Maggie Barry bullying claims, Sarah Downie claims local support

Two controversial National MPs get a mention at NZ Herald today.

Maggie Barry bullying claims: Staffers from three government departments raised concerns while she was minister

Staff from three government departments who worked with MP Maggie Barry raised concerns about her behaviour during her time as a minister – and at least one also complained to the head of the public service.

Confirmation of the complaints from government staff about Barry’s conduct follow bullying allegations made by her electorate staff last year.

Last week, the Auditor General asked the Parliamentary Service to re-investigate the claims of unlawful political work.

This week, the Department of Conservation, Ministry of Social Development and Ministry for Culture and Heritage – all which had workers seconded to Barry’s Parliamentary office – confirmed to the Weekend Herald they also had staff raise concerns about Barry’s conduct.

Additionally, the State Services Commission (SSC) revealed concerns were raised with its office in respect of Barry during her time as a minister, too.

Details of all the complaints will be kept secret, however, despite requests they be made available under the Official Information Act as part of the Weekend Herald‘s investigation into the alleged bullying.

In a statement released yesterday, a spokesperson for Barry said she was never made aware of any formal complaints against her by any government department staff seconded to her Beehive office.

“In the three years she was a Minister, concerns may have been raised and discussed but they did not progress to any formal complaints process,” the statement said.

“No one chose to pursue any concerns and there were no formal complaints which is why Maggie Barry not made aware of them.”

I am not a fan of Barry, She seems to have fixed views on things, and gets abrasive with people with alternate views.

Noted – Maggie Barry: Bias and bullying in the euthanasia debate?

Anyone who has followed the Justice select committee hearings into David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Billor the debate around assisted dying generally will probably not be surprised that Maggie Barry — a staunch opponent of a law change — has been accused of bullying by three former parliamentary staff.

In September, former intensive care specialist and assisted dying campaigner Dr Jack Havill called for her to resign as deputy chair of the committee on the grounds she was “disparaging to submitters” who argued in favour of the bill.

Barry’s abrasive and rude behaviour when discussing assisted dying is not confined to select committee hearings, according to David Speary, who wrote to the North Shore Times in late September:

“Do not be dismissive of Jack Havill’s or Bets Blake’s claim about Maggie Barry’s attitude at the End of Life Choice hearings. I attended a ‘Community Conversation’ held by the [Catholic] church in Devonport earlier in this year, and was flabbergasted at Ms Barry’s actions.

“She was defending the Catholic church’s opposition to the bill against a lady from the End of Life Choice Society. She interrupted the EoLC speaker and, when it was her time, completely dominated the rest of the meeting. The chairman could hardly give anybody else a chance.

And Sarah Dowie is working in her electorate – National MP Sarah Dowie says Invercargill locals have backed her over Jami-Lee Ross saga

Embattled National MP Sarah Dowie says she’s had “nothing but support and encouragement” from her constituency and is refusing to lie low while police probe her alleged communications with ex-lover Jami-Lee Ross.

After a brief hiatus from the public glare, Dowie has been actively campaigning in the country’s southernmost electorate over the past month, covering hundreds of kilometres in her conspicuous National Party blue car with her photograph emblazoned on its side.

She has been a vocal critic of the vocational education reforms, with a local newspaper today running a prominent column where Dowie blasted the Government for needlessly putting the future of a successfully-run Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) “up in the air”.

And today, she also launched a petition keep the Riverton horse race track open.

peaking to the Herald after today’s public meeting, before getting in a taxi to attend a Stand Up for SIT protest across town, Dowie said locals have been understanding ever since her affair with Ross was exposed.

“In all fairness, I’ve been well-received,” said the mother-of-two who is understood to have separated from husband, former Otago cricketer Mark Billcliff.

“There’s been a lot of comment that Invercargill electorate is a very conservative electorate. But you want to know something? If you’re talking about conservatism, then you’re also talking about people who understand that everyone’s human.

“I’ve had nothing but support and encouragement with me running on all of these issues.”.

Those who don’t support her may be more likely to talk behind her back.

Asked whether police have spoken to her, she refused to comment.

“The matter is with my lawyer and it would be inappropriate to make any further comment,” she said.

That seems to be standard advice for National MPs being investigated by the police.

Dowie hosted National’s education spokeswoman Nikki Kaye at today’s public meeting.

During her talk, Kaye praised Dowie for her hard work on the ground in opposing Labour’s education reform plans.

“This province is under assault right now. And it is purely because of this ideology that everything has to be centralised,” Dowie told the gathering.

“We need to retain our community spirit down here. Stay with us. I’m parochial.”

She has a lot of work to do in her political life, and probably also in her personal life.

 

Police refuse to reveal any details of Dowie text inquiry

A police investigation into an alleged crime committed by a Member of Parliament is newsworthy – especially when the complainant or claimed victim is also an MP.

It’s common with major newsworthy crimes for the police to issue statements and have media conferences, with some outline and details of the investigation being made public.

But with investigations involving politicians they often if not always seem to prefer secrecy. There is no obvious reason for this, apart perhaps from protecting politicians from media mayhem.

David Fisher at NX Herald has used the OIA to seek information about an inquiry: Sarah Dowie and the text message inquiry – what the police won’t tell you

Police headquarters has pulled down the shutters on the investigation into the text message sent from National MP Sarah Dowie’s to Jami-Lee Ross.

Even basic details such as the date on which the complaint was laid and the part of the country where the investigating officer is based have been kept secret by police.

It came months after the end of their extra-marital relationship and included the words: “You deserve to die.”

Ross has previously said he did not make the complaint, which was received through the Crimestoppers freephone number.

Ross, 33, revealed the investigation just before his return to Parliament this year. It was a move which led to Dowie being named as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship while National MP for Botany.

Ross was obviously aware of the complaint and the means of making the complaint. It hasn’t been revealed whether this was due to contact with the police, or contact with the complainant.

Dowie said she was not aware of the complaint and had bot been contacted by the police.

Police headquarters had refused to make comment on the investigation, leading to the NZ Herald seeking specifics through the Official Information Act.

The sort of information sought was intended to place a context around the police inquiry involving a sitting MP – an unusual occurrence in any Parliamentary term.

Details sought included the date Crimestoppers took the complaint, when it was passed to police and where in the country the investigation had been assigned.

Other details included the rank of the officer leading the investigation, whether he or she worked in a specialised police area and the amount of time spent carrying out the inquiry.

Detective Inspector David Kirby, manager of the National Criminal Investigations Group, said: “The investigation is still ongoing and whilst the investigation is ongoing police is not in a position to go into specific details of the complaint.”

Kirby quoted the section of the Act relied on to refuse providing the information, which says OIA requests can be knocked back if doing otherwise would “prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial”.

