Russell Brown’s submission on medicinal cannabis bill

I am a journalist and one of my specialist areas is drug policy. In the course of my work, I have interviewed users, suppliers, doctors, police officers, researchers, activists and government ministers. But the story I want to tell you is a personal one.

My old friend died this year. He had survived three years since he was diagnosed with a kind of brain tumour called glioma multiforme – far longer than he was supposed to – but complications associated with his illness were eventually too much for his system and his health deteriorated rapidly in the weeks before his death.

Shortly before he was moved to a hospice, I had a conversation with his wife, another old friend, about medical cannabis. My friend had, with the approval of his oncologist, used a cannabis oil preparation (acquired as a gift) for some time while he battled his disease: a couple of drops rubbed into his gums before bed each night.

I can’t tell you that that prolonged his life. But there is a body of pre-clinical evidence that a balanced preparation of THC and CBD can help shrink tumours in glioma cases. His tumours shrank to the point where he was at one point declared cancer-free.

Our concern now was not with the cancer itself, but with his comfort and well-being through his final days. I agreed to try and source a product for him and, through the kindness of strangers, was able to source a good-quality medical oil.


My dear friend died in hospice, after a handful of deeply precious days in which he and his loved ones were able to say their goodbyes. It is my belief that the cannabis product helped him have those precious days, awake and aware. I would unhesitatingly break the law again to give him those days. And I believe it is wrong that I – or anyone else – should have to do that.


I ask you to consider taking a realistic and compassionate view and do the following:

• Use the regulations that will be attached to this bill to make the gesture towards the terminally ill work in the real world by allowing them to nominate an approved supplier, so they and their loved ones can safely access a safe product.

• Recognise that the terminally ill are not the only New Zealanders to derive benefit from cannabis products and allow others with chronic conditions to register to use these products.

• Provide specific protection for hospitals and hospices from prosecution under Section 12 of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

• Allow a local industry to develop by allowing export of locally-produced products, and by not excluding those with existing convictions from participating in the industry.

• Allow self-growing under regulation.

• Enable research into growing, and clinical trials. The trend in the developing global industry is overwhelmingly towards breeding plants with desired attributes – an area in which New Zealand has a strong track record of IP development.

Brown comments:

I seem not to be the only one who sat in on these hearings and came away with the impression that the bill’s statutory defence may well be extended to those with chronic illnesses. If that happens, it’s huge. It’s worth bearing witness.

I hope that’s not just wishful thinking.

Peter Dunne calls time on his political career

Another leader stepping down- this time it’s Peter Dunne who has decided not to stand again this election, meaning the end of his 33 year career as an MP.

He has served in four different Governments, two National led and two Labour led, and has served under seven Prime Ministers.

He had many critics and detractors and his style was not very modern, but he was widely regarded as a hard working and effective electorate MP, and was the most successful MP over time under MMP.

It seems certain that his United Future party will retire with him.

There has been some genuine comments from some politicians and others, and a lot of awful an uninformed criticism.

Statement from Hon Peter Dunne

“The current political environment is extremely volatile and unpredictable. However, I have concluded, based on recent polling, and other soundings I have been taking over the last few weeks, that, the volatility and uncertainty notwithstanding, there is now a mood amongst Ōhāriu voters for a change of MP, which is unlikely to alter. This shift in voter sentiment is quite at variance with polling and other data I have seen throughout the year, upon which I had based my earlier decision to seek re-election for a 12th term as MP for Ōhāriu. While I am naturally extremely disappointed after 33 years of service at this apparent change of feeling, I recognise and understand it, and respect absolutely the electorate’s prerogative to feel that way.

“I have therefore decided that it is time for me to stand aside, so the people of Ōhāriu can elect a new electorate MP. Consequently, after much consideration and discussion with those closest to me, I am announcing today that I will not be putting forward my nomination for election to the next Parliament. I do so with considerable reluctance, but I have always understood that holding public office is a temporary privilege granted by the people, and can never be taken for granted.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the Ōhāriu electorate in its various forms since 1984. I thank my constituents, my supporters, my Party, and all those staff members who have worked so loyally and professionally alongside me over the years, but above all, I pay huge thanks to my wife Jennifer, my sons, James and Alastair, raised in the heat of politics, and my entire family for their loyal support, patience and encouragement for so long.

