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Labour Leadership Virtual Hustings Meeting Questions – Full List Of Questions

Posted by on September 14th, 2013

Labour Leadership Virtual Hustings Meeting Questions – Full List

submitted by members – Sept 3rd to Sept 10th 2013

published 14 Sept, 2013

The questions below were submitted by New Zealand Labour Party members for the “Virtual Hustings Meeting” held by the party from September 10th to 14th 2013 and organised by Scoop Amplifier.

14 of these questions were selected and provided to candidates to answer with a 200 word limit. The Questions and Answers were then posted on the Scoop.co.nz and Red Alert ( blog.labour.org.nz ) websites. As this is published a discussion is taking place on the Red Alert site about the answers.

The questions and answers can be viewed at the links below:

1. Environment : What are your views on a clean green NZ?
2. Poverty : How would you ensure no one needs to live in poverty?
3. TPPA : Will you make the TPPA process transparent?
4. Equal pay : What would you do about gender pay discrimination?
5. Peoples : How would bring Maori & Pakeha into a multi-ethnic future?
6. Justice : What is your view of the New Zealand justice system?
7. Disability Issues : Would you create a Ministry for Disability?
8. Voter turnout : How do we motivate more people to vote?
9. Economy : How can we convince voters Labour’s economic policy will work?
10. Older New Zealanders : How would you advocate for older New Zealanders?
11. Party Leadership : What Labour values drive your work for New Zealand?
12. Party Unity : How would you unite the party as a whole?
13. Experience : What have you learned from failure & how would you apply it?
14. Winning : Why are you the one to take on and beat John Key?

CONTENTS

(click these links to jump to questions about each subject below)
Arts sector
Australia and international relations
Commerce
Constitution
Defence
Economy
Education
Employment
Environment
Green and sustainability
Health
Immigration
Income and Tax
Justice
Legislation
Older NZers
Labour Party
Regional issues
Winning edge

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Arts sector

What value do you place on the Arts and Creative Industries as contributors to our cultural health and wellbeing, our ability to achieve distinction, and our economic wellbeing?
John Smyth

Is it important to cultivate and sustain ‘the New Zealand voice’ and ‘the New Zealand story’ or is ‘cultural product’ just another item of trade, like a plastic spoon?
John Smyth

What are your thoughts on the Arts’ budget…….drama, orchestral, dance, etc and for the training, encouragement and support required?
(Margaret) Heather Grimwood

Will you look to create more opportunity for overseas movie houses to come to NZ to shoot films?
Christine Small

Lyndon Johnson said “Art is a nation’s most precious heritage. For it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation. And where there is no vision, the people perish.” Under the current government the arts have been abandoned and the people are perishing. What will you do to ensure the performing and visual arts will be actively supported in New Zealand to aid communication, express visions beyond words, and provide a medium for cultural enlightenment that enables the spirit of the people to flourish?
Helen Gaeta

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Australia and international relations

Would you personally engage with the Australian Prime Minister/Government in seeking to redress their current policies with regards to entitlements for ex-pat Kiwis?
Janet Phillips

Would you consider becoming less tied strategically to the U.S?
Jackie Steincamp

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Commerce

How will you stop private equity firms buying and owning media companies, especially in the Mediaworks and Channel 9 Australia’s situations?
Gary Wills

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Constitution

Would you consider policy that would lead to the appointment of our own Head of State, as in this day and age it seems ridiculous our sharing a Head of State, also a foreigner, with another nation. This would also presumably lead to our becoming a republic.
Murray Eggers

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Defence

I would like each candidate to outline under what circumstances would they send NZ troops into a war zone or peace making deployment, if they were the prime minister?
Julie Beriman

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Economy

Do you support a return to surplus as the priority for fiscal policy, and do you have a time-frame target for achieving this?
James Bews-Hair

Labour spends a lot of time in a deep hole called monetary policy. Last time it was moving from Opposition to Government it emerged from the hole with only a small and ultimately inconsequential change to policy settings. Is there anything decisive that can be done about monetary policy? If not shouldn’t more focus be on more direct efforts to change the structure of the economy?
Patrick Hine

Given the failure of ‘third way’ politics, what does a post-neoliberal New Zealand economy look like to you?
Damien Rogers

What are three major strands for an economic development strategy for New Zealand which the current Government has failed to consider?
Dolores Janiewski

The old (present) economic ideas seem to have failed for many. However the voting public will be sceptical about change (remember Labour and Rogernomics?) Also John Key will come out and say that any new Idea of Labour’s is unworkable. Labour will have to provide concrete proof that any change will work for the marginalised and poor. How can we get the voting public to believe that the present economic thinking has failed? and that Labour’s ideas will work for them?
Angie Croft

Would you consider reducing the high New Zealand dollar to improve international competitiveness?
Jackie Steincamp

Given the general failure of Simon Upton’s competitive CRI model to serve this country well, do you see a need to revert to something closer to the original cooperative DSIR model for the Labour Party?
Alan Mark

Until such time as free trade agreements are allowed to become ‘restricted trade agreements’ so that local production has a chance to flourish locally and then internationally, unemployment levels of 160,000 people will never disappear. My question to each of you is: Are you prepared to take this fight on to the IMF and the WTO and tell them these facts and that their neo-liberal template is causing huge, permanent unemployment in New Zealand and around the world and that we want to be able to decide our own economic, social and political destiny?
Adam Browne

Will you make the TPPA process transparent ?
Christine Small

What are your views on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement?
Vicki Bunch

Please outline your personal stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. In particular: 1. If negotiations are not concluded before a change in government, would you as leader support your Trade Minister to continue negotiations? 2. If negotiations are concluded prior to a change in government, do you envision taking steps to extricate NZ from this agreement?
Natalie Arnold

What is your view on the TPPA?
Cushla Dillon

If you are elected do you intend to lead NZ into the TPPA agreement?
Cushla Dillon

With Kiwi build is there any provision for low income housing with a provision for income related rents?
Gerard Hill

What is your position on an immediate return to making contributions to the NZ Super fund?
James Bews-Hair

Would you consider implementing an Investment Reserve Fund in an effort to help protect the New Zealand economy against future recession? and if not, why not? (such as found in Sweden or Norway – Relevant article: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/projects/bpea/1982%201/1982a_bpea_taylor_baily_fischer.pdf Also detailed by Peter Katzenstein’s Small States in World Markets: Industrial Policy in Europe )”
Matthew Luke Weaver

Do you think it’s now time to seriously consider a robin hood tax on foreign transactions?
Christine Small

Will you be removing GST from basic food items?
Trevor Scott

If you are elected do you intend to lead NZ into the TPPA agreement?
Cushla Dillon

If you are elected how important will it be to you to discuss openly with NZers the impact the TPPA will have on many aspects of our lives, including trade, our environment, copyright laws and medicine prices.
Cushla Dillon

Do you see an end to the business as usual model and if so when?
Frank Cook

The labour party has said it is in favour of a capital gains tax. Would the gain be counted from when the good was purchased or from when the tax law was changed?
John Raven

