Young New Zealand First right to promote drug testing at festivals

Back in the 1960’s major music festivals such as Glastonbury, Woodstock – among others – were as much known for the drug scene that happened around the music as they were for the bands and the music that they played. One does not have to look hard on Youtube to find videos of such scenes – opium, mushrooms, cannabis, cocaine were just a few of the drugs used to get high.

50 years later delegates at the New Zealand First Convention in the weekend just ended were in a heated debate about the suitability of drug testing at music festivals. Some Members of Parliament including Darroch Ball, Mark Patterson and Clayton Mitchell stated their opposition to the idea, which was floated by Young New Zealand First  – the party youth wing – as a policy remit.

Messrs Patterson, Ball and Mitchell said that they were concerned that this essentially amounted to condoning the use of drugs. They were concerned about the messages that would be sent by supporting such a measure.

I support it totally. It is not that I support drug use by any means, but at music festivals, just as at Woodstock and Glastonbury, it is inevitable that drugs get slipped in. There is an equally high probability that strangers in pursuit of that hit that will make them high seek it from people who are otherwise no more than strangers. And further to the point it is far better those that are using them are given the opportunity to ascertain what exactly they are using, lest it be something with a potentially lethal active ingredient. Y.N.Z.F. member Robert Gore, who was quoted suggesting that young people on it should be allowed to repent, suggested lives could be saved and harm from the usage of drugs could be reduced by permitting this policy.

So, I welcome this move by Young New Zealand First to address this issue so that we can all remember the lazy days in the sun singing along to cool tunes for all the right reasons. I hope that the Caucus have another look at how they proceed with this and understand this is about saving lives as Mr Gore said, and not about condoning illicit use of drugs.

The Minor Parties Tour: the biggest NON Parliamentary Parties

They range across the spectrum. Libertarian, separatist, Christian and progressive are just a few of the labels being appropriated by these new parties.

Some of them face basic problems.

I looked for websites on Google for the parties and found several did not have one. A check of both 1 New Zealand and One New Zealand, which both have Facebook pages showed both have no functional website. The domain name for at least one of the two appears to have lapsed. The two separate Facebook pages for these parties which I think are meant to be one and the same (eventually!), have 1,300 and 1,400 likes respectively.

Another problem from experience on Facebook is that the moderators of various fledgling parties are inconsistent. That signals to me that their social media policy is still in development, but that the trigger levels for censoring content are not in place – after a couple of posts on the old Conservative Party Facebook page, including one asking what their policy on the R.M.A. was, I was blocked, when they could have for example just said “we don’t have one”.

Meet the New Conservative Party of New Zealand, born to replace the disgraced Colin Craig formed-and-destroyed Conservative Party. Unlike many of the other parties not in Parliament it has a website. Not surprisingly it has no time for abortion, euthanasia or same sex marriages; tighter criminal sentencing, no to the decriminalization of cannabis. Its environmental policy avoids mention of the Resource Management Act, but promotes withdrawing from all treatises. Notably it has an Israel policy which basically condones the destruction of Palestine.

Another party outside of Parliament is the Maori Party. It formed in 2004 when Tariana Turia walked away from the Labour Party over the foreshore and seabed legislation that was being pushed through Parliament. Mrs Turia and Dr Pita Sharples sought to bring the disparate voices of Maoridom together through one Party. Ultimately it failed to address the many social issues afflicting Maori, such as crime, education, health, social welfare and employment. Although  some believe the party will revive it has to win a electorate seat or get 5% of the party vote to enter Parliament.

A South Island Independence Movement for those in the South Island who are turned off by the politics of the parties who have made it to Parliament is another one that has grown on Facebook. It espouses forming a separate nation, viewed as the Switzerland of the South Pacific in terms of neutrality. No more “globalist” trade agreements, memberships of global bodies is its foreign policy and citizen only ownership of property  At 12,175 members it is one of the larger Facebook sites for non-Parliament based parties. However with no website for those who are not on Facebook, it is likely to be constrained in terms of social media.

