Brexit vote imminent, no win situation for May and UK

No matter what the outcome of the crucial Brexit vote in the UK Parliament this week the outcome may be bad.

There is the potential for financial catastrophe if the deal passes, and the complete decay of democracy if it fails. The country voted in favour of Brexit in a referendum and democracy-wise Parliament has a duty to act on that majority decision.



Tomorrow is the ‘meaningful vote’ on the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

It is getting a little complex with machinations of some of the MPs trying desperately to stop Brexit. A group of MPs are reportedly going to use the Parliamentary Liaison Committee, (a committee of the chairs of all 32 select committees), to take power away from the Executive to manage Brexit. I am not sure if this is possible and haven’t had a chance to read up on the Standing Orders around this, but it is being described as a coup by some.

A Government whip has resigned in order to vote against the Government on the deal, and it is reported that at least 112 Government MPs have declared they will vote against the agreement.

Jeremy Corbyn has said that if the Government is defeated he will be calling a vote of No Confidence in the Government. Conservative MPs have been told if they vote against the Government in a Confidence vote they will have the whip withdrawn and be kicked out of the party. The DUP have previously stated that they will vote with the Government on a Confidence vote if it is called in the event of the withdrawal agreement being voted down. In theory the Government should win a vote of No Confidence in these circumstances.

If the agreement passes it has been suggested the DUP will call a vote of No Confidence in the Government in which they are likely to either vote against the Government or abstain. This will no doubt depend on Labour and how confident they are going into a General Election knowing that there is a deal they voted against already agreed. If they want to bring down the Government at any cost then the DUP will either hold their nose to vote with them, or most likely abstain, (since they have said they will never vote with Labour on matters of Confidence, and would abstain first). This also will depend on the Greens and Lib Dems, and what chance they think they have of stopping Brexit altogether.

In the event of a General Election Article 50 can be delayed until after the election.

In response to Facing loss on Brexit vote May warns of catastrophic failure:

Higher likelihood of catastrophe if the agreement is passed than not, higher likelihood of complete decay of democracy in the UK if the agreement is not passed.

It is a no win situation, May has botched this completely and put herself, and worse her Government, in a tenuous position.

Alan Wilkinson:

Surely it is impossible for her Brexit to pass? Everyone hates it. She seems to have stacked her Cabinet with Remainers and failed to get them on board anything approaching a saleable Brexit. Every move she has made seems to have weakened her position.

It is seemingly impossible for it to pass, but there are some unknowns in the mix.

1. numbers on the Conservative benches are based on rumour and estimates, and to be honest the media have been shocking at reading how some of the MPs will vote.

2. No one is sure how the Lib Dems and Greens will vote.

3. Despite Labour saying they will vote against the deal there may be some that are anti Corbyn and will vote for it in the hopes it will prevent a Confidence vote and GE. There are only about half a dozen Labour MPs for sure that will vote against the deal.

4. No-one is sure what the Tory rebels will do. They may vote for the deal as a least worst option, or they may try to go for the nuclear option and vote against to try and force Article 50 be cancelled.

No confidence vote in Theresa May confirmed

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has made a botch of Brexit since her calling of a snap election backfired.

A no confidence vote has been signalled for days. It looks like it’s about to happen.

May may be responsible to an extent for the growing mess, but if she gets the boot they are still left with a Brexit mess.

9:45pm NZ time May is about to address the media outside 10 Downing Street.

She has started. She says she will contest the no confidence vote strongly, then launches into a spiel saying how great she has been over the last forty years. So I  turned it off.

Next step is the vote, I think in the morning NZ time.

Division over Kavanaugh nomination continues towards vote

the Kavanaugh nomination for the Supreme Court wil go to a preliminary vote soon, but a final vote won’t happen until Sunday NZ time.

The Hill:  Bitter partisan battle over Kavanaugh enters final chapter

The Senate will take a pivotal vote Friday on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as the battle over President Trump’s pick enters its final chapter.

Four senators — three Republicans and a Democrat — remained undecided on Thursday, though two of them signaled a sense of satisfaction with the FBI’s investigation of sexual misconduct allegations that threatened to torpedo Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Senate Republican leaders plan to hold a key procedural vote Friday morning, setting up a confirmation vote for Saturday afternoon. Friday’s cloture vote is scheduled to happen at 10:30 a.m.

