Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist”

The Speaker was reprimanded by the PM yesterday, in the aftermath of the furore generated when he accused a former parliamentary staffer – to whom he had previously apologised for claiming he was a rapist – of sexual assault.

Then he was chided by Maori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer for failing to stop “racist” questions being asked in Parliament.

Other than Hansard, the only account of this attempt to curb MPs’ right to speak freely in Parliament was a Newshub report headed Rawiri Waititi lashes out at ‘Māori bashing’ in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern challenges Judith Collins to say ‘partnership’

But to whom – we wonder – is the Speaker accountable?

To Members of Parliament, we would have thought, because they vote to elect the Speaker at the start of each new Parliament (after every general election).

 This is the first task of every new Parliament once members have been sworn in.
Candidates are nominated by another member and, after the election vote, the Speaker-Elect visits the Governor-General to be confirmed in office.
Continue reading “Free speech in Parliament challenged: Maori Party MPs press the Speaker to bar questions they regard as “racist””

Well done, Minister – almost $1bn of spare Covid cash is found and Robertson lands a new job to keep an eye on his colleagues

Yes, Grant Robertson’s pre-Budget speech has now been posted on the Beehive website and we can officially confirm that not all funding allocated in the COVID Response and Recovery Fund has been spent. Our Finance Minister has almost $1 billion of unspent dosh to play with (and the Taxpayers Union is reminding him he is under not obligation to spend it).

He also confirmed he has a new job (but we imagine he won’t be relinquishing any of the others).  He will be leading the establishment of a team which will ride shotgun on the implementation of “critical” initiatives.

This means he will set up a new team to do the PM’s job of ensuring ministers actually do what she wants them do and what they are paid to do, in other words.

As part of the Budget preparation, Robertson told the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, he asked each Minister to look again at COVID spending for which they were responsible to see if it was  still needed or is still a priority, and whether underspends could be reprioritised.

And hey – this exercise has yielded around $926 million worth of savings. Continue reading “Well done, Minister – almost $1bn of spare Covid cash is found and Robertson lands a new job to keep an eye on his colleagues”

Equal treatment for Kiwis? But that mightn’t square with the Treaty and let’s not forget Don Brash is calling for it, too

New Zealanders want a more cohesive society where everyone is treated equally and where freedom of speech is maintained.

So said National leader Judith Collins in a speech to her party’s northern division conference.  

“These are the things people care about. These are the things that support strong communities and will support New Zealand to recover from Covid-19.”

Hmm.

Meanwhile in Featherston, a Harry Potter quiz had been cancelled at a book festival which – would you believe it? – was set to examine modern “cancel culture”.

The reason is that organisers disagreed with something said by Harry Potter’s creator.

Featherston Booktown Karukatea organisers have chosen not to feature a popular Harry Potter quiz on this year’s programme because of alleged transphobic comments made by the beloved fictional series’ author, JK Rowling.

As for everyone being treated equally, Maori wards were being promoted in local government because a system whereby everyone could stand for office and vote for the candidates of their choice was deemed to be flawed.  And in health administration, two administrative bodies were being established, one of them on a race basis to ensure Maori health was the responsibility of Maori administrators.  Continue reading “Equal treatment for Kiwis? But that mightn’t square with the Treaty and let’s not forget Don Brash is calling for it, too”

Stuff and nonsense – reporter seems to think crime will stop when Parliament passes a law to make it illegal

A headline across the top of two pages of our Dominion-Post today brought stunning news:

It blared:  Children hit despite anti-smacking law.

Gee – who would have imagined that?

A variant of that headline can be found on the Stuff website:  Physical punishment of children still ‘fairly common’, despite anti-smacking law change – study

The article recalls that .. .

In an effort to improve child health outcomes in New Zealand, the Government introduced anti-smacking legislation in 2007 that prohibited the physical punishment of children.

Has the prohibition succeeded in sparing miscreant children from being strapped, slapped, smacked, whacked or otherwise physically chastised?

Apparently not (and is anyone seriously surprised?)  Continue reading “Stuff and nonsense – reporter seems to think crime will stop when Parliament passes a law to make it illegal”

Why you might be politically crackers to go gunning for quackers instead of trying to win their votes

Opposition politicians don’t seem to be getting the message.

When the government makes “wellbeing” a key objective of its social and economic programme, it is not thinking only of people.