What changes would you make to the laws governing home insurance to force insurance companies to pay out within a reasonable period of time?
John Raven

What action will you take to help people trying to get a fair deal from their insurance companies and/or EQC for earthquake damage?
John Raven

Will you make a change in the law that allows people with bare land to insure it?
John Raven

I have a question on housing policy – a possible contradiction as I see it. Labor has accused National of “tinkering arround the edges” of the housing affordability crisis. By this statement Labor have suggested that their initiatives are substantial and will make homes in Auckland/Christchurch and NZ more affordable (at a regions given wage structure). If we believe this, then does this mean that a New Zealand that you lead will encourage and plan for debt deflation? What consequences do you intend housing policy to have for the wider NZ economy.
Jeremy Adrian

I note come of the rhetoric in the media indicates a move to the left. That is fine but how far, Labour is a Centre Left Party, Helen Clark was no right winger but pragmatic. I am concerned that too far left will give Key the Centre and power. Undoing the changes to the latest Bill on Employment Relations is good but what else do the candidates suggest?
Peter Jamieson

Since the 1980′s NZ has been running trade deficits and borrowing abroad to fund our lifestyle. Most of our trading partners use trade restrictions against our exports and yet we generally allow them to have greater access to our market and so we get deeper and deeper in debt. Many of them also use currency manipulation which disadvantages our exporters. How will you level the playing field for our manufacturers and farmers who export and also those who face unfair competition in our domestic market from abroad? Why are we such weak traders, are trade deficits the only way we can reduce inflation?
Dave Wollman

Should the next Labour Goverment institurte a “NZ first” preference in all contracts for goods and services?
Jonathon Everist

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Education

Can you commit to bring back the very valuable Adult Community Education night classes which were killed by the Nats?
Clement Pinto

I believe ECE is the most necessary area of education funding. Will you ensure as a priority that all ECE staff are trained teachers?
(Margaret) Heather Grimwood

Do you think Te Reo Maori should be compulsory in all schools; if so, how will you implement it?
Anaru Ryall

The National Government has made it harder for kiwis to access tertiary education. (Capping numbers/restrictions to student loans/allowances etc). What would you do to improve kiwis’ abilities to further up skill and educate themselves?
Janet Phillips

What strategies would you wish to put in place to ensure no one needed to live in poverty?
Ken Hutchison

How will you reduce inequality in New Zealand?
Perce Harpham

Outline how you would like to see the reduction of inequality progressed in New Zealand, such as higher taxation for those on top incomes, through cost of living increases etc?
Jackie Steincamp

New Zealand has been “internationally regarded as a flagship in creating the necessary infrastructure of early childhood policy around issues of quality, qualifications, access and curriculum. … the undermining of these policies is dispiriting, and even embarrassing, as there is continuing worldwide interest”. (Carr, May & Smith, 2010) What do the leadership candidates plan to do to reverse the watering down of ECE quality? In particular would the candidates favour re-instituting funding for centres with 100% qualified staff?
Anne Smith

Is it possible to have universal free education?
Jonathon Everist

Should more “‘integrated’ schools’ be permitted?
Jonathon Everist

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Employment

What can we do to make sure that there is gainful employment available to suit the abilities and temperament of the least able and that it pays well enough to ensure that individual a reasonable standard of living and ability to participate fully in our society?
Gregg Sheehan

What concrete practical moves would you introduce to increase employment everywhere?
Jackie Steincamp

What support will you give to business owners/managers in daily operation of their business? Instead of watching workers, treating workers as “thick” and “simple”, utilization of workers e.g casual moves to part time, part time moves to full time position.
Gary Wills

What Concrete, practical moves would you promote to engage disaffected youth – and get them into paid employment?
Jackie Steincamp

Would you ensure that carers (Resthomes etc) receive the increases that the recent court hearing has decreed they should receive?
Jackie Steincamp

Gender pay discrimination in NZ is a reality. The recent ruling in the Kristine Bartlett/SFWU case gives some hope. How would your leadership promote progress on achieving equal pay for work of equal value?
Lesley Soper

Would you institute the increased Minimum Living wage across the board (not just Government organisations)?
Jackie Steincamp

Would you consider legislating a pay ratio such as 1:20 for minimum wage versus Maximum possible wage in all public or private organisations in the country in order to ensure better social fairness and social justice to help bridge the ever widening gap between the wealthy and the relatively poor?
Clement Pinto

Presently Support Staff in schools can and are being paid as little as $15.03 per hour to support the learning of quite often our most vulnerable children. What do you see as the labour party’s role in achieving a well resourced workforce in our schools, namely Support Staff?
Linda Jordan

What can we do to make sure that there is gainful employment available to suit the abilities and temperament of the least able and that it pays well enough to ensure that individual a reasonable standard of living and ability to participate fully in our society?
Gregg Sheehan

What concrete practical moves would you introduce to increase employment everywhere?
Jackie Steincamp

What support will you give to business owners/managers in daily operation of their business? Instead of watching workers, treating workers as “thick” and “simple”, utilization of workers e.g casual moves to part time, part time moves to full time position.
Gary Wills

What Concrete, practical moves would you promote to engage disaffected youth – and get them into paid employment?
Jackie Steincamp

Under the National Government there has been a disconnect between the government, in its communications and policy, and the teaching profession (including teachers, principals, boards of trustees and education experts). What would you like to see done to improve this relationship?
Bridget Dymock-Johnson

I agree that all workers deserve a living wage, but, as a provincial Chartered Accountant, I see real difficulty in many small employers, for example in the retail sector, being able to afford $18.40 an hour. They have little opportunity to increase margins when already facing stiff competition from major retailers and online outlets. How do respond to this conundrum?
Bruce Ellis

What specific economic policies will you put in place to help job and wage growth?
John Raven

Do you acknowledge there is an unemployment/ under employment problem in New Zealand especially for those under 25 and over 50?
John Raven

What specific policies will you put in place to help the young and over 50s find work?
John Raven

Would you put in place a mechanism whereby someone can do an apprenticeship at any age?
John Raven

Would you alter the exceptional circumstances threshold for notifying a personal grievance outside the 90 day period?
Steven Zindel

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Environment

Given that the Puhipuhi plateau to the north of Whangarei is a vast storehouse of mostly locked up mercury , how do the candidates feel about the prospect of this area being sifted for minute quantities of gold and silver, thereby unlocking the mercury and allowing the possibility of environmental degradation from Puhipuhi to the Kaipara Harbour?
Jeff Saunders

What are your views on a clean green NZ?
Heather Mannix

What are your views on our one pure gold asset “water” and protecting our waterways?
Heather Mannix

Given that the Puhipuhi plateau to the north of Whangarei is a vast storehouse of mostly locked up mercury , how do the candidates feel about the prospect of this area being sifted for minute quantities of gold and silver, thereby unlocking the mercury and allowing the possibility of environmental degradation from Puhipuhi to the Kaipara Harbour?
Jeff Saunders