“I am especially proud to have worked alongside successive National- and Labour-led Governments in the collaborative environment of MMP, and to have had the privilege of serving as first an Under-Secretary and then a Minister under seven different Prime Ministers for just on fifteen years. I am very proud of the many changes I have been able to make in my portfolios over the years to make New Zealand a better place in which to live and raise a family.

“Over the last three years alone, I have been very pleased to lead the work to modernise New Zealand’s drug policy towards a stronger health focus; and to make fluoridation of drinking water more widespread. I was delighted to establish Fire and Emergency New Zealand which unified our urban and rural fire services in the biggest reform of our fire services in 70 years. I was also very pleased to have been able to bring back 10 year passports. The D5 group of the world’s most digitally advanced nations meets in New Zealand early next year. Having overseen New Zealand help form the D5 group in 2014, I will be very sorry not to be chairing that meeting. Lastly, I have enjoyed being part of the continuing drive to make the taonga of the National Library and the National Archives more widely available to all New Zealanders.

“Ōhāriu has been a very large part of my life. I have lived continuously in the area for more than forty years. Jennifer and I raised our family in Ōhāriu. It is our home. Working for the community and its people over the last 33 years has, at all times, been an absolute delight. I will miss hugely that direct engagement with so many aspects of the life of our community, and I will never forget the huge honour Ōhāriu gave me by electing me, first as a young 30 year old, and then for the next ten elections after that.

“But good things cannot last forever. Now it is time for me to put all that behind me, take the election hoardings down, say goodbye to Parliament without bitterness or regret, and get on with life.

“Finally, my thanks and best wishes for the future go to Brett Hudson MP, National’s List MP based in Ōhāriu, for the support he has shown me throughout this year.”

This is a typically pragmatic decision. Dunne has plenty of experience at reading the mood of his electorate.

It looked quite likely he would lose the electorate, so not standing avoids not just a defeat but the vacating of his office under the shadow of a loss.

If Dunne managed to retain his seat he faced being shut out of government by Labour, or by Winston Peters.

Going now on his own terms look like the least worst option for him.

RNZ has a good career summary:  Dunne: A great survivor finally runs out of support

Ignorant criticism was especially prevalent on drug issues. Russell Brown covers reality well at The Spinoff: Peter Dunne, the flawed reformer


Medical cannabis – battles and brick walls

In his latest NZ POLITICS DAILY up Bryce Edwards looks at The Battle over medical marijuana, which has many useful links on the topic.

This focusses on Helen Kelly’s battle with cancer and her other battle, with medical bureaucracy in trying to get access to a medical cannabis product that’s unavailable in New Zealand.

Kelly has highlighted a very contentious issue, particularly as there seems to be accelerating moves towards allowing the growing of cannabis and the production of medical products, most notably for us in Australia and the US.

One of the biggest problems here is the lack of available credible research on the effectiveness and the safety of medical cannabis.

However for someone who is dying of cancer safety shouldn’t be too much of an issue, and allowing some alleviating of suffering and comfort of mind should be much higher considerations.

It’s a bit bizarre that they don’t want us to be able to take lethal drugs to end our lives if we so wish, but they don’t want us to be able to take comfort drugs that have long proven to be virtually non-lethal.

One of the best posts on Kelly and medical cannabis is by Russell Brown at Public Address – Helen Kelly’s letter.

While looking at Kelly’s situation specifically Brown also considers the wider situation.

In particular, there should be some better thinking around palliative care. It doesn’t make sense to treat every application to improve the quality of life of a dying person the same as a bid to give a sick child an experimental treatment. The criteria are ostensibly specifically dedicated to cannabis products, but they’re actually entirely general. We need this to be done better and more transparently.

As I’ve noted before, the use of cannabis in palliative care represents a particular ethical case. If a patient testifies that the treatment does in fact improve their quality of life and ease suffering in a way that approved pharmaceutical products have not, that should count for a great deal. The case for preventing access becomes much, much harder to make.

