C’mon down to Back Benches!

Yep, it’s Wednesday again, and so there is another opportunity to be entertained and informed, whilst supping a beverage of one’s own choosing, by the inimitable Wallace and Damian. (not to be confused with Wallace and Gromit)

This week’s show has Green Party Co-Leader Dr. Russel Norman, Labour MP Dr. Megan Woods, National MP Scott Simpson, and New Zealand First MP Denis O’Rourke.

Topics include performance pay for teachers, and astronomical pay figures for public sector CEO’s .. are they worth it?

C’mon down, June is looming and we need to enjoy as much of this as we can before TVNZ’s overpaid CEO’s put a stop to it ….
Save TV7 petition here.

That was a very entertaining evening. Russel Norman was very well on form, and there was a huge support crew of Green staff, members and YG’s. Have a looky here for the episode, at TVNZ’s On-demand website. Worth looking at what else TV7 produces, if I may say so, since it’s about the only intelligent programming for grown-ups available in NZ free-to-air.

Wallace looking suitably chuffed at the end of the show!

Wallace looking suitably chuffed at the end of the show!

The pub was as packed as I’ve seen it for a while (possibly since the last of the pre-election shows), and as Wellington had turned on a beautiful day, I suspect happy, well-sunned students were a large factor in the increased attendance. Oh, and that about half the audience was there to cheer Russ on!
There was a marked absence of the student wings of ACT, Young Nat’s, or even Young Labour, which was rather a surprise.


Last Chance for Maui’s Dolphins!

The Maui’s dolphin is the most critically endangered dolphin in the world. In just a few short years, the population of Maui’s dolphins has halved from 111 in 2005 to an estimate of just 55 left today. The time for talk is over and urgent action is needed. The Government …should use the precautionary principle to put in place an immediate set net ban along the Taranaki Coast and to enlarge the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary.

Join Green Party MP Gareth Hughes and the last remaining 55 Maui’s dolphins in front of parliament on Wednesday 28th March to help us call for action and to launch our submission guides to the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries to put measures in place to protect this unique species NOW!

12.30pm – 1.30pm, in front of Parliament steps, Wellington.
Facebook event here.

Pictures will magically appear here after the event 😉

Green MP Gareth Hughes at the submission guide launch today

Green MP Gareth Hughes at the submission guide launch today

You can read more about the submission guide here, and see what Forest and Bird have to say as well.

Kiwis going the distance for cloth nappies

This is a little PR for a group I consider are on the right track.
Disclosure statement: my own children were clothed in a mixture of cloth nappies, both fitted and folded by myself, as well as disposable nappies on holidays, etc, when we needed an alternative. Back in the 1990’s! Hard Green luddite view of parenting, that’s me. My sister has also used some of the more modern cloth nappy solutions, and soon my own daughter will be experiencing the joys of the nappy arguments.

Upcoming Cloth Nappy Week 2012 kicks off with a weeklong road trip with a very specific distance in mind. With one million disposable nappies being thrown into New Zealand landfills each day*, or seven million each week, the number of nappies laid end-to-end would stretch to 2,100km – the distance from Invercargill to Auckland. It is this route the Cloth Nappy Week team of mums will be travelling from 14-22 April, in a bid to raise awareness of the benefits of modern cloth nappies over disposables.

“One million disposable nappies is a lot of landfill,” says Kate Meads, also known as The Nappy Lady, who is leading the nationwide movement toward more sustainable diapering solutions for parents.

“In a household with one baby, disposable nappies could constitute up to 50% of their total household waste. With around 145,000 children under age two-and-a-half using six to seven disposable nappies daily, one million disposable nappies are thrown into our landfills each day.

“Dealing with disposable nappy waste costs local councils tens of thousands of dollars per year, and the decomposing material in landfills creates methane gas, a major contributor to global warming. To put it bluntly, disposable nappies are harming our environment in a big way.

“While waste issues are fortunately becoming more and more important, in the meantime, our world is becoming more and more disposable. The big question for the future is, when our landfills are full, where will our rubbish go? I, for one, don’t want to leave my child with a legacy of garbage.”

Kate explains that a baby will need up to 6,000 nappy changes in the first two-and-a-half years of life, and at around 50c per nappy, parents are literally throwing their money away.

“Disposable nappies are seen as more convenient and less time-consuming than cloth nappies,” she explains. “I understand that mindset when it comes to our parents’
generation, but modern cloth nappies are so advanced in design and materials that they truly are no more difficult than washing a load of laundry.”

Cloth Nappy Week, which is a worldwide event taking place 16-22 April, is focused on educating parents about how stylish and easy-to-use cloth nappies are.

Kate and her team of Nappy Avengers is taking to the roads of New Zealand starting in Invercargill on 14 April, bringing workshops, information sessions, samples, competitions, giveaways and prizes to crowds of Kiwi parents around the country.