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported in June 2013 that the planet is on a trajectory for a temperature rise around 4oC, well above the 2oC limit of the Copenhagen agreement. They have proposed a 4-for-2 policy to try to bring us back on course and talk of the need for political resolution. What measures, locally and globally, will you pursue to make the Copenhagen target technically feasible?
Frank Cook

Do you believe that global warming is a real and severe threat to our planet.. which includes New Zealand. If so (1) – do you support mining on the Denniston Plateau [which actually was categorically put aside when the Stockton Plateau was given the go-ahead? (2) do you support exploration/mining for oil in our EEZ seas? (3) - would you cancel the MacKay's to Peka Peka Expressway and replace it with the consented Western Link Road? (4) - can you work co-operatively with the Green Party to encourage a sustainable, greener economic policy?
Rochelle Wilson

What aspect of the RMA reforms passed by National would Labour repeal if returned to power?
John Raven

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Green and sustainability

Do you agree that NZ should diversify its primary industry base by developing its significant renewable resources (hydro, wind, solar and marine energy) both to supply the local energy market and to add value to primary products by local processing of energy intensive exports (wood, agriculture, fisheries, iron sands, freezing capability, Australian bauxite, nitrogen fertiliser, cement, glass, ceramics and hydrogen)?
John Irving

Given the economic environment and the benefits of having investment brought to New Zealand via our natural resources, Coal, Gold, and Silver etc. At present environment groups with the best of intentions are costing tax payers and companies money while safe in the knowledge that they will not have costs awarded against them. How do we maintain employment and income while looking after our other natural resources like our Rivers and Wildlife without having a long drawn out court battle like the one currently on-going over the Dennison Plateau between Bathurst and Forest and Bird? We need the employment and we need to keep New Zealand green, how do we do both?
John Adams

How do you intend as Leader to manage the conflicting priorities of economic development and environmental protection?
Lesley Soper

As the NZ Labour Party Leader will you be supporting solar energy within all new homes?
Heather Mannix

As the NZ Labour Party Leader will you be supporting solar energy within all new homes?
Heather Mannix

For Shane Jones: How does he reconcile his support for augmenting West Coast coal mining with the imperatives of reducing global warming by shunning fossil fuel trading and consumption?
Peter and Margaret Bartlett

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Health

What is your view on health? should dental care be subsidised? should primary health be fully funded? should residential facilities for the aged be adequately funded? Should there be one comprehensive hospital in Auckland or should each geographical area have a tertiary hospital?
Julie Berriman

We have a diabetes epidemic. This being caused by the lifestyle factor of being overfat. Overfat is created by eating too much energy to energy use. Not only does this affect people's physical health it impacts on social, mental, psychological and spiritual well being. What will you do, as leader, to tackle this excessively expensive and preventable lifestyle dis-ease which is now starting in early childhood and extending to old age?
Vivienne Shepherd

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to addressing the discrimination against certain impairment groups (such as adults with Aspergers) which means they are unable to access support through the current MoH’s NASC system?
Hilary Stace

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to demedicalising disability support services by creating a new Ministry for Disability Issues with a high-ranked minister in cabinet and a chief executive committed to the social model of disability and, preferably, lived experience of disability?
Hilary Stace

What will you do about the national disgrace of children living in poverty in New Zealand? And how soon will you do it?
Mary K Dearsley

WINZ staff need to improve their attitude to the beneficiaries are any of you willing to bring more positive model from the negative model done by current government?
David Maclure

Is it possible to have a universal dental health subsidy as we have for doctors?
Jonathon Everist

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Immigration

There is no point training more apprentices if we are only going to export them to Australia. Will your Government manage the rate of immigration to ensure that labour supply does not exceed demand as has been the practice introduced as a feature of Roger Douglas' neo liberal macro economic policy to ensure that wages in New Zealand were driven to rates less than in Australia?
Lou Yukich

Would you tighten up the immigration laws to push employers to train people already in New Zealand rather than just importing experienced people from abroad?
John Raven

If, like the Australians, you are faced with boatloads of refugees arriving, what will be your policy?
Alastair McKerchar

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Income and Tax

Would a government led by you consider phasing in overtime Income splitting for couples?
Peter Hutchinson

Would a government led by you consider phasing in overtime raising tax free income threshold to the minimum amount required to live? ..eg if an individual needs 15k P.A to meet the basic needs to survive. ..start taxing every dollar after that amount, not before
Peter Hutchinson

Would a government led by you consider phasing in overtime introduction of a "Guaranteed Minimum Income" or GMI of the like proposed by Gareth Morgan?
Peter Hutchinson

As a 53 yr old ex labourer, tradesman, factory supervisor and business owner. I feel bringing in a living wage will just cause higher inflation to the basics of living, and once again the people that need assistance the most will be on the losing end. John Key gave away 4 billion in tax cuts, what will you do to reverse those to truly put money back into the pockets of the workers of this country?
Peter Hutchinson

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Justice

Would each candidate outline their views on the justice system in NZ, do they endorse restorative justice or prefer the fill the prisons option?
John Berriman

What would you do about: a) lawyers not being allowed to act for many people involved in parenting disputes; b) most criminal defendants not being able to choose their lawyer on legal aid; and c) paying lawyers the same legal aid fixed fee per case, irrespective of the work done?
Steven Zindel

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Legislation

Why not make public drunkenness and disorder a crime – rather than fixating on closure hours of bars?
Jackie Steincamp

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to repealing the NZ Public Health and Disability Amendment Act (No 2) 2013?
Hilary Stace

Are you as a potential leader prepared to support Maryan Street's End of Life Choice Bill, and if you become leader of the Labour caucus and should you become leader of the govt, would you be prepared to support the EOLC Bill as a Govt Bill with a conscience vote?
Jack Havill

Labour did away with Knighthoods/ damehoods when last in power, but they were reinstated by National. Would you support their abolishment, as such awards are incompatible with Labour/Socialist principles.
Murray Eggers

Will you investigate the Governments selling Government owned real-estate to itself without going through public auction?
Christine Small

Will you look into revoking any Social welfare reforms initiated by this Government?
Christine Small

What is the candidates’ view of the recommendations from the Electoral Committee to ditch he ‘coat-tails’ clause for leaders of small parties and to lower the threshold to 4 percent? What action would they take as Prime Minister?
Jenny Pattrick

Considering the extremely high incidence of child abuse in NZ (seventh highest in OECD Countries!) what do you each consider about legislation fully covering Mandatory Reporting in Child Abuse in NZ and as modelled on all Australian States (except, I believe, Western Australia) who have each submitted positive reports to us thoroughly endorsing that legislation (refer to myself for copies or to Jacinda Adhern).??
Robert W Walker

Will your Government amend the Holidays Act S14 provision to return it to the provisions it had prior to the National Party amending it to the disadvantage of workers?
Lou Yukich

Will your Government reinstate the provisions of the Holidays Act that allowed all employees the right to determine when they took alternative days (lieu days)?
Lou Yukich

New Zealand has, along with Australia, the highest rate of teenage cannabis use in the world. We also have the world's highest arrest rate for cannabis offences. Why are we criminalising our young people in this way and what should we do to stop this insanity?
Phil Saxby

