More ‘predator free’ responses

NZH: Conservation Minister Maggie Barry on the Government’s predator free policy

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry spoke to The Country’s Jamie Mackay today about the devastation caused by introduced predators such as possums, stoats and rats and how New Zealand has no obligation to see these animals as part of our ecosystem.

New Zealand First’s Richard Prosser claims that the move has the potential to be the worst unintentional ecological blunder of modern times.

Audio

NZH: Anti-1080 groups: Plan is ‘ludicrous’

Ban 1080 Party president Bill Wallace, of Nelson, dismissed it as a pipe dream.

“But it’s justification for another 34 years of spreading 1080 in ever-greater quantities,” Wallace said.

He doubted private companies would want to be associated with a poisoning programme in which animals died “slow and tortured deaths”.

“This is just ludicrous,” 1080 activist Laurie Collins, of Buller, said. “They know they haven’t got a hope in hell.”

Farmers Against Ten Eighty spokeswoman Mary Molloy, of Hari Hari…

… said the ideal was laudable but not feasible.

West Coast Regional Council chairman Andrew Robb…

…welcomed the announcement.

He said it would mean a lot more aerial jobs on the Coast, with follow-up ground work, which would also create some employment opportunities.

In terms of the councils putting in $2 for every $1 of private money, he noted a lot of the work would be on Government land.

Federated Farmers spokesman for pest management Chris Allen…

…said it fully supported the target, although noting it would take billions of dollars to achieve eradication using current technologies.

“Federated Farmers want an assurance that the money will be made available to investigate new strategies and technologies,” Allen said.

More from Prosser…

New Zealand First said it had the potential to derail into the worst unintentional ecological blunder of modern times.

The party’s primary industries and outdoor recreation spokesman Richard Prosser said birds and lizards had coexisted alongside ferrets and stoats for more than 130 years, cats for 200 years, and rats for more than 800.

As much as one third of native bird life has been lost. Many bird species are now endangered, as are tuatara and other lizards.

“The rat is the preferred food of the stoat, which only switches to preying on birds when rat populations are depleted,” Prosser said.

The intention of eliminating rats was so unrealistic as to be “bordering on the irrational”.

Green Party list MP Kevin Hague…

…said the $28m the Government was initially investing was “a drop in the bucket”.

To make Stewart Island predator free would cost up to $25m alone. In addition, DOC’s funding had been reduced by some $56m a year on the last Labour government budget, he said.

NZH Editorial: Predator purge best hope for precious fauna

The ambitious public-private project carries risks, and the financial commitment is a long way shy of the costs estimated by the Auckland study. Reaching the target rests partly on technology which does not yet exist, though Conservation Minister Maggie Barry believes that a “scientific breakthrough” will emerge to eradicate at least one small mammalian predator from New Zealand by 2025, less than a decade away.

Destructive introduced mammals have been in New Zealand for centuries. Rats arrived as long ago as 700 years, and other unwelcome invasive species followed. As much as one third of native bird life has been lost. Kiwi are expected to vanish from the mainland within 50 years unless their decline is arrested.

For decades now, tens of millions of dollars have been invested in pest control programmes, yet the survival of many remaining species is uncertain and the presence of predators is still entrenched. The goal of wiping them out, even with more funding and the outlines of a co-ordinated plan, will be extremely hard to achieve. To keep what we’ve got, there is really no other option.

Press editorial: Predator-free NZ a worthy goal but will the Government’s scheme fly?

Thirty-four years is a long time. In 2050, if the trap slams shut on the last remaining stoat or rat in New Zealand, we can judge as an incredible success the pest-control strategy just announced by John Key’s National Government.

Pragmatically, though, that target is many, many years away. How many members of the Government will still be in Parliament then? And the $28 million being put by the Government into the scheme is a very small amount, roughly the same that was spent on the failed effort to change the flag.

The idea deserves support, not least because finally the Government has shown an interest in protecting, and improving, our environment.

Commendably, the Government has set some interim goals to achieve by 2025, including having 1 million hectares where pests are suppressed or removed, and a scientific breakthrough capable of eradicating one small mammal predator. Such goals should help the strategy proceed on to and down the right track.

There have been successful public-private partnerships in the conservation sector. But do we really need a Crown entity to manage the process? Why not give the money instead to the beleaguered Department of Conservation, which has had millions of dollars cut out of its budgets for several years, to start the ball rolling?