Other areas police ruled out were the date on which Ross had been told there was an investigation, whether he had been interviewed – if at all – and whether Cabinet ministers had been told of the inquiry.

if the police had not been in contact with Ross when he revealed the complaint had been made it would indicate that Ross knew via the complainant. He has not said he had no connection to the complaint, just that he had not made the complaint himself.

It has prompted a former senior police officer to ask: “Why would this investigation be treated any differently to any other investigation?”

The blanket withholding of basic information, commonly released by police, was at odds with normal practice, said a former detective, who would not be named.

Do politicians get special treatment from the police? That’s how it appears. If so, why?

A basic tenet of our system is ‘open justice’. This sort of statement is comment in court judgments:

The starting point is the principle of open justice and the right of the media to report on decisions of court as reflected in s 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The principle in favour of open justice should only be departed from in circumstances where the interests of justice so require, and only to the extent necessary to serve those interests.

See Erceg v Erceg [2016] NZSC 135, [2017] 1 NZLR 310 at [2]

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990:

Freedom of expression

14. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

But that is often balanced against the right to a fair trial, and this was given as a reason by the police for secrecy in this case. Claiming a right to a fair trial is a common grounds for seeking name suppression,  but in this case the names of both alleged offender and claimed victim are already known – because the claimed victim Ross revealed it to media.

So Ross chose to go public for political PR purposes, but despite this the police are refusing to give out any information or context, as seems common with inquiries involving politicians.

The difference in this case is a politician claims to be the victim and has already publicised the inquiry. This is an unusual situation.

Politicians are usually subject to more scrutiny than the general public, but not when the police are involved.

More important questions for National than ex-lover spat and personal revenge

The turning rogue of Jami-Lee Ross and the text of Sarah Dowie has been a big story for months now, but a part of the issue that has been largely overwhelmed by the social saga side is what this has exposed about the National Party. Some have recently written about this.

Graham Adams (Noted & Stuff) looks at and beyond Parliament’s star-crossed lovers who crossed each other, starting with Jami-Lee Ross’s maiden speech in Parliament 2011.

In his speech, Ross also quoted the school’s aim to produce “good and useful citizens”. Most people will conclude he isn’t good but he has certainly been useful already if you look beyond the narrow interests of the National Party to the wider interests of the nation.

Ross has given us insights into our political life that only an insider could know, including how donations are handled and how much influence some donors expect (or hope) to have over candidate selection in the National Party.

His disclosures about wealthy Chinese donors has also sparked increased interest in Professor Anne-Marie Brady’s research into how United Front activities run by those close to the Chinese Communist Party have infiltrated our political life.

And Ross could prove himself to be even more useful if he told us much, much more about how our politics are entwined with the push by the CCP to influence perceptions of China overseas and policy towards it.

For starters, he might enlighten us on the role of Dr Jian Yang — that mysterious figure in National’s caucus who was part of China’s intelligence community and a member of the Communist Party, and who refuses to speak to journalists (or at least English-speaking ones).

It would be entirely appropriate for Ross to perform this service, not least because in his speech he declared himself to be passionately opposed to socialism.

He should be very happy then to expose the deep links between National — the party purportedly of “individual freedom and choice” (number 4 on its list of values) — and the communist regime in China that is one of the most repressive and repugnant on the planet.

Some will think it’s the very least a man who professed in 2011 to be devoted to “individual freedom” and who in 2018 dedicated himself to exposing the “rot within the National Party” could do.

Fran O’Sullivan (NZ Herald): Bigger issues to deal with than emotive texts

There are more pertinent issues at play.

Despite the public front National has adopted on the donations issue, it has still not satisfactorily dealt with Ross’ claim that he was effectively asked to wash a $100,000 donation from Yikun Zhang by ensuring it was split into smaller amounts.

National Party apparatchiks denied there was a $100,000 donation. National Leader Simon Bridges said at the time a “large sum of money” came into the party from multiple sources through donations from Zhang and supporters through Ross’ electorate account in Botany in the first instance.

The issue here is one of “substance over form”.

Nor has Bridges dealt satisfactorily with the clear implication from the tapes that Ross leaked, of a prior conversation that suggested he favoured effectively trading positions for different ethnicities on National’s list, in return for donations.

These issues — which strike at the heart of democracy and business ethics — have been obscured in the general furore over Ross’ meltdown.

It is obvious that there is sufficient underlying truth to Ross’ claims on this score to have provoked senior National MPs to call for change.

Former Attorney-General and National MP Chris Finlayson was sufficiently exercised to use his valedictory speech in Parliament last year to say he was concerned over funding of political parties by non-nationals.

Finlayson called for both major parties to work together on party funding rules, saying it was his personal view that it should be illegal for non-nationals to donate to political parties.

“Our political system belongs to New Zealanders and I don’t like the idea of foreigners funding it … we need to work together to ensure our democracy remains our democracy.”

The issue has also festered with the long-serving veteran National MP Nick Smith who revealed to the Herald this week he also wants reforms to ensure the integrity of the NZ electoral system.

If Ross is of a decent mind he would chalk up a minor victory on this score as having focused National MPs’ attention on behind-the-scenes dealing in their party.

National is not going to wash its dirty linen in public but the allegations their former party
whip raised are of sufficient merit for police to finalise that particular probe.

I don’t think we can rely on Ross being ‘of a decent mind’, he seems more intent on personal revenge.

And we can’t rely on the Police to do a decent investigation of political funding, they seem to prefer to avoid political investigations.

Unfortunately I think that much of the media is more interested in the personal lives of politicians becoming public fodder.

But a proper examination of funding methods and of possible Chinese influence in the National Party is where journalist attention should be focussed

The Sarah Dowie media dam has burst, as has her political career

After Sarah Dowie was named by the Herald yesterday as the MP who had an affair with Jami-Lee Ross and who sent the text that is now revealed to be the subject of a police inquiry, the dam has burst in mainstream media, who had held back from naming her since October, despite Ross naming her on radio and being named frequently in social media.

Also revealed openly yesterday is that Dowie was one of the women who featured in Newsroom coverage of four women who claimed to have had bad experiences with Ross – see Profile of a narcissist in Four women speak out.

Fran O’Sullivan (via Facebook):

“Is the unnamed person in this Newsroom story Sarah Dowie? If so, I would suggest the police investigation is misdirected.”

But accepting one side of a relationship breakup is fraught with potential problems. There is often blame on both sides.

