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Random thoughts on MMP

Written By: - Date published: 4:14 pm, November 6th, 2012 - 36 comments
Categories: democratic participation, electoral systems, MMP, Politics, referendum - Tags:

While the news is full of the Pike River debacle (yet another failure of National’s self-regulatory fantasies) and the blogs are full of derision on John Key’s idiotic statements and ‘clarifications’, I’m more interested in the MMP review. Colin James has expressed my response to Judith Collin’s politicialising of the MMP review in a short post.

The Minister of Justice says she will seek consensus from the political parties about what aspects of the Electoral Commission’s MMP reform proposals to implement.

And it is the wrong process.

Elections do not belong to MPs. Elections belong to the people. MPs should be very wary of appropriating what belongs to others.

The democratically correct course for Judith Collins would be to get legislation drafted to implement the commission’s proposals as they stand.

As Colin points out quite succinctly, politicians have a vested interest in making the electoral system advantageous to themselves. This can be clearly heard in the bleating from both Act and United Future, both of whom can be described these days as parties that have failed to do anything in the political landscape over the last few years apart from being bribed as individual sockpuppets of National.

It was exactly this type of stupid politicking by politicians intent on gerrymandering their ‘natural’ constituencies that caused the distortions in the original introduction of MMP that this review is trying to fix. Having a repeat of the same political stupidities by short-term objectives as happened in 1993-6 is unacceptable.

It is pretty clear that the Electoral Commission got it exactly right. Sure there are things that people would have liked to have gone further. But the recommendations accurately reflect the general consensus of the discussions that I’ve seen argued on this blog over the last 5 years. Most politically aware people wouldn’t like everything in this set of patches. But almost all of the noisy audience here will feel comfortable with enough of it to prefer it to doing a brief whitewash – which is what I expect National to politick itself to (as they did back in the 90’s).

Better here to develop an independent body (with more skill and depth and breadth of representation than the Electoral Commission) to review, write and administer electoral law. Of course, the law would still need Parliament’s approval. But MPs might be more circumspect about something that belongs to the people, not to them.

And that is really the point. Politics is too important to let the politicians controlling their own destinies

36 comments on “Random thoughts on MMP”

  1. Steve Wrathall 1

    “stupid politicking by politicians intent on gerrymandering their ‘natural’ constituencies”

    Do I take it that you therefore oppose the racial gerrymander that is the Maori seats, and its recurring over-representation of the Maori Party beyond its party vote share?

    • lprent 1.1

      I see you are cherry-picking for your own interests. Are you also advocating

      1. Removing the electoral seats entirely because they distort representation through differences in voter turnouts between areas?

      2. Removing the preferential electorate seats for the south island – which is a far larger distortiion than Maori seats?

      3. Forcing people to vote and jailing them if they do not. This would certainly remove the current distortions of representation due to turnout differences. Of course it could be quite expensive in prison costs.

      Because I don’t in all three nor Maori seats. There is a reason for having each of these in the electoral system. Having local MP’s is extremely useful as anyone who has ever had anything to do with local politics will tell you. It means that the voice is heard.

      Travelling in the sparse and largely deserted countryside of the South Island you realise that there is a point to giving the South Islanders preferential treatment because otherwise the electorates would be so damn big that they’d be meaningless as representation.

      Forcing people to vote is just counter productive because it’d disguise the corpse of the body politic in much the same way that the razzmataz of the elections in the US disguise that democracy where only 50% or less of the voters turn out.

      When I see some serious changes in the Maori prison populations, then I’ll consider that there is equality of opportunity in NZ. In the meantime having Maori choose to vote on the Maori roll in each census is a pretty good indicator if they need to have separate representation. It confers no real change of voting ‘weight’ (unlike the South Island seats), but it does concentrate representation of the most systematically disadvantaged large population group in NZ – which is useful.

      But by all means, try to get a referendum up on your cherry-picked obsession. I’ll work against it. That is democracy.

      • How are the SI electoral seats a distortion?

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1

          because of distance I suspect lprent is saying. These aren’t electorates that you can drive across in 15 minutes; how do you effectively represent people who are a hundred kilometres away or more and can’t get to your electorate office.

          • lprent 1.1.1.1.1

            Bit more basic – but that is why not reducing the SI seats is important. You really have to have spent time volunteering in electorate offices before you know how important they are. They are the last resort since they bumped the electorate sizes from 25k voters preMMP to hitting over 50k these days.

        • lprent 1.1.1.2

          On average for most of the last century the fixed numbers of seats for the SI, with 3 yearly elections, a 5 year census, and a northern drift resulted in fewer voters in SI seats than Auckland seats. Worse now of course.

          The last census was march 2006, last seat allocation was 2007. Next census 2013 if we are lucky, and next electorate boundaries maybe before the next election (I am betting not BTW).

