Medical decision not political

June 10, 2015

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has given permission for a teenager in an induced coma to be given medical marijuana. 

Nineteen-year-old Alex Renton, from Nelson, is in Wellington Hospital suffering from refractory status epilepticus, which causes him to suffer from repeated seizures.pticus, which causes him to suffer from repeated seizures.

 It is  not known what is causing them but it is believed his body’s immune system is turning against itself.

Capital and Coast District Health Board applied to the Ministry of Health and Mr Dunne to use Elixinol, a cannabis-based product from the US which had been shown to relieve some forms of epilepsy.

Mr Dunne today said he was approving its use for Mr Renton on compassionate grounds.

“Despite the absence of clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of [the drug] in patients with Mr Renton’s condition, status epilepticus, my decision relies on the dire circumstances and extreme severity of Mr Renton’s individual case,” Mr Dunne said. . . . 

Shouldn’t a decision on medicine be a medical one not a political one?

 


What makes a good local MP?

March 27, 2015

Trusty, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind . . .

These are the character traits a Scout or Guide is supposed to demonstrate. They are also essential character traits for a good MP.

Local MPs haven’t been so local anymore since that MMP has decreased the number of electorates and thereby increased their size but that makes availability and commitment to the electorate and its people even more important.

All of this makes me wonder what the people of Northland are thinking if the TV3 poll is right and 54% of them want Winston Peters as their MP when 48% don’t trust him and 9% don’t know if they trust him.

Why would people vote for someone they don’t trust, who doesn’t live in the electorate,  who will be at least as interested in courting the rest of New Zealand as party leader as he is in the people of Northland and who is coming to the end of a political career distinguished at least as much by controversy as accomplishment?

Contrast that with National’s candidate Mark Osborne who lives in the electorate, is in partnership with his wife in a business in the electorate, has children at school in the electorate and as a backbench MP at the start of a political career would have the time and commitment to serve the people of the electorate.

It is even more puzzling when getting Peters as a part-time electorate MP would give more power to both Peter Dunne and the Maori Party.

. . .Those who vote in Northland tomorrow will not remove National from power whatever happens, but they could shift the balance of power in Parliament from Epsom’s David Seymour, who is safely in National’s pocket, to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party. They will be the real winners if Northland elects Winston Peters. . .

And the losers will be all of New Zealand which needs a strong, stable government and the people of Northland who need a good local MP.


Little hints

March 9, 2015

Labour leader Andrew leader can’t quite bring himself to tell Northland voters not to vote for his party’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime but he’s dropping little – or should that be Little? – hints:

Mr Little told TVNZ One’s Q+A programme that Labour will not pull its candidate Willow-Jean Prime from the by-election contest, despite a Q+A Colmar Brunton poll showing Mr Peters would win if she was not in the running.

However, he called for left voters to be “realistic” with their candidate choice.

“They’ve got a vote they should use it. If they want to vote to send a message to the Government …

“They are intelligent enough to see how they can do that.” . .

Every election Labour has criticised National for electoral accommodations in Epsom and Ohariu but now he thinks it would be too his advantage, Little is indicating he’s willing to do just that.

He’s throwing his candidate under the wheels of Peters’ bus, not to help Labour or Northland but, as Rodney Hide points out, to get a New Zealand First list MP in Invercargill and give more power to Peter Dunne:

. . . A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit – not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First’s list. That candidate is Ria Bond … from Invercargill.

That’s right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill.

Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That’s how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington. . .

This would not bring down the government but it would make it more difficult for it to pass legislation and give Dunne and the two other government partners – Act and the Maori Party – a lot more bargaining power.

That won’t help Labour this term, nor will it make it any easier for it and its potential coalition partners to gain enough seats to govern next term.

In fact it might make it more difficult because the Little hints make him look downright shifty.

When National campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu it is open about campaigning only for the party vote and it ensures its candidates are high enough on its list to get into parliament.

Little isn’t being open, he’s trying to have a bob each way. He hasn’t clearly said voters should ditch Prime for Peters but nor has he said they shouldn’t. Yet he’s prevaricating enough to handicap his candidate and there’s no list seats up for grabs in a by-election to compensate her for her wasted efforts.

