Greens make the right choice

May 30th, 2015 at 3:02 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

James Shaw has been elected as the new co-leader of the Green Party.

The Wellington-based MP, who has only been in Parliament for seven months, was confirmed as the successor to Russel Norman at the party’s AGM this afternoon.

Mr Shaw said it was an “extraordinary privilege” to take on the top role.

He acknowledged that some people would be disappointed in the result, and said: “I will do everything within my power to earn everyone’s respect.”

Mr Shaw thanked his rivals, Mr Hague, Gareth Hughes, and Vernon Tava.

Kevin Hague, who had been the early favourite for the male co-leader position, placed second after a vote by delegates.

Congratulations to James, and commiserations to Kevin, Gareth and Vernon.

This is a rare opportunity for the Greens to significantly grow their appeal. If they play their cards right, people who have always dismissed them as being an anti-business and anti-economy party may now stop and listen to what they are saying. They may not necessarily get converted, but more of them will now listen.

James has both an impressive business background, but also knows how to communicate to people who are not left wing. Anyone can persuade people who already agree with you, but the skill is persuading people who don’t.

The election of Shaw is not a silver bullet for The Greens, but it is a golden opportunity. They have shown an ability to win votes off Labour – now they may have the ability to win some votes off National. The election of Shaw is a potential thorn for National. However it is also good for people who believe in sensible policy, as eventually there will be a Labour-Green Government, and I’d rather have James Shaw as the Finance Minister in it, than Russel Norman. Not because Russel is a bad person, but his beliefs were shaped by Marxism, and Shaw’s are not. This does not mean Shaw is right wing, or not left wing. He is definitely left wing – but just more centre left than hard left.

Kevin Hague would have been a very good co-leader if he had been elected. As I have blogged previously, Kevin  has achieved a lot as an MP, and would have done so also as co-leader. he was just unfortunate with the timing of the vacancy, and the fact the Greens under-performed at the last election meant that their members were more attracted to a circuit-breaker.

So it will be interesting to see how The Greens go with their new male co-leader. They have the opportunity to grow their support now, but it won’t happen automatically.


Shaw leading to date

May 11th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I heard from a reliable source last week that in the voting to date, James Shaw has a narrow lead for the Green Party male co-leadership.

The actual election takes places at their conference at the end of May, but the delegates from each electorate get instructed how to vote at their electorate AGMs, which have started.

I’ve commented on the four leaders here:

With no disrespect to Gareth or Vernon, but it appears to be a two horse race between Kevin and James.

The good thing for the Greens is both Kevin and James have considerable strengths, and both should be more successful than their predecessor. It’s a great thing for a party to have a positive choice of leadership candidates.

Danyl McLauchlan blogs:

I’ve been helping James Shaw out with his campaign. Up until now its been impossible to tell how things are going, but now that the branches are voting we have a rough idea and I am cautiously optimistic. It’s going to be close but James could win. My reason for supporting him over Kevin Hague – who I have a huge amount of respect for – is pretty simple. The key role of a leader in a modern political party is to be the public face of that party, to front to the media and the public, and to win new voters. Maybe I’m just blinded by partisan bias, but I think James is going to be a lot better in that core role than the other candidates.

That doesn’t mean he’ll win. Kevin Hague also has a lot of great qualities, and they make him one of the most beloved guys inside the Green Party – which gives him a big advantage in a contest to become leader of it. But being the leader is about connecting with the public, not just the party’s own membership. The best thing for the future of the Green Party is to elect a leader who can grow it.

I agree with this analysis. Kevin is very respected and popular with the members – and with many other MPs. I regard Kevin as a good guy, who would be a good Minister of Health and a good co-leader for the Greens.

However the Greens seem to be stuck at a 10% vote ceiling. James Shaw does represent the best opportunity for the Greens to break through that 10% ceiling, and if I was a Green party member I’d vote for him.

If Shaw wins the male co-leadership and Julie-Anne Genter becomes (in time) female co-leader, then I think the Greens would have a real possibility of shaking off the past, and grow support and votes for the Greens.

But as I said, I think Kevin will do a solid job also. Again the Greens are fortunate to have a positive choice.

Hague announces candidacy

February 12th, 2015 at 3:40 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

In a move that won’t surprise anyone in politics, Green MP Kevin Hague has put his hand up to be the party’s co-leader.

The West Coast-based list MP is first out of the blocks, and rookie MP James Shaw was expected to follow, but this morning Shaw said it was “highly unlikely” because it was too early in his parliamentary career.

Nominations for the role don’t open until next month, ahead of the party’s annual conference in May, but Hague, an MP since 2008, explained: “I am certain to stand, and I thought it could be useful for Green Party members to know that.”

Without discounting who else might stand, it is fair to say that Kevin Hague is a very good potential co-leader, and he could do significantly better than his predecessor, if elected.

