Nick Smith named and suspended from Parliament for “grossly disorderly conduct”

National MP Nick Smith was ‘named’ and suspended from Parliament today.

Another MP, Michael Woodhouse, had already been told to leave the Chamber.

Question No. 12—Police

12. Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson) to the Minister of Police: Does he stand by all his statements, policies, and actions?

Hon STUART NASH (Minister of Police): Yes.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Does he stand by his statement to TVNZ on roadside drug-testing last December, in response to the Matthew Dow tragedy in Nelson, in which he said—and I quote—”There’s a discussion document that has been approved by Cabinet that’s going to go out to the public early next year”.

Hon STUART NASH: First of all, let me say that if a person is impaired by drugs or alcohol they should not be driving. It is against the law. We are looking at a new strategy to improve road safety during 2019. An immediate $100 million increase of funding was made to improve road safety when we took office. However, more announcements will be made shortly.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. My question was whether he stood by an important statement.

SPEAKER: The member very clearly got a “no” out of that. Carry on.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I certainly didn’t hear a “no”. I heard a comment on the issue. I heard nothing about—look, he said Cabinet had approved something.

SPEAKER: Order! Order!

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Did Cabinet, last year, approve a discussion paper on enabling police to do roadside drug testing? If not, why did he tell TVNZ and the people of New Zealand that it had approved such a discussion paper?

Hon STUART NASH: That member’s been around long enough to know that we don’t discuss what goes on in Cabinet in the House.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: No, no. I don’t need it. The member had a straight question, and it was a very clear question. It related to a direct quote from him. We had already commented that a paper had been approved by Cabinet. I’m sort of taking Dr Nick Smith’s word that the quote is accurate, and it’d be pretty serious if it’s not, but, taking that at face value, he cannot say on television that Cabinet approved something and then say that it’s not his role to say so in this House.

Hon STUART NASH: What I can say is I do not recall saying that, but what I will say is work is undergoing in this area.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will the Minister apologise to the mother of Matthew Dow, who would’ve turned 25 today if not killed by a reckless drug-driver, given that he misled her in saying that Cabinet had approved a discussion document and that it was to be released earlier this year?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. With the greatest respect, this is certainly no way to treat human tragedy in the way it’s being played out politically in this House, and we, on this side of this House, seriously object. We don’t diminish, in any way—

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Is the question out of order or not?

Rt Hon Winston Peters: —the harm or the hurt that the family might have felt, but this is not the way for this Parliament to behave, surely.

SPEAKER: First of all, I want to deal with the person who interjected during that point of order. Who was that?

Hon Michael Woodhouse: That would probably have been me, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: The member will leave the Chamber.

Hon Michael Woodhouse withdrew from the Chamber.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: No. I’m contemplating dealing with this point of order. This is a very serious matter. It involves the death of a loved one. I think many of us are concerned at the approach that is being taken in the House now, but in my opinion it is a matter of, at the moment, judgment of good taste and good taste rather than a matter, at the moment, of order. So if Dr Smith wants to restate his question with that proviso—the clear indication from me that there’s a question of taste and appropriateness involved here—but he is a very senior member, and, obviously, the public will make their judgment on it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You have rightly noted this is a serious matter. A key part of that is the accuracy of the quote, and I accept that—

SPEAKER: Order! The member has been invited to ask his supplementary question again, as he did previously before he was interrupted by the Deputy Prime Minister. No one has doubted his word as far as the accuracy of that quote is concerned. All we’ve had is the Minister saying that he can’t recall saying it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Will the Minister apologise to the Dow family and to the people of New Zealand for his false statement, and I quote, “There’s a discussion document that’s been approved by Cabinet that’s going to go out to the public early next year” when that was untrue?

Hon STUART NASH: I have absolute sympathy for the Dow family, and your loss—I cannot imagine it. I will not apologise for something I have absolutely no responsibility for. For every family that has lost someone on our roads because there is a drink- or drug-driver, I have absolute sympathy. What I can say is work is going on in this area, though. Another thing I would say is Mr Scott brought a member’s bill to the House last year. I sat down with him and I tried to work with him on this, because we felt that the scope of his bill was too narrow. We asked to work with him. He refused to do that, so this Government undertook to address this in a way that actually addressed the issue.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Supplementary.

