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Against a four year term

Written By: - Date published: 8:27 am, February 8th, 2013 - 158 comments
Categories: elections, Parliament - Tags:

Key and Shearer want 4 year terms of parliament. Why? Efficiency, they reckon. 3 years is ‘too short to govern’. Well, they wouldn’t be the first politicians to argue that less democracy would be more ‘efficient’.

First, addressing the claims that there’s no time to govern in the three year term. It’s bollocks. The Government’s legislative programme stops for only a couple of months in election year.

But why do we need a three year term? In New Zealand, we are unique among democracies in the degree to which power is held by the Government.

We don’t a written, over-riding constitution; we don’t have a supreme court with legislative strike-down powers; we don’t have a second chamber of parliament; nor do we have state or provincial governments. Even local government is being defanged and side-stepped to concentrate power with Cabinet. No other Executive in the democratic world lacks all these checks and balances on its power.

Regular opportunities to vote the bastards out is all we have.

That’s why Kiwis rejected a change to a four year term by a margin of more than two to one when the question was put to us in referenda in 1967 and 1990. That’s why we would reject it again. Indeed, both the public’s adoption to MMP in the 1990s and our strong decision to retain it in 2011 show that we want more controls on the power of government, not less.

If there is a referendum on a four-year term (and woe betide any government that would try to pull that shit without a referendum) it will fail just like the previous attempts.**

(* the other, contradictory, argument you hear is that because the 3 year term is so short and voters are loath to admit a mistake so soon after electing a government, they effectively give governments a ‘free hit’ in their first term. In truth, 2 of our 10 governments in the modern era have been one-termers, same as two-termers and four-termers. And 30% of people change votes between elections – 3 years isn’t too short a time for people to change their minds.)

(** And with both National and Labour having put themselves on the wrong side of public opinion on this, if there is a referendum in 2014 on a four year term, there’s big opportunities for parties that support a three year term.)

158 comments on “Against a four year term”

  1. Coronial Typer 1

    On a significant constitutional point like this, Shearer should have compelling policy reasons, and be able to explain them. Where are they?

    And honestly, where was the consultation? Or is it just like the Housing policy; the actual Elected Labour Policy Council doesn’t get a look in, and it’s just the usual suspects making shit up in the office, on the day?

  2. Ed 2

    Shearer said that 3 years was too long in opposition, and _may_ be to short in government. That doesn’t sound to me like an enthusiastic endorsement of a lengthening of a term, and I didn’t see that he had mentioned efficiency at all. We do need to be careful not to read too much into sub-editors headlines . . .

    The proposal from Key does highlight the general National desire to do away with elections – accompanied by reducing the time for submissions,( or doing away with consultation at all) and their desire to reduce the scope of what local authorities can do in their communities, regardless of teh wishes of those communities. In contrast what Labour governments have tended to do is delegate more decisions to local communities, and embrace consultation (with the messy and slower decision-making that can involve), but as a result making better decisions.

    Now Shearer, or any other individual member of Labour or the Green Party or indeed any other party may think a longr term is a good idea for a range of reasons, but we did not hear one from Key or Shearer. What I hope to hear from Labour is that general principle that Labour supports democracy, that they treat it seriously, and that they value consultation and delegation of decisions to local communities where appropriate.

    So if at first you see something surprising from Labour or Shearer, it sometimes pays to look more closely – we know Key makes shit up, but in this case it appears to be the news media that was “making shit up” – possibly through not understanding a dry joke. . .

  3. I’m against it, just imagine having to have 4yrs under this blue team,followed by a 4yr term
    of light blue ( if elected), 3yrs at least, shortens their grip and voters can have a re-think which is likely to be the best blue team and put in a greater dash of green,to even things up.

  4. Bunji 4

    The Greens and NZ First (&UF) leaders have said they support a 4 year fixed-term parliament in principle too. But I think all (including Key) have said things about it needing to have cross-party support, needing to take the public along with them etc etc… so if they’re true to their word it’ll be tough to make happen (by taking the public along with them…). If not, it’s easy – they all agree…

    I have some sympathy with the counter-intuitive argument that we might be ready to throw out a govt after 4 years, but not after 3 – National dropped considerably in the last year (but the election campaign started that trend…).
    But I think James is right – we need more checks and balances on our government – which is why I guess having this as part of the consititutional review (where we can also add checks and balances) makes sense. A fixed term is the first c&b, but having some legislation that is more authoritative – and needs a 2/3rds majority to pass / repeal (eg Bill of Rights etc) – that the supreme court can then strike down other legislation that contradicts it would seem a good idea. I’d also like much stronger, more independent select committees to scrutinise legislation (and less whipping by parties, but I’m not sure how you achieve that…).

    • Bunji 4.1

      Entrenched law was the word I was looking for…

      And Graeme Edgeler’s just convinced me against a four year term…

      • Pascal's bookie 4.1.1

        He has a way with words.

        I could be convinced, but itw ould take extra checks being added. And that’s not going t happen so they can piss off as far as I’m concerned.

        The quid pro quo on offer is the laughable ‘fixed term’. there is sod all advantage in being able to name the election date for starters, and for the main course, proponents argue that MMP coalitions provide a check on the executive. That’s stupid on its face ( coalition partners are a part of the executive), but even if it wasn’t it would mean that the fixed term gets thrown out when the coalition collapses.

        proponents need to come up with something that isn’t derp.

  5. just saying 5

    No other Executive in the democratic world lacks all these checks and balances on its power…

    This.

    In conjunction with the continuing loss of democratic freedoms and rights, wherever they were once found, along with the many steps towards NZ becoming a police-state: It is essential that the left has a comprehensive strategy to join the dots on what this means, and for how to repair, restore, and augment the mechanisms that enable democracy.

    It’s really ironic, the people who were jumping up and down about lightbulbs nodding approvingly, as the elites gain ever more control over every aspect of our lives, and simultaneously shut down our ability to dissent. We’re a nation of ‘Stepford Wives’ (and husbands) when it comes to the freedoms that really matter.

    As far as I’m concerned, the polys can have their four years as soon as they’ve implemented democracy

  6. Pascal's bookie 6

    Graeme Edgeler lays out the weakness of the 4 year case and asks that proponents convince him. No takers as yet.

    http://publicaddress.net/legalbeagle/a-four-year-parliamentary-term/

  7. geoff 7

    Politicians are as likely to vote against 4 year terms as they are to vote against increasing their own salaries.

  8. Anne 8

    Why we must have a four year term:

    http://www.imperatorfish.com/

  9. AmaKiwi 9

    Elitism versus democracy.

    Elitists feel in their gut they are best qualified to govern. The public are fickle, uninformed.

    Democrats trust the public to decide because:

    1. The entire public has a more balanced perspective than a few MPs.
    2. The public must live with the consequences so they should decide.
    3. Decisions made in referendums cannot be tinkered with by future parliaments.
    4. The public is much more capable of reversing a referendum decision if it is wrong. Representatives never admit mistakes for fear of losing face.

    I have NEVER met a top Labour MP who had anything except scorn for binding referendums.

    Lange, Clark, Shearer, Robertson, Cunliffe. ALL have told ME personally a wider use of binding referendums is a stupid idea.

    Labour MPs are elitists, NOT democrats. Don’t be fooled.

    • Ed 9.1

      In reality most past referendums have attempted to take guidance on a complex issue from a simplistic yes/no response to a misleading question . The most appalling may well have been the “pro-smacking” referendum where either a yes or no response could be argued as supporting whatever view any individual held.

      Your world view may be different of course – for example you may well believe that the purpose of The Standard is to find any excuse to attack Labour, and by omission, tacitly support National – I suspect most posters and readers are a little more balanced. Democracy has not been well served by referendums in this country, but it has been even less well served by the blatantly anti-democratic stance of National and National-led governments.

      All of which takes us away from discussion of a possible 4 year term – but then the idea was only floated as a distraction from falling employment / increasing poverty / a lack of economic ideas or competence, wasn’t it?

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    What we really need is to able to hold the MPs to account and we can’t presently do that.

    We need to be able to not just kick them out of parliament but to throw them in jail when they do things that are detrimental to NZ, such as selling state assets. To have such actions seen as what they are – treason.

    We also need to be able to ensure that the will of the people governs and not the will of the corporates and the business lobby. That means binding referendums held for major policy shifts. The lawyers and politicians would still write the policies but we would determine what the policy is.

    And, yes, I think we need a written constitution.

    Neither Labour nor National will ever countenance such things and will go on about mob rule if ever they were mentioned.

    • TheContrarian 10.1

      “We need to be able to not just kick them out of parliament but to throw them in jail when they do things that are detrimental to NZ, such as selling state assets. To have such actions seen as what they are – treason.”

      If an party won an outright majority, say 55%, on a campaign based on the idea of asset sales then how can you say it is treason if democratically elected on the basis of that particular policy?

      Not to mention that all policy is going to be detrimental to someone. You can’t please everyone all the time.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        If an party won an outright majority, say 55%, on a campaign based on the idea of asset sales then how can you say it is treason if democratically elected on the basis of that particular policy?

        I can say that it’s treason because the facts show that selling state assets is detrimental to NZ. I thought that was obvious. What I’m asking for is that such policies then be put to referendum. This government got elected with selling state assets as policy but the majority of people are against it and if it went to referendum it wouldn’t pass. Just because a government got elected with such a policy doesn’t mean that the majority of people want that policy.

        Not to mention that all policy is going to be detrimental to someone.

        I didn’t say anything about individuals but about the nation.

        • TheContrarian 10.1.1.1

          I am asking you a hypothetical Draco – if a govt. got a majority and polling indicated a majority supported sales (more than a margin of error) then you can’t call it treason (you can personally if you wish). The people voted for it and the people support it.

          Secondly what if you were elected and you implemented a policy which actually turned out to be very detrimental to the nation, would you then submit to being thrown in jail?

          • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1.1.1

            I am asking you a hypothetical Draco – if a govt. got a majority and polling indicated a majority (more than a margin of error) then you can’t call it treason (you can personally if you wish). The people voted for it and the people support it.

            Then they’d still support it in a referendum wouldn’t they and thus the government would be doing what they were told and so couldn’t be held accountable.

            Secondly what if you were elected and you implemented a policy which actually turned out to be very detrimental to the nation, would you then submit to being thrown in jail?

            Comes back to those pesky facts again. If the facts had indicated (we don’t know everything) that that policy would be good and not detrimental then it couldn’t be considered treason. It’s only when they do something that has already been proved detrimental that treason applies.

            Besides, If I was elected I’d immediately look to implement the above policies of accountability and so it would have gone to referendum.

            • TheContrarian 10.1.1.1.1.1

              “Then they’d still support it in a referendum wouldn’t they and thus the government would be doing what they were told and so couldn’t be held accountable.”

              So what you seem to be suggesting is that nothing a government campaigns on can be instigated without a referendum to make sure that is what the people want?

              • Draco T Bastard

                Yes. Especially considering that not everybody votes. This government doesn’t have a mandate for selling state assets or anything else simply because only ~35% of the populace actually voted for them.

                • TheContrarian

                  So the government goes “If elected we plan to put Bill x, x and x to referendum” whereas the other party says “Vote for us and we’ll put bills y, y and y to vote” and then whomever wins gets to out there bills to vote.

                  That sound about right?

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Yep. Remember, there’s still the crafting of laws and the everyday running of the country to do and I’m sure that the people want a choice in who does that. They just may have some consideration as to who they trust the most to be in those positions of power.

                    • TheContrarian

                      You do know 249 bills were presented in the last year alone. How much time you got Draco? Are we going to have referendums on all of them?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And how many of those were major policy changes and how many minor changes to existing policy?