And there’s an issue when an MP makes serious anonymous accusations through the media, as Jock Anderson says:

Why does the media accept such allegations without naming the person making them??? They name the person against whom the allegations are made…

If a source is a primary complainer/alleger it is unsafe to give them anonymity…Otherwise they could say whatever they liked…And if it is good enough to name one it is good enough to name the other…

It’s up to any newsroom to talk the complainer round so they can be identified, otherwise what credibility can be put on what they say??? It’s far too easy to let unidentified complainers simple rabbit on without any checking or corroboration of what they say…When people are identified they are more careful about what they allege…It’s basic journalism…

Dowie may (or may not) solely be a victim of Ross, but she has done a number of things that I think it’s valid to question – like having a relationship with another MP which complicates (and potentially compromises) doing her job enormously, like sending the text, like biting back anonymously through the media, like not fronting up and outing herself.

This article by Graham Adams at Stuff is harsh on Dowie, but it may in the main be a fair enough critique: Parliament’s star-crossed lovers who crossed each other

It’s always an interesting — and often sobering — exercise to reread the maiden speeches of MPs years after their debuts in Parliament and to compare their stated values and ambitions with how they have fared since their first foray into the heady realm of national politics.

Dowie’s career as an MP is now severely compromised. If she doesn’t resign or stand down at the next election there will be a lot of pressure on National to stand her down. It looks like she has already lost a lot of support.

One thing that Dowie’s speech in 2014 made abundantly clear was that no one would ever be able to accuse her — the first female MP for Invercargill and a graduate in both law and environmental science — of modesty, despite her mentioning the virtues of humility.

She began by congratulating herself on her decisiveness in seizing the opportunities that had come her way on her path to Parliament. “I am mindful of the journey that I have travelled to be here. I am reflective on the definitive decisions I have made, the key opportunities I have seized, my discipline, my faith in the end goal…”

She went on to speak in favour of self-determination and making your own luck. She believed that you “reap what you sow” and that you should “play the hand you’re dealt” as well as you can, and “with hard work and perseverance, eventually things must go your way”.

Above all, her speech appeared to be designed to show her parliamentary colleagues that she was a true-blue Nat. She was one of them. They could count on her.

Four years later, it seems that her emphasis on personal responsibility was merely a handy slogan used to impress her House mates and not a guide to live by.

We now know that she thought it was a good idea to launch an anonymous hit-job on Newsroom against her former lover and fellow MP Jami-Lee Ross, in which she implied she was a victim and that she was sucked into the relationship by a very bad man who had pursued and flattered her.

So much for personal responsibility and self-determination you might think — or her avowed principle of fighting “hard but fair”. A fair fight would have seen her identifying herself as one of the authors of the Newsroom mugging at the time it was published.

It would also have included the fact that she was, like him, a married MP with two children, and that she was 10 years older than him and an experienced lawyer.

How different that anonymous attack would have appeared if readers had been given all that information at the time the article was published. Her casting herself as a victim would have seemed to many to be far-fetched and extremely self-serving.

While Ross clearly looks bad she doesn’t look very good herself in this.

Mike Houlahan (ODT): Dowie’s reign as Invercargill MP looks to be over

Sarah Dowie’s short-lived political career looks all but over.

The Invercargill MP from 2014 is almost certain not to be a National Party candidate in the 2020 election – assuming she does not resign beforehand.

Well-informed sources said the affair had caused turmoil in National party circles in Invercargill.

Several members of Ms Dowie’s electorate committee had resigned in recent months, their departures due to Ms Dowie’s behaviour and conduct.

”It doesn’t reflect the values of the National Party,” one source said.

The Otago Daily Times understands several members of Ms Dowie’s staff have also resigned. She is advertising for staff to work in her Wellington office.

Her political future looks bleak.

National have been let down badly twice now in Southland by new MPs, with Todd Barclay also crashing and burning in Clutha-Southland (his replacement has started promisingly though).

While the police complaint over the text could feasibly force Dowie out if she is charged and convicted I think this is unlikely, as the charge looks weak and motives behind it highly suspect, as does Ross’ claims around it.

But Dowie has more immediate problems to deal with. While she may be able to lay some of the blame on Ross and his dirty politics associates she also has to take responsibility for her actions and her predicament herself. Her position as an MP looks untenable to me.

 

Media finally report on Sarah Dowie in relation to JLR

For some reason there was blanket media silence on the identity of the National MP who had had a relationship with ex-National MP Jami-Lee Ross, and had sent him a text that had been reported widely and is now the subject of a police investigation.

But now the dam has burst. This had to come out in public. It was widely known anyway.

NZ Herald:  Police probe text allegedly sent from phone of MP Sarah Dowie to Jami-Lee Ross

Police are investigating a text message, allegedly sent from the phone of National Party MP Sarah Dowie, to her former colleague and ex lover Jami-Lee Ross.

https://sarahdowie.national.org.nz/

The police investigation is said to focus on whether the text message – which came after the break-up of their extra-marital relationship – constituted an incitement to self-harm, which is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Ross, 33, has previously named Invercargill MP Dowie, 43, as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship while National MP for Botany.

The text message included the words: “You deserve to die.”

Ross has claimed that is an incitement to suicide, even though he claims to have considered or attempted suicide a couple of months after receiving the text.

Ross initially received the message in August but has claimed reading it two months later led to considering self-harm. He was taken into mental health care shortly after.

The text message raised questions over whether there was a breach of the Harmful Digital Communications Act, passed under National and voted for by Dowie. The law regulated digital communications, including text messages, making it illegal to urge someone to self-harm.

The fact of the police investigation was revealed by Ross during a television interview. It was apparently sparked by a call to the Crimestoppers hotline. Ross said he did not lay the complaint.

Ross didn’t say if he knew who laid the complaint, or if they were associated with him.

Asked if Dowie had been aware of the investigation, the National Party leader’s office said she had not.

A spokesman said National Party leader Simon Bridges had also been unaware of the investigation.

This suggests that the police had not progressed the complaint as far as talking to the alleged offender.

Ross and Dowie were understood to have been in a relationship for more than two years. It is believed to have ended around May.

During that time, Dowie and Ross were both in marriages with children each. Dowie and her husband later separated.

Usually the private lives of MPs has been a no go subject for the media, but Jami-Lee Ross has forced this to become public.

This makes things difficult right now for Dowie, but it is remarkable that it has taken it this long to hit the media headlines.

I posted in November:  The non-naming of the National MP raises media issues. For some reason this post got a number of hits overnight.

Dowie should have pre-empted this instead of waiting for a media frenzy.

More (from Barry Soper): Sarah Dowie, the police inquiry, and the text from her phone

We have decided to name her following the police decision this week to investigate a text allegedly sent from her phone to her 33-year-old former lover during the early hours of a Saturday morning last August.

The decision to name Dowie in no way countenances the behaviour of Ross towards the women who have anonymously made claims of harassment and bullying against him.

It’s not the Parliamentary Press Gallery’s job to protect MPs when a police investigation is under way.

