The Jackal

22 Aug 2017

Kill Seymour’s Bill

The end of life choice Bill presented by Act party leader David Seymour might seem like a good idea at first, especially for those who’re suffering a terminal illness. But really it stems from a belief that if a person has no further productive value to society, they should be discarded, or at least encouraged to stop being a burden on the taxpayer.

Sure, there are cases where the punishment of a person who has assisted a family member or friend to take their own life is disproportionate to the crime, and there certainly should be changes made on compassionate grounds to the law. More leeway could also be provided to a judge on how they interpret the current legislation.

However the euthanasia bill doesn’t propose to do any of that.

Instead, the End of Life Choice Bill (PDF) contradicts itself on the first page where it outlines what circumstances would make somebody eligible to legally end their own life.

Those circumstances are:

• that the person making the request must be mentally competent,
as attested by 2 medical practitioners:
• that the person suffers from a terminal illness which is likely to
cause death within 12 months, or from an irreversible physical
or mental condition that, in the person’s view, renders his or
her life unbearable:

How can a person be diagnosed as mentally competent if they have an irreversible mental condition? This proposal is like a can of worms. Seymour seems to envision that a psychiatric patient could be diagnosed as mentally capable of deciding to end his or her own life. With mental capacity being a contestable issue, this makes the proposed law change unworkable.

The Bill is specific that a person can be mentally competent enough to draw up a registered End of Life Directive that would allow assisted death because of their mental condition. For those who know what the Act party really stands for, such a law that would easily allow the disposal of mentally ill people is something that should start alarm bells ringing.

The fact that an end of life patient won’t have to consult family or a psychiatrist before their decision is acted upon by doctors is another serious failing. Effectively two doctors can determine if a mentally unwell person who isn’t likely to improve is able to decide to die.

Consider also the advances in pain medication and better palliative care and there’s really no question that this Bill should fail to pass its next reading. Furthermore, two similar Bills have already been unsuccessful in New Zealand, while there have been large advances in medical treatments in the interim. This is another good reason to vote this Bill down.

Of course most doctors are very level headed and wouldn't dream of even using the proposed law. However there are exceptions and those people already make thousands of incorrect decisions that cost New Zealand millions of dollars each year.

In April, Stuff reported:

ACC treatment injury claims tally $5.1b and many are preventable

ACC claims for injuries caused during medical treatment have ballooned by 66 per cent in the past five years – costing taxpayers  $418 million for last year alone.

"About half of these injuries are considered preventable," ACC board chairwoman Dame Paula Rebstock said.

Claims are increasing too, with the docket for the future costs of all treatment injuries tallied at $5.1 billion as of mid-2016.

Treatment injuries happen when people suffer personal injury during treatment from a registered health professional. The injury must have been caused by treatment, but not be a necessary part, or ordinary outcome, of the treatment.

Clearly the health system is already failing to ensure that many people are diagnosed and treated properly. There is no question that such failures would continue in an end of life choice scenario.

Is New Zealand really ready to hear stories of people’s lives being taken because they were misdiagnosed?

Our justice system already fails to value certain people’s lives properly by often imposing light sentences for manslaughter and murder. However, misdiagnosis that leads to a person’s death under this proposed law won’t even go through the courts.

The Bill specifically states that doctors and family members assisting the death are protected from civil or criminal liability. Is the government therefore ready to pay families millions of dollars through ACC where misdiagnosis occurs?

How many deaths under this proposed legislation is New Zealand willing to accept because of misdiagnosis each year? I would contend that it is none, and therefore this Bill should fail.

David Seymour’s end of life choice Bill is badly devised and will result in many more unnecessary suicides. There is no question that doctors will misdiagnose patience and such malpractice will cost the taxpayer dearly. That cost to the taxpayer would be far greater than what the Act party hopes to save by removing people they view as a burden on society.

Dunne leaves National in the lurch

The announcement yesterday by Peter Dunne that he’s quitting politics before he loses his Ōhāriu seat to Labour candidate Greg O'Connor is one that should send shock waves through the right wing.

After all, Dunne’s single vote was often the only thing passing National's socially and environmentally destructive policies.

It’s not just about Bill English losing a coalition partner either. The strengthening Jacinda effect will likely mean that National's inexorable trend downwards in the polls continues.

Despite these facts, Bill English has claimed that he’s not worried about National's election prospects.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

PM Bill English downplays impact of United Future leader Peter Dunne quitting politics

National has already directed its supporters to vote for Dunne, and its candidate Brett Hudson has included this message on his campaign leaflets.