And what’s in this political playing for the people of Northland?

. . . Peters is 70 this year. It’s a long way from Auckland to Northland. It’s even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He’s late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

Little is willing to sabotage his candidate to help Peters who will have neither the will nor the energy to service the large Northland electorate and its many communities while also attending to the demands of party leadership.

We can but hope the people of Northland will have learned from Tauranga voters who saw through him and send both him and Labour a message: they need an MP who lives in the electorate who will be in government and who will represent them well and work hard for them.

There’s only one of those standing – National’s Mark Osborne.

 

 


Key #1

December 4, 2014

Prime Minister John Key is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

This year’s 10th annual Roll Call can reveal John Key as its Politician of the Year. It was a straightforward choice. Key has stood head and shoulders above the rest in the polls, and his party romped home in its third election, the third time in a row it has added extra seats as well.

Key polled highest among the Trans Tasman Editors, contributors and their Capital insiders who make up the panel which compiles Roll Call, and despite signs there may be trouble ahead for Key if he is not careful, 2014 was his year.

Of course winning a fourth term will be dependent as much on the party’s support staff and their management as the Parliamentary team. The same goes for Labour as it battles to rebuild after its shattering defeat.

Roll Call says Key is “still phenomenally popular and if he comes through a third term without serious damage, a fourth could be within his grasp. But he’ll have to be careful.”

Trans Tasman’s Editors note “Key has not only performed strongly at home, he has become an international figure as well, cementing his and NZ’s reputation abroad with his election as chairman of the International Democratic Union.”

“However there are clouds. The fallout from the “Dirty Politics” saga continues. It should have been firmly put to bed in the campaign. And Key’s tendency to “forget,” or “mishear” the question is becoming a worrying feature of the way he involves himself in the Parliamentary and media discourse.”

“He has the respect – almost the love – of the voters, he needs to be careful he does not treat them with contempt. A fourth term does beckon, but the PM’s tendency to be just a bit smug, a bit arrogant, and at times a bit childish could derail it.”

“For now he is a titan, but Labour has a new leader and a new sense of purpose, and the next election is a long way away.”

National’s Front Bench performed exceptionally well in 2014, with just a single Cabinet Minister losing ground. Nikki Kaye fell from 6.5 to 6, after the “bright young thing” nearly lost Auckland Central. Roll Call suggests she must work harder.

Steven Joyce adds half a mark, taking the man most see as John Key’s successor to 8. “He doesn’t drop the ball and handles a raft of senior portfolios with calm confidence. Outside Parliament he was National’s campaign manager and must share some of the credit for its victory.”

Bill English, last year’s Politician of the Year, maintained his score of 9 out of 10. He is still “the safest pair of hands in the cabinet. Cautious, dependable and now mostly steering clear of debating chamber rhetoric.”

After a bad year in 2013, Hekia Parata has battled back to take her score from 5 to 7. “Key believes she’s competent and wasn’t going to hang her out to dry. He’s giving her the benefit of the doubt in delivering on a gutsy vision for the Education sector.”

Murray McCully takes his score from 6.5 to 7.5 after putting together the team which won NZ a seat on the UN Security Council and doing many of the hard yards himself, while Maggie Barry gets kudos for fitting in well to Conservation and being who “some say is the most popular National MP behind Key himself.” Her score jumps from 3 to 5.5.

The Ministers outside Cabinet are more average with Craig Foss, and Jo Goodhew, going down in score, Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith staying the same and just Nicky Wagner boosting her score from 4.5 to 5.

Both support party Ministers, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell boosted their scores. Dunne from 4 to 5 “gets a point for coming through a horrible year with his head/hair up” while Maori Party leader Flavell goes from 6 to 6.5. “We’ll make a call and say he’s going to be an outstanding Minister.”

The dubious honour of low score for National goes to Melissa Lee. “Hard working but faded after a good start.”

Among the thoroughly shattered Labour MPs, there was little to write home about. David Cunliffe’s score falls from 7.5-6 after the election defeat. But “history may judge him more kindly than last week’s headlines. Is he NZ’s Kevin Rudd?”

Andrew Little’s star starts to shine though. His score jumps from 4.5 to 7. “No-one is going to die wondering what Little thinks. He’s a tough talking union man from way back who isn’t going to compromise his beliefs.”

