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Democracy under attack

Written By: - Date published: 7:20 am, June 17th, 2013 - 37 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Media, national, newspapers - Tags: ,

This National government has an unprecedented contempt for democracy. The media keeps noticing pieces of the picture, but never seems to put them all together. Here’s a sample:

Bulldozed rush of legislation makes mockery of democracy
Deny power to Super City’s faceless panels
Black day for democracy in Christchurch
SkyCity deal ‘selling’ exemption from law
Secrecy in investment talks mocks democracy
Tea tape: TVNZ, RNZ to be searched
Naked self-interest rules
Bill undemocratic, council CEO warns
PM sign off to enable domestic spying
US spy device ‘tested on NZ public’

This piece from the Herald on Sunday however, starts to connect at least some of the dots – bravo Susan Edmunds. Below are several extracts from her long and detailed article:

Govt slams door on Kiwi rights to appeal

The Government has declared war on judges, and regular Kiwis are caught in the crossfire. Family caregivers, Christchurch homeowners, Auckland neighbourhoods under the shadow of high-rise apartment blocks have all lost the chance to argue against decisions they feel are unfair. Susan Edmunds reports.

Most of us assume the right to judicial review is a basic tenet of democracy. The Bill of Rights Act enshrines it in law when it says every person has the right to bring civil proceedings against the Crown – and to have those proceedings heard according to law.

And we exercise that right: the Criminal Bar Association took on the Government and won over its legal aid policy. Salisbury School in Richmond successfully challenged a decision to close it. Being able to challenge a government is one of the things that sets democracies apart from dictatorships.

But it’s an “ouster clause” that Walker [a family caregiver] has to blame for that route being blocked to her and other carers – and experts say they are becoming more common as legislators try to wrest back control from courts that have become a little too fond of picking apart their decisions.

There are many cases where the rights to appeal have been removed, especially when it comes to building and development.

The Resource Management Reform Bill, designed to speed up subdivision and regional infrastructure projects and to grease the progress of the Auckland Unitary Plan, was reported back from select committee on Tuesday and is expected to be passed before the end of this year.

A second stage of reforms is still coming – submissions closed in April – on a discussion document aiming to “limit the scope of participation in consent submissions and in appeals”. … Environment lawyer Philip Milne says there has been a slow move from a regime where there had always been a right to appeal to the Environment Court, to less opportunity for review. …

The John Key Government’s enthusiasm to emasculate the courts started, arguably, on the wide flood plains of Canterbury about three years ago.

Dairy farmers needed better irrigation, Key said, and the best way to get it to them was through a water-storage scheme. He wanted an irrigation-led boom for farmers and there seemed to be evidence the region’s elected councillors were not up to the job of overseeing it.

A review recommended Environment Canterbury (ECan) be handed to Government-appointed commissioners – the 14 elected councillors were out and the seven commissioners, referred to as “Dad’s army” by the departing deputy chairwoman, were in.

Laws were passed to turn on its head legislation that required ECan to consider protection of a waterway ahead of its economic potential, and it removed rights of appeal to the Environment Court and effectively allowed the Minister for the Environment to decide where and when New Zealand environmental law should be applied in Canterbury.

The commissioners were meant to be temporary – ECan elections were to be held this year. But earthquakes got in the way and they now won’t be held until 2016. That is despite the commissioners themselves saying the quakes should not be used as an excuse to suspend democracy for a further three years.

Since then, the implementation of the 90-day employment trial has allowed new workers to be laid off without appeal, unless they can prove discrimination has occurred.

The SkyCity convention centre agreement imposes hefty financial penalties on any future government that might dare review the approval of extra pokie machines to the casino, and the Immigration Act still allows anyone convicted of holding a visa under a false identity to be deported without appeal or review.

The new Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill removes rights of appeal on developments of up to three storeys anywhere in the country where accords are signed.

And after the Christchurch earthquake, the Recovery Act offered no right to appeal decisions made by Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, except in very limited circumstances. …

Constitutional lawyer Stephen Franks, a former Act MP, says ouster clauses are becoming more common as a response to judges’ increased willingness to second-guess political decisions.

