Greens clash with NZ First

There were always going to be questions asked about whether the Greens and NZ First could get on in a coalition with Labour. A feud blew up between Green co-leader Metiria Turei and NZ First leader Winston Peters and also Tracey Martin which highlighted the tensions.

Turei on Q+A yesterday:

JESSICA What is your relationship like with Winston Peters? You’ve described him before as annoying as hell.

METIRIA Yeah, I think everybody thinks that Winston Peters. Look, our relationship with Winston is fine. He is on a roll at the moment which is I think a very racist approach to immigration, for example. The worst of his rhetoric is coming out.

JESSICA But you’d be prepared to work with him?

METIRIA Well, we may have to. And my plea, I guess, to the New Zealand public is don’t make that necessary.

JESSICA What’s James’ relationship like with Winston Peters? Is yours better?

METIRIA Well, I have known Winston for a long time now — for the 15 years I’ve been there. And so I do know that Winston and James have spoken, and that’s fine. New Zealand First has not ruled us out, like they have done in the past. And we have not ruled them out either. Because actually, they may be necessary for the formation of a progressive government. I think this is just the political reality we have. Either it is going to be National and New Zealand First, which is completely unacceptable, or it may be the Greens and Labour with or without Winston.

JESSICA Shane Jones? Would you work with Shane Jones?

METIRIA Oh. I mean, I don’t think that Shane Jones is going to have a great impact, actually, on the vote for New Zealand First.

JESSICA What was that sigh about, though?

METIRIA I mean, if we have to work with Shane, we will. I mean, we’ve had to cooperate with Labour when he was in Labour as well.

JESSICA But you don’t sound that keen.

METIRIA Well, I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference, to be honest.

“So I do know that Winston and James have spoken” sounds like Turei hasn’t tried to connect with Peters.

Turei also doesn’t seem to have any time for Shane Jones.

But this comment has provoked NZ First reaction:

He is on a roll at the moment which is I think a very racist approach to immigration, for example. The worst of his rhetoric is coming out.

Just after that NZ First MP Tracey Martin responded on Twitter:

MartinVTureiRacist

But later at the Green campaign launch Turei kept attacking NZ First: Andrew Little piggy in middle of Greens – NZ First stoush over racism

Turei said Peters had a “very racist approach to immigration” and in her speech at the Green Party campaign launch yesterday launched into his “divisive” approach, saying a future Government which had only NZ First as a support partner would be “disastrous”.

Peters responded:

Peters quickly fired back, saying it was the Greens who had separatist policies when it came to Maori and ownership of water.

“My warning to the Greens is don’t call New Zealand First racist – an allegation that is spurious – and think there won’t be consequences.”

Peters did not respond to a request for comment on what he meant by “consequences” but he and the Green Party have a fractious history.

And a fractious present by the sound of things.

Going on the attack against NZ First on the Green’s campaign launch day suggests that the Greens are trying to compete with NZ First for vote share, as the must do, but at the risk of damaging their chances of forming a coalition.

Greens seem to be trying to put all their power eggs in Labour’s basket.

Either that, or they have given up on Labour forming a coalition and they are just trying to get as many votes as they can, competing with both Labour and NZ First for the role of lead opposition party.

Turei ruled out National:

JESSICA But you don’t options, do you? Because are you prepared to work with National?

METIRIA No. We are certainly not prepared to prop up a government that they want to establish. We will work with Labour, and we can work with New Zealand First if we have to for a progressive government. But any government that we support or are part of has to be genuinely progressive. We are not going to accept an inferior deal.

This sounds categorical, despite in theory any decision on coalition options is up to the party members to decide after the election.

It also makes Greens negotiating position weak, as NZ First are keeping both National and Labour options open in theory at least.

This feuding between the parties that Labour looks like needing if it is to have a chance of forming the next government makes things difficult for Labour.

Little said it did not worry him and he did not want to get drawn into it. However, he seemed to send a hint of his own to the Green Party to dial back the criticism on immigration.

