Turei slams NZ First in child protection

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has strongly criticised NZ First for proposing a referendum on the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Winston Peters brought this up in a speech in March – see Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law? – but it resurfaced on Q+A yesterday, where NZ First MP Tracey Martin was interviewed along with Sue Bradford.

10 years on from the so called “anti-smacking” law – NZ First calls for a binding referendum

NZ First MP Tracey Martin told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that the law change has had a “chilling effect” on NZ parents including herself.

“Well, we’ve always argued, for 25 years, around binding a referenda on issues like this, where our citizens need to speak. We have a representative democracy. 113 temporarily empowered politicians decided this for all the parents of New Zealand. The parents of New Zealand need to be able to speak on it,” said Mrs Martin.

“I remember me being a parent when this bill went through, and I felt that the language that was being used, the politicians that were telling me that if I lightly smacked my child, I was then committing abuse. I found that personally offensive. It had a chilling effect on my parenting. And I believe other parents out there feel the same,” she said.

However, Former Green Party MP and the architect behind the law changes Sue Bradford disagrees.

“For New Zealand First to want us to go backwards on something that’s so important for our babies, children and young people, I just find incredible.”

“From the point of view of protecting our children and babies and saying actually our young kids should have the right to grow up without violence,” says Mrs Bradford.

Turei responded: NZ First putting politics before child protection

NZ First has chosen to put political game playing ahead of the safety of children by proposing a referendum on the ten year old amendments to the Crimes Act.

NZ First MP Tracy Martin said on Q&A this morning that her Party wants to hold a binding referendum to repeal the 2007 amendment to section 59 of the Crimes Act.

“I think it’s appalling that NZ First is willing to remove a basic protection for our kids in the hope it’ll buy them a few votes in election year,” said Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei.

“This law change simply removed a legal loophole that had allowed people who assaulted children to escape charges by claiming it was ‘parental correction’.

“Parents aren’t being prosecuted for lightly smacking their children. NZ First is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

“It’s sad that a political party would choose to use its resources to campaign on removing child protections rather than finding solutions to child abuse,” said Ms Turei.

But it’s election year and populist vote pandering seems to take precedent over protection of children from violence.

 

Who wants to re-visit the ‘anti-smacking’ law?

NZ First wants to repeal the ‘anti-smacking’ law.

Or probably more accurately, they want to attract some votes from people who strongly opposed the law change. It’s hard to imagine either National or Labour (or Greens) wanting to go through another smacking debate.

This morning NZ Q+A will look at this with Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford.

It’s 10 years this month since the so-called “anti-smacking” law passed. NZ First wants to repeal the law. We’ll debate the issues with New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin and Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the bill.

It’s curious that Tracey Martin is representing NZ First here.

I can’t see NZ First spokesperson roles on the NZ First website, but the last Justice news is from Darroch Ball (although Denis O’Rourke feature’s on their Justice policy page),  and the last Law and Order news is from Winston Peters. Martin features in Education news and policy.

In March Peters stated in  a speech at Waipu (and repeated in ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’):

We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

I think that claim is highly debatable, albeit typically vague. I call it button pushing bull.

Peters followed up a few days later in New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants referendum on anti-smacking law

“From the word go, we said this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians,” he told Newstalk ZB.

“I said very clearly that we’ve got young people running amok up here and around the country. They can’t be touched. There’s a hundred reasons given by sociologists and apologists for what’s happening, but these people know what’s wrong, know what they’re doing is wrong, know they can’t be touched, know there’s no consequences.”

“What’s happened since then has been an explosion in violence towards children, the very antithesis of what these people argued would happen,” Peters said.

Without any evidence supplied I call bullshit on this.

The party’s policy was to put the matter to the people and repeal the law, he said.

I can’t find any mention of the anti-smacking law in NZ First’s policies.

Family First praised Peters’ commitment:  NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

Family First NZ is welcoming NZ First’s pledge to repeal the anti-smacking law, and will be clarifying with the party as to whether it is a non-negotiable bottom line for any coalition agreement after the election.

In a speech on Friday in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.”

In 2014, NZ First said “NZ First policy is to repeal the anti-smacking law passed by the last parliament despite overwhelming public opposition. Accordingly, we will not enter any coalition or confidence and supply agreement with a party that wishes to ignore the public’s clearly stated view in a referendum on that issue.”

But Bob McCoskrie has linked a commitment made by Peters in March this year to a bottom line made for the last election. perhaps Martin will say whether this bottom line will also be in place this election.

McCoskrie also  implied links between the law change and increased violence.

“the smacking law has failed to convince anybody of its benefits or its effectiveness”

It’s certain that that claim can’t be substantiated, as I expect we will hear from Bradford.

If it had any merit, it would have proved itself by now.

Proving something like that – or the opposite – is very difficult with such a complex issue.

“A report at the beginning of last year analysing the 2007 anti-smacking law, “Defying Human Nature: An Analysis of New Zealand’s 2007 Anti-Smacking Law”, found that there was not a single social indicator relating to the abuse of children that had shown significant or sustained improvement since the passing of the law, and that the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents,” says Mr McCoskrie.

That report was done by Family First, who are about as biased as you could get on smacking law. The author was Bob McCoskrie, so he is quoting himself.

While he links the law and “significant or sustained improvement” and “the law has negatively impacted law-abiding parents” he makes no claim about a verifiable link between the law change and levels of violence.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

That proves nothing about the impact of the anti-smacking law. McCoskrie is linking the two by association but not with facts.