SPEAKER: No. The member’s run out of supplementaries.

POINTS OF ORDER

Land Transport (Roadside Drug Testing) Amendment Bill—Leave to Set Down as First Members’ Order of the Day

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): I seek leave of the House for the Land Transport (Roadside Drug Testing) Amendment Bill to be set down as the first members’ order of the day on the next members’ day on 22 May.

SPEAKER: Leave is not going to be granted for that.

Hon Dr NICK SMITH (National—Nelson): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. You need to put the leave.

SPEAKER: Well, I’ve made it absolutely clear that I won’t grant leave for it.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Oh, you’re opposed to helping getting drug-drivers off the road as well?

SPEAKER: I have made it absolutely clear that I am very unhappy with the member and his approach—

Hon Dr Nick Smith: For standing up for my constituents?

SPEAKER: The member will leave the House.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Soft on drugs like the Government.

SPEAKER: Order! Right, no—come back, please. The member will resume his seat.

NAMING SUSPENSION OF MEMBER

SPEAKER: I’m invoking Standing Order 86. I name Nick Smith for grossly disorderly conduct.

Hon Nikki Kaye: Point of order, Mr Speaker.

SPEAKER: No. There is no point of order at this point.

The question now is, That Nick Smith be suspended from the service of the House.

A party vote was called for on the question, That Nick Smith be suspended from the service of the House.

Ayes 63

New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9; Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 8.

Noes 56

New Zealand National 55; Ross.

Question agreed to.

Hon Dr Nick Smith withdrew from the Chamber.

The Points of Order, Naming and vote start at 7:00 minutes into the video:

Following that:

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder in what close proximity to today’s most recent events we might see the release of the Debbie Francis report into parliamentary bullying.

SPEAKER: If the member would care to come either to the Business Committee or the Parliamentary Service Commission, as he is entitled to, he will find out.

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (National—Ilam): I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Would the Speaker be prepared to take a late submission to that report?

SPEAKER: No.


@GraemeEdgeler

During a term of Parliament, the first time an MP is suspended from the service of the House, it lasts 24 hours. While suspended an MP may not enter the Chamber, vote (incl as part of a whip-cast party vote), serve on a committee, or lodge questions or notices of motion.

A second suspension is for 7 full days. A third and any subsequent suspension is for 28 full days.

Each day a member is suspended means a deduction of 0.2% of their salary. I am not sure if this means 0.2% or 0.4% for Nick Smith.

This will be the first time (in some time at least) that an MP has had salary deducted for being suspended. MPs used to be under the impression that being suspended meant they lost their salary, but this never actually happened, because the Civil List Act didn’t allow for it.

It took me two submissions – first on the Standing Orders Review in 2011 and then on the new Members of Parliament (Remuneration and Services) Bill to get to oversight remedied, but the law now provides for salary deductions for suspended MPs.

 

 

 

Russia suspends nuclear arms treaty after US threatens the same

In response to the US threatening to withdraw from the long standing Nuclear Forces Treaty if Russia didn’t comply with it, Russia has responded by withdrawing from the treaty.

I don’t know if this signals the reigniting of another nuclear arms race, or if Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are just playing some sort of brinkmanship.

Whatever it is, it looks like a sign of deteriorating relations between the US and Russia.

Reuters:  Russia suspends nuclear arms treaty after U.S. says to pull out

Russia has suspended the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday, after the United States said it would withdraw from the arms control pact, accusing Moscow of violations.

The United States announced on Friday it will withdraw from the INF treaty in six months unless Moscow ends what it says are violations of the 1987 pact.

It would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe. Russia denies violating the treaty.

“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Putin said during a televised meeting with foreign and defense ministers.

Putin said Russia will start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic ones, and told ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, accusing the United States of being slow to respond to such moves.

“We have repeatedly, during a number of years, and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue,” Putin said. “We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives.”