“It is important that on the issue of immigration, as a country we need to be able to debate it as an issue without getting into allegations of racism and without assuming party’s positions are racist positions. If we are going to assert racism, then that has to be explained.”

Labour have had their own problems with being accused of being racist over immigration and on housing.

Asked if he believed Peters was racist on immigration, Little said he could not recall what Peters had said. However, he said Labour recognised immigration had increased rapidly and put pressure on transport and public services and had to be better managed.

That’s a classic switch from an awkward question to trying to push their own talking points.

She said Peters’ attacks on immigrants and blaming immigrants for infrastructure problems was wrong.

“And his attacks on the Muslim community have been outrageous and wrong.”

“I’m just saying pretty up front I don’t like it, I think it’s racist.”

However, Turei said it did not mean the Greens could not work with NZ First in a government.

The lure of power threatens to override principles.

Nor did she believe Labour’s policy to cut immigration by up to 30,000 a year to allow infrastructure to catch up was racist. The Greens believed the cause was under-investment by the Government, rather than the fault of migrants.

Trying to appease Labour and  and appear in synch with them.

“If he continues with what I think is a very racist line then I will keep calling him out. It’s my job to do in New Zealand politics.”

So it seems to be a planned and firm position for the Green campaign.

Turei said she was pleading to supporters to ensure the Green Party was the strongest partner in any Labour-led government – and prevent a NZ First-National Government or a Labour Government without the Greens.

She was not concerned Peters would veto the Greens again.

“It’s up to him what he does. My interest now is campaigning as hard as I can for the strongest possible vote to make sure the Greens are the dominant influence in a Labour-Greens government.”

Greens appear to be aiming for Labour+Green or nothing. That’s ambitious.

There are also hints of even more ambition – a Green-Labour coalition.

“She was pleading to supporters to ensure the Green Party was the strongest partner in any Labour-led government” does say “Labour-led” but “to make sure the Greens are the dominant influence in a Labour-Greens government” does not.

The only way Greens will be the strongest partner and the dominant influence is if they get more votes than Labour.

The only way they will achieve that is if they get votes off NZ First, Labour and National. They is going to be very difficult to achieve to any significant degree.

On Twitter in response to “ will always speak truth to power” I asked if she could transition to being one of the powerful. Turei responded:

I already have Pete. I’m the co leader of the third largest party in Parliament and have been for 8 years.

I said that that’s quite different to being a Minister in Government. She responded:

It’s a job I’ve I’ve been training for for 15 years. I’m ready and I’ll be great at it.

To get a chance to prove it she has to get the Greens into Government. Ruling out working with National, and provoking and continuing a feud with NZ First, will make that difficult.

Not only is Turei limiting Green options to Labour, she is making things more difficult for Labour.

A row boat with Labour in the middle and NZ First and Greens at each end lashing out at each other with oars may be a hard sell for Labour.

 

NZ First $4.6b student bribe

A significant factor in the 2005 election was Labour’s campaign promise of interest free student loans. They won the election. This policy was later projected to cost about $0.5b per year.

NZ First has a much bigger campaign promise – to wipe loans for students who stay and work in the country. They say it will cost $4.6b a year – but that may not take into account the likely increase in student numbers.

Stuff:  Winston Peters promises to wipe student loans

New Zealand First is promising to wipe student loans for new students who stay and work in the country for five years, and it says that it will only cost $4.6b a year.

People who bond themselves to regions in need of workers or study for less time could wipe theirs even faster.

Under the proposed scheme, the universal student allowance of about $200 a week would cover living costs while the government would cover all of student’s tuition fees upfront.

Every year of study would bond a student to one year of work in New Zealand. So a student who completed a three-year BA would only need to work for three years in New Zealand to pay off their entire loan.

However these fully-funded places would not be guaranteed, with industry groups and a reinstated Careers NZ setting a number of jobs they would need when the degree ended. There would be competition for fully funded places, but also safeguards to preserve diversity.

The policy would only apply to new students.

Martin said the scheme would cost $4.63b a year – only about half a billion more than the Government currently spends and 1.86 per cent of GDP – but both Labour and National said it was fiscally unachievable.