                      Did we really need 249 policy changes last year?

                      And then there’s the question: Why is it that in today’s world with such high productivity that we don’t have enough time for everyone to participate in their own governance?

                    • TheContrarian

                      “And how many of those were major policy changes and how many minor changes to existing policy?”

                      What’s the difference? It’ll still matter to some and it is still policy decision.

                      Why don’t you go through the list and tell me which ones you think should go to referendum and why.

                      “Did we really need 249 policy changes last year?”

                      See the link – tell me which ones you think weren’t worthwhile.

                      “Why is it that in today’s world with such high productivity that we don’t have enough time for everyone to participate in their own governance?”

                      Do you have time to investigate and make an informed decision on 249 bills?

                      http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/Default.htm

      • Wayne 10.1.2

        While I agree that a govt needs to be able to implement policy that it is elected on, there are limits. It would not be OK for a govt to say confiscate peoples shares without compensation, or effectively suspending free speech by nationalising all radio stations, even if that was a policy. That is why the rule of law and a Bill of rights is essential to protect our rights against govt.

        Now of course part privitsation of SOE’s is not in the same category, since the rights of induividual citizens are not affected. Neither their liberty or their property are affected by such a policy. However we will have to wait to see what the Supreme Court says about iwi (a category of private rights) interests in water in relation to the policy.

        • Draco T Bastard 10.1.2.1

          Now of course part privitsation of SOE’s is not in the same category, since the rights of induividual citizens are not affected.

          Actually, they do. Their rights to have a say in their government is being bypassed by not having a binding referendum.

          Neither their liberty or their property are affected by such a policy.

          We presently own those power companies and they’re being sold without our permission.

          However we will have to wait to see what the Supreme Court says about iwi (a category of private rights) interests in water in relation to the policy.

          Yes, it’s a travesty that our rights and properties are protected by such slim legalese.

      • Green machine UpandComer 10.1.3

        It’s treason/detrimental to NZ, factually, if Draco disagrees with it.

    • AmaKiwi 10.2

      Draco T Bastard, +++++++ 1

      I agree but for tactical reasons I have of late been arguing for “veto referendums.” If parliament passes a bill we can have a referendum to veto it.

      We in NZ have been culturally brainwashed into a deep distrust of our fellow citizens. Time and again someone will say how stupid the government is. I reply with a suggestion of referendums. They pull back in revulsion as if I am inviting the Barbarians to take over Rome.

      Very successful brainwashing by the NZ education system.

      • geoff 10.2.1

        I was just thinking about this concept myself. Just keep the present system but allow the public a veto for highly unpopular things.

  11. gobsmacked 11

    Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB said (and I promise I am not making this up) that we didn’t need a referendum on a 4 year term, Parliament should just get on and do it “overnight”.

    When influential idiots (well, he does have an audience) are proposing an Enabling Act, presumably in the name of efficiency, then we should worry. And defend what little democracy we have.

    (and I don’t want to constantly be having a Shearer-swipe, but for God’s sake … think, man, think. You don’t have to chase after every stick Key throws)

    • AmaKiwi 11.1

      Yes, as I just said in reply to Draco, we have been acculturated to blind obedience to the elite.

      Our NZ/English culture has not had a violent revolution which overturned aristocratic autocracy.

      Modern French governments get very nervous when there is a mass street demonstration in Paris. It may have been 220 years ago, but in their guts they remember street demonstrations started the French revolution.

  12. bad12 12

    Yep when a major employer goes belly up taking the livelihood of at least hundreds of workers down with it,(more than a few of whom will lose their homes), having not a clue about what to say or do about such a dire situation the fall back position is to have a ‘distraction’,

    Enter stage right Slippery the Prime Minister dragging with Him the big red herring of a 4 year Parliamentary term,

    It aint going to happen as Slippery knows He just spun that line because the trail of destruction being exhibited in the Depression Economy which His mate Bill from Dipton is running just began to seriously bite the arse of the middle class…

  13. Wayne 13

    Actually the arguments for 4 years are reasonably strong, and relate primarily to the impact of MMP. The last two referenda were held under FPP. In 1990 there had been recent experience of the Govt acting beyond its mandate.

    Under MMP the process of government is more drawn out. Pretty much everything is subject to negotiation by the coalition partners. The Select Committee process is much more robust, which extends the time legislation takes. Of course Select Committees don’t make govt policy, so they do not veteo govt, as some here seem to expect.

    Based on my experience it seems that it now takes 4 years to do what used to take 3 under FPP. While in most respects that is actually a good thing (more critical examination of govt policy), it also means a 4 year term makes sense.

    As an example, compare how easy full privitisation was under FPP, compared to the lengthy process of the Mixed Ownerdship model where only 49% is intended for sale. Now I know this site wants delay on this issue, but there will bound to be a key policy of a future Labour/Green govt that will be subject to a similiar delay, which will have commenters on this site being very frustrated.

    One of the results of a 4 year term is that Govts would routinely have two terms rather than the current three terms, which has been the most common situation for the last 70 years. I think that would be a good thing, and produce a better govt. The last term of three term govts is usually pretty dismal; think of Muldoon 1981 – 1984, Bolger Shipley 1996 – 1999 and Clark 2005 – 2008. In contrast think of the energy that the Obama administration is bringing to its second term. Of course he is term limited, which is not the parliamentary model.

    You just cannot assess the merits of this issue by what you think of the Key government. One does have to recall that the people actually expect a government to govern according to its mandate, and by and large that is what the Key government has done. Your turn will come, and you will expect to be able to govern.

    An extension of the term should not be linked with having a supreme constitution, giving an unelected Supreme Court strike down powers. That is not part of a parliamentary democracy, and does not feature in comparable jurisdictions. In any event the courts have progressively become more influential, as can be seen with Bill of Rights decisions and “principles of the treaty” decisions.

    However, I do think we could have a modernised and more complete Constitution Act to repalce the 1986 Act. Such an Act would cover all the fundamentals of the constitution, and would be more accesible than the current act. It would also have a Preamble that covered our most important values. I will be making a full submission on this to the Constitution Review Committee.

    • AmaKiwi 13.1

      @ Wayne

      “People actually expect a government to govern according to its mandate.”

      What f*cking mandate? After the election they pull all of their surprises out and jam them down our throats.

      Key & Co. destroyed local government in Auckland and Christchurch. They had no mandate to jam a Super City down our throats? Never whispered a word about it in the election campaign.

      “Mandate” my a*se.

      • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1

        Key & Co. destroyed local government in Auckland and Christchurch. They had no mandate to jam a Super City down our throats? Never whispered a word about it in the election campaign.

        And removed the requirement of a referendum so that they could ram down our throats as well. This is the type of action that should have had every MP that voted to remove that referendum in jail for a minimum of 20 years.

        • Tim 13.1.1.1

          +1 Indeed.
          Can any lawyer type fellas remind me of what the legal definition of treason is/was?
          It used to be something like jeopardising the physical/economic/etc. wellbeing of the state yea?

          I could never understand why the likes of Messrs Fay & Richwite (among others) were not thrown in the can.

          • TheContrarian 13.1.1.1.1

            This might help Tim:

            http://lmgtfy.com/?q=what+is+treason

            • McFlock 13.1.1.1.1.1

              Most humourous. Shame it delivered a non-new-zealand-lawyery response. But ten out of ten for being a dick (again).

              Treason falls under the Crimes Act 1961:

              73 Treason
              Every one owing allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen in right of New Zealand commits treason who, within or outside New Zealand,—
              (a)kills or wounds or does grievous bodily harm to Her Majesty the Queen, or imprisons or restrains her; or
              (b)levies war against New Zealand; or
              (c)assists an enemy at war with New Zealand, or any armed forces against which New Zealand forces are engaged in hostilities, whether or not a state of war exists between New Zealand and any other country; or
              (d)incites or assists any person with force to invade New Zealand; or
              (e)uses force for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of New Zealand; or
              (f)conspires with any person to do anything mentioned in this section.

              • TheContrarian

                It was for amusement purposes, McFlock.

                learn to relax. You don’t always have to be an angry old fuck.

                Can anyone point out which section of the above would relate to asset sales?

                • McFlock

                  It’s always for your amusement.

                  And to answer your question: none of it. Which is why they aren’t in gaol for treason.

                  Although your little google thing showed a variety of “treason”definitions around the world, and some of the broader ones along the lines of “damage to the safety or security of the state” could conceivably include things like aiding a rush on the dollar or conspiring to privatise assets. Bit of a legal loophole there, in my opinion. Not one I’d expect pollies to fix any time soon, though.

                  • TheContrarian

                    As long as you can amuse yourself everything is else is supplementary (or some other gibberish I can just make up).

                    It would take a pretty cunning lawyer to have Key et al. up on treason charges.

                    • Akldnut

                      “Can anyone point out which section of the above would relate to asset sales?

                      The answer is definitely B
                      These assholes have been waging war on ordinary New Zealanders since they got into office.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      As an example, compare how easy full privitisation was under FPP, compared to the lengthy process of the Mixed Ownerdship model where only 49% is intended for sale. Now I know this site wants delay on this issue, but there will bound to be a key policy of a future Labour/Green govt that will be subject to a similiar delay, which will have commenters on this site being very frustrated.

      I’m sure there would be such commentators but I’m also sure that slowing down legislation is far better than speeding it up which is what you seem to be arguing for.

      • Wayne 13.2.1

        I accept that delay is inevitable (and by and large appropriate) under MMP, which I voted for in both the1993 and the 2011 referenda. I was using it as an example of why a 4 year term is desirable.

    • Pascal's bookie 13.3

      Those aren’t strong arguments, they are a confused mess.

      On the one hand you say that government’s need more time to get things done, and on the other hand that a 4 year term will force them to be more energetic because they will only get 8 years instead of 9.

      And the MOM policy wasn’t held up because of ‘MMP’, but due to court cases. The original idea was to have them all done and dusted in a roughly two year window.

      • Wayne 13.3.1

        Yes it will lead to 8 years rather than 9, but the two terms will mean a better govt for the 8 years, rather than the usually wasted and divisive third term.

        It does look likely that we are going to get a referendum on the issue in the 2014 election. If it passes it would presumably affect the 2017 election, so the next election would be 2021, rather than 2020.

        • Pascal's bookie 13.3.1.1

          Why will it lead to better government in the eight years? You didn’t actually explain that

          Is the country going to look at those 8 years of good government and decide to throw them out? Or will they throw them out after a shit term in government?

          • Wayne 13.3.1.1.1

            My view on why two 4 years is better is because most three term govts seem to be able to manage two good terms; sufficiently so that they get relected for a third term. But a four term govt is rare, so clearly most voters are not impressed with the third term. In fact the result is usually quite decisive.

            In the last two govts, the Opposition actually went backwards in the second election; the Nats in 2002, and Labour in 2011. So the voters obviously thought the Govt of the day was doing something right. The second election is very much an assessement of how well the Govt has done, rather than an assessment of the Opposition, who is not usually thought to be a credible option anyway, unless the Govt has been a real disaster.

            I appreciate that the above is really an electoral assessment, rather than an analytical evaluation of the quality of govt.

            In this regard I would say that most governments have a six year view. They have an agenda, which they know will take more than 3 years to implement and deliver. They also know they absolutely must have been seen to deliver within two terms, since by the second term voters will essentially decide whether you have suceeded or not. They will have very little interest in a govt that keeps saying the problems present after 6 years in government were caused by the previous govt.

            Few govts in NZ have a 9 year plan, even though it might make sense to have one. The third term is just too conjectural when first elected to be able to have such a view. But two terms are not. In fact one plans at the outset on getting two terms.