“I’m surprised it’s taken this long for legislature and Government to strike back at the courts. Courts have been claiming more and more rights to reverse decisions.” …

Professor Andrew Geddis, of the University of Otago, agrees: “If there’s one thing governments hate, it’s being told they have to spend money in certain ways. In order to stop courts doing that in future, they’ve just told them to butt out. The law might still require them to do something but if the courts can’t get involved, there’s nothing that will force them,”Geddis says.

It seems that powerful governments are steamrolling those who cannot afford to fight back: “Governments are big and strong. Poor little caregivers at home looking after relatives – what can they do? There are lots of people who take on government in court and win: people like the fishing industry who can hire lawyers, there’s no way government would do this to them.

“The precedent is that this has been done to people like these caregivers because the Government can get away with it.”

So what do you reckon, Granny Herald. I know it’s not as much fun putting the boot into your own team, but in the interests of journalistic integrity and balance, don’t you think it’s that time again?

37 comments on “Democracy under attack”

  1. Paul 1

    They had an article on RNZ this morning mentioning the government might be closing down the environmental court. Further undemocratic action from our corporate closet fascist government.

    • Agreed and concerning if this is to happen. Collins gave a typically disingenuous response in saying that the proposal was not under active consideration. This just means that the report has not been finalised asset.

      The Government’s attitude to the Courts was summed up by a statement made by Chris Finlayson a week ago about a Privileges Committee report into a Supreme Court decision on Parliamentary Privilege which the Government disagrees with.

      The report said:

      “It is unfortunate that the Parliament now finds itself in the position of needing to clarify for the courts the nature of Parliament’s privilege.”

      “We consider that the Parliament has been put in a position where its relationship of trust and confidence with the courts has become strained because comity [respecting each other’s roles] has not been recognised.”

      It is clear that the Government has an attitude that with regards to legal matters its view is right and the Court’s view is wrong and the Court disagreeing with the Government is somehow disrespectful.

      The report recommended that absolute privilege be given to officials who are preparing advice for ministers who are under an obligation to answer questions in Parliament, that is they or their departments cannot be sued if they get it wrong, even if their advice was wrong and motivated by malice.

      The report is at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10889965

      • tracey 1.1.1

        Not under active consideration means farrar’s polling results arent in yet.

        • nzlemming 1.1.1.1

          You actually think Farrar runs real polls on this stuff, rather than just make up numbers that suit the Nationalistas?

    • fambo 1.2

      Yes, basically they appear to want to remove decision making from the Environment Court to councils, with changes to the Local Government Act giving the government more opportunity to intervene where it wants.
      The amended Act will set a very low threshold for ministerial interference – anywhere there is a “significant problem.”
      In other words, instead of having an Environment Court whose decisions trump the Government, the Government will be able to trump council decision making.

  2. tracey 2

    Stephen franks has forgotten that the judiciary is the counter balance to govt power. To suggest,as he does, that somehow the courts, have brought this dictatorial law making by govt ignores the point. If the judiciary cant restrain misuse of power by a govt who will. Oh sure he started off moderate in his response but quickly used the opportunity to attack the judiciary.

  3. Veutoviper 3

    Thank you, R0b, for this post as the extent of what is going on in undermining democratic rights and checks and balances is extremely worrying.

    I read Susan’s article yesterday – after finding it rather hidden on the Herald site – and was impressed with it for starting to join the dots. We see too little of this these days in the MSM.

    I had no time to post the article here yesterday but intended to bring it to notice here on TS today. So great to see your post.

  4. Rogue Trooper 4

    Taking care of business and working overtime.

  5. Rosetinted 5

    “The Government has declared war on judges”

    Because judges may disagree with government’s behaviour finding it illegal or not consistent with the Bill of Rights etc. Our country is being taken over by a group of elected anti-democrats. They will change everything to suit themselves, ruining our hard-won legal rights and controls and thus our lifestyle and culture.

    • muzza 5.1

      Indeed, and it is allowed to happen, because of ignorance, apathy etc.

      • Arfamo 5.1.1

        The compliance and support of the MSM owners is the reason for the ignorance and apathy. Even when courageous and principled individuals leak or hack & show what is going on, the MSM buries it in fluff and moves on to Kate Middleton as the story of the day.