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Older NZers

Senior people (those 50+) represent 53% of NZ voters, currently. As an active Labour supporter for some 40 odd years, I have been seeking from the Labour party the policy which will bring this group to strongly support Labour in 2014. Are any of the leadership candidates able to state what he is prepared to advocate for us, Seniors?
Dean Chandler-Mills

Will your Government increase the qualifying age for National Superannuation?
Lou Yukich

Would you support Maryan Street's Member's bill [if " pulled from the hat"] re End-of Life choice for NZ citizens?
Rochelle Wilson

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Labour Party

Who would be your finance minister if you were PM?
Bob Davies

I know it is always possible that the other candidates would not be in the cabinet, but for the sake of argument let’s say they are. What portfolios would you allocate to your fellow candidates if you became the leader (prime minister)?.
Bruce Rogan

What would your Labour Party caucus members say about your leadership style, your leadership strengths, and your leadership weaknesses? What would their perspectives tell me about how you will be leading the Labour Party in the next 18 months?
Dalene Mactier

To ensure a victory in the 2014 election we need courageous leadership. Failure is part of courageous leadership. Tell us about a time that you failed as a leader. What did you learn from that experience and how would you apply your learning in the future?
Dalene Mactier

At times it seems as if politics and integrity is an oxymoron. Tell us about a time where the Labour party caucus direction was in conflict with your personal integrity. How did you manage it and how would you apply your learning in the future?
Dalene Mactier

Did you Vote for David Shearer for Leader at the Previous Caucus vote? if so what did you see in the Candidate that would have suggested he could have won the next Election for Labour, or did you simply see him as a Temporary Leader prepared to loose the next Election until someone better came along?
Geoff Silbery

Why did you join the Labour Party over other parties and what are the key Labour values and principles that drive your work for Labour and New Zealand?
Annalise Roache

What books are you currently reading? What have you read in the last 6 months that has influenced or guided your thinking?
Bryce Bartley

Tell us about a time when you led a group of people to achieve a positive outcome. What did you do and what was the result?
Bryce Bartley

When Labour is mentioned people often refer to the party as the PC patrol or returning to the nanny state, including John Key’s current rhetoric that any of your Leadership would take the party further to the left. What are your key messages to the public in response to charges of PC’ism?
Annalise Roache

Since the last term of the Clark government the Labour party seems to have lost its way and connection with everyday New Zealanders. What do you think lead to this, what can you learn from it and how will you remedy for the future?
Annalise Roache

Under your leadership would a Labour-led Government commit to actively encouraging disabled people onto winnable places in the party list?
Hilary Stace

I am a woman and have three grown daughters and now three granddaughters. Each and every one of us has been able with the right personal attributes, determination and education to achieve without any bias towards us on the basis of gender. Why is there such emphasis on the 50-50 split of male/female MPs for Labour?
Marilyn Geddes

The best government for New Zealand, I believe, is a Labour-Green coalition that tackles global warming and energy supply. What are Labour’s plans for forging an alliance with Greens?
Jocelyn Harris

If it came down to a coalition between NZ First or the Greens, which would you be inclined to go with?
Joss Debraceny

I am in my early 40’s, live in Auckland Central and my friends and I would be described as left/centrist. Less than a handful of people I know vote two ticks for Labour, these days the average urban person simply isn’t aligned to one party, unless it’s National. What do you think of this and as Leader how will you work more authentically and collaboratively with the Greens to be more representative of today’s voters?
Annalise Roache

if you were elected would you agree to formally sign an affirmation of the parties new Policy framework and if in Govt were going to take a decision which was contrary to that party policy be prepared to bring it back to the party for confirmation/ratification?
Edwin Daniel

Critics have said that Labour is divided. How will you unite the party behind you?
Bridget Dymock-Johnson

As the candidate for the leader of the New Zealand Labour Party what qualities/initiatives can you bring to the party and within caucus and the rest of the membership within the country to unite the party as a whole?
Heather Mannix

Would the 2 losing candidates give there FULL support to the winning candidate, and get behind the new leader and party to win the next election?
Whakiao Hopmans

Will the 2 losing candidates tell those caucus members that supported them, that they should now unite, and have no divisions?
Whakiao Hopmans

Given your commitment to unifying the party, will you consider dismantling those branches of the NZLP which enshrine differences based on gender, ethnicity, or sexual preference, so that we can become a party of equality and opportunity for all of New Zealand’s workforce, rather than a broad church hijacked by the special interest agenda?
Damien Rogers

Michael Joseph Savage left an enduring legacy on our Party and on New Zealand. In terms of principles, beliefs and views – how do you relate yourself to our first Labour Prime Minister?
Mark Byford

Undercurrents in the Labour party are compromising a Labour victory in 2014. What was your role in the past in the undercurrents and how will you build unity and synergy in the future?
Dalene Mactier

Our strength is often our weakness too. What do you see as a key strength that you will bring to the Labour leadership that could potentially become your weakness in the future? How will you manage it?
Dalene Mactier

As the Labour leader and prime minister, you will be required to steer the party and the government with a firm hand. How will you ensure that you maintain control, while allowing autonomy and encouraging innovation in younger MPs to ensure we continue to grow strong leaders in the Labour Party?
Dalene Mactier

All of you have identified the importance of Party Unity. What do you see as areas of disunity? How would you promote unity?
Bryce Bartley

I am a gay man in a relationship for the last 35 years. Acceptance has changed but I still find an occasional unexpected pocket of bigotry and abuse. Will NZ accept a gay prime minister?
Chris Brown
Leaders are good because they lead. Telephone canvassers, door knockers and letter box teams do the work on the ground. What difference will your leadership make to building the foot army required to win the 2014 election? Please base your answer on what you have already achieved in your local area.
Steve Farrow

If you were elected leader, would you be happy to work with either of the other two candidates as your deputy?
Lucy Marsden

We are not just electing a Labour leader. Equally importantly, we are electing the person we want to lead a Centre-Left government in 2014. Why do each of the candidates think they are the best suited to lead a campaign that will unite Labour, the Greens and NZ First into a confident, winning team? And how would they go about this vital task?
Phil Saxby

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Regional issues

What steps will you take as leader to support the people of Christchurch in the Eastern Suburbs who are still suffering due to EQC and the lack of transparency and information to support constituents moving forward with their lives?
Heather Mannix

As leader of the party what involvement/input will you have in choosing the by-election candidate for Christchurch East and will you listen to the local membership?
Heather Mannix

Bearing in mind the National Govt’s short-term ‘solutions’ [e.g. $30 million for the Tiwai situation, which only buys a 3-5 year breathing space for the 3200 local jobs at stake], what is your stance on economic development strategies for regions such as Invercargill/Southland? What would you do as Labour Leader to support regional development and jobs?
Lesley Soper

During early protests against the Kapiti Expressway Labour indicated it would stop work on this project and reinstate the two-lane internal western link road if the former had not progressed too far. It now seems unlikely that by the time of the election work on the Expressway will have progressed to the extent that any work could not be incorporated in a Western Link scheme. Would you support work stopping on the Expressway in favour of the hijacked Western Link Road?
Murray Eggers

