Peters, Bridges support free speech

Both acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and national leader Simon Bridges have spoken in favour of free speech after Auckland mayor Phil Goff banned Canadians Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from speaking at an Auckland City Council owned venue. Southern and Molyneux subsequently cancelled their New Zealand visit.

Concerns were initially raised by Auckland peace action – Auckland ‘alt-right’ event cancelled due to ‘health and safety’.

“Auckland Peace Action (APA) called on the Government to not allow the speakers entry to New Zealand.” The group also threatened to disrupt the event, saying: “If they come here, we will confront them on the streets. If they come, we will blockade entry to their speaking venue”.

Goff:

Views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear. Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux will not be speaking at any council venues.

1 News: Winston Peters would have let far-right commentators talk at venue on ‘basis of free speech’

During a press conference today, Peters said if it were up to him he would have let the Canadian pair talk, after Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said he would not let any Auckland Council venue to be used by them.

The Acting Prime Minister said “despite the fact that what they might have to say is a very antithesis of what nearly all of us believe here, we still believe in their freedom and their right to express it in free speech.”

He said if it had been up to him, “we’d have allowed them to come on the basis of free speech”.

“We should be very careful who we expel on that cause because the downstream historically record on that has been just disastrous,” Mr Peters said.

Good to hear him saying this.

He also questioned whether the mayor had made the decision alone or with council approval.

Fair question…

Auckland Live, who run the Bruce Mason Centre where they were to speak, tweeted the cancellation was due to “security concerns around the health and safety of the presenters, staff and patrons”.

This came after Mr Goff tweeted the pair would not be speaking at Auckland Council venues last Friday.

…that will probably go unanswered by Goff.

Simon Bridges backs free speech for far-right writers banned from Auckland Council venues

National leader Simon Bridges says two Canadian far-right writers should be able to come to New Zealand and speak, even if people disagree with their views.

Bridges told TVNZ’s Breakfast show today he strongly disagreed with the pair’s views but freedom of speech was important.

“I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it’s a dangerous thing to say ‘because we don’t like what you’re saying we won’t let you in’.

“I can see how [Goff] made his decision but I wouldn’t have banned them from coming to New Zealand. We should allow people we strongly disagree with to come. We’re a mature, liberal democracy.”

With some of the comments made over the cancelled visit of Southern and Molyneux, and a lot political commentary and debate, I would question how mature our democracy is.

In contrast Green co-leader Marama Davidson backed Goff’s decision:

Good to use our freedom of speech to say your racist bigoted views aren’t going to be catered for here. Thanks Phil. These two can get out.

It wasn’t ‘freedom of speech’ that Goff used, it was abuse of mayoral power to suppress free speech at a council owned venue.

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman‏ also backed the Goff/Auckland Council ‘public safety’ excuse for not allowing the Canadians to use the North Shore venue.

I haven’t seen anything from Auckland Live or Ghahraman‏  that backs up their concerns about public safety.

Penny Bright responded to Ghahraman‏ on Twitter:

I have a proven track record in defence of freedom of expression (particularly under former Auckland City Council at Town Hall and the former Ak City Council Building). I don’t accept Mayor Phil Goff has the lawful right to decide who has access to Ak Council venues.

Rogan Mortimer has started a petition Protect Lauren Southern Event but it has just 145 ‘signatures’ in four days.

Juana Atkins also has a petition: Defend Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux’s right to freedom of speech in New Zealand.

This petition is to send a strong message that we will not allow people who are scared of criticism of their ideas to silence their critics and to prevent those who want to listen to them from attending the events of their choice.

When we book tickets we expect the venue to not be cowed by bullying groups who are NOT their customers into cancelling the event.

That includes a stupid photo of Southern holding two firearms – it has more signatures (currently 1204), presumably promoted on Whale Oil, but that won’t make many free speech waves.

It’s always funny to see people from Whale Oil promoting free speech when it suits them, given their history of banning many people trying to speak freely there.

Another petition, this one opposing free speech: Stop Lauren Southern from entering New Zealand

We, the undersigned concerned residents of New Zealand petition the Minister Of Immigration of New Zealand to stop Laurence Southern from entering New Zealand.

Laurence Southern is a Canadian born far right political activist. She has blasphemous views on Islam where she has used terms like “‘Allah is gay God”. She also has very strong anti-cultural / multi-racialism views. NZ is a very multi racial country with a rich mixed cultural heritage.  According to section 61 of NZ Humans Rights Act, this is hate speech. Her visit to NZ and public appearances are conducive for upheaval in the tolerant multiracial New Zealand.

By allowing Lauren into the country can easily stir religious and cultural sensitivities. This can manifest itself chaos and disharmony within our peaceful community and country.

UK have banned Lauren Southern and we request that the New Zealand Government do likewise.

Currently 2,696 signatures.