        • tracey 5.1.1.1

          Who is going to step in and buy mediaworks????

          • Arfamo 5.1.1.1.1

            Friends of the current administration. With their blessing and possibly taxpayers assistance. As usual. Look for a change in editorial direction. That Campbell chap’s been a bit of a pain for the current administration. Julie Christie is a reality show queen. More fluff and Kate Middleton to be interspersed between the advertising that now appears to be the main purpose of MSM.

  6. The so-called separation of powers was always a ruse of the ruling class.
    The concentration of power in the executive is inherent in bourgeois parliaments as the concentration of capital reaches its apex.
    Those with such massive wealth can buy their politicians and therefore their ‘laws’ and don’t tolerate their laws being challenged by ordinary citizens via the judiciary.
    NZ politicians are bought by international finance capital and merely rubber stamp its interests into law.
    The NZ judiciary however, is still not totally corralled by cabinet. The so-called lack of ‘comity’ complained of by Finlayson is bullshit language for ‘subservience’ to a bought parliament.
    Fortunately for us dopey kiwis the Dotcom case is being appealed to the Supreme Court and continues to be a running sore in the side of the executive. But this is against the trend since Dotcom’s rights are being defended by his $millions. But gift horse and all that.
    It proves that the only counter-power to the concentrated finance capital executive for the rest of us is mass civil disobedience, leaking, hacking, street protests and occupations.

    • xtasy 6.1

      red rattler – apart from you political interpretation of the realities of power at play in this area, it shows itself very crystal clear in the example and case of a “Mr Dotcom”, who manages to get the law interpreted as it probably should be in his case, and as it should indeed be to all.

      But had it not been for “Dotcom” and his accessible wealth and other resources, we would still today not know that the GCSB was involved in activities that at least many legal experts would describe as “illegal”. Also would we not know that the state agencies broke the law in many aspects while investigating and prosecuting him.

      There is abuse of power every day, every week, month and year, by not only powerful business people and their “servants”, but also by the state.

      Because the average citizen has little or no leverage, she or he are indeed practically rather “powerless”. Most only have rare dealings with “the law”, so they comply and shrug their shoulders. Others bear the brunt, and if ended up on the wrong side, are at least labelled for life.

      It took New Zealand many years to even bring in a “clean slate” Act in 2004, while most other developed and law applying countries already had such for a long time earlier.

      If only people would wake up to realities and take a stand, that is the biggest challenge here in New Zealand.

  7. QoT 7

    Let’s be fair, they might have misplaced the original design files for the Democracy Under Attack banner, and even as we speak some lowly intern is desperately searching their archives for it …

    • karol 7.1

      Do we need a new banner, coloured National-brighter-future-blue, rather than red?

  8. xtasy 8

    For once a NZ Herald article does give a comprehensive run-down on what is already at stake, and being implemented under this National (Natzi) Party led government. Thanks for putting this up, I had not read it before.

    Even where there are reasons for a judicial review, which only offers legal remedies in cases where statute law was not followed or not followed correctly, it is a major exercise to start such proceedings. Also have court fees been increased over recent years, and for simply filing an application $ 1,100 in fees will be payable from 01 July 2013. That is unless a person may qualify for a waiver, for which the conditions also tend to get tightened again and again (e.g. low income due to unemployment, no assets to cash in and the likes).

    http://www.justice.govt.nz/services/court-fees/court-fees-and-charges

    Lawyers will know how to do this, and judicial reviews must be applied for at the High Courts.

    http://www.courtsofnz.govt.nz/about/high/cases-to-court

    The Judicature Amendment Act 1972 provides for when and how reviews can be sought:
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1972/0130/latest/DLM408360.html
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1972/0130/latest/DLM408370.html

    For a layperson the challenge starts already there, and without legal representation it is an immense uphill battle and challenge. So it is recommended to consult and commission a lawyer with relevant experience. That person will charge fees of a few hundred dollars an hour, of course, and those without sufficient income or funds will need to apply for legal aid. Naturally also it must be provable that there was a breach of law or misapplication of statute law by an administrative body, so simply not being happy with a decision may not meet that requirement.

