Jacinda Ardern, equity and equality

Equity and Equality

I found myself a little miffed yesterday as I continued to read glowing reports on New Zealand’s new Prime Minister. Mostly about how she is a woman. The problem is that I don’t care if she is a woman. The Prime Minister is the Prime Minister. I expect them to do the best job they can whatever genitalia they have.

I even found myself explaining this to someone on the phone last night. They too agreed that it should not matter what sex the Prime Minister was. The media hadn’t waxed lyrical over Bill English, the new male Prime Minister, why should they about Jacinda Ardern.

It wasn’t until this morning that my ‘third thoughts‘ kicked in. I may not care if the PM is male or female but there are a lot of people who do. She is, after all, only New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister. It was then that I realised I had fallen into my usual equity and equality trap.

Equity and Equality

Equality in this case is not caring if the head of the country is female or male. This is what we are aiming for. It shouldn’t make any difference at all what sex people are. The problem is it does.

So in order to get equality we end up having to deal with equity. Or, more to the point, inequity. And in this case the inequity is that New Zealand has had twenty seven Prime Ministers. This means that only eleven percent of our leaders have been woman and all of those in the last thirty years. That is total inequity.

If it was a social condition such as woman only earning eleven percent of the amount men do then it would be fixed by law. That’s a little hard in the case of someone who is voted into power.

The next best thing is normalisation and promotion. That is exactly what the media has been doing. Males get used to having a female leader and woman get shown that there are female leaders.

Eventually, hopefully, we will end up in a world where nobody cares about the sex of the candidates. That isn’t the case at the moment. Maybe in another thirty years.

In the mean time I’ll just grin and bear it. If this is the way to get to equality then a bunch of annoying headlines is a small price to pay. And if they don’t work then we will just have to legislate.

Internet Party New Zealand – Where to from here?

Internet Party - Where to from here?

The 2017 election is over and if you look at the results it has been a dismal election for Internet Party New Zealand with only 499 votes.

The causes of this are manifold. But they can basically be boiled down to,

  • Not enough time for the new leadership.
  • Lack of money.
  • No media coverage.

The last two could almost be considered the same thing in New Zealand elections.

On the brighter side of things some of their policies were adopted by other parties. A couple of examples are,

 

So, where to from here?

There are a number of things that didn’t happen in time for the last election. Having time to complete them should serve the Party well in the run up to the next election.

Internet Party - Where to from here?

Leadership

Party leadership appears to have stabilised with Suzie Dawson at the helm. Ms Dawson has been advocating  and explaining the Parties policy positions on the Internet with a series of live interviews with activists called the #AntiSpyBill events. These are expected to continue over the coming years.

She has also been promoting the Internet Party overseas. This has caused a number of fledgling Internet Party’s to have sprung up with IPNZ’s help.

An alliance has been formed with Pirate Parties International. This should  give the Internet Party access to this political organisations experience and support.

Most importantly, a core team has been formed around which the Party can be expanded and rebuilt.

Technology

Technology has been at the heart of the Party. Now long time member Jo Booth has picked up the reins as Technology Director.

From managing servers to live production he has bought his skills to bear, sometimes having to learn on the job, but always looking at problems from a hackers angle.

Over the next three years Jo can be expected to keep coming up with technological solutions and building his team.

Policy

Finally policy has a stable leader with Daymond Goulder-Horobin. If you look at the Party’s policies there are quite a few ‘Coming soon’. This is due to Daymond having a very high standard before release.

Party policy is raised and ratified by the membership before being released in it’s full form. Unfortunately, this meant not all the member ratified policy could be finalised before the last election. This will now be able to happen.

Candidates

The Party now has candidates to stand for and advocate for it. Some of whom have never been involved in the political sphere before. It is expected they will gain experience over the next few years and stand for the Party in the 2020 election.

2020 Election

A lot can happen in three years but if anything the causes that the Internet Party stands for will become more important as time goes on and the public become more informed as to the dangers of mass surveillance and the purposes it is being used for.