The strengths that Hague would bring to the Greens are:

  1. He is not a communist (or former communist)
  2. He has significant political skills, playing a key role in campaigns such as the marriage equality campaign
  3. He is trusted and respected with most MPs from both National and Labour
  4. He will generally put progressing an issue, ahead of point scoring, for example working behind the scenes with National MPs on adoption law reform rather than grand-standing on the issue such as a Labour MP did
  5. Has the ability to work with MPs from other parties, including National. Involved in many cross-party caucuses.
  6. Has been influential in the Greens in reducing the power of the anti-science brigade, and has moved the Greens away from blanket opposition to fluoridation and vaccinations to more balanced positions
  7. Has significant management experience, having been a CEO of a District Health Board

I think Kevin Hague would be an excellent choice by the Greens to replace Russel Norman as the male co-leader.

Hague said he had good relationship with both major parties – but said the Greens made the right decision in aligning with Labour.

“We are not a party that is going to throw away our core principles and our values or actually a very large number of our policies in order to make that political accommodation … it’s hard to see National providing the level of policy gains for the Green party.” 

But Hague found common ground with National over national cycleways and pest control. “I’ve got a track record … of finding ways of working with them. I look forward to doing that more.”

The Greens would never choose National over Labour, but a Hague led Greens would be more likely to be able to have a constructive relationship with National, where they can work together in a few areas. This would be a good thing.

Guest Post: Kevin Hague

April 4th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by Green Party MP Kevin Hague:

One of the striking things about the submissions  – both written and oral – received against the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill was the very high degree of support that now exists for acknowledging and extending rights to same-sex couples through the mechanism of civil unions. This stands in stark contrast to the positions many of these same people took when the Civil Unions Bill itself was being debated.

There’s more: the now popular Civil Union Act passed its Third Reading by only 65-55, and just a couple of days before, a 3News poll found 46% of people in support, while 45% opposed.

In fact what all this shows is that Civil Unions followed the same path as Homosexual Law Reform and protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Certainly there is a group of people whose opposition to these measures is based on dogma of some sort, usually a religious one. These folk try to live their lives according to a particular code based on a set of rules (and believe that everybody else should also, regardless of belief). But probably the larger group of opponents is one whose opposition is motivated by fear: either of a general sort or of specific undesirable outcomes should the law reform succeed.

Opposition based on fear has always been temporary. Before each of these previous reforms a significant proportion of the population were led to believe that it would tear the fabric of our society in some awful way. But, surprise, surprise, the sky did not fall. And now it is only a very small group who believe gay sex should be illegal, who believe it should be legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or who believe same-sex couples should not be able to have their relationships acknowledged and protected.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I am writing about this because, once again, the same dynamics are at work in the opposition to marriage equality. There is a group of people, almost exclusively from particular religious faiths, who strongly and sincerely believe that marriage is fundamentally an institution that should be defined by their own particular dogma. They usually say the State has no right to determine who can marry, and seem oblivious even to other religious faiths whose dogma supports marriage equality. They are fundamentally theocrats and oppose pluralism, one of the basic ideas of modern society. Their position does not seem to be one that can be influenced by logic or evidence.

But the larger group of opponents is, as usual, one motivated by fear. Typically they have been encouraged to hold these fears by those who know better and who are exploiting them. Most of the ‘arguments’ made against marriage equality, including most of the amendments proposed to the Bill have been based on imaginary fears:

  • No celebrant will be forced to solemnise a marriage against their will. The law states that no celebrant is obliged to marry a particular couple. This has been the law since 1955 and the “right to refuse” has never been denied.
  • No church will be forced to use its religious space for same-sex weddings if it does not approve of them, or do anything at all differently.
  • Nobody will be forced to say anything different, or not to express their beliefs. In fact the Bill will repeal s.56, which, while never used, made it an offence to deny the validity of a legally-conducted marriage. Despite the histrionics of some, nobody will be sent to prison for their beliefs.
  • The ethical and legal obligations for teachers will not change in any way. There are professional requirements that influence how teachers can and cannot express their personal views to students. The Bill does not change these.
  • Children will not be “denied the right to their biological mother and father”. Married same-sex couples being able to adopt will almost exclusively affect children who are already being raised by same-sex couples (there are thousands, by the way) who currently have less security because of the relatively precarious legal status of their parents. The number of children made available for “stranger adoption” each year (who by definition are not being raised by their biological parents) is tiny. This Bill will have the effect that when the biological parents of a child choose adoptive parents, married same-sex couples can also be considered.

What will actually happen once this Bill passes is that some same-sex couples will choose to get married. Some of those will do so in churches that welcome them. Others will find independent celebrants they like, and who like them. People will be happier. And in time, as has happened everywhere else in the world where this reform has already occurred, most New Zealanders who currently oppose marriage equality will realise that their fears were groundless, and join the majority who already believe that, well, love is love.