Labour’s low scorer is Rino Tirikatene who stays on just 2.5 out of 10. “Do still waters run deep or are they just still? Has had time to find his feet and still no impact.”

For the Greens co-leader Russel Norman is the standout, holding his score on 7 out of 10. “After John Key Norman works the media better than any other party leader… If the Greens had gone into coalition with Labour he would have been hard to handle.”

And of course the old war horse Winston Peters is still there, blowing a bit harder than usual. He boosts his score from 7 to 7.5. “Does he have the will and the stamina for another three years on the opposition benches and a campaign in 2017?”

This year for the first time Roll Call also looks at the impact those MPs who left Parliament at the election had, and it is here we find this year’s low scorers Claudette Hauiti and John Banks, both on 1 out of 10.

As for the numbers:

Of National’s 60 MPs, 30 improved their score on last year, 7 went down, and 10 stayed the same. There were 15 new MPs who were not ranked.

Of Labour’s 32, 12 went up, 8 went down, 5 remained on the same score as last year and 7 were unable to be ranked.

ACT’s single MP was unable to be ranked. Of the Maori party’s 2 MPs 1 went up, and the other was unable to be ranked, while United Future’s single MP improved his score.

The Greens had 3 of their 14 MPs improve their score, 4 went down while 6 remained the same, one was unable to be ranked.

For NZ First 2 MPs improved their scores, 1 went down and 2 remained the same. 6 were unable to be ranked.

Of the National MPs able to be rated this year, 32 had a score of 5 or higher, while 13 scored below 5, while for Labour it had 16 of its MPs rated 5 or above, while 9 scored below 5.

The 2014 roll call is here.

 

 


Conservatives on their own

July 28, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out any electoral deal between National and the Conservative Party.

Prime Minister John Key today made clear National’s position on accommodating support parties in electorate contests at this year’s General Election.

The National Party and its partners have successfully provided stable MMP government over two terms of Parliament and through challenging times.

“We will be seeking a further mandate on September 20,” says Mr Key.

“In an MMP environment, the public determines the make-up of Parliament by voting in a combination of parties, and every election is a tight contest.”
“After the election, political parties must work constructively to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”

In January, the Prime Minister made it clear that if National were returned to Government this election, the preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future as this has been a successful combination.

He also made it clear it would be possible to add the Conservative Party and New Zealand First to this group.

Today he outlined National’s position on electorate contests for the 2014 election campaign.
“We’re seeking to maximise the party vote for National across the country in all seats. It is only through delivering the strongest possible party vote that National voters will return National to Government.”

“For the electorate vote, we will encourage National party supporters to give their electorate vote to the ACT candidate in Epsom and the United Future candidate in Ohariu.”

“We will continue to seek to maximise our party votes in those electorates and that’s what National Party candidates will be working hard to do.

“In East Coast Bays, where the Conservatives have a candidate, the only option to accommodate that party would be to remove a sitting MP from the ballot paper and that, as I have said, is a bridge too far. So there will be no electorate accommodation with the Conservatives.”

“However, we are happy to consider working with the Conservative party post-election should the public vote that party in to Parliament.”

“As I have said previously we are also prepared to discuss working with New Zealand First if that party is returned to Parliament.”

“In Epsom and Ōhariu, both ACT and United Future share a history of working with National and those are proven relationships that have stood the test of time.”

“National doesn’t always agree with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future on every issue, but together our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008.”

“Under the National-led Government, New Zealand is heading in the right direction and if re-elected, National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.”

Conservative leader Colin Craig wanted sitting East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully to stand aside so he could have a better chance at winning the seat.

Had that happened in my electorate I would have found it very difficult to vote for him rather than my National MP.

This would have been very different from Ohariu and Epsom. Peter Dunne was the local MP before MMP and Rodney Hide won Epsom when then sitting-MP Richard Worth was trying to hold it.

The people in these electorates chose someone other than the National candidates first and they keep doing that.

This year they can choose to do that again, or not.

That is very different from taking a choice away by pulling a long-serving and popular MP.

If it had been done and Craig won, any votes that counted for the Conservatives which might have helped National form a government could well have been cancelled out by National voters turned off by that thought who’d then vote for another party.

