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NZ First Youth drags party screaming and kicking into 20th century

Written By: - Date published: 8:08 am, October 21st, 2019 - 24 comments
Categories: australian politics, democratic participation, drugs, nz first, Politics, Social issues, uncategorized, winston peters - Tags:

There were revolutionary scenes at the New Zealand First conference on the weekend as the party’s youth wing forced the party to back away from a really retrograde position on drug testing at music festivals.

The need and virtue of this testing to me is a no brainer. It lets concert goers check that the drugs they bought are not going to completely fry their brain or cause their premature death and at the same time receive information on safer use of drugs.  And it has been a feature in Australia for a while. From the Guardian:

Revellers at Canberra’s Groovin the Moo festival will be able to have their illegal drugs tested for harmful chemicals by STA-SAFE, an independent consortium of health groups, without the threat of legal prosecution.

The multi-day festival, which began on Friday in Wayville in South Australia, will arrive in Canberra on Sunday, where the pill testing will be made available for one day. The proposal has been previously been approved by the University of Canberra, on whose grounds the festival will be held, the territory’s health minister and police.

Participants will provide a scraping or small sample of their pill or powder to volunteers, who then analyse it in a mobile laboratory. Staff provide attendees with the results of the test, as well as the risks and side effects of consuming the substance.

Festivalgoers will be able to throw their drugs into an amnesty bin, which uses bleach to “completely destroy any drugs deposited in them to the extent that they could not be recovered or used”, according to ACT Health. Geoff Munro, the policy manager at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, said pill testing would reduce the overall rate of drug taking at the festival, and prevent overdoses.

“When people are buying pills and powders on the street they can never be sure what is in them,” he said. “Very often people are playing Russian roulette. It may be a highly dangerous chemical, or it may be a much stronger drug that they believe it is.

“It will reduce overdoses, it will reduce some dangerous drug taking and it will save lives,” he said.

And the process has some high level support.  In Australia for instance the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and a former Australian Federal Police commissioner came out in support.  Not to mention the parents of kids who had died through overdoses or complications of drug taking.

The service works.  There are young people alive now who would otherwise be dead if the service was not offered.

And it is very popular.  Three quarters of kiwis in a recent poll supported the service.

Which is why I am not surprised Police Minister Stuart Nash supported a similar proposal for over here.  But he had a problem.  The dinosaurs in the New Zealand First caucus opposed it.  From Television NZ:

Drug testing at music festivals will not be legal in time for the summer season, with Police Minister Stuart Nash struggling to get backing from New Zealand First.

Mr Nash said in January the move would save lives and hospitalisations, but has now said his plan to get it legalised has failed. 

Festival owners are currently reluctant to openly back the drug testing as it is still illegal, but some events have the testing on-site.

“It is something I’m passionate about – I just can’t get it across the line,” Mr Nash said.

“It doesn’t mean I stop. It just means that we probably are not going to get it in place legally for this coming festival season.”

What was the problem?

Well slippery slopes or something.  From the Herald:

NZ First law and order spokesman Darroch Ball said his party was opposing the policy after discussions.

“We’re going down a very, very slippery slope when we’ve got illegal drugs being tested in green safe-zones,” he said.

“This is a party drug, this is for recreational fun times and young people are making that conscious decision to take those illegal, dangerous drugs. What these pill-testing stations do is totally absolves all of those young people from taking personal responsibility for their decisions.”

It is in their view a slippery slope if you stop young people from ingesting drugs that may kill them because they should take personal responsibility for killing themselves.  Or something like that.

Which is why Young NZ First did everyone a service by taking the issue to their conference floor.  And succeeding.  From Boris Jancic at the Herald:

New Zealand First members have backed a rethink of the party’s position against testing of pills at music festivals, in a public clash between its youth wing and members of its parliamentary caucus.

Police Minister Stuart Nash this year threw his backing behind a law change to allow testing of pills at public events, after police found illegal drugs containing traces of a pesticide at the Rhythm and Vines festival in Gisborne.

NZ First’s caucus appeared to have halted the plan last month, with several of its MPs coming out in opposition.

But after push from Young New Zealand First, the party’s membership on Sunday made time to publicly debate the issue at its annual conference.

And in what was a narrow vote by show of hands, the youth wing won out despite criticism from MPs Clayton Mitchell, Darroch Ball and Mark Patterson.

Young NZ First’s Rob Gore implored the audience to back a proposal calling for the party to rethink its position to support the policy.

“Here you are judging young people for taking MDMA, but we are generation who watched our parents and our parents and our grandparents drink themselves into an early grave and yet we haven’t taken the steps we needed to take to reduce alcohol abuse in our society 30 years ago,” he said.

“Brother, do not point out the sawdust in my eye, look at the plank of wood in your own.”

Good on Robert.  And good on the Youth Wing.  It is pleasing to see that participatory politics and debating the merits of an issue will at least occasionally triumph against belligerent dog whistle conservatism.


