What does a List MP do?

Monday – Woke up in a hotel room next to a racecourse in Rotorua with Jeanette Fitzsimons. We had worked all weekend at the Ka Nui conference on mining threats and ended it protesting at the mining industry cocktail party; Jeanette dressed as the elephant in the room, climate change. My partner picked me up and we drove to Gisborne, went to visit a school and met a Green member then a public meeting on education with Nanaia Mahuta and teachers and parents at Gisborne Girls’ High School.

Tuesday – Caught the 6.45am flight to Wellington. 3 hours of Caucus and questioned Hekia Parata in the House on National Standards. 2 hours of House Duty, prepared a speech for my Members Bill. Home by 11pm.

Wednesday – Met with Service and Food Workers Union regarding Parliamentary cleaners’ wages, wrote monthly column for Whitianga newspaper, climbed 15 flights of stairs for exercise in Bowen House, marched with Marriage Equality people to the rally at Parliament. Went to Question Time then to a presentation by National Foundation for the Deaf to listen to peoples’ stories. Next, our sub group of Caucus met on equity issues. I realised at this time I had enough votes to get my Members Bill through. Finished writing my speeches and emailed some supporters, delivered speech, Bill passed by 1 vote on river pollution issues. Voted in favour of marriage equality – fantastic night in the House!

Thursday – Did local media on my Black Drain Bill, drafted a blog on the same subject, went to “Living Wage” launch at Wesley Church with Denise and Russel. Cried a few times at some of what we heard there. Caught a plane to Auckland, and then a cab to the Education Forum in Takapuna, great discussion with educators, parents and Nanaia Mahuta. Managed to leave my suitcase at the school.

Friday – My moko woke at 6am to discuss dinosaurs and do some drawing with Nannie, 8am the shuttle driver and I went to pick up my suitcase, drove back to Coromandel. Had a quick shower and then my partner and I drove to meet a family affected by local mining. Visited a supposed “historic” mine site in beautiful area which needs further checking out. Did media in the car over the announcement of the new mining application in Waihi. Got home and had a little sleep.

Saturday – Went to netball courts and market to collect Keep Our Assets petition signatures. Only about two hundred emails to do, an overdue conference abstract and lots of washing! So grateful to my daughter in Auckland, my partner at home and my sister in Wellington who help me in every practical way and my assistant Asher who works miracles. What a typical crazy week!

51 Comments Posted

  1. Thanks Gerrit… I really need to see a map of what they’ve proposed then, as I expect proper design considerations and I should know given their history, that designers here couldn’t find their own butts with approach radar, laser rangefinding, dual GPS and Inertial nav systems and a guide dog.

    If there isn’t a “Y” then Y isn’t one planned?

    Never mind… I think I answered myself above. 🙂


  2. BJ,

    By far the more efficient inner loop would be from Penrose/Onehunga/Hillsborough/Avondale.

    Britomart is but a spur line one joins at Newmarket. The “Lenny loop” simply puts the inner loop from Newmarket/Britomart/MtEden.

    Actually Mt Eden does not have a “Y” intersection so trains cannot loop in the inner city circle even if you built the “Lenny Loop”.

    Guess you can always ge tthe driver to run from one end of the train to the other (twice) so a single train can run a loop.

  3. The failure of Britomart to be able to handle a train every 3-5 minutes is a pretty serious defect and won’t get cheaper to fix as we waste time dithering. You are right about the concentrations, but there’s not always a requirement for interlocking loops, just reasonable spurs off an inner loop. The loop takes on the aspect of a central station transfer point, and must run VERY frequently and have very high capacity… but it allows very rapid transfers between spurs to get to a given destination.

    And some of the spurs may be buses rather than trains, until the trains and rails are built.

  4. Tthe inner city rail loop is but the fourth priority loop that Auckland rail needs.

    Simply based on the potential volume of users the first priority should be Manukau/Botany/East Tamaki/Glen Innes loop. After all why build all the medium density housing in Dannemore/GlenInnes/Panmure without a rail access point.

