Collins demotes Woodhouse, promotes Reti

Judith Collins has fired a warning shot to the National caucus by demoting Michael Woodhouse for his involvement in the Michele Boag leaks, and has promoted Shane Reti to the health spokesperson role and also to the front bench, solving two issues.

RNZ: Michael Woodhouse stripped of National Party’s health portfolio

Dr Shane Reti will replace him and has been promoted to the front bench.

Woodhouse was given the Pike River Recovery and Regional Economic Development portfolios.

Woodhouse was tangled in the Covid-19 leak saga, revealing last Friday he too had received private patient details from National stalwart Michelle Boag.

Woodhouse did not tell the party’s former leader Todd Muller or health officials that Boag had sent him four emails containing the private information for two weeks and deleted the data the day a State Services inquiry was announced.

Speaking to media this afternoon, Collins said Woodhouse should have acted sooner.

“When he received the information from Ms Boag, people’s personal private information, I feel the right thing for him to have done would have been to advise her not to send him anything and it would’ve been better if he’d advise the minister of health straight away.”

Woodhouse fully understood and supported her decision, Collins said.

He was a competent, hardworking MP, she said, adding she still had confidence in him.

“Michael Woodhouse I believe is delighted with the outcome. He has been given two great portfolios.

“I have no doubt at all that Michael will never make that mistake again.”

When asked by reporters if this was her drawing a line under the saga, Collins said “I think we need to move on don’t we.”

Collins said Reti was “delighted” to have been promoted to health spokesperson

Dr Reti is a good choice for the health role and will add ‘diversity’ to the front bench.

I think this is an appropriate demotion for Woodhouse, something is seen to being done but it wasn’t major poor judgement (I think it was largely overblown) as it was for Hamish Walker.

Collins will announce her full reshuffle tomorrow.

Cannabis bill labouring under legislative laziness

Labour has made a mess (so far) of their attempt to appease people wanting cannabis for medicinal purposes.

John Roughan describes this as a symptom of legislative laziness in Two big concerns for returning PM Jacinda Ardern:

If maternity leave has given the Prime Minister any time to reflect on the team’s performance in her absence she might have returned with two big concerns. One is obviously the decline in business confidence, the other may not so obvious.

It is legislative laziness that ignores practical flaws in the policy behind it.

It was a weakness of the previous Labour Government and it has now appeared in this one, on the subject of legalising cannabis for medicinal use.

I don’t know whether Minister of Health David Clark has been lazy, but on this he has certainly been lax.

Labour mainly wants to be seen as compassionate to the terminally ill. Who doesn’t? But good government requires more than good intentions. The hard part is working out the practicalities of putting good intentions into effect.

The new Government put a bill before Parliament that would have allowed terminally ill people to possess and use a drug that would remain illegal for anybody else. Quite how the drug would be cultivated, manufactured and supplied only to the terminally ill were details that did not unduly concern Labour MPs on the select committee that would have let the bill proceed if Labour and the Greens had a majority.

Labour MPs on the medicinal cannabis select committee have published their view of the issues the committee considered and it shows Labour’s lack of intellectual rigour on subjects such as this. The word “compassion” features a lot.

Repeating ‘compassion’ ad nauseum does not make it a compassionate solution.

Labour simply proposed to provide a legal defence for people charged with possession if they were “terminally ill”. It would have been a defence lawyers’ picnic, probably invoked for growers and dealers too. Labour MPs did not sound much interested in the form of the products for medicinal use or their quality.

Their report declared, “The overall standard of cannabis products is not expected to match that of pharmaceutical grade products, e.g. manufacturers will not be required to provide clinical trial data. The setting of quality standards will be led by the Ministry of Health and will be informed by approaches taken in other jurisdictions, expert technical advice and stakeholders.” In short, “Whatever”.

So what was its purpose, other than to give Labour’s voters the impression the Government was doing something on this subject while, in fact, the difficult details it was ducking would very likely prove insurmountable.

Labour ministers and legislation advisers seemed unprepared for getting into Government, and they haven’t performed well since they took over last November.