24 comments on “NZ First Youth drags party screaming and kicking into 20th century ”

  1. Robert Guyton 1

    This quote, from Darroch Ball;

    "What these pill-testing stations do is totally absolves all of those young people from taking personal responsibility for their decisions.”"

    just stuns me; the disconnect from reality and the absence of logic is disturbing.

    What world-view brings someone to say something like that?

  2. mac1 2

    A hundred years to go.

    I saw 'Downton Abbey" yesterday. The two gay men were wondering when their lives would be seen as acceptable. One said, this in the late Twenties, something like "Who would have thought men could fly fifty years ago?"

    • Red Blooded One 2.1

      I haven't seen the clip you are talking about so I might be missing context but technically it is correct that men 50 years prior to the '20s wouldn't have thought "men could fly" with the first flights being very early in the 1900s. Apologies if I've missed the point.

      • mac1 2.1.1

        You're correct, RBO. Just as men in the Twenties could not foresee the advent of gay marriage and just as in this case the hope is that NZF men in general will address their own social attitudes.

        True of all parties. I was pleased to see that a National MP in an opinion piece knew to refer to the Land Wars as such. At some stage he had a good history teacher.

        • Red Blooded One

          So true mac1. and once the Folaus of this world shuffle off to the Hell of their own making we can start seeing Same Sex Marriage as what it is. Marriage !!!!! TBH not sure NZ First has a particularly good track record on that score. I'm sure the NZ 1st Youth Wing will help there too.

  3. Sacha 3

    Sounds like one of the NZ First MPs who resisted this has an interesting backstory: http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/10634014/Youth-focus-for-new-MP

  4. UncookedSelachimorpha 4

    "NZF Youth Wing"

    There is an oxymoron buried in there somewhere, I'm sure of it…

    • Incognito 4.1


      Age is a relative and so is your aunty.

      • Poission 4.1.1

        The theory of relativity says,when you are younger the longer you spend with your relatives,the slower time goes.

        • Incognito

          Indeed, Einstein showed great insight in family affairs and realised that some bend the space-time continuum more than others do.

    • mac1 4.2

      I don't know how big the youth wing is, either as a percentage or in actual numbers of NZF, but good on them for producing the argument and presenting it persuasively.

      And good on older members who listened.

      Some of them might remember the Bob Dylan song which went, "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall."

      • Phil 4.2.1

        Some of them might remember the Bob Dylan song which went, "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall."

        Most of NZF are old enough that they're who Bob was talking about the first time.

    • I was wondering about that myself. Is the "youth wing" the ones who are below retirement age?

  5. Enough is Enough 5

    I still can't see Clayton "we are the Law" Mitchell supporting this through Parliament.

    He is an old school conservative

    • Incognito 5.1

      Did he not deny saying that?

      • Enough is Enough 5.1.1

        Unsurprisingly – he did deny saying that. Its just a useful way to identify him, because that is really the only thing of note that he has done in his time in parliament.

        • Incognito

          I struggle to see how you can identify a person by something they have not said but perhaps you were referring to him being turfed from of a bar rather than to what he allegedly said?

          • Enough is Enough

            OK weird thing to be getting into a debate over.

            My reference to "we are the law" served its purpose as you have clearly identified the incident where he claims not to have said it.

            • Incognito

              What is weird IMO is to identify someone by something they have not said (or done) but are accused of (by people with a political agenda and for political gain?). If you don’t see the weirdness of that, I think you might have a problem with accurate judgements of people you don’t seem to like for some reason. His only political ‘crime’ so far seems to have been not doing much of note during his time in Parliament – there are tens of MPs ‘guilty’ of this but just because this may seem so and because they don’t attract the attention of MSM doesn’t make them a likely target for the easy-to-judge lynch mobs. I know of the alleged incident you’re referring to but I don’t identify the person by it nor do I need to. It is clear that some here may have already written him off based on (negative) bias rather than sound reasoning.

    • tc 5.2

      As is pretty much all of NZF being the party national voters turn to when they can't bring themselves to vote Lab/Green IMO. Winnie knows the brand image he needs to project.

      He looks like another Aaron Gilmore type and like AG seems to forget that being in a public place as an MP carries a higher standard than the average punter carries.

      He's right at home alongside Shane Jones with this atitude.

      • Naki man 5.2.1

        Having his licence to run a pub taken away because of his criminal convictions and Brad Shipton the rapist an ex business partner, i would say Mitchell is an arsehole even by NZF's standards.

  6. observer 6

    When people grumble about the current government, it is worth remembering that the only alternative was a National-NZF coalition.

    There was no other option for National. They could not recreate the relationship with the Maori party or United Future, to look more "moderate" or "centrist", because those parties were out of parliament. So was nice Mr Key.

    So the counter-factual (and more importantly, the likely alternative in 2020) would have been the most reactionary government in a generation.

    Things that would not now be happening: abortion reform, cannabis reform, action on climate change, and much more. Drug testing at festivals? More like mass arrests at festivals.

    The government may not be moving us forward as much as some might like, but it isn't moving us decades backwards. We dodged a deadly bullet there.

  7. Gareth Wilson 7

    Good work by the Youth Wing. Does this count as their community service?

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