Father & son: Dunne deals?

Written By: - Date published: 8:20 am, April 16th, 2014 - 162 comments
Categories: accountability, news, peter dunne, tv, united future - Tags: ,

TV One Seven Sharp has raised questions about whether there has been a conflict of interest for Peter Dunne.  This is with respect to his son James Dunne’s legal representation of advocates for the recreational synthetic drug industry.

dunne- legal highs

To me it seems possible that father and son have a totally different attitude to legal highs.  As when I stated after Not a PS Staffer raised this on Open Mike last night, I require more information in order to decide whether there has been a conflict of interest.

However, legal highs are a hot topic right now, and I have been hearing people locally tell of their concerns about some new legal high shops that have opened in west Auckland.

This morning on Stuff, Charles Anderson writes of concerns about the dangers of some legal highs.

Synthetic  cannabis puts more New Zealanders in hospital per use than any other drug and experts say it is a ”timebomb” that will strain the public health system for years to come.

Results from this year’s Global Drug Survey, conducted in partnership with Fairfax Media, found almost 4 per cent of synthetic cannabis users sought emergency medical treatment. More than a quarter of those were admitted to hospital.

The survey of 5731 New Zealand respondents found more than 10 per cent had used synthetic cannabis in the past 12 months – second only to Britain, on just under 11 per cent.

Further down the article, they report statements from a legal high company, seemingly providing an alternative view:

However, Grant Hall, of legal high industry lobby Star Trust, said an independent study it commissioned showed all forms of cannabis were low-risk.

”The general public is being continuously fed a diet of media-driven propaganda against consumers of low-risk psychoactives,” he said.

”This discrimination needs to stop.”

Star Trust is a company that James Dunne represents.

James Dunne

James Dunne

He works for ChenPalmer. In a letter to the Committee for the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, written by James Dunne on behalf of Star Trust, he says:

Star Trust is the industry representative body for a number of businesses which currently hold various licenses under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013.

Star Trust, according to their website, is all for the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013.

Peter Dunne, as Associate Minister of Health, introduced this Bill to parliament.  In a press release of February 2013, he outlined the Bill and the reasons for it:

“The Bill will be a complete game-changer in terms of party pills and other legal highs,” Mr Dunne said.

“It is about moving from constantly playing catch-up with this industry on each new product they produce, to reversing the onus of proof – now they will have to prove every product is safe before it goes on sale.

“This legislation will clean up what has been a highly irresponsible legal highs industry to date.

“Producers of products such as synthetic cannabis and party pills will no longer be able to play with the health of young New Zealanders,” he said.

Seven Sharp put their case.  They claim that at the least there is an appearance of conflict of interest.  Neither James nor Peter would appear on camera to answer questions, but both claim they work independently from the other, and there was no collaboration or sharing of information. The main accusations, or implied associations are to do with James representing the legal high industry providers, and claiming, as stated on Chenpalmer website, to have

valuable inside knowledge of how Parliament works in New Zealand

In order for there to have been a conflict of interest, it seems to me that it needs to be shown that, far from cleaning up the legal high industry, the 2013 Act has enabled an industry to operate legally, while peddling highly addictive and dangerous recreational drugs.  Certainly that’s the way the main way the media is characterising the legal high business currently.  It also needs to be shown that Peter Dunne colluded with his son in misleadingly claiming that legalising synthetic drugs would clean up the industry.

I have found no such evidence.  However, it is a topical issue that requires further investigation.

A beat up, or media reporting based on genuine concerns about the harmfulness of the legal high industry?

[Update] Live chat with Peter Dunne, Stuff midday

Stuff’s synthetic cannabis live chat. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne will join us at midday but you can already leave your questions for him here.

 

162 comments on “Father & son: Dunne deals? ”

  1. Tracey 1

    I am with you karol. unless the bill gets very soft on manufacturers and suppliers at p dunnes instigation I cant see the actual conflict. I wonder if the nats are trying to deflect from collins. reverse will happen imo because people wil say how do either gain… we can all see how judith and her husband gained.

    I am no dunne defender but based on what I have read on this I am defending him today.

    • Wyndham, George 1.1

      Tracey
      If it looks like a dog, smells like a dog and barks like a dog: what is it?

      It is a DOG!

      Labour should be all over this like a rash. And Labour should distance itself from Chen Palmer.

      • Pete George 1.1.1

        I’d be amazed if Labour didn’t already know about it.

        Labour contributed to (via select committee) and voted for the Psychoactive Substances Bill/Act. Do they have fleas?

      • Tracey 1.1.2

        thank god you have no power with you ” burn them” mentality

      • Ake Ake Ake 1.1.3

        “Labour should be all over this like a rash. And Labour should distance itself from Chen Palmer.”

        Where does that name ‘Palmer’ come from?

      • Wayne 1.1.4

        Seriously Karol,

        I thought you were better than this to suggest some form of “deal” here. You do step back from that in article, but the innuendo is clear enough.

        The son working for a law firm acting for a client cannot be regarded as a conflict of interest, simply because the father introduced the legislation. It would be the equivalent of saying the child of a Minister of Agriculture cannot own a farm. Or that in a Labour led Government, that a child of a Minister of Labour cannot be a Union official.The relationship would have to be much more direct.

        As you know I chose not to stand for Parliament in 2011, and thus be a Minister, because my wife (Denese Henare) wished to be a judge. The view being that having two members of a family being in two separate branches of govt would generate potential conflicts of interest. But that is quite a direct relationship, even though in reality an actual conflict may never have arisen.

        • Populuxe1 1.1.4.1

          Actually I thought Karol was suggesting quite the opposite, if you’d actually bothered to read the post

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.4.2

          I didn’t know that was the reason you’d decided not to stand, Dr. Mapp. Very commendable.

          What do you make of the potential for the National Party’s fundraising activities/favours for cash to cause problems for Judith Collins?

    • Anne 1.2

      I wonder if the nats are trying to deflect from collins.

      Good point. Bear in mind Mike Hosking is open about his support for National and I would suspect a part of John Key’s inner circle of friends and sycophants. He’s also been outed By Alison Mau as a bully and she believes that’s the reason the other member of the Seven sharp team ( Jesse someone or another) has left the programme.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    Dunne snr has seemed a good friend of the liquor lobby, while Dunne jnr has chosen a different type of addictive substance category to work with and advocate for. Which he is entitled to do. Whether he should be representing this dodgy sector is up for discussion.

    Decriminalising your actual cannabis, freeing up medical cannabis, and treating all other drug use as a medical/personal wellness/recreation issue is the way to go imo.

  3. Wyndham, George 3

    Chen Palmer had a phenomenal reputation. Well connected, most talented, trusted by governments of all colours. The Law Reform functions of government have been effectively outsourced to Chen Palmer.
    They employed the son of the most “flexible” minister and had him working on the dodgy very very profitable industry that his father oversaw!

    Both Dunnes stink. Chen Palmer stinks.

    This story has legs.

    When did John Key become aware that Dunne’s son had a huge interest in the dodgy Legal High industry?
    Was he aware when he recently reappointed Dunne, despite the continuing suspicion that Dunne Snr had demonstrated dishonesty.

    Does Key still have confidence in Chen Palmer ?

    The questions are many.

    • Your attacks stink unless you can substantiate them. If you have nothing other than empty insinuation then you’re practicing vile politics.

    • TightyRighty 3.2

      you mean the very left mai chen and geoffrey palmer? being the name partners of chen palmer? retard.

      • politikiwi 3.2.1

        Sir Geoffrey Palmer practices law from Harbour Chambers in Wellington. There’s no mention of him on ChenPalmer’s website, as either a partner or anything else.

        On what do you base your assertion that he is a partner?

        If the answer is “nothing”, who is the retard?

  4. All I know about this is what I’ve seen in the public arena.

    I had already noticed that a James Dunne was representing the legal high industry and presumed there was either a family connection oe it was a coincidence, but I didn’t think it mattered.

    valuable inside knowledge of how Parliament works in New Zealand

    Obviously in some ways he will have a very good insight into how Parlaiement works, but he could have worded this much better.

    My biggest issue with this is with Seven Sharp. They have promoted it as big news:

    Peter Dunne and Legal Highs Son

    An exclusive on the link between a Peter Dunne and the man fighting against his crackdown on legal highs.

    And as Karol says they “claim that at the least there is an appearance of conflict of interest.”

    That’s because they have created that appearance and highlighted it as significant news. They have provided no evidence at all to make it any more than a manufactured perception. If they had said nothing there would be little or no public perception.

    TVNZ have tried to create news out of nothing of substance. This is very poor journalism.

    • Wyndham, George 4.1

      Bollox Pete. Dunne will loose Ohariu over this. The other candidates will print out the information that is in the Public Domain and let the voters join the dots.

      Dunne Senior is rubbish.
      Dunne Junior is rubbish.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2

      You’ve got a conflict of interest here, Petty George. You should shut the fuck up.