During the meeting with Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of violating the INF and other arms deals, including the non-proliferation treaty.

Back to cold war style blaming each other for what they want to do themselves.

Trump seems to have had a night off Twitter so no response from him yet.

 

Twitter suspending accounts, Young Green affected

Twitter has been doing a major clean up of accounts, and the Young Greens seem to have been affected.

Reuters: Twitter shares fall after report says account suspensions to cause user decline

Shares of Twitter fell 9 percent on Monday after a report said the social media company had suspended more than 70 million fake accounts in May and June, which could lead to a decline of monthly active users in the second quarter.

The company has suspended more than one million accounts a day in recent months to reduce the flow of misinformation on the platform, the Washington Post reported late on Friday, citing data it obtained.

I don’t know if it’s related to that, but a Young Green co-coordinator has had his account suspended.

Young Greens of Aotearoa @YoungGreenNZ:

The official youth wing of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand. 🌱 Authorised by Gwen Shaw, Level 1, 17 Garrett Street, Wellington

While Max’s tweet has been deleted from the account, with an explanation posted:

Finn Jackson is one of the YoungGreens Social Media Coordinators.

I have no idea how old ‘Max’ is now, but suspending an account because he started it before he was 13 is a curious claim. When asked how they found out on Facebook:

Idk must’ve done some math based on my birthday

This is the Max:

Max Tweedie, Young Greens Male Co-Convenor

Max Tweedie

Co-Convenor (Any Gender)

Based in Auckland

Max began his Green Party journey as Co-Convenor of the Mana Electorate Branch in Wellington. Since then he has campaigned with Jan Logie, sits on the Rainbow Greens exec, and has worked for the Party Office in Wellington.

Max currently works for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation as a Volunteer & Events Officer, as well as the lead on youth. He has previously held roles with World Vision New Zealand as well.

Max’s passion for progressive politics was born out of 2013 Marriage Equality debate, at the stark realisation that human rights weren’t guaranteed, rather they must be fought for. Since then he has endeavoured to work for and volunteer for causes he believes improve the lives of many, and works towards justice for marginalised people across the world. He’s in the Green Party because he believes that revolutionary, progressive structural change is the path forward for this nation, and is looking forward to working with communities across Aotearoa to achieve this. When he’s not working or volunteering, he’s either drinking wine or sleeping.

When he is not working towards “revolutionary, progressive structural change” he is drinking wine and sleeping. He must be 18 by now, so Twitter must have check his age back to 5 years+ of Twitter use to have suspended his account for having an account younger than 13.

Curious to see that Young Greens have a Co-Convenor (Female) and a Co-Convenor (Any Gender).

So their Social Media Coordinator has had to step in and delete a Tweet and ‘clarify’ the use of their twitter account by a co-coordinator (which seems to be the lead co-role in the Young Greens).

It looks like he is going to tweet with another account;

Victoria Walsh You can take over my Twitter.

Max Tweedie Omg yes

Victoria Walsh I’ll give you my log in tomorrow. It’s all yours till you’re free from twitter jail.

 

Second blunder by Work and Income with same beneficiary

A woman has had her benefit cut for the second time – Work and Income have admitted another blunder.

RNZ in April: Woman told her benefit was cut because of Tinder dates

The Ministry for Social Development has apologised to a woman who was told her benefit was stopped because she had been on two Tinder dates.

The solo mother of three said she told her Work and Income case manager the man paid for dinner and a movie, and the case manager said it was a dependent relationship.

The South Auckland woman, who RNZ has agreed not to name, said she told her case manager about the two dates because she was trying to be up front.

The case manager pulled a card from her desk and described what a relationship was to the woman.

“She then asked me whether on my dates he had financially paid for me,” she said.

“I said yes, but that I had offered to pay for myself.”

The case manager then said if he was paying for her dates then she could rely on him for money and WINZ will see that as a relationship, she said.

The woman has been on the benefit since January after her former employer tried to swap her shifts into night shifts, which she couldn’t take-on with three young children.

She said the incident left her feeling ashamed and stressed.

“The way they speak to me, it’s really nasty.”