Just recently it demonstrated this when it announced a ban on live cattle exports by sea, with a two-year period to phase out the trade.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said :

“The fact is, once animals leave New Zealand by sea we have very limited ability to ensure their wellbeing before they reach their destination … that is an unacceptable risk to New Zealand’s reputation.

“We must stay ahead of the curve in a world where animal welfare is under increasing scrutiny.”

Today we learn how the government is caring for the welfare of deer, ducks and other creatures that might be the targets of the hunting set.

Our attention was drawn to this by statements from National and ACT politicians who do not share the government’s concerns in the animal welfare department.

They are bleating about bureaucratic delays in the procedure which would entitle hunters to legally arm themselves to do battle with their prey.

National’s statement was headed Govt hasn’t got its ducks in a row on firearms licensing

The Nats complain that the Government’s focus on hitting legal firearms owners with more costs and regulations has resulted in Kiwis keen to participate in the Roar and duck shooting season may miss out.

Opening weekend of duck shooting season is just around the corner and the Roar is drawing to a close but many hunters are still waiting for their paperwork to be processed in order for them to hunt legally, the statement says.

National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says police have been unable to get on top of the situation.

“Police are telling people it’s taking four months for a license renewal and six months for a new license. But in reality, for some it’s taking much longer than that.

“In December there was a backlog of 9700 applications, and as of last week that number was still up around 9600 as police struggle to deal with the inflow.

“If the Government spent more time targeting illegal firearms owners as it has law-abiding hunters then we wouldn’t have seen such a delay.”

National’s Conservation spokesperson Jacqui Dean says hunting groups had warned that legislation rushed through by the Government would lead to this situation.

“While police are promising to tackle the problem it is too little, too late for many.

“Hunters are understandably frustrated. After missing out last year due to the pandemic they were looking forward to this season and did the right thing by submitting their paperwork months ago.

“Many hunters take this opportunity to fill their freezers, along with those belonging to their family and friends. Missing out for the second year in a row because of an administration issue isn’t good enough.

“We want hunters to adhere to the rules but this system failure is unacceptable.”

ACT beat the Nats to the draw with its statement (posted on Scoop at the crack of dawn) headed Firearms Licencing Still Taking Too Long

Released in the name of ACT’s Fair Firearms Law Reform spokesperson Nicole McKee, it says:

“Thousands of New Zealand shooters could still miss out on duck shooting season because of unacceptable delays in processing firearms licencing applications.”

McKee recalls that “Police put out a press release this week claiming they are making “significant progress” in clearing application delays. But figures obtained by ACT show thousands of people are waiting months for both new applications and licence renewals.

“Police have said the most helpful thing to do is apply four months in advance, but the figures we obtained show almost 5,000 applications have taken longer than six months and 1,382 have taken 12 months or longer.”

McKee produced figures obtained by Written Parliamentary Question to the Minister of Police which show how long the delays are:

1 Month or Longer = 8,179

4 months or longer = 6,164

6 months or longer = 4,915

10 months or longer = 2,005

12 months or longer = 1,382

Duck shooting season starts next week, McKee notes.

And New Zealand has a proud tradition of hunting and shooting.

“Duck shooting season for many people is a chance to bond with friends or mates and provide food for the family”.

 After the mosque slaying in Christchurch, she acknowledged, the authorities needed to get better at vetting for gun licences – but “now the system is more broken than ever.”

But whoa there.

ACT and the Nats presumably are not setting their sights on winning electoral support from creatures that quack.

They should think again.

The Point of Order research team found this politically fascinating definition …  

Quackers

A fantasy prone mid teen to late 40 year old guy that wears flip flops, big dog t-shirts, sports a ponytail, and is more than likely to be overweight.

The name is derived from the duck like sound emitted from the voice box of this particular form of life.

Labour’s success in winning the support of this bloc pretty well would explain the result of the 2020 general election.

The dragons-and-taniwha speech isn’t being quickly forgotten – and Mahuta is getting support from some Aussies on Five Eyes

It’s the speech that keeps on giving.

This gives the lie to advice we were given on the art of delivering a memorable speech: an audience remembers best the first five minutes of a speech and the last five.

In the case of Nanaia Mahuta’s dragons-and-taniwha speech, at Point of Order we reckoned only a few of the audience would have understood the first five minutes and most wouldn’t have been awake to hear the last.

If they did stay awake (we reasoned) they would have struggled to comprehend some chunks between the introduction in te reo and the “thank you” with which the speech ended.