    Judicial reviews are civil matters, to a lawyer must present a report to Legal Aid at the Ministry of Justice proving reasonably the prospect of success. Present legal aid barely covers costs, so even if legal aid is granted, a lawyer may not be keen to spend too much time and efforts on the matter.

    Those sick or disabled beneficiaries that have perhaps faced WINZ designated doctors and felt that the recommendation of such a doctor, which is the basis of a Regional Health Advisor’s and ultimately case manager’s decision about benefit entitlement due to health grounds, they only have one appeal allowed to a Medical Appeal Board. As usually at least 2 MSD picked and trained “designated doctors” sit on such 3-member panels of that board, a decision may be not much more favourable, fair and objective than the one appealed against.

    After that a person has no more rights under the Social Security Act 1964 to appeal a M.A.B. decision (see section 53A), but a right to judicial review.

    Now imagine a poor beneficiary, stressed out, with little legal understanding “exercising” her or his “right” to judicial review granted under the NZ Bill of Rights Act, trying to go for judicial review! Few will even bother, given the hurdles.

    The same applies in some other similar legal situations under other legislation.

    What I mean to make clear with this is, the law and citizen’s rights are and have already been “shat on” for many years!

    Access to justice is a sick joke for most, and this government wants to block it even more.

    It stinks like a giant stench to the sky, what is going on, and it also stinks what has already been happening to so many for so many years!

    • xtasy 8.1

      Correction – High Court fees for filing for proceedings:

      a) in the case of a concession rate proceeding: $483.40
      (b) in the case of any other proceeding: $1,329.20

      • tracey 8.1.1

        Judicial review is hellishly expensive. Govt depts and councils know this. The ombudsmen system is a joke and so the depts and councils stymie at every turn knowing josephine average hasnt the money to jr

      • tracey 8.1.2

        Judicial review is hellishly expensive. Govt depts and councils know this. The ombudsmen system is a joke and so the depts and councils stymie at every turn knowing josephine average hasnt the money to jr

  9. aerobubble 9

    Forgive Dunne Week. The media has gone soft. National Security oversight, what left of it, is under threat when a member of the oversight committee will not allow inspection of some of his emails. What! This is no joke. In order to oversee the National Secrets they need to see some! Or may at-least inadvertently see such secrets before they have been removed from the official public dis-closer. So Dunne even if he has not actually leaked should be getting the red card, not the soft yellow. But wait there’s more! Dunne used the electoral loophole to get many trinkets of office, the one seat party, its pathetic. And now we hear he de-registored his party, not as the Speaker seemed to have us all believe the electoral commission. What was he hiding in those emails, what was he hiding when he deregistored! Is it true, is there a serial leaker in the oversight of National Security.

    Forgive Dunne week, you’d gotta be kidding. The man went to the electorate on not selling assets, and after inspection the 500 members needed to make a party was found wanting, how many of them dropped off out of frustration? Will we ever know?

  10. Michael 10

    NACT has also taken away access to justice for a huge number of New Zealanders, who are about to be shafted by WINZ and its “independent” doctors. At present, most beneficiaries who are unhappy with WINZ’s decisions have the statutory right to apply for “review” (to WINZ’s rubber-stamp “Benefit Review Committee” – decisions in favour of beneficiaries <2%), followed by "appeal" (to Ministry of "Justice" [sic]'s Social Security Appeal Authority – decisions in favour of beneficiaries 5%). Currently, decisions by WINZ on Invalids Benefit and Child Disability Allowance are only able to be appealed to a “Medical Appeal Board” (comprised of WINZ medical toadies), with rights of review or appeal through the legal system expressly excluded. From 15 July this year, this exclusion applies to a much wider range of WINZ decisions and beneficiaries, as Invalid Benefit becomes Supported Living Allowance, with recipients required to either look for paid employment (part time), prepare for it, or undertake whatever forms of activities WINZ demands of them. No rights of review or appeal. The new regime is a copy and paste job from the UK Department of Work and Pensions Work Capacity Assessment regime, which has led to deaths and suicides galore (thus achieving fiscal savings), amid the involvement of multinational companies employing the doctors who conduct the assessments (and are all richly rewarded for it, too). One difference: people shafted in the UK have the right of appeal through its legal system and, ultimately, the European Court of Human Rights. Currently, over half the people who challenge these decisions (a small proportion of the total number of shaftees, as most lack the stamina and resources to fight the system) succeed. None of that nonsense in NZ, though, where the members of the Welfare Working Group (now feeding from the public troughs at ACC and WINZ) know all about the UK regime, thanks to rogue insurance company UNUM Provident, which funds a university department from which the “research” that paid employment makes people well, while the mere possibility of state-funded benefits for sickness and disability makes them very unwell, emanates. Evidently, our benevolent welfare bosses do not wish to be troubled with the remote possibility that the NZ judiciary, renowned for its fearless commitment to fundamental human rights, might, just possibly, object to their plans to kick thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders off the welfare rolls and into the brave “new” world of arbeit macht frei.