They can’t do it without either National or Labour support and neither could afford that sort of budget without having to significantly cut elsewhere.

She said it was more likely that she could negotiate the scheme in a coalition government with Labour, as the National Party and ACT would likely be philosophically opposed. Labour agreed – broadly.

“If we’re in a position to negotiate with other parties, then obviously more funding for education is something that we are going to be happy to talk about,” Hipkins said.

I expect Labour will have their own budget bribe priorities, and National won’t want to give up their tax cuts and family support package.

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.

 

NZ First conference – policies

NZ First have announced several policies at their conference over the weekend. This far out from next year’s election these appear to be trying to position themselves for polls, in particular to compete with Labour for support.

Both Ron Mark and Winston Peters indicate that they are trying to portray NZ First as an alternative lead party to both National and Labour. They aren’t likely to get close to National but could give Labour a good hoozle up.

Yesterday education spokeswoman Tracey Martin’s announced a policy that would provide all tertiary students with free study as long as they don’t leave New Zealand for as long as they spent getting their education. This goes further than Labour’s free tertiary policy – and has been costed at $4.6 billion, presumably per year.

Today Winston Peters announced another education policy, to give all secondary pupils a pathway to get their driver’s license. The reasoning behind this was because over a half of Maori first offenders were pinged for driving with no license.

This policy also included NZ First’s core demographic – they say that retirees would do the teaching to drive.

Another policy announcement would fast track a heap more police officers to address crime problems.

Peters also intimated that Labour’s policy to build 10,000 houses a year was nowhere near enough and they would build many more, but gave no details.

Peters also attacked National and Labour numerous times in his conference speech, also attacked the Maori and Green parties a bit, and blasted online commenters and the media several times.

In particular Peters blasted TV One for not having him in Q&A this morning on an item on immigration.

Peters said they planned to use the Internet to bypass the media and speak directly to ‘the people’. He also said they intended to target the ‘missing million’, the non-voters.that Greens and Labour failed to attract last election.

More of my impressions of Peters’ speech in a separate post.

I guess it’s one way to get noticed

Once again yesterday Winston Peters took both the NZ First slots in Question Time.

The first one, to the Minister for Building and Housing (Nick Smith), looks like a shambles.

And the second, to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (Paul Goldsmith) was very brief, with effectively only one question asked, and then four documents were tabled.

So how do other NZ First MPs get noticed? By using the forbidden word ‘lie’, refusing to withdraw and apologise and getting kicked out of the Chamber:

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! Tracey Martin, we just need a little less interjection.

Chris Hipkins: If lack of enrolments is her justification for closure, why is she making it so hard for students to get in, with one family making five attempts over 2 years to enrol their intellectually disabled daughter, who was finally accepted into the school the day that the Minister announced her intention to try, once again, to close it?

Hon HEKIA PARATA: Lack of enrolments is not the reason that I am in discussion about Salisbury School. It is part of it, but, in fact, there has been a lack of enrolments over four successive years but it is also—[Interruption]—about the cost. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Tracey Martin.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: If I could speak to the particular circumstance the member is raising: that family was trying to get into the intensive wraparound service that then gives the opportunity to consider a residential option; having been accepted into the intensive wraparound service, we then facilitated the enrolment at Salisbury School—that is the process.

Tracey Martin: What a lie.

Hon HEKIA PARATA: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The member has just said “What a lie” as part of her ongoing barrage. It is not a lie.

Mr SPEAKER: To Tracey Martin, if she is going to continue to interject like that she will create disorder. I require her to stand and withdraw that remark.

Tracey Martin: No, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Then the member will leave the Chamber. [Interruption] Order! Just leave the Chamber.

Tracey Martin withdrew from the Chamber.

Martin actually responded to “Just leave the Chamber”:

I will. It is untrue.

Martin starts interjecting at about 1:30 in.

That was as effective as Peters. Not at all.