And yesterday a fund raising campaign was launched to force Auckland Council to respect free speech

A crowd funding campaign has been launched to raise money to bring judicial review proceedings against Phil Goff and Auckland Council for their banning of speakers Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern at Council-owned venues.

New Zealanders who value free speech can pledge money to this cause at http://www.freespeechcoalition.nz.

Supporters of the group include:
Dr. Michael Bassett – Former Labour Party Minister
Dr. Don Brash – Former leader of the National and Act Parties, and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Ashley Church – Business Leader
Dr. David Cumin – Senior Lecturer University of Auckland
Melissa Derby – University of Canterbury Academic
Stephen Franks – Lawyer
Paul Moon – Historian and a Professor, Auckland University of Technology
Lindsay Perigo – Broadcaster
Rachel Poulain – Writer
Chris Trotter – Political Commentator
Jordan Williams – Lawyer

Mayor Phil Goff has opened Auckland Council up to judicial review, as it is likely breaching the Bill of Rights Act (freedom of speech), and potentially the Human Rights Act (freedom from discrimination on the basis of political opinion). The Council is subject to both Acts.

This is an all or nothing campaign. If the $50,000 is not raised by 5pm Friday, then all funds will be returned to donors, and the Coalition will not proceed with further action.

The Coalition’s intention is, firstly, to force Auckland Council to reopen the Bruce Mason Centre to these speakers by August 3, the date that had been scheduled for the event. Secondly, and most importantly, we aim to set a precedent demonstrating that government bodies will face firm legal consequences if they breach the rights to freedom of speech and freedom from political discrimination that are laid out in law.

The visit has already been cancelled – that happened quite quickly – so I think this is fairly futile.

However there does seem to be an important debate here – free speech versus ‘protecting’ people from hearing things they disagree with.

I note that attendance at the proposed event with Southern and Molyneux was not compulsory.

Growing support for New Zealand’s ‘Zero Carbon’ goal

New Zealand is seriously working towards dealing with reducing carbon emissions.

As James Shaw has been touring the country consulting on his ambitions for getting New Zealand to ‘Carbon Zero’ (net emissions) by 2050, support for the goal in principle at least is growing, with both National leader Simon Bridges and farming leaders committing to work with the government towards achieving some sort of goal.

Bridges last month Speech to Fieldays on climate change. And:

Three days ago (Stuff): Farmers on zero carbon: let’s do this

In a symbolic show of unity, the Farming Leaders Group has published to joint editorial statement with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, published today by Stuff.

While the piece is described the zero carbon initiative as “a very ambitious and challenging target” and said questions remained about what it meant for food production, it makes commits to working to achieving the goal.

“Today, farming leaders with the support of the Government are stating their support for this goal and the agri-food sector playing its part in achieving it,” it reads.

“The farming sector and Government are committed to working together to achieve net zero emissions from agri-food production by 2050.”

While the Farming Leaders Group is new and describes itself as “informal”, its members are luminaries of the sector, including the leaders of Federated Farmers, Dairy NZ, Beef and Lamb, the Meat Industry Association, the Fonterra Shareholders Council and Irrigation NZ.

It also has representation from major private companies, the Federation of Maori Authorities and Agriculture Trade Envoy Mike Petersen.

Today from Stuff: What is the NZ Government’s Zero Carbon Bill and will it do anything?

New Zealand politicians have a complicated history with climate change.

There has been little in the way of US-style denialism, but the debate on what to do about it has been just as fiery.

That debate has led to a series of arguable half-measures – like an Emissions Trading Scheme that omits our largest emitter – and no certainty for the country on what we are going to do to reach the far-off targets we have signed up to.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw is trying to fix all this and depoliticise the issue  so that, long after his Government is gone, parties from the Left and Right can continue efforts to fight climate change without it becoming a political football. He wants to do that by setting up a completely new legal and institutional framework for climate policy, with a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Change Commission. Here’s what that would actually mean.

What exactly is a Zero Carbon Act?

At its most simple, a Zero Carbon Act would set greenhouse gas emissions targets into law.

Greenhouse gases are the primary cause of human-influenced climate change. Long-lived gases like carbon dioxide are the big ones globally, but down here in New Zealand we also have to worry about short-lived gases like methane from cows.

The argument goes that actually setting these targets into real law will give businesses certainty about the direction of the country, so they can plan long-ahead without having to worry about a new government changing the rulebook from under them.

But it is complicated, politically, economically and environmentally.

This is an ambitious long term goal and it will take a lot of work top get all significant players on board and on track.

 

 

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.

Hard lefties oppose National cooperation on climate change

Jacinda Ardern has described climate change as “my generation’s nuclear free moment” (in a campaign speech in August 2017).

Simon Bridges won’t go that far. On Q+A yesterday

CORIN DANN So certainty. Is climate change the nuclear-free issue of your generation?

SIMON BRIDGES I would not go that far. Is it the most significant environmental issue? Is it an important long-term issue that we need to deal with and deal with seriously and provide certainty on? Yes.