English and Hudson had both written personally to the electorate, asking them to vote for Peter Dunne in what is termed a dirty deal.

English denied that this put National in an awkward position, saying that it was easier to correct "one letter in one electorate" than change billboards across the country as Opposition parties had done in recent weeks.

Two letters, campaign leaflets and a televised and published request for the people of Ōhāriu to vote for the now defunct United Future party candidate.

"It's not a circus. Peter Dunne's made an unexpected decision, Brett Hudson is a well-known candidate, and he'll be fighting hard to win that seat."

It’s likely that Dunne’s support in Ōhāriu of around 34% will split pretty evenly between Labour’s candidate O’Connor and National's unknown Brett Hudson. That would put O’Connor on approximately 65%, or double that of Hudson's vote.

He was not worried about the loss of a support partner, saying National still "had a lot of voters".

English shouldn’t just be worried; he should be packing his daks! On average, National is polling lower leading into this election on 43% than in 2008 (50%), 2011 (55%) and 2014 (51%). With the loss of a coalition partner also hindering their chance of re-election, I'm almost tempted to call it.

On Sunday, Newshub reported:

Election tightens as National drops 3 percent in new poll

A new poll has National only three points ahead of Labour, and the Greens on steady footing, according to a report.

Polling by UMR for Labour has the resurgent party on 37 percent, and National 40 percent, NZME reports.

At 40%, National would be on the opposition benches, probably next to David Seymour.

There's also good news for the Green Party - UMR has it on 8 percent. That's lower than the mid-teens the party registered in some polls following Metiria Turei's welfare speech, but well above the 4.3 percent it registered in the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll earlier this week.

NZ First remains the kingmaker, on 9 percent.

If Winston Peters had a choice to form a Labour and Greens coalition, he's likely to change the government. Winnie has been brutal with his scathing attacks on the National party this election campaign. But never say never.

NZME noted the UMR poll traditionally has a lower result for National than other polls, but the decline - from 43 to 40 percent - mirrors that of the TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll, in which the party fell from 47 to 44 percent.

The trend is all downwards for the National party. It’s not only Dunne who’s read the writing on the wall, over the weekend the Maori party declared their preference to work with Labour and the Greens.

However if the Maori party leader Te Ururoa Flavell loses Waiariki to Labour candidate Tamati Coffey, and there's apparently only 1.5% in it, they too will no longer be in parliament.

English can give the pretence that he’s calm, but behind the scenes the National party will be very concerned that their election bribes are failing, Peter Dunne has quit, the Maori party has jumped ship and the Act party has gone rogue.

All of a sudden, National's dirty deals are looking very messy to an electorate already hungry for change.

21 Aug 2017

Whale Oil is bad for your political health

We should all know by now, and especially after Dirty Politics lifted the lid, that the blog site Whale Oil Beef Hooked is a poisonous cesspool of rumormongering and outright lies. But there’s one underlining stench that pervades the right wings attack blog… a hatred of woman.

Cameron Slater's misogyny is legendary, and stems from him seeking attention but not getting it. He, like most other sexists believe that it’s OK to denigrate a woman’s body and make false claims about their abilities, false claims that are often designed to damage a persons credibility.

Clearly the practice of bigotry isn’t very appealing to most people. It’s even less appealing when candidates standing for office practice it. But there’s one thing that needs to be highlighted… politicians are clearly putting their careers at risk by reading and repeating Whale Oil prejudices.

Yesterday, The Opportunities Party’s leader tweeted:

Today, Gareth Morgan stupidly followed up with:

Like Morgan’s 'only whores' tweet, his latest sexist insult has received a lot of criticism. But it’s worthwhile keeping in mind that his juvenile mentality isn’t exclusive to the TOP party.

In July, Act party leader David Seymour tweeted:

H/T The Spinoff

The clear implication was that Jacinda Ardern is inexperienced because she’s a woman. That puts Seymour in the dirty laundry basket with all the other sexist idiots who’ve attempted to promote their bigotry through politics.

Seymour obviously realised this wasn't a good look, and has deleted his sexist tweet in the hope that the Internet will simply forget that the Act party is one of the most bigoted in New Zealand’s short political history.