Dictatorial ‘Bilge Rat’ politics

Winston peters has accused John Key of being dictatorial and involved in ‘bilge rat politics’:

PM Stoops To ‘Bilge Rat’ Politics On Auckland Housing

Auckland Council is a victim of the ‘bilge rat’ politics of Prime Minister John Key, says New Zealand First Leader and Northland MP Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“Mr Key is bullying the council. Fix housing or we put in commissioners. That’s dictatorial. It’s arrogant.

Typically colourful language to attract attention, as Peters is adept at. And Key does appear to be at least a little dictatorial on housing in Auckland.

But is Peters’ accusation a bit pot/kettle? He has been seen as and accused of being dictatorial within the NZ First party.

Little seems to be seen or heard of the other eleven NZ First MPs.

With the party’s rise in prominence in polls and raised chances of NZ First holding a pivotal role in the make up of the next government more exposure of the whole line up of MPs is important. I presume Peters won’t demand all the plum positions in Cabinet for himself and leave all his colleagues out in the cold.

Peters dominates the NZ First presence in Question Time in Parliament.

The most recent questions asked by NZ First MPs:

Peters seems to often ask both NZ First questions when they have two allocated.

I think Peters was not at Parliament in the first two weeks of May so duties were shared around, but with deputy leader Ron Mark ask more questions (four) than the other three combined.

But unless there is an ejection or walkout from the chamber the NZ First MPs other than Peters seem to get little media attention.

So is the media the problem? Are they guilty of focussing too much on headline makers like Peters and ignoring much of what goes on with the other MPs?

A search in Google news for the last week for “Ron Mark” gets two hits but they are press releases at Scoop.

In comparison Labour deputy Annette King features in 12 articles.

Going back a month, excluding press releases, there are a smattering of stories featuring Mark:

Again King has significantly more, about three times as many.

Looking at News releases on the NZ First website it is apparent that a number of NZ First MPs are busy churning out statements.

30/05/16

27/05/16

So seven MPs other than Peters put out press releases non budget day, but that was into a very crowded media market.

26/05/16

25/05/16

24/05/16

23/05/16

22/05/16

21/05/16

20/05/16

Obvious prominence of Peters but quite a few contributions from other NZ First MPs there.

They just don’t make headlines, and seem virtually invisible in the news.

Is this a problem? Or just how things work with list MPs who are not in leading positions?

If this low profile for most NZ First MPs continues the public may not know much about them until they are thrust into a coalition spotlight should they get that opportunity after next year’s election.

I don’t know if Peters is dictatorial in the NZ First caucus or not, but his MP colleagues are working on getting their messages out.

Is the media too dictatorial in what gets put in front of the public?

Are significant media resources pored/poured into trying to find smidgens of connections in a myriad of Panama papers a more worthwhile service to the New Zealand public than informing us about those who may well end up playing a part in running the country in eighteen months?

NZ First walk out

All NZ First MPs walked out of Parliament yesterday after some fractious exchanges with the Speaker.

Winston Peters wasn’t present, it was deputy Ron Mark who led the attack – he had a legitimate line of questioning about the use of navy vessels and potential under staffing issues, but the important issues were overshadowed by his manner of questioning.

It started in during 2. RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First) to the Minister of Defence: Does he believe that our Navy is sufficiently resourced to protect our fisheries from foreign poachers; if so, why?

Ron Mark: I seek leave to table the answers from the Minister’s office that gave us—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. Those answers are published. They are available to all members. Point of order, Ron Mark—and it had better be a fresh point of order if he wants to stay for the balance of question time.

Ron Mark: Well, this is one about protecting MPs from what are—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. He sought leave to table answers to written questions; they are published and are available. If the member feels that he is being misled in some way in the answer, then there is another appropriate course of action, and I suggest that he becomes more familiar with Speakers’ rulings and the Standing Orders.

Mark should and and probably would have known that written answers could not be tabled so one can only guess what his ploy was here.

Note that Mr Speaker (David Carter) had a dig at Mark in his last comment.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: That is absolutely, totally incorrect. As I have just said, all ships spent 639 days in the exclusive economic zone last year, so I am surprised—with Mr Marks’s defence experience as an army cook, he would have been better asking about the Southern District Health Board.

That’s the sort of dig that Ministers often get in and get away with.

Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. That is a completely inappropriate answer with a completely inappropriate attack on a member of Parliament asking a reasonable question.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! As soon as the Minister transgressed in the last part of his answer, I rose immediately and ceased the answer. I could not act until those comments were made, but when I consider the tone of the question and the answers that have previously been given to the member, it is clear that there is a substantial difference in the figures being supplied by the member and by the Minister. I cannot stop that.

The Speaker had risen to stop the answer but too late to stop the jibe. When he introduced Mark’s next question he sounded fed up.

Ron Mark: Well, how does the Minister explain providing answers to written questions—these ones here, Minister—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just ask the question.

Ron Mark: —which say one story, and now he trots along to the House and tells everyone—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Questions must be shorter.

The Speaker is intervening sooner now.

Hon Dr JONATHAN COLEMAN: I hope Mr Mark could read his recipe book better than he does the answers to written questions, but I can only go on the answers supplied by the Ministry of Defence.

Ron Mark: Must be an early Christmas.

The Christmas comment was snidely slipped in before starting his next question.

Ron Mark: Is the Minister saying, in his statements to the public, that our inshore patrol vessels, which he now says he is going to sell, are not up to the job, something that is disputed by those naval staff who designed them, and if he is saying that, why is it then that—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The questions are too long. That is now leading to a second supplementary question. The first question can be answered by the Hon—

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Why are you being harder on me today than you are on other people?

Mr SPEAKER: The member will be very lucky to continue in the Chamber, the way he is behaving. The Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman can answer the first question.

Phil Goff joined the questioning although mark asked one more without incident.

The next question was an unrelated patsy.

3.TODD MULLER (National—Bay of Plenty) to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that one of the Government’s main priorities is “to build a more productive and competitive economy”; if so, what recent announcements has the Government made that will save businesses time and reduce costs?

But Mark was vocal during that question, and…

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I just want to deal with another matter. If I continue to hear those interjections from Ron Mark, I will be asking him to leave.

So a warning for mark, who responded with…

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you tell us how long the appropriate questions—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption]

Not included in the transcript but Mark continued further speaking over the Speaker’s call to order – “how long the appropriate questions should be so I can make sure I’m in line in future. How many words?”

Mr SPEAKER: Order! If it is a primary question, it will be inevitably—or often—longer than is allowed for supplementary questions. I have already told the member on one occasion that I am not going to put a limit on them, but when questions go on for too long, either I will ask them to come to a conclusion or, if the member would prefer a stronger action, I can just rule them out of order immediately.

Bill English answered the primary question plus another patsy, and then Mark rejoined the fray.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have just received a phone call—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The fact that the member has received a phone call is not a point of order, but if the member wants to raise a point of order, I am happy to hear it, and I want to hear it in silence; I just want to warn my right-hand side.

Ron Mark: The stand-in Minister of Defence, in answering questions today, called me, in his answers, a “cook”. Now, if I am a cook, he is a lying prat, and I want him either to withdraw—

I thought that accusing other Members of lying was forbidden.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! In my mind, the member is making a significant effort to create disorder today, but if the Minister did say that at some stage of his answer, then the Minister will stand and withdraw that comment, and apologise.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I withdraw and apologise for calling Mr Mark a “cook”—

A return dig by Coleman.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! I am now going to ask the Minister to stand and do it in accordance with the Standing Orders.

Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman: I withdraw and apologise.

So Coleman now gives an acceptable apology but the ‘lying prat’ comment from mark is unaddressed.

Mr SPEAKER: Thank you.

Tracey Martin: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I hope it is a fresh point of order, Tracey Martin. [Interruption] Order! It is a point of order. I must hear it, and it must be heard in silence.

Tracey Martin: Sir I am going to ask you to go and reflect—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I cannot hear the member, because of interjections coming from over here. Start again.

Tracey Martin: I am going to ask you to go and reflect. I am going to ask you to go and reflect as you do—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Can I just have the point of order.