What I found interesting that the when the Civil Unions Bill was being passed, public opinion was so evenly divided. Yet less than a decade later there is almost no opposition to civil unions, and in fact opponents of same sex marriage cite civil unions as so good, that there is no need to change the marriage law.

I’ll make a prediction. That by 2020, fewer than 20% of New Zealanders will be saying that they are opposed to same sex marriages being legal.

Adoption law reform

October 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Green MP Kevin Hague has announced:

 Green MP Kevin Hague today unveiled a Bill to comprehensively overhaul adoption law and address related surrogacy issues, which will be entered in the next Members’ bill ballot.

“This Bill is the result of considerable work, and is a much more ambitious reform than is usually attempted through the Members’ bill process,” Kevin Hague said.

“The Law Commission reviewed adoption law and in 2000 recommended the consolidation of the legislation relating to parenting and care of children. The changes they recommended are what we have based my Members Bill on.

“We have also used previous Ministry of Justice advice, and more recently had assistance from other experts with an interest in these issues. I want to thank everyone for helping us get the Bill this far.

The current Act is almost 60 years old, and has almost no relevance to what is happening today. It is primarily based on “closed” adoptions and the vast majority of adoptions today are “open”.

The Member’s Bill places adoption in the Care of Children Act, as originally intended by the Law Commission, and makes the best interests of the child the fundamental principle underpinning the law. The Bill also:

  • Ensures that all adoptions will be “open” unless exceptional circumstances mean there is a need to extinguish links with the child’s biological parents. While this has become common practice, the current law does not provide for it at all.
  • Removes unnecessary restrictions on the kinds of people who may be considered to adopt, ensuring that adoptive parents can be selected from all the options, in the best interests of the child.
  • Acknowledges, but does not regulate whāngai arrangements, which are instead controlled by traditional Iwi practice.
  • Provides for the adoption of children conceived and born through altruistic surrogacy arrangements.

I very much agree that the focus should be on the best interests of the child, and arbitrary restrictions should not be in place to restrict an adoption which is best for the child.

“Drafting a Bill of this size means that I’m sure there are further improvements that can be made. I will continue to work with interested parties to fine-tune the Bill while it sits in the ballot waiting to be drawn.

Few bills get drawn in their first ballot, and it is indeed sensible to listen to feedback and improve them for future ballots.

GayNZ has written:

Labour’s Jacinda Ardern will put forward an amendment to her adoption bill at its upcoming first reading to immediately fix the basic discrimination in the current law, because the full overhaul her proposed legislation will lead to will take a long time.

The problem is you can not amend a bill at first reading. Standing orders do not allow for amendments to a bill to be considered at first reading. You can change a bill between members’s ballots before it is selected. You can have a select committee amend a bill, or you can amend a bill at the committee of the house stage. There is no provision to amend a bill at first reading.

Any MP can ask for leave to do something outside standing orders, but this requires not a single MP out of 121 to object, and have never known this to be granted for a first reading amendment that is substantive.

I blogged over four and a half months ago on the problems in Jacinda’s bill. It was resubmitted unchanged over three months later. The time for amendments was before resubmitting it. You simply can not amend a bill (without unanimous leave) at first reading. Now I’m not suggesting MPs should change their bills, just because I’ve criticised them. But the fact that Jacinda is now trying to amend her bill, indicates that many others share at least some of my concerns over her bill. Note that I believe we all want the same thing – a modern child-focused adoption law.

The challenge for an MP, is to not just write a bill, but to seek feedback on it from colleagues, from interested groups, from experts. You want to have it fit for purpose before it gets drawn from the ballot.

For those interested the Hague bill is here. I’m sure Kevin would welcome feedback on improvements to it (that are consistent with its aim).

Handing over law making

May 29th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As I blogged yesterday I am in support of modernising our adoption laws. They are literally a relic from the 1950s. But the law reform is not just about whether same sex couples should be able to adopt, but needs to deal with a wide range of adoption issues, guardianship issues and surrogacy issues.

A few people think this will lead to many gay couples getting to adopt children, ahead of “deserving” heterosexual couples. But I quote Andrew Geddis on this:

This law change will result in only an infinitesimal increase in the number of children who actually get raised by a same-sex couples because there are Fuck All “stranger” adoptions in New Zealand (less than 100 a year). And then a given same-sex couple only will be able to adopt a child if the birth mother chose them ahead of all other eligible couples. So if gay couples could join the pool of people eligible to adopt in this manner, the number of children who would be placed with them likely would be negligible

What this means is that the argument about whether kids being raised by same-sex couples is good/bad is pretty much irrelevant to this issue, because it ISN’T ABOUT MORE KIDS BEING RAISED BY SAME SEX COUPLES THAN THERE ARE AT THE MOMENT.