      • idlegus 4.2.1

        plus 100! corrupt, & conflicted. you have the father making the laws, & the son whose job it is to skirt around the same laws, cannot have one without the other, conflicted! nz is a small country, but not that freakin small.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      And Pete George wanders in to protect this government – again.

      Father and son on both sides of the argument is an instant perception of conflict of interest.

      • Ake Ake Ake 4.3.1

        Father, son and the holy george goat.

      • Pete George 4.3.2

        Father and son on both sides of the argument is an instant perception of conflict of interest.

        How do you work that out? One is a legal representative for the legal high industry (doing his job). The other has been instrumental in blocking three quarters of the products form the market and is on record pushing local bodies to substantially restrict sales of the remainder until the “prove relative safety” part of the Act kicks in.

        The result could easily be few or no synthetic drugs are legal.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.3.2.1

          The other has been instrumental in blocking three quarters of the products form the market and is on record pushing local bodies to substantially restrict sales of the remainder until the “prove relative safety” part of the Act kicks in.

          When he should have blocked all of them.

          Now how’s that perception looking?

          • Pete George 4.3.2.1.1

            The bill was agreed to by 119 MPs. One (John Banks) voted against because of the possibility of animal testing.

            Todd McLay: “No one will be allowed to sell psychoactive products unless it can be shown that those products pose no more than a low risk of harm.”

            “…a very significant step to protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market.”

            Iain Lees-Galloway: “Our communities up and down New Zealand will be celebrating because this is the day that we legislate to get drugs out of dairies, and I have to say that it has been a long time coming.”

            Clare Curran: “Thousands of New Zealanders are watching tonight, wanting this bill, the Psychoactive Substances Bill, to pass because it is a really important piece of legislation.”

            Kevin Hague: “This bill is one that takes New Zealand a substantial step forward towards the kind of drug law reform that we need.”

            Dr PAUL HUTCHISON: “Submissions from throughout the country supported this bill, none more so than that of the Mayor of Timaru, who said this was a No. 1 problem in her community.”

            BARBARA STEWART: “It will provide greater transparency. It will improve the health of our New Zealanders, once the substances are proven to be safe.”

            Dr JIAN YANG: “This Psychoactive Substances Bill is an excellent bill.”

            KRIS FAAFOI: “This is an excellent bill for the community of Mana and also I want to praise the other principals in Porirua who at a meeting also raised concern. Many of them were actually primary school principals who were talking about the effects not just that some of the students had been displaying in their classrooms but unfortunately some of their parents. So today is a victory for those communities.”

            Scott Simpson: “Today when this bill is passed communities up and down the countryside, and in Coromandel, will be safer and our youth will be better off for it.”

            http://yournz.org/2013/07/12/psychoactive-substances-bill-passed/

            Do they all have conflicts of interest? There’s as much evidence of that for them as there is for Dunne.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.3.2.1.1.1

              We weren’t talking about all the rest, we were talking about Dunne, his son and a piece of legislation that didn’t quite go far enough.

    • Mary 4.4

      “James has valuable inside knowledge of how Parliament works in New Zealand”

      There’s no problem that father and son are on different sides of a public debate (if giving legal representation means being on a “side”), but I’d be worried about his so-called “valuable inside knowledge”. Knowledge of how parliament works is publicly available, but “valuable inside knowledge”? What can this mean? How better could he have worded this, Pete George?

  5. Naturesong 5

    Can’t see anything to indicate that there is a conflict of interest.

    How does Peter Dunne stand to gain in any way from his sons advocacy?

    Peter Dunne has been an extremely good friend to the alchohol industry.
    And his work on the Psychoactive Substances Act, does ensure that there is no threat to alchohol remaining the primary legal drug of choice (while at the same time, being an entirely reasonable piece of legislation).

    I think there is a stronger argument to be made that rather than a conflict of interest, having a son who advocates for the legal high industry is a minor political thorn in Peters foot.

    I would much rather that media in New Zealand, if they want to hold Mr Dunne to account, actually looks at the stuff he has done wrong, there’s a lot to choose from.
    They could start with the phrase”“willing buyer – willing seller”

  6. Tom Gould 6

    The cabinet manual is very clear in relation to conflicts of interest and perceived conflicts of interest. Nepotism and cronyism are never a good look. Just ask Judith Collins. But hey, these Tories aren’t bothered with silly rules that just get in the way. And nor is the media. So long as everyone’s making plenty of dough, all is good. The issue here is did Dunne declare? Will we ever know?

    • Naturesong 6.1

      Your argument is that Dunnes capitulation to the alcohol lobby and work on the Psychoactive Substances Act, is so his son would be able to get work lobbying against his dad’s efforts?

      That’s an extraordinarily long bow.

    • Dave_1924 6.2

      Declare what precisely Tom? What Nepotism? Please give some depth to what you are saying

  7. Populuxe1 7

    It seems like a beat up – In a small, urbanised population like NZ you can play 2.5 degrees of Kevin Bacon until you have to be sectioned for paranoia. I haven’t seen anything that suggests any sort of collusion between Dunne père and Dunne fils on the subject.

    • Dave_1924 7.1

      Indeed -Populuxe 1. NZ is a highly interconnected society as you say. The Act passing through parliament was subject to the normal standards of questioning, amendments etc. P Dunne has been vocal on controlling the synthetics for a long time and has managed to achieve a form of control.

      Not sure where any conflict emerges when relations are on different sides of the argument…

      Personally: decriminalise the whole shebang, make R18, pump unbiased education out there and let people decide for themselves… its not for me, but adults make choices..

    • Bill 7.2

      That 2.5 degrees of Kevin Bacon as you term it, is absolutely the source of much corruption in NZ. I’ve come across it often enough in my previous work where, although no-one was meant to have any relationship with the presiding authority in the area I worked in, the fact is that lawyers I was up against often had a far too familiar relationship with said presiding authority. And yes. That definitely influenced decisions arrived at.

      The problem is that no obviously overt corruption between individuals is necessary for there to be widespread, and difficult to to put your finger on, systemic corruption.

      Some may argue it’s just an unfortunate and unavoidable upshot of having a smaller population. I’d argue that corruption is corruption and no less acceptable or excusable by dint of population size; that smaller populations really do need to put effort into creating better systems – ones that promote and protect integrity in the face of ‘accidental’ systemic corruption.

      edit. this comment should probably be read in conjunction with my other comment at 13.

      • Populuxe1 7.2.1

        Inevitably – but there’s not much you can do about it. However the upside is we as citizens have an unprecedented level of direct contact with our politcians. They can’t avoid us or keep secrets from us for very long – that is National’s big mistake in playing American style politics. They are trying to grow the gap between the different parts of society and I suspect it is becoming increasingly obvious to even the most deluded.

  8. felix 8

    Why are you using a photo of a 1970s evangelist preacher? Could you not find one of James Dunne?

    • karol 8.1

      Heh. Well, as far as I could see it’s a screenshot from the Seven Sharp report. If Seven Sharp is using a 70s evangelist pracher to impersonate James Dunne… then it really must be a beat up….???!!!

  9. nadis 9

    I’m right leaning voter (historically ACT when they used to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal), although I do think Peter Dunne is one of the biggest dickheads ever to enter parliament (and I never have, never would vote for him or his party), right up there with other self entitled, grandiose journeymen like Jonathan Hunt, most NZ First list MP’s etc. But this lobbying issue is a complete disgrace. Their may or may not be a genuine conflict of interest (I think probably yes given the uselessness of the law Dunne sponsored) but the black belt levels of stupid on display from Dunne senior and Dunne junior is breathtaking. The stupidity level exhibited here is simply unbelievable, but why be surprised by Peter Dunne on that score.

    Less exercised about the Judith Collins fiasco although I do think there is a slightly better than even chance she’ll quit as a minister. But it’s not what she did at the time that is the problem – it is is the cover up. Ministers should be pimping themselves out to support NZ businesses – if a company asks for official help it should be given, the issues are around disclosure.

    • Naturesong 9.1

      So you’re more interested in what looks like a beat up on an unpopular National ally, but not fussed on Judith’s clear conflict of interest.

      Remember that Judith has a long history of corruption, starting with her time at the CCA

      • nadis 9.1.1

        hmmmm…… the answer to your question is Yes, but not for the reason you imply and I don’t think it is a beat up – as I said earlier what I really find offensive is that the Dunnes are so stupid they thought this wouldn’t appear to be an issue.. I genuinely don’t have an issue with what Collins did in China. Ministers and politicians of all parties do this all the time and I think it is appropriate as long as a modicum of process is around it and disclosure occurs. I have been to numerous functions where politicians of many parties have been doing exactly what Collins did. Don’t have a problem with it whether it is national, labour or anyone else. Conflicts of interest are a fact of business and political life. The issue is management of and disclosure around conflicts of interest.