Will your Government build a railway line from Kaitaia to the port of Whangarei?
Lou Yukich

Will your Government build a new production facility at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery to process New Zealand oil that is currently all exported for want of a processing facility capable of handling New Zealand oil?
Lou Yukich

As a supporter of all Kapiti residents who are “motorway refugees” orwill be stranded within 200 metres of the monster road, I would ask what you would do about the proposed road through Kapiti.
Graham Bathgate

Why should a Labour-led government not develope the collection and exportation, to a desperately thirsty world, of the hugely abundant and squandered volumes of fresh water that the main divide delivers through the West Coast into the Tasman Sea? (water mining!)
Peter and Margaret Bartlett

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Winning edge

What methods will you engage in to bring about a large drop in the number of electors who do not bother to vote?
Graham Adams

“How can you as an individual help to get the voters – especially the young, who were disengaged in the last election to get out and vote this time?
Steve Cole

To win the next election we need to motivate people to vote and win some of the swing voters in the middle. Share one strategy that you think would be most effective in achieving this?
Dalene Mactier

What guarantee do we have that the leftward shift in rhetoric and policy doesn’t evaporate once Labour becomes the government and the status quo of more right orthodox policies set in?
Geoff Cartwright

It would be good to see Labour lift its game as a strong and passionate oppositional voice. How will you show strength and leadership in this area?
Bridget Dymock-Johnson

Leadership is about many things but the qualities that I have found missing in politicians since the late 70’s are the ability to share a vision for the future of NZ and the ability to inspire. Australians know they are building a nation; why can’t we?
Chris Rapson

I have voted Labour since 1978, and ever since then I have heard all the rhetoric, from all parties about the trickle down theory and stopping the gap between the haves and have nots. Well its not working because to me all politicians are either too scared, or don’t know how to address the situation. Instead we waste huge amounts of money and time on populist vote catching, eg alcohol ,driving laws, or crime. Are any of the candidates prepared to do something radical if voted, and not be another centre left puppet?
Peter Power

Looking back over the last 18 months, what was Labour’s biggest mistake? How will you do this differently in the next 18 months to ensure we have a Labour 2014 victory?
Dalene Mactier

Looking back over the last 18 months, what was your biggest mistake? How will you do this differently in the next 18 months to ensure we have a Labour 2014 victory?
Dalene Mactier

John Key seems to be made of Teflon, people love his down to earth way and the fact he is a self-made millionaire, what do you think is needed to take the shine off his unwavering popularity and why do you think you can be ‘the one’ to take him on and win the next election?
Annalise Roache

Do you believe that there are sufficient votes on the Left of the NZ political spectrum to get Labour into government in 2014, or do we need to frame policies which attract voters from the Centre, and quickly repudiate policies which will lose votes from the Centre?
Gordon Gandy

Wherever you come from, List or Electorate, how will your voting base translate into New Zealand wide voter-appeal?
Steve Farrow

The reality is that to send John Key to the Opposition benches will require a Labour/Green coalition. How do the candidates envisage working with the Greens to produce a public face on policy and co-operation that will maximise the Centre Left vote to reenergise those who didn’t vote in 2011 and to claw back the swinging votes from National.
Bruce Ellis

What do you think is the major reason for Labour’s poor performance in the polls (and last election) and what, under your leadership, will you do differently?
Fraser Newman

All three of the MPs have great ideas, but how are those ideas to be implemented and for those MPs that have the same ideas, why can you do it better than the other MPs (e.g. unifying the party)?
Emma Burke

If when you are in Government you believe that you are going to make a decision which goes against Party policy how will you deal with it?
Edwin Daniel

What do you plan to do to win back traditional labour voters who have become disillusioned with the party/ it’s leadership and have started voting Green?
Phillipa Mallinson

How will you make yourself and the party relevant to undecided/swing voters?
Phillipa Mallinson

While you say that Labour no longer (at last!) subscribes to the neo liberal “free” market economic perspective, Aotearoa is tied into this mode of global economics in several ways, not the least of which are the Trade Agreements (most of which were negotiated by Helen Clark) and we are threatened currently with becoming signatories to the TTP. Our Bill of Rights has virtually no teeth – not to mention religious/Church organisations being blatantly able too violate human rights in the name of Faith/Religion! We are looking at our Constitution to write it or not to write it. For me these three factors, amongst others are utterly inter-connected and any Government looking to bring about constructive change is faced with doing so within this context – which has to change for the dignity and welfare of all people and survival of our planet as a habitat for humans and other species alike. These are, as Grant acknowledges, moral as well as ethical, justice and, above all, spiritual issues. Until politicians recognise that all people are intrinsically of equal dignity and worth and that the above situation needs to be altered accordingly, no piecemeal tinkering with what has happened to this country will be adequately effective. Labour needs to set about systematically undoing what Geoffrey Palmer proclaimed labour would do, and succeeded in doing, that is, change the culture of this country from a perspective of service and respect to the profit motive and commodification of people. The machinery put in place to make the changes proclaimed was systematic and comprehensive and immoral. I remember it well, but then I am much older that you are. Furthermore, of even greater importance is our understanding of the place of the human in planet earth, the universe, the context in which I lives have any meaning. Our industrialised, technological society is damaging the earth, causing unprecedented numbers of species to become extinct and destroying the physical and mental health of people and whole peoples. It is essential that all institutions operate out of our relatively new understanding of our evolutionary development and what that means for how we behave in the inextricable relationship we have with all that exists – we have the knowledge from science – we are acting blindly if we do not teach, learn and understand and act out of what we now know. QUESTION: To what extent does what I have written have meaning for you and if it does how will it inform the way in which you wIll operate as Leader of Labour (Prime Minister) or as a member of caucus working in solidarity to take this country into the future in a comprehensive, wholistic manner?
M Clare Pierson

The Labour Party has a reputation amongst much of middle New Zealand as being a supporter of the “nanny state,” multi-generational welfare and minority politics. How do you propose counteracting that negative perception while still communicating Labour’s values in a compelling way?
Rachel Jones

What specific policies have you seen working in other countries that you think could be imported into the New Zealand context?
Rachel Jones

What policy ideas do you have to offer the party that might be considered fresh and innovative?
Rachel Jones

Many people are frustrated with adversarial politics. Where do you see scope for reaching across the floor?
Rachel Jones

ENDS


Party Leadership : What Labour values drive your work for New Zealand? Labour Leadership Q&A #11

Posted by on September 13th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 11

Party Leadership : What key Labour values drive your work for New Zealand?

Question : Why did you join the Labour Party over other parties and what are the key Labour values and principles that drive your work for Labour and New Zealand?

Submitted by : Annalise Roache, Auckland

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Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog. This started Tuesday 10th September, and continues till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.

*******

LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES’ ANSWERS

Answer from David Cunliffe

My values are Labour values. I know that all I am now and all I ever will be came from the opportunities New Zealand gave me when I was growing up.

I was born in Te Aroha, a small town in the heart of the Waikato. I grew up in a vicarage and some earliest memories are of mixing with the wealthiest families in the district, and with those who were doing it tough.