I expect the Party will stand again in the 2020 election and I think we can safely say they will get more than 499 votes when they do.

So where do they go from here? They carry on informing, explaining and improving.

 

 

The High Court judgement and the Kitteridge Report

High Court

News came out today that the surveillance on Kim Dotcom has been ruled illegal by the High Court. There are a couple of points of interest in this.

One is that the decision was made in December of 2016 and has been delayed until now. This is sparking speculation that the decision was the cause of John Key’s resignation on December the 5th of 2016.

Another is that the GCSB has said that,

“….it has not proved possible to to please to the allegations the plaintiffs have made without revealing information which would jeopardise the national security of New Zealand.”

This, in my view, would point to the methods of intercepting the information involving another country and its surveillance systems. Last month the Herald reported,The GCSB documents do contain an admission of NSA involvement, although it was not made outright. which would seem to agree with that viewpoint.

A third point of interest is that in the High Court judgement the GCSB seems to contradict the outcomes of the Kitteridge report of 2013.

That report was the result of an investigation into the legal compliance of the GCSB between 2003 and 2012. The report states that during that period the GCSB was confused as to the illegality of spying because of the multiple laws it was operating under.

“The fact that the issue had not been identified during the preceding ten years (except for the question raised by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security in May 2012) reinforces the point that the interplay between the two Acts is not straightforward.”

This was the get out of jail free card for the intelligence services. In response to Russel Normans request for a criminal investigation over illegally spying on Kim Dotcom and Ban Van der Kolk the police responded with,

“As for the issue of criminal intent, it cannot be established that any GCSB staff had the necessary criminal intent to illegally intercept private communications in this case and the GCSB staff cannot be criminally liable”

Or in other words, they believed they spied legally on Kim Dotcom and Ban Van der Kolk. Thus there was no intent.

But there were 85 other cases identified in the Kitteridge report.

“During that period GCSB provided 55 instances of assistance to NZSIS, which potentially involved 85 New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.”

And the High Court decision released today clearly shows that there was widespread knowledge amongst GCSB staff that they were not allowed to spy on New Zealanders. In the words of the judgement, in 2011,

“Foreigners were highlighted in green, indicating they could be tasked. Those who might be New Zealanders (and other protected persons), were highlighted in red, indicating the could not be tasked.”

This means that in the 85 cases of New Zealand citizens or permanent residents, GCSB staff did have criminal intent and should be prosecuted by the New Zealand Police.

Why are we so worried about terrorism?

Errorism

Over the last year there have been a huge amount of articles covering terrorism. Nearly all of them international coverage. Deaths from cars, trucks, stabbings. It’s awful. I was in Paris when a man shot some police. The city was chaos with road blocks and the detonation of a suspicious bag in the Metro.

This was during the elections and the Parisians were on high terror alert. The city sounded like a never ending Jason Borne car chase with all the sirens. People were deeply worried about Le Pen and feeling suspected even though they had lived in Paris for 10 years. Desperately concerned about what the election would mean for them.

But this is Paris. Smack bang in the middle of it all.

Meanwhile in New Zealand people are worried about terrorism as well. It is hard not to be when news agencies constantly post terror related articles. They do this because fear sells. They get more hits and sell more advertising through fear mongering.

The government uses fear to fulfil it’s agenda. Massive increases in defence spending, the NZIC budget, the removal of privacy protections in the GCSB Act. All these things have been justified as combating global terrorism, protecting us from the unseen threats that surround us. The shadowy evils that are waiting to pounce.

Fears don’t have to be rational and the fear of terrorism or war in New Zealand isn’t. For instance, the UK travel advice for New Zealand doesn’t even have a link for terrorism.


Why are we so worried about terrorism?


 

Defence Spending

Prime Minister John Key justified the massive increase in defence spending by pointing out the threats.

