Peter Dunne

List spots signal potential deals

Claire Trevett observes that National’s list spots reveal the intention behind National’s potential deals.

National has sent a clear signal it will do a deal in the Ohariu and Epsom electorates by ranking its candidates in those electorates in high list places.

The highest ranked non-MP is Brett Hudson, National’s new candidate in Ohariu. Ohariu is currently held by United Future leader Peter Dunne, one of the National Government’s support partners.

Prime Minister John Key is expected to announce next week whether he will guide National voters in Ohariu and Epsom to give their electorate votes to Mr Dunne and Act’s David Seymour in those electorates to try to ensure National has support partner options.

Mr Hudson is the only non-MP who is ranked above some sitting MPs, at 39th place on the list and on current polling is a certainty to get into Parliament.

Epsom candidate Paul Goldsmith is ranked at 30 – nine slots above his 2011 ranking.

Mr Key is also expected to decide whether to cut a similar deal in East Coast Bays.

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Loving parents break the law

What is your child was in so much pain, or so much distress, that conventional medicine has no answers?  What if, just a touch of cannabis all but solves those problems?

As a parent, what would you do?

Josh Fagan reports

Parents are giving their children cannabis to treat serious diseases, and they’re resorting to growing their own plants or importing them illegally from overseas.

At least three New Zealand customers order liquid cannabis products from Mulaways Medicinal Cannabis in Kempsie, about 400km north of Sydney in rural New South Wales.

The cannabis tincture has been credited with providing relief for children with terminal illnesses and has sparked renewed debate over clinical trials of medicinal marijuana.

Mulaways founder Tony Bower said three New Zealanders were on a mailing list of about 150 customers. Other Kiwis flew to Australia to source the drug and dozens more were added each week to a bulging waiting list, he said.

But the supply of liquid cannabis could dry up altogether if Bower is sent to prison. He is due to appear in court in October charged with cultivating cannabis and breaching a good behaviour bond he was placed on after a six-week stint in jail in mid-2013.

He said he felt a “duty” to keep growing the plants and supplying the product to children, even if it meant going back to prison. “It’s crossed my mind to stop and pack up but these are sick kids. What else can I do?”

Bower said the delivery of the drug to New Zealand was particularly risky – not only for him but for the customers who ordered it. The maximum penalty for importation of liquid cannabis – considered a class B drug in New Zealand – is 14 years in jail. Possession or use offences carry a maximum three-month jail term and/or a $500 fine.

“To tell you the truth, that’s why I don’t [send] as much to New Zealand,” Bower said. “It’s hard because you’ve got people who risk getting their children taken off them.”

When you have to decide between helping your child, and not breaking the law, the choice for many parents is very simple.   Read more »

Public ready to accept decriminalised and even legalised marijuana


If there is one thing the “Legal High” debacle has achieved is that people have seen that the supposedly manageable safe way of using artificial cannabis has turned out to be anything but.

Derek Cheng reports

The latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows just under a third of those polled thought smoking cannabis should attract a fine but not a criminal conviction, while a fifth went further and said it should be legalised.

Forty-five per cent said it should remain illegal, and 2.6 per cent said they did not know.

Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said: “All the results I’ve seen in New Zealand recently were overwhelmingly opposed to reform.”

While most National Party supporters (53.8 per cent) favoured the status quo, almost 45 per cent supported legalisation or decriminalisation.

The Government last night remained firm in its stance on cannabis.

“We do not think there are any benefits for decriminalising or legalising cannabis, for medicinal purposes or otherwise, which outweigh the harm it causes to society,” said Justice Minister Judith Collins.

The harm is already part of society.  By legalising or decriminalising it, all you do is turn something that many, many Kiwis are already using in their daily or weekly lives into something that is no longer a criminal act.

This issue, to some degree, will mature in the sense that as parliament renews with younger MPs, they bring with them more updated social expectations.   Just like gay marriage couldn’t have made it to legal status 20 years ago, 20 years from now, New Zealand parliament will have an easy majority of MPs ready to accept marijuana and hemp and its many, legal and useful applications – including medical.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said there was no sense of any great political appetite for reform.

There you go.  No political appetite.  Just like there has been no political appetite for changing the retirement age, although we can all see it edging towards the cliff as an issue that will grab us by the throat sooner or later.

Labour drug and alcohol spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said there was a growing mood for reform.

“We wouldn’t look at legalisation in the first instance, but we want to use the Law Commission report as a starting point for a conversation.”

Labour also say “not on our watch”, but are happy to look a little more open to thinking about it.

The Green Party calls for no penalties for possession and use of cannabis for people aged 18 and over, though it still wants selling cannabis and cultivating for sale to be against the law.