    • xtasy 10.1

      Michael – your are right that the new “regime” will bring in new “assessment tools”, that have not been disclosed yet. These are likely to include some forms of “pre-designed” and “structured” self-assessments that sick and disabled will be asked to do. Loaded questions are already asked once a year now, when sickness beneficiaries face annual “reviews”, and where they have to answer about a range of questions about their preparedness, ability and motivation to work.

      They are likely to also have separate interviews in future, to check out “motivation”, to work on the clients of WINZ to give answers that will trick and “trap” them to show (expected) willingness to try work.

      And if that does not “convince” a sick or disabled beneficiary, they will still have “independent” assessments similar to the ATOS ones in the UK, which will though not just be of a “medical” type.

      The “medical” examination will in future be compromised, and only be part of a more complex assessment system, so work expectations will be pushed for many sick and disabled, yet MAB appeals can only be made on medical grounds.

      It will be very tricky territory, for clients that is. “Justice” and “democracy” will get a whole new “meaning”, most certainly if this governing lot get another term.

      • Adrian 10.1.1

        Reports that the “gunman” at Westpac Penrose tonight looked “depressed” and not well ( TV1) and in a wheelchair may be connected to this arsehole Government appalling treatment of those less fortunate.

      • aerobubble 10.1.2

        Access to paid work is a right. Living on a benefit isn’t realistic, choosing between heating and eating is not a life. When there’s a roof over ones head, square meals, in jail, its not cost effective for govt to remove people from welfare rolls. Now that said, the incentives for staff may make it temporarily expedient to do so, and the churn will lower long term beneficiaries stats (and while off benefit welfare payouts). But I reminded of Bennetts’ attacks on sole mums, and how she stopped, when the possibility that young women might actually be incentivized to get pregnant because of all the help WINZ would provide them, because surely she Bennett wasn’t actually be nasty.

        The situation for Kiwis in OZ is far starker, without welfare access the pressure to take up crime is increased, and so the blowout of numbers in jail in OZ, which is shocking when you think about the economics. Kiwis in work pay taxes that support Australian benefitaries, but not themselves, then NZ saves money because they won’t let Kiwis in jail serve out their term here. Do you notice what is happening, Kiwis pay taxes in OZ and the NZ govt saves money, all to
        make it hard for free movement of citizens, i.e. anti-free trade between NZ and OZ.
        A policy of Howard and Clark, both free traders, that’s the joke. However when you cost the real price of locking Kiwis up to the Australian govt, it makes a joke of the whole poor governance turn into stupid exercise in unmerited vengeance on Kiwis in Australia. Howard’s nasty politics of division again, easily done in the good times of cheap oil and cheap credit.

  11. AmaKiwi 11

    Our parliamentary rotating dictatorship was acceptable while people felt richer (because of borrowed money) and we had representative local government.

    Legally, our parliament is “sovereign”, which means it can do anything it wants. No holds barred. Anything. This government is doing precisely that, but the pattern began decades ago.

    When Parliament is sovereign, it is not a democracy.

    Democracy is when the people are sovereign. When the people can veto the actions of parliament and recall (fire) corrupt elected officials (MPs). The people, NOT parliament, must have the final say.