        Like almost every political scandal, it’s not the actual act that may eventually trip up Collins, it is the cover up. If she had fully disclosed and been up front prior to it happening then this wouldn’t be an issue. It’s the cover up.

        If Collins husband was not a director of Oravida then would this be an issue? No, because in the last six months there have probably been dozens or hundreds of the same situation with other MP’s. The only ones I have a problem with are where there are undeclared conflicts of interest. Of course that raises a really good point about whether our disclosure policies are robust enough.

        Can you explain how the CCA is evidence of corruption?

        • Populuxe1 9.1.1.1

          Yeah, it’s pretty much a matter of appearances rather than the blatant corruption of the Pansy Wong fiasco, which to their credit, National eventually acted on.

          • Tracey 9.1.1.1.1

            is that cos collins did it for the good of the nation?

            • felix 9.1.1.1.1.1

              Can’t be that, Collins insists it was all private business so nothing to do with the nation at all.

              • Tracey

                not when she was pretending to drop in for a cuppa on the way to the airport, or wait, was that a planned visit… its getting so hard to tell.

                chuckled at the quip in parliament today about tabling her speech to the chinese about corruption.

        • felix 9.1.1.2

          “If Collins husband was not a director of Oravida then would this be an issue? “

          Yep. This goes a lot deeper than Judith’s husband. Eventually Key is going to have to cut her loose before she drags him down too.

          • Tracey 9.1.1.2.1

            and then he can play his with great sadness but as strong leader with integrity card… and still not disclose the border officials name.

            he cant be scared for the guys life cos kiwis wouldn’t deal with such a nation!!

            • felix 9.1.1.2.1.1

              Of course we wouldn’t. And our PM certainly wouldn’t be endorsing products and golfing in such an environment.

          • rod 9.1.1.2.2

            @ felix
            So lets all hope he doesn’ t cut her loose

        • Naturesong 9.1.1.3

          The Casino Control Authority was set up as an independent body to oversee Casinos operations in New Zealand, and specifically to ensure that they followed the rules as laid down in the Casino Control Act 1990.

          In 2001 Judith Collins, as chairwoman of the Casino Control Authority ruled on SkyCity’s $37 million convention centre and permitted 12 new gambling tables and 230 gaming machines, agreeing with the applicant that the new facility “would be likely to have a substantial positive impact on tourism, employment and economic development” in Auckland.

          Though apparently legal, Collins was acting well outside her mandate as Chair of the CCA.

          Corruption may be a bit strong, as I do not know of any evidence of a direct quid pro quo that Collins got for this deal, other than immediately being gifted Warren Kyd’s old Hunua (Clevedon) electorate in 2002 – though it would be a stretch to see that as payment without more information.

          You are probably right, poor governance structures when National set up the CCA led to (at best) an egregious abuse of power rather than outright corruption.

          While I’m often critical of Labour, and not being a fan of Helen Clark due to her time as Minister of Health (she should have resigned over the Bad Blood scandal – but given that Simon Upton should have been imprisoned for his role in allowing HIV infected blood to be distributed resulting in more than a few deaths, infecting dozens of New Zealanders with Hep C seems pretty mild in comparison), the Gambling Act 2003 was a good piece of legislation which addressed the shortcomings in the Casino Control Act 1990 that Collins was happy to drive a truck through.

          As far as Oravida is concerned, whether or not Collins husband was a director, she should have passed the invitation over to MFAT who are the appropriate entitiy to engage with. If they deemed it necessary for a high ranking minister to attend dinners help grease wheels, then so be it. Transparent and publically accountable.
          But, her husband is a director, and it looks a lot like they were using her position as a high ranking MP to ensure competitive advantage for Oravida. On a trip paid for by the New Zealand taxpayer no less.

      • Tracey 9.1.2

        that was my thinking on nadis post. but he said he doesnt like p dunne… and wld def prefer nat to labour hence not worried about collins behaviour

        its been the twilight zone in here for 24 hours

        • nadis 9.1.2.1

          no tracey – stop making shit up. I’m not not worried about Collins behaviour because I prefer national to labour.

          I said I don’t have a problem with ministers doing what Collins did as long as it is appropriately disclosed. Which she appears to have failed to do – I have a problem with that.

          Ministers should engage with industry. They should do this within the rules. They should disclose correctly what they are doing. In my opinion she has done the first two. Maybe not the third.

          As I said – if Collins gets sacked it will be because of poor disclosure etc not because of what she actually did in China. And there’s probably enough in her lack of disclosure to make sacking a very real prospect. And if that happened I would not be offended.

          I think I am very consistent on this sort of stuff – Labour, National or anyone else I think my tests is the same. Cunliffe opening his wife’s office and glad handing clients – not an issue. Shane Jones appearing at a fishing company client day – not a problem. John Key speaking at a PWC client briefing – not a problem. Bill English addressing Fonterra shareholders -not a problem.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      Less exercised about the Judith Collins fiasco although I do think there is a slightly better than even chance she’ll quit as a minister. But it’s not what she did at the time that is the problem – it is is the cover up.

      No, it’s the fact that she did it and that the government then tried to cover it up.

      Ministers should be pimping themselves out to support NZ businesses – if a company asks for official help it should be given, the issues are around disclosure.

      No they shouldn’t. That’s what we have MFAT with a number of actual processes for.

      • Tracey 9.2.1

        anyone know the size of director fees at orivdo or if mr collins has any direct or indirect shareholding inin the chairmans companys.

        nadis

        how many companies did ms collins pimp to on her trip to china?

      • Naturesong 9.2.2

        No they shouldn’t. That’s what we have MFAT with a number of actual processes for.

        That is my understanding as well.
        Do you know where this is documented, I’ve not been able to find it.
        My google foo is weak today 😕

        This was all I got; MFAT – Strategic Direction, which has the following statement:

        We work closely with economic agencies and those who market services (such as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; New Zealand Trade and Enterprise; Tourism New Zealand; Education New Zealand; the Treasury; and the Ministry for Primary Industries) to lead the Building Export Markets pillar of the Business Growth Agenda to ensure that “New Zealand businesses have a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support they need to run and grow their business”. This is an important role in the Better Public Services results area of improving interaction with government.

        But not found documentation regarding what processes they follow – may be internal documents?

        • Draco T Bastard 9.2.2.1

          Couldn’t say ATM – just my recollections of what MFAT were for from my time at Uni. They actually are there to improve trade and to help NZ businesses where necessary.

    • Regardless of whether what Collins initially did satisfactory or not she has made a mess of her responses to the extent her political career is in jeopardy.

      In comparison Dunne has nothing to respond to, there has been no claim (by Seven Sharp) he did any thing wrong.

      National seem to have nothing to worry about regarding Dunne, and they have a huge headache with Collins. That’s the political reality.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.3.1

        National seem to have nothing to worry about regarding Dunne, and they have a huge headache with Collins. That’s the political reality.

        Glad you’ve finally shown your true colours and I’m sure that National is grateful for your concern and support.

        Dunne, though, is history.

        • Populuxe1 9.3.1.1

          Rubbish. Politicians don’t live in seclusion like monks – in your scenario every politician would have to be busted because their mother’s hairdresser’s cousin’s aunt made it a conflict of interest. We barely have a population of four million people, most of whom are concentrated in cities. Your position is laughably impractical.

  10. Kevin Welsh 10

    I am still trying to get my head around the fact that there is a legal high industry lobby group.

  11. Wyndham, George 11

    What are the chances Chen Palmer are calling editors in all media to put them on notice that they will take action against anyone who pushes this story too hard?

  12. shorts 12

    from the stuff quote:

    “Synthetic cannabis puts more New Zealanders in hospital per use than any other drug and experts say it is a ”timebomb” that will strain the public health system for years to come.”

    Really… so alcohol and nicotine have been surpassed

    Lock up your kids everybody the downfall of society is here – or at least judging by the reporting and very emotive use of victim story (hey campbell live) and lack of substantive expert opinion

    I guess we’ll never have an intelligent debate around recreational drugs in this country, meanwhile in the USA….

  13. Bill 13

    Is there any way there were no ‘private chats’ between the two on any proposals? I’d be immensely surprised if that was the case. Such chats, even conducted in all innocence, are bound to influence opinion. Such chats, not so innocently conducted by one or the other, will have a greater influence.

    Way I look at it is pretty simple. If I was on a union’s negotiating team and my father was on the employers side of the fence (or visa versa), then I’d be having nothing to do with negotiations. (Okay – that’s a lie. I’d use any influence I had to get the best deal I could for the workforce. Not a lie if I was on the employers side, well…unless I set myself up to act as a mole.)

    Point is, there are a million and one little snippets of information and signals to train of thought that inevitably influence and/or advantage the argument of one party or the other when they have casual or private contact.