Tracey Martin: This is continual from this particular Minister that insults are made,  suggestions that Opposition members are liars, and this Minister—

It was Mark who accused the Minister of lying.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! That is not what was said. [Interruption] The member will resume her seat if she wants to stay. I have dealt with the matter. It does not need to be relitigated continually by members from the New Zealand First Party.

Todd Muller: What other steps is the—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I did detect certainly a very strong interjection from my left there. The member knows whom I am talking about, and if that continues, she will be leaving.

From the video it looked like Tracey Martin

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: I will hear it, but if it is just continuing to create trouble, I will be asking you to leave.

Ron Mark: Well, I am not going to drag it out any longer Mr Speaker. From the New Zealand First side, we say that your behaviour today has been totally inappropriate, and we have had enough of it.

That’s a totally inappropriate attack on the Speaker. Mark started to leave the Chamber.

Mr SPEAKER: Well, then that member can certainly leave; if the others want to volunteer, that is their business.

Martin got up and followed Mark out. The other NZ First MPs also looked like preparing to leave.

Now we return to supplementary—[Interruption] Order!

Another shot showed the other NZ First MPs were slowly getting up and started to leave, some more slowly than others:

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Would Mr O’Rourke please go if he is going. Would you please leave, so we can get back to it—if the member wishes to leave; he does not have to. I am trying to get back to question time. [Interruption] Good. [Interruption] Right, supplementary question, Todd Muller.

It was reported that they all exited the Chamber. Stuff:

NZ First members storm out of the House over Speaker’s rules

Amidst the noise, Mark got to his feet and told the Speaker his behaviour was “totally inappropriate” and the party had had enough.

To which the party was invited to leave.

Denis O’Rourke was the straggler of the party – Carter stopped questions until he had left.

“Right from the get-go he was clipping us short,” Mark said, referring to the Speaker’s limit on time for supplementary questions.

“Maybe I have pauses, because I like my questions to be heard and understood.”

The Speaker said Mark was making a considerable effort to create disorder. He did not have any comment to make on the matter.

So what did NZ First achieve by deliberately challenging speaker and behaving in a way that they knew would be seen to be unacceptable?

Government is in recess now for three weeks so the Speaker and the NZ First MPs will have time to get over it

Ron Mark seems to be deliberately building a reputation for dissent and disrespect, especially on Thursdays when Peters isn’t at the forefront of the acrimony.

This behaviour is dominating the party’s presence in Parliament. There were some promising new NZ First MPs but they seem to have been shunted out of sight as their leader and deputy leader seek attention for themselves – but it’s attention of a negative kind.

A problem for Mark is he doesn’t have the media in his thrall like Peters does, and he often comes across as just a nasty stirrer.

Which must make it harder for him to get any attention for issues that might actually matter.

If Mark and Martin have had enough of the Speaker’s behaviour what will they do now? Stay away from the Chamber when sitting resumes next month?

Ron Mark unrepentant

NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark is unrepentant following widespread criticism of his speech in Parliament earlier this week – see Re Mark remarks – appalling in Parliament.

NZ Herald reports:  Mark stands by ‘go back to Korea’ jab:

During a debate on shop trading hours on Tuesday, Mr Mark accused Ms Lee of being condescending towards New Zealanders.

“I have got a short message: If you do not like New Zealand, go back to Korea,” he said.

In the same speech, the New Zealand First deputy leader also made disparaging comments about Indian-born MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi.

Mark has responded to criticism:

Yesterday, Mr Mark said he objected to being told to grow up.

“Some people who come here might think we’re a bit antiquated or … need to grow up.

Talking about growing up Mr Mark…

Winston Peters backed Mark…

…saying any claim of racism was “poppycock”. He echoed Mr Mark’s criticism of Ms Lee: “If someone is complaining about the country they’re in, they … can always go back home.”

Peters probably complains more than anyone in Parliament – perhaps he could follow his own advice and go back home.

However Mark’s remarks (and as he said something similar,Peters) were not backed by all of the NZ First MPs.

Most New Zealand First colleagues also backed Mr Mark. However, Tracey Martin, whom Mr Mark unseated as deputy leader, jumped on his gaffe, saying, “It is not a statement I would have made.”