    My local Labour MP says the solution is to vote Labour. B.S. The solution is to castrate Parliament.

    I support constitutionally guaranteed binding referendums and constitutionally protected local bodies.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      And politician/legislation recall votes.

    • Arfamo 11.2

      +1

    • UglyTruth 11.3

      “Legally, our parliament is “sovereign”, which means it can do anything it wants.”

      NZ Sovereignty is a legal fiction. Tuhoi and some smaller tribes never signed Te Tiriti so the Crown’s assertion of sovereignty was based on a lie. Parliament can do anything it wants in the same sense that people can do anything they want. Anarchy does not mean that there are no consequences for actions.The law of nature determines these consequences, not legislation or popular opinion.

      Democracy is often held up as some kind of sacred ideal, but democracy fails to count the cost of its actions because the rule of law is nothing but a hollow shell in pretty much all representative democracies. De jure government is based on reason, not on popularity, necessity, or political expediency.

      The NZ parliament is basically organised mob rule where the mob is under the thumb of offshore interests. The solution is the rejection of the fraudulent and hollow law of parliament in favour of the law of the land.

  12. Michael 13

    Xtasy – I think your first post is better than mine but we ended up saying the same thing anyway. At least the Labour party types who read this blog have no excuse for pleading ignorance when the brown stuff hits the fan in a few weeks as the new shafting regime gets underway. The Greens, too, might like to reflect on whether they really want to go into government next year with a party that (a) started this “future focus” bollocks and (b) won’t speak out against its latest manifestations for fear of alienating the middle classes.

  13. tanz 14

    Government does want it wants, they know best, and everyone else needs re-education.
    Don’t bother voting, they’re all the same.

  14. Mal 15

    @tanz. By not voting you help National win.

    • UglyTruth 15.1

      @Mal,
      By voting, you endorse a system which is fundamentally fraudulent. The ideological differences between Labour and National are nothing compared to the ideological differences between the Crown and the common law.