    • Tracey 13.1

      or they could agree to never bring the topic up. ever.

      it is possible and some families have topics which are off limits.

      is there currently any proof that dunne snr has watered down his original proposal to favour the people his son represents.

      • Bill 13.1.1

        I think there is a broader systemic problem that this issue signposts (or possibly highlights). Rather than repeat myself, I’ll link to my comment at 7.2 that attempts to contribute on that front.

    • Wyndham, George 13.2

      There is nothing accidental or innocent or pure fluke about anything to do with Chen Palmer.
      It would be very very surprising if the allocation of Dunne Junior to the dodgy Legal Highs brief was co-incidental!
      Anyone who has seen Mai Chen in action will have formed an opinion that she would have seen the strategic advantage of matching Dunne Junior with the dodgy legal high barrow boys.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 13.3

      Spot on Bill: this and your comment at 7.2 are gems.

  14. George 14

    the 2013 Act has enabled an industry to operate legally, while peddling highly addictive and dangerous recreational drugs

    The act was designed to stop the whack-a-mole game of banning substances, only to have reformulated and unknown substances appear immediately afterwards to replace them. Chemists are more inventive than regulators. Now everything is regulated on the basis that if you want to sell it, you have to prove its safety – it can’t be highly addictive, and it can’t be dangerous. This process has begun, and we will see the full effects soon. In most cases, people are protesting about products that are now, or will soon be, illegal.

    This is a very strong insinuation being made against a person, without the least bit of evidence. It is well known that Peter Dunne has a ‘particular approach’ to the regulation of the sectors he covers (tax, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, and now legalised drugs) which balances industry freedom against the harm caused. I think (quite strongly) that this balance is tilted much to far in the favour of alcohol and tobacco, but on legal drugs he seems to have got things mostly right. Dunne’s approach has not changed substantially in decades however. As for his son – he can do whatever he likes, within the bounds of the law – he’s a very smart man who doesn’t need to get inside gossip to have a very strong understanding of the law.

  15. fisiani 15

    Just another baseless smear campaign.
    Why even bring it up?
    Why not just write We hate Peter Dunne.

    [lprent: Perhaps you should actually read the post rather than just looking at the pictures? ]

    • risildowgtn 15.1

      Stop smoking that legal high shit.and you might be able to post something relevant.

  16. Rosie 16

    Hmmm, well thats very interesting! However, I don’t feel outrageously scandalised by it, not immediately at least and would like to learn more before I make any judgements.

    I’m more outraged by Dunne’s vote on legislation in this current Nat Govt over the last almost 6 years and the damage that has done. To quote Naturesong above:

    “I would much rather that media in New Zealand, if they want to hold Mr Dunne to account, actually looks at the stuff he has done wrong, there’s a lot to choose from.
    They could start with the phrase”“willing buyer – willing seller” ”

    Onya Naturesong – and this is what the people of Ohariu need to consider on 20th September. But will they?

    I have to say my observations of living in this electorate is that it is a bit “traditional”. That is the kindest word I can use to describe the people. It’s represented in the types of businesses here, the lack of visible community arts projects(compared to the more progressive and interesting neighbourhoods of Wgtn) and the prevalence of “family” values that seem to abound. It’s conservative through and through.

    While these folks don’t seem to get that Dunne is working against the :”ordinary Kiwi” and see him as the reliable “family values” MP that turns up their kids school and the opening of an envelope, what they won’t tolerate is any whiff of perceived underhandedness (even though its been under their noses all the time).

    This revelation could blow over by the end of the week but if the story grows it will be interesting to see how the locals take it. Many are keen to see the end of Dunne’s 30 year reign in Ohariu, but there are still many more who stubbornly support him, and turn a blind eye. Will this be enough to make them think twice?

  17. This is just another distraction from the serious issue of how we deal with the many people addicted to and having their lives ruined by synthetic shit.

    The Act is going to ban most of not all currently legal and any new synthetic drugs. But that won’t solve the problem of the many people currently addicted. It will just shift the problem. Unless other measures are taken the problem could get worse.

    • Dave_1924 17.1

      Pete – you will never stop people taking substances. never. People will drive miles from Wellington to Taranaki to find mushrooms so they can lie in fields and bush in the dark tripping.

      Its not for me – but people do it. What needs to happen is to make sure people have good information to make informed choices. then on their head be it

      • Pete George 17.1.1

        Yes, and that’s my concern. All different laws do no matter how well intentioned, including the current one, is shuffle the problems around.

        Banning psychoactive substances doesn’t stopped determined users from abusing themselves, especially but not exclusively those who are addicted.

        I think the Act should eliminate most variants and especially the worst of the synthetic drugs and it should reduce some risks – but the core of the problem remains.

        • Naturesong 17.1.1.1

          We could start treating all drug use (legal or not) as a health issue rather than a criminal one, that’d be a start.

          • Pete George 17.1.1.1.1

            The biggest (initial) problem with that is there seems to be absolutely no political will to even consider anything like this.

            There are growing public calls to ban, ban, ban but that won’t fix things.

            We need innovative leadership but on drug issues all we have are political mules trying to avoid annoyed voters.

            • Naturesong 17.1.1.1.1.1

              Ahh yes, an old favourite of National and Labour when it comes to drug policy; running dog whistles past focus groups.

              There is innovative leadership about though, they’re the ones constantly vilified in the press as a bunch of nutters.

              • Unfortunately the reality is they don’t seem very keen on doing anything about it either right now.

                • Naturesong

                  Only so much time in the day.

                  With National completing this round of asset stripping, and somewhat more pressing existential threat parties like National pose to humans on this planet, their plate is somewhat full.

                  Nice to haves like addressing systemic inequities and inefficient, poorly thought out laws which cause more social problems than they solve must take a back seat to the survival of New Zealand citizens.

                  Thankfully, Green party members by and large think intergenerationally rather than just the next news cycle, so policy development and revision is an ongoing process.

                  I look forward to the day that the Green Party has no reason to exist, whether it’s because the other parties have stolen all their policies, which is something both National and Labour are prone to do, or because they get into power and are able to legislate them.

                  • We’ll always need a Green Party to nudge the others along, if nothing else. There’s widespread support for a bit of Green although there’s a wariness of too much. Most people are quite conservative about their way of life.

                    • Naturesong

                      Well, the Green party at their core are conserative.

                      It comes through loud and clear then they are debating in the house, reoccurring themes like; accountability, transparency, good governance, ensure policy is evidence based, follow up legislative changes to ensure they are working as intended, honour the legal documents you sign – like treaties, ensure policies are cost effective etc.

                      Then you have all the stuff that appeals to christians Jesus; tolerance, compassion, social justice, care for the poor, treat your fellow man the way you wish to be treated etc

                      Admittedly, they do have some radical ideas like don’t shit where you eat, and don’t burn down your own house.
                      But hey, it’s hard keeping a lid on all that craazy!

  18. Dave_1924 18

    So my question here is this:

    Why did Mai Chen and Geoffrey Palmer the principle partners at ChenPlamer not manage this a little bit better?

    Given Mai’s deep knowledge of constitutional Lawyer and Geoffrey’ in depth and personal understanding of the dirty little game we call politics, Why when the job to represent the legal high industry arrive did they not say – Dunne jnr this is not for you sorry, conflict of interest might be brought up given Dunne snr is the Minister responsible for this area?

    Why did they not ensure it was handled by someone without a familial connection?

    Nothing to do with a set up job maybe? Not that I am saying it was – just asking the question to see if its plausible….

    • Draco T Bastard 18.1

      People make mistakes all the time – even people as experienced as Mai Chen.

      • Dave_1924 18.1.1

        Draco – that is a pretty poor defence for them. It doesn’t work for the National Party or their affiliates, this blog and its commentators would be all over them for a mistake – so it shouldn’t work for Geoff and his law firm…

        • SW 18.1.1.1

          Draco and Dave – This obviously isn’t a mistake by Mai Chen. There is no conflict of interest for Peter Dunne’s son to provide legal advice to the legal high industry. Please explain why there would be?

          • Dave_1924 18.1.1.1.1

            SW – I don’t think there is a a conflict of interest personally, as long as Father and Son are not discussing this in private and agreeing outcomes.

            A lot of the posts on this topic say there is somehow a conflict of interest.

            My point is simply this – ChenPalmer should have consider whether or not a Conflict of interest could or would be perceived to happen, by assigning Dunne jnr to represent the Legal Highs lobby group.

            I think they would have as standard type assignment process. If it was me doing the assignment, I would probably have put another staffer on the assignment just to be ultra conservative in approach

            But then again as I see no conflict its not really a big deal.

            • SW 18.1.1.1.1.1

              Dave, I am almost certain that it won’t be random – Mai Chen would have selected him because he is the best Lawyer they have (with capacity to act) for that particular client.

              Ultra conservative from what stand point though? Should Mai Chen have anticipated ‘mud slinging’. There is a difference between a connection and a conflict of interest.