“The emergence of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), heightened tensions in the East and South China seas, increases in military spending across South East Asia, and the rapid evolution and spread of cyber threats are just a few examples,” he said.

Yet the same defence force white paper that the spending was based on states,

“New Zealanders can remain confident that the country does not face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future. ”

And then goes on to advance possible threats that may be more likely to occur. Not much to justify spending an extra $20B over.


New Zealand's biggest threat


 

NZIC Budget

In Budget 2016, the Government announced an increased funding package for the NZIC of $178.7m over four years. In the words of the government this was,

“for the New Zealand intelligence community to ensure it can provide essential intelligence and security services and remain effective in a rapidly-evolving environment.”

Which can be roughly restated as we don’t have anything to worry about and we have made up a nice sounding sentence in the hopes you won’t ask to many questions. Or possibly, we just changed the law so we can surveil you but there are quite a few of you so we need more money.


At the end of 2014 New Zealand’s terror threat level increased from very low (unlikely) to low (possible but not expected). MFAT


 

The GCSB Act and associated legislation.

The changes to the GCSB and associated Acts gave the New Zealand government unheralded powers to protect us from terrorism. Yet the last act of terrorism was the Rainbow Warrior bombing in 1985. A full 32 years ago.And a simple search of the news for ‘GCSB threats‘ doesn’t find any reports of them to do with terrorism. Just the usual reports of how they have broken the law, been used to advance politics, and are installing their software in ISP’s in order to ‘better protect us’.


“Unlike many other countries, including our closest neighbour, New Zealand has not recently experienced terrorist attacks or serious, publicly-disclosed security threats.” – Cullen Report 2016


 

So why are we so worried about terrorism?

In the end there doesn’t appear to be any explanation for why we or our government are so worried about terrorism. It is insane that we spend so much time and energy on it.

It is justified by the use of shadowy threats to the country, people working secretly to destroy us. The problem with this is that it can’t be proven and we can’t disprove it either.

If the government says that 18 people are under watch for suspicion of terrorist links we aren’t allowed to see the reasoning. It is secret. We must trust them. They only want to protect us.

In reality New Zealanders have a greater chance of dying from just about anything else than terrorists. You have a greater chance of killing yourself than you do of being killed by outside forces.  579 people took their own lives last  year. We should be worried about that.

I think in the end it is because we aren’t afraid of things we believe we can control. It is the things that we can’t control that are easiest to fear. It is a pity. There are a lot of things wrong with this country that should gain more of our attention. There are better ways to spend our money.

 

 

Metiria Turei and state surveillance

Metiria Turei

Let them who are without sin cast the first stone…..

Over the past month I think we have been shown a great example of why state surveillance is a bad idea.

On the 16 of July Metiria Turei revealed she had lied to stop her benefit being cut while raising her daughter.

This led to a media frenzy and relentless pressure on not only her but her family, investigation by WINZ, admitting she had used a false address, and finally her resignation on the 9th of August.

It looks like she is a horrible fraudster, until you start putting things in perspective.

This is a woman who has served the people of New Zealand as a Member of Parliament with distinction and honor for 15 years. The most recent ‘dodgy’ thing that she has done was 22 years ago. The false address was so she could support a friend in an election. The most she could have benefited from this was $6000.

There have been accusations that the ensuing media and social bloodbath was because she is female and Maori and there is some evidence of this. If you look at the way the media and law treated John Key  Bill English and compare the situations it is disturbing. Even more so for it being recent history, not 25 years ago.

Metiria Turei

Metiria Turei

Perhaps one of the better quotes was this from 1 NEWS Maori Affairs Reporter Yvonne Tahana;

“I have nothing more to add to the screeds of vitriolic, smug and know-it-all epithets that have already been penned by journalists, bloggers and Twitter-ites on that issue.

But, in my opinion, her resignation as co-leader of the Green Party sends a clear message to Māori.

People who’ve done dumb things in their past, or who have struggled, are in no way suitable to make a contribution at a government level.”

