Bryce Edwards: Tinkering with donation laws leaves money buying politics

Bryce Edwards: Tinkering with donation laws leaves money buying politics

There’s huge public concern about the potential for the wealthy to translate their economic power into political power. In particular, there’s a strong belief that governments in New Zealand tend to make laws to suit the interests of the rich. Whether it’s concern over Jacinda Ardern’s Government not implementing a capital gains tax, or the last National Government allowing casinos to have less regulation, there’s always a suspicion that donations from the wealthy to the political parties are influencing their decisions.

Recent survey evidence commissioned by the Victoria University of Wellington backs this up. Almost 70 per cent of the public don’t have trust in how the politicians raise their money, and a large proportion of New Zealanders want much tighter limits on political donations. For example, about two-thirds of people want donations above $10,000 to be made illegal. In fact, almost half of the public would go much further, outlawing all donations above $1000.

Of course, such sentiments scare politicians of all political stripes, who have come to rely on wealthy donors instead of volunteers to run their parties. All political parties, even the Greens, find it much easier to receive thousands of dollars from wealthy businesspeople to pay for some media advertising than it is to recruit members and send them doorknocking. Hence, the politicians have become addicted to easy money over mass membership parties.

Therefore, there’s a conundrum for the politicians: the status quo of political financing is extremely unpopular with the public, and yet they themselves don’t want too much reform that might impact negatively on their own income sources. And politicians especially don’t want to carry out reform in a way that might hurt their own financial interests more than their opponents.

It’s in this context that the Government announced this week that they are introducing an Electoral Amendment Bill to tighten up the rules on donations. With very little public consultation or even attempts to get other parties on board, the legislation is being rushed through Parliament. Such a process seems very poorly designed, and not the best way to produce enduring or fair change.

Mixed reactions from experts and commentators

Reaction to Labour’s announced changes has been mixed. Some of the reform details have been well received, other aspects condemned, but the most common reaction is to say that Labour isn’t doing enough.

For instance, law professor Tim Kuhner of the University of Auckland has characterised the package as being positive “small steps”, but says he’s concerned about whether Labour “have the courage and the strength to go the distance” and follow through with the large-scale reforms required.

Kuhner worries that the status quo will prevail in the end, and this produces political inequality and corruption: “Labour and National have routinely traded privileged access to ministers and party leaders for donations that ordinary New Zealanders could rarely afford to make. It’s common knowledge that New Zealand’s high economic inequality routinely translates into high political inequality.”

The New Zealand Herald has published an editorial labelling the changes as mere “tinkering”, suggesting that more thorough reform is needed, because “anyone can drive a bus through” the current laws. Like others, the newspaper says it’s a step in the right direction, as “more transparency is welcome but it still feels like tinkering around the edges of a gap large enough” for politicians to drive that bus through.

Broadcaster Tova O’Brien calls the current rules an “absolute farce”, and welcomes any improvement to them, saying the latest announcement is “bold” but “nowhere near as bold as it could have been”.

Writing in the NBR yesterday, Brent Edwards worries that the reforms are somewhat kneejerk and reminiscent of the last Labour Government’s debacle over the Electoral Finance Bill. He suggests that Labour is trying to deflect criticisms of this week’s watered-down announcement by saying that a wider review is coming with the “Independent Review of the Electoral Act”.

It’s questionable as to why the rushed decisions are being made this week, prior to that more independent process. It taints the whole process, suggesting that it’s badly designed and self-interested. As Brent Edwards writes this week, “it would surely be better to leave changes of this nature to that review. Then at least there would be no suspicion that the change was being driven by partisan political imperatives and it would be more likely that some political consensus could be reached on what needs to be done.”

Thresholds for donation disclosure

The main change announced by Labour this week is that the threshold for disclosing donations will be dropped from $15,000 to $5000. This is quite a big change.

However, what the Ministry of Justice had proposed was that it be reduced even further – to just $1500. It’s also worth pointing out the VUW survey on political finance found that 64% of New Zealanders favoured a disclosure threshold of only $1000. And in fact, 40% thought that donations over $100 should have to be declared.

In this context, the Government’s reform doesn’t go anywhere near what experts and the public are wanting. So why did the Government water down the Ministry of Justice proposal that donations above $1500 have to be declared?

Deputy Prime Minister, Grant Robertson, explained that they didn’t want the rules to be too tough on the political parties and their administration: “The further you go down, the administrative cost and burden starts to counterbalance what you’re trying to achieve”.

