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Archive for the ‘Back Benches’ Category

The last Back Benches #SaveTVNZ7

Posted by on June 25th, 2012
Well this is it. Wednesday night will be the last episode of Back Benches as we have grown to know it and love. I hope you’ll all watch it.

Thanks so much to the production team led by Maryanne Ahern, Caroline Bruner, presenters Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie and the rest of the team.

You’ve been provocotive, challenging, quirky, funny, outrageous, thoughtful and you’ve pushed us politicians to reveal ourselves. You’ve allowed the NZ public to participate in politics in new ways. Above all, you’ve belonged to all of us. Thanks.

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel debate the big issues on our final episode of “Back Benches.”

THE ECONOMY: When Back Benches began in April 2008, we were in the first few months of the Global Financial Crises—which has been at the centre of the New Zealand and World economies ever since. So, where are we today? Are we better off than we were four years ago? How have we fared compared to other nations?  What impact have decisions over the last four years meant to our financial footing? And when will the years of austerity be over?

EDUCATION: We have talked about Education many times on Back Benches—Early Childhood, Primary-High School, Adult Education and University. In April 2010, we headed South to Dunedin to discuss University Life—from fees to paying back student loans. Now, in 2012—what’s the state of University Education? How are students affording Uni? Are they paying back their loans any faster or at all?

BINGING & BOOZING: One of the topics we have discussed more than any other is alcohol. The irony is not lost this pub politics programme. In 2009—the law commission released an issues paper on our liquor laws. While, the final report was to be published nearly a year later but we had our panel weigh in. Now, in 2012, Parliament is near deciding which of the 153 recommendations it will adopt. Will there be an increase in the purchase age? Will there be new sale restrictions? Minimum pricing? And will any of these changes actually make a dent in our binge drinking culture?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Shepherds Arms Hotel & Speights Ale House on Tinakori Road: Wednesday, 27th of June. Our Panel: Green Party Co-Leader Metiria Turei, Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, National MP Chester Borrows, and United Future Leader Peter Dunne.   

Just four more episodes of Back Benches before TVNZ 7 gets the chop

Posted by on June 5th, 2012

Suspect this week’s episode will be a biggie

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES—AUCKLAND SPECIAL: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

MOST LIVEABLE CITY: Auckland has been voted one of the world’s most liveable cities. But what makes it so super?  The Auckland City Council has laid out its plans for the next 30 years? What will and should our biggest city look like in the future?

BUT WHERE TO LIVE IN THE MOST LIVEABLE CITY: Auckland is already our largest city but over the next three decades—the city’s expecting to accommodate 60% of the nation’s population growth or a million people. So, where will they live? Where will the houses go? Council planners want to see an additional 280,000 houses to the area over the next 30 years. Where will those go? Will they be affordable? And with the growth spurt—where are we going to put our BBQs?

I GET AROUND: Getting around Auckland can be a struggle now—so what happens as the city grows? Does the city need a 3rd harbour crossing? What about light rail? Better highways? Who and how will we pay for it? And will Aucklanders want to get out of their cars?

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics in AUCKLAND from the BRITOMART COUNTRY CLUB: Wednesday, 6th of June. Our Panel: Green Party Co-Leader Dr. Russel Norman, Labour Leader David Shearer, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters and National MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye.

Back Benches this week (only 7 more episodes left)

Posted by on May 14th, 2012

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

CYBER-BULLIES: It used to be, if you were bullied at school, home could be a refuge. But now in the age of the internet—bullies can always be there simply with a click of a mouse. How can we reduce the harm caused by cyber-bullies? The law commission has several proposals but how many will or should we adopt? Do parents need to do more to protect their kids on the internet? Can they do more? And when the Chief Coroner talks—why aren’t we listening?

A REQUIRED SHOT: A new proposal under consideration for beneficiaries—immunise your children to get your benefit. As Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says, “We see immunisations as important so when you’re looking at those kinds of things, you question at what point should a social obligation be part of a requirement to get a benefit.” We’ve got shocking immunisation rates—so is this a good idea? Or benefit bashing? As always, prevention is cheaper than a cure so does compulsory immunisation make sense? By that argument then, why not require immunisation jabs for entry into schools?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 16th of May. Our Panel: Green Party MP Holly Walker, Labour MP Grant Robertson, National MP Colin King, and New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on April 30th, 2012

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics.