The text sent to Ross said: “Before you interpret this as your usual narc self – don’t. Interpret it as me – you are a f***ing ugly MF pig. Shave that f***ing tuft of hair off your f***ing front of skull head and own your baldness – you sweaty, fat, toe inturned mutant. You deserve to die and leave your children in peace and your wife out of torment – f***er!”

Ross says the text was one of the things that triggered a mental breakdown in October.

After re-reading it, he allegedly sent it to Dowie telling her “you get your wish,” before turning his phone off. After being alerted, the police found him south of Auckland.

Ross claims the police recently approached him about the text.

What Ross claims deserves further investigation, as does his current motives.

Minister seeks Communications and Events Professional

David Clark, Labour MP (Dunedin North Electorate) and was given the challenging role of Minister of Health in the Ardern led Government. According to pundits rating his performance over his first year he has struggled.

From Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: NZ’s worst performing politicians

…there was also some cutting commentary on the disappointing performances of the likes of Simon Bridges, Kelvin Davis, David Clark, and Amy Adams.

in Stuff political editor Tracy Watkins’ scorecard of the year in politics, a number of struggling Labour frontbenchers don’t even get a mention (Megan Woods, Chris Hipkins, Carmel Sepuloni, David Clark, Nanaia Mahuta, and Stuart Nash) – see: After a huge year in politics, one politician stands out.

According to Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien, “Lees-Galloway’s admission that he had not read the full report when deciding whether to grant Karel Sroubek residency in New Zealand qualified him for this award” of “most useless” member of the coalition government – see Alice Webb-Liddall and Tova O’Brien’s Political superlatives 2018: Tova O’Brien reviews the political year.

O’Brien also thought the Minister of Health, David Clark, deserved to share the award, because he announced the Mental Health Review “with absolutely no detail about what the Government’s going to do”.

In the Spinoff, Simon Wilson also declared David Clark as one of the “flops” of the year: “Clark should be focused on improving mental health care, improving primary health care to those most in need, and rethinking health services delivery for the 21st century. He seems disengaged with all of it.”

So it sounds like Clark has some improving to do.

He is currently advertising for some electorate help:

I think that Clark has used the services of a communications assistant for some time, and as far as I can remember it has always been a 20 hour per week position.

The change with this latest advertisement is the range of expertise being sought. It may be difficult to find and keep someone with that degree of ability and experience in a part time position.

This is similar to other electorate situations vacant. For example:

Parliamentary MP Support to Sarah Dowie, MP (Public Relations, Communication and Stakeholder liaison)

Parliamentary MP Support to Sarah Dowie, MP

Varied and multifaceted role supporting Sarah Dowie, MP. As a strong planner, you will enjoy the coordination and planning of events along with drafting all types of communications including press releases.   You will be organised and understand office administration – you’ll be able to effectively liaise with stakeholders, support your MP with research and representation and, take enquiries at reception.

You’ve got a firm grasp of the current political landscape and where the electorate sits within it. You appreciate the sometimes unpredictable nature of this environment and instead of letting it faze you, you thrive on it – putting your proactive, calm, and flexible personality to good use. It goes without saying you’re someone who’s empathetic and respectful, and you’re confident in building strong relationships with a diverse range of people. You’re happy to work autonomously and are well known for your resilient and unflappable nature.

You’ll be stepping into an environment that is unique, exciting, and rewarding. This really is a role unlike any other and if you’re passionate about giving back and helping your community, it’s right up your alley. As an organisation, it’s extremely important to us that our people feel supported and are given the opportunity to continue to grow and develop their knowledge and their careers.

This role is based in the Invercargill office for up to 40 hours per week with a minimum of 30 hours. Some flexibility in hours may be required. This is an events-based, fixed-term role linked to the Member of Parliament.

If you’d like to play an important in supporting your MP and helping your community, apply now.

Interesting to see a back bench opposition MP seeking a similarly experienced person for a 30-40 hour per week role.

Not sure why Clark’s assistant is not advertised on the Parliamentary Services Website.

Dowie is low and slipping in The 2018 Trans-Tasman Ratings for 2018 -down 0.5 to 3.5.

MPs require good assistance but ultimately their performance is up to themselves.

Dowie can get away with staying out of the spotlight as an Opposition MP without a major role (if the Jami-Lee Ross thing has blown over and doesn’t flare up again) – she is National Spokesperson for Conservation.

But Clark needs to up his efforts – and that goes beyond better media assistance and presentation.  The Health portfolio is always challenging, but Clark has to be seen to be doing quite a bit better, and faster. Especially on Mental Health, which while regarded as in urgent need of changes is still not being addressed (due some time this year). And the Dunedin Hospital rebuild, which Labour made promises on as inn urgent need of pushing along has already slipped back.

Minister Clark needs to take more responsibility for his own actions, or lack thereof.

More pressure on him already this year:  A new year challenge for Health Minister David Clark

Dear David – A new year challenge Health Minister David Clark could make a good start to 2019 by admitting there is a crisis in the specialist workforce, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) Executive Director Ian Powell says.

Mr Powell says specialists working in public hospitals are disappointed Dr Clark has yet to commit to developing a safe staffing accord to address this precarious situation. Mr Powell’s article, entitled ‘Dear David, There’s a Hole in the SMO Bucket’ has been published in the current edition of The Specialist and can be read here: https://www.asms.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Theres-a-hole-in-the-SMO-bucket.pdf

“This is a significant oversight as hospital specialists are a stressed and stretched workforce, and they have been shouldering the burden of an under-resourced public health system for years, to the detriment of their own health,” Mr Powell says.

Clark needs to step up.

Conservation minister versus hunters, National on tahr control

National have been having a spat with Green MP and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage, in support of hunting interests opposed to the cull: Hunting group threatens legal action over DoC’s mass cull of Himalayan tahr

A recreational hunting group is threatening court action in an attempt to prevent the Department of Conservation’s (DoC’s) mass cull of the Himalayan tahr.

The New Zealand Tahr Foundation is unhappy with DoC’s decision to cull 10,000 tahr on public conservation land in the South Island, including the Westland-Tai Poutini and Aoraki Mt Cook National Parks, over the next 10 months.

DoC estimates there are at least 35,600 tahr on public conservation land – 25,600 more than allowed under the Himalayan Thar Control Plan 1993.

The Tahr Liaison Group, made up of organisations with hunting interests and Ngāi Tahu, will help reduce the numbers by hunting an extra 7500 – overall halving the population if successful.

New Zealand Tahr Foundation Treasurer Kaylyn Pinney says the group just wants its consideration to be heard by DoC.

“It think this is pretty clear this is important for everybody,” she says.

“You can’t just walk in and take away the biggest resource to the hunting industry and expect us not to stand up for ourselves.”