              If there was a story about Sue Bradford’s daughter giving legal advice to an violence lobby group, would you consider that a bad call?

              • Dave_1924

                Appearance is everything though isn’t SW – as I said I don’t think there is a conflict personally, just think ChenPalmer could have anticipated the highly political nature of the work and made certain there staffer didn’t have his name dragged through the mud is all.

                Sue’s daughter – given Sue has no power or control or ministerial responsibility for that area of policy answer has to be no. It might lead to factious family dinners but that’s a personal matter.

      • Populuxe1 18.1.2

        Hahahahaha – that is amazing lead footed for you, Draco. It’s clearly deliberate, if only in a symbolic way.

  19. Rosie 19

    A question from the live chat, mentioned in karols’s article and reply from Peter Dunne:

    “2:27
    Comment From Barry
    Is it true you son is a legal rep for the legal high community? If so, does that cause any trouble at home/conflict?
    12:27

    Peter Dunne: Yes. No.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/global-drug-survey/9947906/Live-chat-Peter-Dunne-and-synthetic-cannabis

  20. Wyndham, George 20

    http://tvnz.co.nz/seven-sharp/peter-dunne-and-legal-highs-son-video-5932718

    Here is the Seven Sharp piece from last night. Judge for yourselves.

    Move along. No story here! Nonsense. This stinks.

    • tinfoilhat 20.1

      Yes Seven Sharp does indeed stink !

    • Russell Brown ‏@publicaddress
      Seven Sharp would have had their “exclusive” about James Dunne much sooner if they had an actual clue about the topic

      @jehancasinader
      Care to elaborate, or is that just a cute line?

      Russell Brown ‏@publicaddress
      “Exclusive” would normally refer to something that was a secret.

      Fine, report it, but I don’t think you can trumpet an “exclusive” about something anyone who covers on the sector knows.

      NZ Drug Foundation ‏@nzdrug
      It’s been widely known for *a long* time. Didn’t realise media didn’t know.

      @PeterDunneMP’s other son is a doctor, and Peter is assoc. Minister of Health. Conflict?

      And the Drug Foundation point to a post at Trip Me, it’s all worth reading but her’s a bit:

      I find it absolutely mind blowing that people jump up and down claiming that the public is being used as some sort of human experiment, when we have these pharmaceutical companies shoveling all sorts of medicines down peoples throats that have pages upon pages of negative side effects. How IRONIC is it that most of the currently prescribed anti-depressants include side effects such as Nausea, Insomnia, Anxiety, Restlessness, Tremors, Sweating, Sleepiness or fatigue, Dry mouth, Headaches, SUICIDAL THOUGHTS!!! – Sound familiar???

      Almost every medicine available is an ongoing public experiment, how can you not understand this?

      We live in a world where hundreds and thousands of unregulated chemicals go in to the manufacture of house hold goods, cleaning products and our FOOD.

      We also need to understand, that the Ministry of Health obviously has some extremely high level experts working on this law. If there was some sort of immediate or serious long term harm to the public, if used correctly, do you honestly think the products would still be on the shelves? I find it very hard to believe that the chemists, scientists and doctors working for, or advising the government haven’t done some sort of due diligence to ensure people aren’t going to drop dead.

      And here’s the end of it:

      The social and economic costs of NOT continuing down this path of regulation is, in my opinion, are indescribable.

      Now … back to where we stand at this very moment. We have synthetic cannabinoids that are awaiting trials and safety testing. We also we have a subset of people that are abusing them, not knowing that they could become addicted and cause some side effects. We also have legal high companies that are selling these products and are getting a hard time.

      Sure there are some bad apples like I said above, and we all know this, but there are also some people, that have a much greater vision for the future of this country, and the world. A world where good, honest, law abiding citizens aren’t locked up or given a criminal record for cannabis possession … a world where good, honest people, can relax or party hard on occasion with a safe regulated recreational pill, powder or substance without the fear of retribution, whatever that may be.

      And let’s just remember that it takes time and money to get to that point. We wouldn’t be half way down that path without this new law, we wouldn’t have this new law without synthetic cannabis, and without the legal highs companies being in the financial position to afford to develop and test these substances, we will never reach that goal or that vision, and all the hard work would be unwound and the underworld will once again reign supreme.

      Let’s just hope that even after all the media hysteria, bullying and abuse at least one or two of the “good apples” can make it through and make the world a better place.

      http://www.tripme.co.nz/forums/showthread.php?11729-Anti-synthetic-rally/page6

      A ‘possible perception’ is the least of our worries when it comes to drugs. Let’s deal with the real problems.

  21. Neo 21

    At the end of the day, natural cannabis needs to be legalized. In an ideal world, we would have high CBD, low THC cannabis available for recreational and medical use and everyone would vaporize at a reasonable temp. But this is not an ideal world now is it?

    Natural cannabis has MUCH of the same issues that we see with synthetic cannabis, if used and abused to the same extent however.

    Any young person, under the age of 21, that smokes up to and above an ounce a week, of natural cannabis skunk, is going to suffer long term psychological damage. There have been some minor studies to prove this, but for those of us that have friends and family that have been smoking for years and years, we know this already.

    ALCOHOL does exactly the same thing, only ten times worse. We are hearing reports of people getting violent and aggressive, but there is absolutely NO denying that there is a subset of the population that has these violent and aggressive tendencies without drugs or alcohol, so of course these people are going to suffer ill-effects. Don’t act like natural cannabis somehow doesn’t have these negative side effects. Because it does.

    I find it absolutely mind blowing that people jump up and down claiming that the public is being used as some sort of human experiment, when we have these pharmaceutical companies shoveling all sorts of medicines down peoples throats that have pages upon pages of negative side effects. How IRONIC is it that most of the currently prescribed anti-depressants include side effects such as Nausea, Insomnia, Anxiety, Restlessness, Tremors, Sweating, Sleepiness or fatigue, Dry mouth, Headaches, SUICIDAL THOUGHTS!!! – Sound familiar???

    Almost every medicine available is an ongoing public experiment, how can you not understand this?

    We live in a world where hundreds and thousands of unregulated chemicals go in to the manufacture of house hold goods, cleaning products and our FOOD.

    We also need to understand, that the Ministry of Health obviously has some extremely high level experts working on this law. If there was some sort of immediate or serious long term harm to the public, if used correctly, do you honestly think the products would still be on the shelves? I find it very hard to believe that the chemists, scientists and doctors working for, or advising the government haven’t done some sort of due diligence to ensure people aren’t going to drop dead.

    Most of the synthetic cannbinoids were developed by some of the largest pharma companies in the world for human consumption, as medicines, or controls, or whatever, then of course many were then modified by equally intelligent chemists in order to change the effect or skirt the law. But the fact of the matter is, right now, the cannabinoids that are used in most products possibly aren’t the most ideal cannabinoids available and we are likely to see better studied and better suited noids in future products.

    The biggest issue in all of this is education. Young people simply should not be using them at all. I think the age restriction should be 21 and not 18, same with alcohol quite frankly. Personally I think ALL packs should have some sort of warning stating that the chemicals contained in these products have NOT been thoroughly tested and are to be used at a users own risk. And people need to understand that, at the end of the day, Synthetic Cannabis is a DRUG. Just because it is legal does not make it suddenly some sort of magical substance that is safe from side effects and abuse. It’s not. No drugs are!

    Somebody show me ONE cannabis user that doesn’t have problems sleeping at night or get agitated the day after smoking.
    Somebody show me ONE alcohol user that hasn’t injured themselves or killed a few brain or liver cells from binge drinking.

    The harms are all relative, and drugs are not going away any time soon. Sure we could “ban” synthetic cannabis, but there is no doubt in my mind that the people that are truly abusing these products are going to find another fix. Glue sniffing, huffing, pills, whatever.

    Let’s also remember that not all synthetic highs are created equally. There are a number of “bad apples” in the industry, and the government are doing what they can now to weed these people out. (No pun intended) – Only now are we getting to the stage where all manufacturing is closely monitored, all chemicals need to be tested for purity, we are now getting to the stage (FINALLY) where chemicals and I guess the plant matter and finished product must go through some very very strict and serious tests to ensure they are “low risk”. Remember that this all takes time and money. The government also requires statistics to define what should be considered “low risk” – how do they get some of those statistics? From health departments of course. Obviously we have the toxicity testing and all that, but there is certainly an element of real life case studies that are needed. We have had almost ten years of synthetic cannabis (ab)use in New Zealand and with this data, the government is able to make a more informed decision.

    We already know alcohol would NEVER pass these tests. But it’s all relative. If you are going to take a DRUG, then you know, there are some risks associated with the use of that drug. With the use of ANY drug. But consumers need to be educated that this is the case and consumers need to be of an age where they are able to make such informed decisions.

    If natural cannabis were legal, the same thing would apply.