Meanwhile, on medicinal cannabis it has been overtaken by the National MP Shane Reti who has drafted a bill resolving the practical details and has convinced his caucus to support it.

Reti’s bill would allow cannabis products currently available only on prescription to be available from pharmacies on presentation of a medical cannabis card issued by the patient’s doctor or nurse practitioner. A licence would be needed to cultivate or manufacture the products, which would not include cannabis in loose-leaf form.

Unlike Labour, Reti has done some hard work. He visited the US and researched what has worked with cannabis law reform.

Then he put together a bill that isn’t perfect – he had to compromise to get approval from the conservative National caucus – but it looks far better than Labour’s deficient attempt.

Labour’s Louisa Wall has been working on trying to make things happen, but she has never seemed to have much clout in Labour. She became a list MP in 2008 and has been an electorate MP (Manurewa) since 2011, but she is outside Cabinet well down the Labour ranks at 24. She is limited with Clark inn charge of health.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has been working hard with all parties to try to get agreement on a sensible way forward.

It’s a shame that Labour’s legislative laziness, and their unwillingness to work things out with other parties, has made what should have been a straightforward compassionate consensus so hard to achieve.

Quiet performers and hard workers Swarbrick and Reti may be the key to getting something worthwhile into law,


Minister of Health on colonisation and youth suicide

In an interview with NZ Herald new Minister of Health David Clark linked youth suicide with colonisation – New Health Minister David Clark on youth suicide: We have a problem and we need to talk about it

Labour campaigned on mental health and pledged the return of the mental health commissioner and an inquiry into mental health.

Terms of reference and other details around the inquiry were yet to be settled, Clark said, but forecast it as wide ranging, considering issues of colonisation and poverty.

He spoke of “hardship, or the after-effects of colonisation, or trauma in their own lives or personal histories”.

He was questioned about this in Parliament yesterday.

Hansard transcript (slightly edited):

7. Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN (National—Northcote) to the Minister of Health: What quantifiable health service improvements, if any, will his policies deliver?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK (Minister of Health): This Government is committed to providing affordable access to quality healthcare for all New Zealanders. This will happen in many ways; there are too many examples to list. However, to pick just one, I can tell the member that more people will be able to access affordable primary healthcare.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: By exactly how much will he lift the number of elective surgeries above the 174,000 delivered in the past year, given his commitment to increase access to elective surgery?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: I will not be rushed into committing to specific targets. I want a health system that is honest and transparent with targets not like the previous Government’s one, which was pumping statistics by performing Avastin injections and skin legion removals that could have been done in primary care.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was a very direct question. If he doesn’t have an answer, he should just say so.

Mr SPEAKER: No. I probably was a bit slack letting him go on after he answered the question in the first sentence.

Matt Doocey: By how much will he reduce the suicide rate over the next three years now that his Government has taken responsibility for the rate, as reported in the New Zealand Herald yesterday in the article entitled “… New Health Minister pledges change on youth suicide”?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: One suicide is one suicide too many. I do not believe it will be possible to eliminate suicide in the first term of this Government, but we are committed to lowering the rate of suicide in New Zealand, and I am looking forward to beginning the mental health inquiry.

Dr Shane Reti: What did he mean exactly by his statement to the New Zealand Herald yesterday that addressing colonisation will be an important part of his mental health inquiry?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: That is one factor that I said to the New Zealand Herald I expect will come up in the inquiry.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: Can he explain the improvements his policies will have on the link that he believes exists between colonisation and youth suicide?

Hon Dr DAVID CLARK: This Government will commit to a mental health review—an inquiry, a ministerial inquiry—and that inquiry I have asked to be broad. It will cover a variety of topics, including the one the former Minister has raised, and I expect it to provide answers that will help us to provide mental health services that New Zealanders need.

It was a topic that the Minister raised in his interview with the Herald.

New Zealand has an alarmingly high level of youth suicide, and of all types of suicide. The annual suicide toll is now over 600, far higher than the road toll that has had huge funding to try to reduce it.