Quibbling over who pays for a date is oppressive.

But it gets worse. Today RNZ reports: Woman has benefit wrongly suspended for second time

The Ministry of Social Development has admitted it again failed to follow proper process, by not following up with the woman after she told them her daughter would be staying with her grandmother for part of the week.

That was so her daughter didn’t have to change schools after the family moved from west Auckland to South Auckland, the woman said.

Because it meant a change to her circumstances, and she was on the sole parent benefit, the woman knew she should tell Work and Income.

“I knew that this was a big change, I didn’t want to get in trouble so I thought, you know, I’ll call just I just want to be safe.”

But her sole parent benefit was suspended.

The woman said she made repeated attempts to get in touch with Work and Income to sort it out – to no avail.

It was only when she got an advocate from Auckland Action Against Poverty involved that anyone listened.

This looks bad on it’s own, but also suggests fundamental problems in Work and Income. If one person has their wrongly benefit stopped twice there seems to be a good chance similar is happening to others – potentially many others.

Ministry of Social Development group general manager of client service delivery Kay Read said the woman had received an apology.

“We’re sorry, we made a mistake.”

Ms Read said the woman did the right thing by telling Work and Income about her change of circumstances.

“This was then entered by one of our staff into our system without us having a conversation with her to actually learn more about the situation.”

Because the woman still had two children in her care, who were born while she was on the sole parent benefit, Ms Read said she should have transferred on to a jobseeker benefit, but that didn’t happen.

“We should’ve had the conversation… and explained that if we’d taken the time, either phoned her or talk with her at the time she dropped that in, we would’ve understood her circumstances in much greater detail and in fact we wouldn’t have had to adjust anything.”

The mistake was caught before the woman missed a payment, Ms Read said.

But the woman said having her benefit suspended twice has made her question how worthwhile it is to be honest with Work and Income.

Not being honest could end up with much worse repercussions.

It’s hard enough on beneficiaries having to report things like dates, but made far worse when Wirk and Income punish them (wrongly) for being honest.

The government has promised major changes to the culture at Work and Income, as part of its overhaul of the welfare system.

This looks overdue. It could be difficult getting the balance right. Having to report things like social contacts seems oppressive, but I doubt a no questions asked approach to benefit payments will be acceptable either.

Eligibility for benefits needs to be simple, clear and fair.

Russian trade talks suspended indefinitely

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced – late on Friday – that the Government has suspended trade talks with Russia, and had she didn’t know when or if they would be started again. Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has agreed with the suspension.

Stuff – PM: ‘The situation has changed’ – trade talks with Russia put on ice

The Government has suspended efforts to restart negotiations for a free trade deal with Russia.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says “the situation has changed” and both her and Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters were agreed that any trade talks that had restarted would now be suspended again.

Ardern said she didn’t know when, or if, the Government would be in a position to restart those talks.

The commitment towards an FTA with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan customs union is included in NZ First’s coalition agreement with Labour.

The change of direction comes after months of Peters being clear on his plans to work towards a FTA with Russia.

Just yesterday via RNZ – Russia talks won’t hinder EU trade deal – Peters

Foreign Minister Winston Peters says he has had no indication that New Zealand’s pursuit of a free trade deal with Russia would hinder ongoing negotiations with the European Union.

Mr Peters said there was no indication from the European Union a deal with Russia would compromise the talks with the EU, which have been ongoing since 2015.

“And I would not expect them to make a comment like that, I know that we’ll taking up conversations with them in a matter of weeks.”

There was a conversation of “some length” with the the Russian foreign ministry about a trade deal at the East Asia Summit in the Philippines last November, Mr Peters said.

It was too early to say how the attempted poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, could affect the relationship between New Zealand and Russia, and any trade talks, he said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said today there was “no alternative conclusion” than to believe Russia was “culpable” for the attempted murders.

The incident had “somewhat complicated” the issue of a trade deal, Mr Peters said.

“However, other past events saw the conversations continue so I don’t at this point in time see it as our number one priority.”

Complicated enough that a day later Ardern has ruled out any continuation of conversations with Russia on trade.