Whittington on ACT

December 3rd, 2011 at 3:26 pm by David Farrar

Derek Cheng writes in the NZ Herald:

An Act candidate touted as a future leader has declared the party all but dead and represented by an “economically ignorant” John Banks who wants to “suck up” to National.

Stephen Whittington, 25, ran in Wellington Central and was seventh on the party list. Along with number five on the list, David Seymour, he was regarded as a future star.

On his Facebook page Mr Whittington called Mr Banks “economically ignorant and interventionist”, in response to the Epsom MP’s comments opening the door to Conservative Party leader Colin Craig. …

Mr Banks declined to comment, but party president Chris Simmons said Mr Whittington was wrong.

“The bottom line is that the party has a lot of work to do. In Parliament we’re represented by only one person, and John Banks signed up to represent Act and Act’s principles and he’s working really hard at exactly that.”

He believed the party would survive.

“Will it be a liberal party? Yes, it will be. Will it be the liberal party that Stephen Whittington thought it would be? I’m not really sure about that.”

Mr Whittington said Act needed a counterbalance to Mr Banks to maintain a consistent liberal message.

I think Steven’s comments are somewhat unfair to John Banks, even though I agree with his overall position that ACT as we know it is no more.

The problem is not that John Banks won Epsom. That is what stopped ACT being wiped out entirely. The problem is that ACT failed to win enough party vote to get a second MP in. A further 0.1% would have got Don Brash into Parliament. Brash inevitably would have made way before long for Catherine Isaac, and the combination of Isaac and Banks would have been a workable one for ACT.

I called the Brash coup a “cluster fuck” back in April. I think few would now disagree. If there had been some sort of deal where Don became co-leader with Rodney Hide, then it is quite possible ACT would have done well in the party vote. But the very nature of the coup where someone who is not even a party member demands he be made leader or else he will destroy the party was repulsive to even the most loyal supporter of ACT’s policies.

Having failed to get a second MP into Parliament, the brand of ACT will be the brand of Banks. That’s a perfectly good brand, but it is not the brand traditionally associated with ACT. I still think the best way forward is for ACT to rename itself and look at some sort of co-operation with the Conservative Party, and those who are economic and social liberals to form a new party without the baggage of the past.

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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.

 

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Labour’s Rainbow Policy

October 13th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Labour’s just released Rainbow policy states:

Many GLBTI New Zealanders continue to be subject to insult, verbal and physical abuse, and to be made to feel inferior, most damagingly in schools.

This comes from the party whose MPs (Mallard and Cosgrove) yell out “Tinkerbell” when a gay National Minister is speaking in the House.

ACT Wellington Central candidate Stephen Whittington referred to this in the Rainbow Candidates meeting last night. And do you know what Grant Robertson and Charles Chauvel said? Did they apologise for their colleagues? Did they say they had asked them to stop? No, they lied and denied that any Labour MP had ever said that. They actually accused Whittington of making a personal attack on them.

In case anyone actually thinks Robertson and Chauvel told the truth, look at this video here of Trevor Mallard (start at 2.30). Also note this interview with Green MP Kevin Hague who said:

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.”

Now in case you think the video is doctored and that Kevin Hague is the liar, instead of Robertson and Chauvel, you can also look at Hansard here and here.

Discrimination against GLBTI people worldwide continues. The worst manifestation of this is the criminalisation of consensual adult same-sex activity, and its punishment as a capital offence.

This comes from the party which has a List MP who said (from Wikipedia):

In July 2005 Choudhary came to the public’s attention again when he refused to condemn outright the practice of stoning people for homosexual and extramarital sexual behaviour. In TV3’s 60 Minutes show on July 4, 2005, Dr. Choudhary was asked: “Are you saying the Qur’an is wrong to recommend that gays in certain circumstances be stoned to death?” He replied: ” No, no. Certainly what the Qur’an says is correct.” He then qualified his statement, “In those societies, not here in New Zealand”.

When Whittington raised this at the Rainbow debate last night, again Labour again accused him of lying.

So how does Labour reconcile its rainbow policy with having an MP who said it is fine to stone homosexuals and adulters to death, so long as it is not here in New Zealand?

National is far from progressive on gay issues, but I can’t recall a National MP ever saying that it is fine to kill homosexuals, if it is done in other countries.

Then we look at their detailed policy.

Modernise the law relating to the care of children to ensure that the widest pool of suitable adults is lawfully available to provide care to children in need

My God, why can’t they just say they will allow gay couples to adopt? Are they so scared of having the words gay and adoption in the same sentence? There are thousands of children being raised by gay parents and gay couples already. The law should focus on what is best for the child, and if that is a gay couple, then they should be allowed to adopt. What is so hard about saying that explicitly?

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World University Debating Champs

January 4th, 2009 at 10:28 am by David Farrar

The world university debating champs have been happening in Cork.

Congrats to the Vic A team of Stephen Whittington and Polly Higbee who made the semi-finals. They were Opening Government on the topic “That governments should subsidise home ownership.” There are four teams in a debate at worlds (Opening Gov, Opening Op, Closing Gov, Closing Op). Opening opposition was Harvard A – featuring Lewis Bollard, son of Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard. Harvard A won the semi and were 2nd Gov in the final with the topic “This house would ban abortion at all stages of development”.

The overall winner was Oxford A on a 5-4 split.

Also congrats to former Vic student Christopher Bishop (G2) who was a judge, and chaired the judging panel for the other semi-final.

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Vic Election Debate 2008

October 1st, 2008 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar
The Victoria University Debating Society Election Debate 2008
That we need a centre-right government
Affirmative:
Stephen Franks – National candidate for Wellington Central
Christopher Finlayson MP – National List MP and Rongotai candidate
Stephen Whittington – champion Victoria student debater
Negative:
Grant Robertson – Labour candidate for Wellington Central
Sue Kedgley MP – Green candidate for Wellington Central
Polly Higbee – champion Victoria student debater
Chair: Sean Plunket
Monday 6 October, 6.30pm – 8pm
Lecture Theatre One, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington
Gold coin entry. Questions after the debate, then tea and cofffee.
Also debating fans may wish to check out this footage of Jen Savage on Breakfast. Savage was judged best speaker at the Secondary School World Champs, and you get some idea why with her performance on Breakfast. Someone to watch out for – she has declared she wants Paul Henry’s job :-)
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