In Te Kuiti, when the cement works closed and the milling tapered off, unemployment and poverty were all around us.

I remember proud and good people, who through no fault of their own, were thrown into a situation of having nothing.

Not that my family was rich by any means. We knew what it was like to struggle.

As a teenager, my Dad lived with serious illness and there was little to spare. I worked evenings and weekends in a fish and chip shop, and I mucked out pig pens for a dollar an hour.

But I was also given huge opportunities thanks to a great education at the local state school. This was the foundation of all my opportunities that followed.

I have been incredibly lucky in my life and I am really committed to making sure that the same opportunities are open to all New Zealanders.

I want to build a fairer, more inclusive New Zealand with a future that is full of opportunities for our kids; a good public education; housing; free health care and a secure retirement.

A decent New Zealand. That is what Labour stands for and that’s why I am Labour.

******

Answer from Shane Jones

I joined the Labour Party because of its history of reform. It has championed the interests of Maori and other minorities.

Fairness and collective responsibility for all sectors in our society is a key principle for Labour and New Zealand.

This motivates me.

******

Answer from Grant Robertson

I never really considered joining another political party. My family’s links with Labour meant it was part of my DNA.

But as I was leaving school at the end of the 1980s I felt I could not join the Labour Party given the direction it was taking under Rogernomics.

I settled for campaigning against user pays in education for the next few years, but under Helen Clark’s leadership I saw that there was an opportunity for Labour to re-build New Zealand and so I joined in the late 1990s.

For me the values that drew me to Labour still hold dear today- fairness, solidarity and opportunity.

I believe that your success on life should not be determined by who your parents are or where you are born, but by your hard work and the collective support we can provide.

I believe that everyone’s contribution should be valued, that a fair day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay, and that we have obligations to care for each other.

Those are Labour values and they are enduring, but I believe we must give them a modern, strong and clear voice that connects with the lives of New Zealanders.

I represent a new generation of leadership that can be that voice.

ENDS


Justice : What is your view of the New Zealand justice system? Labour Leadership Q&A #6

Posted by on September 11th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 6

Justice : What is your view of the New Zealand justice system?

Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over the past 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog starting today (Tuesday 10th September), till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.

******

Question : Can you indicate your views on the justice system in New Zealand. Do you endorse restorative justice or prefer the fill the prisons option?

Submitted by : Julie Berriman, Blenheim

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LABOUR LEADERSHIP CANDIDATES’ ANSWERS

Answer from Grant Robertson

I think it’s time we admitted that the lock-’em-up-and-throw-away-the-key justice system hasn’t worked.

Instead of making our communities safer, prisons too often result in criminals graduating to more serious crime – perpetuating the problem.

Rather than treating justice as a political hobby horse we need to have a rigorous debate on how to build a pragmatic and evidenced based response to crime.

We must address the causes of crime, in particular unemployment, poverty and lack of educational success if we are to have any hope of reducing offending.

While prisons will remain an unfortunate necessity for serious offenders, restorative justice can play a much larger role than it does now.

It’s been proven to lead to better outcomes for victims and reduce re-offending by up to 20%.

Where prison is required its vital that we invest in effective rehabilitation such as drug and alcohol counselling, teaching literacy and skills training so offenders break the cycle of crime.

******

Answer from David Cunliffe

I believe all New Zealanders should have the chance to live in and enjoy safe communities. One where crime levels are low and there is a fair justice system.

Those who commit crimes should be dealt with firmly and responsibly to encourage rehabilitation and reduce repeat offending.

More prisons and prisoners are not sustainable.

We need to address the causes of crime and wider symptoms and create a safe and secure society that guarantees civil and human rights, ensures equal access to justice, and promotes public safety.

******

Answer from Shane Jones

The prisons are already full of too many Whanau from te Ao Maori.

Our focus should always be on early intervention, jobs and industry for our young people to steer them alway from crime.

A weak job market, limited training opportunities and poor investment in our regions breeds hopelessness.

Obviously security is vital in the community however economic remedies are the best investment for changing people’s lives.

ENDS


Privacy Bill to be Debated

Posted by on May 16th, 2013

Today, my Bill to give more tools to the Privacy Commissioner to deal with privacy breaches was drawn from the members’ ballot.
The Bill gives the Privacy Commissioner the ability to undertake investigations into agencies and require them to become compliant with the Act.
Currently the Privacy Commissioner can only act on complaints from individuals – the Bill would allow her to instigate investigations and require information-handling audits.
It is timely, given the huge number of embarrasing privacy breaches happening under this Government.
From ACC to EQC, through to the deliberate privacy breaches committed by Minister Paula Bennett against two sole parents, the breaching of New Zealanders’ private information has been rife under National.
If they are serious are about addressing these issues, then they will support this Bill, as will other Parties across our Parliament.
Having had three bills drawn out of the ballot in the last 12 months, I’m keen to get to the races to see if I can pull off other trifectas!
Now, for my next bill….


Progress in international justice

Posted by on April 27th, 2012

The former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

This is the first time since the Nuremberg trials of former Nazi leaders in 1946 that a country’s leader has been held to account for crimes of this nature. It’s an historic and landmark decision.  It sends a message that the international community can track down and bring to justice tyrants who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It tells those who act in this way that they cannot do so with impunity. While this verdict is welcome, it was a long time coming and there is still a long way to go.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is currently on trial and former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo is in ICC custody.

However there are dozens of other current and former leaders whose actions justify trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity who continue to be beyond the reach of the International Criminal Court and war crimes tribunals.

Taylor’s conviction is good sign, but there is still much to be done.


Launch of Wellington Branch of Howard League

Posted by on April 4th, 2012

Last night I spoke at the launch of the Wellington Branch of the Howard League for Penal Reform. The launch was hosted by Charles Chauvel at Parliament on Monday night and was standing room only.

The Howard League has a great history in New Zealand of advocating for humane conditions in prisons and for wider issues of prison and justice reform. At the launch Peter Williams QC gave a passionate speech recalling this history. You can find out more about the origins of the League on their website.   If you are in Wellington and want to get involved in the Branch you can drop me an email at grant.robertson@parliament.govt.nz and I can put you in touch with the organisers.

Charles spoke at the launch about the Labour Party’s commitment to penal reform and to an integrated approach across the justice sector.   As our spokesperson for the sector his responsibilities cover Attorney General, Justice, Corrections and Courts.   This is an important shift for Labour to see these as part of an overall picture.  Charles is doing a great job of pulling all this together.

My remarks at the launch were very much my personal views on what needs to change in our correctional system. I also spoke about my own connection with the prison system. As has been written about before, my father spent some time in prison when I was younger. What I saw and heard about our prisons then has affected me to this day.

Last year Bill English said that prisons had been a fiscal and moral failure. He is right. The real challenge is to do something about it.

My speech is over the break (more…)

Filed under: justice

Tweet away – if you are a journalist

Posted by on December 15th, 2011

Good guidance from the England and Wales Chief Jusice – but it does beg the question – what is a journalist ?