A wad of other parties have been listed on Wikipedia, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Better New Zealand, run by Daniel McCaffrey which promotes legalization of cannabis and lower tax
  • Climate Party, run by a Peter Whitmore, which focuses on climate issues
  • National Front – the far right, ultranationalist and ultra-white wing of the global “National Front”
  • New New Zealand Party, run by one time United Future M.P. and former New Zealand First member Marc Alexander

Realistically, if the Maori Party could find a charismatic leader, it might have a chance of getting a Maori seat which would prove to be a springboard for getting into Parliament. It could also gain from the ending of its conflict with former member and leader of Mana, Hone Harawira. The pooling of their combined resources may prove to be the difference between a seat in Parliament or being consigned to the history books.


Democracy the real loser in 2019 Local Government elections

So, the elections of 2019 are over. The new District, City and Regional Councils as well as the new District Health Boards have been decided. Many of the Councils have had their first meeting’s – formal or otherwise and photos of the elected bodies have been posted to Facebook.

As with all elections there are winners and losers. In 2019 though the real losers were not actually the defeated board members/councillors/mayors – although they certainly lost – but the democratic principle which lies at the heart of New Zealand politics. When a country has an average voter turnout of only , that is not democracy IN ACTION, but as a headline on the Sunday Star Times said, “Democracy INACTION”*.

And I have been left wondering what it will take to make more New Zealanders vote in these elections. Will it take compulsory civics in school to learn about how the system works and why, say in Year 12 place of one of the five optional subject slots students can take? Will it require more places to cast ballots – I thought that for one weekend at some point in the campaign period perhaps the locations that are used for General Election voting could be opened for casting ballots. Others have suggested using online voting systems to get people to vote, something has been used in the United States with controversial results.

We cannot make them come to the ballot box, but one thing that could be done is automatically enrolling all citizens upon their 18th birthday. That would ensure that the thousands not on the roll are put on it and are not subject to fines. It would also give the Electoral Commission a better idea of who lives where and make sure that appropriate election resources are applied to that ward/seat.

I wonder what it will take for small electorates to have more than one person standing in some wards. Kaikoura District for example the entire council was re-elected unopposed simply because a district with only a tiny rate payer base almost completely in Kaikoura township was simply not enough to squeeze out any more candidates. Same goes for districts across much of the northern South Island and parts of rural North Island.

Fortunately one certainty still seems to exist irrespective of voter turnout: say or do anything really stupid during the campaign or ones term and you will probably be toast. Just ask Siggi Henry in Hamilton, who wore an anti-vaccination t-shirt to a function and deliberately parked in a disabled carpark. She lost her job on Saturday. Just ask John Tamihere, the former Labour cabinet minister opposing Phil Goff in Auckland, who made the mistake of saying “Sieg Heil”, which is closely linked to Nazism. His election bid to be Auckland Mayor failed handsomely. Just ask former Christchurch City Councillor Deon Swiggs who sent inappropriate text messages to a 15 year old, getting him banned by his boss from council functions for youth and ultimately losing his seat on Saturday.

But all in all, this is not how New Zealand elections should be going in terms of voter turnout and the negative commentary about this sorry state is justified.

*Emphasis is mine

National climbing in polls; Jacinda still preferred Prime Minister

The latest poll out could potentially see a National A.C.T. coalition form. This is how Parliament would look if an election were held today using the numbers of Colmar Brunton:

  • NATIONAL: 60 seats
  • LABOUR: 51 seats
  • GREENS: 8 seats
  • A.C.T.: 1 seat
  • N.Z. FIRST: 0 seats

Because New Zealand First has no electorate seats it would be out of Parliament and their vote would be meaningless. This would boost all of the other parties. National would increase to 49.5%, which would give them 60 seats in the house. With A.C.T. that would enable them to form a Government and not need any other support.

The reality I think is a bit different. Whilst Labour is suffering in the polls I do not believe its popularity has slumped that far as polls typically survey 800-1,000 people. Across all electorates that might be about 14 people per electorate.