            So I consider that two terms leading to an eight year plan would lead to better long term govt. For instance a creative Innovation agenda will take 8 years to implement. The Callaghan Institute would have started in 2011 had it not been for the Christchurch earthquakes. Instead it is starting in 2013. It will be barely off the ground by 2014. Even if it had started in 2011, the new facilities would have taken till 2014 to be built and to deliver even the first results.

            • Pascal's bookie 13.3.1.1.1.1

              Thanks. I think I’m getting you a bit clearer now.

              To start with, I agree that governments will have a plan for two terms. But I also think that by the time of the second term they will be thinking about the third. Basically, I think they plan for the next term as well as the one they are in. Consequently, I don’t think changing the length of the term will have much effect.

              I think that governments have often lost popularity in the third term due to the fact the opposition will have got their shit together, and have a coherent message to sell that is in response to the what the government has been doing. Combine that with the fact that the government has been in long enough that they can’t blame their predecessors, and the third term becomes a defensive nightmare.

              A lot of the things that take a long time to do, actually finished by a different government than the one that started them. If it is a popular thing, the opposition will usually be swallowing it as a dead rat and pledging not to change it, but even more often there is consensus between L and N, except for at the margins.

  14. Rodel 14

    ‘……….Key and Shearer want 4 year terms of parliament……….’? What a surprise!

    Q: Why do they keep bringing this up when we (the people) have rejected it twice before ?

    Answer 1: I’d like my job for longer than 3 years thanks…. say….4 years…. Hey what about 6 years?…..8?… 10?…. Permanent tenure would be nice.

    Answer 2: It gives indolent media something easy to write about and distracts their attention from the real issues.

    • Ed 14.1

      Agreed re indolent media – they appear to have misrepresented Shearer’s position though – perhaps that is all part of the attempted distraction.

  15. Tiresias 15

    Consider a really radical Government elected, say, to make sweeping changes to our existing well-embeded capitalist system. Three years would be far too short for that, and if it jumped in feet-first with sweeping legislative changes in its first year the deep societal shifts resulting would still be underway when year three comes around with perhaps a spooked electorate voting for a return to the status quo ante.

    We might think that a good thing if it was a Right-wing agenda being imposed, but I would argue that from where we are now it would take longer to move the nation to the left while retaining popular public support. Don’t forget the damage Douglas caused in less than three-years, before Lange called for a cup of tea.

    Why do we even have General Elections? They bring the country to a standstill for months, saturate us with political snake-speak and baby-kissing but mean the politicians can ignore us all the rest of the time. And they often result in major policy shifts that are only just working themselves out when it all changes again. Why not divide the country into, say, 20 constituences each with 5 MPs one of which has to stand for election on a five-year cycle, so that every year there are 20 elections covering one-fifth of Parliament. The Government would have to govern on the basis of an annual approval.

  16. George D 16

    Major constitutional changes to policy should have the backing of the party which proposes them.

    • AmaKiwi 16.1

      George D

      “Major constitutional changes to policy should have the backing of the PARTY which proposes them.”

      And the public? By what principles of democracy is it legitimate to implement ANY policy which is opposed by the majority of the people?

      The political party system has failed. Why shouldn’t we be able to pick and choose which policies we prefer from which parties? That’s called democracy and it requires referendums.

      I like Party A’s education, race relations, ACC, and trade policies.

      I like Party B’s welfare reform, prison reform and CHC re-build policies.

      I like Party C’s environment, tourism, drugs, health, and trade policies.

      I like Party D’s foreign policy and opposition to involvement in foreign wars as well as their plans for retirement care.

      With referendums we can have the policies the majority of us want. It’s our country. We decide.

      If the majority of the PEOPLE, think the policy was a mistake (legalizing drugs, lowering the drinking age), we can call another referendum. No waiting for 3 years for another government.

      You want prompt decision making, vote for binding referendums.

      • TheContrarian 16.1.1

        How much time you got AmaKiwi because last year alone some 249 Bills were introduced to Parliament.

      • fatty 16.1.2

        With referendums we can have the policies the majority of us want. It’s our country. We decide.

        How is this different from what we have? We vote every 3 years for new policies.
        Why would people vote differently in referendums, compared with elections?

        • Draco T Bastard 16.1.2.1

          Because they’d be voting for the policy.

          • TheContrarian 16.1.2.1.1

            249 bills were presented in the last 12 months. We gonna vote on them all?

            • AmaKiwi 16.1.2.1.1.1

              No. If a bill is passes parliament we have 90 days to collect 25,000 signatures to challenge the bill in a binding referendum.

              In places which have veto referendums, it rare for a bill to be turned down by the voters. The threat of a referendum causes legislators to write laws the people will accept.

              If we had binding veto referendums, we might have an Auckland Super City BUT it would not in any way resemble the fiasco that has been foisted on us.

              • TheContrarian

                Hope you got a lot of time on your hands then.

                249 bills passed/passing in 12 months….good luck

          • fatty 16.1.2.1.2

            I realise the vote would be on each policy, rather than a list of policies…apart from that, how would that be different?

      • Pascal's bookie 16.1.3

        we can call another referendum

        How would this work? What’s the threshold for calling a referendum?

        • Frank Macskasy 16.1.3.1

          10% of registered voters on the Electoral Roll. (Not 10% of voting-age adults, as some believe.)

          • Pascal's bookie 16.1.3.1.1

            Takes too long. the proposal seems to be that we’ll be having a lot more referenda, and that it will serve as a more effective check on the executive than waiting for elections.

            What we have now takes the thick end of a parliamentary term to cycle through.

          • fatty 16.1.3.1.2

            true…the ACT Party would love this.
            Say hello to their one law for all racist bullshit.
            Say goodbye to Maori culture.
            Say hello to corporations funding referendums – we’d be fracking within a month.
            Say hello to the bigotted, but determined minorities suppressing the human rights of other minorities.
            Say hello to money becoming even more powerful in shaping and pushing through policies.

            • Pascal's bookie 16.1.3.1.2.1

              Yeah, my main reason for not wanting binding referenda are civil liberties. It’s a nightmare. One shocking crime and we’d have the death penalty back on the books, till we execute some poor fucker repeal it, rinse , repeat.

              Treaty issues? Forget about it.

              • TheContrarian

                Yeah I was thinking along the same lines as PB.

                So many things could produce a knee-jerk reaction in the public.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Always someone going to bring out the BS of Mob Rule.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  Feel free to present an argument.

                  • geoff

                    So how do you stop shit like the unpopular sale of assets?

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      National claim they have a mandate for the sales. The referendum will prove they don’t. They then risk alienating the voting public going into the next election if they carry on flogging them off. And the next election comes down to a few percentage movement away from national to the left.

                      BTW, signatures are still needed for the referendum. Please help get as many as possible before it closes off. Cheers.

                    • geoff

                      Haven’t National said that they would ignore the results of the referendum? NZ has a history of politicians ramming through unpopular decisions, Rogernomics, Ruthanasia etc, John Key probably woudn’t be wrong to think he could get away with the asset sales in spite of their unpopularity. I personally think that the more likely reason he wouldn’t proceed would be if Rio Tinto pulls out of NZ, which would seriously effect the sale price of power companies.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      National claim they have a mandate for the sales. The referendum will prove they don’t. They then risk alienating the voting public going into the next election if they carry on flogging them off. And the next election comes down to a few percentage movement away from national to the left.

                      And yet our state assets end up being sold making us poorer.

                      Haven’t National said that they would ignore the results of the referendum?

                      Don’t know if they’ve said that outright but, as the referendum isn’t binding and National are there to sell out NZ, then they will definitely sell our assets.

                • TheContrarian

                  I’d like to hear this argument too

                • fatty

                  I’d like to hear an argument against mob rule too.
                  Sociology and psychology have covered the effects of the crowd, populism, moral panics, social movements, lobbyists etc extensively throughout the 20th Century. I am not familiar with the opposing argument

                • TheContrarian

                  Quite right, fatty.

                  One only needs to look at the extreme nationalism of fascist politics to find evidence.

                  Remember The Third Wave?

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Third_Wave

                  • fatty

                    Interesting – I hadn’t heard of it, just found a TV movie of it made in 1981, will watch that now.

                    In addition to that extreme, but possible example, I would say that our last referendum was disturbing enough. We had a repulsive lobby group – family first – who distorted the issue of child abuse for 2 reasons. One was to protect their right to smack children (Jesus must be proud), the other reason was to get Labour out of government.
                    They manufactured a moral panic by framing the debate as an issue of freedom vs government control, and they did it so well that it was impossible to bring logic into the argument.
                    That referendum was an extreme lobby group using fear for their redneck desires. They did it easily. That would become the norm if we moved to regular referendums

                    • geoff

                      So the argument is based on the assumption that the general populace is too ignorant to make reasonable choices and can be easily swayed by media manipulation?

                    • fatty

                      So the argument is based on the assumption that the general populace is too ignorant to make reasonable choices and can be easily swayed by media manipulation?

                      No, “ignorant” is a judgement call. I wouldn’t use that word, I would say the general populace can be seduced. See the 2008 and 2012 election as proof of that. How else would you explain John Key’s popularity?

                      Its not so much media manipulation, but more manipulation by some people who have the ability to use the media as the vehicle for their message.

                    • Pascal's bookie

                      There’s a fair amount of empirical evidence behind the assumption.

                      Whipping up a crowd against a minority isn’t exactly an uncommon tactic.

                      Example:

                      When the court ruled that iwi had a claim to be heard with regard to the foreshore and seabed, within 6 months the mainstream liberal position was the Foreshore and seabed act. I suspect that if it was going to a referendum we would have seen something far closer to Brash’s position, ie, flat out nationalisation. And who’s to say that’s all there would have been on the ballot. Maori seats? Principles of the treaty of Waitangi being excised from legislation?

                      The idea that when an event happens everyone will calmly and soberly view things is kumbaya wishful thinking.

                      Humans don’t work like that.

                    • geoff

                      I’m not disagreeing with the assumption I just wanted to clarify what your position is.
                      I think you guys have a point about mob rule etc but i still think there must be something better than the present system as it stands.
                      Out of interest, has anyone ever conducted a survey of NZ’ers to see if they would support the death penalty?

                    • geoff

                      Also, if the population is capable of being manipulated, is this a problem that can be addressed with education?

                    • TheContrarian

                      @Fatty

                      This one is much better.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wave_%282008_film%29

                    • fatty

                      but i still think there must be something better than the present system as it stands.

                      For sure…I’m not defending our current system, I think its wrong in so many areas and I want change!

                      Also, if the population is capable of being manipulated, is this a problem that can be addressed with education?

                      Yes, I think that can work and it should be seen as part of the solution. But that just isn’t the case right now and that is why I think referendums are not the answer.
                      Most people are not educated on how our economic, social and political ideologies impact on society. That is not to say that people are stupid, greedy or ignorant…its just that people live their lives without being able to, or wanting to learn about them. If everyone was as educated about politics and inequality as most of us here, then referendums could be the best way of organising ourselves politically, but that would take education and a media that is not driven by advertising and profits (as you point out).

                      Just to clarify another point that AmaKiwi made above. I do not “distrust” my fellow citizens. I trust them to be nice to me, I trust them not to be violent, I trust that they would treat me with compassion and care. However, within today’s society, I do not trust my fellow citizens to be able to understand and explain the complex cause and effect of social & economic policies. I also don’t trust them to understand how our colonial history continues to shape our current race relations. I don’t trust that my fellow citizens understand the complexity of society when I look at our TV, newspapers and general chat around the water cooler.