The new Minister of Justice, Kiri Allan, also gave the same line: “Particularly with political party secretaries, the administrative burden, there was a case that the administrative burden was going to be a little too much.”

Others have speculated that the Labour Government worried, like National, that lowering the threshold for disclosure would lead to fewer donations, and hence the politicians didn’t want their funding sources to dry up. On this, Tova O’Brien has labelled the Government as “self-serving” for watering down the officials’ advice just to suit their own interests.

The Herald has called for much more transparency than the Labour Government is proposing, saying that virtually all donations should have to be declared: “It is past time to stop anonymous donations altogether. No one expects to know the source of every coin thrown in a collection bucket. But it is fundamentally inimical to the principles of democracy for thousands of dollars to go into political campaigns without voters knowing where they came from.”

Large donations to be reported less often, but with a lower threshold

The current rules ensure that very large donations to parties – those above $30,000 – are declared to the public more urgently than just once a year. The idea is that the public should know about such contributions at the time when money might have an impact on political party decisions. Regular disclosure is seen as crucial.

Surprisingly, the Government has decided to weaken this mechanism, by abolishing the provision for non-election years. The reasoning is not clear, but observers have seen it as a significant rollback of transparency.

For example, one blogger has characterised this decision as a “nasty twist” in the reform package, saying this “means that in two years out of three, we won’t be able to quickly see who is attempting to buy our political parties, instead learning about it after the policies have already been sold. This is a significant backwards step, despite the lowering of the trigger point, and it’s absolutely tone-deaf when the public has been consistently demanding more transparency. Heckuva job, guys. If you wanted to give the impression of a corrupt party with something dirty to hide, you’re going the right way about it.”

Similarly, electoral law expert Graeme Edgeler has been reported as saying this is very bad for transparency: “If some industry donates $50,000 after a bill goes through Parliament or select committee, it would be useful to know that within 10 days, not 15 months later”.

But perhaps as a counter to this rollback of transparency, the Government is lowering the election-year threshold for large donations to be regularly declared – from $30,000 to $20,000.

Financial statements of parties to be published

Potentially the most significant element of the Government’s announcement is actually the detail that has received the least attention: that political parties will need to publish their financial statements each year. If this means that the politicians have to open their books, then this could be a giant leap forward for transparency.

However, at this stage there is very little information on what exactly this will mean. The devil will be in the detail, and if the requirements for what is included in the financial statements are minimal, then it might end up being worse than useless – it might be a way of the parties regaining the trust of the public while carefully controlling what financial information they share.

There have already been suggestions that the financial statements won’t have to include many important details of political party money. For instance, the many millions of dollars made available by the Parliament Service “Leaders’ Budgets” – a form of state funding of parties – will still be unaccounted for. These budgets, which are often used for electioneering, won’t be in the financial statements. The details of these budgets will remain secret because the politicians have given themselves an exemption from the Official Information Act.

The various “cash for access” schemes run by Cabinet Ministers and party leaders will also remain unregulated in these financial accounts. Journalist Andrea Vance has explained: “the new rules won’t tackle ‘cash for access’ schemes – which allows wealthy citizens to pay for an audience with ministers and political figures.”

Other commentators have this week lamented that the Government is unwilling to clean up this area. For instance, Tova O’Brien has asked rhetorically: “does the single mum, working three jobs, living in substandard housing in overpriced Porirua who can’t access Government support – can she shell out a couple of grand to tell the PM directly about her family’s needs, her community’s?”

Government contracts for donations

There is nothing in the reforms that directly deals with allegations that donations lead to government appointments and contracts for businesses. Some critics want more transparency in these government decisions. The suspicion has always been that the parties that go into government will know which companies or individuals have supported them, and are therefore able to reward them with contracts. For example, in the past there have been proposals that ministers shouldn’t be allowed to know the identity of donors to their parties.

However, in a strange sort of way, the National Party’s spokesperson on electoral law, Chris Penk, has added credence to the idea that New Zealand governments pay attention to donations when awarding contracts. He has argued that those parties in government shouldn’t be able to know too much about donations given to opposition parties, or else they might not give those companies contracts. This is reported by Brent Edwards, who says: “He said there were legitimate concerns businesses had about access to government contracts if they were seen donating to another political party.” National’s solution, however, seems to require less transparency on donations.