Bridges was vague about where he actually stands on a number of climate issues, and is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but National have signalled a willingness to work together with other parties – National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission.

But how genuine are they? Not at all according to some on the left.

MickySavage asked yesterday: Does National really want climate change to be a bipartisan issue?

His post concludes:

If this is what National and Simon Bridges is promising then all good and the Government can get on with things.  But if this is merely a replacement of outright denial with a more nuanced approach designed to delay urgent action being taken then he should rethink this.

Bridges has just been reported criticising National MPs expressing doubts about climate change.

Many comments at The Standard didn’t trust National and didn’t want them involved. Petty partisan politics is so ingrained some people can’t countenance cross-party cooperation.

Gabby: “Much easier to wreck things from the inside.”

Robert Guyton: “National’s funders will say, nah.”

Jess: “Bi-partisan means two parties. National wants to regress to Nat vs Labour with Nat as the bigger party, instead of a coalition. Or if they really see Govt and opposition as two parties, their perspective is going to be no help whatsoever (no surprise there).”

Kat: “Agree with you Jess in that National just want to maneuver into a position of taking out the coalition in 2020 by appearing to be genuine about serious issues.”

marty mars: “Simon is insincere imo. The gnats don’t care. Last throw of the die in many ways.”

Stuart Munro: “Trying make a wedge to peel off a few blueish Green voters.”

Jenny: “Feeling the ground shifting under them, National’s corporate sponsors desperately need a bipartisan consensus to do nothing meaningful about climate change.”

Draco T Bastard: “Translation: He wants Labour and the Greens to compromise and accept National’s position. And National will not budge from its position.”

What I think DTB really means is that he doesn’t want Greens to budge from their position – ignoring the reality of an MMP Parliament that requires agreement (and compromise) from at least three parties.

I joined in and said: This is the best opportunity ever for cross party cooperation on dealing with a major issue facing New Zealand and the world. Getting pissy about shunning parties because they don’t measure up to ideals (non of them do) is a bit pathetic given what is at stake.

Robert Guyton:

“Moving towards doing something”
Shuffling their feet so they aren’t considered dead.
That’s all.

I queried Robert: What approach do you think is best Robert – MMP democracy, or petty partisan politics? Greens will get closest to what they want if they’re prepared to work hard with all other parties in Parliament to get the best out of all of them – kinda like the James Shaw approach.”

Robert:

James is handling this issue beautifully, in the way a snake-handler manipulates vipers. Still vipers though.

This was Shaw’s response to National’s announcement they would work with other parties ion climate change:

Fortunately commenters on left wing blogs don’t run things in Parliament, but as Eugenie Sage found out, they can kick up a stink when Ministers follow laws and procedures and allow something activists don’t like.

Wayne Mapp also joined in:

Thank goodness the commenters here are not actually in govt. Most of you would not talk to National on anything (except for terms of surrender).

In reality in a range of issues governments and oppositions co-operate. For instance on national super, various environmental issues, a number of national security isssues there is dialogue and adjustment to get a bipartisan (sometimes multi partisan) consensus.

In fact John Key’s initiative in Opposition was to do the anti-smacking deal with Labour.

But hard lefties seem to hate dealing at all with the political ‘enemy’. In response:

Stuart Munro: “Well you’re a pack of lying assholes.”

One Anonymous Bloke: Here’s a radical idea to improve your public image: stop lying and killing people.

Fortunately people like that are nowhere near real political decision making, all they have is futile vitriol in social media.

This morning on RNZ:

Q&A – Bridges on cross party climate change cooperation

This morning on Q&A: National says it wants to work with the Government on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. What does that really mean? National leader Simon Bridges will be with us live.

This could be interesting.

One National’s decision:National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

One of the more ridiculous comments in response:

Climate change is a fraud, perpetrated on us by troughing and corrupt scientists. Not a single prediction, model or claim about the catastrophe that awaits us if we do nothing has ever come true, nor is it ever likely to. We are hobbling our economy by pandering to this nonsense.

https://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2018/06/why-simon-no-one-cares-except-liberal-elites/

Apart from stupid that is either very ignorant or deliberate bull pandering to an ignorant audience.


Overall impression is that this is a one of Bridges’ better interviews. I think he and his PR team have been doing some work to improve his public performances – they have plenty of time to prepare for QA interviews.

He was knowledgeable – and there was even signs of some passion. Perhaps he can grow into the job.

As well as climate change a lot of the interview was spent on prisons and crime – this was to Bridges’ advantage because it is something he is very familiar with – he was a lawyer and crown prosecutor before getting into politics.

On the panel, on climate change, Peter Dunne says that National had no choice to engage on climate change in Parliament.

Fran O’Sullivan says she was quite disappointed that Bridges failed to say clearly what he supported on irrigation and stocking levels – but Dunne disagrees, saying that putting bottom lines out there at this stage is not a good idea.

As soon as I saw that panel i thought of The Standard.