But many doctors and the Ministry of Health seem reluctant to go there.

Peter Dunne has previously said to me that the criteria are only guidelines and don’t determine his ministerial decision. But he’s a minister who likes to emphasise that he acts on expert advice. And perhaps he has no choice, given his limited stock of political capital in this area.

This is, after all, a government that has chosen to brand itself on never changing the law – either the Misuse of Drugs Act or the Medicines Act – no matter what the evidence. That was, remember Justice Minister Simon Power’s response to the Law Commission’s view that there was “no reason why cannabis should not be able to be used for medicinal purposes in limited circumstances” by declaring ”There is not a single solitary chance that as long as I’m the Minister of Justice that we’ll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand.”

Power is no longer Ministry of Justice, but every single initiative to improve the way we deal with drugs in New Zealand still has to climb around this entirely political edict. It’s the key reason we have little prospect of dealing sensibly with a fast-changing environment.

During the last election campaign, Prime Minister John Key paid visits to several Kapiti Coast and Porirua schools. When he wasn’t insisting that his favourite music was One Direction, Key fielded this question from a student at Kapiti College:

Asked whether he would legalise medical marijuana, he told the school assembly: “This is the fundamental message. Drugs are bad for you.”

Yes, the Prime Minister really did say “Drugs are bad, m’kay?”

Dunne cops much of the flak for Government unwillingness to address medical cannabis or the wider issue of recreational use.

But there’s nothing Dunne can do about changing laws on this if National won’t allow it, and they are the ones with the most votes by far, and the most reluctance to do anything. I don’t think we will get cannabis law reform, nor any meaningful attempt to consider any change to our stance on the drug, while National are in government.

It seems that National doesn’t want to give a medical inch for fear of a recreational mile. But that’s out of touch with the world that is quite rapidly changing it’s attitude to cannabis and criminality.

Dunne seems to be trying to move things as far as he can under existing law, and Brown believes that medical cannabis could be easily allowed under the current laws.

The good part is that the criteria for applications like Helen’s can be improved without changing the law. They’re not part of the Medicines Act. I think Peter Dunne needs to ensure,  as minister, that the process is fundamentally improved. Because a process so designed as to frustrate all medical cannabis applications will not prevent the use of cannabis in this way.

If the process was improved then access to medical cannabis could be made much easier for those who seek it.

In the end, we do need to revisit the law – as the Law Commisison and two Parliamentary select committee inquries have already said. Palliative care is not the only element of medical cannabis policy. But it’s certainly the place we should start, given the growing use of cannabis this way in defiance of the law. When we fail to do this, we impose risk and stress on desperately ill people and their doctors – and we’re saying we don’t care enough to properly regulate for their safety.

No one is going to prosecute Helen Kelly for treating her symptoms with cannabis. But what the system currently says is that it can’t and won’t make that safer for her. We need to do better than this. A lot better.

And it really shouldn’t take much to make things better for people like Kelly who are suffering as they die.

And there are potentially many people who are not living through death sentences whose lives could possibly be substantially improved, or at least given some hope, if the Ministry of Health re-thought and improved their processes for approving medical cannabis.

‘The Message’ is clear

Russell Brown has posted The Message at Public Address, giving an account of sorts of Phil Goff’s launch of his campaign for the Auckland mayoralty.

They message he is trying to convey is quite clear. His intro:

The announcement of Phil Goff’s intention to seek the Auckland mayoralty yesterday was able and organised. Various important constituencies were represented in the room, the messaging was precise and the first person to be greeted by name in the candidate’s speech was the present deputy mayor, Penny Hulse. So she’s on board.


Goff was at pains to emphasise that yesterday was not a campaign launch, merely the announcement of his candidacy. Policy will come with the launch proper, next year. He has already drawn some clear lines: finance the CRL more quickly, prevent Port expansion into the harbour, don’t privatise Watercare. But he will need to take good advice on what he chooses to say around the complexities of the Unitary Plan, the Auckland Plan and the Long Term Plan before having to actually state policy on them. Populism gets very perilous in that area, especially when you’re promising “protection for areas of high heritage value.”

But yesterday’s launch was competent and confident. After he spoke, Goff circulated easily for photographs while the press waited at the door of the room. His meeting and greeting completed, he turned, strode to the door and delivered his lines. He clearly does know how this is done.

Is Russell Goff’s media adviser? Did he arrange the media event? Whether he did or not his message is quite clear.

I can’t see any dosclosure so he must just be a interested observer, albeit quite keen on Goff’s bid for the mayoralty.


Brown slams van Gaalen prison sentence

Russell Brown at Public Address has slammed the two year prison sentence imposed on Kelly van Gaalen, and pointed out that Judge McDonald’s claim that “he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences” is highly disputable – it looks to be quite inconsistent.

Judicial caprice is no way to pursue law and order

Last week’s news that Kaikohe community leader Kelly van Gaalen had been sentenced to two years prison in the Whangarei District Court for possession of cannabis from two plants, with no evidence of commercial supply, has rightly and understandably caused outrage.

(Caprice: an impulsive change of mind, a sudden or unpredictable change of attitude, behaviour etc, etch; whim).

Some of that outrage was expressed here: More than just a troubling sentence.

Van Gaalen was charged after her husband, home alone at the time, was the victim of a violent home invasion in July last year. After he was able to raise the alarm, police arrived – and found the pot.

Charges against Mr van Gaalen were dropped when his wife took responsibility for the cannabis and said it was hers. Her claim that it came from two plants, one of which had gone particularly well that summer, is quite plausible. It’s notable that the police did not report what they found as cannabis heads. I’ll go out on a limb and guess this was not groomed, commercial marijuana and that most of it was some cabbage in a bucket.

Careless to leave something like that around but no evidence it was a commercial stash.

As Jack Tame notes in the Herald, the police presumably had the option to ”use discretion and destroy the drugs”, which might have been reasonable in the circumstances. But they laid a prosecution of possession for supply. Crown prosecutor Catherine Gisler then asked the judge to jail van Gaalen for three years, saying deterrence was important. Perhaps both parties felt it was not their place to exercise discretion.

But in our system it is certainly the place of the judge.

Brown quotes from the herald:

Judge McDonald said there was no evidence of commercial dealing, such as text messages on her phone, but Parliament had set the upper limit for personal use at 28g. Van Gaalen had 24 times that and knew it was against the law.

“It is not for this court to comment whether that is a just law or not,” he said …

Judge McDonald gave her credit for her previous good record and “extremely worthwhile contribution”, but said he had to be consistent with sentences imposed for other, similar offences.

“To say this sentencing has troubled me is an understatement,” he said.

And Brown slams that.

This is, simply, bullshit.

We don’t even need to search for convictions for violent and anti-social offences which have attracted lesser sentences, although there are too many of those to count. We can look at how another judge in the Whangarei High Court was able to exercise discretion in the case of a man who actually was busted in for commercial supply of cannabis.

From the Herald on that case:

Phillips, 49, appeared for sentencing in the High Court at Whangarei before Justice Paul Heath after earlier pleading guilty to six charges of selling cannabis and six of possessing cannabis for supply.

Crown prosecutor Catherine Anderson asked for a starting point of three years’ jail with six months added for Phillips’ previous drug convictions, which went back over 20 years.

“When you came into court your two boys went over spontaneously to greet you. It was very clear to me the nature of your relationship with them,” Justice Heath said.

“It’s clear you did a very good job raising your children. But on the other hand you behave like this, in a manner that shows you lack control of yourself.”

He said the reaction of Phillips’ sons and Mr Blaikie’s submissions had persuaded him by the narrowest of margins to give Phillips another opportunity to turn his life around.

So he got home detention despite previous convictions and despite pleading guilty to selling cannabis.

Brown cites two more cases:

In the same week as van Gaalen was sentenced to jail, in Westport, Ian Alfred Cole, who was convicted of cultivating cannabis and possessing it for supply (in considerably greater quantities than van Gaalen had) was sentenced only to home detention. Cole was caught with all the trappings of commercial supply and had pleaded not guilty. He also had LSD in his possession.

