Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Dunne Speaks: Labour's Coarse Millstone

Most of the time, the Labour Party bears the coarse New Zealand First millstone around its neck with patient equanimity. It appreciates that, however it might resent it, to do otherwise would quickly rend asunder the governing coalition, returning it unceremoniously to the Opposition benches for another, and potentially lengthy, fruitless spell in the wilderness.

Meanwhile, elements in the National Party, including the leader it seems, wistfully yearn for a possible reconciliation that would see New Zealand First emerge as its partner in government after the next election. But that is just not going to happen. National needs to wake up to the reality that as New Zealand First was founded principally on its leader’s sense of utu for having been expelled from National’s Caucus in 1991, it is never going to be its saviour. Despite having potentially greater policy compatibility with National, New Zealand First will always opt for Labour if it can, especially while its current leader is around. National can never hope to appease New Zealand First – its best way to deal with it is to seek to destroy it.

Although all this is to Labour’s short-term benefit, it probably does not want to be locked into the New Zealand First embrace for too long either. While it is, it cannot seriously hope to be able to deliver the progressive, left, government with the Greens it yearns for. The best it can hope for is a continuation of the stuttering current arrangement where it governs, not with the support of New Zealand First, but at its behest. Yet both Labour and New Zealand First understand that for the foreseeable future their fates are intertwined. Electoral mathematics alone make it clear that to retain government next year Labour will have to have New Zealand First, as well as the Greens, alongside it.

So, while Labour will continue to chafe under the New Zealand First yolk, it will never risk shirking it completely. That is why, for example, Shane Jones, whose Ministerial performance has been a failure in just about every aspect, is tolerated, and only ever so gently chastised (being sent away on holiday to read the Cabinet Manual after his egregious outburst to the forestry sector is the latest example) whenever he fails the standards of Ministerial conduct. And New Zealand First have already made it clear, through both Mr Peters and Mr Jones, that, rather than be chastened by the experience, it will become more aggressive and less mindful of Cabinet solidarity in the lead-up to next year’s election, as it fights for its survival. It knows full well Labour cannot really object all that much, because, for electoral purposes, the two are now increasingly joined at the hip.

What Labour strategists have to weigh up in all this is the point at which New Zealand First’s continued unchecked shenanigans start to damage Labour’s own brand, and whether, simply, it continues to be worth it. For their part, the Greens might also become less quiescent as the responsible partner in government if they sense their fate is being compromised by the association with New Zealand First.

One such issue that might bring all this to a head is the matter of drug law reform. The Greens clearly want to push this and move New Zealand towards a more realistic approach to the use of drugs, and Labour, while overtly less apparently enthusiastic, is of a similar persuasion. New Zealand First, on the other hand, is setting itself up to be the anti-drug party, committed to still fighting the discredited war on drugs that most countries, including New Zealand some years ago, have correctly abandoned, hoping to draw in the hardline anti-drug vote, ironically to boost the overall support of the current government.

This week’s flat rejection of the idea of drug-testing facilities being available at major summer music festivals, despite the high profile support of the Labour Minister of Police, is not just another example of the ritual humiliation Labour Ministers have to endure at the feet of New Zealand First in order to survive, but is also plain bad policy.

The point is simple. There are very few people who actively advocate for the use of drugs as beneficial. It is not the case – they are mind altering substances that are potentially dangerous to young people, in particular. The reality is, though, as hundreds of years of history has shown, they cannot be eliminated, so the question becomes one of regulating their use in a way that is safe and responsible. Enabling people with substances to test whether they are safe or not, is not an encouragement of their use and proliferation, but a valuable protection for often vulnerable young people. Labour, the Greens, and elements in the National Party, and the Police all understand that, and, until the blunt New Zealand First veto, there were cautious hopes that a solution could be arrived at for this year’s summer music season.

To date, Labour’s response seems to have been acquiescence, apparently judging the preservation of coalition unity to be a higher priority than the protection of the public health. But to retain any credibility it has as a party of compassion and tolerance, Labour cannot let this position stand – and nor can the Greens.