    Second loop Manukau,Airport/Onehunga/Mt Roskill/Avondale

    Third loop Britomart/Takapuna/Albany/Kaukapakapa

    Each of those loops individually will service far more people then the inner city loop ever will.

    The northern loop will enable city growth to the Huapai/Dairy Flats and Helensville regions.

    The western and eastern loops will service existing suburbs wholly reliant on private transport (or public on congested roads).

    Build the inner city loop after the others to service not even 15% of the Auckland population that live or frequent the inner city.

  5. bjchip:

    Phil targeted the commentary in the report that Denise used to back up her claims. That’s what his post was mainly about. Read it again. If you ever were to follow his blog you would see Phil is extremely comprehensive – nor is he a “camp joiner”. He let’s reason guide his opinions.

    “Auckland needs higher density housing. It also needs outlying hub “bedroom communities” which feed the city center WITHOUT paving any more of it. It needs its electric trains arranged to run more and run more and faster and more continuously… which means it needs the loop, and it needs more than that too.”

    What about what people *actually* want? If, say, 80% of Auckland wants “traditional” quarter acre section style homes, and are happy to pay real costs for it, then shouldn’t they be able to do that? And also why, exactly, does Auckland need to “feed” its city center? Why is it best to have a mono-centric rather than polycentric city?

    And don’t forget:

    0.8% land is paved over in tarmac and buildings.
    40% land is food production.

    ….as always, Denise, like every other forced urban intensification pro-proponent *never* informs the New Zealand public of this fact. I wonder why? Maybe it’s just too difficult? Too hard to remember? Not enough space on the page?

  6. Well no Andrew… the problem HERE is that you (and apparently Phil) missed the emphasis on transport hubs when leaving the city. Since I have seen how this can work elsewhere, I have no problem with it.

    What I have a problem with is that Phil McDermott, who clearly has a problem getting a quorum of brain cells together when he tries to think about Greens, completely ignores that.

    What ELSE I have a problem with is that this same Phil McDermott (from my admittedly quick reading) dismisses with a wave of his hand “If we take these private costs out of the equation” an entire set of actual costs that actual people have to actually pay.

    That’s a red-flag phrase. It tells me that he’s not thinking about the community as a whole, but looking to solve some specific corner of the problems in isolation. Which is always, when dealing with social issues, a good way to make mistakes.

    Auckland needs higher density housing. It also needs outlying hub “bedroom communities” which feed the city center WITHOUT paving any more of it. It needs its electric trains arranged to run more and run more and faster and more continuously… which means it needs the loop, and it needs more than that too.

    Auckland wants to be a 2 million to 2.5 million person city. You want to get there without people living in apartments? How are 12 x 120 m2 houses shoehorned into 350 m2 sections (1440/4200) leaving 2760 m2 busted into micro-plots, better than a 4 story structure with 3 x 120 m2 apartments per floor (or some other arrangement – YMMV), call it a 420 m2 footprint on that same 4200, with a decent park sized 3780 m2 yard? Hell, you could have 2 of those apartment houses and STILL have more green space.

    The effort to create an EFFICIENT commute for the workers isn’t paid back to the developers though… there’s no commercial incentive to do that, and I can’t remember ever seeing an apartment anything like that size.

    There is an entire subset of this debate that is being driven apparently, by property developers and their version of economics. I don’t think Denise misled anyone, I think some people misread her.

    On purpose.

  7. bjchip,

    There is no doubt in my mind that the bulk of the Green party is well intentioned. I would assume the same of other parties. The problem – and threat – is always misleadership (sociopathically driven, or not).

    Here is an example of it, pushing the same old discredited and dangerous nonsense:


    And Phil McDermott makes some good commentary following on:


  8. Fundamentally there IS a point to the thing he actually wants. Which is to put prospective pollies through a psychometric wringer to squeeze out the actual sociopaths.

    Given the performances at parliament from a fair few of them there’d be a heap of vacancies on the rolls of some parties. I think the Greens would surprise him because the things that make someone a green are really quite contrary to just about any sort of sociopathy.

