Award winners are being celebrated around NZ – but what about Queens Birthday Dishonours and a Snitch List?

The latest list of Queen’s Birthday honours, with a few knights and dames at the top and bigger numbers of lesser awards further down, was published today.  The most celebrated recipients and those with interesting stories to tell have quickly become the stuff of media headlines – former All Black Sir Wayne Shelford, for example (a chance to remind readers of his scrotum injury).

And Shirley Lanigan,nurse in the Hutt Valley who has been awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit after caring for everyone from survivors of the Wahine disaster, to sexual assault victims and even her own husband.

And Serviceman M, responsible for leading the ground recovery team after the 2019 Whakaari/White Island eruption, who has been recognised with a Distinguished Service Decoration (DSD). He cannot be named for security reasons but is a New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) officer who has spent years dealing with bombs, explosives and highly volatile situations.

But we wonder if anyone has thought of a list of introducing a Queen’s Birthday Dishonours List, naming and shaming some of the nation’s not-so-worthy citizens.

Gilbert and Sullivan gave us the idea with their song about social offenders in The Mikado.

One component might be the Snitch List and a candidate for this – may we suggest? – would be the person who recorded the row between outgoing National MP Nick Smith and a staffer.

According to an RNZ report, this person was instrumental in Smith’s decision after 30 years to abruptly throw in the towel on his political career, citing the loss of the Nelson seat and a Parliamentary Service inquiry into a “verbal altercation” in his Wellington office. Continue reading “Award winners are being celebrated around NZ – but what about Queens Birthday Dishonours and a Snitch List?”

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”

Oh dear – see who was offended when Goldsmith called for Kiwis to be treated equally in electoral arrangements

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s parents – according to a report in Stuff – delivered some strong mantra to live by.  One of them: “Don’t accept, you push back, be provocative, but always be respectful.”

But what happens when political opponents don’t accept, push back and  – dare we suggest it? – are a mite provocative?

Why, you interrupt their speech and complain you have taken offence as tangata whenua.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, of course, is the Maori Party co-leader who now sits in Parliament promoting a political agenda that promotes the interests of Maori.

She has an aptitude for spicing her rhetoric with hyperbole while championing their cause:

“I stand here as a descendant of a people who survived a Holocaust, a genocide, sponsored by this House and members of Parliament whose portraits still hang from the walls.

The aforementioned Stuff report notes she stood for and was elected to the South Taranaki District Council and was deputy mayor between 2007-2010.

Nevertheless she argues for all local and regional councils to be required by law to establish at least one Māori ward in their area.

On the other hand, she bridles at the suggestion other ethnic groups should be entitled to electoral arrangements that ensure their representation.  

This became evident when National’s Paul Goldsmith was questioning why separate seats in Parliament based on ethnicity should be extended to local government.

Hansard records what he said next:

So it is a question of extending that focus on difference and dividing the country on ethnic lines in the way that we organise our democracy at the local government level. I can imagine that there are many people in Auckland, where I come from, which is an intensely multicultural society, with many people of different cultures, wondering, “Well, hang on, why is it that all other New Zealanders are treated one way and Māori are treated another way when it comes to how we organise the local government elections?” Yes, and so people rightly … 

We didn’t get to hear the rest of the sentence because Ngarewa-Packer interrupted to raise a point of order.

As tangata whenua, I take personal offence to what is being said by the member.

When National’s Nick Smith spoke to the point of order, she cut him off too.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Speaking to the point of order. I listened very carefully to what my colleague Goldsmith said, referring to the way in which Auckland was—

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer: Point of order. I am tangata whenua, I can say how I feel. As tangata whenua, I take personal offence to what is being said by the member.

Nick Smith had cause to complain about being interrupted while speaking on a point of order.

Assistant Speaker Jenny Salesa – curiously – disagreed.  Moreover, without hearing arguments in response to Ngarewa-Parker’s point of order, she required Goldsmith to apologise.

But apologise for what?

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Madam Speaker, it’s very unconventional for a member in the middle of a point of order to have another member simply stand up and interrupt them, and is not consistent with the way in which the House is run. The point I wish to make—

ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Jenny Salesa): The member Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s point of order was before your point of order. Can you please take a seat, the Hon Dr Nick Smith. So let me deal with Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s point of order. She took offence to what you said, the Hon Paul Goldsmith, as tangata whenua. Can you please withdraw and apologise.

