is on a crusade to reclaim the word Kiwis find most offensive.

At an anti-racism rally attended by families, she dropped the ‘C-bomb’ not once, not twice, but three separate times. She was later unapologetic about her language.

“I think it’s a word that we have to disarm and reclaim”.

“That word is a powerful word for women and shouldn’t be used as abuse,” Ms Davidson says.

It has a history of being used as a term of abuse, a swear word. I’m not sure how it can now be turned into a “powerful word for women.”

From the video:

…she has barely any support from her parliamentary colleagues.

Marama Davidson and James Shaw, next to each other but miles apart, Shaw refusing to talk about his partner’s campaign to reclaim the c-word.

Jacinda Ardern:

“I certainly wouldn’t use that language”.

Winston Peters:

“This is my personal opinion, I think the use is appalling, it is terribly degrading”.

Paula Bennett:

“So she may want to reclaim whatever she likes. She doesn’t get to make that decision for other people’s children whoo were in that audience.”

Peters is old school, of a different generation where swearing in front of women was generally not done, but Ardern and Bennett are more Davidson’s age.

Marama Davidson:

“I can be called it in a death threat, but I’m not allowed to say it myself at a protest rally. I’m really happy to stand behind what I said”.

“Part of my responsibility as a leader is using my platform to resist misogyny and men using words against us.

Journalist: “Is reclaiming the C word now part of the Green Party kaupapa?”

“No it’s just something I said at a protest rally”.

Female Green MPs don’t look particularly supportive:

Parliament disarray continued

On Wednesday Paula Bennett walked out of Parliament in frustration at Speaker’s rulings. Yesterday Trevor Mallard ejected Bennett from the House in frustration at an ongoing and escalating stoush between the Opposition and the Speaker.

Question 4 was the big blow up but it was far from the only confrontation yesterday.

Question No. 4—Transport

4. JAMI-LEE ROSS (National—Botany) to the Minister of Transport: Does he remain committed to his proposals for new and increased fuel taxes in light of recent reports of petrol prices reaching record highs; if so, what consideration, if any, will he give to the increased cost of living his fuel tax proposals will have on New Zealand families?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD (Minister of Transport): I am committed to striking—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! Can I ask—Ms Bennett, can you just wait at least until the Minister’s started answering before you start your interjections.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: I am committed to striking a balance between affordability and taking urgent action on the transport infrastructure deficit that we inherited. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates that the changes to fuel taxes will see an average family in Auckland pay an extra $5 per week. By contrast, our Government’s Families Package will put $75 a week into the pockets of 384,000 low to middle income families. In terms of considering the impact of taxes on fuel prices, I intend to follow the same process as the Hon Simon Bridges did in 2015.

Jami-Lee Ross: If petrol prices continue to increase, will he revisit his proposals to increase fuel taxes, which will raise petrol prices even higher?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: International oil price fluctuations have a far greater influence on petrol prices than the policy of the previous Government and this Government of regular, small excise increases. As successive Governments have shown, it makes no sense to make major infrastructure investment decisions based on highly volatile oil price fluctuations. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! I’m just going to ask Mr Hudson and Mr Stuart Smith just to turn their volume down a little bit.

Marja Lubeck: What reports has he seen of past Governments varying the amount of fuel tax levied to match variations in the global oil prices?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: None.

Jami-Lee Ross: Is he concerned that the rising cost of petrol will increase even further if he is successful in increasing fuel taxes by up to 25c a litre?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, as I’ve tried to make abundantly clear to the member, the increase in fuel excise is a very, very small increase compared to oil price fluctuations. And I would point out to the member that instead of paying $400 million to the wealthiest 10 percent, this Government’s putting—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Jami-Lee Ross: Is he saying that his proposal to increase fuel taxes in Auckland by up to 25c a litre—as he’s announced—is small?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: Well, what I would point out is that 25c is the maximum rate that was consulted on in the draft Government policy statement. It’s not necessarily the rate that we’re going to settle on. It applies only in Auckland, where the regional fuel tax is in place, not to the rest of the country. The reason that we are investing in our transport system is because we’ve inherited a legacy of an infrastructure deficit after nine years of totally unbalanced transport policies. We’re committed to doing the right thing for this country and the right thing for the economy.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The question earlier was ruled out because we were referring to 2017, yet the Minister seems to be able to make comment about the last nine years as he wishes to, and I’m just asking for some clarification.

