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.

StuffWhangarei

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.

Stuff finishes with FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE SHANES

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
ROAD SAFETY in MIKE SABINS electorate.

Daron

Even a bye election…….  here where we live…… seems unable to
motivate WDC on ROAD SAFETY…..
BUT
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
REDUCE  the ROAD SAFETY HAZARD or REDUCE DUST..

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.

Plunket with Alex Wright on Shane Reti and bullying

Sean Plunket interviewed dusty roads activist Alex Wright on RadioLive yesterday about her claims that Whangarei MP Shane Reti bullied her.

PRIVATE EMAIL LEAKED TO MEDIA BY LOBBYIST

Up to 100 logging trucks a day use a network of unsealed roads in Northland. Pipiwai Titoki Advocacy for Community Health & Safety Group have have been campaigning for years to improve road funding in the region. Sean Plunket asked spokesperson Alex Wright, the woman who claims she was bullied by a National MP, who is doing the bullying?

I haven’t got time to transcribe it all but here are some key points followed by some transcription.

About fifty members in the group that has been campaigning for about four years.

The group has no rules or a membership list, in the process of making it an incorporated society. Very informal at this stage, they have meetings.

Advocate only on dusty roads.

Not a political group, a community group.

Wright has never been in a political party.

Advocating to get rid of dusty roads.

Been on TV 1 twice covering what they have to live with – Choking dust from trucks has Northland residents demanding help

No contact with Shane Reti before. He phoned her early February.

And then phone call made by Dr Reti Wednesday last week about emails sent out by Andrew Blake referring to the campaign. Nothing threatening in emails. Sent to all Parliament last Wednesday  how Northland is neglected in ‘Mike Sabin’s electorate’.

Group’s banners are red.

Then Wright got a phone call from Shane Reti talking about “threatening email, very wish washy.

Email was not signed – anonymous? No name at the bottom. Heading – from AD and CE Blake.

Reti made connection with group and Wright.

Blake is part of the group, Wright didn’t know Blake was sending email.

Dr Reti should have phoned Mr Blake.

Phone call totally unplanned, not forewarned. Out of the blue phone call from MP.

Reti said it was going to be more difficult to advocate if they campaign against National during the campaign.

Political reality.

He doesn’t threaten to do anything.

Plunket “I really can’t see where the huge threat is, it’s just politics isn’t it Alex?”.

Wright “Well, it’s everybody’s interpretation isn’t it.”

Plunket” Have you talked to Andrew Blake about his emails?”

Wright “No but I would be very keen for you to phone him”.

Plunket “Ok but you didn’t tell Shane Reti to phone Andrew Blake which would have been the natural thing to do.”

Wright “That’s right but as i said to you at the beginning the phone call took me quite by surprise, and I basically just listened.

Plunket “The problem is we don’t have the whole conversation do we.”

Wright “No and I only managed to start recording part way…”

Plunket “When was the last time you released, recorded and released to the media,  a phone conversation you had?”

Wright “I’ve never done it before in my life”.

Plunket “Who did you release the phone conversation to? How did you get it out there?”

Wright “How did i get it out there? Well in the modern day of technology you just, it’s so easy to  email recordings”.

Plunket “Who did you email it to?”

Wright “I emailed it to Radio New Zealand.”

Plunket “Because you knew a reporter there?”

Wright “We have quite a bit to do with the media”.

Plunket “Ok so you basically leaked a private conversation to the news media?”

Wright “Yes. Well I don’t know…”

Plunket “Well how do you feel about that, how do you feel about doing that, how do you think other people might look at that? That an MP rings you and gives you a heads up and says look it’s gonna be difficult for me to advocate for you if you keep stirring during the by-election, that’s just the way politics is. You record that conversation, and then you leak it to the news media. You just, and it’s a free country, you can do that .”

Wright “That’s right, it’s great isn’t it. It’s, I have rights, you realise that?”

Plunket: “Yeah I do, I do, I just wonder if you’re exercising in the best interests of your strategic objective to get rid of dusty roads, that’s all.”

Wright “I think we’re a lot closer now than we ever have been.”

Plunket “Really. So what are you going to do? I mean if you felt so bullied presumably you’re gonna quiver in fear and stop protesting your issue.”

Wright “No, not at all.”

Plunket “No I didn’t think so. So what are you planning, I know there was talk of blockading roads, are you going to do that?”

Wright “Um there’s all sorts of things up our sleeves at the moment, and I’m not going to disclose them of course.”

Plunket “Are you also disappointed that say New Zealand First hasn’t done much for your dusty roads in the last wee while either?”

Wright “Well I wouldn’t say New Zealand First hasn’t been um actually in the background. We’ve had Winston Peters at a marae meeting and he’s ah attended a Northland Regional Council meeting with our group, some of our group members. So actually…”

Plunket “Does your group have a preferred outcome for the by-election…”

Wright “Mr Peters is the only MP that has actually been and met with us. We invited Mike Sabin to try and um…”

Plunket “Yeah. Well he’s not standing in the by-election is he?”

Wright “Who? Who’s that?”

Plunket “Mike Sabin’s not standing in the by-election is he.”

Wright “I don’t know.”

Bizarre.

Plunket “All right Alex, do you have a preferred outcome for the by-election? How are you voting?”

Wright “How am I voting. Well I’ll just say I’m not voting for National. And I’m a straight up person sean.”

Plunket “Yep”.

Wright “I’m down to earth, I’m straight up, and I have nothing to hide. I don’t work in secrecy. I try to email everything that I can because there’s a paper trail. A lot of our politicians choose not to do that.”

Plunket “Ok. Could you email me the emails from Andrew Blake so we can all take a look at them and decide for ourselves whether or not we thought they were threatening?”

Wright “Now, um, I, I better just check with ah Mr Blake that he…”

Plunket “Why? You’re happy to release Mr Reti’s, the recording, the phone conversation with Mr Reti without asking…”

Wright “Oh yeah no problem at all. So so what…”

[email address exchange]

Pluinket “You don’t seem someone who’s too traumatised by being bullied”.

Wright “Not at all. You should ask some of my long time friends. They would know what I used to get up to.”

Shane Reti ‘bullying’ sets worrying precedent

Whangarei MP Shane Reti has been accused of bullying by a small activist group.But the manner on which this has been reported sets a worrying precedent, where an MP’s conversation is recorded and that is then used to stir up a storm with very debatable evidence obtained and used sneakily.

RNZ reports  Dusty road group claim bullying.

Whangarei dairy farmer Alex Wright said Whangarei National MP Shane Reti rang her last week and told her the Pipiwai advocacy group should keep quiet for the next two and a half weeks – or risk getting nothing.

In the call, which she recorded, Dr Reti said he had been working behind the scenes to help the group, but warned her that could be jeopardised if the group continued to agitate and send what he called threatening emails to MPs.

Ms Wright said she was taken aback by Dr Reti’s call, and felt bullied.

And there has been quite a reaction from mainstream and social media.

Stephanie Rogers at The Standard: Who said it? Shane Reti vs. Aaron Gilmore

Now, Shane Reti, elected in 2014 in the safe seat of Whangarei, has been accused of threatening a local lobby group to stay quiet while the Northland by-election hangs by a thread.

It’s appalling behaviour, but is it surprising? After all, can you pick which of the quotes below were said by Shane Reti, and which by Aaron Gilmore?

Who’s behaviour is appalling? RNZ also reported:

But Dr Reti said he was trying to help the group – not bully them.

Most of the responses at The Standard are predictably aghast at Reti’s behaviour. But Matthew Hooton commented:

Having listened to the recording in full, I don’t see anything wrong with what he said. It sounds totally polite and straightforward. I think the worse behaviour is taping a routine call from a local MP trying to help and releasing it.

And Alan Wilkinson said here yesterday:

And here is the Herald’s transcript report of what Reti said:

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11419458

The activist claims it was “subtle bullying”. To anyone else it was simple common sense telling an idiot that threatening MPs is a counter-productive way to get them to help you and support your cause. Then the idiot ran off squealing to the media.

This is what the Herald reported:

In the recording forwarded to the Herald, Dr Reti said he had got the issue to the Cabinet and had originally thought the announcement, which turned out to be about widening 10 bridges, might have been to announce their success, but it turned out not to be.

He then expressed concern about an email that all MPs had recently received about their case and said the threatening tone in the email would be guaranteed to put an end to his approach.

“If this next two and a half weeks is so critically important to have that tone, then go ahead and do it, no problem, and we will see what the consequence is.

“If another two and a half weeks doesn’t matter to you, then for goodness’ sake don’t do any more … weigh it up and see what you think.”

Dr Reti said he would approach ministers again to see if the issue was still on the table, whether it was still moving forward or had slipped off.

“Whatever strategy you think the best, you should and must do,” he told Alex Wright, “but I just want to give you a brief heads up for my piece of work in this.”

For this to become an accusation of bullying astounds me. And it sets a worrying precedent.

Political activists try all sorts of things to try and score hits against opponents. Dirt happens frequently.

But when the media buy into something like this and promote it then we should be very worried.

Dusty roads looks like deceitful dirty politics, aided and abetted by journalists who should know better – and should do much better.

If they willingly run stories like this then they can’t expect politicians to clean up their act, and our democracy suffers.