 


More common than sense

July 21, 2014

Winston Peters accused the Conservative Party of plagiarising New Zealand First’s policies.

Common policies isn’t plagiarism but copying a slogan could be and that’s what NZ First has done by adopting it’s common sense as its rallying cry for the election.

Since 2002 when Peter Dunne got the television worm to dance by insisting his policies were common sense, that’s been associated with him and United Future.

Common sense is an appealing slogan but New Zealand First backs it up with policies which have a greater claim to common than sense.

One of these is removing GST from basic food items.

The thought of wiping $15 off every $100 spent on groceries is attractive but it’s not that simple.

Not all of the grocery bill is spent on food and the part that is isn’t all spent on basic items – whatever they are and that’s where the problems, and costs arise.

Exactly what is basic and what isn’t requires definition, that’s open to debate and it all adds complexity and cost to our enviably simple and relatively cheap to administer GST system.

Labour tried to sell removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables at the last election but gained little if any traction. One of the reasons for that was that the biggest gains from that would go to the wealthy who’d save on luxury items.

But the bigger problem with this policy is the cost.

. . . Mr Peters said his policy would save New Zealanders but cost the Crown a whopping $3 billion a year or thereabouts.

“This bold policy aims at the heart of the inequality undermining our society.”

Also “as part of a fair system” NZ First would remove GST from rates on residential property.

“This tax-on-a-tax deceit has to end, and it will,” Mr Peters told around 150 party faithful at Alexandra Park.

He did not provide details on how much that policy would cost, but with local authorities raising more than $7 billion a year in rates, the Crown would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

However, in an echo of Labour’s plan to fund its big-ticket items, Mr Peters said the policies would be funded through “a clampdown on tax evasion and the black economy” which he estimated was worth $7 billion a year. . . .

Inland Revenue already devotes a lot of time and money to detecting and clawing back money lost through evasion and the black economy.

Greater effort would result in greater costs and would be very unlikely to result in a fraction of the billions of dollars that would be lost from the tax take if these policies were adopted.


Silly or weak

July 11, 2014

One of the challenges for the leader of the opposition is to look like a Prime Minister in waiting.

It’s one which David Cunliffe has yet to master, and his silly apology for being a man was another example of that.

 Trans-Tasman points out:

. . . The Labour Party election year congress dominated the first part of the week, with Cunliffe’s rather strange apology for having both an X and a Y chromosome. It was all very well for Labour’s apologists to splutter – as they did – about the apology being taken out of context. The only context which matters is Cunliffe wants to be PM of this country, and is campaigning ferociously to get the job.

In this context, the apology made him look either silly or weak. People don’t, by and large, go for leaders who look silly or weak. And, looking back, the thought of, say, Norman Kirk, Peter Fraser or Michael Savage apologising for being a man boggles the mind a bit. . .

Labour was once the party of the working man – and woman.

It’s strayed a long way from those roots.

That’s reflected in its loss of support in successive polls – and it’s showing up in other places too:

Hat tip for tweet: Keeping Stock

As for the issue which has been lost in the slipstream of the stupid apology, Peter Dunne writes:

. . . Meanwhile, the scourge of domestic violence continues across all communities, sadly without discrimination, right across the country. Let there be no doubt about the severity and complete unacceptability of any violence against women and children in our society. That has to stop – now – and, as the major perpetrators of that violence, men have to face up to their responsibilities in addressing it. Bold action, across the board, is required right now – not simpering, gesturing apologies for a biological fact that cannot be easily altered.

We need to take the wraps off domestic violence and expose its prevalence wherever we can. Police revelations there are around 200 reported cases every day of the year are part of that. Our aim has to be to make any tolerance of domestic violence as unacceptable as drink-driving and smoking have been made in earlier times, so that underlying social attitudes are changed. . . .

 The last thing we need is the absolute trivialising of a serious social problem by fake and insincere apologies, designed more for a headline, than to do any meaningful good. The women and children of New Zealand who live in constant fear and suffering because of domestic violence deserve a far better response than that.

And I make no apology for saying so. . .

Dunne has no need to apologise for taking a serious issue seriously.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,692 other followers

%d bloggers like this: