Abortion regulation – in New Zealand and the USA – belongs in their democratically elected legislatures 

 

Guest column by Nicholas Kerr 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling on abortion inadvertently help explain why the court was right to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue to the states.  She noted that New Zealand “recently legislated to decriminalise abortion and treat it as a health rather than criminal issue.”

The passage of that legislation was only the latest in a long and incremental series of policy changes on the subject that have taken place over the past century. 

While many policy issues in New Zealand have divided the country, the divisions have tended to be short-lived as each side had their voices heard and the debates concluded.

As I think back to my days growing up in New Zealand during the 1980s and ‘90s, I recall many controversial public policy debates, but abortion isn’t one of them. Continue reading “Abortion regulation – in New Zealand and the USA – belongs in their democratically elected legislatures “

When all that money is being pumped into health (as the PM insists), we may wonder why the system is so badly strained

Opposition Leader  Christopher Luxon  has  shown  he  is  a  fast  learner.  Where   earlier  he  often ended  on  the  receiving  end  in exchanges  with  the  Prime Minister in Parliament, now  it  is the Prime  Minister who who can be seen back-pedalling,

Take,  for  example, pressures  in the  health  system  which are causing  so  much anguish  to  New Zealanders.

The  National Party  has  turned  the  spotlight on emergency departments which are facing high demand and staff shortages, with at least one district health board delaying planned surgeries for weeks.

Luxon  had  laid  the  groundwork  for his questions with  an earlier  statement that he would commit to delivering and improving health outcomes.

The government

“… confuses and conflates spending announcements with actually securing outcomes”, Luxon said.

“This government cannot get anything done, it doesn’t matter which portfolio you pick up, they’re actually spending more money, hiring more bureaucrats and getting worse outcomes.” Continue reading “When all that money is being pumped into health (as the PM insists), we may wonder why the system is so badly strained”

PM says there’s not much to learn from by-elections – but Tauranga voters weren’t signalling an end to Labour’s slide in popularity

The  Tauranga by-election confirmed  Labour’s slide  in popularity, with  its  candidate,  the  newly promoted Cabinet minister Jan Tinetti, winning only 25%  of  the  vote, 14%  less  than  in 2020.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn’t  see  it  that  way.  She  said  Tinetti received one of the better results the party has recorded in Tauranga in a number of decades.

In somewhat convoluted English, she further said:

“I think actually for by-elections, it’s very hard to read into them as someone who’s run in a by-election myself because it’s just simply not the same as in general elections, you don’t often have every party represented, so I’m not quick to read into individual outcomes.”

Tinetti came in with a very similar proportion of the vote to the support Labour received in Tauranga when it became the government in 2017, Ardern said.

But it was difficult to extrapolate too many lessons from by-elections, she said.

“Of course hearing from Jan and what she was hearing and experiencing, we listen to that in the same way as what we hear and experience with all of our MPs and every Tuesday we reflect on that in our caucus meeting.” Continue reading “PM says there’s not much to learn from by-elections – but Tauranga voters weren’t signalling an end to Labour’s slide in popularity”

A Cabinet reshuffle must be among the options as Ardern considers how to halt growing public disenchantment

After the excitement of her US visit and White  House call, PM Jacinda Ardern is  now  engaged in  the  harsh realities of  running  a  government that  appears  to be  crumbling  by  the  week.

Ministers  are  tripping  over  themselves – this  week it  was Police Minister Poto Williams who became the   butt  of  Opposition calls  for her  to be  sacked.  Then there  were  the  polls charting  a  governing party’s  falling popularity, despite  a huge spend-up  in the latest budget.

The One News Kantar poll at the end of  May put Labour’s  support  down  at 35%. Then came the Roy Morgan poll which had Labour even lower, at 31.5%.

This is  the sixth Roy Morgan sampling to  show  there would be a change of  government  if there were an election now.  According to Ipsos polling, people rate  National as  more capable than Labour on four out of the five top issues – inflation, housing, health care, petrol prices and  crime).