          Given the rate of northern and auckland drift, not to mention the effects of the ChCh earthquake mean that there is a substantial imbalance between the 16 SI seats and the Auckland seats right now. I would expect that it will be well above the thousands per electorate that it was in 2007. I am expecting that if we went to election in 2014 without a secondary shift we’d be looking at differences of up to 10% like in the days of the infill housing in central auckland.

          It is alleviated by the list votes these days. But the population swing is larger and faster.

          • Graeme Edgeler 1.1.1.2.1

            1. You can’t base it on voters. Equality of size between seats is based on total population. Seats with younger populations overall can have many fewer voters.

            2. That this is the trajectory of the demography is taken into account when drawing particular boundaries.

            3. The only way to solve this is redistricting prior to every election. Even if there weren’t a fixed number of seats in the South Island, the same thing would happen between censuses.

            • lprent 1.1.1.2.1.1

              1. The electorates are based on voting populations, not total populations. From memory they look at the 16-20 15-19 demographic and skip the younger generations.

              2. Conservatively based on population ages, little immigration or emigration (because it is damn near impossible to estimate – look at it’s variants over the last 20 years), without exceptional events like Aucklands infill housing, the mid 90’s boost in immigration, or earthquakes.

              3. Yep. I wasn’t saying it was a major problem (except when we skip censuses). I was saying that the differential effect was stronger in SI seats than any Maori seat.

              Read back. I was saying that what appears to be a racist fool was cherry picking what he was objecting to. So I pointed out the equivalent situations that were as or more inequitable on a per voter impact basis to demonstrate why I thought he was cherrypicking…

              • <i>1. The electorates are based on voting populations, not total populations.</i>

                You get your own opinions. Not your own facts. You are mistaken.

                <i>Read back. I was saying that what appears to be a racist fool was cherry picking what he was objecting to. So I pointed out the equivalent situations that were as or more inequitable on a per voter impact basis to demonstrate why I thought he was cherrypicking…</i> 

                The concern expressed, and to which you replied, was about overhang, which has never been caused by any party which has ever won a South Island General Seat. 

                • McFlock

                  Just as an aside, s35(3) of the Electoral Act 1993 refers to “General Electoral population”. This seems to be voting population, not total pop?

                  But then the number of NI electorates are calculated on 16 SI electorates by electoral pop, so there doesn’t seem to be a South Advantage, either.

                  • McFlock

                    lol my bad – forgot to look up the s3 interpretation section:

                    General Electoral Population means total ordinarily resident population […] with the exception of the Maori electoral population”
                            
                    So electorate size IS based on total pop. 

                    • lprent

                      Ah. Interesting – something I never knew.

                      Seems weird because because the primary point of electorates is for voting, and as far as I am aware they have always collected age information, so they had the data. Why would they set it up to calculate from non-voters?

                      Ummm… Have to keep remembering that political institutions are quite conservative in the traditional sense. Possibles….

                      1. Could be that they expect the voters to reresent the non-voters. This would have been a factor before the franchise was extended to women, ages down to 18, and people without property. It would be retained to cover the remaining non-voters

                      2. In the days prior to Hollerith (?sp) sorters and subsequent census computers, doing calculations outside of coarse aggregates would have been hard and quite laborious. But that seems less likely. You only have to look at the election day counts to see how you can use a manual system to perform quite complex calculations in detail.

                      Anyone have any historical detail about why electorates was based on whole populations?

                    • I don’t think it’s about the voters representing other voters, but about the MPs representing everyone.

                      The historical reason is less benificent, however. My understanding is that this, like much of our electoral law over the years, was a partisan power grab.

                      National-voting farming families tended to have more children, so drawing boundaries with reference to total population meant there would be more rural seats, and the National Party would do better.

                      Now, of course, it doesn’t work like that, and the major effect is a pretty substantial increase in the Maori seats over what there would be if only 18+ was used.

                • lprent

                  Always understood that it was on the VAP – but I can’t see anything definitive on a quick look through elections.org.nz

                  Is that what he was waffling about? I was shoving end of day merges back into svn when I wrote the reply so was doing it while short compiles were running – divided attention.

                  But that can happen for any party that wins more electorate seats than their party vote. United Future and Act maybe did last election (can’t be bothered looking their party votes) and if either Dunne or Banks hold their seats this election, then almost certainly will achieve the feat this time.