 

Dictatorial ‘Bilge Rat’ politics

Winston peters has accused John Key of being dictatorial and involved in ‘bilge rat politics’:

PM Stoops To ‘Bilge Rat’ Politics On Auckland Housing

Auckland Council is a victim of the ‘bilge rat’ politics of Prime Minister John Key, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Mr Key is bullying the council. Fix housing or we put in commissioners. That’s dictatorial. It’s arrogant.

Typically colourful language to attract attention, as Peters is adept at. And Key does appear to be at least a little dictatorial on housing in Auckland.

But is Peters’ accusation a bit pot/kettle? He has been seen as and accused of being dictatorial within the NZ First party.

Little seems to be seen or heard of the other eleven NZ First MPs.

With the party’s rise in prominence in polls and raised chances of NZ First holding a pivotal role in the make up of the next government more exposure of the whole line up of MPs is important. I presume Peters won’t demand all the plum positions in Cabinet for himself and leave all his colleagues out in the cold.

Peters dominates the NZ First presence in Question Time in Parliament.

The most recent questions asked by NZ First MPs:

Peters seems to often ask both NZ First questions when they have two allocated.

I think Peters was not at Parliament in the first two weeks of May so duties were shared around, but with deputy leader Ron Mark ask more questions (four) than the other three combined.

But unless there is an ejection or walkout from the chamber the NZ First MPs other than Peters seem to get little media attention.

So is the media the problem? Are they guilty of focussing too much on headline makers like Peters and ignoring much of what goes on with the other MPs?

A search in Google news for the last week for “Ron Mark” gets two hits but they are press releases at Scoop.

In comparison Labour deputy Annette King features in 12 articles.

Going back a month, excluding press releases, there are a smattering of stories featuring Mark:

Again King has significantly more, about three times as many.

Looking at News releases on the NZ First website it is apparent that a number of NZ First MPs are busy churning out statements.

30/05/16

27/05/16

So seven MPs other than Peters put out press releases non budget day, but that was into a very crowded media market.

26/05/16

25/05/16

24/05/16

23/05/16

22/05/16

21/05/16

20/05/16

Obvious prominence of Peters but quite a few contributions from other NZ First MPs there.

They just don’t make headlines, and seem virtually invisible in the news.

Is this a problem? Or just how things work with list MPs who are not in leading positions?

If this low profile for most NZ First MPs continues the public may not know much about them until they are thrust into a coalition spotlight should they get that opportunity after next year’s election.

I don’t know if Peters is dictatorial in the NZ First caucus or not, but his MP colleagues are working on getting their messages out.

Is the media too dictatorial in what gets put in front of the public?

Are significant media resources pored/poured into trying to find smidgens of connections in a myriad of Panama papers a more worthwhile service to the New Zealand public than informing us about those who may well end up playing a part in running the country in eighteen months?

Horan’s accusations against NZ First

Brendan Horan accused Winston Peters and NZ First of misusing funds and parliamentary staff yesterday.

• NZ First used about $20,000 from its taxpayer-funded leader’s budget to purchase the Vanguard “constituent management software”.
• Mr Horan claims Vanguard is used to seek memberships and donations which is against Parliament’s rules.
• NZ First staff who are paid by Parliamentary Service are running the software which is also against Parliament’s rules.

(http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=11259250)

Budget Debate – 21st May, 2014 – Part 6Date: 21/05/14Topic: Budget DebatePeople: Andrew Williams, Barbara Stewart,Brendan Horan, Richard Prosser

Starts at 5:45

The draft transcript:

BUDGET DEBATE

15:59:30~BRENDAN HORAN (Independent)

I turn now to Vote Parliamentary Service. Recently I have received information that raises real questions about the use of parliamentary funding by a party. I am writing to the Speaker asking that the Parliamentary Service investigate these matters and report to him. There is a clear precedent for this when in December 2001 the then general manager, John O’Sullivan, reported to the Speaker on the Alliance electorate liaison unit. That report swept aside any uncertainty that might have existed and clearly stated the rules. The Leader of New Zealand First cannot claim to be ignorant—

Richard Prosser: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

BRENDAN HORAN: —but in the past 18 months has—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! [Interruption] Order! There is a point of order.

Richard Prosser: The Budget debate is around the Government’s allocation of funding for various means and the use of that funding—.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No. Look—[Interruption] Order! The member will sit. The member in opening talked about Vote Parliamentary Service. That is what he is speaking on and he can continue in that vein. I am listening very carefully to what he is saying. That comes under Speaker’s rulings. I am inviting Brendan Horan to continue.