National supporting non-partisan Climate Commission

National have had a rethinks and have done a bit of a u-turn, now saying the support having a Climate  Commission. This makes strong cross party support for addressing climate issues.

The Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement supports a Climate Commission:

  • Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The number one point in the Labour Green Confidence and Supply agreement was setting up a Commission:

Sustainable Economy

1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050, with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form, energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions and industries.

a. Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission

b. All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.

c. A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.

d. A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

In a step towards that in April Green co-leader and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced an Interim Climate Change Committee:

The Minister for Climate Change today announced the membership of the Interim Climate Change Committee, which will begin work on how New Zealand transitions to a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

“We need work to start now on how things like agriculture might enter into the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZETS), and we need planning now for the transition to 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035,” says James Shaw.

“The Interim Climate Change Committee will begin this important work until we have set up the independent Climate Change Commission under the Zero Carbon Act in May next year.

“The Interim Committee will consult with stakeholders and hand over its work and analysis to the Climate Change Commission,” Mr Shaw said.

“If we want to help lead the world towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, we must create a moral mandate underpinned by decisive action at home to reduce our own emissions.

“Setting up the Interim Climate Change Committee is a great step in that direction,” says James Shaw.

Last week Shaw announced Zero Carbon Bill Consultation Launch.

Yesterday National leader Simon Bridges tweeted:

Bridges spoke on this – Speech to Fieldays on climate change

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

Today I have written to the Prime Minister and James Shaw, offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission.

I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bi-partisan progress on climate change.

The Climate Change Commission would support New Zealand’s emission reductions by both advising the Government on carbon budgets, and holding the Government to account by publishing progress reports on emissions.

The Commission would be advisory only, with the Government of the day taking final decisions on both targets and policy responses.

There are a number of details I want to work through with the Government before the Commission is launched – such as ensuring the Commission has appropriate consideration for economic impacts as well as environmental, and that the process for appointments to the Commission is also bipartisan.

But I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

This is a significant and a good move by Bridges and National.

With all the multi-MP parties working together positively on climate change issues New Zealand should make good progress on addressing climate change issues.

What now for Bridges?

There had already been murmurings in media about Simon Bridges leadership of National before the latest poll (Newshub/Reid Research) had him at 9% ‘preferred Prime Minister’.

Newshub headlined their poll with Simon Bridges failing to connect with voters – Newshub poll and the l4esd paragraph was worse:

A Newshub-Reid Research poll has brought some seriously bad news for Simon Bridges.

Mr Bridges, who has now been in the role three months to the day, has earned just 9 percent of the vote in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – the lowest result for a National leader in over a decade.

The poll, which is the first to be conducted since the new Labour-led Government’s first Budget, suggests his status as leader of the Opposition is failing to get any real traction with voters.

This is despite National support holding up on 45.1% to Labour’s 42.6%.

And also as has been murmured lately, Judith Collins got a promotion: Judith Collins makes surprising appearance in preferred Prime Minister poll

Prime Minister Judith Collins – how do those four words strung together make you feel? For 3.7 percent of New Zealanders, it feels pretty good.

Because for the first time ever, Ms Collins has registered in our Newshub-Reid Research poll as a candidate for preferred Prime Minister.

However, Ms Collins is ranking higher than Ms Ardern did when she first appeared as a preferred Prime Minister in 2015. Back then, Ms Ardern debuted at 3.5 percent.

But this is dire news for the actual leader of the National Party, Simon Bridges – his preferred Prime Minister ranking is just 9 percent.

I’m not sure how 9% is dire but 3.5% is somehow seen as an ominous appearance in the poll.

What should Bridges do about this poll? Nothing except continue on his two and a half year strategy. As one person put it, “his listening tour now is classic first year opposition stuff”. Travelling the country meeting as many people as possible is relatively low profile, but an essential in creating credibility and support.

I don’t think an election has ever been lost on a ‘preferred Prime Minister’ poll this far out from an election.

Jacinda Ardern peaked at 4.2% in 2016, and was averaging about 6% for the first half of 2017, suddenly spiking to 26% in early August, 6 weeks before the election.

There’s no reason Bridges can’t do something similar (unless he continues to look like a damp squib) if National are still near or ahead of Labour in the all important party poll, especially if NZ First look like they do now, out of contention, and if Greens look shaky again.

Neither James Shaw or Marama Davidson rated at all in the ‘Preferred prime Minister’ poll – Shaw got 0.4% with Colmar Brunton in December and February, but his absence in this poll means nothing about Green prospects.

Winston Peters got 4.6% in the latest poll, about average for him since the election, and he is going to be acting Prime Minister soon.

We have no idea how Jacinda Ardern’s popularity will track over the next two years. She may or may not even lead Labour next election. And that isn’t what is important anyway.

Bridges should carry on with his strategy and hope that he finds a formula that connects him with voters. More importantly National as a whole need to continue to look like a credible alternative.