Yesterday from National MP Sarah Dowie:  20k signatures calling on Sage to cut the tahr cull

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage needs to listen to the almost 20,000 Kiwis who have signed my petition in less than 15 hours and halt her cull of tens of thousands of tahr, due to start this weekend, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage’s decision to kill these tahr based on anecdotal evidence and without a proper consultation process with recreational hunters and the hunting industry is appalling.

“This is not based on science and is an unacceptable slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of recreational hunters who make a difference on the ground for conservation.

“Not only that, Ms Sage has also specifically instructed Department of Conservation to cull bull tahr – worth an estimated $14,000 each to the booming hunting tourism industry.

“National believes that conservation should be based on science, not ideology. Like the hunting community, National believes tahr numbers do need to be sensibly managed.

“Instead of taking a pragmatic approach, Ms Sage is ignoring advice from hunting representatives like the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who have proposed a managed hunter-led population reduction over three years.

“The Minister is arming DOC rangers with guns and chartering helicopters as we speak.

“The cull starts Sunday. It must be stopped.”

The petition calling on Eugenie Sage to Stop the Tahr Cull can be found here.

There was some controversy over the petition that I don’t have details on.

Sage responded:  National prioritise invasive species above alpine ecosystems and landscapes

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says the National Party’s petition to stop control of Himalayan tahr shows that National doesn’t understand conservation, and is resorting in opposition to a bizarre form of shouting for the sake of political point scoring.

“Truly, a petition by National to “save tahr” is absurd,” Eugenie Sage says.

“Whilst in government, National were missing in action protecting our special alpine landscapes and ecosystems from heavy browsing and trampling by a ballooning population of Himalayan tahr.

“Despite the international importance of New Zealand’s alpine plants, many of which are only found here in Aotearoa, the Department of Conservation was starved of funding and tahr numbers were allowed to explode.

“Once again, this government is having to clean up after nine years of neglect. I am taking the necessary steps to fix the damage done, and making decisions that protect our biodiversity and beautiful indigenous plants. I am proud to stand up for our native taonga in the Ka Tiritiri o Moana/Southern Alps.

“The previous government did not ensure that the limits in the Himalayan Tahr Control Plan from 1993 were kept, and numbers of tahr have ballooned three times higher than allowed.

“We’ve resurrected the Tahr Liasion Group that provides hunters, conservation and other stakeholders with input because we recognise that communities love our alpine landscapes.

“I will continue to engage with the Tahr Liason Group and with hunting groups such the Game Animal Council and NZ Deerstalkers on this important issue.

“I’m not sure if National are aware of the science on this, but tahr are an invasive species that eat their way through our precious native plants. They are destroying the unique New Zealand biodiversity in the Southern Alps, a stunning part of New Zealand that New Zealanders want to protect.

“Would National seriously rather protect invasive tahr than protect our world-renowned natural landscapes? That is what at risk here.

“I suggest National do some homework before continuing to peddle this petition,” Eugenie Sage said.

Deerstalkers Association is against this (ODT) ‘Search and destroy’ tahr cull criticised

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage’s proposals to cull 17,500 Himalayan mountain tahr has been described as an unnecessary ”large-scale search and destroy” operation – destined to end up in court.

Almost $120,000 has been pledged to the Tahr Foundation toward legal costs by hunters during the past five days, since Ms Sage announced the cull.

In a letter to members of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, national president Trevor Chappell said yesterday Ms Sage’s proposal to cull so deeply into a herd was ”unprecedented”.

”If it means that a court injunction needs to be sought – so be it,” Mr Chappell said.

He believed Ms Sage’s stance could escalate further into a ”wholesale slaughter” of introduced Fiordland wapati and red deer and the sika deer of the Kaimanawas and Kawekas.

”Minister Sage has already indicated there will be no recognition of Herds of Special Interest on her watch. As these herds have relatively defined areas, they may be next on the list.”

Mr Chappell said ”We will oppose unnecessary 1080 poison drops on our game animals and we will vigorously oppose the unconsulted decimation of the tahr herd.”

NZDA agreed tahr numbers were too high, but proposed a reduction over three years.

Late Wednesday (National Party): Minister Sage forced to postpone her tahr hunt

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has been forced to postpone the mass tahr cull she ordered to start this weekend because of huge pressure from recreational hunting and tourism industry, National’s Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie says.

“Ms Sage personally ordered the culling of tens of thousands of tahr without adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters who would be directly affected.

“While I welcome the fact that Ms Sage has delayed her cull this weekend, I am disappointed it has come to this.

“While National supports managing tahr numbers the Minister has no excuses for not adequately consulting with the hunting industry and recreational hunters.

“The hunting sector is advocating a responsible plan to manage tahr numbers rather than the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals. If Ms Sage had properly consulted, she would have a better understanding of this.

“Ms Sage must halt the cull until she has listened to advice from hunting representatives like the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association who have proposed a managed hunter-led population reduction over three years.

“Almost 23,000 concerned New Zealanders have signed my petition calling on her to stop the cull. She must listen to them.”

So this is an unresolved issue put on hold for now.

Sage again seems to have discovered that Green ideals can be tricky to implement in the real world of politics.

 

Quietly scrapped national health targets, no replacement yet

Health Minister David Clark has decided to quietly scrap national health targets, without debate, without evidence, and without anything yet but a vague promise to replace them with.

There is nothing in the Beehive media releases, but yesterday National claimed Government axes National Health Targets

The Government’s quiet shelving of National Health Targets is bad news for Southland says local MP, Sarah Dowie.

“It is outrageous that the Government has done away with the targets which include a set of six major indicators, which measured DHB’s throughput in surgeries, cancer treatment, Emergency Department waiting times and childhood immunisations, as well as B4 School checks and help for smokers to quit.

“Just as they scrapped National Standards within education, they have done away the Health Targets that ensure public reporting of DHB’s performance with no plan of how to effectively manage and monitor the healthcare of New Zealanders.

“Minister Clark needs to realise that you cannot effectively operate healthcare systems on anecdotal evidence.”

Simon Bridges (RNZ): Ditching health targets is ‘absolutely outrageous’

The targets were put in place by the former National-led government in 2009.

They focussed on six areas: increased immunisation, faster cancer treatment, shorter stays in emergency departments, improved access to elective surgery, helping smokers to quit and raising healthy kids.

Mr Bridges said it was absolutely outrageous that the government had canned the targets.

He said it was a prime area where the government could be held to account.

“Over time dropping the targets, losing the accountability will mean more illnesses and more fatalities in our health system that could have been prevented.”

The Health Minister’s office…

…said the old targets would not be published, and new targets were being developed.

Meaning the old targets are being scrapped,

Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters…

…said National had the wrong end of the stick.