    I’d like to take a step back for a minute, and let’s pretend like synthetic cannabis were never introduced. Where would we be along the road to better drug laws? Probably not very far, not even close to where we are now.

    So let’s look at a few statistics shall we?

    The latest global drug survey gave us an interesting insight in to New Zealand Drug Use, and it is hugely concerning;

    7.9% of New Zealanders have used LSD in the past year, 31.9% in their lifetimes.
    13.1% of New Zealanders have used “MDMA” in the past year, 36.4% in their lifetimes.
    4.9% have used Amphetamines and 3.2% have used Cocaine in the past year.

    Now let’s not kid ourselves here, how sure are we, that organized crime syndicates and local drug dealers have the end users health in mind when they are cutting their products for greater profits?

    How sure are we that those 580 THOUSAND New Zealanders that have used “MDMA” in the past year actually got MDMA? How sure are we that those pills or bags of powder were not cut with HIGHLY HIGHLY dangerous chemicals or other synthetic drugs that are not regulated or tested?

    Have any of you actually seen the number of new RC’s that are developed around the world on a monthly basis? Times are changing guys. We no longer live in the world of ‘cocaine’ ‘ecstasy’ and ‘cannabis’ – there are hundreds of thousands of drug dealers that don’t give two shits about what they are selling as long as it gives the user “a buzz” – and you know what else? – A large majority of users probably don’t give two shits about what they are taking either … so long as it gives them “a buzz”.

    The same can be said for the 350 THOUSAND New Zealanders that took what they thought was “LSD” in the past 12 months – most likely made in a lab somewhere with poor quality controls, most likely not even LSD half of the time.

    The same can be said for cocaine, meth, whatever people are taking these days. It’s a truly STAGGERING number of people that are taking recreational drugs. Unreal if you ask me.

    So the reality is, people are going to use and abuse drugs, regardless of their safety profile, regardless or their legality and regardless of the cost.

    If we, as a country, can make steps towards giving well over half a million New Zealanders (likely a hell of a lot more), the chance to use some of these recreational substances, with the knowledge that they don’t contain harmful adulterants, they are not cut to crap with god knows what, they are what they say they are on the pack (as if this happens with illegal drugs anyway) and they have the support of the health system if something goes wrong, then I truly believe we are going to be in a position where we are SAVING more lives than we are LOSING. Both in terms of fatalities and long term quality of life.

    The social and economic costs of NOT continuing down this path of regulation is, in my opinion, are indescribable.

    Now … back to where we stand at this very moment. We have synthetic cannabinoids that are awaiting trials and safety testing. We also we have a subset of people that are abusing them, not knowing that they could become addicted and cause some side effects. We also have legal high companies that are selling these products and are getting a hard time. Sure there are some bad apples like I said above, and we all know this, but there are also some people, that have a much greater vision for the future of this country, and the world. A world where good, honest, law abiding citizens aren’t locked up or given a criminal record for cannabis possession … a world where good, honest people, can relax or party hard on occasion with a safe regulated recreational pill, powder or substance without the fear of retribution, whatever that may be. And let’s just remember that it takes time and money to get to that point. We wouldn’t be half way down that path without this new law, we wouldn’t have this new law without synthetic cannabis, and without the legal highs companies being in the financial position to afford to develop and test these substances, we will never reach that goal or that vision, and all the hard work would be unwound and the underworld will once again reign supreme.

    Let’s just hope that even after all the media hysteria, bullying and abuse at least one or two of the “good apples” can make it through and make the world a better place.

    [karol: Neo, you have pretty much word for word repeated the post that Pete George linked to above. ie here.

    Rather than repeat a post from eleswhere. This is against the policy of this blog, as stated within the Policy. Or are you double posting?]

    • One Anonymous Bloke 21.1

      How sure are we that those pills or bags of powder were not cut with HIGHLY HIGHLY dangerous chemicals or other synthetic drugs that are not regulated or tested?

      Well, we can’t be sure, but the reality is that illegal drug manufacturing is a risky and expensive business and adding risky expensive additives that have ill effects (beyond the effects you’re after) just piles on cost.

      Not to mention that your clients will not all be nice people who turn a blind eye to being poisoned.

      Still, SNAFU.

    • It’s time to build some social media pressure to address this. Many people are talking and demanding things change, but in bubbles of babble.

      This all needs to be connected and harnessed.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 21.2.1

        But not by you, because your connections with United Future mean you have a conflict of interest, Petty George.

        • Pete George 21.2.1.1

          That’s pathetic, with a big does of irony on the petty. If all you can do is put petty politics first then butt out.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 21.2.1.1.1

            Yeah nah Pete: read what Bill has to say at 7.2 and 13.

            You’re always lying paying lip service to saying how we can do politics better. Here’s your opportunity. Take a principled stance and recognise that you are far too close to the issue to offer anything useful about the excessive influence of the Dunne family in this situation.

    • Karol, Neo may not have seen what I posted (I quoted some of and linked to his post at Trip Me) .

      I thought it was worth a full repeat here but decided not to risk it, but Neo may not know the protocols here.

  22. aerobubble 22

    We should of just decriminalize… …the current setup, the rush to find an commerical alternative, that someone can hold a copyright on, is just disgraceful. Turning young kiwis into lab experiments.

  23. Wyndham, George 23

    This blog is about the stink of insider influence in the matter of “Legal” highs and this Government. Don’t let the trolls distract you with debate on marijuana.

    99% of the population wants the synthetic shit banned.
    The minister is refusing to ban the shit.
    The minister’s son is making a living off the shit.

    If that was happening in Australia or the Philippines we would call it corruption.

    • miravox 23.1

      If Dunne had shouted out loudly in public that his son represented the legal high industry before any regulatory processes had begun this whole possible conflict of interest problem would have been sorted and nobody would be wondering if the legislation was to benefit the industry rather than the public.

      Because this wasn’t done, there is the appearance of at least nepotism, but it’s hard to prove one way or the other.

    • Naki Man 23.2

      “99% of the population wants the synthetic shit banned.
      The minister is refusing to ban the shit.
      The minister’s son is making a living off the shit”

      You are an idiot, If Peter Dunne could ban the shit he would.
      Hamilton has shut down all of its Legal high shops.
      These other councils need to get off their lazy arse and work the law to their advantage
      and do the same thing.

      • mickysavage 23.2.1

        Um if Parliament bans this shit it is banned …

        Is Dunne a member of the Government or not? If he is he has to admit that he did not ban the shit …

        And Hamilton cannot shut down all of its shops. Dunne told it so …

        Do you have any understanding of law?

        • Naki Man 23.2.1.1

          I have been told by people who live in Hamilton that the council has closed the shops and Hamilton people have to drive to another town to buy these drugs.
          When a product is banned these guys just sell a similar product. You cant ban products that
          have not even been made yet. So you cant ban the shit.

          • felix 23.2.1.1.1

            Sure you can. You pass a law that says anything with a psychoactive effect on humans is illegal unless otherwise stated.

            Done.

            • Naki Man 23.2.1.1.1.1

              Felix. I don’t think you can do that, I believe you have to name the substance that you are banning

              • Not a PS Staffer

                Naki man
                Did Chen Palmer advise you of this?

                Wait ’til you get the invoice!

              • felix

                Naki Man, what are you talking about?

                Parliament. Is. Sovereign.

                • srylands

                  This favourite throw away line “Parliament is Sovereign” is so glib.

                  Firstly we have signed away some of our sovereignty. e.g. in practice we cannot pass laws that conflict with a range of international obligations without severe consequences (e.g we can’t decide to impose trade sanctions on Israel and chant “yay the Palestinians Parliament is sovereign”

                  Secondly you use the chant as a retort when someone calls you on a ridiculous or damaging proposal (or ignorant of good law).

                  So stop chanting felix.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Nope, you don’t. Only people who want loopholes in the law believe that.

            • Populuxe1 23.2.1.1.1.2

              Which would also ban chocolate, coffee, all forms of alcohol, a number of innocuous herbs, all psychopharmeceuticals and so forth. Can you not see a problem there?

              • Draco T Bastard

                There is no problem as I explained earlier.

              • felix

                Well Pop, I do have a philosophical problem with it in that I don’t think it’s really the state’s business.

                However if we’ve
                1. decided that we must regulate the sale of psychoactives, and
                2. found that it’s futile to ban specific substances as they can be slightly altered, then
                3. it makes more sense to ban them all and exempt the ones you want allowed.

      • Draco T Bastard 23.2.2

        If Peter Dunne could ban the shit he would.

        The present lack of a ban was due to Dunne’s work and recommendation. Basically, he could have had it banned and he didn’t.

        • aerobubble 23.2.2.1

          Dunne should be up before the international human rights court for experimenting on our youth, in my opinion.

  24. felix 24

    Gosh, a live chat with Peter Dunne. Be still my beating heart.