Media will keep posting pointless poll stories – they use polls to create news, not to give a non-emotional balanced indicator of a snapshot of public opinion that is very minor in the whole scheme of things.

The opposition will continue to talk up doubts over National’s leadership.

The niche blog Whale Oil will continue it’s primary role as a political activist, talking up Collins and trying to trash Bridges. That’s been their modus operandi – promoting Collins and trashing Key/English/Bridges – for years. But 3.5% is a long way from suggesting their is wide support for Collins, even within National.

And WO’s toxic association with Collins will make things difficult for her – if she still has leadership ambitions. She is probably the most prominent and effective Opposition MP  at the moment, but it’s not uncommon for a non-leader to be the primary attack weapon of a party.

All this poll does is create a flurry of speculative comment, until the next poll. And there’s going to be many more of them before the election.

It’s not unusual for many people to prefer the current Prime Minister to be the Prime Minister – but Ardern’s 40%, well short of a majority, shows that it means little.

It is almost certain that National would suffer in the polls if they switched leaders every time media made a headline out of a single number. Labour struggled for eight years and ten months in Opposition, and their revolving door leadership was a significant part of that.

Bridges has far more important things to work on then ‘preferred PM’ polls that mean very little under MMP.

Ireland abortion vote puts New Zealand law to shame

Ireland has just resoundingly voted to modernise their abortion law, giving women the choice the should have.

This highlights New Zealand’s shameful persistence with law that is not fit for purpose to the extent that it is virtually ignored in practice, although it forces women into a demeaning process.

We should add abortion to the referendum list for next year, along with personal use of cannabis and euthanasia.

The last Government was not interested in addressing the abortion anomaly.

Abortion was not addressed in either the Labour-NZ First or Labour-Green governing agreements.

However Jacinda Ardern campaigned against the current law – Abortion ‘shouldn’t be a crime’ (September 2017):

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says abortion should not be in the Crimes Act and she would change the law.

Access to abortion is governed by the Crimes Act 1961 and the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977.

“It shouldn’t be in the Crimes Act. People need to be able to make their own decision. People need to be able to make their own decisions. I want women who want access to be able to have it as a right.”

At the same time Bill English supported the law as it is but also supported a conscience vote:

Prime Minster Bill English, a conservative Catholic, said he supported the law as it was and he would be opposed to liberalisation. He described the current set-up, where a woman has to get a certificate from two separate medical professionals saying she needed an abortion, was “broadly acceptable” and was working.

However, English said it would be a “conscience decision”, so his MP could vote freely on it.

Why not let the people vote on it?

February 2018: Labour moves to legalise abortion

Andrew Little surprised observers today when he revealed that a draft referral on reforming New Zealand’s abortion law had been circulated to New Zealand First and the Greens. Little said today that he received a letter from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after the coalition was formed directing him to begin the process of reforming the law.

Once the two parties give feedback, the referral will be sent to the Law Commission to make a recommendation.

New Zealand is not just out of step with modern law, it is also out of step with modern practices.

New Zealand is an outlier among OECD countries for the time it takes to get an abortion and the way abortions are provided to patients.

In New Zealand, a patient must be referred to two specialists to sign-off on the abortion. If one refuses, the woman may need to find a third specialist. The average time from referral to procedure is 25 days.

In other countries the it can take just a week from referral to procedure. This makes it more likely for New Zealand patients to require a surgical, rather than a medical abortion, as they have passed the nine week mark.

In New Zealand, only 15 percent of abortions are medical abortions. By contrast, 62 percent of abortions in the UK are medical abortions and 45 percent of abortions performed before nine weeks (two-thirds of the total number) in the United States are medical abortions.

Terry Bellamak, President of the Abortion Law Reform Association…

…said that she would like to see abortion wiped from the Crimes Act and the restrictive grounds for abortion abolished.

Currently, abortion can be granted on the grounds that the pregnancy is a risk to the physical or mental health of the mother; that there is a substantial risk the child will be seriously handicapped; that the pregnancy is a result of incest; or that the woman is deemed to be “severely subnormal”.

Bellamak said she would like New Zealand’s law to be reformed along the lines of Canada.

“Canada has absolutely no abortion laws and no regulations around abortion. They simply trust women,” she said.

Andrew Little refused to give much detail on what reform might look like…

…but suggested it might be broader than taking abortion out of the Crimes Act.

“There are more issues than just what’s in the Crimes Act … it’s also the hurdles that have been put in the way of women who are faced with making that decision”.

The vote would be a conscience vote, meaning MPs would be given the ability to vote freely without following a party line.

Why not a people vote, in a referendum along with cannabis and euthanasia?

Ardern and Little support reform.

Greens have actively campaigned on reform: Abortion – it’s time to decriminalise

The Green Party supports the decriminalisation of abortion because we trust women to make decisions that are best for them and their whānau/family. We want to ensure equal access to all potential options are available to pregnant women.