Dissent in the ranks is usually not tolerated. Martin must be planning on quitting, otherwise she is likely to be pushed, as happened to other NZ First MPs last term – Brendan Horan was excommunicated during the term and Andrew Williams and Asenati Taylor who were pushed so far down the list last yer there was no chance of them returning.

Peters has got away with nasty attention seeking stunts for a long time because the media flock to give him coverage.

Mark is unlikely to get the same help from media. It;s unlikely he will improve NZ First support and may do the opposite.

Tracey Martin fed up with male dominated NZ First

An odd article by Jo Moir at Stuff where ex-deputy leader Tracey Martin makes a vague claim of sexism within NZ First and accepts this may earn her a career ending place on the party list next election. It seems that she has just woken up to the obvious – NZ First has always been male dominated – by Winston Peters.

NZ First MP Tracey Martin accepts she could be gone at the next election.

Ousted NZ First deputy leader Tracey Martin is pushing back at her party’s disregard for women and accepts that could see her gone at the next election.

“I was asked by a reporter in Warkworth that said, why aren’t you deputy leader anymore, what did you do wrong? I’m not aware I did anything wrong so my flippant answer was, I was probably born the wrong gender. It’s an answer but it’s an unprovable answer,” says Martin.

That sounds like a general ‘poor me’ lament without anything specific to back it up.

In July Martin was rolled from the deputy leadership by “assertive and aggressive” Ron Mark and while she says he has the credentials for the job she also believes her gender played a part in her fall.

Martin doesn’t know which MPs chose Mark over her but she says in her experience “suits stick with suits” and with a majority male caucus she didn’t have much chance.

Or maybe her caucus colleagues detected an attitude problem when deciding to demote her.

“I was number two on the list in 2014 because I was deputy leader but I could easily be number 30 in 2017.”

“By (then) they might think she’s more trouble than she’s worth.”

Almost sounds like she’s inviting that. The voluntary martyr.

“If you’re 40 and younger and you’re attractive men will stop and listen to you, actually they won’t, they’ll stop and look at you while you’re talking, and that gives you an opportunity to be listened to.

“One of the hardest things to be is a 50-plus woman because you haven’t got that leeway of youth that can catch the eye of men in positions of power…”

Perhaps it’s just hard for anyone in politics who feels hard done by because of perceived prejudice. Perhaps she shoukld face up to her competence and effectiveness as an MP regardless of her gender.

Martin was hopeful after the 2011 election she could get party policy on womens affairs but “at this stage I feel like I’m on my own trying to push that point”.

She seems to be committing political suicide so she won’t even be on her own pushing anything.

Martin’s time in Parliament could be tied to Peters – she says that if she was still there when he retired she would question whether she could stay on with another leader.

“I don’t know until that person presents themselves and I’ll make that decision for me.

“Winston holds the heart and the soul of the party I suppose. His values are the core of the party, that’s what they were built on and the rest of us share those.”

As for the rest of the party, Martin wouldn’t go out on a limb for any of them and she says they shouldn’t expect her to.

“This is my workplace, it’s not a place I expect to have friends.

“I need to do my job well and I need for the people who are on the listing committee to believe that I’m worth bringing back to represent NZ First but part of this push of mine could affect that.”

Martin says she enjoyed being deputy leader and thought she was good at it.

“I thought I gave the party balance but it’s ok not to be the deputy leader too – life doesn’t end because you haven’t got a title”.

Sounds like she has lost the will to be an MP. Why doesn’t she resign and let someone take over who has drive to do something regardless of the hurdles.

So NZ First will become more of a blokes club – the next three on their list are male (followed by Asenati Lole- Taylor).

Of their current twelve MPs three are female – Martin, Barbara Stewart and Ria Bond who came in earlier this year when Peters won Northland. NZ First had five females on their list of 25 in 2015.

Has Martin only just worked out that the Peters led party is male dominated? It has always been dominated by one man, the only significant change is the promotion of another man to deputy, the ambitious Mark.

Martin’s apparent lack of drive and ambition has probably counted against her far more than her gender.