Just what Labour’s own polling is indicating is being kept a party secret, but it is possibly even grimmer than the public polls because in desperation the  party has been using social media to try  to discredit National’s Christopher Luxon, who had succeeded in hitting the  government  where it hurt by drumming  on the themes  of a cost-of-living crisis and the need for   tax  cuts   in  the  budget. Continue reading “A Cabinet reshuffle must be among the options as Ardern considers how to halt growing public disenchantment”

NZ Herald regards NZ and China as allies – but this doesn’t gel with the PM saying our allegiances are with like-minded countries

“Nothing like  a  trip abroad   to  put  a  spring in the  PM’s  step” – or so said the  sub-heading  on  a  report  in  the   NZ  Herald   on  Saturday  of Jacinda  Ardern’s  visit  to  the United  States, a  visit  which  by  most accounts  was  successful  in its  primary   aim of reviving contacts with  both  political  and  business  leaders.

Political editor Claire Trevett put it aptly:

“NZ was looking for new growth in its relationship with the US after the pause of the Trump era”.

New Zealanders, too, were chuffed at  the  success  of  the  PM’s  mission,  her  popularity  with  the  Americans  she met,  and  especially her chat with President  Joe  Biden.  The applause she won for her address at Harvard University in itself  was  remarkable, and   probably  stimulated  Trevett  to  note that:

“The Ardern in the US was a stark contrast to the Ardern we have seen in New Zealand in recent months”.

So, will  we  see Ardern back  at the  top  of  her  form,  now  she  is home  again? Continue reading “NZ Herald regards NZ and China as allies – but this doesn’t gel with the PM saying our allegiances are with like-minded countries”

Here’s hoping Ardern gets to meet Biden during US trade visit – and O’Connor finds time to check out gene-editing benefits

New Zealand’s  export industries are looking  to a  new  era in the  wake of life returning to something like  normal in international markets.

The  Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, will head a  mission to the  US to promote trade and tourism opportunities in our third largest export and visitor market, saying this is part of the Government’s reconnection strategy to support export growth and the return of tourists post COVID-19.

Ardern  is  certain  to  attract  international  attention   with  her  scheduled commencement address at the 371st Harvard University Commencement ceremony.

But the  more  crucial engagement will  be  at  the  White  House for  talks  with  President Biden,  who is now in Asia. Continue reading “Here’s hoping Ardern gets to meet Biden during US trade visit – and O’Connor finds time to check out gene-editing benefits”

Buzz from the Beehive: Kelvin Davis does not mention the $5m cost of handouts (and we wonder what’s “trough” in te reo?)

The Point of Order Trough Monitor almost missed the handout of some $5 million to Māori tribes, the announcement of which was preceded by a press statement headline and 300 words of te reo.

Having found the English text a few paragraphs down in the statement, we were disappointed to find no monetary measure of the government’s generosity to the chosen tribes.   But who got how much can be found on the website of the Office for Māori Crown Relations,  an agency which – if ACT was to call the shots after the next election – would be abolished. 

That promise triggered Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson to demonstrate what he learned in Charm School by saying of ACT leader David Seymour: 

“It’s not about him being a useless Māori, it’s about him being a dangerous politician actually.”  

Kelvin Davis said the funding he was announcing was available for iwi Māori to develop resources and host events that focus on building greater awareness of te kāhui o Matariki. 

He might have started by explaining in the English-language bit of his press statement what “te kāhui o Matariki” means. He might also explain if funding is available for (a) non-iwi Māori and/or (b) Kiwis embraced by the “Crown” part of the Office for Māori Crown Relations,

The Matariki Ahunga Nui fund is the name  of this trough, by the way. It supports Māori-led kaupapa or initiatives celebrating mātauranga or knowledge about te kāhui o Matariki.

The Minister for Youth, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, was not so coy when it came to talking money.

She burst into life with her first press statement since March 25 to announce a $15 million boost over four years for youth development services, to be included in Budget 2022.

Transport Minister Michael Wood tossed a few million dollars into his press statement, too, when he welcomed the opening of the tender processes for Auckland Light Rail and the Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project.

“We have seen just this week Auckland Airport announcing a $300 million-plus Transport Hub development, which will specifically cater for future mass rapid transit to the airport. By pushing ahead with this project, we are giving certainty to business to make important commercial decisions now, to plan around critical infrastructure.”

And:

“The Government’s investment in regional infrastructure is also continuing to deliver results with today’s opening of the Kawakawa roundabout, marking the official completion of $21.5 million in state highway improvements for Northland.”

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Minister Phil Twyford to travel to Timor-Leste

Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Hon Phil Twyford, will represent the New Zealand Government at the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence, and the inauguration of Dr Jose Ramos-Horta as Timor-Leste’s next President.