Sue Bradford also responded:  Winston Peters a ‘dangerous old man’ – Sue Bradford

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

“He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

So it could be an interesting discussion this morning between Bradford and Martin.

It will be especially interesting to see if either of them produce any evidence of impact of the law change.

 

Winston Peters ‘a dangerous old man’

On Friday in a speech at a business breakfast in Waipu – transcript here – Winston Peters said under WHAT NZ FIRST WILL DO:

  • To battle this problem New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility.
  • We will change social welfare to demand parental accountability.
  • We are not going to spend taxpayers’ money on parents who won’t keep their side of the deal.
  • We will make sure there are far more police – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.
    After all, the last time we had a chance we trained 1000 front line police in three years flat.
  • We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay.
  • We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.

Anti crime, which presumably means anti-violent crime, but pro smacking.

Peters/NZ First also put out a media release titled ‘We Will Return NZ To: Crime Doesn’t Pay’

To battle widespread criminal behaviour by young people socially DNA-ed for destruction as seen in Kaikohe last weekend, New Zealand First will, among other measures, repeal the anti-smacking law.

“We live in a ‘PC age’ where there are more rules on the teachers and the police than young offenders and their parents,” said Mr Peters in a speech at Waipu this morning.

“We no longer hold these little ‘tow-rag’ offenders responsible for their actions.

“Instead we hear 100 different reasons why it’s not their fault.

“That’s rubbish.

“They’re old enough to know exactly what they’re doing.

“They know they will get away with it and that there will be no repercussions.

”Meanwhile, the old parties in parliament want the age of criminal responsibility raised.

“Many of these politicians have no idea how the other half live and don’t venture into the real world.

“Besides repealing the anti-smacking law, which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children, New Zealand First will lower the age of criminal responsibility; change social welfare to demand parental accountability and will make sure there are far more police on the frontline – 1800 more as soon as they can be trained.

“We will return this country to what other generations knew: That crime doesn’t pay,” said Mr Peters.

Calling young people toe-rags and encouraging the bash may appeal to populist votes but it is unlikely to solve youth crime.

Does Peters have any evidence to support his claim the the anti-smacking law “doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children”? He has habit of making unsubstantiated claims.

Sue Bradford has called Peters a ‘dangerous old man’:

Winston Peters has been labelled a “dangerous old man” who’s “really past his prime”, after vowing to repeal the so-called anti-smacking law.

Sue Bradford, the former Green MP behind the law, told The AM Show on Monday she was “horrified” by his recent comments.

“What he’s advocating is the return of the legalising of assault on our children, which is the last thing our kids need and the last thing the kids of Northland need.”

Ms Bradford said: “He’s talking about this on the back of the incident up in Kaikohe recently with the young people rampaging.

“Those kids probably see far too much violence I’d suggest in their lives already, far too much poverty, unemployment, a lack of opportunities for their families in their part of the country.”

The 2007 law change removed the defence of “reasonable force” in cases where parents and caregivers were being prosecuted for assault on children.

“It’s helped massively to change the idea that actually parents and other adults responsible for children are legally entitled to use physical punishment on their kids, that sometimes led to quite serious assaults,” said Ms Bradford.

Repealing the law would send the wrong message, she believes.

“We’ve got ‘it’s not okay’ campaigns about beating our partners, our wives, but on the other hand, children don’t matter?”

Conservative lobby group Family First says there have been massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began, but Ms Bradford says repealing the anti-smacking law won’t fix that.

“As the truly dreadful levels of family violence in this country continue, they cannot be laid to this law. No law can stop that.”

Massive increases in child abuse in the decade since the law began? That seems like a massive exaggeration, and I’d be surprised if they have evidence of a direct connection between the law change and levels of violence against children.

Family First have always strongly opposed the law change. They have put out a media release in support of Peters: NZ First Repeal Of Anti-Smacking Law Welcomed

This makes some claims about violence levels.

Police statistics show there has been a 136% increase in physical abuse, 43% increase in sexual abuse, 45% increase in neglect or ill-treatment of children, and 71 child abuse deaths since the law was passed in 2007. CYF have had more than 1 million notifications of abuse and there has been a 42% increase in physical abuse found by CYF since 2007.

But that does nothing to prove cause and effect. There are alternative claims that a greater awareness of violence against children has led to greater levels of reporting of abuse, which may be a positive effect rather than a negative effect.

In the past excessive smacking (more than a tap on the bum) and bashing tended to get swept under legal and social carpets.

I think that it’s very difficult to prove the effects of the law change on offending rates.

I believe that any moves to encourage less violence, and less smacking while encouraging effective alternatives, has to end up being better for children in general in the long run.

Peters may get some votes from his support of smacking law repeal, but I think it will come to nothing more than that.

I think it is very unlikely that there will be enough votes in Parliament to just repeal the smacking law. The old version was seriously flawed.

The only chance of change is if someone comes up with an improvement to the also flawed current law – but at least it signals that violence against children should be reduced.

No indication from Peters whether he would add smacking law repeal to his list of coalition bottom lines.

End of year picks

It’s the time of year when politicians seem to start winding down (a couple of weeks before I can) and pundits applaud and award.

Patrick Gower’s Politician of the Year

POLITICIAN OF YEAR: JOHN KEY

In fact, Key went from the crème-de-la-crème to the crème-de-la-crap at times.