POLITICAL ROUNDUP: This week has been full of political hot topics…the state of the parties, the state of their donations and dealings with the police. The Government is still riding high in the polls? So are the Greens. Meanwhile, Labour is trying to make a dent in their approval ratings. Do they have a problem of style vs. substance? Meanwhile, ACT’s John Banks is in hot water for campaign contributions. Do we need full disclosure over contributions to politicians and/or political parties? Is it a matter for police?

SEX OFFENDERS REGISTRY: Does New Zealand need a sex offender registry? Will a registry prevent new sex offenses? Or will a list merely stigmatise people who have served their time? In recent weeks, we’ve seen stories about convicted sex offenders—one a teacher, the other a school bus driver. Would a registry prevent that? Are we just naming and shaming? Are sex offenders different—do they ever serve their time? Does the proposed sex offenders registry go far enough? Do we need full public disclosure? How would you feel if a paedophile moved in next door?

A TIME TO DIE: Should we be able to decide when it’s time to die? New poll shows more of us support voluntary euthanasia. Labour’s Maryan Street as a “End of Life Choice Bill” would allow Kiwis to say when and how they die. But opponents say allowing euthanasia would lead to abuse. The bill has failed to pass twice before—but are we now more open to change? Should there be limits on who can determine their death? Perhaps reserved for the terminally ill?

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 2nd of May, 9:05pm and on TVNZ7.

The Panel: Green Party MP Denise Roche, Labour MP Phil Twyford, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell and National MP Maggie Barry.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on April 16th, 2012

WHAT THE FRACK?: Fracking—the mining process which blasts a mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth to extract gas or petroleum. We’ve been doing it for decades but now there is Parliamentary inquiry into process. The Greens are calling for a moratorium on fracking until the inquiry is over but the Government says that’s not necessary. It’s controversial—the practice has been blamed for groundwater contamination and earthquakes. Is fracking safe? Is there enough oversight? Oil and Gas exports bring about $3 billion to the economy. Can we say no to the practice?

PAID PARENTAL LEAVE: A bill by Labour’s Sue Moroney says 6 months(26 weeks) rather than the current 3.5 months/14 weeks. The Government says that is unaffordable. Do we need more time for the country to recover financially? Key has left the door open for the future—but will our country EVER be able to afford extended leave? Is it ever a good idea to borrow money for additional entitlements? Or are there benefits, bigger than financial to consider?

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 18th of April, 9:05pm and on TVNZ7.
The Panel: Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, Labour MP Annette King, and National MP Katrina Shanks.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on April 10th, 2012


PAY IT BACK: The kids have been bludging from the taxpayer too long by buggering off to the UK or Oz rather than paying off their school loans, right? True or not, the Government is tackling student debt by making those borrowing more accountable. How? A shorter repayment holiday and the IRD chasing you down. Will this lower the debt? Is the Government being too tough? Is it in the country’s best interest for our youth to get a uni-degree? Do students understand what they’re getting into? And how many are dodging vs. how many are broke?

GETTING THE JOB: Now that you’ve got the student loans, it’s time to get a job. How on earth do you start? Does University prepare you for the work force? What on earth do you do with a BA in History? What are employers looking for? Are there jobs for the Uni-grad? And should we be advising our young what’s in demand?

TIME FOR BABY: How long should new parents stay home with baby? A bill by Labour’s Sue Moroney says 6 months(26 weeks) rather than the current 3.5 months/14 weeks. Is that affordable? Do we need the time for the country to recover financially? Will our country EVER be able to afford extended leave? Or should the leave time be longer? Are there benefits, bigger than financial to consider?

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 11th of April, 9:05pm and on TVNZ7.
This week the panel is representing the Youth Wing of the parties: ACT on Campus Hayden Fitzgerald, Young Greens Wilbur Townsend, Young Labour Glenn Riddell, New Zealand First Youth Curwen Rolinson, and Young Nationals Sean Topham.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on April 2nd, 2012

HOUSING CRUNCH?: Are we in a Housing Boom or a Housing Crunch? Perhaps it depends on whether you’re a renter or an owner? Should you buy or rent? Which is more affordable? Rents are on the rise and affordable housing is becoming more scarce. Why are rents going up? Does there need to be a limit on how much a landlord can raise the rent? Is this a local council issue? Should this be a national government issue? Or should we let the marketplace decide what it can bear?