“They are not correct in saying we’ve dropped health targets, we just think those health targets were such a miserable failure that we have to find something that works and that is better, and that’s what we are working on at the moment.”

Peters proves himself incorrect in the same sentence.

Stuff:  How’s your DHB doing? Govt does away with National Health Targets

Public reporting of District Health Boards’ (DHB) performance of procedures including elective surgeries, cancer treatment times and Emergency Department wait times, has been axed.

It also appears a new project to publicly measure elective surgery referrals and rejections has also been quietly shelved, with the Ministry of Health failing to release updated figures since the election.

Health Minister David Clark said the targets created “perverse incentives”, particularly in relation to surgery – but the Opposition said there was no evidence to suggest that’s true.

And while there has been no announcement, the National Patient Flow project – which measured the number of patients being turned away from the operating table – has not released any updated figures since September last year. That project was launched following intense political pressure from Labour, over surgical unmet need.

Clark has given an assurance that more surgeries would be performed, but there was currently no public measure of that.

Just trust Clark’s word, with no numbers?

“As minister, I’m concerned about the perverse incentives that exist under the existing targets, whereby we’ve had what were traditionally cheaper surgeries performed in more expensive environments and so not spending the health dollar as wisely as it could be spent,” he said.

Clark, who has also implemented a complete review of the health sector, said the current system wasn’t “fit for purpose”.

Nationals health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse asked Minister Clark about it in Parliament yesterday.

8. Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Health: Why does the Government intend to dispense with the national health targets?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): The previous Government’s health target data has not been published since August 2017. I want a health system that has honest and transparent reporting.

Woodhouse complained that his question ‘why’ wasn’t answered, but I think it is established under Speaker Mallard in Parliament that avoiding answering is an obvious answer of not disputing what was asked.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Does he stand by his statement that the targets create “perverse incentives”; if so, what is his definition of “perverse incentive”?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: A good example of a perverse incentive is to recall what happened toward the end of the previous Government’s tenure, when the overall statistics showed that the number of electives was going up, yet in centres like Northland, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato, if Avastin injections and skin lesion removals were taken out of those pumped-up statistics, the actual number of surgeries was dropping. Despite a growing population, the actual number of surgeries was dropping. That Government should hang its head in shame. That is the result of nine years of underfunding.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Given that, is it his view that eye procedures designed to save the sight of patients with macular degeneration, or skin procedures aimed at improving the prognosis of cancer patients, are not worthy of undertaking or counting?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: We know that skin lesion removals can be performed for roughly half the price in a primary care setting as compared to being performed in a hospital setting. So it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if you can afford to perform twice as many surgeries, more lives will be saved.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Is it appropriate to describe the saving of more than 700 lives a year by implementing targets to improve emergency department waiting times, as reported in the New Zealand Medical Journal last year, as a perverse incentive?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I don’t think anyone is saying that about that target. We will continue to monitor a range of measures, dozens of measures, through the Ministry of Health, and the district health boards will be held to account for improved performance.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: What possible benefit to New Zealanders can come from the dispensing with of publicly stated targets that improve surgery throughput, reduce waiting times, improve health, and quite literally save lives?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I disagree with the member’s characterisation. What we know is that that set of targets was driving a set of behaviours which may have led to the public health dollar being more poorly spent, with health consequences for New Zealanders. By defending a set of targets with perverse outcomes in it, the actual fact is that that member and his former Government may well have been driving poorer health outcomes for New Zealanders.

Audrey Young points out Labour ditches national health targets with no debate on their value

At no point during the election campaign last year did Labour or its coalition partner campaign to get rid of national health targets.

So the decision Health Minister David Clark to drop national health targets came like a bolt.

In fact for the past six years Labour and Jacinda Ardern in particular have insisted there is value in having specific targets in the area of child poverty in order to measure progress.

Ardern won that argument. There has been wide buy-in to that argument, which makes Clark’s decision when it comes to public health the more bizarre.

It was a decision that did not go to Cabinet – and should have.

The least that the new Government could have done was come up with its own priorities or have some new form of accountability in place before ditching the targets.

Quietly dropping the targets without saying so and without debate is a concern, especially when there is nothing in place yet to replace them.

Dominion Post editorial: Trust me, I know what I’m doing

Health Minister David Clark is scrapping National Health Targets that publicly address district health boards’ success or failure in achieving, among other things, reasonable treatment times, numbers getting surgery, waiting times in emergency departments, and immunisations.

Incredibly, the National Patient Flow project, which monitors the number of people turned away from surgery, and which Labour supported while in opposition, also appears to have been sidelined.

In making these changes, he has criticised the “perverse incentives” created by the previous monitoring regime. Also, Labour has intimated that the DHBs and the previous National government padded the statistics with easier procedures, that they gamed the system. Trouble is, there’s no evidence. Just a “vibe”, it seems.

No evidence, just Clark thinking he knows best. That’s a concern, especially in health.

This Government has set aside an extra $31.5 million for elective surgery; Clark insists that will mean more operations and that the performance of the Ministry of Health in delivering those will be monitored.

But we just won’t have the regular, public updates to help verify that.

What we do have is the minister’s assurances that more operations will be done, at lower cost, with more beneficial outcomes.

He appears to be asking us to simply trust him.

Trust a politician? If things don’t go according to plan politicians are notorious for hiding bad news.

Clark had better hope that there is a perceptible improvement or he could come under fire in the future.

Bickering over pest eradication funding.

Three headlines from RNZ:

Govt puts extra $80m towards eradicating pests

Efforts to eradicate rats, stoats and possums are set to get a boost of $80 million in next week’s Budget.

DOC funding barely keeps up with inflation – National

National’s conservation spokesperson has accused the Green Party of making a u-turn on its election promises.

National Party conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie said during the election the Greens promised to double DOCs budget and this increase was barely more than inflation.

She said in last year’s budget, National committed more than $107 million to DOC.

“I think they’re failing to convince their conservation partners of the value of conservation and adequately advocate for the environment,” she said.

Ms Dowie said the Green Party talked a big game during the election and the public needed to see it now they’re in government.

Govt will double what National spent on predator control – Sage

The National Party is wrong to claim the Greens aren’t following through on their election promises on conservation, the government says.

Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said yesterday’s announcement won’t be the only funding on offer.

“This is part of the conservation package in Budget 2018, there’s more to come on Thursday, but we have a biodiversity crisis because of possums, rats and stoats,” she said.

Ms Sage said when looking at predator control specifically, the government was funding more than double what National had over the past four years.

She said the funding package in 2017 was largely for tourism facilities, not for backing nature by doing extensive predator control.

“National is comparing apples with pears,” she said.

She added, under National, DOC’s core baseline funding only allowed it to control predators on around 200,000 hectares annually.

“We are going to ramp that sustained control up to 1.85 million hectares on an ongoing basis, that’s almost 25 percent of the conservation estate,” she said.

Quibbling aside, continuing to target the eradication of pests is a good thing.

Sage is talking of the funding as ‘a big win’.

Our native forests, birds and other wildlife are the big winners in the first ever Green Party pre-budget announcement.

Yesterday I was delighted as Conservation Minister to announce that the Greens have secured significant new funding in Budget 2018 to help save our wildlife from predators like rats, stoats and possums.

We have won an extra $81.3 million over four years so the Department of Conservation can protect New Zealand’s precious native birds and wildlife over its largest area ever – a whopping 1.85 million hectares. That’s about the size of Northland and Auckland combined. The extra funding means DOC can do sustained predator control over nearly 25% of public conservation lands by 2021, more than it has ever been able to do before.

It will not only be bigger, but better as the control will target rats and stoats, not just possums.

And there is more to come for conservation in Thursday’s budget. This is just the beginning.

Odd terminology. Government is about doing, not winning (that’s for elections).

Winning the fight against predators is a long way away, if it can ever be achieved. It is likely the Government (DOC, people) will always come second – but at least they are aiming at an honourable second.

The first budget for the current Government will be announced on Thursday, but there has been a drip feeding of pre-budget announcements, especially from the support parties who are no doubt keen to get some positive attention spending our money.

 

 

More on Domestic Violence – Victim Protection Bill

There are two very good things about the progress of Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence – Victim Protection Bill – it is an Opposition MP’s genuine attempt to make a difference in the battle against the scourge of domestic violence, and it is an excellent example of how MPs from all parties can work together on a common worthy cause.

The first two speeches:

Introductions and parts of the rest of the First Reading speeches:

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE—VICTIMS’ PROTECTION BILL

First Reading

POTO WILLIAMS (Labour—Christchurch East):

I have to first acknowledge my dear colleague Jan Logie, who is an absolute champion for women, and I have to say, Minister Amy Adams, I am actually rather taken aback by the emotion you expressed at the end of that speech.

I have to say for many women in the House, this is a very personal issue. I just want to tautoko my daughters and granddaughter in the gallery. Heaven forbid that anything that happens to many of the women in our country happen to those beautiful children up in the gallery.

I must acknowledge Heather Hēnare, champion of this particular cause and supporter of many victims of domestic violence. Your work will go on and you will continue to be recognised for the amazing work that you do.

What this bill, I believe, attempts to do is to really start to normalise the conversations that we must be having in each and every workplace about domestic violence. It must bring it down to the point where we stop being scared of opening the door and shining the light on what is going on in many of the families that we occupy—that we live in.

Each of our families is touched in some way by the abhorrence of domestic violence: whether we are impacted personally, whether our children experience it, and whether we are supporting our sisters and our brothers through difficult times.

This legislation is saying: “You know what? It happens.” Let us own it. Let us get real about this everybody. Because it happens, and because we are good employers, we are going to allow people the time that they need to address those issues. Ten days is not much but, you know what, it is a heck of a lot more than we used to get, and it is a good start. It actually says “Yep. We have a responsibility here. We have a responsibility as employers to support our employees through this, and you know why? Because they are good employees and we want to keep them and it actually adds to our bottom line at the end of the day.” Let us get real; it is all about the cost benefit for the employer…

SARAH DOWIE (National—Invercargill):

I too join in the line-up of people here today who are very pleased to be speaking in support of this bill, the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill, in its first reading, to see it through to the select committee stage to have some honest conversation about how we move we forward in protecting women, the majority of women who are subject to domestic violence, and those men the workplace.

I am pleased that Jan Logie has referred this bill to the Justice and Electoral Committee. I think that our committee is up for the challenge to have these discussions, and, as I said before, I am very pleased to be part of this movement right now that has unanimous support in the House.

I do want to pay tribute to Jan Logie, because, contrary to popular belief, MPs do speak to each other outside this house, and I can also report that I had a conversation with Jan Logie just before we came into the house here tonight and I could see her genuine excitement that

(a) her bill had been pulled from the ballot and
(b) that she would receive unanimous support to see this bill through to the select committee phase.

So, well done, Jan, for championing this, and well done for that achievement.

CLAYTON MITCHELL (NZ First):

It gives me great pleasure to stand on behalf of New Zealand First to, first of all, acknowledge you, Jan Logie, for bringing this bill to the House. With tongue in cheek and with serious sincerity, I think divine intervention has played a little part in this.

Being International Women’s Day today says a lot, and the only time I have seen that happen again was with Sue Moroney’s bill when it was to do with paid parental leave. It was just again that the stars aligned, so well done and great courage. It just goes to show that the passion that you have for resolving this comes through with your speech and you speak very, very eloquently of that.

I would also like to acknowledge the Minister for her words and her sincere thoughts, along with all other members who have spoken here today, and it gives me great pleasure as a male to stand up and speak to this.

The fact is that New Zealand First wholly supports this. We certainly would encourage the conversation to continue in select committee. I think there are some potential drafting issues but that is not here nor there. We would like to hear from small and medium sized businesses to see what their take is with regards to the period of time, the 10 days, that has been allocated for people who are suffering at the hands of domestic violence…

JONO NAYLOR (National):

There is no doubt that domestic violence is an absolute scourge on our society. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that, firstly, we need to do absolutely everything we can to eliminate it to ensure that we do not have victims of domestic violence in New Zealand but also that, secondly, we as a society need to do everything that we can in the meantime to support victims of domestic violence….

…I also just want to acknowledge the delegation of people who I had come through my office door in Palmerston North a couple of weeks ago, the local representatives from the National Council of Women of New Zealand.

They came to me and said: “Jono, we’d really, really like you to support this bill, at least to the first reading stage, to ensure that this very, very important conversation gets on the table in Parliament and is debated, so we can work through all those different sort of nuances”—as I referred to before—”to ensure that we get the very best legislation we can.”

I am really happy to support this, at least at this stage, to ensure that we have that very positive discussion, because, as I said when I opened this speech, it is clearly incredibly important that we not only eliminate domestic violence from our communities but do everything we can to support the victims of it, and I commend this bill to the House.

SUE MORONEY (Labour):

At the outset, can I first of all acknowledge that this is International Women’s Day. What better day to be debating this bill than International Women’s Day, which is a day when we all stand in solidarity with women right across the world in order to, yes, celebrate how far we have come, but also pause and think about what we have yet to do. This bill clearly falls into the latter bracket. I want to congratulate the member Jan Logie on her foresight in bringing this bill forward…It is the ballot goddess at work again to make sure that this got debated on International Women’s Day, because, sadly, this is an issue that does affect women, in more numbers than it does men. In fact, what we would wish is that it affected nobody.