The sexist and racist bile from Cameron Slater being regurgitated all over the Internet isn’t worth a damn thing, especially to a politician trying to promote their policies. The attention received isn’t going to result in votes, because the New Zealand public is intelligent enough to spot sexist idiots like Morgan and Seymour from a mile away.

Take note politicians, reading Whale Oil is bad for your political health. You only need to look at Act and TOP’s recent polling to see that repeating such prejudices does your party no favours at all.

Jacinda Ardern raised the roof

The Labour party's campaign launch yesterday at the Auckland Town Hall was, by all accounts, a resounding success.

Not only did new leader Jacinda Ardern cause the venue to fill to capacity, she also announced a number of great policy initiatives that have already received international attention.

Even the New Zealand journalists attending gave Labour praise, in particular everybody’s favourite reporter to hate, Patrick Gower.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

Jacinda Ardern is Labour's 'new hope'

Jacinda Ardern delivered one simply exceptional line in her speech today, calling the fight against climate change "my generation's nuclear-free moment".

It is catchy, credible and has cut-through. It is a great line. It is an absolute banger of a line.

At this rate Steven Joyce will have to buy Gower a whole cheerleaders wardrobe.

But there’s one remarkable overseas article in particular that indicates we’ll have a much-needed change in government after the next election.

Yesterday, Rueters reported:

New Zealand opposition leader launches campaign for 'brave' tackling of inequality

New Zealand has been buoyed by some of the strongest economic growth among advanced countries in recent years.

But Ardern said, for many, pay rises were not keeping pace with a rising cost of living and the gap between rich and poor was getting more entrenched.

She said she would never question the importance of a strong economy but the difference between the major parties was what “we use as the signs of success”.

“I will always maintain that a successful economy is one that serves its people. Not the other way around,” she said in Auckland.

“And that means judging success differently.”

The Labour party will account for the number of children lifted out of poverty in each budget, as a measure of economic success.

This is perhaps one of the best measurements to ensure economic success isn’t just determined by factors that have no impact on our unacceptable rate of impoverished children.

Strangely though the article doesn’t even mention the National party’s policy announcements. In fact it barely even mentions New Zealand's unelected PM, Bill English.

Her opponent in the Sept. 23 election, Prime Minister Bill English, took the reins last December when John Key announced his surprise resignation after eight years in the role.

Only a single paragraph about English taking over from John Key doesn't exactly inspire confidence. Perhaps the authors realised that after a number of favourable polls it’s likely Labour will win the election.

Ardern had an immediate impact in the polls upon becoming opposition leader, with her party jumping 9 points to 33.1 percent, its highest level since 2014, just days after her appointment at the beginning of this month.

Polling commissioned by the Labour Party and released ahead of her campaign launch put the party three points adrift of the incumbent National Party.

The UMR poll had Ardern’s favorability rating at 70 percent, compared with 57 per cent for English. Ten percent viewed her unfavorably compared with 37 percent for English.

This weekend the Maori party also announced their preference to work with Labour and the Greens, signalling their intent to change the government.

National's other coalition partner, Peter Dunne, will likely lose Ōhāriu to Labour's Greg O'Connor and the last rogernome, David Seymour, is also looking shaky in Epsom.

The National party are therefore in serious trouble, especially since attempts to regain public attention with election bribes and policy re-announcements have failed to find much cut-through.

Combine those PR disasters with Labour's momentum from the Jacinda effect burning brightly and it’s little wonder we’re seeing such a large shift in the polls.

To get a sense of the Let's Do This positivity, read Jacinda Ardern’s fantastic speech here.

20 Aug 2017

Amy Adams goes boom

The housing crisis in New Zealand doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon, especially with the Prime Minister telling the reserve bank to put a halt to loan-to-value limits. Bill English also said he wouldn’t allow any further measures to curb lending for property, an instruction that has been widely criticised by the government's opposition and various economists alike.

The only hope for the many thousands of Kiwis now locked out of home ownership is for a change of government. The National party has clearly indicated that they don’t want wages to rise, house prices to stabilise or foreign investment into our already over-inflated housing market to be curtailed.

That’s because Bill English believes their core supporters will vote with consideration to the increased value of their properties, even if that value is just numbers on paper. National believes (incorrectly I might add) that their core supporters don’t want to see their children able to afford to purchase a home off their own backs, and has determined that fiddling around the edges is the best course of action to be re-elected.

Instead of proposing any type of proper policy to increase affordability and remedy the housing crisis, National is trying to mislead voters into believing the free market is already providing. They're claiming the amount of houses required to address the problem are already being built, and it's the biggest boom ever.