                  • As McFlock notes, the definition is total population, as contained in section 3(1) of the Electoral Act. Indeed, that definition is considered so important, it’s one of the reserved (i.e. entrenched) sections in section 268.
                    Is that what he was waffling about?
                    Okay, I’m beginning to think you’re trolling me. I wondered if you were with the voting age “correction”, but can the statement: “recurring over-representation of the Maori Party beyond its party vote share?” be about anything other than Maori Party caused overhang 🙂
                    But that can happen for any party that wins more electorate seats than their party vote. United Future and Act maybe did last election (can’t be bothered looking their party votes) and if either Dunne or Banks hold their seats this election, then almost certainly will achieve the feat this time.
                    Only the Maori Party has ever caused an overhang. Dunne, Banks and Anderton never have.
                    Interestingly, these two things are inter-related. While it is true that any electorate could cause an overhang, overhang is much more likely to be caused by a candidate who wins a Maori electorate. This is because Maori electorates have much smaller voting populations, in part because of enrolment, but mostly because of the relative youth of the Maori population. Many many more Maori – who are counted when determining the number of seats and the boundaries, are under-18, so cannot vote – this means that the number of votes needed to elect an MP in a Maori seat is a lot lower than the number needed in a general seat, which greatly increases the chance that parties that do well in the Maori seats not earning enough party votes to “earn” their seats.

                    • lprent

                      No, I wasn’t trying to rev anything up. Just that blogging is a minor fraction of what I do and it doesn’t always get the brainpower it sometimes deserves.

                      Work sucks up a lot of brain power. Right now optimizing rotational 2d vector graphics on a small processor without GPU support leaves me somewhat exhausted at days end. So I tend to shift to mechanical work at the work days end and as well do a moderation sweep. I try to limit what I talk about until after dinner but don’t always succeed.

                      So do you know the rationale that the electorates were allocated on total population rather than voting age population? Still seems quite odd.

                      But in any case it still means that the votes in the Maori electorates are the same (these days when there are more than the minimum 4 maori electorates) because they are allocated on the same basis as the general population but on the population who took the maori voting option in the census.

                      The enrollment is an issue across all electorates – not just the Maori electorates. You can see it between age groups in particular under 25’s and probable immigration history. There are a number of other factors that would show if you wanted to look for other correlations.

                      Umm. Effectively with S3 you could say that the non-voters including the non-enrolled are being represented by the voters. Of course that would lead to simple justifications for restricting the franchise.

                      But it does also make the common practice amongst some voters of deliberately not enrolling or voting as a protest rather meaningless – they are presumed legally to be represented by voting peers. 😈 (and yes – that para was meant as a stir)

                    • Yes, election boundaries are fair, in that they are all calculated on the same basis, but if we were to move to 18+, the number of Maori seats would drop substantially (given their number, a drop of 1 or 2 would be susbstantial).
                      Enrolment is a problem across for youth across all electorates, but because a greater proportion of Maori are young, the problems manifest themselves more acutely in Maori electorates.

                    • lprent []

                      The three charts at the bottom of my post last year http://thestandard.org.nz/the-new-zealand-age-of-aging-in-charts/ show the different age pyramids pretty clearly from the 2006 census.

                      I haven’t ever looked at the enrollment vs VAP in Maori electorates. But where I have looked at it in other electorates the correlations are not so simple in other age groups either. When you test it against other factors in the census data like occupational groups, mesh blocks, etc you tend to find very uneven distributions.

                    • Bunji

                      There’s a battle in the UK at the moment as the Tories aim to shift the electorate populations from people of voting age to registered voters.

                      At the moment Labour electorates in inner-cities tend to have a lot fewer voters because the population has lots of 18+ unregistered. The justification is that the voters represent the non-voters…

                      The Tory electorates have much higher enrolment. They also plan to enforce +/- 10% like we do as currently Communities of Interest override, resulting in the Isle of Wight having more than 1.5x the normal electorate size and various scottish island grouping electorates being much much smaller (but much harder for an MP to cover…).

                      And they’ll reduce the number of MPs to 600 to make it popular 🙂

                      But it ain’t going nowhere because they’re in coalition and they can’t get their unruly backbenchers to line up behind making the House of Lords democratic like their LibDem allies want…

                      (but i’ve got horribly off-topic – just was adding to the point about voters representing non-voters…)

      • Steve Wrathall 1.1.2

        What “preferential electorate seats?” The SI seats have the same population per seat as other electorates:

        “Under legislation, there is always 16 South Island general electorates. The population quota for each South Island general electorates is calculated by dividing the population of the South Island by 16.

        Because all electorates are required to be of similar size, the number of Māori electorates and North Island electorates are calculated by dividing the relevant electoral populations by the South Island quota.” http://www.elections.org.nz/elections/electorates/reviewing-electorates.html

    • Descendant Of Smith 1.2

      Umm Maori Party and Maori seats are two completely different things.

      And yep I’d change the number of Maori seats so that they were equal to the non-Maori seats.

      Can’t have a partnership with indigenous people when the partnership is skewed so far in one direction as it is at present.

      Remember when the treaty was signed and partnership enshrined in law there were 60,000 Maori in this country and they produced most of the wealth and owned most of the land. There were about 6,000 non-Maori.

      On that basis they should have even more seats but I’m sure a 50/50 split would suffice in modern times.

      It wouldn’t be a matter then of chasing the Maori vote – it would be a matter of sitting down with them and having proper constructive dialogue.