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    frogblogBy Mojo Mathers
    1 day ago
  • Labour MPs are taking it to the Government in the House over their destruct...
    ...
    1 day ago
  • The price of rotten cops IV
    Remember the Nelson Red Devils case? Back in 2012, drugs and firearms charges against 28 alleged gang members were thrown out because police abused the court process by forging a search warrant and an arrest warrant to build the credibility… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Best and worst New Zealand flag designs
    Dan Taipua, Dave Bell and Lucy Zee review some of the designs submitted for the for the new New Zealand flag. Check out the full gallery of designs here. ...
    1 day ago
  • World News Brief, Friday May 22
    PunditBy Daily Digest
    1 day ago
  • A hard rain is a’gonna fall.
    Although I am loathe to prognosticate on fluid situations and current events, I have been thinking about how the conflict in Iraq has been going. Although I do not believe that the Islamic State (IS) is anywhere close to being… ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 day ago
  • Got business out of town? Need a hire car?
    Whether you are heading of town for a conference or taking a break and need a hire car, your TEU Member Advantage program has you covered.  Use your member benefits to access either reduced car hire rates or excess on… ...
    1 day ago
  • An abuse of the OIA
    In the wake of revelations that Prime Minister John Key had systematically and repeatedly bullied, sexually harassed and assaulted a cafe waitress, the New Zealand Herald published a piece exposing the victim. It seemed like retribution, and the involvement of… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    frogblogBy Eugenie Sage
    1 day ago
  • Calling Peak Car?
    There’s often a lot of discussion around the future of transport – particularly in cities. We’ve talked many times before about how transport trends are changing, how we’re seeing people drive less and catch PT more, how changing preferences amongst younger people in… ...
    1 day ago
  • Australia’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on...
    The prohibition against torture is one of the cast-iron features of international law. You're not allowed to torture people, and you're not allowed to return or extradite people to a country where there are substantial grounds to believe they will… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Fiji: Removing the opposition
    Last year, Nauru's government abused its parliamentary majority to suspend the opposition from Parliament on a spurious privilege motion. Its a disease which is spreading: last night, Fiji's "democratic" regime did the same, suspending an opposition MP for making a… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015: Don’t worry about the surplus, worry about this… Whiteboar...
    Bill’s budget put a bit of extra change in the pocket of poor families, but that came at the cost of the promised surplus. But should you be worried about it? With government debt still only at 25%… ...
    Gareth’s WorldBy Gareth Morgan
    1 day ago
  • The productivity trap – heads they win, tails we lose
    The article below was written in 2006, so some of the stats are a bit dated.  However the fundamental argument remains.  For instance, NZ productivity growth continues to be poor and NZ capitalists remain behind most of the OECD in… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 day ago
  • Attention leftie campaigners: Watch Lynton Crosby
    This is a video of Lynton Crosby, of Crosby/Textor fame and infamy, talking about how he approaches campaigns. It is well worth an hour of any serious campaigner's time - whether they're of the left or the right. I've… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: Friday Music: Out there in the world
    Friday Music posts here don't generally have much to do with my day job helping make a media TV show, but next week's Media Take is an exception. We're putting together a New Zealand music month-themed programme and one of the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Government announces plan to grow Auckland housing bubble
    The key initiative in yesterday’s budget is a plan to grow Auckland’s housing bubble. Auckland’s housing bubble is projected to take over from dairy farming as the fastest-growing sector of the New Zealand economy. Consider a typical Mangere housewife. For… ...
    Can of wormsBy Can of Worms, Opened
    1 day ago
  • Paul F Tompkins: The undisputed king of podcasts
    When Paul F Tompkins got into comedy in the mid 1980s, the formats with which he’s achieved most renown and popularity didn’t actually exist. “None of them did!” he yells, laughing, into the phone during an interview about stage… ...
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015: What does it mean?
    ...
    1 day ago
  • What next?
    It feels really, really surreal to nearly be done with my degree. And terrifying, mostly. Right now I have a single 2000 word essay remaining for Politics of Protest and then three exams mid-way through next month, and… that’s it.… ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    1 day ago
  • Solo parents forced to work; but where are the quality jobs?
    The Government is increasing the expectations of paid work from solo parents without any thought as to where the jobs will be, the Council of Trade Unions said today. “There are already 100,000 part time workers who are wanting more secure… ...
    CTUBy andrew.chick
    1 day ago
  • April-15 Patronage
    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    2 days ago
  • April-14 Patronage
    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    2 days ago
  • Children and steady-as-you-go – but how steady?
    There are three political dimensions to the budget’s star “children in hardship” item. One is John Key’s ownership. That fits his protestations of concern about disadvantaged children — though action has been slow coming. He made his pile in… ...
    Colin JamesBy Colin James
    2 days ago
  • Thoughts on budget 2015
    There’s a Herald summary here. I’ve been saying for a while that ‘neoliberalism’ – ie a belief in the efficacy of free markets, the distortionary evil of taxes and benefits and the minimalisation of the state – is dead. There… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    2 days ago
  • What if your MP was decided on the flip of a coin?
    The provincial election in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island finally came to an end a couple of days ago when its last MLA was declared elected following a judicial recount.(What - you didn't know that Prince Edward Island… ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    2 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on Budget 2015
    From the outset, the slogan for yesterday’s Budget – “The Plan Is Working” – begged to be mocked. There’s actually a plan for the national economy? Who knew? And its been working for whom, exactly? Not for families in poverty,… ...
    2 days ago
  • Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific
    Speech – New Zealand Government I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at this International Conference on the Future of Asia.22 May 2015 Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific (speech delivered to 2015 Nikkei Forum, Tokyo,… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    2 days ago
  • Budget 2015: Media releases and tertiary education coverage
    We will update this page over the next few days with media releases and news stories on Budget 2015 and its effect on tertiary education and on employment. Radio NZ: Govt tightens education purse strings The Government is expecting fewer… ...
    2 days ago

  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    1 hour ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    1 hour ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    5 hours ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    8 hours ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    1 day ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 day ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    1 day ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    1 day ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    1 day ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    1 day ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 day ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    1 day ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    1 day ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    1 day ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    2 days ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    2 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    3 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    4 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    4 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    4 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    5 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    5 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    5 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago

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