RUNNER-UP (OPPOSITION POLITICIAN): ANDREW LITTLE

He won the leadership thanks to the Union vote, but hey – who cares? This is about politics, it is about winning. Little used the tool that was available to him and he won the leadership.

RUNNER-UP (BACKBENCHER): KELVIN DAVIS

Kelvin Davis stood up to Kim Dotcom and stopped him. This included annihilating Hone Harawira’s political career in an upset victory in Te Tai Tokerau that few pundits expected.

RUNNER-UP (“POLITICAL NON-POLITICIAN”): A three-way tie

KIM DOTCOM

WHALE OIL

NICKY HAGER

Not sure that Hager deserves that, he failed with his primary aim and it’s yet to be seen whether the gains he achieves outweigh the losses.

Dotcom must be there simply for impact rather than success. But otherwise that looks a reasonable line up.

Duncan Garner’s picks are along similar lines to Gower’s.

WINNERS

1. JOHN KEY

For all the obvious reasons. He is still the PM and he is still widely popular according to the polls. He had the kitchen sink thrown at him and he almost won the election outright. He’ll have to watch it doesn’t go to his head.

2. ANDREW LITTLE

Couldn’t win a fight in a kindergarten but ends the year on top. His caucus didn’t want him, his party didn’t want him, his electorate didn’t want him. Yet he ends the year looking strong and competent as Labour’s new leader.

3. KELVIN DAVIS

He beat Hone Harawira and therefore beat Kim Dotcom – do I have to say anymore?

4. SUE BRADFORD

She knew Dotcom and Harawira were in an unholy alliance and she put her principles before it all. She called it right – she has values and principles that are beyond reproach whether you agree with her politics or not.

5. CAM SLATER – WHALEOIL.

Yes he’s a dirt-bag, muck-raking, scum-bag attack blogger, but he likes it that way. He doesn’t play by any rule book yet he’s been judged a journalist by the courts. Despite having his dirty laundry aired for the world to see he remains talked about, his blog gets more hits than ever, he breaks stories and the PM returns his texts. Oh and he wins mainstream media awards.

LOSERS

1. KIM DOTCOM

Threw millions at trying to rig an election, but the public weren’t fooled. He’s now fighting to stay out of jail. Rest my case.

2. HONE HARAWIRA

He picked the wrong rich friends. Should have stayed poor. At least he’d still be in Parliament. Woeful judgement.

3. LAILA HARRE

See above.

4. JUDITH COLLINS

Was on track to be the next National Party Leader – now she’s struggling to be heard from the backbenchers. Huge fall from grace. Career in tatters.

5. DAVID CUNLIFFE

Came across as a fake and then apologised for being a man. Do we have to say anything more? Awful defeat.

(Close mention: Grant Robertson, rejected twice as Labour’s future leader. That will hurt and in politics if winning if everything, Robertson has twice failed. Ouch. Still, he has huge chance to recover well.)

That’s a pretty good summary.

The Green ceiling

The Greens had high hopes for their party vote this election, expecting an upward trend to continue. Targets and claims were 15% and higher. If you believed their hype like Greens did a significant improvement was not only feasible, it was a certainty.

Green reaction to a mediocre result shock, disbelief that their rising greatness wasn’t reflected in the polls. Depending on the special vote count they may barely get the same as in 2011, which to Greens is a pounding of their pride and expectations.

But from outside the Green bubble it is not surprising, despite Labour’s weakness leaving many left wing votes up for grabs.

While many people have some admiration for Green advocating on environmental issues there are strong concerns for too much Green influence, especially anywhere near Government. This is due to extreme stances, such as moratoriums and bans on anything to do with fossil fuel and mineral exploration and extraction.

And it’s due to their strong socialist leanings and policies. Greens try to disguise their socialism with do-good fronts like lifting children out of poverty, but many voters see through their solutions, which invariably mean giving everyone the same amount of money and housing, all provided or imposed by the State.

Making things better for kids and poor people is admirable and should be given more political attention. Greens have succeeded there. But there is not a lot of support for their blanket ‘handout’ approach, which many people see as idealistic and unworkable.

A major push for Green growth was based on giving much more attention to their economic credentials and ambitions. Instead this helped fix the Green ceiling in place.

A common phrase that’s associated with Greens having anything to do with running the country’s finances is “scare the bejeebers”.

At a time when the country is just emerging (relatively successfully) from the worst world financial situation in generations there is a wariness of starting a Government spending spree, handing out money and houses to every poor person who “deserves” as good as anyone else regardless of their efforts.

It’s ironic that a party that campaigned hard on having a forward looking “smarter cleaner” economy wants to achieve their aims through last century socialism.

There’s also a number of conflicting images.

Rod Donald, Jeanette Fitzsimons and Nandor Tanczos looked and acted like real Greens. Sue Bradford looked and acted like a sleeves rolled up social campaigner.

While Greens transitioned to new leadership very successfully and improved their vote Russel Norman and Metiria Turei look  very different to their target constituency. Bradford left the party when she missed out on the leadership (and this year she left the Mana Party when they betrayed their principles by joining forces with Kim Dotcom).

Green election results:

  • 1999 – 106,560 votes, 5.16%
  • 2002 – 142,250 votes, 7.00%
  • 2005 – 120,521 votes, 5.30%
  • 2008 – 157,613 votes, 6.72%
  • 2011 – 247,372 votes, 11.06%
  • 2014 – pre-specials 210,764 votes, 10.02%

Greens will have picked up a significant share of Labour’s decline in 2011 but although Labour kept shedding votes this year Greens weren’t able to capitalise.