In 2011, Judge McDonald himself sentenced a couple who admitted cultivation and supply (not only of cannabis, but party pills) to only six months’ home detention.

Brown’s criticism is unusually strong for him:

Judge McDonald’s claim that his hands were tied in van Gaalen’s case was not only risible and untrue, it was cowardly.

‘Cowardly’ seems like an odd term, but McDonald’s sentence and reasoning in the van Gaalen case is certainly highly questionable.

And how the Police and the Courts deal with cannabis law and offending is highly questionable. At the least it seems very inconsistent, and at the worst it is simply not working.

While van Gaalen has borne the brunt of Judge McDonald’s heavy handedness (for now) the Judge has put the spotlight on the stupidity of our drug laws. Was this inadvertent or deliberate?

Lauda Finem and conspiracy theories

There is frequent speculation and accusations about who ‘Lauda Finem’ is/are. It’s conspiracy theorist heaven.

Lynn Prentice has often made claims about knowing who runs Lauda Finem, how they run a joint conspiracy with Cameron Slater. On Twitter yesterday:

LF bros lying just as they usually do.

Accuracy isn’t part of the [Precautionary delete] thing.

He continued that line here:

But I have met [Precautionary delete]more often, usually when his mate Cameron Slater as a lawyer is making a complete dork of himself in court using his [Precautionary delete]’s legal ‘expertise’. They like taking sly photos because that is how they are – rather gutless prats.

Coming to think of it. I don’t think I have ever had time to have a coffee with Greg either. Have had a single beer with him twice during the occasional biannual Standard meeting. I see him at the odd demo or public meeting that I have come along to.

I suspect that the [Precautionary delete] brothers or their great friend Cam Slater just have just been inventing material.

Claims linking the [Precautionary delete] with Lauda Finem with Cameron Slater are common from Prentice and from others. For example some recent tweets:

It’s a messy saga strewn with toxic lies, but I reckon has nailed the latest Rachinger-Slater twist.

That link is to a blog specialising in conspiracy theories:

Matthew R. X. Dentith

Conspiracy theories, conspiracy theory theories and theories about conspiracy theorists.

His Twitter descrioption:

Author of the Philosophy of Conspiracy Theories & co-host of The Podcaster’s Guide to the Conspiracy.

I heard an interview with Matthew on Radio One next week. Yes, he is very interested in conspiracy theories, although his knowledge of ‘Dirty Politics’ seemed a bit superficial. You might get an idea of his political interests from his blog Links.

Back to Nippert’s tweet, which started an interesting thread.

Lauda Finem top dogs were at WO’s shindig the other night.

Kemara has an interesting past, having been imprisoned with Tama Iti as one of the ‘Urewera Four’.

Talking about conspiracy theories, Cameron Slater asked of Kemara “Is This The Man Behind The Brash Email Thefts?” – like most conspiracy theories that was never proven.

Kemara’s conspiracy claim interested Dentith:

Really? Now that’s interesting…

And others:

So that would be D for dependent [Precautionary delete]? And was [Deleted as per court order]there too?
Oops, I meant D for *defendant* ..

But Cam claimed to be shocked and appalled by what LF had done! Surely, some mistake?

Where was Slater Jnr’s expression of being shock and appalled, Russell?

Embedded image permalink

WO being shocked by *that* alone should be clue enough…

Yes to the first bit, and don’t know about anyone else sorry.

Cheers, pattern recognition leads me to perceive those three as part of Slater’s ugly smear/attack gang.

Certainly appear to be helping him shoot out chaff.

Birds of a feather, etc. They each avoid writing about each other, so I’m sorta surprised they’d share meatspace.

Some interesting associations. Plenty of conspiracy stuff for Dentith to get stuck into.

I would have thought it would be a big story if it could be proven that Lauda Finem had close links with Cameron Slater – it would make a great scoop for Nippert.

Cracking through last big story before a well-deserved break. Main parties not talking, but it’s a cracking tale stretching to 11 figures.

Maybe that’s what his big story is about. It would be good to get some of the current conspiracies hacked open.