    • Jenny 1.3

      An ignorant response to a historic and persistent and racist gerrymander of the original Maori electorate seats from Steve Wrathall.

      When our electoral system was first set up there was a problem for the colonial government. Maori electorates would have dominated our parliament. To actively avert this, Maori were limited to a maximum number of seats well below their representation in the population.

      Giving Pakeha a recurring over representation beyond their vote share.

      This racist gerrymander persisted for a good portion of the last century and achieved what it was meant to – crush Maori political power, and effectively politically marginalise Maori influence in parliament. Having achieved that end, and now that the Maori seats have turned into their opposite, preserving at least, a vestige of that mandate originally and unfairly denied. To abolish the Maori seats now, is to complete the original racist electoral gerrymander.

    • Steve; you seem awfully threatened by 7 Maori Seats out of 120 (122 with overhangs).

      Will you be satisfied with total assimilation?

  2. karol 2

    The Labour Party is planning to draft a Bill:
     

    “Labour’s bill will deal with the most important recommendations made by the Commission.  It will abolish the one electorate seat threshold for the allocation of list seats and lower the party vote threshold from 5% to 4%.  It will also require the Electoral Commission to conduct a review after three general elections.
     
     
    “This should not be a party-political issue.  I will be writing to the Prime Minister offering to work with the Government to see these changes put in place.
     
     
    “But I am not prepared to sit back and wait and see if National will act on the Electoral Commission’s recommendations.  That’s why Labour will take the lead and put them in front of Parliament in the hope they can be implemented in time for the next election.
     
     
    “We are asking other political parties to help us progress the Electoral Commission’s recommendations.  We would also be more than happy for National to pick up our member’s bill and take it forward as Government legislation,” says David Shearer.

     
     
    This sounds kind of in the direction of what Colin James is saying, but a cross-party team developing a Bill is not an independent body.
     

  3. vto 3

    I agree.

    We the public should draft the bill and our representatives should pass it and do as we require of them. Of course such an idea will come as a complete shock to the self-important wankers like Collins and Dunne who have lost all sense of their role.

    • Rob 3.1

      Dunne a wanker?
      You are being a bit too kind and generous.
      The sooner he tips over along with his friend Banks the better.

  4. Anne 4

    The Commission’s report is indeed a reflection of the voters’ preferences as put forward in the many submissions.

    I’m delighted David Shearer and Labour are going to take the intiative and lobby other parties to support the recommendations.

    Don’t let us down this time Labour.

  5. gobsmacked 5

    There *is* a case for implementing the Electoral Commission proposals “as is”.

    But … beware of unforeseen consequences.

    If the single-electorate rule is abolished, there will be no more new parties formed by party hoppers. This might seem like a good result (morally, all party-hoppers should resign from Parliament) but it does increase the power of the established parties. Just look back over the past two decades.

    Left-leaning voters will have to choose between Labour and the Greens. Yes, people will say “Mana” or “Alliance” or “Hypothetical New Left”, but in reality (away from bloggy wishful thinking), getting 4% of the vote is a massive task. It won’t happen from outside Parliament, unless the gov’t is so horrendous that thousands are on the streets, on the barricades. (The Maori Party had a huge hikoi and a burning issue, and they fell well short in 2005).

    This doesn’t just affect the Left, of course – the Right could be reduced to one party. Parliament might have only three or four, once Winston retires.

    So I’d argue for 3% or even 2. If that means a party of fruit loops gets over the threshold … well, just look at who we’ve already had.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Minimum 3 MP caucus = 2.5% of the vote.

      That’s a decent minimum level. Once 1 in 40 citizens believe that a party represents their political views, why not give them a formal say in Wellington.

      Looking forwards to having a few Jedi Party MPs in the House.

      • There are only two decent thresholds:

        – 0.89%, or the amount to win a list seat outright. This threshold has the advantage of allowing list-based microparties to distribute their vote throughout the country and win into parliament, giving them a chance to grow if they perform well.

        – ≈1%, or more specifically, any percentage of the party vote that allows a second list seat. This restricts one-man-bands from Parliament if they don’t win an electorate, but allows party-hoppers and small parties a decent chance to get started.

        Anything else is set up to ban legitimate small parties from office in a mendacious and anti-democratic appeal to mob rule and unpopularity.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      (The Maori Party had a huge hikoi and a burning issue, and they fell well short in 2005).

      That’s because they are a race based party and as such the majority of people weren’t going to vote for them.

      If that means a party of fruit loops gets over the threshold … well, just look at who we’ve already had.

      Yep, the idea that the threshold is there to keep radical parties out is shown to be false by the fact that we have radical parties in government. One of them happens to be a major party.

      • Rob 5.2.1

        Fruit Loops!!
        I hope you are counting Dunne, Banks, and their enlightend friend Key in the group.