It is an urgent problem that needs action faster than a general mental health review, and the causes of suicide are much wider than just mental health. Many of those who commit suicide are never in the mental health system.

“I do not believe it will be possible to eliminate suicide in the first term of this Government” – it won’t be possible to eliminate suicide in any time frame.

“…we are committed to lowering the rate of suicide in New Zealand…” – as was the last Government, without success.

“…and I am looking forward to beginning the mental health inquiry” – I’d like to see more urgency and action than that.

Q+A: poll on Whangarei

Q+A look at the Whangarei electorate contest including a poll result between National MP Shane Reti and NZ First’s Shane Jones (see yesterday’s post Shane v Shane Anor (Whangarei).

Colmar Brunton poll for Whangarei:

  • Shane Reti (National) 42%
  • Shane Jones (NZ First) 24%
  • Tony Savage (Labour) 22%
  • Ash Holwell (Greens) 10%
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats for Social Credit)1.7%
  • Robin Grieve (ACT) 0.1%

So a big gap for Jones to close.

Party vote:

  • National 41% (2014 in Whangarei: 50.08%)
  • Labour 37% (17.79%)
  • NZ First 16% (13.36%)
  • Greens 3.6%  (9.77%)
  • Maori 1.3% (0.53%)
  • ACT 1.0% (0.55%)
  • The Opportunities Party 0.4%
  • Other 0.3%

Polled 504 people, margin of error +/- 4.4

That is a worrying result for National in a safe seat, and a very good result for Labour.

Jones has lifted NZ First a bit – and his presence in Whangarei may distort the party support a bit.

Greens have crashed – and with reports of both National and Labour internal polls having Greens around 3-4% they look to have a major problem.



Shane v Shane Anor (Whangarei)

Poorly balanced coverage of the Whangarei electorate from Stuff, promoting one Shane, tacking another on the end (who is likely to win despite media efforts to swing it), and ignoring any other candidates.


The dog just happened to be in the (bloody!) pop up advertising, but it aptly represents the blanket coverage of selected pugs of candidates with the rest ignored.

These are the known candidates for Whangarei (not that Stuff gives a stuff):

  • Robin Grieve (ACT)
  • Ash Howell (Greens)
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats)
  • Tony Savage (Labour)
  • Jim Taylor (Conservative)
  • Shane Reti (National)
  • Shane Jones (NZ First)

Media have a bad habit of excluding candidates they don’t think have a chance so the voters never get a balanced view of what’s on offer.

National MP  Shane Reti would have to do very badly not to get back in. he got 20,111 votes in 2014, with Kelly Ellis (Labour) next with 6,942.

The NZ First candidate Pita Paraone got 4th with 2,944 votes but he has been shunted aside by Winston Peters because Jones, like Peters, gets preferential media attention.

That’s unlikely to be enough to result in a win in Whangarei  for Jones but Peters will probably ensure he gets back into through a favourable list placing.


What’s the most important issue to you?

Jones: “Winning Whangarei and losing weight so that in my victory speech I look svelte and quite agreeable.”

Reti: “Serving the people of Whangarei, listening and meeting their needs.”

Tell us something about yourself people might not know.

Jones: “I fell off a motorbike…in 2005 in Raratonga. TV1 saw me limp through Auckland airport with a great big gash on my leg. When I got to the caucus Helen [Clark] let rip. That was before she learnt diplomacy at the UN.”

Reti: “I drummed for 20 years and then got tired of being the guy who arrived first to set up…when the bass player is standing beside me looking cool. So when I went to Harvard I played bass guitar in an indie band.”

Is the Jacinda effect real?

Jones: “Without a doubt in metropolitan New Zealand. I have not encountered major evidence that it’s sweeping across the voting families of Whangarei.”

Reti: “I’m not seeing it here in Whangarei, people are more interested in talking to me about the economy.”

That’s an interesting double observation.

Why should people vote for you?

Jones: “If you want to have a candidate who will be a minister and who will be at the centre of forming the next government, because without a doubt change is on the way, then they should vote for someone who’s a proven negotiator.”