Nick Smith tried again.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: Point of order, Madam Speaker. Simply because a member may have a particular view about a privileged status of a group of New Zealanders, surely this cannot mean that my colleague Mr Goldsmith, whose comments were simply around the lines of Auckland being a multicultural city with people of multiple different ethnicities, somehow being offensive and being required to withdraw and apologise. Wokeness is not part of the Standing Orders of our Parliament. The member should not be required to withdraw and apologise for such inoffensive, normal remarks.

The Greens’ Chlöe Swarbrick then pitched in (no guesses on which side of the argument).

Chlöe Swarbrick: Speaking to the point of order, Madam Speaker, if I may, in contributing. The contributions of the Hon Paul Goldsmith spoke to the supposed privileged status of tangata whenua in Aotearoa New Zealand. If you look at any statistics, we find that tangata whenua do not occupy that space of privilege.

And then Goldsmith grabbed a chance to find what exactly he must apologise for.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Can I just have a simple point of order. I’d just like to understand what you are asking me to apologise for. What particular words are you asking me to apologise for?

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): So the point of order that the member Debbie Ngarewa-Packer raised was that she was personally offended when you called tangata whenua being of a certain status. Can we move forward from here and can you just complete your speech, the Hon Paul Goldsmith.

Hon Paul Goldsmith: Sorry I can’t apologise for something that I’m not quite clear what it is, what specific words—and maybe the member can help me—I said that the member requires me to apologise for. A general feeling? I’m just not quite clear what it is.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): Can I please have further clarification from the member Debbie Ngarewa-Packer about what she found so offensive.

And so  Ngarewa-Packer was given a platform to explain her grievance (and after she explained it, at Point of Order we remained bewildered).

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer: Thank you, Madam Chair. There was an offence of privileged implication and there was an offence that we belong all in one. Tangata whenua are not multicultural; we are tangata whenua. We need to stop being drifted and floated into every little pool or blanket that you believe we belong in culturally. We have a status: it’s tangata whenua.

National’s Michael Woodhouse meanwhile had been trawling through the rule book to find if Ngarewa-Packer had a case for demanding an apology.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Speaking to that point. I’m very much trying to find the appropriate Speakers’ ruling on the taking of offence. There is a Speakers’ ruling that says that somebody cannot take offence on behalf of another member. The inference in that Speakers’ ruling is that a class of persons, also, a member could not take offence on that. I would argue that the comments made by Mr Goldsmith were debating points. If we come to a point where people can take offence on generalisation, general comments that are otherwise within Standing Orders, I’m afraid that we’re going to get into a situation where we’re going to have a lot of it. Can I also just, while I’m on my feet, make another comment for your consideration? When Dr Nick Smith spoke to the original point of order and was interrupted by Ms Ngarewa-Packer, that was not in order. He had a right to finish his point of order without interruption, and you enabled her to basically cut across that. So I’d like you to consider both of those two points.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): So we have had this discussion. The member has raised that she has been offended. My ruling is that we just move on and to rule that when a class is offended as a class, tangata whenua, would be a significant point of order for me to rule on. I now ask the member if he would like to complete his speech in the last 12 seconds, he is most welcome to.

Twelve seconds left, huh!

Goldsmith gave it a go, only to have Swarbrick interject.

Hon PAUL GOLDSMITH: So as I was saying, before I was interrupted—

Chlöe Swarbrick: What, race baiting?

This (inevitably) triggered another point of order.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Point of order. Madam Chair, I’m sure Mr Goldsmith won’t ask for a withdrawal, but the accusation by one member to another that that member is race baiting is clearly unparliamentarily language and shouldn’t be used.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jenny Salesa): The member the Hon Michael Woodhouse is not able to take offence on behalf of another member. We shall move on. Six seconds.

Goldsmith at long last finished with time for just one succinct sentence:

Well, what I’m saying is that the inference of this bill is that this Government does not trust the judgment of New Zealanders.

Exactly.

Nick Smith’s fairness questions (were Maori ward supporters given more time?) spark call for reopening of submissions on bill

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union  has drawn attention to a significant constitutional issue regarding our right to be consulted fairly on laws which affect our voting rights.

It’s the suggestion (the union said “disclosure”) that Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahata gave local councils advance notice of her Māori wards legislation and the short time that would be allowed for public submissions. 

The Minister had given her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards, union spokesman Jordan Williams contended.

Members of the public, on the other hand, were given just one day’s notice to prepare for “the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

Williams insisted:

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

This compromising of the process warranted the Speaker reopening the calling of submissions, Williams said. Continue reading “Nick Smith’s fairness questions (were Maori ward supporters given more time?) spark call for reopening of submissions on bill”

Salesa advises struggling companies to check out the govt help available – but maybe they should move into movie-making

Nelson MP Nick Smith raised good questions in Parliament the other day around the Government’s policy to refuse entry to vessels for engineering and maintenance work.