And it is with the end of that quote in mind that I want to turn to mass surveillance.

Give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest…

In New Zealand nearly everything is being recorded sold,  bought and stored around the world. I am not just talking about the GCSB and NSA, but also Google, Facebook, and Vodafone.

Everything this generation says and does, where they go, what they do, who they talk to, their drunk txts, fights, the things they thought were normal that will turn out to be social no-no’s in the future. All these things will be on record and available to the government of the day for political gain. We know this. We have seen it before.

So in the future there will be no-one in opposition to the government of the day who is not ‘squeaky clean’….or very, very powerful, or working for the powerful.

But let’s not be paranoid. Let’s stick with ‘squeaky clean’, never broken the law, nothing to hide at all, no texts, never said a word out of place, looked at the wrong things……

The problem with this is that just about everybody does break the law. It is estimated that 70% of Americans have done something that could put them in jail. A survey on the Telegraph found the average Briton broke the law once every day. The ‘squeaky clean’ are such a small number that in terms of the majority they are abnormal.

A world in which we are run by the incredibly small amount of people who are somehow ‘squeaky clean’ will be an incredibly abnormal world.  And any who speak against it must either be part of it, or they will be removed like Metiria.

 

Climate Change: What we could do

Climate Change: What we can do

According to the OECD the contribution of New Zealand’s agricultural sector accounted for 49% of our climate change emissions in 2014. The highest share in the OECD. This is for a sector that, in 2016, accounts for roughly 5% of our GDP.

That is a problem.

We can remove 95% of our economy and we would still have only cut our emissions by 51%. Or, we could remove 5% of our economy and cut our emissions by 48% which looks like a no brainer until you remember that food is more important than cars and this sector includes not only farming but other business as well.

Looking closer at it,  76% of the agricultural emissions (37% of our gross emissions) come from livestock and out of that 73% (35% gross) comes from cows and sheep.

So we could remove 35% of our emissions by stopping the farming of of cows and sheep. This would remove roughly 4% of our GDP.

That is a huge sector of our economy. Removing the agricultural sector overnight would make things 4 times worse than they were in 2008 when we were in recession from the GFC. It should also be pointed out that our recession would have been a hell of a lot worse without the farming sector which for various reasons was going through a commodity price boom.

We also don’t want to interfere with the food intake of New Zealanders. We eat  21kg of red meat a year.  I haven’t been able to find the current dairy consumption but according to Te Ara we were eating 6kg of butter, and 4kg of cheese, per person in the early 2000’s. In the 80’s we drank 155L of milk per person.

Climate Change: What can we do?

We could stop exporting dairy and red meat.

In 2012 we exported 741787 tonnes of red meat and ate 92568 tonnes at home. So this would cut the red meat market to 12% of it’s size. Dairy exports 95% of it’s output so that would cut it to 5% of it’s size.

Obviously, destroying these industries overnight is economic suicide. And yet continuing on our current path of emissions will help destroy these industries in the long term.

Why not do it over 10 years?

If we take the GDP size of these industries at 4% then restricting them to zero exports over 10 years  would be a 0.4% drop in GDP per year and with an average GDP growth of around 2% we could achieve that without going into recession.

What about the people?

There were 108,220 people employed in agriculture in 2012.  That is a huge amount of people to change employment on. What happens to their businesses and employees. How would the banks deal with their debt?

To put it simply, I don’t know. There would have to be huge restructuring. The people of New Zealand would have to invest in changing farms and communities to other forms of business.

There are a number of ways this could be done. Identifying the most unproductive farms and transitioning them to non ruminant farming, horticulture, forestry, and tourism would be a start. Free retraining would be another good idea and covering their debt (perhaps proportional to the time left) would be needed.

In the end these people would need to be helped. We would be taking their livelihoods. Unfortunately, not doing anything is taking their livelihoods in the long term as well.

It would be a massive and sudden change even over the course of 10 years but the benefits to the country and the world would be huge. It would mean a 30% reduction in our emissions.