                      I trust them as people, I do not trust their knowledge. I hope people don’t trust my knowledge of car engines.

                    • fatty

                      @ TheContrarian

                      Cheers…that 1981 film looked average.

                    • TheContrarian

                      It’s a very good film.

                    • geoff

                      @fatty:
                      Good comment, I agree.
                      So what’s your solution to problems like asset sales? How do you stop things like that without binding referendums?

                    • fatty

                      So what’s your solution to problems like asset sales? How do you stop things like that without binding referendums?

                      Without descending into my usual Labour are shite rant (which is a real problem), I would say it is political education and involvement. But that is not going to change much in a hurry. We are moving further towards a depoliticised society all the time.

                      I think its got to be education, but there also has to be an opportunity for people to feel as though they are being represented. I know we have the baby-boomer buldge and therefore they will dominate politics, and policies will generally benefit them, but we have to make politics more representative. We can’t expect young people to become politically active when they have no voice. We can’t expect democracy to work when people are excluded.

                      How do you stop things like that without binding referendums?

                      The assets are gone as far as I’m concerned, that happened after the 2011 election. I wish NZ didn’t vote that way, I can’t believe NZ would vote the Nats and then complain about every policy they bring in. Binding referendums could stop the asset sales, but then if we had binding referendums, our children would be the only people in society that could be legally subjected to physical pain as a means of control. All the problems that we have with our current political system will not be fixed with binding referendums, instead it will just become streamlined and more destructive.

                      I’d prefer to see civics classes in schools, heavy restrictions on election spending (so each party has the same amount of money to spend), no debates on TV, no putting up signs prior to elections…try to make it more policy-centric and stop this subconscious marketing.
                      Next time Labour are in they need to sort out broadcasting. Perhaps sell of all TVNZ shite and reduce it to two channels of advertising free TV. TV1 & TV 2 are not worth keeping at the moment. The tories won that battle, its full of shit and fosters stupidity, sell it and start again. Just don’t do that PPP rubbish again.

                    • TheContrarian

                      “I think its got to be education”
                      “I would say it is political education and involvement”

                      That’s all well and good – I think education is the most important thing – however John Key IS educated. And well educated.
                      The most influential thinkers of the neo-liberal movement have education that’d turn your lights out.

                      They are well versed in Marxism, Neo-Conservatism, Liberalism, Anarchism, Communism, Third Way, Christianity and Buddhism – just to name a few.
                      They choose their beliefs based upon their education and political involvement.

                      Differing opinions are innate in the personality.

                    • geoff

                      @fatty
                      …but then if we had binding referendums, our children would be the only people in society that could be legally subjected to physical pain as a means of control. All the problems that we have with our current political system will not be fixed with binding referendums, instead it will just become streamlined and more destructive.

                      Can yo explain what you mean by this a bit more?

                    • fatty

                      @ Geoff Can yo explain what you mean by this a bit more?
                      Sure, the part about the smacking law is the flip side of relying on referendums. Referendums would probably stop asset sales, but they would also be open to lobby groups perverting arguments to push through questionable policies.

                      This comment relates to where power sits and who oppresses us – All the problems that we have with our current political system will not be fixed with binding referendums, instead it will just become streamlined and more destructive.

                      I think using binding referendums will end up handing more power to those that oppress us. This is in contrast to the view put forward by AmaKiwi. I don’t mean to put words into AmaKiwi’s mouth, but I see AmaKiwi’s view stemming from the belief that politicians cannot be trusted and they control us. This is a Libertarian kind of view that sees Government as the problem.
                      I differ. I see those with money as the problem because it is them that steer the Government. If we take reduce the Government’s power, we are not addressing the source of our oppression. Corporations, businesses and lobbyists will be freed to create social movements that have the opportunity to create change far quicker.
                      I think that is the difference…do we see politicians as those with control and power, or do we see corporations, big businesses and those with money as our oppressors?
                      I am not defending our politicians, but I see them as puppets, not the puppet masters. If we limit the power of our puppets through referendums, then we are streamlining the puppet master’s power and influence.
                      Social movements can be created by corporations and become very powerful. The Tea Party Movement is the USA was seen by many as a grassroots movement, but it was a corporate driven movement for smaller Government.
                      Reducing Government through referendums means that our true oppressors can seduce us even easier.

                    • geoff

                      @ fatty
                      So you’re essentially saying that we would need to get rid of the Corporatocracy
                      before we could successfully use referendums?

                    • fatty

                      @geoff,

                      Yes. Once Corporatocracy is gone then referendums could be useful. However, it is not only corporations and the rich that would benefit from referendums. It is also lobby groups and think tanks that will abuse a binding referendum system.
                      How do you think family first would use binding referendums?
                      Also, Colin Craig’s Conservative Party pushes for binding referendums. If we introduced binding referendums, then we are handing more power to people like Colin Craig. Our referendums will not depend on the quality of the policy, instead it will depend on who can frame the issue by drawing on simplistic arguments that use terms like “freedom”, “Kiwi”, “family”, “values” etc.
                      The right wingers will destroy us when that kind of rhetoric is given more power.
                      How would policy aimed at beneficiaries get voted on by the public in a referendum? The victims of our economic system are hated on by the majority in our society.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      “I think its got to be education”
                      “I would say it is political education and involvement”

                      I think there’s more to it than that. I think that there’s habit to be taken into account as well. As long as we keep people from exercising governance then they won’t get into the habit of governance and thus we will get bad decisions from referendums but, IMO, that can be changed through education and practice.

                      They are well versed in Marxism, Neo-Conservatism, Liberalism, Anarchism, Communism, Third Way, Christianity and Buddhism – just to name a few.

                      Doubt it. All they really need to know is what’s best for them and then they go out and get it usually through lying.

                    • geoff

                      @ fatty
                      Sadly, I think I’m starting to agree with you.

                    • TheContrarian

                      Doubt away Draco – these people aren’t stupid and are well versed in many aspects of political science and economics.

                      It is possible for people to be educated and disagree with you.
                      You don’t own what is right…despite your arrogance.

                    • geoff

                      Draco has a point about practice. If a system isn’t given a chance then you’ll never know. It’s a bit like the argument about the Green party should know its place and not grow too fast because it wouldn’t be able to handle it. It’s the kind of argument you’d expect from those trying to protect the status quo.

                  • geoff

                    @ TheContrarian

                    John Key IS educated. And well educated.

                    Government website says John Key has a bachelor in commerce.
                    What else has he got that makes him so well educated?


                    The most influential thinkers of the neo-liberal movement have education that’d turn your lights out.

                    Really? Who are these wunderkinds?

                    They are well versed in Marxism, Neo-Conservatism, Liberalism, Anarchism, Communism, Third Way, Christianity and Buddhism – just to name a few.
                    They choose their beliefs based upon their education and political involvement.

                    They sound like amazing, how did they manage to throw their lot in with such a load of bunkum?

                  • geoff

                    I’m not being stupid, I don’t know who you’re talking about.
                    Do you mean the Walter Lippman Colloquium???

                    To me it sounded very much like you were glorifying neoliberalism (and John fucking Key!) by associating them with higher education. Higher education being, of course, a very Good Thing®

                    • TheContrarian

                      You’re certainly sounding stupid. just because people disagree and having different opinions to you doesn’t mean they are uneducated.

                      Lets start with Francis Fukuyama.

                    • geoff

                      Right, so you were just glorifying neoliberalism?

                    • TheContrarian

                      “Right, so you were just glorifying neoliberalism”

                      Please identify where I have glorified neoliberalism.

                    • geoff

                      Ok TC, I’ve probably just misinterpreted one of your comments.
                      Out of interest, are you an advocate of Neoliberalism?

                    • TheContrarian

                      “are you an advocate of Neoliberalism?”

                      No.

              • Ditto, Pascal.

                Proposition 18 in the US showed the downside to binding referenda.

                • TheContrarian

                  It wouldn’t take much for a strong-man politician to whip up a frenzy in the voting base, a knee-jerk public, in order to pass a binding referendum.

                  People, as a group, are panicky and prone to coercion.

                  You said 10% to force a referendum Frank but I would go 33%.

                  • Te Reo Putake

                    40% seems popular in some quarters.

                  • “It wouldn’t take much for a strong-man politician to whip up a frenzy in the voting base, a knee-jerk public, in order to pass a binding referendum. ”

                    Yup. It’s a distinct possibility, Contrarian. Worst case scenario; a gruesome murder and/or child abuse case leading to death one month out from a general election and *bingo!* a ready-made panic-driven issue for at least one populist politician that we’re all aware off. :-(

                    Gawd help us.

                    When it comes to binding referenda, do we really want scenarios where the rights of minorities are decided by the Majority? To me that’s not democracy – more like a Fair-ground distorted-mirror verson of democracy.

                    With Referenda, I’ve no problem with the current system; it’s indicative and if it passes, it gives our elected representatives a bit of guidance – but without tying their hands to something we might regret later… (For example : state asset sales. Key sez he has a mandate from the 2011 election. But if the Referenda gives a resounding ‘No’ to asset sales – whilst his hands are not tied, his moral position is no longer tenable. So he has to then explain his position to the public.)

                    Personally, my thoughts on these complex issues is a mix of teaching civics in schools; a good public TV broadcaster that shows intelligent current-affairs programmes that challenges our thinking; and a society that takes an interest in current affairs.

                    That’s much harder than binding referenda – but hopefully we’ll get better results?

        • AmaKiwi 16.1.3.2

          Pascal’s bookie

          Ah, the devil is in the detail. The Swiss have twice our population and require 25,000 signatures for a binding referendum.

          Got that? 25,000 signatures in a country of 8 million. Meanwhile with 4 million we screw around trying to 300,000 signatures for a non-binding referendum.

          • fatty 16.1.3.2.2

            AmaKiwi:

            I have only heard a little about the Swiss are their referendums, they sound good, but how well does that relate to here? I often hear similar noises about the social democratic ideals of Nordic countries, but that is just not possible for us with our colonial history.
            A system that works in a mono-cultured country could prove to be disastrous here.
            Many of the great democratic ways of doing things in Northen European countries have been successful, but they are not replaceable here, especially while we’re so politically uneducated.

            • AmaKiwi 16.1.3.2.2.1

              Switzerland is as multi-cultural as you get in modern Europe.

              They have 4 official languages: 64% German, 20% French, 7% Italian, 0.5% Romansh (similar to the ancient Latin used in the Roman Empire).

              Most cantons (states or provinces) have one of these as its official language. Several have two. Fribourg/Freiburg has both French and German as its official languages. (It even writes its name in both French and German!) In areas of the southeast there are also bilingual communes (townships). Some are bilingually Italian and Romansh. Some are Romansh and German). In such places all official business and sign posting will be in both languages . . . ALWAYS.

              Religiously, the Swiss are almost evenly split between Roman Catholic and Protestant, but religion does NOT correspond to language. Many of the French speakers were French Protestants driven out during the French revolution.

              Mob rule! In 600 years of Swiss history no canton has ever asked to leave.

              In 1847, they had what is jokingly called “the Swiss civil war.” It lasted 26 DAYS and resulted in fewer than 100 casualties.

              In those 600 years there were repeated devastating wars between Germany, France, and Italy. The Swiss NEVER participated. They always remained neutral. Politicians can drag us into wars, but given a referendum the citizens are not stupid enough to send their sons and husbands overseas to fight for someone else’s lunacy.

              • Fortran

                Local dialect used by locals is SwitzerDeutsch, and it is difficult for any outsider to understand.
                I worked for them many years ago.

              • fatty

                Switzerland is as multi-cultural as you get in modern Europe.