SAVE THE DOLPHINS: Just 55 little (adult) Maui Dolphins are left. Is it time for urgent action to save the endangered animal? Can they be saved? Do we save endangered animals no matter the cost? Is a sanctuary or a net ban the solution? And do we need to have a big look at our fishing industry? Do you eat sustainably or do you throw a little Snapper or Bluefin Tuna on the grill?

The Panel: Green Party MP Steffan Browning, Labour MP Charles Chauvel, New Zealand First MP Andrew Williams, and National MP Tim Macindoe.

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: 9:05pm Wednesday, 4th of April and on TVNZ 7.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on March 19th, 2012

JAILHOUSE BLUES: Old regional prisons are going to be closed and replaced with a shiny new one at Wiri in South Auckland. Closing prisons—that must be a good thing, right? Well, the new prison is privately-built and run. Plus without regional prisons—will prisoners lose touch with the families? Will it impact their rehabilitation? Do the closings mean a loss of jobs? But then again—is one new modern prison better than a bunch of run down old prisons? Is a gaol from the 1860s conducive to rehabilitation?

NATIONAL vs. LOCAL: Local council debt and our rates are on the rise and the Government wants to do something about it. Local Government Minister Dr. Nick Smith is expected to announce sweeping reforms this week aimed at reducing debt levels and curbing local powers. Are the reforms needed? What should we expect to get from our council rates? What should local councils be responsible for vs. National Government? Will any reforms mean we pay less?

Live pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 21st of March, 9:05pm, on TVNZ 7
The Panel: Labour MP Phil Goff, Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, and National MP Michael Woodhouse.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on March 12th, 2012

This week on Back Benches:

CASUALIZATION OF WORKERS: The union protests at the Ports of Auckland continues—the Maritime Union wants a continuation of eight-hour shifts and job security. While the ports wants greater flexibility and productivity. But is greater flexibility—the casualization of the workforce—the future? Should any worker expect job security? Have the needs of workers and businesses changed? Is the age of 9-5 over? Or are businesses thinking only of themselves?

JOB CUTS: Every industry is looking to cut money from their budgets and our State Sector is not any different. MFAT is looking to save $40million but they are not alone with the Defence force and the Police are looking at places to save, too. Some 3500 public sector jobs are set to go but does this mean a cut in services. Or was the industry bloated in need of big cost cutting measures? With new technologies—do we need as much staff? Is the future doing more with less?

Panel: Green Party MP Gareth Hughes, Labour MP Kris Faafoi, and National MP Ian McKelvie.

Wednesday 14 March, from 9:05pm, on TVNZ 7.

Back benches this week

Posted by on February 28th, 2012

CHANGES ARE A COMIN’: Changes to the benefit are a comin’—with reforms announced this week. The focus is on our youth and getting them off the dole and into work. $20 million a day or $8 billion a year is spent on beneficiaries. What are the reforms? Is it about training or incentives? Are there jobs for the unemployed? Do the reforms look at early intervention programmes? Do we need to reform more than our youth sector? Will these reforms fix the problem or leave more young people out in the cold?

SPEAKING OF JOBS: A new poll shows many tertiary students plan to head overseas because they fear they won’t be able to find a job in New Zealand. Are their fears justified? It’s “O” week—should new students keep this in mind when entering University? How do we keep our students in the country?

MMP: In November we decided we wanted to stick with MMP. Now, it’s time to have our say on MMP reform. What changes would you like to see to MMP? What should the threshold be for list seats? Should a list MP be able to stand in a by-election? Should a candidate have to choose between the list and an electorate? Who should rank the list? How many MPs do we need in Parliament? How should we manage proportion of the seats? What if a party wins more electorate seats than it would get under its share of the party vote?

A night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 29th of February. Our Panel: Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty, Labour MP Sue Moroney, New Zealand First MP Tracey Martin, and National MP David Bennet

Thank you

Posted by on February 19th, 2012

It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks.  Having my Monday-ising Bill drawn on the first regular day of Parliament was a rush.  It is a great opportunity to champion a cause that will fix an anomaly in our law and give hard-working kiwi families the holidays they deserve.