BRENDAN HORAN: It is good to see he had a voice there, but a shame he does not have a vertebrae.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! That is completely out of order. That is an attack on the integrity of a member of this House. The member will withdraw and apologise for that comment.

BRENDAN HORAN: I withdraw and apologise for that comment.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Brendan Horan—continue.

BRENDAN HORAN: He has deliberately withheld information from the board of the NZ First Party. The NZ First Party—

Andrew Williams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Under Standing Order 117, “Personal reflections”, a member may not make an imputation of improper motives against a member, an offensive reference to a private member’s affairs”—Standing Order 117.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Look, I know that this is a very interesting subject. This debate is about the spending not the person. We are in a debate on Vote Parliamentary Service. Anything to do with the appropriation and the way that money has been appropriated, how it is being used, and how it is being spent is a matter for debate, and that is what we are on now. So Brendan Horan will continue.

BRENDAN HORAN: The NZ First Party is using taxpayer-funded computer software for party political purposes such as campaigning and fundraising. The programme codenamed “Vanguard”—

Barbara Stewart: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Again Mr Horan is transgressing Standing Order 117, making a personal reflection a member or a—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no. The member has talked about a party. He has not mentioned any individual in this matter.

Hon Annette King: That’s cute.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Sorry? And if we look at Standing Order 117 it says that “A member may not make an imputation of improper motives against a member, an offensive reference to a member’s private affairs, or ae personal reflection against a member.” I am listening very carefully to this. The member must keep focusing on the appropriation to Parliamentary Service, the use and appropriation of that money and any concerns that the member may have, if that is the way that his speech wishes to continue.

Andrew Williams: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Speaker has in the last 2 weeks on numerous occasions advised members that if they have any issue in this regard, it should be referred in the normal manner through the Privileges Committee or through other official channels; it should not be raised in this House. The Speaker has made that ruling on numerous occasions. We would like that to be upheld.

Brendan Horan: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): The member will sit. That may well be the case that there is a referral to the committee, but this is a debating chamber and members in this House have freedom of expression, freedom to express their views. I am listening very carefully to this. I will ask the member to focus on Vote Parliamentary Service. As I have mentioned before, the debate is about the appropriation of the money and the use of that money, and the member should not bring into account the integrity of any member of this House. All members are honourable members. I will ask the member to focus on that.

BRENDAN HORAN: Vote Parliamentary Service —the New Zealand First Party is using taxpayer-funded computer software for party political purposes such as campaigning and fund-raising. The program, code named Vanguard, is a constituent relationships management system that stores personal details of voters and is used for mass mail-outs. Other political parties have these programs too—

Barbara Stewart: I raise a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. This program has not been launched. It is not part of—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): That is not a point of order. I will ask members that on point of orders, they have to be relevant to the matter. That is not a point of order.

BRENDAN HORAN: Other political parties have these programs too, but they are funded by the parties themselves and operated outside of Parliament. New Zealand First paid tens of thousands of dollars out of the leader’s budget to develop this software and has its parliamentary staff working to run the program for election year. This is a clear breach of Parliamentary Service guidelines. An internal party strategy document dated 9 March 2014 states, under the heading “Funds”: “Campaign fund request, first two weeks April—Self-funding after initial distribution, followed by use of Vanguard appeals to focus groups”. A memo to the party board by the president, Anne Martin, dated 10 March 2014, states: “The director of operations canvassed the use of Vanguard computer program. Suggest board advised of its uses, including candidates’ college program as well.” This use of parliamentary resources for fund-raising appeals and political campaigning is more than questionable, especially from the New Zealand First Party, which promised a fair go in the last election. The public has a right to know what its money is being used for and whether it is being used legally. A company called Lone Star Market Research was registered on 1 August 2012. The company’s sole director is New Zealand First’s director of operations in Parliament, and is a member of the party’s campaign committee. The company was set up with the intention of conducting political activity for New Zealand First. New Zealand needs an assurance from Parliamentary Service and the leader of New Zealand First that Lone Star Market Research has not received one cent of taxpayer money, nor had the use of parliamentary resources. New Zealand First—[Interruption]

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! There is a point of order from Barbara Stewart.

Barbara Stewart: I raise a point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker. This information is totally incorrect. It is just fantasising, and although I realise it is a wide-ranging debate—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): No, no; I do not need any help. I have indicated that anything relating to Vote Parliamentary Service is in order. If the member ties that into Vote Parliamentary Service, that—

Barbara Stewart: But it’s wrong.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Whether it is wrong or right is a matter for debate. This is a debating chamber. It is not for me to judge the accuracy of the information that has been presented. So long as it ties into Vote Parliamentary Service, it is in order. Brendan Horan has 1 minute remaining.

