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Terrible bill, terrible delivery

Today, justice minister Andrew Little “banned” foreign political donations.

Everything about this is awful.

First, the “ban”. The bill is advertised as a blanket ban on all foreign donations when it literally isn’t. Rather, foreign donors have a cap of $50 dollars compared to the previous threshold of $1500. Last time I checked that isn’t a ban.

Because anonymous donations up to $1500 are allowed, the onus is on party secretaries to make sure that a donation over 50 dollars is not from any one foreign. As such, someone foreign could anonymously give $1499 dollars to a party. As long as the secretary has no reason to suspect that the donation comes from anyone foreign, it’s fine.

There’s also nothing to stop foreigners from donating to organizations such as the NZ First Foundation, which can then promptly loan the party that money without the scrutiny of donations.

If that isn’t enough, companies that are NZ registered but foreign-owned will still be allowed to donate to political parties. So this bill does nothing to stop foreign money from getting into NZ Politics.

All of that’s without mentioning the true problem with political donations – big companies practically buying parties. But the bill does not address that.

That’s four (maybe five) paragraphs briefly detailing the flaws with this law. All of these could be fixed had the bill gone through proper process – being edited first by a select committee, and then by a committee of the whole house.

But Little and Labour decided to pass this law under urgency, meaning that it has to be passed, consulted and edited in a singular day.

This is unacceptable. Laws should only be passed under urgency during, ya know, urgencies.

But for something as important as electoral law there needs to be a lot of review. This is something that has to be gotten right regardless of the amount of time it takes.

But no. Little and Labour went for the flashy headline that solves nothing, whilst abusing democratic process to try and hide the lack of fixes.

Repugnant.

Only minsters may be held accountable

On Friday night, National list MP Jo Hayes sent a verbally abusive tweet to ex-Labour candidate Jeremy Greenbrook-Held. Despite this, National leader Simon Bridges has stated that Hayes will not be punished.

Hayes’ tweet was in response to Greenbrook-Held’s five-month-old photo celebrating his graduation. Her tweet said the following:

OMG Youre such a nasty person and I hope that people checking you out for future work will visit your twitter page and see how ugly you really are [sic],” the tweet said. 

Note the amazing grammar there. Also, can I emphasise the part where Greenbrook-Held’s original tweet was a) five months old, and b) about his graduation?!?!?

Anyway, when questioned about it, Bridges said the following:

The thing I would say is there is a world of difference… between a Member of Parliament and a minister,” Bridges, National Party leader, told Magic Talk’s Peter Williams.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some things that are clearly beyond the pale for MPs and require significant disciplinary reaction… Ministers though, it seems to me, are held to a much higher standard.

Bridges’ argument is that because Hayes isn’t a minister, it’s not a big deal that she verbally abused someone.

What. The. Hell.

Give the Greens a deal

The Herald has a very interesting read on the race for Auckland Central, with the two major players being National’s Nikki Kaye and the Green’s Chlöe Swarbrick.

The article opens the (small) possibility of Swarbrick beating Kaye, and it got me thinking – Labour giving the Greens an electorate deal in Auckland Central makes sense.

Swarbrick is, after all, the second most popular politician in NZ (first would have to be Jacinda). For Auckland Central, the Greens + Labour combined also beat National for both party and electorate vote in 2017.

With an electorate seat, the Greens would be safe – something they are far from at the moment. They’re hovering at around 6-8% in the polls, but National’s objective is to destroy the minor parties.

Making sure that the Greens survive is in Labour’s interests – a teal deal will never happen.

I also imagine that because the Greens are hovering so close to that 5% line, there are Labour supporters who will strategically vote for the Greens come election time. With the Greens at least having a decent chance in an electorate, those voters may return to Labour.

The above paragraph is, however, only an educated guess, so take it as that.

Of course, winning Auckland Central is far certain – Kaye defeated Ardern herself in 2011 and 2014, but in both elections Labour + the Greens combined would have beaten Kaye and National. So I’m willing to say that Swarbrick with Labour’s endorsement would oust Kaye.

Do it Labour. It’s a sound strategy.

How to lose the public

The Extinction Rebellion has vandalized (in a way) Simon Bridges’ electorate office in Tauranga.

For the record – that isn’t oil, it’s molasses. A pain to clean up, but it could be worse.

However, it is still technically vandalism. Which is a crime.

I think that shows the problem with the Extinction Rebellion – this is vandalism. Earlier in the year, the group temporarily halted public transport in Wellington.

Stuff like this is counterproductive to their cause. I can see why they do it – what they do is nothing compared to how oil companies affect the environment. Yet at the same time, this interferes and hampers daily life.

I see why they do it. But the Extinction Rebellion must understand how this does not help them.

17 years old, and a candidate for parliament!

William Wood, a 17-year-old, has been selected as National’s candidate for Palmerston North.

Holy crap. This is so so cool. The man can’t even vote yet, but he’s already a candidate for parliament. He’s gone to show the world that if you are good enough, you are old enough.

It’s also not some cushy seat that was handed to him – Wood’s earnt his selection on merit. He defeated National’s 2017 candidate Adrienne Pierce, current list MP Jo Hayes, and Ava Neal to secure the nomination.

No small feat.

But while he’s earnt his nomination for Palmerston North, whether he is going to get into parliament is another matter altogether. Palmerston North is Labour territory, and Wood will not win it.

Realistically, Wood will only get into parliament via the list. Where he places on that will probably be the first thing I look for when National announce their 2020 party list.

However, given how he managed to beat the 2017 candidate and a current MP, I would not be surprised to see National place him high. He’s earnt it.