  25. SW 25

    Miravox, how is there an appearance of nepotism? Also, I understand it was in no way a secret.

    • miravox 25.1

      It might not have been secret, but the public didn’t know about it. The appearance of nepotism is that Dunne ‘might’ tailor the legislation to suit his son’s objectives. Note I wrote appearance – imo there is not the evidence to say that this happened… but that’s the problem when there is bugger all openess in the who’s who and processes of developing regulations (and in other government business).

  26. BEATINGTHEBOKS 26

    If Cunliffe stated he would ban synthetic dope he would immediately win thousands of votes. It would be the right thing to do for a variety of health reasons, and be an popular issue to take a stand on. Certainly more people would care about it than some bullshit policy on truck driving. People are sick of this shit. The legal detail could be sorted out in 5 minutes by Judge Judy plus commercials all it takes is the will to do it, Dunns idiot progeny should use some more of his own product and see how he fares mentally. But no he won’t he’ll just sell it to people who are too stupid to know any better. Well done dad you raised a drug dealer ( oh but its legal).

    • Where in the world has banning synthetic dope been successful? Banning any dope? Banning alcohol?

      It succeeds in giving criminals a market, so apart from that.

      • Weepu's Beard 26.1.1

        Are you saying legalise everything? Didn’t know United Future was so…um…reckless.

        • Pete George 26.1.1.1

          I don’t speak for UF, I don’t have anything to do with them, and my views differ from Dunne’s on this, they always have.

          The key points are:
          – people will seek and use drugs no matter what is banned
          – we have to find the safest way to allow them use drugs
          – alcohol is entrenched and regulated so we already allow that
          – the least worst drug options should be treated similarly
          – this is likely to be cannabis plus any synthetics if they can prove they are about as safe

          That’s the safest and least crime associated approach.

          There’s a few details to be worked out but I think that’s the crux of the issue.

          Banning everything has never worked and it never will work.

      • Minarch 26.1.2

        This based on the (false) premise there would be a major black market for this stuff. Its no real substitute for the real thing, and if it shared the same legal status as actual cannabis I doubt anyone would even bother

        Off course legalizing real cannabis would also effectively sink this stuff in the water, and the potential tax take would be a real benefit to society

        Real cannabis carries a “retail marijuana excise tax” of 15% in Colorado ( plus other sales taxes) (for recreational use ) making the total tax bill as high as 23% I believe medical use is untaxed.

        $2 million USD in taxes just in January 2014 alone (the first month recreational sales and use became legal ) & the first $40 million raised has been earmarked toward school construction

        sounds better than the situation we currently have here,

  27. SW 27

    Thanks for the reply Miravox.

    Well why would the public know? Should the public know if Bill English’s son worked in the finance sector? Tony Ryall’s as a doctor? Where is the public interest in knowing such things (again I highlight this was public anyway – just not reported on).

    More to the point though, how can Dunne (Snr) tailor the legislation? Individual MPs are responsible for introducing Bills, but you need an awful amount of votes and several rounds of debates etc before any laws get passed!

    But lets imagine that 1 MP can wrangle the system and pass a law that will benefit their kid (by supposedly duping the other 120 MPs). I want to know how this meant to benefit his son? His son works for Mai Chen as a lawyer. The client is not his but his firms. He will be on a salary that might be dependent on how many hours he works, but he cannot directly benefit from any financial gains made by one of his clients.

    In short, is the allegation that it might appear like P Dunne passed a law that would benefit his son by potentially providing his sons law firm with a client they would not have otherwise had? I suggest that is a very very long bow.

    • miravox 27.1

      “Well why would the public know? Should the public know if Bill English’s son worked in the finance sector? Tony Ryall’s as a doctor?”

      If a family member is involved in supporting/lobbying for the industry the Minister is in regulating – yes, the public should know. As for tailoring legislation – have you never tailored the presentation of information? Lobbyists, for example, do it all the time and have be known to convince Ministers that it’s in the best interests of the public.

      The son charges his time to the legal highs industry, and will be retained if he gets the results they want. He benefits if enacted regulation suits the legal highs industry.

      Anyway, this sort of discussion is made entirely irrelevant if the public knows about potential conflicts of interest before the situations when they could possibly occur are underway. It’s pretty simple to be transparent and this government seems to have forgotten to do that quite frequently … Wong, Smith, Worth, Collins, Adams, Dunne, Key (Ian Fletcher, trusts, Tranzrail)… just for starters.

      Edit: P.S. – reply button, bottom right.

      • SW 27.1.1

        I see! My apologies, please read response below haha.

        I just honestly think this story is very lazy journalism and is a non-event. I don’t think lazy journalism and misunderstanding of how our legal and political system works is a good thing for the left, and shouldn’t be encouraged just because it goes against someone from the other team.

        The Judith Collins conflict on the other hand, now that is where the focus should be…

        • miravox 27.1.1.1

          No problem.

          I don’t object to lawyers doing their job so I have no objection to Matthew Palmer doing his job. I do have a problem with government ministers not being entirely transparent about their connections when those family members have an interest in what they’re legislating for. one of the reasons for that objection is that when people find out after the event these sorts of stories happen.

          If Ministers were transparent about their relevant connections, then stories like this could never happen, and there is no speculation about benefits, collusion or anything; else either because a conflict of interest is identified, managed and the public agree with that management, or the public agree there is no conflict of interest. This is the only point I was trying to make.

          • Pete George 27.1.1.1.1

            That you may not have known about it doesn’t mean the Dunnes weren’t transparent.

            Neither tried to hide their identities or their involvements as far as I’m aware. It seems to have been well known and certainly wasn’t secret, having the same surname made the possibility of a relationship quite obvious.

            If Ministers were transparent about their relevant connections, then stories like this could never happen, and there is no speculation about benefits, collusion or anything else…

            The Seven Sharp item and this thread may prove that wrong.

        • Naturesong 27.1.1.2

          This.

          Expending energy chasing irrelevancies does two things that work against the broader “left” (the most redundant term in 21st century politics).

          1. It makes Peter Dunne more resilient to efforts to hold him to account. “Another attack on poor Peter Dunne, I’m not going to bother looking at this one as I’m now sure that it’ll be as baseless as the last one”.
          2. It diminishes the credibility of those who spend time and energy on said irrelevancies. Next time they raise an issue people will remember “oh yeah, I remember you, you’re the folks who didn’t know what a conflict of interest was.”

          My inner conspiracy theorist wonders if this was the point of Seven Sharp’s piece. To sow distraction.

          When holding politicians to account, care needs to be taken to ensure that actual conflicts of interest and corruption are highlighted instead of running around chasing butterflies.

          It’s not as if the current National Government presents a paucity of conflicts of interest, corruption of process and outright corruption and abuse of power to choose from.

          With Peter Dunne specifically, concentrate on his capitulation to the alcohol lobby, and the ethical vacuum he stepped into when he voted on the GCSB bill.

    • Draco T Bastard 27.2

      In short, is the allegation that it might appear like P Dunne passed a law that would benefit his son by potentially providing his sons law firm with a client they would not have otherwise had?

      Nope, the appearance is that a law was passed that was badly influenced by the industry that it was to regulate via the familial connection. This is known as regulatory capture and is generally considered a Bad Thing. It doesn’t help that, seemingly, most people think that the law didn’t go far enough.

      • SW 27.2.1

        DTB – do you think I might be able change your mind on this one ha?
        Let me know if you want to continue to discuss.

        To be clear, I assure you I come from a ‘pure’ position – I am no Dunne supporter and I have no vested interest in arguing in support of his party or this government.

        For years I have read this blog, but this is the first post I have actually contributed to. I post because I’m frustrated. This issue is symbolic of many that have been focused on by authors and commentators here, but in my opinion has no chance of making traction.

        I’m frustrated because I see how much better the ‘Right’ handle PR than the ‘Left’ (or at least Labour). The public at large no longer join political parties – if you lose at PR you lose voters unnecessarily (perhaps a depressing outlook, but an unfortunate reality in 2014 NZ).

  28. Not a PS Staffer 28

    Today has been an interesting one on The Standard.

    Firstly, I had no idea the Peter Dunne has so many supporters and that so many of them read The Standard.
    Secondly I had no idea so many people were so incredibly forgiving and/or tolerant. No wonder National is still leading in the polls.

    • SW 28.1

      So you don’t have a problem with Geoffrey Palmer not declaring a conflict of interest (ie having his lawyer work on legislation that he introduced).

      There is no suggestion that P Dunne’s son was advising the industry when the Bill was going through the house – so what is there to be transparent about?

      Are suggesting a standard where if an MP’s family member gives legal advise on a piece of legislation they voted for, they must actively seek out the media and tell them?

      I suggest that if Seven Sharp had journalists that understand our legal system this wouldn’t be a story.

      How do you think this compares to the story about David Cunliffe’s use of trusts to get anonymous donations for his leadership campaign?