What this is about is like what we saw on TV3, where two lesbians have lived together for 19 years, and both have a biological child. however they can not make each other the adoptive parent of each child. So if one of them dies, one of the children could be left in limbo. The current law actually prevents the best interests of the child being paramount.

Media reported yesterday that National MP Nikki Kaye and Green MP Kevin Hague have been working for around 18 months on an adoption law reform bill. As I indicated, it is a hugely complex area, and just identifying the key policy issues is quite a task.

Now some in Labour have been saying that there is no need for a bill by Hague/Kaye, as Jacinda Ardern already has a bill in the members’ ballot. This prompted me to look more closely at the bill, and I’m afraid it is very seriously flawed. I have absolutely no doubt that Jacinda genuinely wants good law reform in this area, but the bill she has put forward is basically little more than a legislative request for the Government to do something. The bill, which is only slightly longer than a press release, essentially does the following:

  1. Requires the Minister for the Law Commission to ask the Law Commission to review the law relating to the care of children and update its September 2000 report on adoption
  2. Requires the Law Commission to report within 12 months a report, recommendations and draft legislation
  3. Requires the Minister of Justice to introduce the bill, as drafted by the Law Commission, without amendment within seven days

There are a significant number of semi-fatal flaws with this approach. The first is timing. Under the Ardern bill, there would probably be no law change for four or more years until after it has been selected from the ballot. The likely timings are:

  • 1st reading – 3 months after introduction
  • select committee – 6 months
  • 2nd and 3rd reading – 3 months
  • Law Commission report – 12 months
  • Govt Bill has first reading scheduled – up to 12 months
  • select committee – 6 months
  • 2nd and 3rd reading – 3 months

So even if the Ardern bill was drawn tomorrow, any actual law change would take four or more years, so maybe the law would be changed by 2017. The problem is that Jacinda is trying to use a bill, to get the Law Commission to write a bill. But Ardern’s bill itself would have to go through the full legislative process which would take probably 12 months. And I am being generous in suggesting it could take 12 months to pass. Many member’s bill have spent 18 months just awaiting their first reading!

Effectively what Ardern wants could be achieved by writing a letter to the Minister of Justice, and this would save one to two year’s time if the Minister agreed. However Ardern is trying to legislate to force the Minister to introduce a bill, even if they do not want to. But she has made a fatal error. She has legislated that such a bill must be introduced within 7 days of the Law Commission drafting it, but she has not said that the Government must schedule it for a first reading debate.  So if the Government did not want the bill to progress, it would simply place it at the bottom of the order paper – which they can do as it would be a Government bill. Even a minority Government would be able to prevent the bill from ever being voted on – something they can’t do with a private members’ bill that actually seeks a law change – rather than just ordering the Government to introduce a bill.

So to be very clear, even if a majority in Parliament favoured law reform, the process outlined in this bill would give the Government an effective veto. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where for example it is after the 2014 election and say Colin Craig or Winston Peters could demand that the price of their support is the bill not proceed, as their constituents do not like it. By making it a Government bill, you lose control of its timing.

So the biggest problem if Ardern’s bill would not actually see any law change for four or more years, and could in fact never be voted on if the Government did not want it to pass. But that is only one flaw.

The second flaw is that the Ardern bill doesn’t specify a single policy principle. Not one. It gives actually no direction to the Law Commission as to what should be in the bill, what its scope should be, or even that the bill should not discriminate against same sex relationships. Every single detail is left to the Law Commission. This is a blank piece of paper. Now one could say, well surely they would mainly repeat what they reported in September 2000. Well they might. But it is worth considering that I think every single member of the Law Commission is now different from 12 year ago. So there is no guarantee that what the Law Commission would deliver is what Ardern wants. It is the job of legislators to spell out the general policy principles they want a law to reflect.

The third flaw is that the Minister of Justice is required to introduce whatever the Law Commission drafts, without amendment. Putting aside the rather important constitutional issues of making the Law Commission able to bypass Cabinet, it means that if a first reading is scheduled the MPs have to vote on whatever the Law Commission drafted. It could not be amended unless it survives to select committee. Such a bill could include a provision that all babies named David have to be placed into the care of CYFS and the Minister of Justice would be forced to introduce it without amendment. Sure that is an unlikely example, but it is a horrific precedent to have draft laws bypass Ministerial and/or MP approval, and going straight to a vote. This gives huge powers to the unelected Law Commissioners.

This is obviously a very bad idea. The political process is about MPs and parties working together to ensure a bill is acceptable and has enough support to pass first reading. There are often intense negotiations before a bill is introduced into Parliament.  The Ardern Bill actually entirely removes MPs from the legislative equation until the Law Commission bill reaches select committee – if it even made it that far. And the probability that it would face massive changes at select committee is enhanced when MPs have had zero say in its drafting.