Rachinger: “we United to take on Mr Slater for his activities”

Ben Rachinger has reappeared on Twitter, making a very interesting claim that seems at odds with previous versions of how things happened – no names but Jessica Williams isn implicated – “that we United to take on Mr Slater for his activities”.

The exchange began:

So address has accused me of hacking ___ phone and publishing her private conversations…. I laughed.

Embedded image permalink

That’s a new claim – that Rachinger hacked Jessica Williams’ phone. A serious claim if true.


She sent them to me . How can you spread such vicious lies! Or is that what she told you? Genuine Q. Are you lying or lied to?



The whole point of this was that we United to take on Mr Slater for his activities. I declined to get involved in the smears for that reason

That looks quite different to previous claims by Rachinger that he reacted to requests to hack Slater and did a lone wolf sting.

Who United? The implication here is Williams with Rachinger.

I genuinely thought all the parties involved in this would do the right thing. I guess I have to clear the air myself!  Sometime later

Since then one of those comments expanded into an exchange:

She sent them to me . How can you spread such vicious lies! Or is that what she told you? Genuine Q. Are you lying or lied to?

v serious accusation by ; Please can all parties confine themselves to the certain truth or withdraw & apologise

He’s previously admitted to and apologised for publishing my private messages.

The plot gets ever thicker.

In praise of Russell Brown

No I’m not going to launch into praise of Russell Brown (although his Public Address does serve a useful purpose in the blogosphere).

Russell does a good job of it himself – Hard News: We’re in this together

You’re a good crowd. And I will take some credit for that. Through my journalistic career, I have, without necessarily trying to do so, been good at drawing a crowd. There are literally people who read Hard News who listened to its original incarnation, as a weekly rant on 95bFM, in 1991.

If I say so myself, I throw a good a party. It’s the only part of my life in which I can say I am truly organised. I make sure everyone has their chosen drink in their hands, that there’s food to go round and that the music is choice. Running this place is not entirely unlike being a DJ: it helps to be able to read the crowd and drop the right tune.

But the party metaphor only takes you so far. Even here, we can take a tone with each other that would spoil a real-life party pretty quickly. And that’s fine and inevitable. But everyone can help by not being a bore and being civil to the other guests, especially the strangers. Sometimes on Twitter, where people become so devoted to their damn arguments they forget themselves, all hope goes missing. But this here is my house andI’ll say what goes on and who gets to be here. And because I will move to show someone the door, I rarely have to.

That can be taxing – indeed, it’s easily the most taxing thing about doing this. But it’s my host responsibilty. Hateful speech and tendentious behaviour might have their place on the internet, which has a place for everything, but that place isn’t here. Whether you’re running a busy blog or an online newspaper comments forum, you do at some level own what you publish.

A bit of a dig with a certain amount of immodest irony:

In a year when “the bloggers” and “the blogosphere” have been commonly deployed as synonyms for a certain awful enterprise, I think it’s valuable to demonstrate that’s not the case. You can be angry without hurting others, political without being pointlessly partisan. You can have a bit of fun. You can dance, if you want to.

Anyway, this will be my last substantial post here for the year (but Friday Music will still run tomorrow), so let me conclude by thanking everyone who’s helped, including those of you who simply joined a discussion. If you’ve never done that, sign up and give it a go. Contribute.

Because we are, after all, in this together.

Those who are “in the house”:

And yeah, guilty of tub thumping, tendentiousness, being a bore, and worse, so I’m immeasurably grateful for your tolerance of my often injudicious longwinded posts.

You try my patience sometimes Chris, you really do. But you’re still in the house 🙂

Public Address is a long running and successful part of the online political landscape in New Zealand, albeit fairly left inclined. Russell is prominent in his fan club, serving a sizeable selected niche.

Word of the Year: #dirtypolitics

In one of the least surprising poll results of the year Public Address has named their word of the year as #dirtypolitics. That reflects an obsession in a bubble.

‘Dirty Politics’ has certainly been prominent this year – in some circles. Most of the public see it differently, ‘dirty politics’ is synonymous with ‘politics’ and it has been for many more years than 2014.

“I can only suppose that a hacker has penetrated the special Google voting software,” said a near-comatose Brown. “I’ve asked Pete George to investigate.”