    So there is actually a sort of a point to what he is on about… an idea he’s held for quite some time. This conversation is badly off the rails nonetheless.

    I still think he’d be surprised by the members of our caucus and the underlying motivations of the membership of the party as a whole.


  9. greenfly:

    Lol! I was taking the piss. I haven’t got the slightest idea what your sexuality is – of course. (though I don’t care if you do in fact like to engage in man love…and I’m assuming you’re a guy?).

  10. Andrew – that confirms it for me – your intuition is completely out of whack. I am now confident, as are others, I see, that you’re no judge of character and in the case of Russel, this is to your disadvantage, as people think you a fool, especially those that know him personally.
    There is an old adage about being in a hole and setting aside your shovel – is your intuition telling you to keep digging? I’d have it looked at, if I were you.

  11. Valis:

    “Calling Russel a sociopath just makes it more clear for everyone what we’re dealing with. Don’t hold back.”

    Note I didn’t outright call him a sociopath. Remember also that once upon a time the German people thought Hitler was pretty much the reincarnation of Jesus Christ too. You need assholes like me to remind people like you to keep second-guessing and maintaining suspicion.

    I believe that the vast majority of successful politicians, at base, are just intensely ambitious. So ambitious that they can and do sell out their integrity (if they ever had any to begin with) with any given set of cheap rationalisations, because their lust for status and money is just too overwhelming for them.

    The hard working drive of a super dedicated politician can ultimately exist for all the wrong reasons; and this, long term, can lead to nasty results as they don’t end up doing what they should be doing because they were never really the right people to begin with. Eg: John Key.

  12. I mostly agree with bj, but don’t mind such views being posted here. In fact I think it is good. I’ve found little of interest in Andrew’s intuition on any topic. Calling Russel a sociopath just makes it more clear for everyone what we’re dealing with. Don’t hold back.

  13. bjchip:

    Have you noticed how us humans can see down syndrome instantly, without any intellectual cryptology and ‘wisdom’ at all? I think we tend to ignore what we can see on that raw “organic” level, in the name of not being prejudice.

    I am a serious believer in what “know” I can see. I have learnt to be.


    Quote: “Not worrying about it that much, but DO consider the wisdom, or lack, of assailing the integrity of the green leadership to greens on a green blog? Seriously now. You’re probably just lucky I happened to be in a good mood. I promise you that that is not something you’d want to rely on.”

    I’ll be sure not to give you my street address. (smile)

  14. There are some gullible New Yorkers. Not many. You don’t survive in that town unless you have a very good cr*p detector.

    Your mistake is the one thing that the folks doing the “personality” measures never measured… which is how much of the truth YOU actually know when discussing things with a politician.

    It isn’t a matter of faith.

    When something conflicts with the real world, it is known to be false, no matter how clever a liar the person issuing the statement may be.

    Greens take a much longer view than other political parties, and while individuals may vary (I am an outlier even here), it is much less within the party than between parties (National takes the short view).

    So when we are conversing (matching the reality maps inside our heads) there is no necessity to mislead in any case. For the most part we are on the same page and able to agree on principles and policies.

    What you perceive is different because your map doesn’t match up well with the one I have… though I have hopes it will in the long run.

    As you learn more about everything you will know that certain sorts of things just don’t work for humans, no matter how logical they may seem to be.

    Not worrying about it that much, but DO consider the wisdom, or lack, of assailing the integrity of the green leadership to greens on a green blog? Seriously now. You’re probably just lucky I happened to be in a good mood. I promise you that that is not something you’d want to rely on :-).


  15. @Andrew

    Apparently, according to one scientific journal, the only thing that can give a clue is the lag-time between questioning a liar and their response.

    The only thing. Really. Let’s just ignore the entire field of fMRI neuroscientific experimentation and galvanic response analysis then.

    I will grant you though that a lot of the current theory does leverage the ‘cognitive load’ approach to lie detection for the purposes of immediate evaluation of truthfulness in a subject.

