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.

Robertson is confident about the benefits of spending – but what’s the story about the downside from borrowing?

So is the government succeeding in steering the country through the Covid-19 crisis and what it calls a “one-in-100-year shock”. And just what is it costing?

These are questions which will be uppermost in the minds of voters when they cast their ballots in next month’s general election.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson in Parliament this week assured the nation it is weathering the immediate impacts of Covid-19 “better than expected” — even though the full impact is yet to be felt.

He reckons the employment data this week shows the government’s plan to protect jobs and cushion the blow for businesses and households has protected the labour market from the worst effects of Covid-19.

According to Statistics NZ, the unemployment rate here ranks at seventh in the OECD, better than the OECD average of 8.4% and well ahead of Australia (7%) and the US and Canada (both at 13%).

Furthermore, the employment rate of 76.8% is currently fifth in the OECD, well above the average of 68.6%. Continue reading “Robertson is confident about the benefits of spending – but what’s the story about the downside from borrowing?”

RBNZ board is pressed to put many hard questions about surprise slashing of the OCR

Michael Reddell, on his Croaking Cassandra blog, has scolded the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee about its prowess – or lack of it – in the communications department.

His concerns were raised by the committee’s decision – announced yesterday along with the latest Monetary Policy Statement – to lop the Official Cash Rate by 50 basis points to 1 per cent.

As Westpac commentators noted:

“This was a stunning decision – in the history of the OCR, the only times the OCR has been cut by 50bps or more have been after the 9/11 terrorist attack, during the GFC, and after the Christchurch earthquake. We are very surprised that the RBNZ decided to cut 50bps in today’s environment.”

Reddell was surprised, too, and is urging the RBNZ’s board to ask hard questions about just what went on before the announcement. Continue reading “RBNZ board is pressed to put many hard questions about surprise slashing of the OCR”

Economic curiosities include record low unemployment while DOLE numbers and hardship grants increase

Finance  Minister Grant Robertson is  convinced NZ’s  economy is  doing  better than what he calls  its international peers, despite the  “uncertain economic  backdrop and slowing  global growth”.  He reckons there are “many, many signs that things are getting better under this government”.

He was  particularly gung-ho  in Parliament answering a patsy   question from  Kiritapu Allan.

First he  cited   last week’s  BNZ-Business NZ Performance of  Services Index   showing the NZ services sector continuing to grow and expand  in  June.  He said  it is encouraging to see that NZ’s expansionary services index of 52.7 for June was higher than in Australia, the UK, China, Japan, and the US—demonstrating the continued strong performance of the NZ economy compared with our peers. Continue reading “Economic curiosities include record low unemployment while DOLE numbers and hardship grants increase”

Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle

Look deeper than the  headline   moves in  National’s  reshuffle  to  find  the  longer-term  significance.  Those moves included Paul  Goldsmith winning the   prize  of  being   Opposition   Finance   spokesman  and  Gerry Brownlee in taking  on  Foreign  Affairs, not  just  because  he has the capacity  to deploy a  bit of  humour  in  needling  Foreign  Affairs  Minister  Winston Peters,  but  because  he is  signalling  he  is   up  for  another  term.

Insiders   point to  the  leap   through the  ranks   of Hutt South MP Chris Bishop  from  the cross benches.  Still only  36,   but   in his  second term,  Bishop  has converted the   once  traditional  Labour  stronghold  of  Hutt  South   into a National  seat.

In Parliament  as  Opposition  spokesman  on  Police  he has  been effective  in  puncturing  the  government’s   promises on  building up  police numbers by  1800.      Generally  he  has  kept   Police  Minister  Stuart   Nash  on his toes  and kept police   issues  close to   top of the political  agenda—something  that   some of  his seniors have  been able to do in their  areas of  responsibility. Continue reading “Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle”

MBIE’s job numbers raise questions about political neutrality and professional scepticism

A Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment mandarin’s intervention on the issue of the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund’s job creation raises further questions about public service neutrality and propriety.  This follows hard on the heels of the IRD’s constitutional transgressions.

The NZ Herald yesterday yesterday drew attention to the conflict with two observations:

  • National’s Paul Goldsmith says only 54 jobs have been created from funded Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) projects so far.
  •  Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones told Parliament late last year that 9000 jobs had been created.

The Herald proceeded to check out the MBIE website which shows more than 10,000 jobs are expected to be created as a result of Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) announcements made last year.

Seven thousand of these – almost 70 per cent – are estimated to come from just one project: The East Bay of Plenty Regional Development Project Implementation. Continue reading “MBIE’s job numbers raise questions about political neutrality and professional scepticism”

Northland is doing nicely, thank you, from project funding announced by Shane Jones

Kiwiblog’s David Farrar had no problem answering the question he posed in a headline on a recent post: So who is benefiting from the pork barrel fund?

He referenced a TVNZ 1 News report which said

 … the Ngati Hine Forestry Trust will profit hugely from the taxpayer investment and critics argue that it’s not a good look.

The trust will be receiving $8 million from the government to plant trees and create 60 jobs for the people of Northland.

The trust’s website shows its acting chief executive and a trustee is Pita Paraone, recently retired NZ First MP. Continue reading “Northland is doing nicely, thank you, from project funding announced by Shane Jones”