The fourth flaw, I touched on earlier. Rather than introduce a private members’ bill that actually outlines the desired law changes, it just instructs the Government to introduce a bill in probably two years time. By then making it a Government bill, it means Parliament loses control of when it gets voted on, as Government bills are debated at the discretion of the Government. So by failing to specify that the bill must be scheduled for first (and subsequent) reading/s at the top of the Government order paper, the bill is basically entirely ineffective.

So in summary the Ardern bill is not a helpful (while I am sure well motivated) step towards sensible adoption law reform for the following four reasons:

  1. It would probably delay any actual law reform for four or more years. By contrast a private members bill which actually specified the proposed reforms could be passed into law within a year or so.
  2. There are absolutely no policy principles in the bill (not even that the welfare of the child is paramount). It is a total blank piece of paper for the Law Commission.
  3. The bill locks MPs out of any involvement in the eventual draft government legislation prepared by the Law Commission, making it far less likely of gaining the necessary support.
  4. The private members bill requires the Government to introduce a Government bill, which will then only progress at the timetable decided by the Government – rather than as Parliament wishes. Under MMP the two are not the same thing.

It is very easy to write a nine clause bill and trumpet that as the “solution”, claiming it would “address a wide range of concerns about the outdated Adoption Act”. But alas law making is not that simple or easy. Either you convince the Government to make adoption law a Government priority, or you draft a private members bill to do it yourself.

Adoption law reform

May 28th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young in the NZ Herald reports:

Two MPs from opposing parties, National’s Nikki Kaye and the Greens’ Kevin Hague, have joined forces to develop a bill that would legalise adoption by gay couples.

The National Party’s northern regional conference in Auckland at the weekend passed a remit in closed session supporting adoption by couples in a civil union.

I blogged this over the weekend. A very welcome move, and also good to see MPs working across party lines on an issue that impacts a lot of New Zealanders – I don’t mean just same sex adoption, but updating the adoption and surrogacy laws generally. They are woefully out of date.

Prime Minister John Key told the Herald yesterday the passage of the remit reflected the changing face of the National Party.

“The party is modernising. You can see by the number of young people. It’s ethnically a lot more diverse than in was. It’s more representative of modern day New Zealand. It’s a very positive and healthy thing.”

For many years the majority of delegates at conferences were old and white. This has changed, especially in Auckland. I recall being a Young National myself and TVNZ asking me up until what age you are considered a Young National, and replying “Oh, around 60” 🙂

Ms Kaye, the MP for Auckland Central, said she had worked for 18 months on the issue with Mr Hague, a West Coast gay MP.

She said many couples had fertility issues and more were considering surrogacy.

It made sense to consider adoption and surrogacy together, as they reflected the more modern arrangements New Zealanders were choosing to structure their families.

When the MPs started at looking at the Adoption Act 1955, they decided it would be best to approach it from a perspective in which the welfare of the child was paramount.

This is the sensible focus. Legislative prohibitions against certain types of relationships may result in outcomes where the child’s welfare is not paramount. It is far better for the totality of the circumstances of a prospective parent or parents is taken into account.

The two MPs are drafting legislation to amend the Care of Children Bill 2004 based on a previous Law Commission report that looked at guardianship and adoption.

The measure should be ready in a few months, Ms Kaye said, and would be a private member’s bill in her name or Mr Hague’s.

It was a complex piece of work and there would be about 40 policy decisions. Some would be controversial, including the age of adoption, adoption by same-sex couples, adoption by single people, Maori adoption practices and issues relating to surrogacy.

It is a hugely complex area, especially as what actually happens today is so far removed from the old law which was all about “closed” adoptions where a birth parent gives their child up to the state who gives it to adoptive parents. Such adoptions are almost extinct in New Zealand. The majority of adoptions involve arrangements between birth and adoptive parents directly, or through surrogacy.

So who is lying?

October 14th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jordan Carter has blogged on the now well publicised accusations over what was said and denied at the Rainbow Wellington election forum. A number of Labour Party candidates and supporters have all accused ACT candidate Stephen Whittington of getting it wrong.

Well to para-phrase Mandy Rice-Davies, they would say that, wouldn’t they. But Green MP Kevin Hague has backed Whittington’s version of events. Now unless one subscribes to Labour’s mad theory of a vast right wing and non-labour left wing conspiracy, I think we can trust Kevin Hague as an honest witness.

With that in mind, Jordan may regret the title of his blog post – a clarification for some liars out there.

Does this mean he is calling Kevin Hague a liar?

I get a mention also, which I need to respond to.

This has been amplified today by that well known defender of the rights of queer people, David Farrar, on his blog KiwiBlog, and by Whittington himself in a media release.  The result is this Stuff story “Labour accused of homophobia cover-up” by Andrea Vance.