Cloth Nappy Week has an active website (www.clothnappyweek.co.nz) and Facebook community (www.facebook.com/clothnappyweek) and excitement is prepared to celebrate all things cloth.

“We are fortunate in New Zealand to have an extremely savvy, intelligent, passionate community of parents who are interested in cloth nappies, and a wide range of brands
to choose from, stocked by a passionate group of cloth nappy suppliers and retailers,” Kate says. “Cloth Nappy Week is the time for everyone to work together to spread the word, and I’m excited to be taking cloth nappies on the road this

Cloth Nappy Week is scheduled for 16-22 April 2012, and The Cloth Nappy Road Trip kicks off in Invercargill on 13 April, ending in Auckland on 21 April.

* Source: Zero Waste New Zealand (www.zerowaste.co.nz/hot-issues/nappies)

Kate Meads

The Nappy Lady

More Back Benches!

I realise that this may seem to be the only thing that I’m doing lately, which is not true, but I’m just not blogging here about other stuff I’m involved in.

So, moving right along, this week’s lineup is:
Labour MP Phil Goff, Mana Party Leader Hone Harawira, and National MP Michael Woodhouse.
Details here.

Could be worth attending for the fireworks.
TV7 is still likely to be closing down mid-year, so if you’ve ever enjoyed participating in the circus that is live filming of pub politics, come down.

I once again failed to make it along, but there was certainly a good crowd handy, have a look here. Phil Goff got a minor ragging from Wallace for his first appearance ever on the show (not ever having been a Back Bencher while the show has been recording before now) and both Hone Harawira and Michael Woodhouse had strong showings.

Otherwise, my lovely green friends, you will have to suffice yourselves with Pints’n’Politics, the latest brainchild of the local branch worthies, who fancy sitting and talking about politics without the intrusion of floor managers, cameras, Damian or Wallace.

There was a trial run at the Southern Cross in Te Aro CBD a while back, and it’s being mooted as a ‘first-of-the-month’ travelling circus, so that the day of the week varies each month to capture all those people who are busy every Wednesday/Thursday/Saturday, etc and won’t commit to another regular event.

Kick-off is Sunday April 1st, prolly around 3pm, and venue still being disputed, I mean discussed. I’ll keep you posted about how that turns out, and provide details if the decision comes down that it is to be widely promoted. *sigh*

More Back Benches to come!

Haven’t done a post about Back Benches for a while. Not because I haven’t been attending (I have had the soggy overcoat to prove my dedication) but because other things going on in my life have interfered with writing posts for a while.

So here’s a compendium of reviews of the past two shows and a plug for the next one.

The first one (22nd Feb) was very busy, the bar was crowded and the topic in hand was the Christchurch earthquake anniversary. Christchurch MP’s were on the panel – Liane Dalziel (L), Nicky Wagner (N), Kennedy Graham (G) and Denis O’Rourke (NZ1). They had all been at commemoration events during the day in Christchurch, then flown to Wellington to be on the show, so kudos for that. The media coverage of the days events was pretty much wall-to-wall, and the MP’s referred to where they’d been under the assumption that non of the audience could possibly have missed seeing footage.

The following week was ‘leap day’, 29th Feb, and a re-shoot of the Hamilton show that didn’t get broadcast during the summer tour. The pub was barely filled, and I was surprised to be invited, with my young companion (a friend’s son) to move to another, closer table so that the cameras had some audience to film. So we did, and ended up sitting right next to National MP David Bennett’s wife and daughter, who both got spots speaking with Damian Christie. Other MP’s on the panel were Cath Delahunty (G), Sue Maroney (L) and Richard Prosser (NZ1). Students with or without jobs got a fair bit of airtime, especially given recent announcements by the Minister for Social Development during that week’s press on welfare reforms.

Pre-show shot of the panel with Damian and Wallace

Pre-show shot of the panel with Damian and Wallace

This week 7th March, the line-up is Labour MP Rino Tirikatene, Dr. Cam Calder (Nat) and Denise Roche (Green) – still from 8pm if you want to get a drink beforehand, at the Back Bencher pub, opposite Parliament in Molesworth St, Wellington.
There’s been some good young Green crews along in the past, now that Orientation is on again, might be nice to get some more yoof down to the pub for a bit of a laff, eh?

That was a very good night out, episode here and here’s a quick pic from before filming began showing all the panellists.

Panel being readied by production crew, March 7th

Panel being readied by production crew, March 7th

There’s still time to email TVNZ about saving TV7, have a look here.

White Flag at Parliament.

It’s time for a monthly activism event for cannabis legalisation.