On Saturday, Scoop reported on the Nation:

Adams: And I’m answering the question. There is absolutely evidence that all of the indicators are now tracking the right direction. We have the biggest building boom ever underway. We have 100,000 new houses and apartments.

The claim by National’s Minister for Social Housing is patently wrong, a fact that was pointed out by Labour Spokesperson for Housing and Auckland Issues, Phil Twyford, and later by economist Bernard Hickey on Twitter.

This graph clearly shows that despite the huge increase in immigration into New Zealand over the last few years, the number of residential building consents is well below those seen in the 50s, 60s and 70s.

Of course the National party had to come up with some sort of argument, being that they've lost the debate and need to try and save some face. Their supporters only need a semblance of an argument to justify their selfishness after all.

The problem for National is Amy Adams' statement was categoric. She didn’t say the claim only related to consents from 92 onwards. She said ‘We have the biggest building boom EVER underway’, which even after accounting for the Christchurch rebuilding is a complete lie!

The other problem for National is the number of dwelling units consented nationally for each of their nine long years in power is less than those recorded in 2004. Stupidly, the National party has provided a graph showing Adams was entirely wrong!

Perhaps those in the National party trying to argue against reality haven’t been getting enough sleep, because it really wasn’t their day for statistical evidence, which should form the basis of any good government’s policy direction.

Yesterday, another well-respected economist, Shamubeel Eaqub, also tweeted.

Oh dear National! Not only did Adams completely fail to provide proper evidence based numbers, she blatantly lied about the number of houses being built.

Even some of National’s core supporters won’t like such obvious dishonesty from a Minister about such an important issue... the property speculators however will love it.

If you're not a soulless property speculator, vote for a party that will help more New Zealander's into their first homes... vote to change the government.

19 Aug 2017

Who's to blame for Barnaby Joyce?

We all know that there are two sides to a story. But in the case of the Barnaby Joyce citizenship scandal there appears to be three.

First we had the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, trying to lay blame on the Labor and Labour parties in order to shift the focus off of Barnaby Joyce and their hypocrisy. Then we had the National party also trying to blame Labour’s Chris Hipkins for daring to even ask some generalised questions about citizenship.

However a third and correct side of the story is now being uncovered.

Today, 1 News reported:

Aussie journos had answers on Barnaby Joyce's citizenship nearly two weeks before Kiwi MP's inquiries

In a bid to set the record straight about who knew what about Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's Kiwi citizenship, the New Zealand government has released an official timeline of questions it received about the issue.

It confirms Australian reporters had answers on the matter nearly two weeks before a member of New Zealand's Labour Party even inquired.

Despite this fact, Bill English and Steven Joyce used the opportunity to attack Labour.

On Tuesday, Newshub reported:

Bill English condemns Labour's Chris Hipkins in Aussie citizenship saga

Prime Minister Bill English has criticised Labour's Chris Hipkins for interfering in Australia's constitutional crisis by looking into Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce's background.

How much political capital National has made from such obviously incorrect accusations is anybody's guess. It’s probably not much being that most New Zealander's know that English is a bit of a fool!

It was pretty obvious the PM was in the wrong after the Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dunne, also made statements on the matter that contradicted the Prime Ministers.

Mr Dunne says it was questions from Australian media, not Labour's Chris Hipkins that led to the revelation, but Mr English says it's up to MPs to make sure they don't get embroiled in the politics of another country.

"I can't remember a time when an MP has done something like that that involves the politics of another country. It's just another misjudgement about what is actually a serious issue," Mr English told reporters.

It was a misjudgement of the National led government to think they could simply keep the fact that Barnaby Joyce is also a citizen of New Zealand a secret.

But what makes this all the more ridiculous is the Australian government attacking the Labour party over something that they also must have known about.

On Wednesday, Stuff reported:

Aussie foreign minister says she won't be able to build trust with a NZ Labour government after citizenship row

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop: "Should there be a change of government, I would find it very hard to build trust with those involved in allegations designed to undermine the government of Australia".

Hopefully there will be a change of government in both countries, because at the moment National as well as the Liberal Party of Australia are both looking rather dishonest.

Bill English really needs to stop blaming Labour for everything that goes wrong in government, including when things they've tried to keep secret are revealed.

The best way to ensure the blame game comes to an end is to vote National out. Vote to change the government this election.