Now the reference to me as a “well known defender of the rights of queer people” is obviously meant to be sarcastic and imply I am insincere when it comes to this issue, and just using it to score political points.

I think my record stands for itself. I have blogged in supports of gay issues such as civil unions, gay marriage and gay adoption on scores and scores of occasions. I actively lobbied in favour of the Civil Union Bill, assisting Tim Barnett with it.  I blogged in 2004 how great the Civil Unions Bill party was to celebrate, and how great it was to be a very small part of helping something positive happen.

Unlike many in Labour I have been willing to criticise MPs from my own party on these issues. At the time of the Civil Unions Bill I blogged somewhat critically of some of the speeches from MPs against, including National MPs. The following week my public criticisms were raised in Caucus (so I am told, I don’t attend of course) by some of the MPs I had criticised, asking for something to be done to shut me up.

Also just last year I blogged quite harsh criticisms of a Cabinet Minister for comments which I thought were taunting a gay MP. It actually turned out (once I saw the video and wasn’t just going off the NZPA report) that I had misinterpreted the comments, and it was a fairly good natured exchange, so I actually was unfairly critical of the National Minister. But again, note I was publicly critical.

So even though Jordan was using the term sarcastically, I think I have been consistent in my advocacy on gay rights. Perhaps my crime is actually being heterosexual and a National supporter – after all how can a straight right winger be anything but insincere on gay issues?

Farrar’s allegations are nonsense.  He (and Whittington) are lying when they say that Grant and Charles denied Trevor’s ‘tinkerbell’ stuff.  They did no such thing.

Well let me quote Kevin Hague:

Green MP Kevin Hague, who was also at the meeting, backed Mr Whittington’s version of events. “My sense was that Charles and Grant were denying that Mallard and Cosgrove had abused Chris Finlayson in a homophobic way.

Also Jordan and Grant’s version of events are not even backed by Chauvel himself. In the Herald he said:

Mr Chauvel said he had never heard anybody refer to Mr Finlayson by that name “and if I did hear it, I would tell them that was unacceptable”.

So Charles was denying anyone had ever said it. So now the list of liars is Stephen Whittington, myself, Kevin Hague and Charles himself.

They would have been stupid to. The remarks were well covered at the time.  We told Trevor what we thought. Making slurs like that in Parliament is totally unacceptable.

They were well covered at the time. Do you know why? Because I blogged about them. Off memory there was no publicity around this until I highlighted this. No one in Labour did anything about Trevor and Clayton until there was adverse publicity.

And don’t think it was only the three times it has been recorded in Hansard. Hansard only records comments if made in a speech or if an interjection is responded to. I understand Trevor and Clayton has yelled out Tinkerbell to Finlayson on numerous occasions – but as Finlayson ignored them they do not get recorded.

So good on Jordan and others for telling Trevor (and hopefully Clayton) to stop. But did you say anything publicly like I have with National MPs?

What they denied is that Mallard is homophobic. They are right.  Trevor has been a staunch defender of social liberal causes and was a key player in the fight to decriminalise homosexuality in the 1980s. His voting record on queer rights issues is perfect.

I tend to agree that Trevor is not homophobic. He is just someone willing to use homophobic comments to attack other MPs. It’s much the same with Winston. I don’t think Winston really hate Asians. I think he just knows it is effective to bash Asian immigration, so does it to be popular.  I note Jordan has not said whether or not he thinks Clayton is homophobic.

In terms of the argument that someone can not be homophobic because they have a perfect voting record on queer right issues. By that logic, Senator Larry Craig can’t be homosexual because he has a perfect voting record against queer rights. I think behaviour counts as much as one’s voting record.

So my message to Whittington and to David Farrar is: stop lying on this point.

I trust Stephen’s integrity, just as I trust Kevin Hague – a gay Green MP who politically has nothing to gain by backing up the ACT candidate’s version of events. And then add onto that the fact that Chauvel has said he has never heard anyone refer to Finlayson by that name, and I am very comfortable with what I have blogged.

Jordan would do well to stop shooting the messengers. If only he spent as much time condemning the remarks publicly when they were made, than denying they were denied.

For someone who is a social liberal, David sure does spend a lot of time stirring up nasty stuff.

I love this Orewellain view of the world. If I was a Labour activist who criticised a National MP for denying homophobic comments from other National MPs, I would be trumpeted as the good guy, and the National MP would be the nasty guy.

But no God forbid that I criticise a Labour MP/s because in the heat of a debate they made the wrong call and embarrassed by the mention of these homophobic comments by colleagues they tried to bluff it and deny said comments had been made.

I can only conclude that criticising a Labour MP for anything at all, is automatically nasty stuff.