Labour MPs have been supportive of the Bill from the start. NZ First, the Greens and United Future have come out in favour of it now too. And of course most members of the public agree it makes sense.  The Tourism Industry Association has pointed out that it will give a boost to ailing domestic tourism figures.

The Dominion Post explained succinctly why it makes sense.  The Bill addresses an issue that only arises in those years when Waitangi and ANZAC fall on a weekend.  The days of celebration will still be 6 February and 25 April respectively but there will also be a Public Holiday on the Monday that follows.  We do this already for Christmas and other Public Holidays.  Using the Christmas example: it doesn’t make the Christmas celebration itself any different – but you know you can plan for a long weekend and some time off with the family.

In the first couple of weeks, I’ve also had my first media stand-up, my maiden speech, a funeral, a wedding, another Parliamentary speech, several radio interviews and my first appearance on TV show Back Benches.  Because the causes I’ve been fronting have been constructive, and media coverage has been positive, it has been a great experience.

But I’ve not been able to respond to every message of support.  I know other new MPs have had a similar experience. So I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all those who’ve helped get me here, and those who’ve offered assistance or support. I appreciate it.

Back Benches special tonight

Posted by on December 13th, 2011

A VERY SPECIAL BACK BENCHES: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the issues surrounding 2011 and they Rate the MPs!

YEAR IN REVIEW: We take a look back at 2011. What were the highs and lows of the year? How did the Government and the Opposition handle the big issues? Any real stand-outs? We will look back at the election. Any big surprises? Who were you sorry to see go? And the new Parliament will be set—new parties, new leaders, new ministers, etc?

NEWBIES: We take a look at the new intake of MPs. Who has the most promise? Which party has the most interesting new MPs? What about the new Ministers? Who will make the biggest difference?

Join us for a night of pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Tuesday, 13th of December. Our Panel: One News Political Journalist Jessica Mutch, Maui Street Blogger Morgan Godfery, Political Science Lecturer Ana Gilling, and Jordan Williams of Franks & Ogilvie and Vote for Change Campaigner.

Come watch the action on Tuesday, 13th of December from 8-9pm. The show airs on December 21st between 9-10pm on TVNZ 7.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on December 13th, 2011

NEW PARLIAMENT & NEW DEALS: The new Parliament has been announced and with it new deals. Carmel in and Mojo in, Aaron out. Confidence & Supply deals have been made. MPs are rising through the ranks. A new Cabinet. Labour will have a new leader. Exciting times in Parliament—what does it all mean?

DEAR SANTA: What are your Christmas wishes? Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Man or a new iPad? And every year—we promise to quit something or do something better. What is your New Year’s Resolution?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 14th of December. Our Panel: Green Party MP Jan Logie, Labour MP David Parker, National MP Chester Borrows.

Maiden backbencher

Posted by on December 6th, 2011

THE SELL-OFF DEBATE CONTINUES: The election may be over but the debate over asset sales continues. Does National have a mandate for asset sales? Will their coalition partners United Future, ACT and possibly the Maori parties be a great influence on what is sold? Will the opposition hold much sway? What protections will be in place to make sure the majority stake in the assets stay in Kiwi hands?

A TIME FOR GIVING: Tis’ the season for giving. But are we only opening our wallets for more crap we don’t need or are we helping our fellow man? Are we a charitable nation? Are our corporations giving? What about the common man? Are we generous? Should we be encouraging one another to give either with time or money? Is it time to offer tax credits to encourage us to give?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 7th of December. Our Panel: Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty, Labour MP Andrew Little, National MP David Bennett.

Back Benches this week

Posted by on November 29th, 2011

POST-ELECTION ROUND-UP?: After an exhaustive few weeks of furious campaigning the election is over. Now, we sort through the results to look at what the hell happened and what the next three years will look like. What do the results mean for National, Labour, the Greens, ACT, United Future and New Zealand First? Speaking of New Zealand First—who predicted 8 MPs? Who made it in on the list? Who lost out? What coalition deals will we see? What will be the bottom line for these parties?

GET OUT THE VOTE: A million registered voters stayed out of the voting booths. Why? Who did it hurt the most? How can we get people more excited about their civic duty? And do we need to be doing more to get people to the polls? Is it time to make voting compulsory?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 30th of November. Our Panel: Green Party MP-Elect Holly Walker, Labour MP-Elect David Shearer, National MP-Elect Chris Tremain, and United Future Leader Peter Dunne.