                True, but almost all countries are multicultural these days. When I said mono-cultured, I didn’t mean they are all white, all the same religion and all speak the same language.
                I mean that they subscribe to a mono-cultured political ideology…in comparison New Zealand is a bicultural country, and our biculturalism has been a tinderbox for years. It could go up in flames at any minute (eg 2005 election)…I think binding referendums would be a dangerous spark.

                Do you think biculturalism would continue under binding referendums?

                • geoff

                  Interesting that you think our biculturalism is a tinderbox. My perception is more the opposite, that there is increasing tolerance and respect. My perception could be wrong of course, first time for everything :-P

                  • fatty

                    In many ways biculturalism has, but I was surprised with the 2005 election. In 2003/04 I would never have predicted that we’d come so close to Don Brash’s one nation rhetoric. When the economy going nowhere, people look for others to blame and racism is an easy target.
                    The problem for Maori is that things can quickly escalate the way it has for beneficiaries since 2010. Maori could wake up one day and see all other oppressed groups pointing the finger at them.
                    Remember how repulsive and unvotable Don Brash is, he almost pulled it off. And, that was alongside Brash’s crazy economic policies that would have dragged us back into the 90s.

  17. fatty 17

    I sit in the middle on this 3 vs 4 year term argument and am ready to be convinced either way.
    I have read through the arguments and have to say they are pretty unconvincing on both sides. I really don’t know. I am leaning towards 4 years.
    The argument to keep it at 3 years appears to be limited to a Libertarian driven perspective which claims that MP’s are self-serving dickheads, so lets not give them more time than we need to
    Although I agree with that to a degree, I think having elections every 3 years exasperates a major problem with our democracy – policies are designed for short term gain and with the goal of making parties/MPs look good for the next election.

    Is it just me, or would a 4 year term help to curb the problem that 3 year terms create?

    …and what’s up with Scott’s post? His reference to North Korea is painful to read, even by his standards

  18. Lefty 18

    There appears to be quite a lot of support for binding referendums as a way of increasing democracy among posters here.

    Binding referendums might work to increase democracy if we had a functioning democracy where people were accustomed to participating in the decisions that effect their everyday life and did so after examining accurate information and carefully considering the issue in question from the point of view of themselves as an individual, others who might be affected, and society as a whole.

    That is not the situation at the moment and I suspect we would end up with the most repulsive type of tyranny of the majority if we used them any more frequently than we do.

    • fatty 18.1

      There appears to be quite a lot of support for binding referendums as a way of increasing democracy among posters here.

      I think its just Amakiwi

    • Pascal's bookie 18.2

      Another concern about binding refs is that, counter-intuitively, they reduce accountability.

      Everyone gets a say in the privacy of the ballot box, and I don’t see any proponents of the idea saying that how they vote should be public knowledge, made available on a searchable data base.

      And yet I suspect that people would be rightly aghast at the idea that mps’ parliamentary votes should be secret.

      ‘People go mad in crowds, and they come to their sense but slowly, and one at a time.’

      Don’t know who said that off hand, but they were a clever bastard. Representative democracy provides a check on that madness. You can hide in a crowd, but you shouldn’t be able to hide in a parliament.

      • geoff 18.2.1

        Representative democracy provides a check on that madness.
        Like Rogernomics? or Ruthanasia?

    • Te Reo Putake 18.3

      Nicely put, Lefty. I don’t want us to have the right to beat our children or the return of the gallows, but, if put to a binding referendum a lot of kiwis would be pretty keen to take us back to last century.

      • Draco T Bastard 18.3.1

        I don’t believe that they would. We certainly wouldn’t have the somewhat more civilised society we have today if the majority of people hadn’t supported the changes needed to bring it about.

        • Te Reo Putake 18.3.1.1

          True enough, but the risk remains. And we should expect Parliament to take the lead on some issues; it’s what we pay them for. The removal of S59 defences to child abuse was clearly legislated in advance of public opinion. If it went to a referendum in 2007, the result may not have been too flash for the young ‘uns.

          • AmaKiwi 18.3.1.1.1

            It would have been our job to sell it to the voters. That’s democracy. Convince people to vote with you.

            If the USA had referendums, all this b.s. about things like outlawing abortion and no gun control would be mute. The VAST majority of Americans approve of abortion AND want reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

            Americans aren’t stupid. They just have the best political system money can buy and a handful have tons of money to buy it. (The NRA was founded by the weapons manufacturers. Thank God we don’t make guns in NZ.)

    • AmaKiwi 18.4

      Lefty

      “Binding referendums might work to increase democracy if we had a functioning democracy where people were accustomed to participating in the decisions that effect their everyday life.”

      I often think the politically silent are the smart people and we on TS are the fools. They KNOW they have no say. We delude ourselves into thinking our words will make a difference to whatever gang of dictators run parliament this time around.

      If people can have an impact on government decisions, they will speak.

    • Tiresias 18.5

      Regretfully I agree with lefty. There is a strong moral obligation on Governments to protect minorities from the prejudice of majorities, and even to show some moral leadership at the cost of unpopularity. Governments can be good and bad at it as they are with everything else, but binding referendums would remove even that fig-leaf.

      I suspect a binding referendum as to whether smoking should be banned in public places would have been lost to smokers, the legalisation of prostitution would likely never have happened. What do you think the result would have been on a binding referendum as to whether Maori should be given/have returned to them ownership of the beaches and sea-bed?

      • AmaKiwi 18.5.1

        Tiresias

        Why do you have so little faith in your neighbors? Are your neighbors fools? When you disagree with them, are they open to reasoning? Can you not put forward persuasive arguments to win many of them over?

        That’s what referendums are about: dialogue with your neighbors.

        • fatty 18.5.1.1

          Why do you have so little faith in your neighbors? Are your neighbors fools?

          I have little faith in the political logic of my neighbours…when it comes to deciding how social & economic policies will affect us, my neighbours can be fooled, but I wouldn’t call them fools.
          Do you call all the people who voted for National in 2008 & 2011 fools?

          When you disagree with them, are they open to reasoning? Can you not put forward persuasive arguments to win many of them over?

          Sure, they are open to reasoning, but my arguments will not win many of them over in the face of a seductive leader and the power of advertising. Take the anti-smacking referendum as an example, I spoke to many people about that prior to the vote and almost all viewed it as a parental freedom issue, not a child welfare issue.
          I couldn’t put forward a persuasive argument in the face of misinformation that was designed to create fear.

          • TheContrarian 18.5.1.1.1

            The fool is the person who calls other persons foolish because they disagree with their ideology.

            It takes all types of people to make a world.When we assign labels to those who disagree with us it speaks volumes about ourselves.

        • AmaKiwi, my neighbors don’t need to be fools to not understand issues that don’t effect them, and that they don’t think effect anyone they know. Many people will bias their vote against any change in those circumstances, and that sort of bias is unacceptable when we’re talking about other people’s rights.

          While it’s great when we can win popular votes on rights, it should never be regarded as the only acceptable way to be granted them. The courts, parliament, and civil disobedience are all equally valid ways to claim rights that amount to decent and fair treatment in society, and shouldn’t be undermined by referendum. I wouldn’t want your rights to be gambled like that, and mine shouldn’t be either.

          • AmaKiwi 18.5.1.2.1

            Matthew, please see my recent posting above under 16.1….. regarding respect for other’s rights in Switzerland.

            “The courts, parliament, and civil disobedience are all equally valid ways to claim rights that amount to decent and fair treatment in society, and shouldn’t be undermined by referendum. I wouldn’t want your rights to be gambled like that, and mine shouldn’t be either.”

            Well they have been doing a shit job of it!

            Name one country with referendums that ever became a totalitarian dictatorship.

      • Draco T Bastard 18.5.2

        I suspect a binding referendum as to whether smoking should be banned in public places would have been lost to smokers, the legalisation of prostitution would likely never have happened. What do you think the result would have been on a binding referendum as to whether Maori should be given/have returned to them ownership of the beaches and sea-bed?

        Want to know why I’m not concerned about that? Because, over time, people will become aware of the injustices that exist and further referendums will correct for them.

        In fact, one of the problems I see with top down governance is that people fail to learn the lessons that they need to because they can say that it wasn’t their fault, that it was the government that did it.

        • geoff 18.5.2.1

          Yes and also the endless left/right ping pong of successive Labour/National governments all while the centre drifts to the right.

        • AmaKiwi 18.5.2.2

          @ Draco

          Some years ago the good citizens of Zurich, Switzerland, voted to try an experiment. They would allow hard drugs in a small park near the main railway station. Very enlightened of them. Addiction is an illness, not a crime.

          Guess what? Almost from Day One “needle park” was a disaster area. Druggies poured in from all over Europe. Crimes, overdoses, you name it.

          The enlightened citizens promptly did a U-turn (via referendum). How long would it have taken city council politicians to admit they had made a mistake? How about all those city payrolled addiction experts lobbying to keep their jobs . . . “The social experiment needs more time.”

          Nope. Collect signatures. Vote. Needle park was here and gone in a matter of months.

  19. millsy 19

    4 year term?

    Not without some major devolution of political power.

    And where will this leave the local bodies, community trusts, consumer trusts and school boards? They will have to have a 4 year term so they can be in synch with the electoral cycle…

  20. This is conflation of proposals at its worst.

    Give us a clean vote on a fixed term.

    THEN give us a clean vote on a four year term.

    I can tell you which of those would win a referendum, and which parties would feel comfortable passing.

  21. Murray Olsen 21

    A four year term could work if the voters had a mechanism to recall underperforming MPs, or those who blatantly broke their campaign promises. Even a three year term would work better whit such a mechanism. Democracy has to be more than “We’ll let this party do what it likes for three/four years” and then elect a different one to do the same thing.

  22. Some issues to consider about more frequent use of binding referenda,

    1. Funding. As a public debatre ensues regarding a referendum-topic, would there be controls of how much funding each side (Pro and Anti) could use to promote their positions? How would funding controls relate to things like blogs, letters to editor, newspaper op-eds, etc?

    Or would it be open slather and if an referendum impinged on commercial issues, would the party with most bucks get biggest publicity bang? (I understandf there are laws already in place, but I suspect that legislation would be stretched to maximum degree as vested interests saw the power of referensa.)

    2. Are we, as activists prepared to campaign – on a regular basis – on referenda that carry heavily political implications and devote more time than we already do? In effect, it would be like campaigning on an annual (or more frequent) basis such as we do for election campaigns?

    I’m thinking that burn-out would take a heavy toll after a while?

    3. Is it fair for the Majority to vote on rights for Minorities? How do we protect the interests of minorities?

    Or do we just accept the Will of the Majority to give/remove rights according to each referendum?

    And what if the voter turn-out is small (bad weather, disinterest, voter burn-out, etc), but a majority of that small number still vote to deny a Minority certain rights?

    4. Does having binding referenda improve the public’s knowledge of political, social, environmental, economic, issues? Or is it a lazy way out when all that’s required is a tick in a “Yes” or “No” box?

    5. How long does a binding referenda bind us? Until the next referenda?

    6. What would be the effect of binding referenda on emotion-laden and often prejudice-driven issues such as social welfare? Could we live with a result, say, that limited welfare to recipients for only one year (as the Right would love to have)? See Point #3 above.

    In times of extreme economic/social stress – such as the current GFC and Recession – how do we protect the rights of victims of recessionary fallout from calls to limit welfare assistance?

    7. If the majority voted to do away with the Treaty of Waitangi – where does that leave Maori? Race relations? Treaty claims?

    8. What is the likelihood that politicians could (would) use binding referenda to drive through certain agenda that otherwise they might be reluctant to do personally. But if worded in a certain way, and with sufficient propaganda/media spin, could be left to the public to vote in a particular way?