  16. bjchip,

    I think this blog is one of the best places for it.

    Lying: Interesting there’s been a lot of research on it. Apparently, according to one scientific journal, the only thing that can give a clue is the lag-time between questioning a liar and their response. This is because a liar has to think longer to invent a response, because he’s not just recalling from memory. Even still, with this, it’s only a correlation and it can only give a clue on a *possible* liar if the lag-time is known to be ‘unnatural’ for the given person’s character. So you can’t even get the possible clues until you know someone’s default nature well enough. (And note people can be anxious and awkward for all kinds of reasons – even when they’re telling the truth).

    And yes I might be a psychopath myself. Look at my political views – some of them are downright Hitlerian! And you could be employed by the Green party specifically to help protect their image on public forums. Who knows, eh?

  17. My intuition tells me you are a very arrogant person who would like to control the world – but then I don’t know you, have never met you so my intuition isn’t really worth much. Russel I do know and so do many other party members. We elected him co-leader for many good reasons. Your intuition regarding his character is not worth anything to me. Time to stop getting personal about people you don’t know and talk about the issues.

  18. Andrew

    It is VERY hard for people to lie to me, for reasons that relate partly to my own being a poor liar and partly to my being from New York.

    Calculated words notwithstanding. I know he calculates. All politicians do.

    What I meant by that was not that you should not have said it, but that you are simply wrong to be concerned about it. I have a very good notion of who Russel Norman is… about YOU I am not so sure… and it IS unwise to put yourself in the position of casting aspersions on the character of one of us, on our own blog.


  19. bjchip:

    I don’t think what I said is out of line – not for a politician. I expressed what I genuinely feel about Russel Norman, don’t take it back, and it was clear that was where I was coming from. I myself don’t have a problem with people doing that to/about politicians in an open forum. Especially if it promotes more scrutiny.

    Remember all good politicians carefully calculate every word that comes out of their mouths, to everyone. You don’t know who or what he is.

  20. Kerry

    I like cities, the concentration of people allows things to work that don’t work otherwise.

    I like the country, the slow steady progression of days with green grass and trees.

    If I work in a city (which is a more usual thing) then I want to live near my work and commute little, as the commute is a waste of time.

    It just works out better for ME, and while I don’t want to make everyone live that way, I find the notion of driving into Auckland from the outskirts rather annoyingly like the commute into NYC, but without the benefit of having easy access to all parts of the city once I get there.

    You have to drive to go ANYWHERE in the damned place.

    Which is the point to being in a city. You have to be able to get around the city without having to drive, otherwise it really isn’t any good… as a city.

    Moscow is a good city. NYC is a good city. Auckland is NOT.

    With the set of horrid examples presented to New Zealanders by their collective set of governments it is indeed astonishing that anyone would want to live in a city here.


  21. bjchip:

    My intuition tells me Russel Norman is a sociopath. Watch out for him. He is deeply conceited and behind it all he doesn’t give a flying toss about environmentalism and “social justice”. Of course you will be revolted by my comments, but I’m probably right. On this level, from my experience in life, I always seem to be.

    -And I wouldn’t be even slightly surprised if he “two-faced” Hugh Pavletich, who is so obviously a focused and intelligent property expert.

  22. I find the desire to make everyone live in high rises in city centres rather puzzling.

    I would have thought that Greens would be advocating villages, of sections with enough land for vege growing, (or communal gardens) with industries, local shopping centres and housing within walking/cycling distance, large Green belts/farmland in between, connected by efficient public transport to other centres.

  23. Yes, and you would find me “anti-sprawl” as well, in a number of ways. Hugh had a knee-jerk reaction to light rail in the piece I saw on Christchurch, but was spot on regarding the multiple failures of the people in charge of that recovery, and the sorry state of the city prior to it being razed.

    I would have had a tentative plan within less than a month of the event and public comment integrated into it within 3. That was what was NEEDED and was not done. Not even begun. People in government here dither like a bunch of old ladies when something actually HAS to be done, and the responsibilities, decision making and financial arrangements around creating sections and subdivisions are an unholy mess.