For example:

Pacific Connections – Ngā Taniwha nō Te Moana nui a Kiwa

I want to briefly go back to the whanaungatanga New Zealand has to the Pacific. In many respects one could surmise that we share common Taniwha.

How many members of the audience speak te reo?

Some impenetrable stuff was reported by news media for the edification of those who weren’t in the audience.

Here’s something from the Dom-Post, for example, Continue reading “The dragons-and-taniwha speech isn’t being quickly forgotten – and Mahuta is getting support from some Aussies on Five Eyes”

You tell ’em, Andrew – this country will not tolerate Russian mischief with malware

OWell, well, well.

New Zealand its expressing its indignation about something the Russians may or may not have been doing.

But this expression of the nation’s indignation comes not from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta but from Andrew Little, our Minister of …

No, not Health on this occasion.  Nor Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Pike River Re-entry or the NZSIS.

He was giving the Russians a blast as Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau.

In that capacity, he was adding New Zealand’s voice to

“ … the international condemnation of the malicious compromise and exploitation of the SolarWinds Orion platform.” Continue reading “You tell ’em, Andrew – this country will not tolerate Russian mischief with malware”

The rot of local government democracy – Wellington citizens are deemed unfit to comment and Tauranga is run by Mahuta’s commissioners

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s intentions were plainly proclaimed soon after the Ardern Government began its second term.  She was determined to remove legislative machinery that enabled public polls to be conducted when councils attempted to create Māori wards.

The headline on an RNZ report summed up her commitment: Mahuta vows to clear obstacles to creating Māori council wards

She has been dismayingly successful, from the perspective of citizens anxious to buttress democratic electoral and governance arrangements against the fast-spreading erosion when special provisions for Maori are introduced.

First, she led the charge in ramming the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill through Parliament under urgency.

As National MP Nick Smith recalled at the time of the bill’s rapid passage into law, Mahuta had been in Parliament in 2002 when the law that allowed referendums to be conducted on Māori wards had been passed in 2002. Continue reading “The rot of local government democracy – Wellington citizens are deemed unfit to comment and Tauranga is run by Mahuta’s commissioners”

Indian flight ban passes muster with many lawyers but human rights chief wants more information

Chief  Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt is championing the rights of New Zealand citizens and residents who are being inconvenienced by the Government’s decision to suspend travel from India for two weeks.  

The Government needs to be more transparent about the decision, which took effect yesterday and will remain until April 28, he huffs.

Other experts and commentators seem to have found enough evidence to be satisfied – perhaps with reservations – about the legality of the travel constraint.  

Newshub recalled Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern saying the move had been made due to the large number of Covid-19 cases coming into New Zealand from India.

The country is currently battling a massive resurgence of the virus, with about 116,000 new cases announced on April 6 alone.

The numbers have surged since then. Continue reading “Indian flight ban passes muster with many lawyers but human rights chief wants more information”

Capital thinking on decolonisation – give voting rights to tribal appointees on council committees and mute the voice of non-Maori

Eight Wellington City Councillors – given the critical constitutional choice of Treaty partnership or democracy – yesterday voted in favour of further undermining the council’s democratic election and decision-making structures by granting voting rights to the representatives appointed by Maori tribes to sit on council committees.

Only six councillors voted against an arrangement to allow one representative from each of Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika and Ngāti Toa Rangatira to sit on most council committees and subcommittees with full voting rights from 1 July.

The council will reimburse each tribe by paying an annual fee, equivalent to the remuneration of a full time elected member, which is currently $111,225.

Some councillors egregiously magnified their anti-democratic instincts by rebuking the Mayor (as the Dominion-Post reports) for

“ … putting forward an amendment calling for the ‘significant’ change to be put out for public feedback before going to a council vote.”

Curiously, the words “significant” has been put in quotes.

Does the newspaper think otherwise?

Apparently yes, because its report of this governance vote (relegated to Page 4 this morning)  focused on Mayor Andy Foster being accused of “delay tactics” for suggesting the proposal be taken to the public for discussion.

One councillor, Jenny Condie, said the proposal did not require formal public feedback because it would be “rectifying an injustice”.

But shouldn’t the public be allowed to assess the nature of this injustice and influence the remedy? Continue reading “Capital thinking on decolonisation – give voting rights to tribal appointees on council committees and mute the voice of non-Maori”