  • NATIONAL: 58 seats
  • LABOUR: 50 seats
  • A.C.T.: 3 seats
  • GREENS: 9 seats

David Seymour is the politician I most despise in Parliament and if his A.C.T. Party disappeared most Kiwi’s would be pretty happy, but just this once I think that the man from Epsom has done something right. His work around euthanasia and cannabis reform is going to pay dividends that – credit where it is due – he deserves.

I do not see a future for New Zealand First. Too many people key to the party’s success have been driven from it. Too much time has been squandered with internal politics instead of figuring out how to make it a more efficient election campaigning machine. It is no closer to reforming its campaign machinery than it was when I rejoined in 2010 after a four year hiatus. And then there is the Winston question: how long will Winston Peters stay on as leader?

National leader Simon Bridges is trailing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the preferred Prime Minister stakes for numerous good reasons. She has a commanding lead of 38% as opposed to Mr Bridges who has 9% support and is now comfortably ahead of his National Party colleague Judith “Crusher” Collins on 5%.

  1. His support of Donald Trump policies shows a lack of acknowledgement of the harm that the former is causing America and the world
  2. National spent 9 years denying there was a housing crisis – whilst Phil Twyford should be out of cabinet and some of that surplus should be getting spent on it, Labour have at least tried to ease some of the restrictions in place
  3. Labour have started work on the monumental task of readying the economy for a post-oil New Zealand – keeping a promise
  4. Her compassionate style, whilst fluffy to many is in contrast to the attitude of many in National to things like refugees, mental health and beneficiaries

One thing is for certain, whether Ms Ardern or Mr Bridges like it or not, 2020 is shaping up to be a very lively affair.


Winners and Losers: The 2019 Local Government elections

Congratulations to all ward representatives, Councillors and Mayors elected. It has been fascinating watching the results coming in from around the country. Commiserations to those who lost their races and now return to regular day time work.

Particularly interesting for me in Canterbury has been the election of our first democratic council since the Commissioners took over the 2007-2010 council in March 2010. They leave behind a province struggling with fresh water issues, transport and land use. They leave behind a council whose permanent staff has not only drastically changed, but also missing a lot of local knowledge particularly in the planning and policy sections. Four of the 6 councillors that stood in 2016 have been returned. The other 10 are newcomers.

I am not surprised Lianne Dalziel has been re-elected Mayor of Christchurch. Whilst she was not my preferred candidate, her campaign was the strongest. Runner up Daryl Park was unrealistic in having a policy platform of zero increases in rates. Mr Park also did not score as well as many others did on matters such as housing, transport and drinking water supply. Green candidate John Minto is widely considered too radical and and came third.

Around the big cities in New Zealand I see that Phil Goff has taken Auckland for a second term. Paula Southgate has won Hamilton. Ms Southgate lost the 2016 election race by a razor thin margin of just 6 votes to Andrew Turner, who she outed comfortably. A 35 year old Green Party candidate named Aaron Hawkins has taken Dunedin. It is Wellington that people are watching. One term Mayor Justin Lester is trailing Andy Foster in a race that will be decided by special votes, of which there are about 5,000 to count. That result will be a few days away. An Andy Foster victory would make Justin Lester the first one term Mayor in Wellington in decades.

The West Coast Regional Council has two female councillors joining five others around their council table. This may be a backlash for the denial of climate change that permeated the previous council. Greater Wellington Regional Council has few changes.

In terms of District Council races, I am interested to see what the composition of the Westland District Council is. After a horror three years with two big flood events, two cyclones and much criticism over the Franz Josef flood protection works and their failure to implement Plan Change 7 concerning the Alpine Fault, no doubt ratepayers will be looking forward to a more responsible council. In Canterbury the Waimakariri, Kaikoura, Timaru, Hurunui Districts all have new mayors. The Kaikoura District Council, struggling in the aftermath of the 2016 magnitude 7.8 earthquake faces a difficult three years trying to stay afloat whilst repairing the damage and conducting regular business.

To all those who have voted, in my book you retain your grumbling rights for another three years. To all those that did not, if you now get a council that uses rates in ways you did not want them to, stiff cheese.