Guidance from lord chief justice means journalists no longer have to make application to tweet, text or email from courts

Journalists no longer have to make an application to tweet, text or email from courts in England and Wales following guidance issued by the lord chief justice, Lord Judge.

“Twitter as much as you wish,” he said as he delivered the guidance which takes immediate effect and covers the use of electronic devices including phones and small handheld laptops for live text-based communications.

The guidance extends that issued last December and now also allows members of the public to tweet, but they, unlike journalists and legal commentators, must seek permission from the court in advance.

Judges retain full discretion to prohibit any live text-based communication from court in the interests of justice, and permission from court may be withdrawn “at any time”.

“A fundamental aspect of the proper administration of justice is open justice. Fair, accurate and, where possible, immediate reporting of court proceedings forms part of that principle,” said Judge.


Democracy in action

Posted by on September 28th, 2011

Started getting tweets and emails last night about how people could make submissions to the truncated select committee on the Video Camera Surveillance Bill.

Because of the swiftness of the process, the normal democratic process was not able to be followed.

I was approached by someone at around midnight and asked whether I could lodge their submission. Which of course I did this morning.

In the absence of an electronic process (which is now available I understand) I told people via twitter and facebook they could send submissions directly to me and I would lodge them. I’ve had a steady stream all day.

Keep them coming tonight people. This is democracy in action. It may be flawed. But it’s yours.

Update: email me clare.curran@parliament.govt.nz

Or any of your MPs. That’s what we’re here for


Ministry of Justice undermines West Auckland Family Court

Posted by on May 14th, 2011

On Thursday I attended a Public meeting on the Waitakere Family Court changes.   A committed mix of people were there to express their concerns – family violence organisations, the PSA, Community Waitakere, the Waitakere Law Service, Family Lawyers (even a couple who are National Party supporters/ members), local body representatives and other genuinely concerned members of the public.  Following that meeting myself and fellow West Auckland colleague Phil Twyford have discussed this issue further with key stakeholders.  We do have to wonder – where are the West Auckland Government MPs on this issue (keep in mind there are five of them – John Key, Paula Bennett, Tim Grosser, Pita Sharples and Tau Henare)?

Some have said that what is proposed in the discussion document (link below) seems harmless….well that would be because the implications of the changes aren’t spelt out.  Those who actively engage with the Waitakere Family Court, have more of an insight in to what the changes will mean.

Based on the meeting I attended – I’m going to try to outline the situation and the main points of concern.

There are four overarching concerns:

- short term cost saving at the expense of justice

- Failure to adequately consult

- Failure to consider the impact on the local community and the quality of service (the West is being shafted)

- Vulnerable members of society (victims of domestic violence, children, elderly) are being deprived access to justice
(more…)

Filed under: justice

Tell the Government: Don’t Cut Our Future!

Posted by on April 27th, 2011

Flyer

t Cut Our Future


An unfashionable media perspective

Posted by on March 30th, 2011

Simon Cunnliffe in today’s ODT has taken a look at Phil Goff’s response to the Hughes issue.

He starts :-

Pardon me for swimming against the tide, for presuming to contradict the commentariat’s bellowing consensus, but the whole Darren Hughes-Labour debacle, as it has been claimed to impact on the leadership of Phil Goff, is not quite as clear cut we would be led to believe.

And he concludes :-

Outside the beltway, Mr Goff might have received a better hearing had anyone heard what he had to say: he maintained he put the interests of “justice” and “fairness” before politics.

Insiders would say this is unconscionably naive.

Others, who are neither students of politics nor blooded on the mere whiff of scandal, might say: actually, that’s honourable.

Worth a read. Moderation will be tight.


Justice and compassion in a time of tragedy

Posted by on March 10th, 2011

I can’t get out of my head  the case of Cornelius Arie Smith-Voorkamp the guy with Aspergers who was caught stealing light fittings from houses in Christchurch. This has been dealt with on other blogs, far more articulately than I could, but it is still in my thoughts.

I am appalled at the thought of looters in Christchurch, at a time of such utter devastation and tragedy. It seems such a callous crime, and in most of the reported cases it appears to be so. I don’t blame anyone for having a strong reaction to the news. But as ever in matters of justice, it pays to step back, look at each case on its own and hear all the facts and background.

From what I have read, callous is not a word that can be attributed to Arie Smith.  As I read the words of his sister in the link above I instantly thought of people I know on the autistic spectrum, some much younger, some older, and I realised how easily they could end up in a situation like this.  Arie’s family have acknowledged his wrong-doing and accepted his arrest. But this is a mini-tragedy amidst a much larger tragic situtation, and one that deserves a little understanding.

I don’t know what the circumstances are that saw him covered in bruises. But I do know that it disturbs me deeply, and I want it investigated. I also truly hope Judith Collins regrets her statement made in the wake of looting incidents. She was playing to the crowd of course, and I don’t think was refering directly to Arie, but it was not the calm words of leader in our community.

Overall as a society, even in times of unimaginable tragedy and extraordinary emotion we need think before we act, ask why someone might act in a way we do not like or understand and, when faced with a situation such as this, operate with compassion and understanding. At a practical level we also need to help people learn more about Autism and Aspergers. Here is a place to start.


National Government are to blame for breach of suppression order

Posted by on February 13th, 2011

The breach of name suppression of two sex abuse victims by the Ministry of Justice is a mistake that should never have happened and is another example of the National Government’s failure to protect the rights of victims.

Simon Power says he will be asking questions of the officials tomorrow morning to ascertain how this mistake occurred, when really he should be pointing the finger at himself and his Government. The slash and burn cuts that the National Government have continued to make across the public sector, are inevitably going to result in mistakes being made. The funding cuts to resources and jobs across the sector – equate to, additional pressure being placed on those still working there – leaving them stretched beyond the limit. Mistakes are bound to happen in this kind of working environment. The scary thing is there will probably be more made across the public sector, unless the National Government wake up to the fact that you can’t expect high levels of service, when funding and subsequently corners are being cut left right and centre.

The National Government has been vocal over the past year about suppression orders being breached but if victims can’t trust the Ministry of Justice to protect their anonymity in cases where suppression orders have been granted, then how can they reasonably expect the media or any other group or individual to adhere to stipulations of suppression orders.

Family members have stated that the victims would not have come forward had they known they were going to be publicly identified. The psychological damage that an incident like this causes those victims must be of the utmost concern to the Government. My concern now is that a case like this is likely to have an impact on other victims of sexual abuse victims, stepping forward out of fear that their details might be ‘accidentally’ released to the public.

An apology to victims will now be too late – their details have been splashed on a Government website for the public to see. There’s nothing that the Government can do to take that back.


The Key claim that his Govt placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims – adds insult to injury

Posted by on February 8th, 2011

The Prime Minister’s Statement to Parliament included a claim that his Government has placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims.  What he failed to state was that this emphasis has been negative and detrimental to the rights of victims.