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    We are increasingly concerned that Auckland is in the middle of very poor process where by far the nation’s biggest ever infrastructure project is being forced along and at ill-considered speed without anything like the level of public participation nor detailed… ...
    Transport BlogBy Patrick Reynolds
    23 hours ago
  • Tinder and 3nder are officially at war
    Your right to swipe for threesomes is under threat.    Some clean-cut millennials enjoying the 3nder afterglow. 1232RF Those for whom three is the magic sex-number should know that one's right to swipe one's way into a six-limb circus is… ...
    24 hours ago
  • Some big news, for me
    Two pieces of news that are kind of a big deal, for me. Firstly, I’m ditching my landline! I’m not a student and I’m not in a low income band, so make of that what you will. Secondly, after 10… ...
    GrumpollieBy Andrew
    1 day ago
  • Start as you mean to go on
    The GCSB has a new director: His family tease him by calling him Johnny English. He has a 3000-strong record collection – not classical, but some “out there” 1980s indie rock. Andrew Hampton is also a government fix-it man –… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    1 day ago
  • Start as you mean to go on
    The GCSB has a new director: His family tease him by calling him Johnny English. He has a 3000-strong record collection – not classical, but some “out there” 1980s indie rock. Andrew Hampton is also a government fix-it man –… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    1 day ago
  • Polity: Mike’s minute: Mike’s maths!
    Today, media ubiquity Mike Hosking took to nzherald.co.nz to vent his frustration at Labour for suggesting that it would re-convene the same Tax Working Group first used by National. He was clearly very upset.For Mike, Auckland’s housing crisis is a… ...
    1 day ago
  • Polity: Mike’s minute: Mike’s maths!
    Today, media ubiquity Mike Hosking took to nzherald.co.nz to vent his frustration at Labour for suggesting that it would re-convene the same Tax Working Group first used by National. He was clearly very upset.For Mike, Auckland’s housing crisis is a… ...
    1 day ago
  • Denise Roche: What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 Pt II
    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    frogblogBy Denise Roche
    1 day ago
  • Helter smelter deja vu: Tiwai Point uncertainty stalls NZ renewables
    Simon Johnson looks at how New Zealand Aluminium Smelter Limited is behind the Meridian/Genesis deal keeping the Huntly Thermal Power Station burning coal as the threat of closing the Tiwai Point smelter is stalling the construction of consented renewable energy… ...
    Hot TopicBy Mr February
    1 day ago
  • Helter smelter deja vu: Tiwai Point uncertainty stalls NZ renewables
    Simon Johnson looks at how New Zealand Aluminium Smelter Limited is behind the Meridian/Genesis deal keeping the Huntly Thermal Power Station burning coal as the threat of closing the Tiwai Point smelter is stalling the construction of consented renewable energy… ...
    Hot TopicBy Mr February
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    frogblogBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    frogblogBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: This. Is. Crazy.
    It's eight days since the Prime Minister airily assured Guyon Espiner on Morning Report that "in my experience with Work and Income", homeless people could go along to their local office and get sorted with some emergency housing.We now know… ...
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: This. Is. Crazy.
    It's eight days since the Prime Minister airily assured Guyon Espiner on Morning Report that "in my experience with Work and Income", homeless people could go along to their local office and get sorted with some emergency housing.We now know… ...
    1 day ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    frogblogBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 day ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
    This Thursday Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget. Will it continue the trend of previous National budgets, making tertiary education less affordable, putting only token funds into innovation, and subsidising polluters? Budgets aren’t what they used to be. Once… ...
    frogblogBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • What we are expected to believe
    In recent months I have become increasingly concerned at the state of bullshit in this country. Bullshit, as Harry Frankfurt famously wrote, is distinguished not by its intentionally negative truth value (those are lies) but its absence of intentional truth… ...
    1 day ago
  • The end of Auckland’s old growth model
    The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development’s public shark-jumping exercise the other week got me thinking. While their flagship policy of a new megabillion eastern tunnel project is a bit mad, their report does a reasonable job of diagnosing one… ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    1 day ago
  • The end of Auckland’s old growth model
    The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development’s public shark-jumping exercise the other week got me thinking. While their flagship policy of a new megabillion eastern tunnel project is a bit mad, their report does a reasonable job of diagnosing one… ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    1 day ago
  • Why are whistleblowers being prosecuted as spies?
    Whistleblowers are a ‘check’ on government, corporate or organisational secrecy and malfeasance. I recently read Tim Shipman’s preview of the Chilcot report into the origins of the Tony Blair-led UK engagement in the US’s invasion of Iraq, which looked at… ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    1 day ago
  • Spend and Tax
    As a general rule, New Zealanders want more public spending. Surveys (such as the 2014 Election Survey) show consistent support for increases in spending, particularly in the areas of health, education, housing, law enforcement, public transport and the environment (in… ...
    Briefing PapersBy Brian Easton
    1 day ago
  • The birth place of the artist
    It may not be the best reason to fund the arts. It’s certainly not the only one. But travelling to the small city of Rovereto, at the feet of the Italian dolomites, reminded me of the lasting influence that a… ...
    Bat bean beamBy Giovanni Tiso
    1 day ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the rise of the far right, and battle bots
    In his victory speech at the Cannes film festival this week, the British film director Ken Loach warned that the rise of far right parties in Europe was being fuelled by the economic policies of austerity, and manifested in a… ...
    2 days ago
  • Why Corrections prevented Tony Robertson from getting treatment in prison
    Tony Robertson was sentenced to eight years in prison for indecently assaulting a five year old girl in 2005. He was considered a high risk prisoner and the parole board declined to release him on four separate occasions.  He was… ...