That’s 6.30 am NZ time.

If senators vote Friday to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination, as expected, they will have to allow another 30 hours for procedural debate, putting the final vote in mid-afternoon the following day.

Kavanaugh went to the extraordinary length of writing an op-ed. Fox News: Kavanaugh, in op-ed, decries ‘vicious’ attacks while saying he ‘might have been too emotional’ at hearing

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, decrying what he described as “vicious” attacks against him while admitting he “might have been too emotional” during his hearing on Capitol Hill last week.

“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been. I might have been too emotional at times,” Kavanaugh wrote. “I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.

Some have said that this sort of emotion is not good for a judge, and others have questioned Kavanaugh’s partisanship – Reuters:  Kavanaugh does not belong on Supreme Court, retired Justice Stevens says

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh does not belong on the high court because of “potential bias” he showed in his recent Senate confirmation hearing.

Speaking to an audience of retirees in Boca Raton, Florida, Stevens, 98, said he started out believing that Kavanaugh deserved to be confirmed, “but his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind.”

Stevens cited commentary by Harvard University law professor Laurence Tribe and others suggesting Kavanaugh had raised doubts about his political impartiality when he asserted that sexual misconduct accusations he faced stemmed from an “orchestrated political hit” funded by left-wing groups seeking “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.”

However partisanship in judicial matters appears to be an accepted norm in the US.

The four editorials listed at RealClear Politics give an indication of the division over the nomination.

Many have taken sides and put reason aside to defend their entrenched positions.

Whichever way the votes go today and tomorrow a lot of people are likely to be very unhappy.

In a number of ways this nomination has been an indication of how much of a mess politics, democracy, and increasingly the judiciary, has become in the US. And there is no indication it will go anywhere other than downhill from here.

One thing that Donald Trump has already achieved as President is the most huge amount of division imaginable, and he gives every indication he intends to continue to play his game that way.

I’ll update this post today as the results of the first vote become known

Irish vote on abortion

Trump threatens over UN Jerusalem move, NZ to vote regardless

President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding to countries that vote against the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

New Zealand is likely to vote against Trump regardless.

AP: Trump threat to cut aid raises stakes in UN Jerusalem vote

President Donald Trump’s threat to cut off U.S. funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has raised the stakes in Thursday’s U.N. vote and sparked criticism at his tactics, which one Muslim group called bullying or blackmail.

Trump went a step further than U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley who hinted in a tweet and a letter to most of the 193 U.N. member states on Tuesday that the U.S. would retaliate against countries that vote in favor of a General Assembly resolution calling on the president to rescind his decision.

Haley said the president asked her to report back on countries “who voted against us” — and she stressed that the United States “will be taking names.”

At the start of a Cabinet meeting in Washington on Wednesday, with Haley sitting nearby, Trump told reporters that Americans are tired of being taken advantage of and praised the U.S. ambassador for sending the “right message” before the vote.

Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tweeted after Trump’s comments: “Our government should not use its leadership at the UN to bully/blackmail other nations that stand for religious liberty and justice in Jerusalem. Justice is a core value of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”

The Palestinians and their Arab and Islamic supporters sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other U.N. Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the U.S. Embassy there.

NZ Herald:  NZ likely to vote against Trump and the US in UN vote on Jerusalem tomorrow

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand will criticise US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a United Nations vote tomorrow.

But she stopped short of calling him a bully, as Trump threatened to cut US aid money to countries that voted against him.

Ardern was critical when Trump first recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, saying it “will make things difficult” for peace.

Today she said the logistics around tomorrow’s vote were still being ​worked through, but New Zealand’s position had not changed.

“Some of the things we saw by international actors like the US recently, those are decision that should only be made in the context of a [UN] resolution around a two-state solution. It took us backwards, not forwards.”

Asked about possible aid sanctions, she said: “I would push back strongly and say New Zealand has and will always have an independent foreign policy. We base our decisions on principle, not on being bullied.”

She was not concerned by his threats to cut off aid.