We want to change the abortion laws because:

  • The fact that 99% of abortions are approved on ‘mental health’ grounds reveals the dishonesty of the current legal situation.
  • The time taken to see two consultants means abortions happen later in the pregnancy. This is more dangerous for the woman, and it makes it difficult to access medical abortions (those which are conducted using medicine rather than surgery), which can only be performed at under 9 weeks’ gestation.
  • Rape (sexual violation) is not grounds for abortion under NZ law.
  • To reduce the stigma and judgement that happens over the reasons a woman chooses to have an abortion (e.g. rape being seen as more justified grounds for abortion than poverty).
  • Abortion’s continuing criminal status helps reinforce geographical variations in access to abortion services.
  • The current laws are discriminatory towards people with disabilities.

We also want to change the presumption that currently exists within medical culture and wider society, encouraged by the wording in the legislation, that if there is a significant disability diagnosis then an abortion is assumed to be desirable.

While English supported an MP conscience vote on abortion Simon Bridges could be different. In February when he became National leader:

Bridges told Mediaworks abortion should be “rare, safe and legal and I think the emphasis there is on rare. I think that’s where the vast majority of New Zealanders are”.

If that’s his view I think Bridges is out of touch with new Zealand.

Vice have noted he: “Voted to appoint a doctor strongly opposed to abortion to the Abortion Supervisory Committee.”

In principle NZ First supports people deciding things by referendum. In March last year Tracey Martin pointed this out in Politically, Abortion change rests with NZ First so what does that look like?

What’s our view on abortion legislation?

Abortions should be safe, legal and rare.

We have a policy of citizen-initiated binding referendum, held at the same time as a general election – a policy we have had for 23 years – this is one of those issues for such a referendum. It should not be decided by temporarily empowered politicians but by the public.

We need a 12 to 18 month conversation around this issue and then let the people have their say.

Topics that we would be suggest be associated with this discussion would include: Moving the issue from the Criminal Act to the Health Act, ensuring women get the best possible advice, getting more research into “why” women find themselves needing to seek this service and how can we assist them to avoid having to seek this service.

It makes more sense to me to have a referendum a year before the election. It separates issues decided from the politics of general elections, and is a very good way of engaging the public in democracy.

 

Dysfunction in Parliament

Question Time (oral questions) has often been contentious in Parliament, in large part because it is the best chance for MPs, especially Opposition MPs, to get media attention.

Either tensions, frustration or deliberate attention seeking has simmering for some time, and flared up yesterday. Paula Bennett walked out in a huff over decisions made by the Speaker Trevor Mallard, and shadow leader of the house Gerry Brownlee followed up with a letter to the Speaker saying National’s confidence in the Speaker had been ‘badly shaken’.

Who’s to blame for this? Largely the party leaders Jacinda Ardern and Simon Bridges (and Winston Peters to an extent) have to take responsibility for the behaviour of themselves and their MPs in Parliament.

The Speaker should also reflect on whether his approach is as effective and fair as it could be.

The exchange yesterday that boiled over (or stirred the pot):

Question No. 1—Prime Minister

1. Hon PAULA BENNETT (Deputy Leader—National) to the Prime Minister: Does she stand by all of her Government’s policies and actions?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN (Prime Minister): Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Can she confirm that as a result of her delay to the implementation of the winter energy payment, superannuitants will be around $300 worse off this year than they would have been following National’s proposed tax cuts?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Of course, the member will be aware we very deliberately cancelled those tax cuts so that we could invest in the low and middle income New Zealanders who needed that investment more than the top 10 percent of income earners, who would get $400 million worth. We have, however, identified that superannuitants experience things like winter poverty. We would have very much liked our payment to have come in earlier. It starts on 1 July and then it runs through till September. When it’s fully implemented, those superannuitants can expect to receive $700 as a couple—$450—but, again, this year it is less than that, unfortunately.

Hon Paula Bennett: How can she justify waiting till 1 July for the winter energy payment because, as she said previously, it was difficult to implement earlier, and yet she could bring in a fees-free policy on 1 January worth $2.8 billion?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: As the member would well know, having been the Minister for Social Development, making the largest changes to the welfare system in over a decade can be a complex exercise. We deliberately created a mini-Budget in December in order to expedite bringing in the winter energy payment, the Best Start payment, and Working for Families changes, and managed to do it in a time that I think even that side of the House would have found challenging, given their tax cut changes didn’t come in till the following year.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is the Prime Minister really leading us to believe that it would have been harder to universally give a one-off payment to all superannuitants on 1 May than it is to actually do the difficulties of different courses, 294,000 students, on 1 January for mixed payments?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Yes.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does she agree with education Minister Chris Hipkins that the fees-free policy will drive a 15 percent increase in student numbers?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Taking into account that we have to reverse a trend under that last Government of declining enrolment in post-secondary education, which we are trying to reverse. Of course, the members on the other side of the House have taken an unfortunate and narrow view of the need for us to have a greater proportion of our population in post-secondary education that includes those who have never studied before, who might be factory floor works or, indeed, McDonald’s workers, to go to wānanga or polytech to retrain, boost our productivity, and transform our economy.