Mr SPEAKER: I have a feeling the member’s trying to relitigate a ruling I made quite some time ago. I think I will ignore it.

Hon David Bennett: Oh, you can’t do that. You just ignore things.

Marja Lubeck: What lessons will the Minister take from past increases of fuel excise while international petrol prices were high?

Hon PHIL TWYFORD: In 2015, the fuel excise was increased after petrol prices increased by 40c per litre. Prices later stabilised and returned to $1.70 per litre by the end of that year, 2015. I’ve learnt from that experience that you cannot make infrastructure investment decisions based on international oil price fluctuations. They’re simply too volatile. I learnt also from the former transport Minister that those fluctuations dwarf the changes in the fuel excise.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! David Bennett will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No, the member knows absolutely that he interjected an unparliamentary remark in my direction during the asking of the supplementary question.

Hon David Bennett: And what for? Why do I withdraw and apologise?

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry?

Hon David Bennett: Why do I withdraw and apologise, Mr Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER: Why?

Hon David Bennett: Yes.

Mr SPEAKER: Because the member made an unparliamentary remark and it was exacerbated by the fact that it was done during the asking of a supplementary question.

Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. What was the unparliamentary remark?

Mr SPEAKER: I’m not going to repeat what the member said about me. Withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: Mr Speaker, I need an explanation—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The member will withdraw and apologise now or I will take more serious action than has happened in the House for quite some time. Is the member going to withdraw and apologise?

Hon Paula Bennett: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I’m not having a point of order. I am waiting for Mr Bennett to decide whether he will comply with my instruction to withdraw and apologise for reflecting on the Chair while a supplementary question was being asked. Is the member going to withdraw and apologise?

Hon David Bennett: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I’m not having a point of order, Mr Bennett. You’re either going to withdraw and apologise or I will name you. [Interruption] Order!

Hon David Bennett: I withdraw and apologise.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Sorry, sir, but it is in reflection to me yesterday having to withdraw and apologise. I genuinely do not know what it was for. I did not make a comment as I left, and this is leading to this kind of disorder, when we don’t know what the actual line is as to what you find offensive and what you don’t. I’ve looked at Hansard. I know what I said as I left. I made no disparaging remarks about you last night, and this leads to my colleagues in a position now where—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat. The member will resume her seat. If she wants an explanation for how she breached Standing Orders yesterday, I suggest she watches the TV, either on Parliament TV or on at least one of the news channels to see herself interjecting on her feet as she left.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Is it a new point of order, Mr Brownlee—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes.

Mr SPEAKER: —or is it a relitigation?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: No, it’s a new point of order. People might like to look at the TVNZ clip that’s currently running, of a member challenging the Speaker on frequent occasions and ultimately being required to leave the House, and being quite messy all the way through. On none of those occasions was the member named. My question simply is: why do we go suddenly from a position where the Speaker does not want to, apparently, make people leave the House, does not explain what an offence might be, but then simply requires people to accept the arbitrary decision of the Chair or be named, which everyone knows is quite an extreme step for anyone in this House? It seems the step that—we’ve gone from a very, very simple straightforward position of how you deal with these things to one that is quite Draconian. And I think that is the problem we’ve got with the inconsistency of the way the Chair’s operating at the present time.

Mr SPEAKER: I note the member’s comments but, as the member knows well, naming is—I think Standing Order 90—the punishment for being grossly disorderly. And refusing to withdraw and apologise for quite an extended period of time is grossly disorderly.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: If it’s the same matter, Ms Bennett, you’re running a serious risk of losing a number of supplementary questions from your team from the first Tuesday back.

Hon Paula Bennett: So, to be clear, Mr Speaker, what I wish to be is actually not unruly in this House. So I need clarification that it was yesterday when I said “It’s a waste of time” that you took such offence to that I had to come back and—well, when I come back you insisted that I withdraw—

Mr SPEAKER: That’s exactly right. If the member had not said that she was leaving the House, I would have required her to withdraw and apologise then. But seeing as she was self-banishing herself, I thought that that was the best way of dealing with it and we could get on with business. I did reflect to the member later on that on a previous occasion, when I had done exactly the same thing—made a comment as I was self-banishing—the Speaker sent for me and made me come back and apologise, and then booted me out again. The member was treated pretty leniently.

Hon David Bennett: Yeah, didn’t get named though.