According to one businessman in Smith’s home patch, this is costing jobs and millions of dollars in work.

Customs Minister Jenny Salesa’s responses highlighted a double standard:  yes, many businesses are being hurt by the closed-border policy but the government has got to be tough to protect our health and wellbeing.

The trouble with this defence of the border policy is that we all know the government can be persuaded to make an exemption in the case of the film industry and workers coming here from Covid-plagued Trumpland. Continue reading “Salesa advises struggling companies to check out the govt help available – but maybe they should move into movie-making”

Andrew Little’s priggish rebuke suggests “Fascist” might be an acceptable word when his “hate law” is enacted

Justice Minister Andrew Little sounded distinctly priggish, when he chided National’s Nick Smith in Parliament yesterday.

Smith had asked if Little stood by all his statements, policies, and actions on electoral law and referenda?

The answer was yes, he did.

But Little couldn’t resist the temptation to go further and say:

” … I should point out that the accepted plural of ‘referendum’ these days is ‘referendums’.” 

This was a disquieting reminder that the “accepted” way of saying things could well be incorporated in a new “hate” law which Little seems keen to have enacted to curb our freedom to express ourselves.   Continue reading “Andrew Little’s priggish rebuke suggests “Fascist” might be an acceptable word when his “hate law” is enacted”

How the Govt’s IT girl and her email secrets left Chris Hipkins floundering

The  government  is  sinking deeper  into the hole  left behind by Clare Curran   over the  appointment of a  Chief Technology  Officer.

Questioned  in Parliament,   State Services  Minister  Chris Hipkins sounded far from confident  when he  stuttered  about issues of  “natural  justice”.

He  was  floundering  not   just because of the  secret  emails  Curran  had  sent  Derek Handley,  whom she  favoured  – it seems – as  the CTO,  but because it turns  out  Handley  is a friend of   PM  Jacinda  Ardern.

Not  surprisingly,  National  thinks  the whole  process   has been  “tainted”. Continue reading “How the Govt’s IT girl and her email secrets left Chris Hipkins floundering”

Clare’s secret meetings: second blunder leaves Nick Smith “gobsmacked”

The   current Parliamentary  session  has  yielded few events, or  speeches, which linger  in the memory  for  more than  a few  minutes. The  Opposition, despite its  strength  in numbers at  least,  has landed   few hits  on  the   government.

That  is  until  this  week   when  it  called for, and  was granted,  a  snap  debate  on  the demotion  of Clare  Curran  from   Cabinet and her resignation  from two portfolios.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the  most effective speeches  from the Opposition  benches  came from  veteran MP  Nick Smith.  Some  of the newcomers within  the Opposition  could  take  it  as  a  model of   its kind,  marshalling  the facts  before the  house  and  then   building  to  a  powerful  climax.

Here’s  how   Smith  made his  case: Continue reading “Clare’s secret meetings: second blunder leaves Nick Smith “gobsmacked””

A smaller Parliament was a big vote winner in 1999 – but ACT was more popular then, too

ACT Party leader David Seymour asked some electorally attractive questions when he told his party’s annual conference he plans to introduce legislation to reduce the size of Parliament from 120 MPs to 100 and cut the number of ministers from 31 to 20.

It’s an idea with popular appeal, like inviting voters to decide if we should have more public holidays.

Seymour said two decades of growth in the size of government had not delivered better outcomes for New Zealand and the country needed smaller, smarter government.

Whether economic or welfare outcomes are geared to the size of our Parliament needs deeper examination. Continue reading “A smaller Parliament was a big vote winner in 1999 – but ACT was more popular then, too”

The absurd case of a Green MP who took offence when Nick Smith quoted the words of Rod Donald

A small serving of the rich rhetoric of the late Rod Donald rang through the Parliamentary debating chamber yesterday – so rich that one MP could not stomach it. He raised a point of order to insist he had been offended.

Astonishingly, this bizarre attempt to be spared from having to hear Donald’s strongly expressed views was made by …

Drum roll, please…

It was made by James Shaw.

We kid you not, dear reader.  The offended MP was James Shaw, a delicate creature (apparently) who holds the Green Party co-leadership job that once was impressively held by the politician whose views he seemed intent on suppressing.

We can only imagine that – somewhere in The Hereafter – a bemused Rod Donald was tuned into these goings-on and was wondering what Shaw was trying to achieve.

On the other hand, Donald would be pleasantly surprised to be quoted by a National MP.

Continue reading “The absurd case of a Green MP who took offence when Nick Smith quoted the words of Rod Donald”