    PunditBy Roger Brooking
    2 days ago
  • Have We a Housing Policy?
    The Prime Minister’s announcement that there is nothing new about homelessness is both an example of his strengths in reassuring the public that there is never really a problem and the weaknesses of the government’s policy approach..read more ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 days ago
  • Have We a Housing Policy?
    The Prime Minister’s announcement that there is nothing new about homelessness is both an example of his strengths in reassuring the public that there is never really a problem and the weaknesses of the government’s policy approach..read more ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 days ago
  • Climate denial arguments fail a blind test
    As we saw in the recent legal ruling against Peabody coal, arguments and myths that are based in denial of the reality of human-caused global warming rarely withstand scientific scrutiny. In a new study published in Global Environmental Change, a team led by Stephen Lewandowsky… ...
    2 days ago
  • Palmerston North librarians gather to support UCOL colleagues
    At 5pm today at the UCOL Library, representatives of library staff from the City Library, Massey, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and local schools will meet in a show of support for UCOL Library staff whose jobs are threatened. “We all… ...
    2 days ago
  • Accountability for Iraq?
    Six years after it was established, the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war is finally about to report back. And from the sound of it, its going to pin the blame squarely where it belongs: on… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Accountability for Iraq?
    Six years after it was established, the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war is finally about to report back. And from the sound of it, its going to pin the blame squarely where it belongs: on… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Not Quite But Getting There
    It seems that Labour might have finally gotten the memo about getting it’s A into G but perhaps not quite digested the content. Still it’s a start. The last month has seen a steady stream of both Labour and Little… ...
    2 days ago
  • Climate change: The latest inventory
    The annual inventory report [PDF] of our greenhouse gas emissions was released on Friday. The headline data: emissions are still increasing: There's been another "recalculation" in the last 12 months, making year-to-year comparisons difficult. Naurally, this seems to have shifted… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Climate change: The latest inventory
    The annual inventory report [PDF] of our greenhouse gas emissions was released on Friday. The headline data: emissions are still increasing: There's been another "recalculation" in the last 12 months, making year-to-year comparisons difficult. Naurally, this seems to have shifted… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Australia lets kiwi detainees literally rot
    What are our "closest friends" Australia doing to kiwis awaiting deportation? Letting them literally rot away in prison due to substandard medical care:A New Zealander held at an Australian immigration detention centre will find out today if his leg has… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Australia lets kiwi detainees literally rot
    What are our "closest friends" Australia doing to kiwis awaiting deportation? Letting them literally rot away in prison due to substandard medical care:A New Zealander held at an Australian immigration detention centre will find out today if his leg has… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • CRL already impacting land use on city fringe
    The City Rail Link will be one of the most transformational projects Auckland has ever seen. Perhaps nowhere else will see experience that transformation more than the inner west of the isthmus which effectively gets picked up and moved much closer to… ...
    2 days ago
  • CRL already impacting land use on city fringe
    The City Rail Link will be one of the most transformational projects Auckland has ever seen. Perhaps nowhere else will see experience that transformation more than the inner west of the isthmus which effectively gets picked up and moved much closer to… ...
    2 days ago
  • National should give us our $13,000 back
    We all know that National works for the rich and screw over ordinary New Zealanders to funnel wealth upwards into the pockets of its rich mates. But how bad have they been? $13,000 bad:Yesterday, Mr Little said that since National… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • National should give us our $13,000 back
    We all know that National works for the rich and screw over ordinary New Zealanders to funnel wealth upwards into the pockets of its rich mates. But how bad have they been? $13,000 bad:Yesterday, Mr Little said that since National… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Access: The Universal Basic Income and its implications for citizenship
    The suggestion about a possible Universal Basic Income (UBI) was only one of numerous suggestions to come out of Labour’s Future of Work initiative. This a wide-ranging policy discussion that the Party’s economic development spokesman, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson,… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access: The Universal Basic Income and its implications for citizenship
    The suggestion about a possible Universal Basic Income (UBI) was only one of numerous suggestions to come out of Labour’s Future of Work initiative. This a wide-ranging policy discussion that the Party’s economic development spokesman, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson,… ...
    2 days ago
  • Review: The Block Party
    Did New Zealand’s 'premier urban music' event live up to the hype?   Photo: Nicole Semitara Hunt ‘Old school’ was the name of the game on Friday night at The Block Party, where several thousand converged on ASB… ...
    2 days ago
  • Hard News: The media awards are dead – long live the media awards!
    Friday's Canon Media Awards was the most interesting instance of the long-running national ceremony in a long time, maybe ever. There were notable insurgencies – The SpinOff took two awards from 11 first-time nominations, Radio NZ's The Wireless won Website… ...
    2 days ago
  • Hard News: The media awards are dead – long live the media awards!
    Friday's Canon Media Awards was the most interesting instance of the long-running national ceremony in a long time, maybe ever. There were notable insurgencies – The SpinOff took two awards from 11 first-time nominations, Radio NZ's The Wireless won Website… ...
    2 days ago
  • New research confirms water fluoridation does not cause bone cancers
    The most common type of bone cancer is Osteosarcoma. Image credit:  Osteosarcoma This time for Texas. A new study confirms what other researchers have found elsewhere. It is reported in this recent paper: Archer, N. P., Napier, T. S., & Villanacci, J. F. (2016).&hellip; ...
    2 days ago