Back Benches this week – the righties take over ?

Posted by on November 22nd, 2011

GOOD TIMES, BAD TIMES: The Campaign is less than a week away. What have been the highs & lows of this campaign? Who has been effective in getting their message across? Who has failed? What have been the big issues? How would you rate each of the campaigns? Which party has surprised you?

TEMPEST IN A TEACUP: There have been a few scandals in this campaign—with New Zealand even getting their own Tea Party. We will be discussing the scandals—the tea-gate? The damaged hoardings and the carpetbaggers. How much of an impact will they have on the results? And were the “scandals” really scandals?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 23RD of November. Our Panel: David Farrar of, Victoria University Lecturer Ana Gilling, Morgan Godfery of, and Mark Unsworth of Saunders Unsworth.

Back benches – Mallard reveals secret weapon – and – is 55 too high on the list for Quinn

Posted by on November 14th, 2011


HAVING STANDARDS: National Standards has been an education programmed welcomed with open arms by some and absolutely despised by others. Why is there such controversy over National Standards? Do National Standards pick on kids—labelling some as failures? Or is it an effective way of showing parents when their child may be falling behind? Are National Standards unfair to teachers? If not National Standards, then how do we prevent our children from falling through the cracks?

GET A JOB, KID!: Thousands of our young people are out of work but what should be done? Is it youth wages? How do we stop kids from checking out from education? And how do we make sure there is work training? Will employers take a chance on young people without employment law changes?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 16th of November. Our Panel: ACT Party Candidate Alex Speirs, Green Party Candidate Holly Walker, Labour Candidate Trevor Mallard, National Candidate Paul Quinn, and United Future Candidate Rob Eaddy.

Somehow Wgtn Central is no longer marginal – well done Grant

Posted by on November 7th, 2011

IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!: At the heart of the election is the issue of the economy and which party we most trust to balance the books? Who do you trust? And what about job losses? The public sector is facing cuts-how will be effected by job losses? And kiwisaver—will changes improve the people’s pockets?

WELFARE REFORM: The Government has pledged to reform welfare after the election. Up for reform: solo parents with kids over 14 will have to return to full-time work, part-time once their child is of school age, and those on the sickness benefit will be encouraged to return to work as their health improves. Are these changes fair or another form of benefit bashing? Are there even jobs for them to go to? Will there be job training?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 9th of November. Our Panel: ACT Party Candidate Stephen Whittington, Green Party Candidate James Shaw, Labour Candidate Grant Robertson, and National Candidate Paul Foster-Bell.

Jacinda to upset

Posted by on October 31st, 2011

BUSES, TRAINS, AUTOMOBILES-OH MY: As our largest city it makes sense that Auckland has the largest transportation woes, too. City Rail link—how should it be funded? Should we be investing more on rail? Are we too focused on roads? Can the current transportation options keep up with expected population growth? Is Auckland walking/cycle friendly? What should we be doing to improve Auckland’s transport?

SMALL BUSINESSES: Auckland has thousands of small businesses—how are our current employment laws affecting these businesses? Do we need to make changes to our employment laws? What about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour? Are small businesses and self-employment the backbone of our economy? How do we create an environment for job creation?

LIVE pub politics from the BRITOMART COUNTRY CLUB, AUCKLAND (updated): Wednesday, 2ND of November. Our Panel: ACT Party Candidate David Seymour, Green Party Candidate Denise Roche, Labour Candidate Jacinda Ardern, and National Candidate Nikki Kaye.

Will Damien use his trickle down line

Posted by on October 25th, 2011

FUTURE OF MINING: The West Coast is New Zealand’s mining country. The electorate, the people and the industry are still reeling from the Pike River tragedy. How is the Pike River recovery? And what about the future of mining in New Zealand? Should we continue mining? How is mining safety? How do we prevent further disasters?

GET A JOB: The economy is the centrepoint of the election and at the heart of the economy is JOBS. How do we create jobs? Especially, on the West Coast where there are fewer industries. And when it comes to employment—are our workplace laws fair? Is it time to abolish the 90-day probation period? Or Monday-ise holidays? Or raise the hourly wage? Or will changes only make job creation more difficult?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 26th of October. Our Panel: Green Party Candidate Kevin Hague, Labour Candidate Damien O’Connor, and National Candidate Chris Auchinvole.