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! No, the member will resume her seat. Mr Bennett will withdraw and apologise again.

Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: No. The member will withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: I just want to table a withdrawal, because I might as well be using it all the time, the way the House is going at the moment.

Mr SPEAKER: So the member’s declining to withdraw and apologise?

Hon David Bennett: No, I’m seeking your guidance—

Mr SPEAKER: No, you’re not seeking my guidance; you’re going to withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: Mr Speaker, what for? I just—I need to know what I did wrong.

Mr SPEAKER: Mr Bennett, you reflected on the Chair, on my ruling—again. I mean, the member understands what he does. He is not an unintelligent member. It’s not something that happens accidentally. But the member should be able to remember sort of 30 seconds after he made a comment that he did. The member will withdraw and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: [Member pauses] I withdraw and apologise, sir.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is the Chair immune from the provisions of Standing Order 120?

Mr SPEAKER: Sorry, can the member say that a little bit more loudly?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes—is the Chair immune from the provisions of Standing Order 120?

Mr SPEAKER: No.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Then isn’t simply requiring members to withdraw and apologise, without some explanation of the reason for that, impugning improper motives against a member?

Mr SPEAKER: For goodness’ sake! Mr Brownlee, this has got to the point of being ridiculous, the member is—[Interruption] Paula Bennett will leave the Chamber. [Interruption] The member will leave the Chamber.

Hon Paula Bennett withdrew from the Chamber.

Mr SPEAKER: Now, I’ve lost where we were at.

Hon David Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think I’m next up, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Supplementary question—David Bennett.

Hon David Bennett: No, primary question.

Dysfunction in Parliament

Question Time (oral questions) has often been contentious in Parliament, in large part because it is the best chance for MPs, especially Opposition MPs, to get media attention.

Either tensions, frustration or deliberate attention seeking has simmering for some time, and flared up yesterday. Paula Bennett walked out in a huff over decisions made by the Speaker Trevor Mallard, and shadow leader of the house Gerry Brownlee followed up with a letter to the Speaker saying National’s confidence in the Speaker had been ‘badly shaken’.

Who’s to blame for this? Largely the party leaders Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges (and Winston Peters to an extent) have to take responsibility for the behaviour of themselves and their MPs in Parliament.

The Speaker should also reflect on whether his approach is as effective and fair as it could be.

The exchange yesterday that boiled over (or stirred the pot):

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

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

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can she confirm that as a result of her delay to the implementation of the winter energy payment, superannuitants will be around $300 worse off this year than they would have been following National’s proposed tax cuts?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course, the member will be aware we very deliberately cancelled those tax cuts so that we could invest in the low and middle income New Zealanders who needed that investment more than the top 10 percent of income earners, who would get $400 million worth. We have, however, identified that superannuitants experience things like winter poverty. We would have very much liked our payment to have come in earlier. It starts on 1 July and then it runs through till September. When it’s fully implemented, those superannuitants can expect to receive $700 as a couple—$450—but, again, this year it is less than that, unfortunately.

Hon Paula Bennett: How can she justify waiting till 1 July for the winter energy payment because, as she said previously, it was difficult to implement earlier, and yet she could bring in a fees-free policy on 1 January worth $2.8 billion?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As the member would well know, having been the Minister for Social Development, making the largest changes to the welfare system in over a decade can be a complex exercise. We deliberately created a mini-Budget in December in order to expedite bringing in the winter energy payment, the Best Start payment, and Working for Families changes, and managed to do it in a time that I think even that side of the House would have found challenging, given their tax cut changes didn’t come in till the following year.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is the Prime Minister really leading us to believe that it would have been harder to universally give a one-off payment to all superannuitants on 1 May than it is to actually do the difficulties of different courses, 294,000 students, on 1 January for mixed payments?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with education Minister Chris Hipkins that the fees-free policy will drive a 15 percent increase in student numbers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Taking into account that we have to reverse a trend under that last Government of declining enrolment in post-secondary education, which we are trying to reverse. Of course, the members on the other side of the House have taken an unfortunate and narrow view of the need for us to have a greater proportion of our population in post-secondary education that includes those who have never studied before, who might be factory floor works or, indeed, McDonald’s workers, to go to wānanga or polytech to retrain, boost our productivity, and transform our economy.