For both, the millstone may yet become too oppressive to continue to have to wear.


ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Twitter Wars, And The Muller Muddles

Whatever the failings of our own politicians, spare a kind thought for the majority of Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump. Sure, it was depressing this week to watch Todd Muller clinging for dear life to his talking points on Q&A, lest he be carried away in the slavering jaws of Jack Tame…. but this was mere incompetence, not malice. At the same time the President of the United States was (a) falsely accusing one of his media critics of murder, and (b) threatening to shut down Twitter for attaching a warning label to Trump’s attempt at poisoning the electoral process by falsely claiming that postal voting has led to extensive voter fraud... More>>


 


Government: Freshwater Package Backed By Comprehensive Economic Analysis

Decisions on the Action for Healthy Waterways package are supported by comprehensive environmental and economic impact analysis by leading New Zealand research institutes, universities, and private sector firms. More>>

ALSO:

National: "Todd Muller Announces Shape Of Next Government"

National Party Leader Todd Muller has announced the line-up of the next Government. “New Zealand is facing perhaps the toughest time that almost anyone alive can remember. “We are borrowing tens of billions of dollars to get us through this crisis. There ... More>>

ALSO:

Lockdown Rules: Timeline For Moving To Level 1 Needed

The BusinessNZ Network is calling for more clarity about the conditions under which businesses can move to Covid level 1. The network is concerned about large numbers of businesses that are at risk of closure if restrictions continue at the current ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Day Of Reckoning

Congratulations. You are one of the 55 members of the National caucus being called together tomorrow to choose who will lead you to either (a) catastrophic or (b) honourable defeat on September 19, thereby saving some (but not all) of the jobs currently on the line. Good luck. Your decision process starts NOW... More>>

ALSO:


Budget 2020: Jobs Budget To Get Economy Moving Again

Investments to both save and create jobs in Budget 2020 mean unemployment can be back to pre COVID-19 levels within two years and could see the economy growing again as early as next year. More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19 Response: Law Setting Up Legal Framework For Covid-19 Alert Level 2 Passes


The law establishing a legal framework for the response to Covid-19 has passed its final reading and will become law in time for the move to Alert Level 2 tonight.
This is a bespoke Act designed specifically to stop the spread of COVID-19... More>>

ALSO:


Trans-Tasman Bubble: PMs Jacinda And Morrison Announce Plans

Australia and New Zealand are committed to introducing a trans-Tasman COVID-safe travel zone as soon as it is safe to do so, Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Prime Minister the Hon Scott Morrison MP have announced... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Support For Arts And Music Sector Recovery

A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: New Zealand Joins Global Search For COVID-19 Vaccine

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, which will enable New Zealand scientists to contribute to global research efforts ... More>>

ALSO:

The Dig: Steady State Economics: We’ve Got Some (systems) Thinking To Do

In this time of impending economic and ecological crises, we urgently need to aim for a sustainable or ‘steady state’ economy. In order to get there, we will need to adopt a ‘systems-thinking’ outlook taking into account the interconnections of our complex world.

In short, we’ve got some systems thinking to do... More>>

ALSO:

Election 2020: Parties Get Into gear

The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government. Using the most democratic list ... More>>

ALSO:

Insight Into Regenerative Agriculture In New Zealand

There is a fast growing movement in New Zealand that has been happening out in paddocks, fields, gardens and hill country across the nation. It is a movement that holds the promise to reshape our productive land use industries towards systems that work with the natural environment to regenerate the land. The movement is that of regenerative agriculture. More>>

ALSO:

Covid-19: Tracer App Released To Support Contact Tracing

The Ministry of Health has today formally released the NZ COVID Tracer app to support contact tracing in New Zealand. Kiwis who download the app will create a digital diary of the places they visit by scanning QR codes displayed at the entrances to ... More>>

ALSO:


Govt: Deep Concern At Hong Kong National Security Legislation
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong.... More>>

ALSO:


 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 


 

InfoPages News Channels