    9. How are complex issues resolved with a simple “Yay” or “Nay” vote. (Eg; Norm Withers referendum question. See below.)

    10. How do we choose the wording of a referendum question that prevents emotion-laden terms being used that panders to prejudice and base-emotions?

    These are just a few of the practical things we need to consider when going down the binding referenda road.

    In case anyone thinks I’m being alarmist, it might be worthwhile to note the following;

    * Proposition 8 in California allowed a majority of voters to deny a minority the same right (to marriage) that the Minority already enjoyed.

    Challenges to the constitutionality of Propopsition 8 have been made to the California Supreme Court. The case has gone to the US Supreme Court.

    It should be noted that we have no formal written Constitution to protect the rights of minorities.

    And if we have to challenge unjust Referendum results that attack the rights of minorities – who pays for the lawyers?

    * In Switzerland, those with the Right to Vote (men) denied others the universal right to vote (women) until 1971. By all accounts, it was a hard slog. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_Switzerland

    * Norm Withers referendum question contained many facets, all rolled into one statement,

    That should there be an urgent reform of our Justice system to introduce restorative justice which seeks to place greater emphasis on the needs of victims and includes hard labour for all serious violent offences?

    So did one vote for restorative justice? Or for “hard labour for all serious violent offences”? If one voted against “hard labour for all serious violent offences” – was one also voting against restorative justice and “the needs of victims”?

    Just a few things to ponder…

    • AmaKiwi 22.1

      @ Frank Macskasy

      My question to you: “How do YOU propose to end our parliamentary dictatorship?”

      I see only two options (but welcome more):

      1. Constitutionally protected local government bodies whose powers cannot be infringed upon by parliament.
      2. Referendums
      3. I am open to other suggestions.

      There are books about referendums which will answer your questions, assuming they are really questions.

      I have just posted a comment at 16.1. . . about the rights of minorities in Switzerland. Their history says you concerns are unfounded.

  23. AmaKiwi 23

    P.S. We are not “going down the binding referendum road” until this country is in such terrible shape the public demands systemic changes. That will likely come with Global Financial Crisis Stage 2. There will be demands for “strong leadership,” i.e., an invitation to a Kiwi Hitler. I want us to plan for democratic alternatives.

    • fatty 23.1

      I agree that our economic crisis can create an environment where a persuasive leader can create a moral panic and the bring in crazy policies…but how do binding referendums help prevent this?
      Don’t binding referendums just make it easier for people with resources and charm to push through policies? As in Colin Craig?

  24. AmaKiwi 24

    @ fatty

    Most elected leaders are persuasive. It is the laws they pass that worry me.

    – Create a super police data bank (Homeland Security). Have a referendum to vote it down.
    – Give police unlimited powers to spy, search, detain, etc. Have a referendum to vote it down.
    – Send 1,000 NZ military personal to join the Yanks in another ghastly Middle East war. Vote it down.
    – Employment laws . . . assuming it is possible for them to get worse than they already are.
    – Obliterate local government . . . too late. Already been done.

    It is said that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao never violated their own country’s laws. They re-wrote the laws to make anything they did legal.

    John Key is probably a darling person. But some of the laws he has passed are horrendous. I would like the public to have the option of vetoing some of those laws.

    Binding referendums won’t guarantee a government won’t pass stupid, unjust laws. But referendums sure as hell improve the odds we can stop them. At present the population is powerless. That is immoral.

    • fatty 24.1

      Binding referendums won’t guarantee a government won’t pass stupid, unjust laws. But referendums sure as hell improve the odds we can stop them. At present the population is powerless. That is immoral.

      No, we vote for these policies every 3 years. We choose these idiots. The shit policies that Labour and National have brought has been fairly predictable to all of us. We voted Labour back in after we knew they were killing people for oil. We voted National back in after they told us they were gonna have a garage sale.
      Kiwi’s vote without truly understanding the effects every 3 years. You want us to do it regularly.
      Sorry, you have given me no reason to believe why referendums will help. Instead of having a persuasive prick deceive us every 3 years, we’ll just do it on a more regular basis.
      Why do you think people will start voting with more logic?
      Referendums in NZ right now will be handing over power and control to RWNJ’s.