Wood, (if he isn’t already) should be an inspiration to young people everywhere. As a fellow young person, I’m so stoked and proud of him.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that my views of him are entirely positive. You see, as a young person who takes pride in being one of the more politically active young people, I’m feeling rather out-done at the moment.

(Ignore the fact that I gave up on following politics for the better part of a year)

A return to human rights

On Saturday, the government announced that they will be giving the right to vote to some prisoners, reversing the 2010 ban.

This is an excellent move. The Supreme Court ruled that ban violated NZ’s bill of rights, and the Waitangi Tribunal also has stated that the ban breaches the Treaty Of Waitangi.

Not to mention that the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to take part in free and fair elections.

Voting is also something that’s done outside of prison, so it can hence be part of rehabilitation to normal society – albeit a very small part.

Sadly, however, the ban is not lifted on all prisoners – just those that have committed offences resulting in a sentence less than three years. So this doesn’t go far enough. The next step needs to be giving all prisoners the right to vote.

However, it is a start. Good on the government.

Reprimanded for being a good samaritan

Zuhaib Bangash runs a kebab shop in Auckland and was feeding the homeless out of his own pocket. However, he was told to stop by the Glen Eden Business Association.

“They said they were not happy with what I was doing. They said all the homeless will come here and other businesses will go down,” Bangash said.

{…}

This was the first time he’s officially opened his shop to feed the homeless, but he said he’s never turned anyone away who’s asked for food since he opened two years ago.

“They are not bad people, I know they have a bad reputation, but they just want to eat. They need food, I have food – this is $600 from my own pocket every week.

“Why am I being told to stop? I know they leave here very happy.”

Bangash said he chose Sunday evenings because Glenmall is usually quiet – most shops are closed, and there are very few people in the town centre.

The man is literally doing a public service for society’s most disadvantaged members. He’s also making sure it’s at the most convenient time for everyone.

Yet the association’s only concern is for the businesses – and ok, it is the Business Association – but at the same time, it’s saddening how all the concern is for those with jobs, not those on the street. And again, Zuhaib was doing it at the most convenient time for the nearby businesses, so the complaint doesn’t stack up.

The attitude of the Business Association is a disappointing reflection of societies view of the homeless – their much greater needs come after the needs of those who have homes, and have money.

Let Zuhaib continue, and give him a damn medal.

Unable to take criticism

NCEA’s level three English exam has come under fire from National MPs such as Amy Adams, for including a text that criticises NZ farmers.

For the record, here is the article itself:

This is from the Unfamiliar Texts paper – you don’t have to write an essay responding to the text, you’re asked how the author gets their point across. You’d have to try really hard to make your answer political. For reference, I did the level one equivalent of this a few weeks back.

It’s also incredibly disappointing to see a senior MP like Adams use hyperbole and mass hysteria like this – it’s an English paper of which students have to show understanding of how an author makes points. How the hell is state-sponsored bullying and brainwashing? If anything, it’s encouraging critical thinking.

The article in question isn’t even incredibly anti-farmer – but it does raise the point of the damage farming can have on the environment. But opposing viewpoints is something you have to deal with in life. Honestly, if the roles were reversed here and the article was on something close to the left, the right would be decrying how this generation is full of snowflakes.

But in any case scenario, if farmers don’t want a narrative about how they pollute our water, then they should not pollute our water.

State sponsored climate change is bad

Radical idea here guys, bear with me. Climate change is bad. Supporting the fossil fuel industry, the main reason why we have climate change is also bad. Because climate change is bad, it would be inconceivable to have a government agency supporting the fossil fuel industry. Right? Right?

Enter the ACC.

The ACC has 1 billion invested in the fossil fuel industry. For the record, that’s 1/40th of its entire investments. Yet the fund only has 778 million invested in Green energy. But in any case, the number of dollars going into the fossil fuel industry should be zero.

The ACC, by law, has to invest ethically, so it’s pretty disappointing to see it invest in the fossil fuel industry – the industry which is literally choking the planet. In my opinion, that’s not an ethical industry.

The good news is that Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has called ACC out on this issue. The bad news is that Finance Minister Grant Robertson has refused to use the Crown Entities Act to make the ACC divest from fossil fuels.

Jacinda Ardern said that climate change was her generations “nuclear-free moment.” Yet her government won’t even stop paying those responsible for climate change.

Should the state fund political parties?

As a result of the debacle surrounding NZ First’s dodgy donations, former prime minister Jim Bolger has called for the state funding of political parties.

The basic idea is that if political parties are paid for by the state, then the influence of big corporations and their donations will become obsolete, removing corruption.

I have to say, I really don’t know how to feel about this. On one hand, I do like the idea of political parties not needing to sell out to corporations. On the other, going full hyperbole here, if a nazi party started up in New Zealand, I wouldn’t want my tax dollars going towards that.

Getting rid of donations would remove the possibility of something like what is happening at NZ First at the moment from ever occurring.

On the other hand, removing the need for parties to get donations will further remove parties from the general populace. After all, if you are going to get money regardless, the incentive to focus on the needs of the supporters dissipates.

Not 100% sure of my beliefs in this area. From what I can tell, a mixed model would work best, and the good news is that Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has a members bill in the ballot that takes a step in the right direction.

Ghahraman’s bill would ban foreign donations, as well as forcing all donations above $1000 to be disclosed (as opposed to the current limit of $15000). Her bill would also put a limit of $35000 for donations to a party or candidate per year.

As long as that also extends to organizations, I’m down for this bill. Add a level of state funding for political parties and I think the system would be better.

That said, I’m still not 100% sure of my views on this topic, and I am open to being convinced otherwise. Drop your views in the comments.

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