NORML White Flag Meeting

NZ Parliament Buildings
Molesworth Street
Wellington 6160
New Zealand

6th MARCH, 01:00pm at the Richard Sedden statue.
Assemble in front of Cenotaph at 12:45pm

To demand the immediate release of Dakta Green from Mt Eden prison.
To highlight the Law Commission Report on the review of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.
Also, continue to request compassion, and common sense cannabis law reform – and an Armistice to end the War on Drugs.

We carry with us, the international symbol for peaceful dialogue – The White Flag.
We will walk from the Cenotaph at 01:00pm up to the Richard Sedden statue. Once there, we will pause for a One Minute Silence for the victims of the global War on Drugs.
Following that, will be a few words spoken regarding our actions, and our intentions for these meetings, with a reading of the letter, and then a photo or two..

NORML members, and also non-members are all welcome, a desire for sensible law reform is all that is required.

Sea Shepherd in docks at Wellington

The Sea Shepherd crew are in town to re-provision and have some R’n’R, docked at Queens’ Wharf until 21st February. There aren’t open tours of the ship, due to tight scheduling; a list of fresh commodity requirements is being circulated, as well as a stall selling t-shirts, caps, hoodies, and the usual clutter of small items to fundraise.
The crew members, with support from the local Sea Shepherd group, are very informative and can answer most questions about whaling, the current campaign, and what they hope to achieve this summer in Antarctic waters.

A few if us* are going down to drop off some vegan baking later this afternoon, I may put up some pix after the event.

Other commodities needed/requested include:
-fresh food (avocados, mangos, spinach…)
-frozen fruits and vegetables – olives
-nuts, cashews, pistacchios – crackers
-miso – juices, sodas, cordials
-dairy-free cream – fake meats
-tofu – cereals
-dried fruits – dairy-free milks (oat, soy, almond)
vegan treats (biscuits, chocolate)
-hot sauces, tabasco – maple syrup
-bragg, soy sauce, tamari – vegan chocolate spread
-peanut butter, vegemite spreads

*vegan foods contain no animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, etc…)

Donations can be delivered to the ship located at:
Taranaki Wharf, Wellington

*[this is an action of the Wellington Craftivism Collective, I should clarify, not my usual coterie of Wellington Greens.]

Vegan cookies safely dropped off, and there’s still time for more donated items to be taken to the crew, they’re very happy to receive anything vegan on the list!

Ok, here’s those pix:

Bob Barker bow, tied up along Taranaki Wharf, Wellington.

Bob Barker bow, tied up along Taranaki Wharf, Wellington.

Bob Barker, stern end

Bob Barker, stern end

Gangplank and random Sea Shepherd crew leaving ship

Gangplank and random Sea Shepherd crew leaving ship

Back in the House, and Back Benches.

Well, it was a marathon busy day yesterday.
Seven maiden speeches in the House by new Green MP’s, our highest number of new MP’s since the Party first came into Parliament in 1999.
There’s speech transcripts and Parlie TV footage on Frogblog. So I’m not going to repeat the review of the afternoon’s speeches, except to say that I was very moved by each and every one of them, some who have been colleagues on issues campaigning for over ten years.
There are concurrent numbers of extra parliamentary Green office staff, too, so the mix’n’mingle afterwards was a good catch-up time & helped to work out who’s doing which jobs post-election.

Then later, on to the Back Bencher pub for another round of Damian and Wallace ‘back on home soil’, as they put it themselves, which seems like an extraordinary admission from two Aucklanders.

Eugenie Sage had her first experience on the panel, along with Alfred Ngaro (N), David Clarke (L, Dunedin North) and Richard Prosser (NZ 1st). There were some interesting moments as panelists wrestled with ways not to answer direct questions put by the presenters, and some bemusement when Prosser appeared to be quoting history when responding to questions about his party’s policies.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Holly Walker and a table of Green family & friends got quite a bit of notice during the evening, as well, especially during Damian’s wee pep talk to get incidental footage to use in the promo for this season of Back Benches. Being such great sports, none of the extremely relaxed Young Greens even considered the option of asking for appearance fees for performing in an advertisement.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Myself, I was hiding down the back with some more mature friends, and chewing my way through most of a block of Whitaker’s Dark Almond; my only concession to Valentine’s Day being to buy myself what I like, and share it with those I happen to be with as the week progresses. Don’t even bother trying to spot us, we were well shielded by loquacious and inebriated folk in the table nearer the bar.

The full episode is here on TV7’s chunk of the On-demand website.
Do have a look for the petition to save TV7 as well, while I’ve got your attention.
If nobody bothers, we lose them mid-year when this season finishes.

When is a good cause a bad cause?