On that note I’ll talk about why I did the series of posts on Charles Chauvel. It is not because he is gay as Charles has suggested, or because some mythical polls show him leading in Ohariu and Peter Dunne has put me up to it.  It is because I received information (from a number of sources, including people in his own party) that revealed he was doing shameless self-promotion to a degree that was deceptive.

In the past I have been complimentary of Charles, such as when he was moved to the extended front bench, noting:

Chauvel was a no brainer.  … Chauvel to environment is logical and what I predicted. He is one of the few MPs who understand the complexities of the ETS etc.

And before the reshuffle I said:

But a couple of others would also be contenders on merit for the front bench, or at least the front row of the cross-benches. Charles Chauvel and Grant Robertson would be the two strongest contenders. …

I also blogged in favour of his private members bill on credit reform going to select committee.

Charles is not the only MP who is a self-promoter. All MPs are (by necessity) to some degree. But I think where most MPs are under-graduates, Charles seemed to be well on his way to a PhD in it, so I called him out on some of his practices. No conspiracy, no homophobia, nothing to do with Ohariu. At the end of the day if you don’t write letters praising yourself and send them out to people, then there is no way I can be sent a copy of them to blog about it.

UPDATE: Whale Oil has blogged that the video of the House shows Chauvel was present when Mallard used the term, and sitting just three seats along and one back from him.

UPDATE2: The Secretary of Rainbow Wellington has released his summary of the meeting based on his detailed notes. Tony Reed’s summary states:

The Banks issue was taken up further and the Labour MPs reminded us of his homophobic actions in the House when Chris Carter came out as the first openly gay MP. Stephen agreed this was wrong, but in turn accused Labour MPs of making homophobic remarks about Chris Finlayson, a charge which was hotly denied.”

I won’t hold my breath waiting for an apology for being called a liar.


Two interesting profiles

March 27th, 2011 at 3:28 pm by David Farrar

Two interesting profiles in the SST. The first is of aspiring National MP Mark Mitchell:

HE’S HAD violent confrontations with gangs and criminals during 14 years in the New Zealand police force. He’s spent eight years as a top international hostage negotiator, at one point fighting for his life in a five-day siege in Iraq, a story which is set to feature in a movie made by Brad Pitt. He’s built a multimillion-dollar business from scratch.

As he is not a teacher, academic or a unionist I guess he is standing for National 🙂

So the company set up subsidiary Threat Management Group to take security in-house. As CEO and shareholder, Mitchell grew the company from eight staff to about 500 in the first year.

The quality of their work soon won them top-level contracts, including protecting crucial infrastructures like ports, and keeping supply chains open.

Mitchell also became adept at kidnap and ransom negotiations, dealing with more than 100 hostage negotiations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Darfur.

If Mitchell does become an MP and eventually a Minister, then I’d say make him Associate Finance Minister in charge of bilateral vote negotiations. His background in ransom negotiations should serve well!

Also a profile on current Green MP Kevin Hague:

Then in 1980 he was arrested during an anti-sexism protest at a Miss New Zealand beauty pageant; a moment he states is his “most embarrassing political moment”.

“I ended up in a police paddy wagon with a group of women who wouldn’t speak to me,” he laughs. “They were all lesbian separatists.”

Heh that is very funny.

In the late 1980s he headed the Aids Foundation, before moving to Greymouth with his partner, Ian, and his son, Thomas, to take on a role as the general manager of planning and funding for the West Coast District Health board, before becoming the board’s chief executive.

This is one thing that makes me respect Hague – he does actually have significant management experience. Becoming a DHB CEO is no small thing.

Hague said he had never been the target of taunting over his sexual orientation since entering the halls of parliament in 2008.

The same, he said, couldn’t be said for other gay MPs, citing “prejudice” directed at Attorney-General and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson.

“Trevor Mallard, and also Clayton Cosgrove, refer to Chris Finlayson as `tinkerbell’. And I f—ing hate it,” Hague said. “That sort of overt taunting as a `fairy’, it is nothing other than prejudice. I don’t like that culture of abuse.”

Good on Hague for calling them out for it.

The Green’s Health Priorities

February 19th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

It is inevitable that a future Labour Government will include the Greens, as they no longer have Jim or Winston to rely on. So with that in mind, let us look at what the Greens say their health priorities are:

1. In retrospect I have to confess that our decision to fund 12 months’ treatment with Herceptin was sheer irrational populism, and today I’m announcing that we will never do it again. In the same spirit, our repeal of the healthy school food guidelines and cutting funding to Healthy Eating Healthy Action projects were entirely about ideology rather than health, so we’re reintroducing them because we are quite concerned about chronic illness.

So their number one health priority is to provide a shorter period of treatment to women with breast cancer. I can’t wait for No 2.

2. Rather than making the grand gesture of a massive programme to build new operating theatres and contracting out surgery to the private sector, Government has today announced a programme of regionally (rather than locally) planning the best and most efficient use of our existing theatres, specialists and resources.