“We’ve always made decisions that represent our beliefs and our position, and we’ll continue to do that. We’ve done it on things like nuclear issues before and we’ll continue to do so.”

Asked if she thought Trump was a bully, she said: “People make their own interpretations.”

UPDATE: New Zealand voted in favour.

Pondering who to vote for

I am yet to decide who to vote for. I’l make up my mind tomorrow. Some thoughts on it…


Have done a reasonable job over nine years in sometimes very challenging circumstances. Making worthwhile moves to address social issues more effectively. Too slow to react to housing issues. Bill English is reliable and has had a good campaign.

The safe vote, but on on the cusp of needing refreshing with a new government. Now or next time?


Have been poor in opposition for 9 years. An inexperienced lineup with little ministerial experience. Jacinda Ardern has turned them around in the polls and shows promise, but unproven even as a party leader. Is this an election too soon?


Dragged down by Turei’s power play and their swing to social and from environmental issues. Shaw has done a very good job of repairing the damage, they should beat the threshold and should be in Parliament, but a risk if too influential in government. Hampered by their refusal to work more with National.

NZ First

Unknown who they would side with and what they would ask for in coalition negotiations, so a big risk. Vague bottom lines. Many vague and some bizarre policy positions. Winston Peters obviously past his prime, he has had a poor campaign. An anonymous party beyond Peters. If Shane Jones is the answer what is the question?

Maori Party

Working hard for their constituency, play a useful role in Parliament, prepared to work with any party to achieve what they can – that’s how MMP should work.


Overshadowed by National. David Seymour has worked hard during the term but seems to have faded in the campaign. struggling to be more than a one person party, but a partner MP for Seymour would be good. A useful voice for limiting government power and spending.


Some very good campaigning and some very poor campaigning. Polls suggest they are well short of the threshold, Gareth Morgan claims the polls are wrong but everyone blames the polls when things don’t look good. They would only sit on the cross benches promoting more evidence based policy so would be a useful addition to Parliament, but the system (threshold) is stacked against them.

A vote for any other party would be futile.

I won’t vote for NZ First. I will consider voting for any of the others.

I think the big questions are whether National has done their dash or will be ok for another term, and whether it’s too big an ask for Ardern to lift herself another notch to lead a poorly performing Labour caucus as well as either or both of Greens and NZ First in a coalition/governing arrangement.

Personally I have most to gain from a National government, paying $1000 less tax per year is very tempting. But there are other factors, and I’m tempted by a Government refresh, and Ardern has shown promise.

For me it comes down largely to the proven, warts and all, versus new but unproven, warts and all.

Why do people vote for National?

Someone on Reddit has asked “I’m curious as to why National has so much support” – ELI5 why people vote National:

So im reasonably new to this whole voting thing. Im curious as to why National has so much support as other parties are also promising a strong economy but are also offering a lot more in terms of social and environmental issues.

Is it that people dont care about these issues or am I missing something?

The presumption there seems to be that National doesn’t offer anything social and environmental issues, and the promise of ‘a strong economy’ from Labour, Greens and NZ First is as good as National’s promise.

A response from a provincial electorate where National is strongly supported:

Ok, so I was born in a very pro-National electorate and currently live in a very pro-National electorate. I can tell you the things I’ve heard from people.

  1. I’m doing fine, so why would I look to change things?
  2. Labour are too uncertain so how do we know what the consequences will be?
  3. Labour will benefit Aucklanders and Wellingtonians by hurting us
  4. I don’t really know much about politics, but I do know that my parents/boss/people of influence in my community are worried about the consequences of some of Labour’s plans.
  5. If Labour are in government then they will be in coalition with Greens, and Greens want to destroy the industry that I am dependent on for my livelihood (dairy)
  6. Labour’s policies may sound good, but how do we know that we can afford them?

I think a lot of it, at least in the provinces, comes down to people not understanding the problems we have seen under the National government. For example, the Selwyn electorate has been a National seat since 1946. Last election, National won the electorate vote with 69.97% of the vote, 20,000 votes ahead ahead of their closest competitor.

Selwyn currently has 2.3% unemployment. Do you think you see homeless people in small owns with 2.3% unemployment? Hell no, because most of those unemployed people are spouses, children or relatives of people who make significant income from primary industries whether directly or indirectly.

House prices increased by 2.4% over the last year in Selwyn. The average house price is $543,463 ($80,000 under the national average) but these aren’t just quarter acre sections, this includes lifestyle blocks and sections large enough to maintain profitable agricultural and horticultural businesses on. Do you think the fact that an apartment in Auckland costs > $800,000 registers as a problem to somebody who lives in a place where you can buy a lifestyle block for <$800,000 (source 123)?

Then, you have to remember, what Labour offers doesn’t really appeal to people. For example, many of the people who are wealthy in these places didn’t get a tertiary education. They don’t see why people need university education when they are millionaires having inherited a small sheep farm, converted it to dairy, and selling the property without ever having even gotten a trade. They don’t realise that this isn’t available to most people, and that they were lucky to be able to do this, because, honestly, everyone they know did that.

Edit: One thing that somebody said to me recently that I found interesting: “I think Bill English is a bit like Barack Obama. Like, Obama didn’t do anything amazing or different, he didn’t make much change. He just kept things going steady. Bill English will keep things going steady. But Labour want to change lots, and I don’t really know what the consequences of that change will be. So why would I take that risk?” When you don’t see the growing class divides that are largely restricted to urban centres, and only see people who are doing well, maintaining the status quo is an obvious decision. This sub talks a lot about National’s scaremongering, but where I live, discussions about homelessness and property prices and growing class divide are the scaremongering, because people haven’t directly, personally experienced those things.

A different take from nzmuzak:

I had a conversation with a work friend about this lately. He’s smart but not super political and he said “I’d like to vote labour but I don’t have any faith that they’ll be able to run the country successfully.” For him it isn’t about policy at all, because he doesn’t really care about that, he just wants a party that will be able to do what the government does with minimal fuss and he believes National does that.

I think National PR and the media have done a good job of painting every other party as ineffective, think of those rowing/running ads where it shows a coalition struggling while National succeeds. Those ads/that type of message has been incredibly successful.

Many people prefer not much change. Not many people want upheaval after every election.

Another regional perspective from Nationapartyshill:

Reasons I would vote National:

  • I hate poor people
  • I think flexible labour markets allow for economies to adapt to changes in market conditions and reduce long-term unemployment. And I think it’s practical for small-medium sized businesses to have a bit of flexibility to try out staff (90 day periods) without fully committing to hiring them without knowing if they’re useless. It’s pretty much impossible to fire someone in this country, and inevitably to get rid of a toxic or unreliable staff member you have to pay them out to avoid constructive dismissal action. This sucks for smaller business owners who take a punt in good faith but the worker turns out to be crap. Labour are proposing a new workforce bargaining regime which looks similar to Australia’s. I think that scheme has merits, and would probably lift wages. On the other hand, it looks like it will severely reduce flexibility or have a lot of anomalies and technicalities that will have unintended consequences. I think their policy contrasts with National’s, and there’s may increase unemployment.
  • I like National’s immigration policy more than Labour’s – in the region I work in, we need more people to grow our local economy. There’s low unemployment and lots of businesses want to expand but are struggling to get workers.
  • I like the work that National is doing for the most vulnerable New Zealanders — using the Integrated Data Infrastructure system to get good information about the sorts of people successive governments have put in the ‘too-hard basket’ and to change their lives for the better – while saving me money as a taxpayer. I have seen a lot of talk from Labour about helping the middle class, but not enough about the lowest 1%. These people won’t be better off because of families packages from National or Labour, or university subsidies, or adjustments to tax rates. They need a government who is demanding better public services and cross-ministry/department action to wrap services around them. Those ministries and departments will probably be better funded under Labour, but even when funding levels were good (under the last Labour government), no one was driving this type of approach. I’ve been impressed by how much change in approach Bill English has driven through the public service.
  • I don’t think the answer to Auckland’s housing crisis is the government just building 5,000 houses over ten years there and a capital gains tax. I want more social housing, but National’s already doing it and they’re focused much more on Land supply and streamlining local governments’ role – I think this approach is a much better way of fixing the long term problems of under-supply.

Direct quote from a national voter:

“Because labour just gives handouts and people will leave their jobs and go back on the benefit”

Former nat voter here:

Going against this term. Most of my friends are nat voters. Few key reasons in my world:

  • Stability. Probably key one. For most who are earning over median income, especially those in the housing market, National don’t shake the cage too much. So much so, even mild uncertainty is a scary thing. Things aren’t terribly broken from their position, so why risk it? To be fair, things could be a lot worse.
  • Lack of decent alternative. Only recently has this changed. When Key and Little were about, Labour really weren’t an approachable option for swing voters.
  • Wealth protection. It’s a sad reality of human nature that those that have it, don’t want to give any of it up. Many, rightfully so. Even if they understand the possible unfairness and social problem found in residential capital gains. This one especially, I think most people would have a second think on the instant they bought an investment property.

It’s no mistake that most high income voters go for National.

There are many more than just high income earners amongst 40-50% voters.

My parents when I asked:

“Labour wants to tax capital gain on our properties.”


I think labour have the wrong go about for fixing problems.

very strongly disagree with their free tertiary program. It will waste a lot of money, negatively impact current and future students due to increased enrolment of people who fairly shouldn’t enrol but no longer have a deterrent. Making the last year free a significantly better step. Or they could keep the interest free, non inflation adjusted loans.and use the money to fix up living costs. The tertiary policy here is just the one people want to hear for votes, not the beneficial one at all.

The build more homes to fix the housing crisis has severe negative economic effects that aren’t addressed by their policy. Actively devaluing property is a very big deal, especially for people who are going to be paying off 35% more than what their home is actually worth before lending fees and interest.

Labour make out that there’s this black and white divide between the poor and the rich.

Labours cannabis stance is too open, i prefer the medicsl, inspected view of the blues.

I dont really think the nats are doing anything particularly amazing, but i don’t like labours policies.

If we talk just about leaders, despite this being not the US; Jacinda had this rather annoying showman thing going on. When discussing the budget hole,.which is it’s own can of worms, she just reiterates that it’s about “trust, bill” and gets cheers, there the i don’t need thirty seconds for weed while bill explains exactly what they want to happen. She comes across as shallow and not particularly well explained, we know that’s not true.. she has a long parliamentary history and we shouldn’t discount either leaders intelligence, but as far as the debates go, bill is the one in get behind.

There are still a number of voters who never change their preferred party (probably no more than about 20% for both National and Labour, and possibly quite a bit less).

My dad is a staunch National supporter from way back. His reasons are twofold: firstly economic – he doesn’t believe what he earns should be taken and redistributed, and secondly a moral reason – he believes National as a party are upright and on the money with their ethics.

I love my dad, and there’s no convincing him otherwise. He’ll be voting blue for the rest of his life.

Corrugata is shifting to Labour but with a warning:

I’ll explain why I voted for them in 2008. Pure self interest, I earned a few hundred dollars per month more when the top tax rate dropped to 33%, at a time when I was financially in a bad place.

In 2011, Labour was a shambles, so National it was again.

In 2014, we were really struggling to get into the housing market, and National didn’t give a shit, so over to Labour we went.

This year, National hasn’t really done anything much since 2014, that would change the fact that life really sucks for a significant part of NZ still.

I’ve “got mine” now, so technically it’s in my interest to vote for the status quo, but it should be possible for others to achieve the same if they work hard, I don’t see that happening under current National who are stuck in the past a bit at the moment.

I also support shifting the spending around a bit to favour education and healthcare. I don’t think they’ll spend like drunken sailors, I lived through three terms of Aunty Helen and they handed National a surplus, how irresponsible of them.

But in no way does this mean Labour have a lock on my vote.

I just consider them least bad.

Negatives about Labour are the fact that you run the chance of getting Greens and their wonky anti-science nutters. And one way to guarantee me switching back to National is to touch income tax to revise it up. CGT I’m fine with, and I think their stance on immigration, to slow it down a bit, needs doing.

Let’s see if they keep their 2021 promise. If not, this will be be a blue household again for a long time.

It’s common to see people sounding surprised that others would consider voting for a party they don’t like, but the reality there are many voters with quite different views and preferences.

Is a vote for Greens a vote for Labour?

An often asked question gets an airing on Reddit: For undecided left voters, Is it really going to matter whether people vote for the Greens or for Labour? Do Labour need all the help they can get, or is a vote for either a vote for the same team?

The vote on the right is pretty clear cut for people. National suits most right of centre voters, and if your opinions are a little more fringe then you’ve got Act.

The vote on the left has become a lot less centralised in Labour. I think it’s a smart move that the Greens and Labour are working together to change the government this election, but I imagine it could be a little confusing for undecided voters.

Some responses:


There are two things in play for me with that vote decision, assuming Labour are actually able to form a government following the election and thus start enacting legislation. Firstly, and obviously, the more votes the Greens get, the more of their policy proposals will get the time of day because there’s a world of difference between a party bringing 6 seats and a party bringing 20, so the more you like Green policy, the more likely you should be to vote Green.


On the other hand, if Winston says he’ll go with whichever major party gets the highest party vote (like he did in 2005), a vote for the Greens might undermine Labour’s chances and send NZF into bed with National.

A quite different scenario from SirNippleClamp:

In a perfect world I’d love Labour-Greens to form government with the support of National as a silent partner that votes on confidence and supply; send a message to NZ First voters that they’ll never have a say in government so they might as well stop wasting their time voting for the asshole aka Winston Peters in the first place.

Would national consider anything like that? Labour+Greens would need to get more vote than National for a start, and then National would need to agree.

Would Labour as ‘a silent partner’ for National. Greens have suggested they wouldn’t.


If you want to thwart NZ First then vote TOP. That would give National another option for a coalition, but at the same time not diminish the Left because if Labour + Greens do get enough votes then TOP will happily partner with them.


Depends on who wins the majority vote. If the Greens go into Parliament on 30% and Labour only hits 24%, then the Greens take the Prime Minister’s office and Labour might get the Deputy.

I’m voting Greens because I don’t like the way Labour’s been talking about stuff like immigration lately. Either vote is a vote for the same political bloc, but one for Greens is tipping the balance slightly more to the left, which I think results in a better New Zealand.

And if wakes up Labour and causes them to reevaluate how they’re going to campaign, then that’s a bonus, and maybe they get me back in 2020.


I’m thinking of voting for the Maori Party to reduce the chance that New Zealand First will be part of the government while still keeping the chance of a Labour-led government alive should the election result be very different from the polls.


For undecided left voters… do we even have a choice? Labour and Greens are both solidly centrist these days. Where is the real alternative? At least last time I thought I could count on Hone keeping his seat and so voted Mana… nothing for me this time.

A range of views there, showing that there are a range of possibilities.

A vote for Greens is effectively a vote for a Labour led Government, but the balance of power between Labour and the Greens is also important, especially to the parties.

So if you want a Labour-Green government it makes sense to vote for which of the two parties you want to increase their balance of power.

Labour on 40% and Greens on 10% would be a much different power ratio to Labour on 30% and Greens on 20%.

Dunne to support Genter’s medicinal cannabis bill

When Green MP Julie Anne Genter’s medicinal cannabis bill was drawn from the Member’s ballot Peter Dunne said he would decide on whether he would support it or not when it cam time to vote on it at it’s first reading in Parliament.

Dunne said he had major reservations about the bill and it was unworkable.

However Dunne has now said he will support the bill at it’s first reading when he was taking part in a panel discussion  at the Drug Symposium.

RNZ: Peter Dunne to back first reading of medicinal cannabis bill

Today Mr Dunne said he’d been talking to Julie Anne Genter and he will vote in support of the bill in it’s first reading.

“There are a lot of things in the bill that would need to be changed before it could proceed further, but I think it’s a useful discussion to have, and to see where the Select Committee gets to”.

Getting Dunne onside at least for the first reading is a success for Genter, but the bill will still requite support from NZ First or from at least a chunk of National if they are allowed a conscience vote.

At the symposium MPs from the ACT, Maori, Green and Labour parties said they would all support the bill, but more votes from wither NZ First or National would be needed.

National MP Chris Bishop said his party hasn’t made it’s mind up yet.

“It’s one of those issues where we do want to have a good discussion about it as a Caucus. We may decide to have it as a conscience vote where MPs can vote individually. We may also decide to have it as a party vote where the National Party takes a party position.

Polls show there is strong public support for changes to cannabis and drug law, especially related to medicinal cannabis.

It would be a travesty of democracy if Parliament didn’t allow this bill to at least progress past the first reading.


Greens, NZ First back budget tax plan

Labour has voted against the budget tax plan, but their supposed partner Greens along with NZ First have backed it.

Stuff: Labour and Greens split over Budget tax cuts despite joint ‘fiscal responsibility’ deal

The Budget tax cut plan has split the Opposition, with Labour voting against the changes and the Greens and NZ First voting in favour.

From April 2018, the moves, which lift the bottom two tax thresholds, will give $10.70 a week to those earning more than $22,000, and $20.38 to those on more than $52,000 a year.

But the simultaneous axing of a $10 a week credit for low earners with no dependents means some will only be better off by only $1 a week – leading Labour leader Andrew Little to dub it the “dollar Bill Budget”.

Speaking after a Grant Thornton post-Budget breakfast in Wellington, he said the Greens, who were voting in favour of the tax threshold changes, were an independent party and could do what they wanted.

Of course they can – but if they do the opposite to Labour on a budget vote their joint approach to campaigning and ‘fiscal responsibility’ it looks a bit awry.

He said not too much should be read into the fact the two parties were voting in opposite ways on the tax package.

“They’ve made their political judgment on the basis of this Budget at this time. But both our parties have pretty clear agreement about the level of discipline required in fiscal management if we have the privilege of forming a government.”

Labour took a different view on whether the package was well targeted and well prioritised.

“If we have the privilege of forming government there is a level of jointness in our platforms – and we make those decisions more jointly and in a more connected way than we do when we are two parties in opposition, albeit working closely together,” he said.

“You can vote different ways and that (BRRs) document retains its integrity.”

Yeah, right.

Burt the Greens are for and against the changes.

Marama Davidson: Small change that is sorely needed

The big headline of the Government’s Budget yesterday was its Family Incomes Package – a range of measures including changes to income tax thresholds and the Family Tax Credit.

Overall the Budget is a huge disappointment and a missed opportunity to make real progress on pressing social and environmental issues. We want more support for those who need it most, and we want that sooner than National.  To make that a reality, we need to change the Government.

But right now, we are debating National’s family package in Parliament. The Green Party is supporting these changes, not because they’re perfect – far from it – but because we want families to get more support and we strongly believe it is not our role to deny those families that.

With these changes, the Government has turned on the tap that has been long denied to communities for some desperately needed relief. But it’s only a tiny drop. For our lowest income families, these changes are a trickle, and in the words of the Child Poverty Action Group, what is actually needed is a tide.

Five dollars extra is pittance for people on lower incomes, but things are so tough that sadly $5 makes a meaningful difference for too many people’s lives. We should not be proud of that. Some families have become so used to scraping a meal together on so little, that five extra dollars is actually a big deal.

That’s why we are not going to stand in the way of families getting more money where it is sorely needed.

But we are introducing two changes to this Bill to try to make it fairer. The first brings the start date forward, so that the increase to the Family Tax Credit would start on the 1st of July, rather than waiting until 1st April 2018. Making children who are cold, hungry and sick wait another year for relief is negligent.

The second change increases the income threshold which the tax credit is abated from $35,000 to $50,000 and lowers the abatement rate from 25cents to 5 cents.

Lowering the abatement rate will means family that are earning under $50,000 will get to keep much more of this money.

There’s no doubt that it’s a cynical election year budget designed to keep National in Government rather than solve the huge challenges this country faces.

We urgently need to invest more money in housing, education, health and mental health and the environment. In order to make that a reality we need to change the Government – nothing we say will convince National to make those bold choices.

But right now we live among communities where we hear, on a daily basis, the stories of heartbreak that are harming families and children.

While we won’t stand in the way of the tax cuts for the lowest incomes, the Greens will keep working for the real changes that are needed to ensure all everyone has what they need to live; good lives, warm secure healthy homes, enough healthy kai and enough to pay the bills.

That is the leadership that our people want and deserve.