I agree with the last speaker, Jono Naylor, in that all of us would want to not be dealing with this end of domestic violence.

All of us would want to be putting our energy into preventing it from happening, and that is the world we really want to live in: where there are respectful relationships and people can deal with the pressures in life and the stresses in life without battering the people closest to them, the people who should be able to rely on the love and support of family members, but instead are hurt and have violence meted out against them from the people whom they should have the most trust and warmth and understanding from.

Sadly, that is not the world we live in, and I will not rest until we actually address the front end of this, and actually stop that domestic violence from happening in the first place. But it does happen, and so this bill is going to be something that will be a huge relief for those people, predominantly women, whom this happens to.

CHRIS BISHOP (National):

Can I firstly acknowledge the sponsor of the bill, Jan Logie. I was not privileged enough to see her first reading speech, but I understand it was quite a remarkable speech, and I want to pay tribute to you, Ms Logie, for your sterling work in bringing this bill to the House.

…one of the things I have been very privileged to have done since I became an MP just over 2 years ago is to go and spend time with our women’s refuge in the Hutt and to deliberately get out there into the community, to some of our marae and to some of those community organisations that are dealing with the front end and the hard edge of this issue.

One of the things—I suppose the biggest lesson—that I have taken away from those visits and those conversations is that the size of the problem is truly remarkable. You know, it is just almost unfathomable, the extent of violence—almost always by men against women—in our communities.

As Minister Amy Adams said in her excellent speech, which I watched in my office, it is not just going to take the Government to do something about this problem; it is a whole-of-society issue that we need to address.

The Government will do its bit and we will lead on this, and I hope, actually, that we will look back on the 2014 to 2017 Parliament and people will say that that was the Parliament—the 51st Parliament—when the New Zealand Government and elected representatives got serious about family violence.

IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY (Labour—Palmerston North):

I would like to start where others have started, by congratulating the member in charge of this bill, Jan Logie. She was very humble in her first reading speech, by recognising that the work—as is always the case with these things—started outside Parliament with Women’s Refuge, with unions bargaining for changes through collective bargaining, and with all the other groups that, I am sure, have worked closely with Jan Logie on formulating this bill.

But the truth is it does actually take someone in this Parliament to put the bill into the ballot, and then, when it comes out of the ballot, to actually champion it, to have the negotiations and to work with colleagues around the House, especially the hard work to get to the point where it appears we will have unanimity when we come to the vote on this first reading.

So I want to acknowledge that work by Jan Logie. We all like to be humble in this place, but we have a job to do, and when those opportunities come up—when that bill comes out of the ballot—it does take a lot of work to get to the position that this bill has got to. So congratulations to Jan on doing that.

I also want to acknowledge the Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, for her leadership, because—I will say this gently, and like the previous member, Chris Bishop, I do not want to be party political—the Government’s initial response was negative.

I think it’s reasonable for Lees-Galloway to bring this up but god of him to say it ‘gently’ in the context of general cooperation on this Bill.

The Government’s initial response was that this would cost too much, and Michael Woodhouse, as the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, stated that on the record.

Clearly, some conversations have gone on within the National Government, aided, I am sure, by the lobbying from the member in charge of the bill, and it is pleasing to see that Amy Adams’ leadership has won through and the Government has decided that this is a worthy piece of legislation to at least take to a select committee, where we can have the conversation.

MAUREEN PUGH (National):

I too stand in support tonight of the Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill, in the name of Green Party MP Jan Logie, and I add my congratulations to Miss Logie on her initiative in writing this bill and also on her good fortune of having it pulled from the ballot. I did hear her speech tonight. It was an impassioned speech, and I congratulate you, Miss Logie, on your dedication to this cause.

In my own conversations with NGOs that work with victims of domestic violence, there is a clear need to support women at work who have fallen victim of domestic violence. For women who work in front-line roles where they must interact with the public, it is essential for them to have their privacy protected, especially if a woman bears the marks, the bruises, the impacts from a domestic violence episode.

Also at work an abuser makes it very easy for a woman to be trapped, to be captured in her workplace, and to become yet a further target for abuse. The most effective way that an abuser does that is through violent or abusive phone calls or emails. But also it becomes a risk for others in the workplace, and thereto lies the impact for employers making their workplace a safe workplace.

JAN LOGIE (Green):

It gives me hope to stand up tonight, after having listened to all the speeches in the House. I could think of it as personally gratifying that this bill, with the community we have brought to the House, has support. But mostly what I am feeling is the message that you are sending to survivors in the country, that we are, together, committed to making their lives better. We have heard their experiences and we are committed to making their lives better in every way that we can. I think that, for me, at least is a moment to mark in time.

I have heard really clear support for wanting to eradicate domestic violence, for us to use what tools we can as a country to do that, and to support the victims and survivors in the meantime. I have also heard a very clear articulation from all members in the House that yes, this is not just the business of Parliament or Government. All of us have a role to play in that, and that part of being a good employer is caring for your staff, and that this is one way to do that, and it will pay off for businesses.

I have heard mention that there needs to be some work around the drafting of the bill. I am really happy to acknowledge that. Part of the reality of it was that I had different legal opinions on the current status of the law in relation to flexible working hours, but particularly in relation to the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the extent to which it covered domestic violence.

What we have drafted is something—it is quite hard to get something right, when you are not actually sure of the status of the existing law. I really do see it as an offering for us to be able to work together to come up with the best solution. When we are all on the same page about the outcome, then that gives me hope that this process is going to get the result that we need. I will say it again—it is a result that could save lives, so it is absolutely worth hanging on to.

I did appreciate the comments that maybe we could loosen up a little bit. It is not something that people usually suggest to me. The flexible working arrangements and the need for the domestic violence documents in here were based on some legislation from overseas, in the UK. But yes, we do not want to make it more difficult. We want to clarify that flexible working arrangements should be used and should be available, and that that needs to be visible, I believe, to be able to have that intent realised. But we do not want to make it more difficult.

Somebody did mention the point about the fact that perhaps this would be too onerous for small businesses, and I thank the member Iain Lees-Galloway for asking businesses to come with solutions, if that is a concern for them. But I am going to push quite hard on this, because the international research—in Australia 1.6 million workers are already covered by these provisions, and for most of them, although the provisions are there they do not take them. It is very rare. They will take some. They take what they need. It is not a mandatory 10 days. It is up to 10 days, and you use it when you need it. The experience overseas as well as in businesses here is that people do not exploit that. It is a relationship of trust that is working. I would want to put people’s minds at rest on that point.

In the final few seconds—just for all those people who have been fighting for this for so long, and for those women who went back because they had no other choice or felt that they could not get out, I hope tonight gives you some courage. Kia ora.

Bill read a first time.

Bill referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee.

Full draft transcript.