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    Labour | 19-10
  • Labour names Review Team
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review.  He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban (see further biographical details here). The Review Team...
    Labour | 19-10
  • Labour backs urban development plans
    Auckland Council’s plan to set up an urban development agency is to be applauded and central government should get behind it to make it a success, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Auckland Council CEO Stephen Town has indicated plans...
    Labour | 18-10
  • New Zealand can be rightly proud of seat on Security Council
    Gaining a seat on the United Nation’s Security Council shows the sort of standing that New Zealand has in the world and the quality of the long campaign that we ran over nearly a decade, says Foreign Affairs spokesperson David...
    Labour | 16-10
  • NZ has opportunity on UN Security Council
    New Zealand has an opportunity to make a major contribution to the strengthening of international law and institutional capacity through its upcoming two-year tenure on the United Nations Security Council, Green Party spokesperson on global affairs, Dr Kennedy Graham said...
    Greens | 16-10
  • MPI still dragging the chain over causes of food bug
    The Ministry of Primary Industries’ release of Environmental Science and Research’s initial reports regarding the sources of a nasty stomach bug will be little comfort to the 127 people affected by it, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “This...
    Labour | 16-10
  • Treasury officials should try working without food
    The Green Party is challenging Treasury officials to work for a week without eating properly, in light of their advice to Government that a food in schools programme is not needed."Treasury's advice was that providing food for children in schools...
    Greens | 15-10
  • Councils need to better protect our drinking water
    Environment Canterbury (ECan) is proposing several variations to its regional land and water plan that will allow for increased nutrient and other pollution from irrigation and intensive agriculture on the Canterbury Plains. Commissioners are hearing submissions on Variation 1 to...
    Greens | 15-10
  • National needs to commit to making NZ workers safe
    The National Government must do more to help make New Zealand workplaces a safer place to work in, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said today.Data released by Statistics New Zealand today showed that workers in the fishing and...
    Greens | 15-10
  • Key commits to deployment before consultation or analysis
    John Key’s offer to consult Opposition parties on whether to deploy New Zealand forces against ISIS looks increasingly like a PR exercise only, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff. “The presence of New Zealand’s Chief of Defence Force at a...
    Labour | 15-10
  • National must end ideological opposition to raising income
    If John Key is serious about tackling child poverty he must approach it with an open mind, and overcome his ideological block to raising incomes as a solution, the Green Party said today.Papers released to Radio New Zealand today show...
    Greens | 14-10
  • Pentagon links climate change and terrorism
    Yesterday the Pentagon launched a plan to deal with a threat that “poses immediate risks to national security”; one that “will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the nation”. It wasn’t referring to Ebola or ISIS. It was...
    Greens | 14-10
  • Four Nominees for Labour’s Leadership
    As at 5pm today four valid nominations had been received for the position of Labour Leader, as follows: Andrew Little(nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway) Nanaia Mahuta(nominated by Louisa Wall and Su’a William Sio) David Parker(nominated by Damien O’Connor...
    Labour | 14-10
  • Green Party calls for consultation over terrorism law changes
    The Green Party has today written to the Prime Minister asking him to engage in wider consultation prior to changing any laws as a result of the recently announced terrorism law reviews, said the Green Party today. In a letter...
    Greens | 14-10
  • MPI must name product and supermarket chain
    The Ministry of Primary Industries must name the product responsible for severe gastroenteritis affecting people around the country, and the supermarket chain distributing it, Labour’s Food Safety spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The Ministry seems to be more concerned about protecting...
    Labour | 13-10
  • John Key dishonest about reasons for wanting to change terrorism law
    John Key is misleading the public to push through terrorism law changes under urgency, the Green Party said today. On Sunday, John Key stated that it is not illegal for someone to fight overseas for a terrorist group, such as...
    Greens | 12-10
  • Law changes shaping up to be worse than first thought
    The Prime Minister needs to be up front about exactly what changes he is planning to make to the Employment Relations  Amendment Bill, Labour's spokesperson on Labour Issues Andrew Little says.Interviewed on Q&A yesterday John Key said he did not...
    Labour | 12-10
  • Rapists, not Tinder, the threat to women
    Blame for rape and sexual assault should only ever be laid at the door of the perpetrator, not dating services or the actions of women themselves, Labour’s Associate Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. “Tinder is not the problem and women...
    Labour | 09-10
  • Safer Journeys For People Who Cycle
    You have a rare opportunity to tell the people who are making the decisions on cycling how to make it better. The Cycling Safety Panel is seeking feedback on their draft recommendations for improving the safety of cycling in New...
    Greens | 08-10
  • Subsidising more pollution will undermine water clean-up plan at Te Waihora...
    In 2010, NIWA found Canterbury’s Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere had the worst nutrient status of 140 lakes around New Zealand that it measured. In 2011, the National Government committed to spending $15 million across the country through the Fresh Start for...
    Greens | 08-10
  • Adding value not herbicides
    The HT swedes, and other brassicas, might seem like a good idea to farmers struggling against weeds but like the GE road, is this the path we want our agriculture to be treading? The Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston...
    Greens | 07-10
  • ‘Blame the Planner’ bizarre approach to child poverty
    The National Government is stooping to a bizarre new low in blaming "planning processes" for poverty and inequality, after spending six years doing nothing about either the housing market or child poverty, the Green Party said today. Finance Minister Bill...
    Greens | 07-10
  • Media Advisory
    MANA Leader, Hone Harawira will not be available to speak with media today regarding his release “Recount Just One Step To restoring Credibility”. He is however available for media comment tomorrow, Tuesday the 8th of October, all media arrangements are...
    Mana | 07-10
  • RECOUNT JUST ONE STEP TO RESTORING CREDIBILITY
    “I have applied for a judicial recount of the votes in the Tai Tokerau election because it is one step in trying to restore credibility to the electoral process in the north, and, I suspect, in all other Maori electorates...
    Mana | 07-10
  • MANA SEEKS TAI TOKERAU RECOUNT
    The MANA Movement is supporting Leader Hone Harawira’s application for a judicial re-count in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate for the 2014 general election. President Lisa McNab says there are a number of serious issues of concern regarding the ability...
    Mana | 07-10
  • MANA to fight mass privatisation of state housing
    Announcements over the past 12 hours from the Minister responsible for Housing New Zealand, Bill English, and Minister for Social Housing, Paula Bennett, make clear the government’s intention for the mass privatisation of state housing. This comes during the middle...
    Mana | 07-10
  • Journalists have right to protect sources
    Legal authorities must respect the right of journalist Nicky Hager to protect the source of his material for his Dirty Politics book under Section 68 of the Evidence Act, Acting Labour Leader David Parker says. “It is crucial in an...
    Labour | 06-10
  • It shouldn’t take the Army to house the homeless
    National’s move to speed up its state house sell-off shows it is bankrupt of new ideas, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “National has been in office for six years, yet the housing crisis has got worse every month and...
    Labour | 06-10
  • Government must lift social housing supply, not shuffle the deck chairs
    National's decision to shift the state provision of housing to third parties is a smokescreen for the Government decreasing the provision of affordable housing, the Green Party said today."What National should be doing is increasing the supply of both social...
    Greens | 06-10
  • Election 2014 – the final count
    While we have to wait for the final booth level counts we can now see how well we did in the specials and look at electorate level data. First off special votes (and disallowed/recounted votes etc). There was a change...
    Greens | 06-10
  • We need more houses, not Ministers
    The Government’s decision to have three housing Ministers will create a dog’s breakfast of the portfolio and doesn’t bode well for fixing the country’s housing crisis, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “New Zealanders need more houses, not more Ministers....
    Labour | 05-10
  • Review: Perfect Place
    I went to a Perfect Place on Tuesday night, and what a delight it was. The marshmallows sweetly (and forcefully) handed out pre-show, set the tone for the next hour. Walking up the stairs at The Basement was a complete...
    The Daily Blog | 23-10
  • 5AA Australia – NZ on UN Security Council + Dirty Politics Lingers On
    5AA Australia: Selwyn Manning and Peter Godfrey deliver their weekly bulletin Across The Ditch. General round up of over night talkback issues: Thongs, Jandals and flip-flops… ISSUE 1: New Zealand has been successful in its campaign to become a non...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • When I mean me, I mean my office & when I call whaleoil I mean not as m...
    This. Is. Ludicrous. Green Party co-leader Russel Norman put the first of what are likely to be many questions about Mr Key’s relationship with Slater, asking him how many times he had phoned or texted the blogger since 2008. “None...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • A brief word on describing the Government as ‘boring and bland’
    The narrative being sown is that this Government will be a boring and bland third term. Boring and bland. Since the election, Key has announced he is privatising 30% of state houses without reinvesting any of that money back into housing society’s most...
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • More Latté Than Lager: Reflections on Grant Robertson’s Campaign Launch.
    BIKERS? SERIOUSLY! Had Grant Robertson’s campaign launch been organised by Phil Goff? Was this a pitch for the votes of what few Waitakere Men remain in the Labour Party? Was I even at the right place? Well, yes, I was....
    The Daily Blog | 22-10
  • About Curwen Ares Rolinson
    Curwen Ares Rolinson – Curwen Ares Rolinson is a firebrand young nationalist presently engaged in acts of political resistance deep behind enemy lines amidst the leafy boughs of Epsom. He is affiliated with the New Zealand First Party; although his...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • About Kelly Ellis
    Kelly Ellis.Kelly Ellis – As a child, Kelly Ellis didn’t so much fall into the cracks, but willfully wriggled her way into them. Ejected from Onslow College – a big job in the 70s – Kelly worked in car factories,...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • About Kate Davis
    Kate Davis.Kate Davis – Having completed her BA in English and Politics, Kate is now starting her MA. Kate works as a volunteer advocate at Auckland Action Against Poverty and previously worked for the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Kate writes...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Parker does a Shearer – oh for a Labour Leader who can challenge msm fals...
    Sigh. It seems David Parker has done a Shearer… Like a cult and too red – Parker on LabourLabour leadership contender David Parker says Labour borders on feeling like “a cult” and must look at its branding – including its...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • A brief word on the hundreds of millions NZ is spending on the secret intel...
    The enormity of the mass surveillance state NZ Government’s have built carries a huge price tag… Kiwis pay $103m ‘membership fee’ for spyingThe $103 million taxpayer funding of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies is effectively a membership fee for joining the...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Where. Is. Jason. Ede?
    Where. Is. Jason. Ede?...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Labour’s Din of Inequity
    Watching Labour’s leadership candidates on Q+A on Sunday, I noticed the ongoing use of terms like “opportunity” and “aspiration”, and “party of the workers”. What do these mean? We glean much from Labour, and from the media about Labour, but not...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • “Blue-Greenwash” fails the test when it comes to endangered dolphins
    National’s pre-election promises saw some wins for the environment – perhaps as the party sought to appease its “Blue-Green” voters and broaden its popular appeal. Some of the ecological gains were a long time in the making, overdue even– such...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • Reasons not to be cheerful, Part #272b
    Why don’t you get back into bed? The next few years — the rest of this century — are not going to be pretty. There is an obvious disconnect between any remaining political ambition to fix climate change and the...
    The Daily Blog | 21-10
  • OIA protocols and official advice ignored to hide Child Poverty
    It might not seem so now, but child poverty was a major election issue. What a pity we did not have the full debate. In that debate it would have been very helpful to have seen the Ministry of Social...
    The Daily Blog | 20-10
  • Previewing the 4 candidates for Leader of the Labour Party
    The extraordinary outbursts by Shearer last week highlights just how toxic that Caucus is. Shearer was on every major media platform as the ABC attack dog tearing into Cunliffe in the hope of diminishing Cunliffe’s support of Little by tearing...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – the sudden explosion of ‘left’ blogs
    Time to Teach or more people will suffer from P.A.I.D. Political And Intellectual Dysmorphia.I was on the Twitter and a guy followed me so of course I did the polite thing and followed him back. He wrote a blog so...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Ego vs Eco
    Ego vs Eco...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • We can’t let the Roastbuster case slip away
    Those of us (like me) left with hope that the police would aggressively follow through on the large amount of evidence on offer to them (let’s not forget they forgot they even had some at one point) in the Roastbusters...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Food, shelter and medicine instead of bombs and bullets
    The on-going conflict across the Middle East – due in large part to the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq – has created another humanitarian crisis of biblical proportion. The essentials of life are desperately needed in Iraq and Syria...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • The politics of electorate accommodations
    National’s electorate accommodations with ACT and United Future were a big factor in it winning re-election. Interestingly, there is another electorate accommodation scenario whereby the centre-left could have come out on top, even with the same distribution of party votes....
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Why you should join the TPPA Action on 8 November
    On 8 November 2014, thousands of Kiwis will take part in the International Day of Action to protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The rally cry for us is TPPA – Corporate Trap, Kiwis Fight Back. Why should you join...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • GUEST BLOG – Patrick O’Dea: no new coal mines
    Green Party and Mana Party policy is “NO NEW COAL MINES!” Auckland Coal Action is trying to put this policy into action on the ground. ACA after a hard fought two year campaign waged alongside local residents and Iwi, in...
    The Daily Blog | 19-10
  • Comparing Police action – Hager raid vs Roast Buster case
    This satire had the NZ Police contact TDB and threaten us with 6months in prison for using their logo.   The plight of Nicky Hager and the draconian Police actions against him has generated over  $53 000 in donations so...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • Malala Yousafzai, White Saviour Complexes and Local Resistance
    Last week, Malala Yousafzai was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Since her exposure to the worldwide spotlight, her spirit, wisdom and strength have touched the hearts of people everywhere. However, there have been cynics who have argued that...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • Jason Ede is back – but no media can interview him?
    Well, well, well. Jason Ede, the main figure connected to John Key’s office and the Dirty Politics black ops is back with a company with deep ties to the National Party. One thing you can say about the right –...
    The Daily Blog | 18-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Leadership Transitions In Other Parties: A ...
    As cannot have escaped anyone’s attention by now, the country is presently in the grips of an election and campaign that will help determine the fate of the nation for years to come. It’s gripping stuff – with clear divides...
    The Daily Blog | 17-10
  • SkyCity worker says she faces losing her house
    SkyCity worker Carolyn Alpine told the company annual shareholder’s meeting today that she faced the prospect of losing her house because the company had cut her shifts from two a week to one without consultation. The solo mother, has worked...
    The Daily Blog | 17-10
  • Greg O’Connor’s latest push to arm cops & 5 reasons not to
    I was wondering at what point within a 3rd term of National that Police Cheerleader Greg O’Connor would start trying to demand cops be armed. O’Connor must have thought to himself, ‘if bloody Key can get us and the GCSB vast new...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • You can’t have crisis without ISIS
    So the new scary bogeyman ISIS might have chemical weapons that the US secretly found in Iraq, but America didn’t want to expose this find because the WMDs were actually built and made by the US and Europe, the two powers...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • NZ WINS UN SPIN THE BOTTLE! Privately sucking up to America for a decade me...
    Oh, we are loved! Little old NZ, the 53rd state of America after Israel and Australia, gets to sit at the adults table for the special dinner party that is the UN Security Council. How delightful, a decade of privately...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • MEDIA BLOG – Myles Thomas – A World Without Advertising
    Non-commercial broadcasting and media. It’s a solution for all manner of problems ailing our tender nation… voter engagement, unaccountable governance, apathy, stupefaction, public education, science in schools, arts appreciation, cultural cringe… But no-one could’ve guessed that non-commercial media might solve...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • March against war – 2pm Saturday 25th October
    March against war – 2pm Saturday 25th October...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • Whack a mole as US govt foreign policy
    Whack-A-Mole was a popular arcade game from my youth.  It consisted of a waist high cabinet with holes in the top. Plastic moles seemingly randomly pop out of these holes. The purpose of the game was to hit as many...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • In Paean of Debt