Hon Paula Bennett: Let me rephrase: does she agree with the education Minister that the fees-free policy will drive a 15 percent increase in student numbers, particularly as she just said and accused us of not—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! The member finished her question some time ago.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The point that I was making is that we had declining enrolment numbers. In fact, we did point out that, actually, for the last year our expectations were lower than that. We know that we have to make up ground, because, as I’ve said, there was a tendency for post-secondary education to start declining, and we’re trying to reverse that trend. I would have thought the other side of the House would be a bit more ambitious about the options for New Zealanders to retrain and educate themselves.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is she concerned about the effectiveness of her flagship $2.8 billion fees-free tertiary policy given Treasury is now forecasting that there will not be a 15 percent increase, not a 5 percent—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member’s finished. She’s had two legs already.

Hon Paula Bennett: No I haven’t. Not even no increase but, instead, 900 fewer students. Actually, that is the relevant point, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the two points I’d like to make—

Hon Gerry Brownlee:I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: —is that this side of—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Point of order.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Gerry, I’ve got this. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, that was clearly an interruption of a point of order, so, clearly, you’ll want to rule on that.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I hadn’t yet called the member.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, you had, actually. The Hansard will show you had.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, if that is correct, I apologise to the member. The member now has the call. Would he like to make his point of order?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes. Your suggestion that the question is now over seems to me to fly in the face of there needing to be some verification for questions. If you want us to start writing novels before the actual question ends, we can do that, but some flexibility in being able to make a point with the question is not unreasonable given that everyone knows question time is a time when the Government defends itself and has a much greater opportunity to do that. That should be couched in terms of the information given or provided by the question, and that’s the point of verification.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I thank the member for his advice. I will listen carefully in the future. It would probably be easier to judge and less complicated if there weren’t addendums before the question started as well as unnecessary information for the purpose of the question during it.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The point I was making was actually that the member is reinforcing the issue that we had. We had a declining number of people engaging in post-secondary education, regardless of whether they were school leavers or those already on the factory floor. The OECD said we needed to do something about it; the IMF said we needed to do something about it—this Government is. It may take time, but it will be worth it.

Hon Paula Bennett: In November, when her education Minister made his statement that it would increase by 15 percent, did he know it was declining, or is she just using that as an excuse now to break her promise?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We all knew it was declining, we all knew we had to do something about it, and we all know that we’ve got a productivity challenge in New Zealand. This side of the House is willing to take that challenge on; that side would rather see barriers to education continue.

Hon Paula Bennett: So why was a $2.8 billion bribe for tertiary students more important than her promises around health, education, and police that she’s promised?

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, no. I’m going to require the deputy leader of the National Party to rephrase that question in a way that she knows is within Standing Orders, and she’s not getting an extra question for doing it; this will be a new supplementary.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why was a $2.8 billion payment for tertiary students more important than her promises around health, education, and police?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, a narrow view of the policy given this will have a greater potential impact for those workers who have never ever engaged in post-secondary education. But my second question: if it’s a bribe, will you reverse it?

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You ruled out a word that I wasn’t to use, and yet then the Prime Minister is free to use it in her answer.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the Prime Minister could well have been reflecting the inappropriate comment of the member. [Interruption] Order! Order! If members can’t see a description of someone’s own policy as being different from a description of another person’s policy—picking up the words inappropriately used I think is not out of order. What I thought the member was going to object to was the Prime Minister’s reference to the second person, and I want to remind her that she should keep me out of the debate and out of the questions.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Well, all things considered, then, do we get that question back?

Mr SPEAKER: No.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why was $900 million—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Opposition just lost five questions. Gerry Brownlee will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I withdraw and apologise.

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, your job is to keep order in this House, not to prevent the Opposition from challenging the Government on their programmes. Your repeated recall of questions from us does that, and I think that is most inappropriate and bad for our democracy.

Mr SPEAKER: I want to thank the member for his advice, but I will not have senior members referring to me in the way that he did by way of interjection. I do regard what he has just done as grossly disorderly, and I will contemplate what will happen. I think members know that, in the past, anyone who made that comment would’ve been tossed out of the House, and I don’t want it to be my practice to do that—especially to a senior member of the House—but the member should know better, and I will contemplate what I will do as question time goes on.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the point I do want to pick up is that I think the use of taking away and gaining supplementary questions does question our ability as the Opposition to actually put the Government on notice, to actually ask the questions that we have a right to do as part of our democracy. My colleague may not have made that point as clearly as he wanted to, but that’s certainly how this side of the House feels.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I now regard that member as being grossly disorderly. She has again relitigated the point that I’ve been ruling on. The member knows well that supplementary questions are at my discretion. Any supplementary questions are at my discretion. I’ve chosen to use this approach. As a result of it, to date, the National Party have had 22 more supplementaries than they would’ve had according to the numbers given by the Clerk. They have done very well out of the process, mainly as a result of disorderly behaviour by Mr Jones and a couple of his colleagues. But the National Party is ahead on it, and I absolutely reject any suggestion that the National Party have not been able to ask the number of questions over this Parliament that they would’ve been able to otherwise. That’s just not true.