Whilst I’m completely against cruelty to animals and a committed vegetarian and supporter of SAFE etc. and agree with the sentiment of this cause, I think it’s misguided.

http://www.causes.com/causes/567010-stop-youtube-accepting-and-showing-cruelty-to-animals/actions (385’775 members, including one Green MP)

For a start it is technically (as in technologically) impossible for Youtube to not accept a video. They do not have the technology (nor is it invented) to electronically discover that a video contains animal cruelty, nor do they have the manpower to have someone watch the entirety of every single video uploaded to Youtube. (http://blog.ukfast.co.uk/2012/01/24/an-hour-of-video-posted-every-second-on-youtube/) The only answer here would be charging subscription fees so they could pay for thousands of people to monitor every second of video, this would fail as people would just start using a new free site, guaranteed.
Also, whilst Youtube is enabling them to show their perversions, and they are disgusting, it also allows for them to be tracked down and arrested so they can no longer commit their heinous crimes.

What would be a much more effective cause would be getting people to down vote and report Youtube videos of animal cruelty and for harsher prosecution of offenders. Youtube already has a ban on these videos, once they’re reported they’ll be taken down.
The reason that I posted this is that a couple of hundred of my friends have joined this cause, I initially joined this cause. I must admit I pretty much join something if ti sounds close to my ideals without putting too much thought into it, which I’m guessing quite a few of my friends also did, you see – ‘Stop animal cruelty’ and you think ‘Yeah I’m down for stopping that’ and you join.

This is where the problem is, the cognitive dissonance perhaps? This same thing is being used to pass laws to get ‘Child porn off the internet through DNS filtering’. Sounds good when someone says ‘This bill stops child porn’ – Everyones like ‘Hell yeah! Child porns terrible!’ and indeed it is. But the answer to the problem is not a solution at all, and begins either an erosion in civil liberties or creates another problem, multiplying problems all over the show.

We’ve all been fooled, or misdirected, lets help each other remain vigilant, lets knock those child abusers off Youtube, help law enforcement identify them and lock them up, lets harness the power of the crowd, not for a Cause, but for THE cause, protecting animals and punishing their persecutors.

Also some animal abuse videos on Youtube are highly educational, check this one out from Paul McCartney, YUM!

Am I high enough yet?

I’ve been back in the City for about 3 weeks now.
The provinces were great, thanks for asking.

But I’ve been somewhat amazed by the barrage of ‘drug-driving’ messages I’ve seen since I started taking city buses again. They’re everywhere, on billboards, Adshell light-boxes in bus-stops, and the charming little leaflet I picked up in the library, hoping it might shed some light on the statements being made.

There is a website published in the leaflet, drivinghigh.org.nz, which when plugged into one’s browser merely re-directs to this Facebook page. Which looks like a functional webpage that’s been shoe-horned into a tiny FB frame. It gets worse if you click on the NZ Drug Foundation link on that page – sends you to an even more scrunched FB page. Still not a lot of facts. Or a link to the actual NZ Drug Foundation website.

So I did a little more digging. There have been other commentators already posting about this campaign, here and on NORML’s website here.

Disclosure statement: my Dad is an alcoholic, and I’m a teetotaller these days.

My personal opinion on drunk and drugged driving is informed by my experiences as a child, teenager and young adult passenger in my Dad’s car. Yes, he’s been disqualified from driving for various periods while I was growing up; once, hilariously, charged with drunk-in-charge on a bicycle. I love the man, but don’t condone that behaviour.

On to drugged driving – I think the campaign is flawed, it is conflating behaviour around class A drugs and hallucinogenics with cannabis use, and makes some statements that are pretty hard to back up.
The video campaigns seen on TV (yes, I’ve been watching advertising, to my great regret) are all faked ‘covert’ surveillance, and none of them are backed by figures for blood test results, arrests or convictions, which would surely have been used if the ad agency hadn’t just been faking footage.
God knows the cops have never been reticent about the privacy issues of defendants any time in the past four and a half years, let alone the previous decades.

There is no reference to the excellent Law Commission report published in 2011, which recommended, among other things, that decriminalisation of cannabis would free up a lot of Police time, a lot of Justice resources (both Courts and Corrections) and leave the agencies concerned free to investigate serious drug offenders. Studies taken overseas were referred to, and the common knowledge that Amsterdam is not a hotbed of crime (where cannabis is legal), neither is Portugal, or any other jurisdiction where possession of cannabis for personal use has been decriminalised.

I fear we are at the hands of yet another bone-headed, oversimplified, ad-agency driven piece of drivel that once again plays to the red-necks in the gallery, and protects the beer-barons, while being quite totally ineffective in any meaningful ‘harm-reduction’ sense.

This all comes on top of a White Flag event at Parliament on Tuesday that got somewhat swamped by the Anti-Asset Sales brigade, and the Anti-Fracking brigade. My, what a lot of grumpy people waving banners and shouting there were. NORML supporters were the most friendly and relaxed amongst the crowd. 😉

NORML supporters near the Cenotaph, about to head up to Parliament steps

NORML supporters near the Cenotaph, about to head up to Parliament steps