  • Investors driving families out of homes in South and West Auckland
    Investors cashing in on skyrocketing Auckland house prices are driving families out of homes in South and West Auckland and causing homeownership rates in some of our poorest suburbs to plummet, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “New analysis shows… ...
    2 hours ago
  • Budget must deliver on paid parental leave
    Budget 2016 must deliver 26 weeks paid parental leave by April 2018 – anything less will be short-changing families, says Labour MP Sue Moroney. “My Bill which is before Parliament this afternoon has majority support and does just that. I… ...
    2 hours ago
  • Key’s “brain fart” on tax cuts news to English
    John Key didn’t tell his own Finance Minister he was about to go on radio and announce he wanted $3b of tax cuts, just days after Bill English ruled them out, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “In Parliament today… ...
    19 hours ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    21 hours ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    21 hours ago
  • Denise Roche: What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 Pt II
    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 day ago
  • Budget building materials policy backfires
    On the eve of this year’s Budget official figures show Nick Smith’s Budget 2014 centrepiece to reduce the cost of building materials has backfired, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials have spent the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
    This Thursday Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget. Will it continue the trend of previous National budgets, making tertiary education less affordable, putting only token funds into innovation, and subsidising polluters? Budgets aren’t what they used to be. Once… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • Govt must come clean on tax cuts in Budget
    National is making a mockery of the Budget process by dangling the promise of tax cuts but failing to include them in the Budget, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s tax cut promises have turned into a farce. One… ...
    2 days ago
  • Grant Robertson Pre-Budget Speech
    Today I want to talk about success. As we know success can come in many different forms, from the fact you all made it here at such an early hour on a Monday, for which I am very grateful, to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Budget must deliver for middle New Zealand
    The Government must ensure next week’s Budget stops the squeeze on middle New Zealand and delivers shared prosperity for all New Zealanders, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. The call follows new research commissioned by Labour that shows working… ...
    3 days ago
  • Our housing emergency – why we have to act
    Marama and Metiria at Homes Not Cars launch On Thursday, Metiria Turei announced the Green Party’s plan to start addressing the emergency housing crisis facing our country. Too many people are without homes right now – homeless. It is the… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Car rego victims must get a refund
    Motorists who have been overcharged for their car registration should get a refund, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “Minister Nikki Kaye’s ‘faulty risk’ rating scheme has blown up in her face with over 170 different models of car having… ...
    5 days ago
  • Council statement shows they just don’t get it
    The Auckland Council’s statement today shows they don’t understand the problems created by the urban growth boundary, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “I have been the first to defend the Auckland City Council when Bill English has been blaming… ...
    5 days ago
  • Inspecting electronic devices a potential privacy threat
    Labour is expressing concern for New Zealanders’ privacy rights as the Government signals Customs will have the power to inspect electronic devices coming across the border, says Labour’s Customs Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “We agree that customs officers should have the… ...
    5 days ago
  • The Price of Water
    This week I hosted a public meeting at EIT in Hawkes Bay to discuss how we might put a price on the commercial use of water, so that water may be valued and treated more sustainably. I invited a… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Caption It NZ!
    Today I received a petition from the NZ Captioning Working Group urging the government to legislate for accessibility via closed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders. It was timely because today is the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness&hellip; ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    6 days ago
  • Older Kiwis to miss out on electives
    The Government is not doing enough elective surgery to keep up with New Zealand’s ageing population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s damning that the targeted national intervention rate for cataract and knee and hip surgery is the same… ...
    6 days ago
  • Most principals say their college is underfunded
    The Government must substantially increase funding for secondary schools in next week’s Budget after a new survey found 86 per cent of principals consider their college under-resourced, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Just 14 per cent of secondary principals… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour calls for independent inquiry into illegal fish dumping
    The Labour Party is reiterating its call for an independent inquiry into New Zealand’s fishing industry after two reports revealed the Ministry for Primary Industries turned a blind eye to widespread fish dumping in New Zealand waters, says Labour’s Fisheries… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mt Karangahake and Newcrest Mining
    On Wednesday and Sunday of last week the local residents of the Karangahake mountain in the Karangahake gorge of Hauraki/Coromandel peacefully protested against a gold mining drill rig on private land adjacent to the DOC land. The drilling rig was… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    7 days ago
  • Robbing Aucklanders to pay Rio Tinto
    New Zealand’s national electricity grid stretches the length of the country and contains some 11,803 kilometres of high-voltage lines and 178 substations. It wouldn’t make sense for competing power companies to duplicate and build their own expensive electricity transmission system… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    7 days ago