Hon Paula Bennett: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, there’s no point of order. If the member wants a further supplementary, she can take it. If not, we’ll move on.

Hon Paula Bennett: No, I’m leaving. What a waste of time.

Mr SPEAKER: For how long?

Hon Paula Bennett: Oh, just for today.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.

 

After scrapping data-for-funding plan Government seeks consultation

As soon as the took over the Government Labour scrapped a data-for-funding plan, and they are now consulting on how it should use personal data to improve services.

Is this another case of acting first, consulting later?

RNZ: Govt calls for public’s views on social services

The government will consult with social service providers and the public on how best it can use personal data to improve services, it says.

 

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said 1500 groups had been asked to take part.

“There will be 28 locations where the consultation will take place. Tomorrow the letters go out that will invite people to participate,” she said.

“It will include NGOs, it will include iwi, it will include iwi organisations, it will include service users.”

Consultation is generally a good thing, especially on something contentious like the use of personal data by the Government.

In November the new Labour-led government scrapped National’s controversial data-for-funding plan, calling it dangerous and unnecessary.

The plan would have required social service providers to hand over personal client details in exchange for funding.

I don’t know whether it was as bad as it sounds here – it could have been a form of coercion, but it could also simply have been a requirement to provide what the Government wanted in order to be eligible for funding.

More details here: Govt not trusted with NZer’s personal data – Minister

Many people do not trust the government to safeguard their personal data, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni says.

Ms Sepuloni said the previous government’s attempt to demand personal information from welfare groups had undermined public confidence.

The data-for-funding model would have forced social agencies like Women’s Refuge to hand over names, birth dates and ethnicity of their vulnerable clients in return for funding.

That does sound questionable, especially with very vulnerable people involved.

Ms Sepuloni scrapped the data-for-funding proposal when she took office, but she said it caused a lot of damage.

“It was a failure and it caused a lot of distrust publicly and so it’s important that we have a discussion with the public, with the [non-governmental organisations] NGOs, with all of those affected on how we use information.”

She said government has a lot of work to do to regain the public’s confidence.

“There is general distrust with respect to how the government uses information and it’s important that we regain that trust … and how we can assure New Zealanders that their private information is protected,” she said.

But data can also be useful to determine the most effective ways of using funds.

Social Service Providers, which is an umbrella organisation of NGOs and community groups, welcomed the consultation announcement. Its national manager, Brenda Pilott, said it was a conversation New Zealanders needed to have.

“I think we need to be very cautious about sharing private information. I think most of the time the things that people are thinking about, such as what programmes are effective, information that you need for planning and for things like funding decisions, I believe most of the time you can get that information from just using anonymous data – you don’t need to know the name of the person.”

National via Paula Bennett has responded: Data working group will do little to help NZers

“Minister Sepuloni today said that the Government will work with the ‘social sector to develop a single shared set of rules and tools for the use and protection of personal information in the social sector’.

“National has already done that – it’s called the Data Futures Partnership, and it delivered a report on the use of data in August 2017. ‘A Path to Social Licence’ made a number of recommendations to help organisations work with data in a way that builds trust with individuals and the community.

“The report reflects what thousands of New Zealanders told us as we engaged with people across the country. Now, the Government wants to ignore that and restart the conversation – presumably because it didn’t tell the Government what it wanted to hear.

“The only explanation for the Government’s decision today to form yet another working group, after years of work on how we use and protect data, is because they fundamentally don’t believe data will make a difference to the delivery of social services.

National have been trying to hammer Labour over their prolific use of work groups and inquiries.

However if social agencies major problems with the data sharing requirements it is more important than political bickering.

There seems to be a clash of government and politics here.

Data is an important aspect of providing effective services and funding, but it can be a tricky balancing act when vulnerable people who are suspicious of the Government are involved.