A little about this article…

I can point out a lot of holes in the information here so please don’t point that out to me. Things have been rounded at times, different data sets and methodologies used. There is no way I can say that it is accurate. And I am not. If you can point out errors and provide better sources of reference then please do.

This, in the end, is to make you think. Currently we have to reduce our climate change emissions by 24% to reach our Kyoto targets. This is the only way I can think to do it.

Climate Change emissions

 

 

 

 

How New Zealand should annex Australia

Annexation of Australia

It struck me with some humour the other day that the same laws causing the resignation of Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam from the Australian Parliament could be used to paralyse the country in a time of crisis.

The law in this case is Section 44 of the Australian Constitution which disqualifies anyone from representing the country who

“is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power”

In this case. Both these MPs found out they were citizens of other countries as well as Australia.

What would happen? I don’t know really but to be a state according to the 1933 Montevideo Convention,

  • You must have a defined territory.
  • You must have a permanent population.
  • You must have a government.
  • Your government must be capable of interacting with other states.

I imagine that they would instantly come under the control of the Queen again since hers was the previous government. Perhaps step three should be get along really well with the Queen.

So next time Australia gets on our nerves, why don’t we just make them all dual citizens and then sit back with a beer to watch them trying to get their heads around how to change the law when nobody  is able to be an MP.  🙂

Updating Australia’s national anthem

New Zealander all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts Of beauty rich and rare;
In history’s page, let every stage Advance New Zealand Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance New Zealand Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours,
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas,
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine To Advance New Zealand Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance New Zealand Fair.

 

GCSB – Who watches the watchers?

One of the main problems with our surveillance system, especially with the GCSB,  in New Zealand is oversight. Who watches the watchers, in a system where the information cannot be revealed to the general public?

Is there a problem?

We don’t know. But we do know that people with access to others information use it for un-intentioned purposes.

An example of this can be found in recent events with the prosecution of Jeremy Malifa in the Auckland District Court. Mr Malfila pleaded guilty to 21 counts of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose “where he viewed the victims’ personal information, including contact details and their interactions with police, in order to establish sexual relationships with the women.”

And this is with oversight. If he had of been an employee of the GCSB then it is likely that no prosecution would have followed. The public would never have known.

And this problem isn’t new. In 2013 Darren Ian Hodgetts was one of two non-sworn staff arrested for making unauthorised National Intelligence Application checks relating to the drug-ring probe.

Between 2011 and 2015 there were 113 Police Officers and employees of the Police that were caught accessing information without authorisation.

So who watches the GCSB?

The GCSB is given external oversight by both the Intelligence and Security Committee and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

Unfortunately the ‘Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996’ states that,

The functions of the Committee do not include—
(a) inquiring into any matter within the jurisdiction of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security appointed under section 5 of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996; or
(b) inquiring into any matter that is operationally sensitive, including any matter that relates to intelligence collection and production methods or sources of information; or
(c) originating or conducting inquiries into complaints by individuals concerning the activities of an intelligence and security agency that are capable of being resolved under any other enactment.

Leaving it solely the jurisdiction of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security,

to inquire into any complaint by—
(i) a New Zealand person; or
(ii) a person who is an employee or former employee of an intelligence and security agency,— that that person has or may have been adversely affected by any act, omission, practice, policy, or procedure of an intelligence and security agency:

So the oversight is now in the hands of one person but there is a catch.

(4) Except to the extent strictly necessary for the performance of his or her functions under subsection (1), the Inspector-General shall not inquire into any matter that is operationally sensitive, including any matter that relates to intelligence collection and production methods or sources of information.

No oversight at all?

So, unless you know that you have been adversely affected, the oversight of the GCSB has no power to see if anybody has been unfairly targeted unless it is at the request of the Prime Minister or the Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence  services.

That is a giant hole in the system. I guess you could say there is internal oversight like the one that caught 133 people in the Police but I am not aware of anybody in the security services ever being disciplined for misconduct.