Reti: “Because Whangarei deserves a hardworking MP who lives in the electorate and has already demonstrated a track record.”

What do you think of the other Shane?

Jones: “He probably would have done better if he’d stayed in the medical field, I don’t think he’s got the stuffing to be a knife fighter sort of politician.”

Reti: “I respect every opponent, and he’ll have my respect as well.”

Whangarei voters can make of that what they like.

Promotion of Jones a pox on democracy

Shane Jones is expected to announce he will stand for NZ First in the Whangarei electorate today. Media have been predicting and promoting this month, but they seem to have gone into a frenzy.

If Jones fails to win the electorate it won’t be for lack of a huge amount of free publicity.

This picking and promoting of preferred candidates by media is a pox on democracy.

Top pox at the moment is Patrick Gower: 12 reasons why Shane Jones can win Whangarei

He left of reason 13: Paddy power. Or that should be Paddy’s abuse of the power of the media.

The media have a dirty habit of picking winners in elections based on who they think will make good stories. Jones had a lacklustre reputation as an MP when he was in the Labour party, but media seem to think he makes good headlines, and that seems to be their priority.

This selective promotion is a pox on a fair democratic system.

There are actually other candidates who have been announced to contest Whangarei, not that most people would know based on media coverage (next to none).

  • Shane Reti (National) – current MP
  • Tony Savage (Labour)
  • Ash Howell (Greens)
  • Chris Leitch (Democrats)

In 2014 Reti had a majority of 13,169 votes, getting 20,111 votes.

The NZ First candidate Pita Paraone got 2,944 votes. Did anyone know he is a current MP? He is actually in his 9th year as a NZ First MP, getting in on the list from 2002-2008 and returning in 2014.

Paraone seems to attract about zero media interest. Try doing a Google news search on him. The ring in Jones looks like bumping him further to the sideline, if that’s possible.

The media will give Jones every chance of getting elected in Whangarei, far more than most candidates. And if he loses he is likely to get in easily on the NZ First list anyway.

He will have successfully attracted a disproportionate amount of media attention. He already has. Such is the lack of balance in election coverage.

It’s an abuse of media power and a pox on our democracy.

If Shane Jones stands in Whangarei

A senior National MP has told that Shane Jones will beat its MP Shane Reti in Whangarei (if Jones stands).

I can’t find any other details on this.

Jones joining NZ First has been talked about since before he left Labour. If he stood he would may have a good chance of winning Whangarei. Or not.

If he joins NZ First. If he stands in Whangarei.

2014 result in Whangerei:

  • Shane Reti (National) 20,111
  • Kelly Ellis (Labour) 6,942
  • Paul Doherty (Greens) 3,163
  • Pita Paraone (NZ First) 2,944
  • Others about 2,500

National would have to bleed from their jugular to lose from those sort of numbers.

Shane Jones and NZ First

It’s long been rumoured that Shane Jones was destined to join Winston Peters at NZ First and take over as leader (I’m not sure what Ron Mark thinks of that).

The rumours are currently swirling again according to One News.

Rumours swirl about comeback for former MP Shane Jones

Former Labour MP Shane Jones is reported to be planning to jump ship to New Zealand First as the party opens the fourth of what will be five electorate offices in the expansive electorate.

Winston Peters stormed to victory in a by-election in the Northland electorate last March after the seat was vacated following the resignation of National’s Mike Sabin.

Mr Peters is confident he can hold the seat at next year’s general election and now local rumours say current Pacific Fisheries ambassador Shane Jones will stand with him for the party in the neighbouring Whangarei electorate.

Whangarei is currently held by National’s Shane Reti.

If rumours are swirling I wouldn’t rule out Peters as being the source of them.

If National aren’t careful they could lose their last hold in Northland.

Labour could also be out manoeuvred again by Peters and may also be shut out of Northland.