Hon Paula Bennett: Let me rephrase: does she agree with the education Minister that the fees-free policy will drive a 15 percent increase in student numbers, particularly as she just said and accused us of not—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! [Interruption] Order! The member finished her question some time ago.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The point that I was making is that we had declining enrolment numbers. In fact, we did point out that, actually, for the last year our expectations were lower than that. We know that we have to make up ground, because, as I’ve said, there was a tendency for post-secondary education to start declining, and we’re trying to reverse that trend. I would have thought the other side of the House would be a bit more ambitious about the options for New Zealanders to retrain and educate themselves.

Hon Paula Bennett: Is she concerned about the effectiveness of her flagship $2.8 billion fees-free tertiary policy given Treasury is now forecasting that there will not be a 15 percent increase, not a 5 percent—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member’s finished. She’s had two legs already.

Hon Paula Bennett: No I haven’t. Not even no increase but, instead, 900 fewer students. Actually, that is the relevant point, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, the two points I’d like to make—

Hon Gerry Brownlee:I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: —is that this side of—

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Point of order.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Gerry, I’ve got this. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, that was clearly an interruption of a point of order, so, clearly, you’ll want to rule on that.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I hadn’t yet called the member.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Well, you had, actually. The Hansard will show you had.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, if that is correct, I apologise to the member. The member now has the call. Would he like to make his point of order?

Hon Gerry Brownlee: Yes. Your suggestion that the question is now over seems to me to fly in the face of there needing to be some verification for questions. If you want us to start writing novels before the actual question ends, we can do that, but some flexibility in being able to make a point with the question is not unreasonable given that everyone knows question time is a time when the Government defends itself and has a much greater opportunity to do that. That should be couched in terms of the information given or provided by the question, and that’s the point of verification.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I thank the member for his advice. I will listen carefully in the future. It would probably be easier to judge and less complicated if there weren’t addendums before the question started as well as unnecessary information for the purpose of the question during it.

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: The point I was making was actually that the member is reinforcing the issue that we had. We had a declining number of people engaging in post-secondary education, regardless of whether they were school leavers or those already on the factory floor. The OECD said we needed to do something about it; the IMF said we needed to do something about it—this Government is. It may take time, but it will be worth it.

Hon Paula Bennett: In November, when her education Minister made his statement that it would increase by 15 percent, did he know it was declining, or is she just using that as an excuse now to break her promise?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: We all knew it was declining, we all knew we had to do something about it, and we all know that we’ve got a productivity challenge in New Zealand. This side of the House is willing to take that challenge on; that side would rather see barriers to education continue.

Hon Paula Bennett: So why was a $2.8 billion bribe for tertiary students more important than her promises around health, education, and police that she’s promised?

Mr SPEAKER: No, no, no. I’m going to require the deputy leader of the National Party to rephrase that question in a way that she knows is within Standing Orders, and she’s not getting an extra question for doing it; this will be a new supplementary.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why was a $2.8 billion payment for tertiary students more important than her promises around health, education, and police?

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: Again, a narrow view of the policy given this will have a greater potential impact for those workers who have never ever engaged in post-secondary education. But my second question: if it’s a bribe, will you reverse it?

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You ruled out a word that I wasn’t to use, and yet then the Prime Minister is free to use it in her answer.

Mr SPEAKER: I think the Prime Minister could well have been reflecting the inappropriate comment of the member. [Interruption] Order! Order! If members can’t see a description of someone’s own policy as being different from a description of another person’s policy—picking up the words inappropriately used I think is not out of order. What I thought the member was going to object to was the Prime Minister’s reference to the second person, and I want to remind her that she should keep me out of the debate and out of the questions.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Well, all things considered, then, do we get that question back?

Mr SPEAKER: No.

Hon Paula Bennett: Why was $900 million—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! The Opposition just lost five questions. Gerry Brownlee will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I withdraw and apologise.

I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, your job is to keep order in this House, not to prevent the Opposition from challenging the Government on their programmes. Your repeated recall of questions from us does that, and I think that is most inappropriate and bad for our democracy.

Mr SPEAKER: I want to thank the member for his advice, but I will not have senior members referring to me in the way that he did by way of interjection. I do regard what he has just done as grossly disorderly, and I will contemplate what will happen. I think members know that, in the past, anyone who made that comment would’ve been tossed out of the House, and I don’t want it to be my practice to do that—especially to a senior member of the House—but the member should know better, and I will contemplate what I will do as question time goes on.