Even when they were found to have breached NZ law 85 times in the Kitteridge Report no-one was charged or disciplined. Perhaps because the Prime Minister (John Key) was also the Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence  services?

When they were found to have illegally used mass surveillance in New Zealand, nothing happened.

There is no internal oversight apparent to any of the levels which should be required by a government organisation.

Any illegal doings of the GCSB are a black hole that can only be pierced by knowing that you are under surveillance by an organisation that does that surveillance in secret.

That isn’t oversight.

So, who watches the watchers?

Nobody…

Waihopai Spy base - GCSB
Schutz. Media released under the terms of the Cc-by-sa-3.0 and GFDL licences

Addition: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/335324/police-officer-revealed-as-stalker

Internet Party presents #UpdateNZ live

Internet party 2017 banner

In a first for a New Zealand, if not world, political party the Internet Party presented #UpdateNZ live last night. An 8:01pm broadcast on Youtube where they promised to reveal their campaign plan.

There were a few glitches at the start with plenty of good natured humour in the chat panel and chants of #ipcatforpm!

Time 00:12

At around 8:10pm things got underway with an introductory video introducing the IP Executives who would be speaking followed by a welcome by Party President Chris Yong and a brief back history of the Party post 2014 election. At first I thought they were using special effects but it was actually just a microphone left on. Sounded good though. 🙂

Time 03:24

He then swapped over to Party Leader Suzie Dawson who spoke briefly about a recent Wikileaks release where it appears New Zealand spies were dispatched to France on the orders of the NSA (curiously, I was in France at the time although that was not how I paid for it).

Suzie then led everyone watching through the various parts of the Strategic Proposal 2017.

  • Context
  • Strategic Overview
  • Tier 1 Breakdown
  • Campaign Management
  • Principles for Success
  • Funding
  • Notes

Time 39:37

After Suzie came Jo Booth the Tech Director who gave a brief history of himself with the Internet Party and then launched into the tech. His favourite subject.

Some of the tech is;

This gives them a very important end to end encryption structure to build on.

Time 48:00

Then Sarah Illingworth, the Communications Director. Sarah said this was her first time working in a political campaign  and that formally her background is in media and academic research. After a brief call to for people to volunteer in the media team she was back to madly tweeting.

Time 51:06

Next was Bill Urale , Volunteer and Candidate Manager. Bill was on the last campaign and said he was there because he cared for his people, his country and gave a damn about community and he felt the Internet Party team felt the same.

He then talked about some of the differences between the IP campaign and other campaigns with one of the major ones being,”You have a say” in the policy and workings of the Party. He finished with a call for volunteers and solidarity.

Time 55:45

Suzie then wrapped up with a brief look at what lies in the future and then another call for peoples support and donations.

Time 58:05

The live stream then ended with Chris extolling how much they want to make a change in the political system and believe they can.

In Hindsight

In hindsight I think the event went really well. There was upwards of 80 people that I could see and later Suzie said they had over 30 new volunteers. That isn’t a bad strike rate (I have no idea how many there eventually were. I wasn’t watching that).

Everyone spoke well. Sarah was probably the worst spoken but then she had been madly tweeting in the background and everybody had taken all her points already so as was said,”Look at the website“.

The one who surprised me was Jo Booth. I was surprised at how well Jo speaks. It’s probably just the Wellington accent, but he sounds a little like Peter Jackson.  Also, he is obviously very into his tech.

So, not that I am qualified, but I’d give a 7/10. Good introduction for people to some members of the Executive. The bulk of it was a little boring in parts but then making a strategic plan exciting is hard. There was some good stuff though and it was a good continuation from their launch. I look forward to seeing more.

#UpdateNZ live

A New Zealand Policy Party?

A Problem with Policy

I believe there is a flaw in the New Zealand* political system with the slim range of policy that gets enacted. We end up with a dominant party in Parliament due to the major issues of the the electorate at election time and lose the input of the other parties.