And that will probably be the stance we will adopt as a country in a decade or two.

But it will require another flush or two of new talent to enter the political system first.


- NZ Herald

Clinging to wreckage

John Armstrong wrote yesterday in the Herald about David Cunliffe’s dreadful week:

When it comes to casting aspersions, few insults are as venomous, vicious or more driven by utter contempt than accusing someone of being a “scab”.

That is particularly the case on the left of the political spectrum where the battles of old between capital and labour provided the source of the term to describe those who broke rank from the union and who were then ostracised forever.

A workforce which is now largely non-unionised has made such name-calling far more infrequent, and at times sound rather dated.

But there was nothing quaint about the leader of the Labour Party this week insinuating colleagues who did not give him their full support were scabs.

It was astonishing. It implied treachery in the extreme. What the outburst really revealed was someone looking for scapegoats for his own self-inflicted woes.

David Cunliffe actually stopped one step short of uttering the word “scab” during his appearance on Campbell Live on Wednesday evening. But he noted that in the Labour movement “there are words we use for strike breakers”. He meant one word. And you did not have to be Einstein to work out what that word was.

Likewise those MPs in Cunliffe’s sights who must be furious at being labelled in such derogatory fashion.

David Cunliffe called more than two thirds of his caucus scabs…it won’t be a surprise if they continue to white ant him right up until the election.

In fact, Cunliffe spent much of the week trying to play the victim following the embarrassing revelation that he had helped Donghua Liu with his application for New Zealand residency, having just 24 hours earlier denied any such advocacy on behalf of the controversial Chinese businessman.

Cunliffe countered that National had set him up, having known for weeks about the letter he had written back in 2003 to immigration authorities on Liu’s behalf.

It is true National was well aware of the letter, but only because it had conducted a document trawl to find out more about Liu after he proved to be of major nuisance.

John Key says he did nothing with the letter as it did not seem particularly germane to anything at the time.

That is difficult to accept. The letter would have looked like a gift from God – especially as its contents cut right across Cunliffe’s “crony capitalism” campaign.

If Cunliffe was stitched up, he compounded things with his denials of any contact with Liu.

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Peter Dunne on Cunliffe’s hypocrisy

Peter Dunne gives some insight into how MPs should handle both immigration matters and donations.

I have always followed two firm rules for immigration – and actually all constituency – cases, aside from the obvious point of keeping clear and full records. Any letters of advocacy I write on behalf of a constituent have been drafted personally by me, rather than a member of my staff, as I am more likely to remember something I have written myself, rather than just affixed a signature to. Second and more important, I have never accepted a donation or gift in return for pursuing an immigration case. Where there have been occasions – usually after the event – where someone offered to make a donation, I have always referred them directly to the Party Treasurer. So I actually never know whether any of these offers have ever been followed up, which is as it should be.

I say this not to be sanctimonious, but because it strikes me that David Cunliffe has done neither. I do not think he had full oversight of Mr Liu’s approach to him regarding his immigration status, but I do think he – and his colleagues it would appear – had way too much involvement, more than they are letting on now, in respect of Mr Liu’s financial support. It is that ambiguity and shadiness that is doing the damage now.  Read more »

Is this Labour’s secret strategy?

Scott Yorke at Imperator Fish has revealed Labour’s secret victory plan:

I’ve been thinking about the crisis enveloping David Cunliffe and the Labour Party. It seems increasingly clear that the whole thing was a National party setup.

But if the Nats think this is some sort of victory for them, they should think again. The whole thing is backfiring badly, and they will end up regretting their smear. Already the nation is turning on National, as people wake up and realise who is behind this scandal. I’ve seen at least three people on my Twitter feed questioning National’s tactics.

I’m not at all worried about the polls out this week, one of which showed support for Labour as low as 23%. 23% is a pretty good base to build from, and if Labour can hold that number on September 20 and then do deals with the Greens, Mana-Internet, NZ First, the Maori Party, Peter Dunne, and ACT, they should be able to form a government, if several National MPs also defect to Labour.  Read more »

Chris Trotter is either on the payroll or simply lost the plot completely


Chris Trotter, it appears, has also sold out his principles. He has seriously unhinged over the past few days writing post after post after post variously screaming at Labour MPs to
STFU” and calling them stupid.

Now he is out-right shilling on behalf of the Internet Mana Party, it seems he too ahs sucuumbed tot he magic millions from the Crook of Coatesville.

BRACE YOURSELVES, COMRADES, for some horrendous poll results. The next round of surveys from Colmar Brunton, Reid Research, DigiPoll, Ipsos and Roy Morgan will almost certainly register a major slump in the Centre Left’s support and a concomitant rise in National’s numbers – quite possibly to 55 percent-plus. Labour and the Greens will both take nasty hits and the Internet-Mana Party (IMP) will be very lucky to make it above 1 percent. Apart from John Key, the only other person likely to be smiling is Winston Peters.