    This week is ‘Money Week’. It’s an opportunity to promote to the middle classes, and anyone else who will listen, the virtues of wise ‘investment’. The aims are to promote the mystical (and indeed mythical) virtues of saving for the...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • The last 48 hours – Poverty denial, war denial and unapologetic abuse of ...
    The bewildering speed of events that simply end in Key shrugging and proclaiming he doesn’t really give a shit is coming think and fast as the Government suddenly appreciate the full spectrum dominance they now enjoy. Here is Radio NZ...
    The Daily Blog | 16-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Mana 2.0 Rebooted
    Internationally the news is that Evo Morales of Bolivia won big with Left Wing policies But what are the chances that the Left will make a resurgence in this country? As the internecine struggles between the Left and the Right...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • The Blomfield IPCA letter – Has Dirty Politics leaked into the NZ Police ...
    It’s difficult to know what to make of the IPCA letter to Matthew Blomfield over Slater’s continued insistence that the hard drive taken from Matthew wasn’t stolen.  Slater has selectively cherry picked the Police referring back to his claim that Blomfeild perjured...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • ​Media release: Rail and Maritime Transport Union – Auckland move for K...
    The Rail and Maritime Transport Union is questioning a KiwiRail proposal to progressively relocate its Zero Harm personnel from Wellington to Auckland. “The purpose of the Zero Harm team is to drive KiwiRail’s performance in health and safety.  Rail is a...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • Amnesty International – Friend request from an IS militant
    There’s always that one person, that one Facebook friend, usually a musician or event promoter, who, when you so foolishly accept their friend request, will completely inundate your news feed with copious event invitations and promotions. The person who, despite...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • NZ should follow the UK and recognize the Palestinian state
    Over the past two weeks, the United Kingdom and Sweden have made headlines through their decisions to recognize the state of Palestine. They are hardly the first nations to do so. Indeed, 134 countries have, in various ways, given formal...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • The Discordant Chimes of Freedom: Why Labour has yet to be forgiven.
    WHY DOES THE ELECTORATE routinely punish Labour and the Greens for their alleged “political correctness” but not National? It just doesn’t seem fair. Consider, for example, the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007 – the so-called “anti-smacking legislation” –...
    The Daily Blog | 15-10
  • Hosking or Henry – Which right wing crypto fascist clown do you want to w...
    So Mediaworks are finally going to make some actual money from their eye watering contract with Paul Henry by launching a new multi-platform Breakfast show over TV, Radio and internet. This is great news for Campbell Live who have dodged...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Families need more money to reduce child poverty
    Prime Minister John Key is mistaken to rule out extending the In Work Tax Credit to all poor children (The Nation 11th Oct) and Child Poverty Action Group challenges government advisors to come up with a more cost effective way...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Kelly Ellis – Don’t shit on my dream
    Once were dreamers. A large man, walks down the road and, even from 200 yards there’s light showing between his big arms and bigger body. It’s as if he’s put tennis balls under his arms. Two parking wardens walk out...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Labour and ‘special interests’
    The media narrative of Labour is that it is unpopular because it’s controlled by ‘special interests’. This ‘special interests’ garbage is code for gays, Maoris, wimin and unionists. We should show that argument the contempt it deserves. The next Labour...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Ru...
    . . Continued from: Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi) . National’s housing development project: ‘Gateway’ to confusion . Perhaps nothing better illustrates National’s lack of a coherent housing programme than the ‘circus’ that is...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • Here’s what WINZ are patronisingly saying to people on welfare when they ...
    Yesterday, a case manager from WINZ called to tell me that I needed to “imagine what I would do if I did not have welfare”. I replied “Well, I guess if I couldn’t live at home, I would be homeless.”...
    The Daily Blog | 14-10
  • David Shearer’s ‘no feminist chicks’ mentality highlights all that is...
    Mr Nasty pays a visit Shearer’s extraordinary outburst last night on NZs favourite redneck TV, The Paul Henry Show, is a reminder of all that is wrong within the Labour Caucus right now… He said the current calls for a female or...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • Greenpeace 1 – Shell 0
    Greenpeace 1 – Shell 0...
    The Daily Blog | 13-10
  • Unanimously Call for Commissioner to Arm Police Full Time
    In the wake of a series of recent armed offender incidents, delegates to the Police Association Annual Conference today called unanimously on the Commissioner to arm Police full time....
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Bank gets behind NZ wildlife icon with sizable donation
    It will be easier than ever this summer for holiday-markers to dip into their pockets to support the yellow-eyed penguin....
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • WorkSafe report raises concerns about asbestos
    The union representing construction workers in the Canterbury rebuild is surprised at WorkSafe’s conclusion that no action needs to be taken against EQC and Fletcher EQR over asbestos exposure in Canterbury homes. “This report was an opportunity...
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Union accuses SkyCity CEO of misleading public
    Unite Union has accused SkyCity CEO Nigel Morrison of misleading the public over the cut in hours for a staff member who raised the issue at the company's AGM....
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Last Hurrah on the Taxpayer
    Responding to the NZ Herald report that Hone Harawira spent up $54,000 on the taxpayer in his last three months as an MP, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “It is absolutely disgraceful that an MP managed to rack...
    Scoop politics | 23-10
  • Press statement in relation to search of Nicky Hager’s home
    On 2 October 2014, Nicky Hager's home in Wellington was searched by police. Mr Hager asserted that documents kept at his house were protected by privilege, including because they contained information that might identify confidential sources....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • The Sam Simon arrives into Auckland for new campaign
    This morning Sea Shepherd ship, the Sam Simon, arrived into Auckland harbour after its journey from Melbourne. The ship and its 25 crew from around the globe have come to New Zealand to source supplies and prepare for the upcoming...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Low inflation – time for meaningful wage increases
    With inflation low, now is a good time for workers to negotiate for pay increases that outstrip price rises and deliver real increases in wages and salaries. “For too many people, real pay increases have been missing for several years...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Auckland Rates Rises Out of Control
    Responding to the NZ Herald report that Auckland ratepayers will face an average of a 29 percent rates increase, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says: “These rate rises show that Len Brown's spending is out of control.”...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Protest at New Plymouth Oil and Gas Expo
    About 30 protesters from Climate Justice Taranaki, Frack-free Kapiti, Te Uru Pounamu Action Group, Oil Free Wellington, Frack-free Manawatu and the east coast protested yesterday outside New Plymouth's biennial Oil and Gas Expo at the TSB Stadium....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • FMA warns consumers about cold-calling investment offers
    The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) is warning New Zealand consumers and investors to be wary of cold-calls asking them to buy shares or put their money into offshore firms....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Comprehensive plan needed to end child poverty
    Child Poverty Action Group says it is vital the newly re-elected National government takes a planned and comprehensive approach to reducing child poverty in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Metiria Gets Feed the Kids
    Yesterday the Speaker of the House advised that he had accepted my request to transfer my Feed the Kids (Education (Breakfast and Lunch Programmes in Schools) Amendment) Bill to Metiria Turei of the Green Party....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • DIA undercover investigation leads to jailing
    An undercover Internal Affairs investigation has led to a Hastings man being jailed for three and half years....
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Call on Minister McCully to pursue the case of Balibo Five
    Media Information: Call on Minister McCully to pursue the case of journalist Gary Cunningham and the Balibo Five...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Australia and NZ actions on press freedoms alarming
    Global support for investigative journalism in Australia and New Zealand is a welcome response to law changes and a police raid, says the Pacific Freedom Forum...
    Scoop politics | 22-10
  • Call for release of French journalists in West Papua
    West Papua Action Auckland, the EPMU Print and Media Council and the NZ Media Freedom Network call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to speak out in support of the two French TV journalists whose trial has just begun in...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Court of Appeal: Dotcom v 20th Century Fox Film Corporation
    A The appeal is dismissed. B The 20 August 2014 order of the High Court dealing with confidentiality and the 29 August 2014 order of this Court dealing with confidentiality are set aside. C The confidentiality orders set out in...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Glassons Blasted For Glamourising Animal Cruelty
    Clothing brand Glassons have found themselves embroiled in another controversy after launching a new advert featuring a girl riding a bull. Animal advocacy organisation SAFE have asked them to remove the ad immediately as it glamourises animal cruelty....
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Smuggling honey into New Zealand isn’t sweet
    Smuggling honey into New Zealand isn’t sweet Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group applauds the tough line taken by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Border Staff at Auckland Airport. In deporting the couple found trying to smuggle bee products...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Taxpayers’ Union Responds to Joyce on Corporate Welfare
    Responding to Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce’s defence of corporate welfare , Jim Rose, the author of Monopoly Money , a Taxpayers Union report on corporate welfare since 2008, says:...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Speech from the Throne brings welcome focus on children
    Today’s speech from the Throne confirms the Government’s focus on children, youth and their families in the areas of health, education, youth employment, poverty alleviation and Whānau Ora; now the challenge is to ensure every child in New Zealand...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • John’s Job Fairs no fix for unemployment and poverty
    “John Key has clearly been looking to the US for his latest bright idea on dealing with employment issues,” says Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Sue Bradford. “Job fairs where the desperately unemployed queue in their corporate best to compete...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Speech From the Throne Foreshadows More Corporate Welfare
    Responding to the Governor General’s Speech from the Throne, which outlined that the Government’s intentions for the next Parliamentary term would include further Business Growth Agenda initiatives, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan...
    Scoop politics | 21-10
  • Green MP to speak at panel on Rainbow Mental Health
    Hamilton, New Zealand: Recently re-elected Green Party MP Jan Logie will be a guest speaker at a panel on the mental health of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trangender, Takataapui and Intersex people taking place on November 1st as part of the...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Evidence Supports GE Moratorium
    Federated Farmers spokesman Graham Smith's call for a 'rethink' on release of GeneticallyEngineered organisms is misguided, and instead it is time for a formal moratorium on GMOs in the environment.(1)...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Chatham Rise mining could have impact on whales and dolphins
    Wellington, 21 October 2014--Mining phosphate on the Chatham Rise, off the east coast of New Zealand’s south island, could potentially have many impacts on marine mammals like whales and dolphins, the Environmental Protection Agency was told today....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Council endorses Nanaia Mahuta as the next Labour leader
    Te Kaunihera Māori, the Māori Council of the New Zealand Labour Party, have passed a resolution to endorse the Hon Nanaia Mahuta as the next leader of the Labour Party...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Kaumatua to organise petition to end Maori seats
    Ngapuhi kaumatua David Rankin has announced that he will be organising a nationwide petition to seek support from Maori voters to end the Maori seats. “These seats are patronising”, he says. “They imply we need a special status, and that...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Announcing a New Voice for The Left
    Josh Forman is pleased to announce the creation of a new force on the Left of politics in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Public services held back by poor workplace culture
    A new report by Victoria University’s Centre for Labour, Employment and Work shows that public servants are working significant unpaid overtime to ensure the public services New Zealanders value are able to continue....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • iPredict New Zealand Weekly Economic & Political Update
    Andrew Little’s probability of being the next leader of the Labour Party has reached 70% and Jacinda Ardern is favourite to become his deputy, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Prison Drug Treatment Unit marks a milestone
    Christchurch Men’s Prison’s Drug Treatment Unit (DTU) celebrated the completion of its 50th six month Drug and Alcohol Programme today, with the graduation of a further twelve offenders....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Security Council seat a chance for NZ to empower women
    The UN Women National Committee Aotearoa New Zealand (UN Women NCANZ) welcomes New Zealand winning a seat on the United Nations Security Council and is calling on New Zealand to use its position to proactively promote effective implementation of the...
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Waipareira and ACC sign Partnership
    Waipareira and The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Whanau Centre, Henderson – marking a special day for the West Auckland Urban Maori organisation....
    Scoop politics | 20-10
  • Humanitarian aid desperately needed in Iraq and Syria
    Global Peace and Justice Auckland is calling on the government to provide humanitarian funding for non-aligned NGOs (non-governmental organisations) in the Middle East rather than give any support whatever for the US-led military campaign in the area....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Court Judicial Decision: Dotcom v The USA: 17 October 2014
    The United States of America is seeking the extradition of Messrs Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and Van Der Kolk. The matter has been before the Courts on numerous occasions, and no further recitation of the facts is needed....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Marshall Island poet speaks at UN climate summit
    “The fossil fuel industry is the biggest threat to our very existence as Pacific Islanders. We stand to lose our homes, our communities and our culture. But we are fighting back. This coming Friday thirty Pacific Climate Warriors, joined by...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Many tourist car accidents preventable
    Simple steps could dramatically reduce the number of accidents involving tourists, says the car review website dogandlemon.com ....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • RainbowYOUTH: 25 Years, 25 More
    In 1989, a group of young people in Auckland got together to form a support group for LGBTIQ youth. They called it Auckland Lesbian And Gay Youth (ALGY). After 25 years, several location changes, a name change, a brand reboot...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Outdated Oath shows need for Kiwi Head of State
    MPs are sworn in today and New Zealand Republic has written to MPs asking them to talk about why 121 New Zealanders elected by the people of New Zealand and standing in the New Zealand Parliament swear allegiance to another...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Council shouldn’t revenue grab from windfall valuations
    Auckland Council should state clearly they will not try and capture revenue as a result of the latest valuations and needs reminding that the City’s skyrocketing property values doesn’t change the level or cost of Council’s services, says...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • EPMU endorses Andrew Little for Labour leadership
    The National Executive of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union unanimously endorsed Andrew Little for the role of Labour leader, at a meeting held yesterday. “I have been speaking to our workplace delegates at forums across the country over...
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • World Food Day promotes Agroecology not GE technology
    The UN has stated that agroecology is a major solution to feeding the world and caring for the earth....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Labour Names Review Team
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has appointed Bryan Gould as Convenor of its post-General Election Review. He will be joined on the Review Team by Hon Margaret Wilson, Stacey Morrison and Brian Corban....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • Contenders for Labour leadership debate for first time
    The contenders for the leadership of the Labour Party debated for the first time on TV One’s Q+A programme today....
    Scoop politics | 19-10
  • UN Ambassador Jim McLay on TV One’s Q+A programme
    New Zealand's United Nations Ambassador Jim McLay on TV One’s Q+A programme....
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • The Nation: RSA President BJ Clark & Ian Taylor, New NZ Flag
    Lisa Owen interviews RSA President BJ Clark and tech innovator Ian Taylor about changing the NZ flag...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • The Nation: RSA President BJ Clark & Ian Taylor, New NZ Flag
    Lisa Owen interviews RSA President BJ Clark and tech innovator Ian Taylor about changing the NZ flag...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
  • Lisa Owen interviews Foreign Minister Murray McCully
    Murray McCully says New Zealanders can expect a 5-10 year engagement against Islamic State if we join military action in Iraq and the government will take that “very carefully into account”...
    Scoop politics | 18-10
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