Hon Paula Bennett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think the point I do want to pick up is that I think the use of taking away and gaining supplementary questions does question our ability as the Opposition to actually put the Government on notice, to actually ask the questions that we have a right to do as part of our democracy. My colleague may not have made that point as clearly as he wanted to, but that’s certainly how this side of the House feels.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, I now regard that member as being grossly disorderly. She has again relitigated the point that I’ve been ruling on. The member knows well that supplementary questions are at my discretion. Any supplementary questions are at my discretion. I’ve chosen to use this approach. As a result of it, to date, the National Party have had 22 more supplementaries than they would’ve had according to the numbers given by the Clerk. They have done very well out of the process, mainly as a result of disorderly behaviour by Mr Jones and a couple of his colleagues. But the National Party is ahead on it, and I absolutely reject any suggestion that the National Party have not been able to ask the number of questions over this Parliament that they would’ve been able to otherwise. That’s just not true.

Hon Paula Bennett: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, there’s no point of order. If the member wants a further supplementary, she can take it. If not, we’ll move on.

Hon Paula Bennett: No, I’m leaving. What a waste of time.

Mr SPEAKER: For how long?

Hon Paula Bennett: Oh, just for today.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.

 

Interjection ban on National dog barker, and crappy “stupid little girl” cop out

Parliament’s question time can be raucous, with some members barking at every passing Minister. National MP David Bennett annoyed the Speaker enough today to earn a two day ban on interjecting.

In Question No. 9—Children:

Darroch Ball: What is the Minister doing to ensure that children get the best services that they need?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Excuse me, Mr Speaker. I forgot that we had one other question coming, perhaps. On behalf of the Minister for Children today, Oranga Tamariki are holding the first of 14 regional hui with their 525 providers to talk about how they will work together in the future to ensure that all services meet the best needs of the child. Collectively, they receive around $268 million from Oranga Tamariki per year. The ministry is trying to give them greater certainty around their funding and is moving to longer-term contracts—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. David Bennett will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: I withdraw and apologise.

In Question No. 11—Social Development:

11. ANGIE WARREN-CLARK (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made regarding the Growing Up in New Zealand study?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Mr Speaker—

Hon David Bennett: Oh, has she got her notes this time? Good on her!

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Today, I announced that the Government would restore more than $1.9 million—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat. Now, Mr Bennett, your interjections are very, very frequent. Referring to members using notes in the House to answer questions is an area which is totally my responsibility and not for you to comment on. I would like to remind the member that several of his colleagues rely heavily on notes, not to answer questions, which is quite a lot harder, but even to ask them.

In Question No. 12—Employment:

Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of Employment): Thank you, Mr Speaker. In response to the first part of the question, of course I stand by my statements. As for the second part, the policy response for job seekers remains the responsibility of the Minister for Social Development.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does he stand by his statement that “people have commitments,” as reasons that unemployed New Zealanders cannot pick fruit, and, if so, how many commitments does an individual need to not have to show up to work?

Hon David Bennett: How many commitments have you got?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Of course I stand by—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! David Bennett, once again you have interjected, involving me in the answer, and what we’re going to do is have you on an interjection ban for the rest of this question time and tomorrow. [Interruption] Order!

Overyapping in Parliament is unlikely to do the opposition any good, Putting a muzzle on Bennett for a couple of days will be better for the House.

Also under scrutiny is an as yet unidentified National MP – Newshub investigates: Which National MP made a ‘very sexist remark’ about Jacinda Ardern?

In Parliament last week, while the Prime Minister was speaking, a National Party MP hurled a “very sexist remark” across the Chamber.

He – and yes, Newshub can confirm the remark was made by a man – called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a “stupid little girl.”

As soon as the comment was made, Speaker Trevor Mallard stopped proceedings in the House, calling for the person who made the “very sexist remark” to apologise.

A week later, the culprit still hasn’t owned up to the remark. If they ever do, they will have to stand in Parliament, withdraw the remark and apologise.

At the time the comment was made, Mr Mallard said the remark wasn’t made by Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges; “It was someone behind.”

Behind Mr Bridges sits Matt Doocey, Jonathan Young, Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith.

Other men in close proximity are Simon O’Connor, David Bennett, Jami-Lee Ross, Chris Finlayson, David Carter and Paul Goldsmith.

So with the culprit not big enough to own up all these MPs have a cloud hanging over them.

Newshub asked nine of the 10 male MPs who sit behind Mr Bridges whether they made the remark and whether they know who made it. The tenth has been contacted.

The nine MPs are named and all deny making the statement. The tenth must be Simon O’Connor.

Regardless of who it was this looks terrible for National.

Mr Bridges said he’d have to review footage before deciding what would happen to an MP who made such a remark – though he said these sorts of remarks are heat of the moment.

“Parliament’s a place of cut and thrust. People say things in the heat of moment, on all sides of the House, including, let’s be honest, the Speaker,” Mr Bridges said.

That’s a crappy cop out from Bridges. A decent modern leader would have made sure the culprit stood up in Parliament and made a damned good apology.

Without that National look like a pack of mongrel MPs who have no idea how to build respect in opposition.