No investigation needed. When a blog shuts out alternative opinions it is likely to get a poll result like this. Russell banned me for debating dirty politics and challenging Nicky Hager’s perfect record of never being proven wrong (as claimed on Public Address).

Russell also took a swipe at David Farrar.

I mean, Jason Ede and Phil de Joux have new jobs, Judith Collins has a newspaper column, David Farrar has returned to his familiar role of providing an internet platform for scary racists and bigots – and confused, mendacious Taxpayers’ Union press releases are being  pasted into newspaper stories again.

Farrar’s moderation policy of not censoring opinions does allow some fairly extreme views to be expressed.

Is that any dirtier than shutting out opinions you don’t agree with?

#dirty politics may be an appropriate word of the year for the New Zealand blogosphere, but using “Word of the Year” as a vehicle to continue a political campaign may be as self revealing as it is accusatory.


1. #dirtypolitics

2. “At the end of the day”

3. Whaledump

4. “Pretty legal”

5. “Not as Prime Minister”

6. Peak Cray

7. Textual relations

8. Rawshark

9. Swearwolves

10. Ebola

That reflects a politically slanted vocabulary.

‘Word of the year’ dominated by partisan politics

What words or phrases have been popularised this year?

Russell Brown has run an interesting ‘Word of the Year’ since 2006. Past years have produced a mix of general and political flavours (runners-up in brackets).

  • 2006 unbundled (peow peow, truthiness, emo)
  • 2007 Te Qaeda (Sub-prime, It’s business time)
  • 2008 credit crunch (rofflenui)
  • 2009 Always blow on the pie (whanker, Whanganui, Lhaws)
  • 2010 twatcock (vuvuzela, liquefaction, wikileaks)
  • 2011 munted (nek minnit, ghost chips)
  • 2012 brainfade (Marmageddon, Planet Key)
  • 2013 metadata (selfie, Lorde, berm)

Some of those were in common use, others not so much. I don’t remember Te Qaeda at all. The 2009 and 2010 picks seem to be have chosen for their quirkiness or cleverness rather than the amount of use.

The last two years has seen a more narrow political focus rather than looking at wider social vernacular.

Public Address Word of the Year 2014

It’s that time again! The time, that is, when Public Address readers nominate, debate and vote for their Word of the Year. What winning word or phrase will emerge? Will it come from the hurly-burly of the weirdest general election ever, or from another part of the culture?

This year is dominated by obsessed partisan politics on a left leaning blog rather than social commentary.

  • at the end of the day
  • pretty legal
  • not as Prime Minister
  • #dirtypolitics
  • #gamergate
  • TeamKey
  • akshully
  • attack blogger
  • bubble
  • chit chat
  • conspiracy theory (why not chemtrails?)
  • chit chat
  • CV
  • Ebola
  • exonerated
  • Ferguson
  • Hacker
  • Hager
  • Hagerbomb
  • Johnkey
  • legal highs
  • Lorde
  • MSM
  • OIA
  • Peak Cray
  • Pfffsssttt
  • Rawshark
  • refute
  • selfie
  • surveillance
  • swearwolves
  • textual relations
  • tipline
  • twerking
  • uber
  • uncoupling
  • Whaledump
  • XKeyScore

Comments on the voting thread shows where much of the attention seems to be, with these two pointing it out:

half of it could combine into a stream of consciousness mumble by dear leader in any interview

Intriguing that the list has a strong anti-right bias

So a strong political/John Key.dirty politics focus in the choice of words and also political considerations in the discussion:

Got to be Whaledump: it’s so 2014-specific.

I was sorely tempted, but I think Slater would see it as a personal victory.

I must admit, that thought did put me off voting for Whaledump.

the ultimate victory. imagine the juvenile gloating

The vast majority of the population won’t have heard of ‘Whaledump’ nor will have any idea what it’s about.

Most people won’t know what many of those words are about.

‘Word of the year’ seems to have become a partisan exercise in political point scoring. That’s obviously what interests the active participants at Public Address but it doesn’t seem to reflect current common Kiwi vernacular.

What words or phrases have been popularised this year?