National has refused to enact the Domestic Violence Bill, which was introduced by Labour during the last term of Government.  This bill was the culmination of extensive consultation with organisations and key stakeholders who support victims of domestic violence.  Instead, whilst Labour’s comprehensive bill languishes on the Governments Order paper, National has passed their own watered down version.  The National Government bill does not give Domestic Violence victims the protection and support they need and deserve.

In the last year the National Government added insult to injury by slashing counselling and support to victims/ survivors of sexual assault.  Previously they were able to access counselling support via ACC on the recommendation of their counsellors or therapists.  The National Government imposed more stringent measures which included the requirement that victims/ survivors be subject to multiple interviews with different health professionals.  Salient to this, the eligibility criteria for funding support was narrowed, depriving the vast majority of those who would have been formerly approved. 

This unfortunate experiment continued despite calls from; Counsellors, Psychotherapists, social workers, women’s organisations, victim’s rights spokespeople and victims and survivors themselves.  We in Labour were proud to stand alongside these groups to challenge the Government.  After a year of hell for many victims/ survivors and their families a damming independent report was released, which forced John Key’s Government to admit that it had let victims/ survivors down.   The Government subsequently backed down on the more ruthless aspects of their failed policy, however the cost was immeasurable.  

The Government claims to have placed a special emphasis on the rights of victims – this is undeniably the case however this negative assault on victim’s rights was not what victims were expecting and is hardly worth John Key boasting about.

Filed under: ACC, justice

Dealing with Death on Our Roads

Posted by on February 7th, 2011

I have no desire to be a Law and Order zealot. Garth McVicar I am not. However, the number of constituents who have contacted me recently about our approach to those that cause injury or death on the road has got me thinking.

There is a good reason I’ve been seeing a lot of these cases – there has been a number of totally avoidable deaths on Manawatu roads recently, several involving cyclists.

The thrust of the complaints I’ve received is that we are too lenient on those who cause lethal accidents on the road. It’s an understandable response from people who have lost loved ones.

The gut reaction is, of course, to lock people away longer and to punish them harder. I’m not sure that achieves much but I do wonder if we need to look at how long drivers might lose their license if found guilty of careless, reckless or dangerous driving causing death and what might be demanded of them before that license is returned. Same goes for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

So I have some questions:

  1. Is the current system too lenient?
  2. If it is, what is the appropriate method of punishment and rehabilitation?
  3. Should a driver’s license be automatically suspended when they are involved in an accident causing death pending the outcome of their trial?

There are other ways to prevent road accidents besides tougher penalties and while that is not the focus of this post, feel free to share your thoughts on those too.


Liquor Licenses

Posted by on December 28th, 2010

OK, so the last time I posted one of these videos, everyone jumped down my throat despite me saying it was not Labour policy, just something I had been sent by one of the groups lobbying for reform.

Having said that, this one is about giving the licensing power back to communities, something I totally support.

Have a look.


Unfairness on its way

Posted by on November 23rd, 2010

The government’s third and final reading of Employment Relations Bill (No 2) and Holidays Amendment Bill, which went through the House today means that unfair employment laws are on their way.

The government pushed through the final stages of two pieces of legislation that attack the rights of wage and salary earners. Both of these bills will impact on health and safety and the rights to challenge the decisions of employers in unjustified dismissals. They will inevitably reduce protections for all workers.

Labour strongly opposed both bills all through the process, along with thousands of submitters and 22,000 workers who marched, rallied and campaigned against them, but National ignored all opposition.

The only small ray of hope in the debate was that the Maori Party changed its mind and voted against the Holidays Amendment Bill.  Good on them. 

But the National Party couldn’t even do the third reading justice.  Their members gave pitiful 3 minutes speeches parroting the government lines – which I thought was a disgrace.

I question whether today was an appropriate day to consider these bills, given the awful situation at Pike River Coal Mine.  I don’t think the government gave any thought to the connection between the birth of the Labour Party and the role that miners have played in improving rights for all NZ workers.  It certainly wouldn’t have considered that many of the miners on the West Coast are members of the EPMU and one of the missing men is an EPMU delegate.

Unfortunately, all workers will soon be facing the consequences of reduced rights. A sad day all round.


Anne Tolley doesn’t care about sex criminals looking after children

Posted by on November 19th, 2010

The Education Amendment Bill currently before the house removes the obligation to get a Police check for people who look after babies and young children unsupervised at gyms and mall childcare services.

Labour may have over-regulated but this goes too far.

Tolley promised she wouldn’t do this but has broken her word. She said in the house parents should ask childcare staff if they are pedophiles. And the woman is a Minister.

But you can bet when the first offence occurs she won’t be there to support the child and the parents.


A way to help identify offending teachers – comments invited

Posted by on November 18th, 2010

 Media – mainly on Sundays – and bloggers especially Cam Slater have been frustrated with Teachers’ Council rules that make it very hard to hear cases in public. I share their concerns. There is almost no way to have suppression orders because the maximum fine for a breach is $1k which deters no one.

The Council is understandably reluctant to risk identifying victims especially of sexual abuse but their rules don’t let them identify accused and not the victim – and won’t change with the current fine level.

This breeds rumours and false conclusions.

I’ve got two SoPs one very simple which increases the fine to $100k and would leave the Teachers’ Council to rewrite the rules. The second, below, is more comprehensive and adopts the position that Simon Power is promoting for the Courts. It has a presumption of an open hearing.

A month or so ago I tabled an earlier draft at the select committee , and sent  one to the Minister – received and used advice from officials.

Will be interesting to see if Anne Tolley is prepared to move on this or whether she is prepared to continue to protect abusers.

Likely to be voted on next week – interested in comments on both policy and drafting.

Education Amendment Bill (No 2)

—————–

Proposed amendments

Hon Trevor Mallard, in Committee, to move the following amendments:

Insert new clause 18A:

“New subsections for section 139AW

The following subsections (4) to (7) are inserted after subsection 139AW(3):

(4) Subject to the provisions of subsection (5) and of any other enactment, every sitting of the Disciplinary Tribunal dealing with any proceedings in respect of serious misconduct shall be open to the public.

(more…)


Alcohol Law Reform Bill First Reading

Posted by on November 11th, 2010

I will post some more detail on the Alcohol Reform Bill over coming weeks as there is a lot to be considered.  To get the debate started I think it is important that we look at the Law Commission’s report on Alcohol: Curbing the Harm and ask whether this Bill will be effective in doing that – curbing the harm.  My view is that it doesn’t go far enough and in a way it’s prioritised the wrong issues.  The Minister cited age as the most important measure in the Bill, when that is one of the many diversionary tactics they are using to avoid being held accountable for what is missing from the Bill. And to cap it all off the government has managed to trample on Bill of Rights Act obligations – I predict the offending clauses will not survive the select committee process in their current form.  In my press release I said National had squandered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to curb the alcohol-related harm evidenced by the Law Commission’s report into alcohol. Only people power through submissions to the committee and demanding answers from MPs will get that turned around. I spoke in Parliament on the First Reading - unfortunately the tape ends before my final comments which were that we the politicians have lacked courage and that hopefully the Bill will be strengthened by the Select Committee process and that we will have the courage to make a difference. I have attached the notes I took to the House.  Let the debate begin!