Kua pānuihia ngā kaupapa mō Matariki Ahunga Nui

Kua pānuihia ngā kaitono i angitu ā rātou tono pūtea hei tautoko i te iwi Māori ki te whakaora mai anō, ki te whakatinana anō i ngā mātauranga mō Matariki o te hau kāinga.

Key milestones reached on vital transport projects

Minister of Transport Michael Wood has welcomed the opening of the tender processes for Auckland Light Rail and the Additional Waitematā Harbour Connections project… 

 

 

New poll (does the mainstream media know about it?) affirms Ardern govt is on the back foot

The Ardern government  may  feel  pleased it  hasn’t  fallen lower  in  the   latest  Roy Morgan poll,  but  there  wasn’t much to   cheer  about,  particularly  for those  MPs  who it  indicates face  being  banished to the political wilderness come  election day.

The  key  element in the  poll – the  fourth in a  row  in the Roy  Morgan sampling to  show  a  change of  government, were there to be  an election now – is  the decline in net country direction from -5% to  -12.5%, as  has  been  pointed  out  by  another pollster,  David  Farrar.

The gender breakdown of the direction question is  also pertinent: in February women were + 8% but are now -6%.

Of  course,  Covid   is  still  dominating  the  headlines  in  the  mainstream media, few  of which level  any  kind of  criticism at  the Prime  Minister – and  there  was  barely  a  mention to  be  found  in the media of  the  Roy Morgan  poll.

Strangely,  too,  the  NZ  Herald’s percipient political  editor, Claire Trevett, defended  the  Prime Minister  for her  choice of  Poto Williams  as  Police  Minister,  even after  the  newspaper  had earlier given  her front-page  headlines  “Williams  slated, over  police response  times”.   Continue reading “New poll (does the mainstream media know about it?) affirms Ardern govt is on the back foot”

The PM urges sophistication in our thinking about democracy – to make it gel with co-governance (and unelected councillors)

Jacnd and Maori

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – answering questions in Parliament on Tuesday – ominously reinforced impressions she believes the Treaty of Waitangi entitles some New Zealanders to more political rights than others.

The entitlement of tribal leaders to appoint their own representatives to local authorities rather than stand for election, for example.

She was asked if she stood by her statement at Waitangi in 2019 that “Equality is our foundation”, and, if so, did she believe that our constitutional foundation should be equal political rights for all New Zealanders?

As Hansard records, she opted to address only part of the question:

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: In answer to the first part of the question, yes.

The questions were asked by ACT leader David Seymour, who has  called for a public referendum on co-governance decision-making arrangements between Māori and the Crown.

In a speech to the Milford Rotary Club last week, he cited He Puapua, Three Waters and the Māori Health Authority as examples of co-governance principles being wrongly applied.

Presumably he hoped his questions in Parliament would flush out Ardern’s thinking on democracy, co-governance, the Treaty of Waitangi and so on. Continue reading “The PM urges sophistication in our thinking about democracy – to make it gel with co-governance (and unelected councillors)”

Beneficiaries might be mollified by increased govt supports – but there are lots of votes among those who miss out

For  the  second  successive day, Opposition  parties in Parliament hammered  away  at  the  government over  what  they call  the  “cost-of-living crisis”.   Between them National  and  ACT  have  made it  almost a  symphonic  chorus.  As  a  coda  they  ask:  why isn’t  the  government  considering   tax  relief  for the  embattled  inhabitants?

What’s  more, they might at  last have  got  on  to  the  wavelength  of  the  average  voter.  Certainly  in pushing into the  background the Covid pandemic   and  focussing  on surging  prices,  the  Opposition has  thrust  the  government on  to  the  defensive,  and  the  exchanges   at  Question Time  have  become  more  robust.

Moreover, the  government’s  tactic  of  getting  their  own backbenchers  to  put up patsy  questions to  ministers leaves them looking  feeble instead of  making  them  sound  like they are on the  ball.

The   media  inadvertently aid  the  Opposition with  the  stream  of  reports   with  headlines  like “Why is  the  price of  groceries so  high?”  and “Inflation forecast to  go  even  higher”. Continue reading “Beneficiaries might be mollified by increased govt supports – but there are lots of votes among those who miss out”