    Which is not an argument for or against sprawl, just an observation that there is plenty wrong in the way NZ does housing in general.


    Different people can get different perceptions of a conversation. Without a transcript or recording I would be loathe to offer an opinion except that Russel is a politician, and part of that job is to be reasonable with people you disagree with. I think someone didn’t understand some part of what was being discussed the way someone else thought they did, and I have no clue to what degree the two parties to that private conversation played which role.


    With respect to sprawl, I have lived in the sprawled out city and cities that have a heart, and the ones that had a center worked better as a place to live… and one can build EITHER better with an integrated rail capability than without.


    We are a political party with some distinct views and policies, and you are not the first person to mistake our openness here for some possibility that you can participate without joining. We listen to those who are willing to join us to work towards sustainability in NZ and the world, but our principles don’t include the peculiar sort of political seppuku that you are (probably without recognizing it) suggesting.

  24. bjchip:

    Well, all I can say is it wouldn’t cost much, and could be organised easily enough. It could be done for serious issues like what I have highlighted.

    To say, I notice Julie-Anne Genter is still “anti sprawl” by default (going by her press releases), even though she pays no lip service to the idea of making sprawl “green” which can easily be done (And I believe she knows this). Another point is that Hugh Pavletich has claimed that he spoke with Russel Norman on this sprawl/housing affordability issue, in person, and Russel agreed with him in private and then totally contradicted himself in public. I doubt very much that Hugh would lie about that.

    By having internal discussions made public and reviewable you can get penetrating transparency and true ideational accountability. Though, I doubt the Greens’ leadership (or any parties leadership) would like to be exposed to this kind of open scrutiny, to their wider support base. It makes them vulnerable – especially if they’re wrong!

  25. Andrew

    There is nothing that would stop us from asking for opinions except the likely cost of the opinions, and the need for some member who has an interest and input into a subject to actually arrange for it to happen, as it takes someone who has a strange (for a human) attitude to arrange for something like that to happen.

    In other words, it isn’t a likely thing unless people are willing to think/admit that their own ability and analysis is inadequate to the task.

    Much more likely is that people who are interested in the topic, on the committee and familiar with his work will read a fair bit of it into the internal discussion and make sure that it is considered… assuming they agree with it.


  26. bjchip:

    Would the Green party hold an open discussion* with an outsider expert/serious researcher, who holds a view different or even completely different to existing Green party policy/methods?

    For example, would the Green party hold a discussion amongst, say, 8 key Green party people with, say, Hugh Pavletich, on housing affordability, transport efficiency, urban sprawl, etc, and all relating to the central objectives (that we all agree on) of affordable housing and ecologically sound urban development? And would it then, also, record the relaxed but disciplined discussions on video and present it to the entire Green party (and whoever else is interested) on YouTube?


    *Not a debate, where people functionally defend their viewpoint for the sake of it. Personally, I think debates are inherently childish and inefficient. Ideally it should always be ‘discussion’.

  27. The emissions are certinaly a conundrum, because as you rightly say people expect their politicians to be visible and accessible. I suppose that just strengthens the need for a comprehensive rail system! I’m glad to know that the MPs pay offsets, I’m sure it’s much more than the other parties do.

  28. Policy is discussed and developed all the time, both within caucus and in the party generally. People with an interest in any policy area can be part of a working party on that policy – it is an ongoing process and one that involves a lot of people.
    The fact that you disagree with some of it is neither here nor there – if you are a member you would have the same chance as everyone else to be part of the discussion.
    I don’t think you are a member though or you would not be so ignorant of the process and so reductionist in your approach.

  29. Andrew

    The Green Party works out its policies from the bottom. The membership itself winds up writing a lot of them. I had a hand in the defence policy as a for-instance.

    As a result, if there is a need for a change the MP’s can (and do) kick the policies back at the membership for rework.

    However, the membership expects the leadership to adhere to Green Policy.

    It isn’t hard if the writers have the wit to avoid attempting to dictate implementation.