The polls will be bad because the framing of Kim Dotcom’s latest intervention in New Zealand politics has been so near-universally and overwhelmingly negative. From the Right (and Sue Bradford) has come the steady drumbeat that Hone Harawira and the Mana Party have done a “dirty deal” with Kim Dotcom and, in the process, “sold out their principles” for cash.

Amplifying this message, TV3’s political editor, Patrick Gower, has characterised the IMP strategy as “a rort” (a term which normally denotes morally questionable if not downright illegal manipulation) even though what the Mana and Internet parties are proposing is well within the rules of MMP and has been a feature of every election campaign since the latter came in force in 1996. Gower’s destructive message has, however, been repeated, ad nauseum, by an endless succession of editorial writers, talkback hosts, columnists and bloggers.

What Chris Trotter forgets is that those editorial writers, talkback hosts, columnists and bloggers are merely repeating the same attack lines that people like Trotter himself, and Martyn Bradbury and all the other sellouts have used against National and Act over Epsom and against Peter Dunne in Ohariu.  Read more »

Why wait? Cunliffe says ending coat-tailing a priority for his first 100 days

David Cunliffe is grandstanding over coat-tailing and brilliantly painting himself into a corner.

Instead he is now saying that ending coat-tailing is a priority for his first 100 days in office…but in order to get into office he may have to rely on coat-tailing parties.

Labour leader David Cunliffe has committed to legislation that will remove the “coat-tailing” provisions that allow small parties to get more MPs into Parliament.

The party already has a member’s bill before the House, but Cunliffe said legislation would be introduced within the first 100 days of a government he led.

Coat-tailing allows for smaller parties that have not reached the 5 per cent threshold, to bring more MPs into Parliament on the back of one MP who may have won an electorate seat.

It also can allow larger parties to do deals that would help smaller parties into Parliament, which happened with ACT and National in the Epsom seat in Auckland.

The Internet Party and Mana have also merged their list, in the hopes of bringing more MPs into Parliament on the coat-tails of Mana leader Hone Harawira, if he retains his Te Tai Tokerau seat.

Cunliffe said he challenged prime minister John Key to sign up to Labour’s bill, but the party would move to change the Electoral Act within its first 100 days in government, regardless.

“We’re saying a very principled and consistent thing,” he told Firstline this morning.

“We think it’s wrong, no matter who does it.

“That’s why we oppose it, that’s why we have a bill before Parliament – Iain Lees-Galloway’s member’s bill – which would remove it.

“And I challenge the prime minister to sign up to that bill, do the right thing by New Zealand people and get rid of this coat-tailing provision.

“And I’ll go further. In the first 100 days of a government that I lead, we will introduce government legislation to remove coat-tailing by changing the Electoral Act.”

Read more »

Will David Cunliffe commit to shunning the Internet Mana Party?

Labour and David Cunliffe find themselves in a pickle and one that all media commentators and the hard left have missed.

They don’t like coat-tailing, and even better have a bill promoted by Iain Lees-Galloway that would remove coat-tailing.

A Labour Party bill, promoted by Iain Lees-Galloway, which seeks to have the rule dumped is set to be debated early next year.

But the Government, ACT and United Future have said they will oppose it meaning it will not have the numbers to become law.

The rule has led to National backing ACT leader John Banks and United Future’s Peter Dunne to win electorate seats in the hope they bring more MPs into parliament with them to boost coalition numbers.

Their paid lap-bloggers at The Standard have even called for Labour and National to join forces and vote for the bill passing it before the election.

Labour already has a bill to remove the coat-tailing legislation. They’ve written it, put it in the ballot and it’s been drawn. All John Key has to do is say he’ll support it and it can be law any time he chooses.

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John Key on the nasties in parliament

John Key spoke to some Tawa College students about the nasty party tactics of the opposition.

Hamish Rutherford reports:

Politicians risk offending the public through “nasty” behaviour or mindless tweets, Prime Minister John Key says.

Animosity in the House appears to have stepped up in recent weeks, and Key said today that there had been “a bit of a nasty streak running through Parliament”.

NZ First leader Winston Peters this week referred to his former caucus colleague, Brendan Horan, as the “Jimmy Savile of New Zealand Parliament”.

Horan claimed the next day that NZ First was misusing taxpayers’ funds by using its leader’s budget to pay for software designed to attract members.

UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne, one of New Zealand’s longest-serving MPs, said this week that behaviour in the House had hit a “lower low than we’ve had in a long time”. MPs were using parliamentary privilege for a “free hit” on opponents.

Read more »