BRENDAN HORAN: Vote Parliamentary Service—the New Zealand First Party membership secretary, present at board meetings and recorded in the minutes of those meetings, is paid by Parliamentary Service for a full-time, out-of-Parliament support role in the New Zealand First office in Bank Street, Whangarei. This is a clear conflict of interest. This paper trail leads down the pathway to inappropriate use of public moneys, serious conflicts of interest, secrecy, and a lack of transparency and accountability, and all from a party that purports to hold everyone else to task. There seem to be clear breaches of the Speaker’s directions on provision of services to MPs and parties. Staff would seem to be in breach of the Parliamentary Service code of conduct. I call upon the leader of that party to open his leader’s budget accounts to the scrutiny of the Speaker first, and then to the public of New Zealand.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): I call the Hon Chris Tremain. [Interruption] Point of order, Brendan Horan.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table an email received on 6 May 2014, stating facts re Vanguard.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table the minutes from the New Zealand First board meeting on 2 March 2013.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

Brendan Horan: Point of order, Mr Assistant Speaker.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): How many points of order do you have?

Brendan Horan: Well, there are number—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! One moment. Look, points of order will be heard in silence. I am asking the member how many points of order he is intending to bring forward.

Brendan Horan: Three more.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): OK.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table a New Zealand First memo to electorates in mid-July.

BUDGET DEBATE

16:14:54~The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch)

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table a report to the board by Anne Martin, of 10 March 2014.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

BRENDAN HORAN (Independent): I seek leave to table a report of a strategy meeting on 19 March 2014, entitled “Use of Vanguard for fund-raising”.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Leave is sought for that purpose. Is there any objection? There is objection.

 —

Reported afterwards by Felix Marwick (Newstalk ZB chief political reporter):

Here’s what NZF MPs Prosser, Lole-Taylor, & Stewart had to say after Horan’s allegations in Parliament today

http://chirb.it/bcsFyn

Where’s Winston? MIA

Winston Peters was noticeably absent from Parliament yesterday when Brendan Horan made accusations against NZ First. This had been signalled the day before, when Peters made scurrilous insinuations likening Horan to Jimmy Saville.

It was left to other NZ First MPs to try to shut down the accusations – Richard Prosser, Andrew Williams and Barbara Stewart all tried points of order to shut down and argue against Horan. The NZ First MPs all blocked attempts by Horan to table documents in support of his accusations.

Deputy leader Tracey Martin was also absent. She was active on Twitter and Facebook up until Tuesday morning but nothing since.

Peters did defend against the accusations from a distance.

NZ First misused Parliamentary funding – Horan

Speaking from Auckland, Mr Peters said Mr Horan’s claim was “a lie” and denied the software was used for party political purposes.

Mr Peters said Mr Horan was making allegations “that are just baseless like the one he made about a $2 million slush fund, that’s a total lie as well, and the one about the horse is a lie as well.”

Peters claims and denials about the racehorse Bellazeel didn’t stack up with facts. And there’s a huge irony in Peters complaining about baseless accusations.

Where was Winston?

NZ Herald reported Peters dodges Horan’s allegations:

While he denied he was running away from a fight, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters left his MPs to defend the party against claims by independent MP Brendan Horan the party misused taxpayer funding to raise cash and seek votes.

Mr Horan had previously indicated he was going to make the claims in Parliament yesterday but Mr Peters was not there to hear them. He told the Herald he had a prior engagement to speak to the Waitakere Grey Power yesterday. However, Waitakere Grey Power’s website has him down to speak today.

That’s correct according to this:

Waitakere Grey power

 

Interestingly a Google search shows more:

Waitakere Grey Power searchThe event seems to have been listed on the NZ First website but now:

The requested page “/event/waitakere-public-meeting” could not be found.

But is still in cache:

Waitakere Grey Power cache

Very strange. NZ First events prior to this are still on the website.

And very ironic. An MP well known for his attacks on others in Parliament seems unwilling to be on the receiving end of accusations.

There could be another reason for his absence yesterday, but why would he make up an excuse that is easily proven incorrect? Why would the event be removed from the NZ First website?

There’s a perception that Peters is trying to hide something, or hide from something.

His accusations on Tuesday have been called the worst seen in Parliament for a long time. Is NZ First reacting to that? Is Peters not prepared to face an accuser? Or is he trying to hide something?

He was Missing In Action and making things up yesterday. He would be one of the first to hold another MP to account for anything like that.

NZ First firmly against foreign ownership

In a Q & A interview this morning Winston Peters confirmed that NZ First had a firm policy against foreign ownership.

Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged

Winston Peters has sent a strong signal that his party would stop foreigners buying property in New Zealand.

The New Zealand First leader says it has always been the party’s bottom line for NZ housing and farmland to be for New Zealand people. He said he would adopt the same view as China where foreigners cannot buy property but can lease it for 70 years.

Mr Peters told Q+A this morning NZ First doesn’t want NZ land to be “owned by everybody around the world – and absentee-owned at that”.

Edited video:  (Source: Q and A) Winston Peters says foreign ownership policy unchanged (0:46)

Full interview: Peters – Polls don’t tell the real story (11:10)

Peters didn’t quite say this would be non-negotiable post-election but made it clear it was a high priority policy for NZ First. He said people should check the NZ First policy. I checked for policy and other references to foreign ownership.

Policy: Housing

Ensure that New Zealand’s housing stock is restricted to New Zealanders

  • Non-residents who are not New Zealand citizens would be ineligible for home ownership except if a genuine need to do so can be demonstrated.
  • The terms and conditions upon which existing approvals by the Overseas Investment Commission for the ownership of land by non-residents would be fully monitored and enforced.

Policy: Primary Industries

  • An end to land sales to foreign interests, and policies to ensure the retention of the farming sector in the ownership of New Zealand resident and New Zealand farmers.

Policies updated 20 March 2014.
Further updates in the 2014 election campaign.

Members Bill: Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this Bill is to provide vital information on the extent of foreign ownership of New Zealand. This Bill proposes a comprehensive register of all foreign owned land in New Zealand. The register will record names and nationalities, the amount of land and value of land, and the regions in which the land is situated. Purchasers will provide the information for the register.

Media Release: Going Going Gone – The Kiwi Family Farm

19.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“To allow one foreign company to buy 29 farms is a sin,” says Rt Hon Winston Peters, in reference to the sale of 13 Synlait Farms in Canterbury to a majority-owned Chinese company which was also allowed to buy the 16 Crafar farms.

“This is not foreign investment, it is the transfer of Kiwi wealth in wholesale quantities.

“Many of our family farms are disappearing. Young would-be farm owners are being priced out of ownership as foreigners are allowed to buy-up blocks of farms in one go.

“This Government clearly favours foreign ownership over ordinary New Zealanders and their dreams of doing well on the land.

“It is not a fair go for New Zealanders. There is no reason why these farms could not have been sold individually giving Kiwis a more competitive chance at ownership.

“The end of the treasured Kiwi farm, as the backbone of the economy, is nigh unless we say no to more farm sales to non-resident foreigners,” says Mr Peters.

Media Release: Another Rubber Stamp For Foreign Buy-Up

04.02.2014
Rt Hon Winston Peters

“New Zealand First wants a halt to sales of farmland to non-resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: New Zealand First Says No More Farm Sales To Non Resident Foreigners

09.11.2013
Richard Prosser

New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of New Zealand farmland to non resident foreign buyers.

Media Release: Go Buy American Farms Harvard

03.05.2013
Rt Hon Winston Peters

New Zealand First has criticised the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) for allowing Harvard University to buy a big dairy farm in Otago.

Media Release: Keep Crafar Farms, Appeals Winston Peters

04.04.2012
Rt Hon Winston Peters

Rt Hon Winston Peters has made a last ditch appeal for the government to keep the Crafar farms in the hands of New Zealanders where they belong.

This confirms a consistent opposition to foreign ownership.

Despite this we will have to wait until after the election before we find out whether NZ First get a chance to negotiate to play a part in the next government, and if they do whether foreign ownership of houses and land is a part of any policy agreements.

Winston Peters et al

Winston Peters is currently in full attack mode. He is trying to destroy the political career of Peter Dunne, and he is trying to demolish the United Future party.

And Peters is also trying to bring down our current government.

WinstonPeters

Peters uses any dirty tactics he can get away with, including lying and making accusations that he has no evidence to prove – and he repeatedly makes accusations and assertions he must know are false.

Decency and democracy don’t matter to Peters. Much of his political ambition has been to destroy.

Peter Dunne is on a downer of his own making.

But Peters is a political vulture, an opportunistic vulture. He is trying to put in the boot, scratch out eyes and pour his acidic tongue over it all. He wants victims with incurring maximum damage.

Peters is playing the dirtiest kind of politics, the sort of nasty undemocratic politics that most of the public despise.

It should be recognised that Peters is not doing this on his own.

Some of the media actively assist Peters (although notably John Campbell has started to hold him to account and demand answers – but Peters is very practised in the art of avoiding questions, of avoiding providing any substance to his bluster.

And Peters is on this current rampage with the apparent support of compliant colleagues.

Six other NZ First MPs walked out of Parliament with Peters last week when he put on an attention seeking tantrum.

Six other MPs sit behind Peters in Parliament, supporting his actions. Those MPs are:

  • Barbara Stewart
  • Tracey Martin
  • Andrew Williams
  • Richard Prosser
  • Denis O’Rourke
  • Asenati Lole-Taylor

You can see photos of them all here: http://nzfirst.org.nz/our-mps

How do they justify their support of politics at it’s dirtiest and most destructive? Is this how they want to be seen as MPs?

About a year ago I asked all MPs:

Do you support “gotcha” politics where attacks and accusations are made to try and damage parties and to discredit and potentially end the careers of fellow MPs? Yes/No?

Tracey Martin replied No.

Richard Prosser replied in more detail:

No I don’t support it.

Whilst there are, by definition and indeed of necessity, always going to be
differences of opinion and philosophy in politics, it behoves us as Parliamentarians
to play the ball and not the man (or woman), and to address such differences, and
attempt to influence policy, through reasoned debate and by keeping an open mind,
and above all by having regard to the wishes of the voting public and the best
interests of the nation.

While we may not agree with the views or positions of any particular Member or
Party, it has to be remembered that most MPs enter Parliament with genuinely held
beliefs and with honourable intentions, and we owe it to the future of our
Parliamentary democracy to respect that fact.

Beyond holding Members and Parties to account as regards their current and intended
actions, and their present and past indications of character, we have a duty to be
fair in our dealings, and to conduct our affairs in the dignified manner which the
public has a right to expect.

Best regards

Richard Prosser

Prosser and Martin and the other NZ First MPs are supporting the opposite of this.

Peters has spent a career playing highly questionable politics. Are all the NZ First MPs happy following suit?

What Prosser should have addressed – airport profiling

“One aspect of Prosser’s rambling polemic touched on something of genuine importance.” Airport profiling.

Richard Prosser caused an uproar when he bashed all Muslims with his keyboard in an Investigate column. When this surfaced in blogs and mainstream media this caused a furore. Prosser began as unrepentant, but quickly changed his stance, making an “unreserved” apology – of sorts. See Prosser: ‘I’m apologising unreservedly’ – see also Retreat from Wogistan.

Prosser also suggested what his approach should have been.

Mr Prosser said rather than calling for young Muslim men to be banned from travelling by air, he should have called for an investigation into the merits of “target profiling”.

A column in D Scene by Associate Law Professor Colin Gavaghan has picked up on this.

Should we use security profiling at airports?

One aspect of Prosser’s rambling polemic touched on something of genuine importance. The controversial suggestion terror suspects should be identified based on their appearance is being taken seriously in some quarters.

US philospher and neuroscientest Sam Harris has argued it makes sense to target airport security efforts at youngish Muslim males, as they are the group almost exclusively resonsible for suicide agttacks on aircraft.

Since there us no test that can be administered to detect “Muslimness”, profiling will inevitably boil down to singling out people who “look Muslim”. Read: of middle eastern or south Asian appearance.

Leaving aside the social, ethical and legal problems of using ethnicity as a proxy for dangerousness, it doesn’t take a criminal mastermind of Moriarty proportions to see how this system might be gamed.

As security expert Bruce Schneier has warned, it wouldn’t be smart to rely on a system that can be fooled by a bottle of hair dye.

Some more recent developments eschew racial profiling, using putatively more subtle and accurate markers.

The Facial Actions Coding System works by monitoring all the little muscle movements. Other sorts of behavioural profiling focus on how someone walks and how much they are sweating.

All of which is intended to help security people see into people’s minds. Are they filled with righteous rage, or just slightly irritated by the delayed flight?

How far should we go towards a predictive model of law enforcement?

If it works, the safety benefits could be massive – not only in preventing terrorist atrocities, but maybe also spree killings like Sandy Hook.

It’s one thing, though, if the test just results in someone being subject to a minor inconvenience, like a brief search.

It’s quite another if “false positives” result in completely innocent people being shot dead by jumpy police.

In the middle we have a whole range of possibile inconveniences and restrictions to which people could be subject, based on predictions of what they might do.

For those who don’t resemble the profile of a “typical” terrorist, all this may seem like a price worth paying for greater security. But it won’t be them paying the priced.

Of course this column has attracted minimal attention after the raising of the issue by Prosser. A reasoned and reasonable approach doesn’t make the news, even though it addresses the important issues.

 

 

 

NZ First would have dumped Prosser but for Horan – and Peters?

A NZ First spokesperson has made a remarkable statement:

Mr Prosser has been widely vilified for his anti-Muslim comments in a recent magazine column, but party leader Winston Peters has so far said he doesn’t believe Mr Prosser should leave Parliament.

But a well-placed party source told the Weekend Herald yesterday that even if Mr Prosser survived the immediate fallout and New Zealand First secured 5 per cent or more of the vote at the election, “he’ll be so far down the list next time you won’t see the top of his head”.

“He’s p****d the party off no end. The biggest issue is his total lack of judgment.”

“The moment he started talking like that he lost all credibility with his argument about terrorism,” the source said.

“Peters is seething about it as much as anyone else.” The fact that (Brendan) Horan has gone is the only thing that’s saved him.”

It’s remarkable that someone is speaking contrary to Peters’ position.

Peters knew about the column, Prosser presumes he had read it and he said nothing until it blew up in the media. He kept supporting Prosser and just went for ther Clayton’s apology as a sop, to try and take the heat out of the situation.

Peters doesn’t think Prosser should leave Parliament.

But a party spokesperson thinks that Prosser should leave Parliament. He says that it’s a certainty Prosser will be effectively dumped via the list at the next election.

It’s even more remarkable the spokesperson suggests that the only reason why Prosser hasn’t been dumped now is that it would not be a good look for the party, having just dumped Brendan Horan. How else can you see this?

It’s not just Prosser’s credibility that’s taken a major hit here.

Winston Peters’ credibility was already somewhat dented but this reinforces and adds to the perception that he is a master of political convenience and confusion. Does he agree with Prosser or not? Does he think Prosser should remain an MP or not? Is he seething or not?

On his past record all that Peters cares about is Winston Peters.

And this is a major embarrassement for NZ First. Not only is the party damaged by what Prosser has done, they self harm even more by saying that they won’t take action that they think is appropriate because it wouldn’t be a good look for the party.

The end result is an even worse look for the party.

Prosser out on his ear, maybe next month?

Richard Prosser wrote an extreme column about Muslims, a very deliberate aim to inflame, and to sound like a tough guy. And he was apparently unrepentant. Patrick Gower reported:

No apology over Muslim statements

New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser has outraged Muslims. Both he and his leader, Winston Peters, refuse to apologise.

“If MPs don’t say this, who will?” Mr Prosser says. “We are here to represent and to speak about the views that people have.”

A tough stance from someone who will never back down. From his book Uncommon Dissent:

One of the best things about being a no nonsense right wing nationalist social and political commentator is never having to say you are sorry.

It doesn’t matter if you upset anyone, because the only people likely to be offended by your unabased dissertations of truth and common sense are pinkos and liberals and other whingeing minorities whose opinions don’t count anyway.

And get offended they certainly do!

And this his how Prosser is promoted on his book sales site:

RICHARD PROSSER is not just one of the country’s newest politicians. He’s also the outspoken, straight-talking, politically-incorrect mind behind Investigate magazine’s monthly “Eyes Right” column.

ON ‘LIBERALS’: “I mean if people want to be weak, stupid, effeminate, erectile dysfunctional, naïve, apologist, namby-pamby, thumb-sucking, lefty pinko fantasy-land morons, let them find their own word for themselves, and leave “liberal” for us genuine freedom-loving, gonad-equipped, libertarian go-getters”

PREPARE FOR A WITTY, PUNCHY & EASY-TO-READ EXPLANATION OF EVERYTHING THAT’S WRONG WITH NZ, AND HOW TO PUT IT RIGHT…

But that was last year. And his unrepentant refusal to apologise was last Tuesday.

By Wednesday Prosser had changed his tune. Stuff reported Prosser’s sorry but backlash continues:

The Waimakariri-based list MP has vowed not to write any more inflammatory columns, saying: “It’s what a shock jock does, and I’m not that any more.”

The “gonad-equipped, libertarian go-getter” is not that anymore?

He “unreservedly” apologised for his provocative Investigate magazine column, which said Muslims should be banned from Western airlines.

Last night, he insisted his mea culpa was genuine. “I think you can learn from these things and not make the same mistake twice.”

He added: “I suppose the disappointing thing is that you realise you have made some mistake and set out to make an apology and that doesn’t get accepted, then that’s a little bit on the nose.”

The article was “not his best work”, he admitted. “I shouldn’t have allowed that to go out and tar them all with the same brush. Nor should I have gone down the line of calling for a blanket ban . . . it’s not a political solution.

It’s an off-the-cuff, in-the-pub solution.”

The column was not an “off-the-cuff, in-the-pub” comment. Neither was what he wrote in his book. He has made big claims about his no nonsense unrepentant wish to offend people “whose opinions don’t count anyway”.

Prosser has a right to speak, like anyone in New Zealand. But that doesn’t rule out consequences.

And as soon as he feared consequences he backslid. He made a half arsed apology – he said sorry if people were offended, he didn’t ‘unreservedly” apologise. And then said it was “on the nose” if people didn’t accept his apology – having written “One of the best things about being a no nonsense right wing nationalist social and political commenter is never having to say you are sorry“.

And he didn’t stand by what he had written. When a motion was moved in the House making a statement distancing Parliament from what he had written Prosser was in the House and agreed with the motion. (See Parliamentary motion on religious equality).

Prosser’s words obviously can’t be trusted. He has not been an honest MP.

ON KEEPING POLITICIANS HONEST: “Our Prime Minister, and members of the Cabinet, need to have a similar Sword of Damocles hanging over them; they need to know that if they don’t perform, conform, behave properly, and do as We The People tell them, that they’ll be out on their ears, not maybe in three years time, but maybe next month. That should keep the bastards honest.”

He has not performed or conformed as an MP – all of Parliament made it clear they didn’t think he had behaved properly.

If one bastard was to be kept honest he would be out on his ear. Maybe this month.

Parliamentary motion on religious equality

In reaction to the Prosser column on Muslims and the resulting furore Russel Norman moved a motion on religious equality:

Dr RUSSEL NORMAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thanks to the House. I move, That this House affirm that all New Zealanders regardless of their religious faith or ethnicity should be treated equally before the law, and that the rights and dignity of all people—in particular, of Muslims—should be upheld, and that the House acknowledge the responsibility of all New Zealanders to care for one another, to honour the sanctity of each and every one of us, and to act with justice, equity, and respect in all that we say and we do.

Motion agreed to.

There has been some criticism of this, with claims that it gives special rights to Muslims. For example ‘BeaB’ at Kiwiblog (with supporting ‘likes’ and comments):

But why do we have to give “Muslims particularly” more equality, freedoms etc than anyone else?
Because that’s what they voted unanimously for in Parliament yesterday. Sends a shiver along my female spine.

But that claim is incorrect, apart from the impossibility of ‘more equality’ this motion was simply a statement to distance Parliament from Prosser’s comments.

In a Dominion column Sean Plunkett claimed the motion was discriminatory by mentioning Muslims:

Parliament was even moved to pass a resolution recommitting itself to non-discrimination, particularly against Muslims. As I pointed out to Green Leader Russel Norman, who penned the motion, mentioning Muslims was kind of self-defeating and in itself discriminatory.

But the motion was hardly “making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or things”, it simply made a point by mentioning Muslims. There doesn’t seem to be any unfairness, it was an attempt to counter the unfairness of Prosser’s comments.

Dr Norman shot back that the point of the vote was to show that Parliament didn’t agree with what Mr Prosser had written.

That’s certainly how it seemed to me, and nothing more than that. Peter Dunne agrees:

I think this was a generic motion in the wake of the Prosser incident, with a little flick in the tail aimed at him. I do not think it pro-Islam in the sense some are suggesting.

And all of parliament agreed as the motion passed, and as Dunne confirms…

NZ First MPs (including Prosser) were in the House at the time and did not oppose it.

Even Richard Prosser had no problem with the motion – unless he didn’t have the gumption to be seen to be voting against it.

I don’t think the motion was worded as well as it could be, but it was obviously a signal that Parliament disagreed with and was distancing itself from Prosser’s comments.

And Prosser joined this distancing from and disagreeing with what he himself had written.

This doesn’t sound like the no nonsense right wing nationalist social and political commenter he claimed to be in his book.

 

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