  • Government should abolish Auckland urban growth boundary
    The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Over 25 years the urban growth boundary hasn’t… ...
    7 days ago
  • Kiwis don’t want iPads for Land deals
     It is outrageous that schools are relying on money and iPads from foreign land investors to meet the learning needs of their students, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Several OIO land applications by offshore investors have claimed that without… ...
    7 days ago
  • Homelessness – National has failed all of us
    A young South Auckland Māori woman recently tried to get hold of me around midnight. I missed her call. The woman wanted me to know the sharp reality facing too many families looking for a stable place to live. Things… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • Moko case should never have been manslaughter deal
    Confirmation again yesterday that the manslaughter charge in the Moko Rangitoheriri case was a deal done by the Crown Prosecution Service is justifiably the cause of outrage, says Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.“This should never have been a case where… ...
    1 week ago
  • Overseas investor funds school’s digital devices
    The Government must address the inequality laptops and tablets in classrooms are causing after a Queenstown school was forced to use a donation from an overseas investor to get their students digital devices, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “Documents obtained… ...
    1 week ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Domestic Violence
    This Government has consistently failed to recognise the links between Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and intimate partner violence. For me, the recent review of CYFS has highlighted this misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Domestic Violence
    This Government has consistently failed to recognise the links between Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and intimate partner violence. For me, the recent review of CYFS has highlighted this misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury rebuild: How wood is a better choice for the new city
    It was interesting to attend the ForestWood Conference in Auckland recently and learn about the extent of innovation in the wood processing and manufacturing sector. The forestry sector may be New Zealand’s third largest export earner, but raw logs make… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury rebuild: How wood is a better choice for the new city
    It was interesting to attend the ForestWood Conference in Auckland recently and learn about the extent of innovation in the wood processing and manufacturing sector. The forestry sector may be New Zealand’s third largest export earner, but raw logs make… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Key plucks $3b out of thin air – reckless and irresponsible
    John Key refuses to give up on his dream of tax cuts to the wealthy, despite being shot down by Bill English, and is resorting to plucking numbers out of thin air, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “On radio… ...
    1 week ago
  • John Key woefully out of touch on homelessness
    John Key is completely out of touch if he thinks desperate South Auckland families forced to live in cars can simply go to Work and Income for help, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Many of these families are working and… ...
    1 week ago
  • Under-reporting shows need to review quota system
    The Government must launch an independent review into New Zealand’s 30-year-old Quota Management System following a new report suggesting gross under-reporting of catch in the New Zealand fishing industry, Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker says.  “The Auckland University report found… ...
    1 week ago
  • Investigations into tertiary institutions overdue
    A Tertiary Education Commission investigation into the Tai Poutini Polytechnic is overdue and should have been launched last year, Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “Labour has been calling for an inquiry into potential rorts at Tai Poutini… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Investigations into tertiary institutions overdue
    A Tertiary Education Commission investigation into the Tai Poutini Polytechnic is overdue and should have been launched last year, Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “Labour has been calling for an inquiry into potential rorts at Tai Poutini… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where is the fair share for most New Zealanders?
    Most New Zealanders reading the news that chief executive pay has risen 12 per cent in the last year will be wondering when they are going to get their fair share, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “More and more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where is the fair share for most New Zealanders?
    Most New Zealanders reading the news that chief executive pay has risen 12 per cent in the last year will be wondering when they are going to get their fair share, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “More and more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Mega media merger is bad news
    Some people call newspapers “tomorrow’s fish and chips” but this week’s news around a mega media merger is not an issue we should discard. Media giants Fairfax and APN News & Media announced they were in discussions to merge their… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • Mega media merger is bad news
    Some people call newspapers “tomorrow’s fish and chips” but this week’s news around a mega media merger is not an issue we should discard. Media giants Fairfax and APN News & Media announced they were in discussions to merge their… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • National puts Easter trading in the too hard basket
    All Labour MPs will vote against National’s move to leave Easter trading laws up to councils, Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain-Lees Galloway says.  “Despite this being a conscience vote, Labour MPs are united in their opposition to the Government’s moves… ...
    2 weeks ago

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