  29. SW 29

    Miravox – this family member is a lawyer not a lobbyist – significant difference.

    You haven’t addressed my point though. No matter how Dunne presents his Bill to Parliament he is but one vote and Parliament had the chance to amend it if it was bad law.

    Further, his Dad introduced the Bill years ago. The law is passed, how can his son acting for a legal high lobbyist group now be a conflict? Is the suggestion the son can influence Dad to change the law? Or is the supposed conflict from when the law was passed before Dunne’s son was even acting for the group?

    Also, the ‘benefit’ is tenuous at best. The son is retained for giving sound legal advice, not because his Dad once passed a law to regulate the Industry.

    Not a PS Staffer – I am no Peter Dunne supporter, and you shouldn’t need to be to see a blatant media beat up when there is one.

    I eagerly await you both objecting to Mathew Palmer’s body of work: http://chambers.co.nz/our-barristers/dr-matthew-s-r-palmer/

    • Tracey 29.1

      genuine question. is he just giving them legal advice or was he speaking with mps. I know he is a lawyer and. not a mr hooton. just wondered if lawyers for a group are sometimes a hybrid

  30. grandfathered substances 30

    The real story is who approved the 41 substances with an ‘interim approval’? These substances were given a short once over review and approved for sale and so e products were rejected. Who made those decisions and to what extent were either of the Dunne’s involved???

  31. SW 31

    Hi Tracey – impossible to know without having more knowledge. It is entirely possible that he spoke with MPs though – be it seminars, conferences or making OIA requests.

  32. Dunne has posted relevant to this on his blog today. He concludes:

    Let there be no doubt that as far as I am concerned there is nothing positive about psychoactive substances. The issue is simply how to deal with what Time magazine called this week “the most complicated drug problem in the world right now … spreading to eager buyers everywhere at an unprecedented speed.”

    Because banning these products does not work (Time points out that “because the newest compounds don’t yet appear on state and federal lists of illegal drugs, the sellers can market them as legal. As soon as authorities add a compound to the prohibited list, the chemists tweak the formula—ever so slightly—to make a new substance that purports to be legal”) our responsibility must be to ensure the environment in which they are used in New Zealand reduces the prospect of harm to the greatest extent possible.

    That should not be interpreted as any form of approval for these pernicious products, as some ignorantly suggest. It is, rather, about implementing control policies that are realistic, responsible and ultimately effective. That is all that drives me day in and day out on this issue.

    http://honpfd.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/17-april-2014-there-have-been-anumber.html

    In the meantime there are growing calls for easing the laws on cannabis as it is seen as a less bad alternative.

    • aerobubble 32.1

      But that’s the thing. The debate was about legislation before Dunne stepped in and legalized these insanely bad alternatives. Key would never have moved on drugs, Dunne used the potential that is the coattail (that gives him a much larger voice) to push this disastrous legislation and delay legalization.

      • Pete George 32.1.1

        That’s not right. They were already legal, that’s why they are often referred to as legal highs.

        Prior to the Act they were having to try and make them illegal one by one as they identified a problem drug and banned it, only for it to be quickly replaced by a variation.

        There was no coattail pushing. The bill was supported across parties at select committee and was passed by 119 votes to 1.

      • Draco T Bastard 32.1.2

        It’s not disastrous legislation – it’s just not good legislation.

    • Draco T Bastard 32.2

      (Time points out that “because the newest compounds don’t yet appear on state and federal lists of illegal drugs, the sellers can market them as legal. As soon as authorities add a compound to the prohibited list, the chemists tweak the formula—ever so slightly—to make a new substance that purports to be legal”)

      And that’s a load of bollocks as I’ve said before.

      • Pete George 32.2.1

        You’re right, just about the whole of Parliament’s wrong as are a lot of experts and groups involved in drugs?

        • Draco T Bastard 32.2.1.1

          Yes. It’s not my fault that they’re too wound up in how things are and can’t see how things should be.

  33. Martin 33

    It says a lot about the so called “War on Drugs’ when the legal stuff is more dangerous than its banned natural form.

  34. Wayne 34

    It is odd how one form of cannabise is banned, But its ok for a ccompany to manufacture a synthetic and much more harmfull strand and be able to sell it freely in stores. My daughter is nine and I pray that our government has this under control befor she becomes of age and is temptd by this poision…..

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  • Review: The Zimiamvian Trilogy, by E.R. Eddison (1935-1958)
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    4 days ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on the Trump assassination attempt.
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    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    4 days ago
  • Law & Order: National Party 1, Police 0, Public -1
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  • Gordon Campbell on the Trump shooting and a potential hike in fees for visiting the doctor
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  • The Kākā's Chorus for Monday July 15
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    4 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Monday, July 15
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    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • City Centre Rebuild: How Soon Is Now?
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    Greater AucklandBy Patrick Reynolds
    4 days ago
  • Peril, dismay, resolution
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    4 days ago
  • Bullet the Blue Sky
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    4 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Monday, July 15
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    4 days ago
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    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Was The Assassination Attempt Fake?
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    4 days ago
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    4 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #28
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  • Unsurprising, but Trump shooting creates opportunity for a surprising response
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    5 days ago
  • Escalation in the States as Trump is shot and his allies capitalize on the moment
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    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Bernie Sanders: Joe Biden for President
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    5 days ago
  • Questions from God
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    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • The politics of money and influence
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    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Auckland & Transport Minister Simeon Brown's insanity
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    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Were scientists caught falsifying data in the hacked emails incident dubbed 'climategate'?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Were scientists caught falsifying data in the ...
    6 days ago
  • What Happened to David D'Amato's Millions?
    Today’s podcast episode is for paying Webworm members — and is a conversation seven years in the making. Let me explain.Hi,As I hit “send” on this newsletter, I’m about to play my 2016 documentary Tickled to a theatre full of about 400 Webworm readers in Auckland, New Zealand.And with Tickled ...
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  • Voting as a multi-order process of choice.
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  • Women in Space.
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  • Bernard’s Saturday Soliloquy for the week to July 13
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  • Dems need to ask the right question about Biden as his age now defines the campaign
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    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
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  • Learning From Brexit
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    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • Bernard’s Chorus for Friday, July 12
    TL;DR: My top six things to note around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so on the morning of Friday, July 12 are: Read more ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago

  • New infrastructure energises BOP forestry towns
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  • 'Pacific Futures'
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    2 hours ago
  • Delivering 24 hour pothole repairs
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    5 hours ago
  • Peer Support Specialists rolled out in hospitals
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    1 day ago
  • Consultation opens for the Emissions Reduction Plan
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    1 day ago
  • Benefit stats highlight need for welfare reset
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    1 day ago
  • School attendance continues to increase
    Provisional school attendance data for Term 2 2024 released today has shown more students are back in class compared to last year, with 53.1 per cent of students regularly attending, compared with 47 per cent in Term 2 2023, Associate Education Minister David Seymour says. “The Government has prioritised student ...
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    1 day ago
  • $22.7m of West Coast resilience projects underway
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    1 day ago
  • Migrant school leavers to get part-time work rights
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    2 days ago
  • Funding to support use of NZ Sign Language
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    2 days ago
  • Inflation data shows progress in economic recovery
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    2 days ago
  • Experts to advise Minister on Oranga Tamariki
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    3 days ago
  • Expectations set for improved medicines access
    Associate Health Minister David Seymour says he has set clear expectations for Pharmac around delivering the medicines and medical technology that Kiwis need.  “For many New Zealanders, funding for pharmaceuticals is life or death, or the difference between a life of pain and suffering or living freely. New cancer medicines ...
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    3 days ago
  • Regional Development Minister to host summits
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    3 days ago
  • Government delivers new school for Rolleston
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    3 days ago
  • New speed camera signs to improve safety
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    3 days ago
  • NZ, Korea strengthen relationship
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    4 days ago
  • Investing for future growth in tourism and hospitality
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    4 days ago
  • 4000 more job seekers to get case managers
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    4 days ago
  • Trade Minister to attend G7 meeting in Italy
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    5 days ago
  • Ministers reveal consequences for unruly Kāinga Ora tenants
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  • Prime Minister wraps up US visit in California
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  • Prime Minister leads Indo-Pacific Four at NATO
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    1 week ago
  • District Court judges appointed
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    1 week ago
  • NZDF’s Red Sea deployment extended
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  • Taking action to reduce road cones
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    1 week ago
  • Celebrating 100 years of progress
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  • Foreign Minister to travel to Korea and Japan
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    1 week ago
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  • Huge opportunity for educators and students as charter school applications open
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    1 week ago
  • Providers of military assistance to Russia targeted in new sanctions
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    1 week ago
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    1 week ago
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    1 week ago
  • Granny flats popular with all ages
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    1 week ago
  • $25 million boost for conservation
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  • New Zealand increases support for Ukraine
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