On the face of it, possibly this doesn’t seem to be a bad thing. But what happens is that one or two issues cause the election of a party and/or the failure of another party’s representatives politically .

If you look at the 2014 General Election in New Zealand these both happened. The National Party won the election due to the failure of Labours leader politically and the economy being the prime concern of the electorate due to the Global Financial Crisis.

Nearly all the policies of Labour, Green, and New Zealand First were lost in a single day. Not the major policies. That was after all what New Zealand decided on. We chose Nationals economic policy over Labours. But nearly all the other policies were lost.

To show you what I mean (and I admit this isn’t the best issue as it is usually voted in a conscience vote) a survey done by Massey University in 2003 showed that 73% wanted assisted suicide legalised if it was performed by a doctor. Another in 2015 showed almost the same level of support yet because this is not a National Party policy the Prime Minister stated,“There is no chance of it being a Government bill,”.

This seems insane. On an issue that seven out of every ten people agree on the government of the day will not enact legislation? Why? Because National was not elected on the entirety of its policies. It was only elected for one or two of them.

The same point could be made using the legalisation of cannabis, or the TPPA to a lesser extent. Policies that New Zealanders want are not being enacted due to the other objectives of the government of the day.

A Solution

There seems to me to be a simple solution to this. We need a party that doesn’t create its own policy but instead allows New Zealanders to vote for each parties separate policies and then is bound to back them in Parliament.

This party would only be on the “List” and would not stand in the electorates. It would in no way represent its own political views but would instead exist to enable a wider range of publicly backed policy to be entered into law.

Some Problems and Possible Solutions

What would happen if the public voted for two policies that conflicted such as increase tourism and protect the environment?

I would suggest in this case that the party should vote for both. If they are economically nonviable then it would be the job of the Finance Minister to “veto any parliamentary bill which would have a significant impact on the government’s budget plans”.

What would happen if this supposed party held the balance of power?

OK, this would be an incredible achievement for a party that doesn’t even exist yet but, I would suggest that they not enter into any agreements with any other Party (such as confidence and supply). If the election results in a hung Parliament then it will have to be held again.

If the government enacted binding referendum then wouldn’t that have the same result?

Yes, in some ways it would. However, referendum are only held a few times a year and only where the government of the day has been forced to hold them. They are also very expensive.

How would this party get any votes?

There is a position both the major parties try to hold in New Zealand. The centre. This is actually part of the problem as because everybody moves to the centre on a few major issues to get votes they appear to do so in order get enough power to enact their non central policies. The true centre of New Zealand politics isn’t just one issue though. It is a wide range of views that cut across party lines.

Isn’t making MP’s in this party just vote for other parties policy wasting input into Parliament?

In one way yes. They would have no other input into legislation except supporting what the party members had voted for. However, as up to 51% of the elections total set of policies may be rejected by the current government. This would hopefully improve the situation.

To further improve participation I would suggest that MP’s in the party should be able to stand for only one electoral cycle and should be taken from the ranks of the young in proportion with ethnicity and sex. It would be a good training ground.

*Your usage of New Zealand throughout this proposition was insulting

Possibly. It is reader dependant and I vacillated on it for a while and then decided to call it it’s European name instead of Aotearoa. Personally I don’t think of it that way. To me it is a series of landscapes and people…with a fair amount of mud at this time of year.

Your Views

This is a possible suggestion and would rely on peoples support. There would need to me at least five hundred members of any such party before it could register with the Electoral Commission and that, if it ever happened, would be a long way off.

I would like to ask for your views though and start a discussion about it so if you have any input or questions please ask them in the comments below. If you would like to support such a party, and you are registered to vote or can be,  then please email and if there are enough people interested I will take it to the next stage. at the website we have set up to investigate the viability and possible effects of a policy party.

http://policyparty.nz/

Parliament House New Zealand

Image provided by Michal Klajban under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.