The letter that was tabled in Parliament about how Shane Reti threatens Alex Wright – Andrew Blake #3

There’s been some controversy in Northland with people from a ‘dusty roads’ group (Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health & Safety Group) and National MPs involving emails and a recorded phone call between Alex Wright and Whangarei MP Shane Reti.

Andrew Blake wrote the emails, and has provided copies and comments.

No 3 is what Alex (and I ) wrote to Shane
Alex was absolutely stunned by the phone call by Reti who she has never met here though there was a previous email from his secretay a month or so back warning Alex off the bye election (and immediately a call by Reti to say forget that email….was never meant etc.)

It is  addressed that email to Shane  because I had already had a long correspondence with Mike Sabin that  literally made me ill …he was so evasive and clearly had no interest in his electors. And I thought that we were in for more of that from Shane Reti…but this time with ”threats”” What is incredibly sad is that one month back Alex made a speech to WDC at the Pipiwai Marae saying that “”we have Shane Reti on board with us””

Both Shane and Mike said they would help” in secret”” (Ask how often minutes are c kept of our meeting with Council.Never!)

The whole thing is about what people read…… not so much from the words …..but the context and ”body language”. The Overall opinion is that Shane tried to warn off a community group.

A much more interesting opinion of 100% of people I have talked to…… is that “”he was put up to it by National.””.  Such is the faith in this Government now.

Email #3

Date: Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:04:45 +1300
Subject: The letter that was tabled in Parliament about how Shane Reti threatens Alex Wright?

The letter below  to Shane Reti  was tabled in Parliament today by Labours Phil Twyford Shadow Transport Secretary  after he had verified  Shane Reti MP threatening Alex  in which Shane Reti was objecting to a previous
letter “‘How Northland is Actively Neglected in Mike Sabins electorate”

In Parliament yesterday.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD : Has he (Simon Bridges) been advised that the Pipiwai Tītoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety Group, which is campaigning to get more money spent sealing Northland roads, allegedly received a
threatening phone call from his colleague Shane Reti telling it to tone down its demands or it would not get what it wanted?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES : I am not aware of that. I am aware of the general project. It is one that I think does need looking at. Of course, if we did that, the other side would accuse us of pork-barrel politics. On this side of the House we have got strong voices inside Government who can make a difference on projects that matter to people in the north.

Hon PHIL TWYFORD : I seek leave of the House to table the email from the Pipiwai Tītoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety Group—

Mr SPEAKER : Leave is sought—[Interruption] Order! I will put the leave. Leave is sought to table that particular email. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

Document, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

From Alex Wright to Shane Reti

“”Dr Shane Reti
National Party
Whangarei Electorate.

Dear Dr Reti

Thank you for taking the time to call me on Wednesday 11 March 2015. However, your phone call has left me worried and confused.

Firstly, Mr Andrew Blake writes his own emails on his behalf not for the Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety Group.

Mr Blake was extremely frustrated by his contacts with Mr Mike Sabin last year and before that with Mr Phil Heatley also.

Secondly, there is no one here, in the Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety Group, threatening anyone.

You made mention in your phone call to me that there is a threatening behaviour coming through from our Group.

The only threatening behaviour that we can tell is from what you said in the phone call, “ if we continue down the path we are taking then we will get nothing”.

If you talk to people in Northland you will hear repeated much of what Mr Blake says about how Northland is starved of our fair share of funds and how support in Parliament by our sitting Members of Parliament is lacking.

People here are puzzled as to why you, a Doctor and well known for your free clinic to the people of Pipiwai, have not given the support to what is now seen by the voters in this Electorate, the Media, Police and even the Councils as an effective campaign to alert New Zealand to a Health and now a Road Safety Hazard on our roads with the high density of log truck passes?

We have support from the Northland District Health Board and other agencies and we are now waiting for your support.

Please note that the number of passes used by Government as a standard was derived long before the World Health Organisation reports on Pm10 particles came out. The dust lingers in the air after the traffic has passed and is a proven carcinogen.

All this is accepted now and documented. Jan Wright of the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment can verify this.

As someone as yourself,  who knows these roads and the conditions that people live in here.