And their number two health priority is to have fewer operating theatres. This just gets better and better. Vote Green and we promise less treatment for women with breast cancer and fewer operating theatres.

3. I think we’ve had enough of committees, reports and endless restructuring, so rather than commission yet more I am going to require DHBs to work together and help each other whenever this is in the interests of most New Zealanders.

Their third health priority is that they are going to send a memo out to DHBs telling them to work together better.  Such vision.

4. It is inadequate and unacceptable for us to set lower health targets for Maori and to continue to tolerate health inequalities. The performance measures I am setting for DHBs will focus on raising Maori health status to the same level other New Zealanders enjoy, and DHBs will perform to this standard (or they’re all fired!)

This one is so crazy, it has me laughing. The Greens are going to sack every District Health Board in New Zealand unless they can get Maori health status to the same level as non-Maori. Are they going to supply pixie dust to help them do the job?

It is an interesting insight into the mind of those on the hard left. They really believe that the reasons for the disparity between Maori and European has nothing to do with culture, genetics, environment, family and personal decisions – but is all the fault of the DHBs, who will be sacked if they can’t fix it.

5. In order to improve the position of those people with the poorest health, Government will be requiring all Government departments and crown entities to work together at a local level to identify people in need and to proactively offer services to improve their lives, and will be funding PHOs to take a lead role in this process.

So number five health priority is to send out a memo to Government Departments asking them to work better at helping people with poor health.

6. There is not enough money now to provide all of the health services that New Zealanders expect, and this will be worse in the future. Consequently Government is reorienting our health sector spending to focus resources in the areas proven to have the greatest impact on population health status, public health programmes and primary care, and as Minister I will also personally lead a national conversation with New Zealanders about how we best make decisions about how we should allocate limited resources in secondary and tertiary care.

And their final health priority is to have a conversation about umm health priorities, with an eye towards reducing secondary and tertiary care.

So in summary these are the Green’s six priorities for health:

  1. Reduce the amount of treatment for women with breast cancer
  2. Reduce the number of operating theatres
  3. Send out a memo to DHBs saying work better together
  4. Sack every DHB in New Zealand if they can not magically bring Maori health status up to the level of non-Maori
  5. Send out a memo to Government Departments to say be nicer to people with poor health
  6. Try and convince NZers to have less money spent on surgery and hospitals.

Oh I am looking forward to a future Labour/Green Government. It will be such fun.

Kevin Hague on National Penis Day

October 31st, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Green MP Kevin Hague talks about National Penis Day. It was like Movember, to raise awareness of men’s health issues. I guess a National Vagina Day is unlikely to catch on!

Hague is taking part in Movember – good on him.

Today’s MPs

January 19th, 2009 at 11:18 am by David Farrar

In today’s Herald:

Kevin Hague

He also laid out his personal philosophy – a vegetarian for the past 28 years, Mr Hague said he become so “to take only what resources I need from the natural world and to harm the natural world to the least extent possible”.

He felt a “growing unease” that the human race had reached the limits of what it could take from the natural world.

“Human beings are not well adapted to deal with gradually unfolding risk or dangers that are rare but catastrophic.”

He said technological advances had saved humankind from the worst consequences of their actions in the past, but he feared it would not be enough this time. He looked to the United States for some hope for the future, describing Barack Obama’s election as kindling “a small flame of hope for the future of the human race and the planet”.

Hague is a former DHB CEO and an experienced advocate. His beliefes obviously make him well suited to be a Green MP.

Stuart Nash

Has a daughter and son. Lives in Napier, where he was raised and where his family settled in 1865. Has worked in international business and marketing, including Fletchers and Carter Holt Harvey. Was director of strategic development at AUT before moving to Napier. Chief executive of Napier’s Art Deco Trust.

A rare business backround for a Labour MP.

As a 9-year-old, he had to present an item to his class the day after Elvis Presley died. It was also the day after Robert Muldoon delivered his Budget. “Five 9-year-olds spoke about Elvis and one poor kid about the Government’s fiscal plans. Thanks Mum.”


Louise Upston

Started her first business when she was 19 and has since worked in business development and project management in a wide range of industries including local government, education, tourism and broadcasting. Most recently focused on telecommunications and information technology. Based in Taupo, she is married with three children.

Having a business-friendly environment is one of the keys out of the economic recession, so good to have another business-friendly MP.

She cites education as her top priority followed by law and order. She spoke of a family in her electorate whose daughter was killed after being hit  by a drugged driver, and said the justice system was skewed toward protecting criminals rather than the  victims.

Backbenches tonight

October 8th, 2008 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Tonight at 9 pm live at the Backbencher or on TVNZ7.

  • Kevin Hague, Greens
  • Hamish McDouall, Labour
  • Nikki Kaye, National
  • Derek Fox, Maori