The Greens seem to have hit a support ceiling and unless they change markedly 10-12% is likely to be their limit.

And they will be a little nervous about Gareth Morgan proposing a ‘blue-green’ party that is prepared to promote environmental issues with any government with a more pragmatic and effective approach, and without the socialism.

Greens do contribute significantly to Parliament and will be partly responsible for National paying more attention to environmental and “poverty” issues. But they haven’t yet been a part of Government after nearly two decades of trying.

And a support ceiling won’t prevent them from declining due to competition and ongoing impotence.

Minto on Mana/IP alliance pros, cons and questions

John Minto has posted at The Daily blog about the conference debate on the proposed alliance between the Internet and Mana Parties. It gives a good outline of party thinking and lays out how he sees the pros and cons.

Mana and the Internet Party – strategic alliance or wtf? 

The proposal for some sort of electoral relationship arose from a meeting between Mana leader Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom earlier in the year. The first benefit to both Mana Movement and the Internet Party – and the country for that matter – is to ensure all votes cast to get rid of the National government are counted. Under current law a party which falls short of the 5% threshold has its votes wasted – potentially up to 130,000 anti-National votes not counted.

This fundamentally undemocratic aspect of our MMP system is a result of pressure from National and Labour to keep parliament as a cosy duopoly and disenfranchise thousands of voters in the process.

So the AGM debated at length whether to proceed to formally explore a possible alliance. It was a riveting four hours as speakers spoke for or against the idea.

As part of the discussion I was asked to present what I saw as the “pros” and “cons” of a possible “strategic alliance” with the Internet Party.

Here’s what I came up with:

Pros

1.    Increased profile for Mana and as we are seen as more relevant with a larger combined party vote with the Internet Party.

2.    Creation of interest and even excitement among many younger voters and non-voters.

3.    A greater likelihood of getting Mana Movement list MPs through a combined party vote.

4.    Greater resources to fight a party vote campaign.

5.    Greater resources to help inspire and enrol current non-voters and get them to the polling booth.

6.    There is already some areas of strong policy agreement with the Internet Party to: stop GCSB spying, withdraw from the “five eyes” spy alliance, provide internet privacy rights and cheap/free access to the internet, provide free tertiary education and oppose the TPPA.

7.    Ensuring that the Internet Party and their supporters are committed to changing the government.

8.    MANA brand remains in Maori electorate campaigns which are a key focus this election.

Cons

1.    Damage to the public perception of Mana:

  •  Mana may lose respect as a kaupapa Maori movement and damage our chances in the Maori seats.
  •  Mana Movement may lose respect as a movement for the poor and dispossessed if we have an alliance with a high-profile wealthy partner.
  •  Mana Movement may be seen by some as compromising our principles for money (irrespective of the truth of this)

2.    A potential watering down of our policies to create a joint Mana-Internet Party vote campaign.

3.    A potential loss of control of Mana policy and direction to a new joint venture.

4.    A risk of ending up with fewer seats than we would have on our own.

The three key questions which arose from this are:

1.    Would an alliance enhance or damage Mana as a kaupapa Maori movement?

2.    Would an alliance enable us to gain greater parliamentary representation without compromising our policies or principles?

3.    How would we retain our integrity, and be seen to retain our integrity, in such an alliance?

 All speakers recognised the risks to the movement and to the individuals involved – we all value our integrity – but after four hours a clear consensus emerged that we should take the step to see if an arrangement agreeable to Mana can be reached. (Each of Mana’s seven rohe supported the decision to keep talking with the Internet Party).

Mana Party members agreed to “move forward in negotiations” (NZ Herald):

The Mana Party has given its leaders a month to negotiate, before they put any proposed alliance out to the party’s local branches for consultation.

Minto:

We are withholding judgement till we see what emerges from further discussion. At that point any possible agreement will be discussed by Mana rohe and branches before a final vote is taken. 

However Hone Harawira seems to have decided already and intimates it won’t be decided by a party vote…

Asked whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Mr Harawira said: “I’d certainly like to think so.”

And while the party is consulting the executive (led by Harawira) will decide.

Mr Harawira indicated the final decision would be made by senior party figures rather than a wider vote.

“It will probably be made by the executive in the final analysis.”

See  Harawira’s way or the highway.

In the meantime opposition continues – Dotcom a neoliberal millionaire who sounds like John Key – Mana’s Sue Bradford

  The Internet Party leader did not manage to seal an alliance with Mana when he visited the party’s AGM on Saturday (although talks will continue). And his charm seems to have singularly failed to winover one of Mana leader Hone Harawira’s key lieutenants, Sue Bradford.

Instead, Bradford hardened her opposition, and walked out of the meeting before the key vote – creating a schism Mana can ill-afford given Labour candidate Kelvin Davis is polling ahead in Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) seat.

“Getting into bed with a neoliberal millionaire who’s facing legal challenges is quite a curious proposal for a party like Mana that has stood so strongly and staunchly on its reputation for fighting for those who have less … and for standing up against the neoliberal agenda that John Key that others are running,” Ms Bradford told Firstline this morning.

“It’s not compatible and undermines everything Mana has achieved over the past three years … When I heard him speaking on Saturday, it was like listening to John Key,” Ms Bradford said.

It could be a challenging time for the Mana Party over the next month of consultations and decision making.

In the meantime the Internet Party remains in limbo, leader-less, candidate-less and alliance-less.

Harawira’s way or the highway

It’s apparent that Hone Harawira wants his way on the proposed Mana/Internet Party alliance, and he’s happy for anyone who doesn’t like it can choose the highway out of Mana.

Asked whether he thought the deal would go ahead, Mr Harawira said: “I’d certainly like to think so.”

He doesn’t seem to care about party dissent – Harawira shrugs off defections danger over Dotcom deal.

But there was strong dissent within those groups, including from veteran activist Ms Bradford, who Mr Harawira said left the meeting before the vote was taken.

Ms Bradford later told the Herald: “There was deep debate, deep dissension and resistance to the idea of going into an alliance with the Internet Party.

“Some of us, both Maori and Pakeha, are really disturbed by the idea of going into an alliance with a neo-liberal millionaire.”

After Mana president Annette Sykes said she was concerned the party was proving to be “fragile” over the issue, Mr Harawira said he accepted that not everybody in the party was going to agree on a deal with the Internet Party.

“There’s always going to be people who come in and out for various reasons and that’s fine.”

And he doesn’t seem to care about party members who choose the highway over his way.

Mana Leader Hone Harawira said there was always going to be differences of opinion over a proposal like the Internet Party alliance.

“Will there be resignations, quite possibly. There haven’t been today.”

He said he had the greatest respect for Ms Bradford, “the fact she disagrees where we’re going with this does not change that”.

“Should she decide to leave Mana I will still respect her ability and the strengths she brings as a campaigner for the poor and dispossessed but we can’t determine Mana’s future on the feelings of one activist or another.

It sounds like he’s happy if dissenting members just got out of his way.

Bradford walks out of Mana AGM but she hasn’t walked out of the party – yet. It was reported that Saturday’s delegate vote was to put the issue out to the party members for consultation.

After discussions which went into the night at Mataikotare Marae near Rotorua yesterday, Mana’s branches “unanimously” agreed to move forward with the negotiations.

Mana’s deputy leader has more concerns….

However, Mana President Annette Sykes this morning said : “Our movement, I was concerned that it may be fragile and some of our membership – I don’t know whether some have chosen not to come back today.”

“There’s quite a number. We’re not talking hundreds, but we’re talking people who I think are leaders young and old and they are principled people who I have respect for. They’ve gone back to reflect with their branches.”

Unlike Harawira Sykes recognises differences and potential division…

Meanwhile, Ms Sykes said there was “a very clear recognition that there are certain gaps that need to be fleshed out before any final decision was made”.

The party has given its leaders a month to negotiate, before they put any proposed alliance out to the party’s local branches for consultation.

She said the vote to continue discussions “was a unanimous outcome the way we vote regionally but within those regions there is dissent and we have to respect that dissent so there are some limits on the next steps and the way they negotiate forward”.

That sounds like a good process, until…

Mr Harawira indicated the final decision would be made by senior party figures rather than a wider vote.

“It will probably be made by the executive in the final analysis.”

A done deal with token consultation? It sounds like Harawira has already made his mind up. And anyone who disagrees is dispensable.

He was happy that Mana had seen “hundreds and hundreds” of new members sign up since the party had begun talks with the Internet Party.“You win some you lose some.”

Harawira has indicated he wants to win his alliance with Kim Dotcom and the losers can choose the highway.

“Will there be resignations, quite possibly. There haven’t been today.”

“There’s always going to be people who come in and out for various reasons and that’s fine.”

“We can’t determine Mana’s future on the feelings of one activist or another.”

Unless it’s the feelings of the activist Harawira. It sounds like it’s his way or the highway.

How much mana is there in that?

Sue Bradford and Mana-Internet “wouldn’t be possible”

Sue Bradford has continued to speak against any deal between the Mana and Internet parties, saying that if anything happens she would walk away from Mana.

Bradford on RadioLive via 3 News: Dotcom a deal-breaker for Bradford

Mana Party candidate Sue Bradford says she’ll walk away from the party if it enters an agreement with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party.

Ms Bradford, a former Green Party MP who has been with Mana since its inception in 2011, told RadioLIVE there aren’t many similarities between the two parties.

“I find it incredible that a party with the kaupapa Mana has should be considering going into an alliance with Kim Dotcom – a man who tried to buy off the right and failed and now he seems to have turned to the left to buy the left off,” she says.

“This is so far from the kaupapa I’ve dedicated my life to and I find it quite extraordinary.”

She says it “wouldn’t be possible” for her to stay with the party if it did do a deal with Dotcom.

“I don’t think doing deals with right-wing internet billionaires who are facing a number of legal challenges is the way forward for any party that adheres to the principles of social, and economic and treaty justice that I believe in,” she says.

“We should really be thinking twice about this.”

Ms Bradford says there are others in the party who think the same way she does, and has expressed her views to the party leadership.

It could be a “short-sighted conversation” and a “bubble in a tea cup”, and nothing could come of it in the end, she says.

She also had questions about how Dotcom treats his own staff, who have complained about poor wages and not being paid.

And  via Twitter:

To left friends, re proposed Mana/Dotcom alliance: there is no shortcut to building a genuine movement of the people.

@MorganGodfery makes a good point.

Hone has been pushing for a merger for some time. First with the Maori Party, now it seems the Internet Party. Neither option makes sense.

Harawira must be frustrated by lack of progress with the Mana Party on it’s own, but it could go backwards if it joins up with Dotcom in any way.

See also:

Myths about the smacking bill

I’ve seen many claims made about the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill, often referred to as the smacking bill or anti-smacking bill. More have appeared on Kiwiblog today in discussions about a news report on how the bill has been working – Fewer parents being investigated despite ‘anti-smacking law’.

For example kowtow:

Eight parents prosecuted in the 5 years since the legislation was brought in,seven for smacking the head or face…….

so not one of those cases was a serious “assault”.

In the same period how many children were murdered by a “care giver or guardian”?

The bill was foisted on us on that pretext……hasn’t stopped the dangerous stuff.

And ‘dime’:

the difference being they sold us the anti-smacking law like it was going to stop all violence towards kids. just your typical lefty lie

That’s typical opponent exaggeration.

Sue Bradford’s Third reading speech had no promises of stopping all violence against kids. She said “Law change alone is not enough”.

What we have been simply seeking to do is remove a defence that has allowed some parents to get away with quite badly beating their children and, most significantly, that has stopped police from taking action in many situations of violence against children.

She states one of the primary goals was so “children will finally receive the same legal protection as adults”.

She says more needs doing, and the law change needs monitoring to make sure it works ok.

The full speech makes it clear what was claimed (and it doesn’t claim many things that have been blamed on it):

Bradford, Sue: Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill — Third Reading

[Volume:639;Page:9284]

SUE BRADFORD (Green) : I move, That the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Bill be now read a third time. Nearly 2 years ago my member’s bill to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act was drawn from the parliamentary ballot. Although I was certainly well aware of the controversial nature of the issue that the bill deals with, after facing hostile audiences when on various election platforms around the country, little did I realise back then the full extent of the difficulties that were yet to come.

I came to Parliament after many years of working for the rights of unemployed people and beneficiaries, and was very used to our groups and ourselves being seen as outcasts—koretake, blamed, and despised. I was used to being physically assaulted when on street protests and, often enough, arrested as well. However, none of that prepared me for the level of vitriol and for the ugly lies and threats cast at myself and others, simply for standing up for the right of our babies and our children to live lives free from violence.

I thought that in a country that prides itself on being a great place to bring up kids, and where people from all parts of society talk constantly of their love for children, it would be like motherhood and apple pie to work for a law change that benefits children. Instead, the debate over whether to get rid of the defence of reasonable force for the purpose of correction has shown quite starkly that some people believe that the right of parents to legally beat their children is so important that they have stooped to threats of violence and other abhorrent tactics. However, it has in the end been a wonderful thing that despite the ugliness of some aspects of the public discourse, so many members of this Parliament from almost every party have chosen to support my bill in its amended form.

I acknowledge and thank all involved, from all sides of the House, for their support within this outbreak of consensus politics, and I regret, on behalf of Peter Dunne and Judy Turner, that this bill has seen their party break apart because someone called Mr Gordon Copeland is so dedicated to fighting for the right to beat children that he has abandoned his long-term allegiances.

The bill in front of us tonight fulfils my original goal of removing the defence of reasonable force, while at the same time dealing with some of the fears expressed at different times by both the Labour and National caucuses, and by some members of the public. The Labour-led amendment that came out of our select committee consideration of the bill is aimed at reassuring parents that they will not be prosecuted if they use reasonable force when doing things like putting a child in a room for time out, forcibly removing a child from danger, or restraining a child from causing damage to people or property. I am aware that some lawyers believe that this new provision may be misused as a legal defence for having hit a child as part of control, and because of this I believe that its use as a defence in future must be monitored to ensure that it is not used this way in practice.

The second significant amendment to the bill has been the one put forward just 2 weeks ago by Peter Dunne, which was agreed to by both Labour and National through John Key’s leadership. It encapsulates within the bill the long-established police discretion regarding the action they take when deciding whether to prosecute in very minor cases where there is no public interest in proceeding. This new provision simply affirms in law what is standard police practice under their existing prosecution guidelines, but I think it is useful in helping to calm some of the unnecessary fears that have been driven up by the bill’s opponents.

Neither the select committee, myself, nor anyone else supporting this bill has ever intended that all parents who ever lightly or occasionally hit their children should be subject automatically to investigation and police prosecution. What we have been simply seeking to do is remove a defence that has allowed some parents to get away with quite badly beating their children and, most significantly, that has stopped police from taking action in many situations of violence against children.

Some of the most powerful submissions to the select committee came from paediatricians, who talked about the injuries they see constantly and about how most of those injuries are inflicted in the name of child discipline. Only last week we were made all too aware of the case of the 3-year-old Ōtara boy who was killed as a result of beatings inflicted in the name of toilet training. The police officer who led the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Richard Middleton, said, among other things: “… what I will say is keep your hands off your kids. Don’t hit them. It’s not on. There’s no need for it.” I think it is a red-letter day when a senior police officer feels able to make such an unequivocal statement in the national media. Police, like paediatricians, see the daily consequences of what happens when people assault their kids just to teach them a lesson.

Some people say that smacking or spanking is not violence. I ask them: “What else is it? If a burly gang member, much larger than you, smacked you in the pub tonight, what would you call that?”. Some people say that the deaths of children like James Whakaruru or the little Ōtara boy have nothing to do with this bill. I say that they have everything to do with it. There is a spectrum of violence used against our babies and children, and one person’s light, occasional tap is another person’s beating or shaking to death—all in the name of so-called correction.

I have been much criticised by the bill’s opponents for my unwillingness to support the early amendment put up by Mr Chester Borrows, which attempted to define the nature and level of force that parents could legitimately use against their kids. I simply reiterate that to support any such definition would make things even worse for children, by having the State define acceptable violence and by entrenching the legal and social concept that it is OK to beat children but it is not OK to beat adults.

It is important that as we finally vote this bill into law we also look forward to what else needs doing. Law change alone is not enough. To be really effective, the bill we are passing tonight needs to be accompanied by a well-planned public information campaign that tells people the intentions and implications of the law in a way that does not make people feel frightened or guilty. The Government also needs to make an ongoing commitment to maintain and extend the SKIP programme, so that strong, clear messages about alternatives to physical discipline are available to all parents around the country.

Funding for community groups that support children, parents, and families needs to be increased. We need research on, and monitoring of, the attitudinal change that I feel sure will result from this new law—as it already has, I think, during the 2 years of public debate. The interpretations of the new law, and its implementation by the courts, police, and Child, Youth and Family, all need to be monitored well. I welcome the 2-year review that was instigated by the Minister David Benson-Pope. I also strongly recommend that the Government works closely with the relevant non-governmental organisations, following the bill’s passage, on an action plan to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved for children and families.

In conclusion, I would like to take a moment to thank some of those who have played such a critical role in championing and supporting this bill in getting it to the stage it is at tonight. An enormous number of organisations have worked tirelessly for reform over the last 2 years, including Plunket, Barnardos, Unicef, Save the Children, the Families Commission, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, EPOCH, Every Child Counts, the Body Shop, the Child Poverty Action Group, Parents Centres, and many, many others. I am sorry I cannot name them all.

Many individuals have also played a key role—people like Beth Wood, the Ritchies in Hamilton, Mike Coleman, Deborah Morris-Travers, Megan Payne, Ian Hassall, Cindy Kiro, Kaye Crowther, Robert Ludbrook, Sonja Hogan, Rhonda Pritchard, and David Kenkel. I salute all of them and apologise to all the many others I do not have time to mention tonight.

I also say a special thanks to the Reverends Anthony Dancer and Margaret Mayman, and to all the other clergy involved in hosting the moving ecumenical service that a number of us attended in the cathedral up the road a couple of weeks ago, for their assistance in mobilising Christians in support of this bill. I also acknowledge the huge amount of work done by the MPs and officials involved in the very long select committee process, including the sterling efforts of our Parliamentary Counsel Office adviser, Elizabeth Grant.

Finally, I say a huge thanks to all the MPs who stood firm in support of this bill during some fairly dark days, including Helen Clark and the Labour caucus, the entire Māori Party caucus, all my own Green Party colleagues, Peter Dunne, Brian Donnelly, Doug Woolerton, and Katherine Rich. Those members are all heroes in their commitment to a vision of a country where children will finally receive the same legal protection as adults. I also acknowledge the lead that John Key took in working to find a way through a seeming impasse, so that his party, too, could lend its full weight to the mana of this bill.

But, in the end, this bill is not about us here at Parliament—or, indeed, about adults at all. It is about our children, and what I believe is their God-given right to grow up secure in the love of their families, valued as equal citizens to the rest of us, and without the constant threat of legalised violence being used against them.

http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/debates/debates/speeches/48HansS_20070516_00001048/bradford-sue-crimes-substituted-section-59-amendment

That speech should be shown whenever any outlandish claims are made about the bill.

Mana Party and Socialists

Mana is well known as the Hone Harawira party and as a party promoting Maori interests. Not so well known is the strong socialist connections with Mana.

Socialist Mana is not obvious from their website. There are signs of socialist inclinations, but nothing obvious or open.

From the Home page

MANA | Movement of the People | Nau mai haere mai and a Warm Welcome to all.

And a home page slide gives a hint:Mana revolution

From Kaupapa | Vision

Mana, the Movement of the People

MANA, movement of the people, is Aotearoa’s newest political force, led by Hone Harawira, Independent MP for Tai Tokerau.

MANA also speaks to the pride and dignity of workers who built this country into the special place that we all call home.MANA is born from a need/ or desire to be a truly independent Maori voice in parliament.”

MANA is also seen as the natural home to a growing number of ordinary Kiwis cast adrift by this National government, and despairing of Labour’s inability to provide a viable alternative.”

“Government is giving tax breaks to the rich, bailing out failed finance companies, selling off our natural resources, turning prisons into private profit ventures, and spending $36 million on a yacht race on the other side of the world, while ordinary New Zealanders are starving, workers are being forced into slavery by the 90-day bill, and Maori rights are being drowned in the Raukumara Basin.

“In the land of milk and honey, those massive inequalities are unacceptable.

MANA will promote policies that allow all New Zealanders to lead a good life.

MANA will guarantee a measure of people power and accountability from its MPs, that has never been seen before in this country.

MANA is a principle we bring out of our history, to serve us in the present, and to provide us with the platform to transform this nation.

Some general anti rich, anti profit, pro poor, and claiming to represent “the people” and promoting “people power”. But nothing specifically socialist.

Founding Principles:

MANA Founding Principles

The mission of the MANA Movement is to bring rangatiratanga to the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed.  It is they who carry the brunt of government by the rich and powerful for the rich and powerful.  We will lead the fight against welfare that punishes children, against greed that is rewarded by corporate payouts, against the damage to Papatūānku by pollution and oil drilling and against governments who fill the pockets of foreign companies at our expense.

The MANA Movement will support Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the basis of the New Zealand Constitution and will uphold Te Reo Māori as a taonga and ensure its protection.

We stand for the right to fulfilling work with a decent living wage.

We stand for full employment so that everyone can give back to their communities in a meaningful way and with dignity.

We stand for a tax system that abolishes GST and levies financial transactions, taking away the heavy tax burden that falls on the poor and middle income earners.

We stand for every family’s right to secure, healthy housing.

We stand for every child’s right to a free, high quality education that prepares them for their world.

We will support students’ right to enter the workforce free of the burden of student debt.

In short, we will fight to bring the voice of the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed into Parliament.  And we will fight to give Te Tiriti o Waitangi the mana and life that was envisaged by those tūpuna who signed it in 1840.

A mix of Maori/Treaty and general socialist orientated principles without being specific.

A site search on “socialism” has one hit, a news item by Harawira, and this makes some socialist connections clear.

Posted on April 9, 2013 by admin in Ae MarikaNews

On Saturday night I was privileged to host my first ever citizenship ceremony as a Member of Parliament. The ceremony was for a good friend of mine, Mike Kyriazopoulos and his wife Joanne. Mike is a mix of Greek and Jewish ancestry, and used to live and work in England where he met his wife Joanne.

Their citizenship application was finally approved a couple of weeks ago, and the ceremony was held at the Auckland Trades Hall in Auckland as part of a special tribute evening for Mike who is a committed socialist, a union activist, and chairman of the MANA branch of Te Raki Paewhenua.

Mike gave his oath of allegiance in Maori and followed that with his own personal vow to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the principles of international socialism.

That’s  celebrating a Mana branch chairman who is a committed socialist with his own personal vow to honour the principles of international socialism.

And a search on “socialist” finds: Public meeting about the Mana Movement in Melbourne

Posted on November 13, 2012 by admin in Korero, Speeches
The following speech was given by Grant Brookes who delivered it to people who were interested in the MANA Movement in Australia.  If you want further background to the event, contact Grant Brookes –  grant_brookes@paradise.net.nz.
MANA – A movement of the people in Aotearoa/New Zealand 

Talk to Socialist Alliance public meeting, Melbourne

And in this speech:

I speak also as a socialist, and a member of the Workers Party. And I am a member of MANA.

The three main socialist groups in Aotearoa have also backed MANA and are active within it – Socialist Aotearoa, the International Socialist Organisation and my group, the Workers Party.

And if you look at those groups you find a more open connection between Mana and socialists.

Socialist Aotearoa

What is Socialist Aotearoa?

Socialist Aotearoa is an activist organisation of anti-capitalist workers and students. We are involved in the union movement as activists, delegates, and organisers. We support theAotearoa is Not for Sale coalition against privatisation. We work withGlobal Peace and Justice Auckland against imperialism and war. We are part of the MANA Movement.

International Socialist Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand

WHO ARE WE?

The International Socialist Organisation is a group of revolutionaries in Aotearoa/New Zealand. We are active in campaigns, protests, on campuses, and in the trade unions. We are part of the Mana movement.

Workers Party

Fightback (formerly the Workers Party) is a socialist political party active in campaigns nationwide.

We aim to build a new political movement based on the interests of workers in Aotearoa/NZ and internationally.

Our activities include organising in workplaces, campaigning against imperialism and supporting the Mana movement.

Fightback stands on the following platform:

1. Opposition to all New Zealand and Western imperialist intervention in the Third World and all Western imperialist alliances.

2. Secure jobs for all with a living wage and a shorter working week.

3. For the unrestricted right of workers to organise and take industrial action and no limits on workers’ freedom of speech and activity.

4. For working class unity and solidarity – equality for women, Maori and other ethnic minorities and people of all sexual orientations and identities; open borders and full rights for migrant workers.

5. For a working peoples’ republic.

There are some strong union connections with Mana:

Mana Kaimahi Network established

Syd Keepa (Mana Movement spokesperson on employment and industrial relations) and Mike Treen have agreed to establish a network of unionists who support the Mana Movement. This group will be called the Mana Kaimahi Network and they want to encourage active participation of working people in the Mana Movement leading up to the election on November 26.

In the first instance they would like to invite active unionists and union officials to join an email network and/or facebook group to coordinate activities. Until the election they will focus on distributing Mana election material in workplaces, communities and unions; enrolling potential Mana voters; and identifying Mana supporters within the trade union movement to join Mana.

In the near future this group will look forward to the possibility of forming workplace, union or cross-union branches of Mana members. Their aim is to have an active role in promoting policy that upholds the interests of working people.

Mike Treen has had socialist associations for a long time.

And other prominent Mana members are are also prominent socialists.

John Minto, Mana list candidate last election and Mana Auckland mayoral candidate.

Sue Bradford is known to be very left wing with a socialist past.

Matt McCarten is another unionist/socialist involved with Mana:

McCarten has an interest in New Left and socialist views, calling into question capitalism and the Establishment.

Mana was built on Hone Harawira is more Maori nationalist with socialist tendencies, similar to Annette Sykes who is also prominent in Mana. But strong socialist elements have also been prominent in the establishment of Mana.

It’s curious that the socialists are open about their Mana connections but Mana seems coy.