  30. Valis:

    What if there’s developing disagreement on policy methods, as MP’s actually start to learn something and old assumptions get challenged?

    Everyone agrees with environmental respect/sustainability and social justice. The thing that pisses me off about much of the Green party is that [some] of their policies will achieve the opposite of what they say they want to achieve, and I have seen that they will never change their minds on basic policy/method ideas. They can’t admit to their mistakes. Like all new-age types they tend to just believe what they want to believe.

  31. bjchip:

    I’m repeating what a prominent politician said years ago (I can’t remember who). But yes, I would like to think (hope) that political parties, up to a point, are not composed of pure sheep or gutless career politicians. But of course I now that’s the norm.

  32. Apparently a list MP sucks up to the party line, because they owe everything to their party.

    No point in becoming an MP for a party if you don’t agree with the majority of their policies first. A party that works on both environmental and social causes like the Greens wouldn’t choose candidates for Parliament that didn’t also agree. This is not about the MPs.

  33. Seems your moko has got thier priorties right – dinosaurs are way more interesting than politics. Long may the innocence of youth remind us all of what lifes really about.

  34. Thanks for the responses and I agree about the carbon emissions, we do pay an offset but its not really a solution, maybe the future is more Skype meetings alhough as an MP people do want you to show commitment by showing up! Regarding working for the environment or for economic and social justice, I am unable to separate these issue as logically we need to address them together for a long term positive change.

  35. That’s a lot of carbon emissions in one weeks worth of travelling…at least it’s for something worthwhile though!

  36. Valis, tell me, why is “being moved to tears” seen as some sort of moral absolute?

    I don’t see that it is, but I also don’t see why any political party should ignore poverty.

  37. The Green list is ranked by the entire party; anyone wishing to stand as a candidate has to go through a pretty serious interview process, then be selected (or not) by their local branch. It’s more rigorous than any other party’s process and as a result we have very high quality candidates right to the lowest-ranked.

  38. True story. Some years ago I was talking to an electorate secretary for an MP, who had had a previous career doing a few hours as a talkback host each week on a provincial statement.

    S/he said a couple of months into the job “Goodness, I feel so guilty. I spent all that time behind the microphone bagging them as lazy useless do-nothings. Now I see how much they all do.”

  39. I imagine that the reason a lot of people would down-rate List MPs is that they are chosen by the party rather than elected by an electorate.

    In the past there have been some pretty poisonous people put into parliament through Lists. It is not clear that they would have been able to be elected even in a safe seat.

    The voter is somewhat disenfranchised because it is irrational to not vote for a party you want to because of one or two people on the list.

    Personally, I would prefer the list to be replaced with the election of the highest polling unsuccessful candidates – at least you’d know someone wanted them!

  40. It seems that those who think List MPs are somehow less important.. are still stuck in the FPP mentality. Maybe MMP review should do away with Electorate MPs & have LIST Only ? (maybe just based in electorates)

    Good Onya Catherine


  41. Valis, tell me, why is “being moved to tears” seen as some sort of moral absolute?

    Julius Caesar was moved to tears because he wasn’t as powerful as Alexander the Great at the same age.

  42. People simply don’t understand the value of list MPs. They are not less legitimate than electorate MPs, they just often represent non-geographic constituencies. I’ve never understood why some think this less important, but think it will continue to change as the FPP generation continues to give way to the MMP generation.

    As for the desire that the Greens become a single issue party, I hope it never happens. That’s saying in effect that Catherine, while moved to tears at the stories she hears, should then decide as an MP to do nothing about them; or worse, to avoid hearing the stories at all and instead pretend such stories don’t exist. We have enough parties that do that already.

  43. That looks like seriously hard work! I may not agree with all your politics, but I have to admire your work ethic.

    I know a lot of people think MPs, especially List ones, are overpaid and underworked, but a post like this reminds us that it is a lot of strain.

    If the Greens would put more emphasis on environmental issues and less on left wing loonyism exemplified by Sue Bradford, I might even be tempted…

    Good work on the Black Drain bill.

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