Do you support that Road Dust especially Pm10 as described in the World Health Organisation reports and Dr Jonathan Jarman’s report has the potential to become a Health and Safety risk for road side residents where there is a high density of log trucks passing over unsealed roads?

Please note that no one here has any interest in bridges. The National Northland Candidate, Mark Osbourne was laughed out of the Kaikohe RSA the other night on that one.

Our Communities sole interest is to have our Unhealthy and Unsafe Roads sealed.

You have given our Group no clear written assurances for our requests of help for our roading issues. Why is this and when can we expect to have something in writing from you?

It is almost like you have been stone walled by your own Party. At least in the interim our Group has had the honour of you taking the time to make two phone calls to speak with me regarding our Unsafe and Unhealthy roading issues.

May our Group remind you that, you were elected to represent the people who voted you in to make our Communities a safer and healthy place for living in.

The Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy Group has been given new information that your National Government will not offer any financial assistance to the Whangarei District Council to seal our Unsafe and Unhealthy unsealed roads.

Without any written information to the contrary from you it will mean without any doubt this new information is correct.

Dr Reti, can you please lend us your very much esteemed support to our campaign on, Road Dust being a Hazard to the  Health and Road Safety to Motorists and Roadsiders.

Your agreed support will follow and accompany documents to the Police, New Zealand Transport Agency and both the Whangarei District and Northland Regional Councils.

We ask for your support by reply to this email. Obviously and without threat, “No” will be the public understanding as the answer by default if you chose not to reply.

On behalf of the Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health and Safety Group we will anticipate your reply email by Wednesday 18 March 2015.

Thank you.
Yours sincerely,

Alex Wright.
Spokesperson for the Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health and
Safety Group

Northland road safety: Andrew Blake email #1

There’s been some controversy in Northland with people from a ‘dusty roads’ group (Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health & Safety Group) and National MPs involving emails and a recorded phone call between Alex Wright and Whangarei MP Shane Reti.

Andrew Blake wrote the emails, and has provided copies and comments.

No 1 the background is that Alex Wright was isolated and treated badly
in a meeting with WDC om Monday 11th when we were expecting Daron
Turner to show up. He is a spokesman for the Northern Transport Group.
I  wrote to him cc Parliament etc Quite  obviously angry and to get
publicity during the bye election. (This is Mike Sabins electorate)
about our roads.
Daron comes to see us with Insp Murray Hodson  this week. He is a good
guy I hear.

Email #1

Letter to Daron Turner,…TGLTD, and any parties interested in  Road Safety

Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:00:25 +1300
Subject: WDC Council, Business and Wannabe MPs show NO INTEREST in


Even a bye election…….  here where we live…… seems unable to
motivate WDC on ROAD SAFETY…..
Where is YOUR honour in this matter.
The attitude of Business in this looks just a SHAM of interest in
other peoples distress….While business goes on regardless.!

Apart from an intial contact with Insp. Murray Hodson …(which he
initiated.)….YOU have made no useful contact  or taken any part in
meaningful negotiations
with WDC about improving ROAD SAFETY and reducing the DUST
HAZARD…caused by log Trucks
Your truckies have not made any lasting attempts to go SLOWER and

At this moment…in still air….. there is a column of dust 200mts in
the air above Wrights farm.
And the School bus passes through this 4 times a day.
PLEASE  come and see it.

YOU could have made a difference at the meeting yesterday …….. but
PREDICTABLY you were not there.That is STANDARD behaviour for both
Council and Business in this.

If YOU cannot take some sort of responsible interest in the hazard
that the log trucks are causing…
……then WE will find a way of SLOWING the trucks ……….
…..and WE will ask PUBLICLY  that you DIVERT  from Wrights Rd….the
trucks that WE monitor as being the fastest and most inconsiderate of
road safety……
…….and WE will DIVERT  traffic  at SCHOOL BUS TIMES

Yours Andrew Blake for  PTRG

A lengthy email address list provided that looks like it includes all MPs from all parties plus many others including transport groups and media. Andrew says the list can be published but I don’t think it’s necessary.