Finally, it’s worth noting that former Labour Party president Nigel Haworth tweeted this week about this topic: “Does National want to open up a forensic assessment of recipients of grants, appointments and the like over, say, the last 15 years? I for one would be delighted to see such openness.” In response, former National insider and staffer Matthew Hooton pointed out that this sort of anti-corruption drive wouldn’t work, because “New Zealand doesn’t have sufficient jail cells for this to be sensibly implemented.”

Dr Bryce Edwards is Political Analyst in Residence at Victoria University of Wellington. He is the director of the Democracy Project.

This article can be republished under a Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0  license. Attributions should include a link to the Democracy Project.  

 

Further reading on political donations law

Timothy K Kuhner (Spinoff): What do the changes to electoral law mean for New Zealand’s democracy?
Jo Moir and Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): Political donation changes amidst spate of court cases
Claire Trevett (Herald): Political donations: National, Act cry foul over Government changes to donations rules, Greens want a cap
Tova O’Brien (Today FM): Politicians: Give them an inch, they take hundreds of thousands of dollars
Brent Edwards (NBR): National sceptical on Labour’s ‘partisan’ donations law(paywalled)
Herald: Editorial: Political donation rule changes mere tinkering (paywalled)
RNZ: Political donations, overseas voting rules to change before election – Minister
RNZ: Proposed changes to political donations will give greater transparency – Justice Minister
Brent Edwards (NBR): Government pushes for more transparency on political donations(paywalled)
No Right Turn: Two steps forward, one step back
Anneke Smith (RNZ): Peters’ absence from court leaves holes in Crown’s case, defence argues
Arena Williams; Stuart Smith (Stuff): 70% of Kiwi voters don’t have a ‘reasonable amount’ of trust in political party funding
David Farrar: Labour’s donations have dried up, so they’re trying to stop others
Matthew Scott (Newsroom): The Winston-sized hole in the NZ First trial

 

Other items of interest and importance this week

ABORTION
Chris Trotter (Daily Blog): Let’s not make 2023 about abortion
Zizi Sparks (Herald): Let MPs share controversial views such as on abortion, then let the voters decide
Charlotte Muru-Lanning (Spinoff): How would MPs vote on abortion reform today?
Matthew Hooton (Herald): Project fear is Labour’s best weapon (paywalled)
Tova O’Brien (Today FM): Where do we draw the line at politicians being disingenuous, hypocritical even?
Ireland Hendry-Tennent (Newshub): Nanaia Mahuta under fire for criticising Roe v Wade ruling despite voting against NZ’s abortion reform
Jessica Mutch McKay (1News): Why the ‘Today is a good day’ post matters

Peter Dunne: Roe v. Wade Blindsides National
Kate Hawkesby (Newstalk): Labour trying to make the most out of Roe v Wade debate
RNZ: Luxon uninterested in ‘importing culture wars’ into New Zealand
Cathy Odgers: If Luxon’s religion is a problem for the left then so should Efeso Collins’
Oscar Jackson (Today FM): National leader Chris Luxon’s ‘strongest stance’ on abortion Tova’s ever heard…
Suze Wilson (The Conversation): Luxon’s dilemma: when politics and morals don’t match in response to the overturning of Roe v Wade
Michael Neilson (Herald): Roe v Wade abortion decision: NZ’s Labour MPs explain their votes against reform
Dita De Boni (NBR): Abortion: The National Party’s kryptonite (paywalled)
Amelia Wade (Newshub): Why there is no way Christopher Luxon can get away with any tweaking of legislation or access to abortion now
Claudette Hauiti (Māori TV): Māori MP’s explain abortion vote
Richard Prebble (Herald): Christopher Luxon’s captain’s call ordering Simon O’Connor to delete Facebook post (paywalled)
Karl du Fresne: A few thoughts on Roe v Wade
Liz Beddoe and Eileen Joy (Newsroom): Aotearoa must be vigilant after Roe v Wade
Ted Zorn (Herald): Roe v Wade: Talking about abortion — diatribe or dialogue?(paywalled)
Tess McClure (Guardian): Spotlight back on abortion in New Zealand after US Roe v Wade ruling
Damien Venuto (Herald): Roe v Wade and the dismantling of the great American myth
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Roe v Wade: Respected advocate wants abortion debate focus to remain on health
Amelia Wade (Newshub): National promises it won’t touch New Zealand’s abortion laws, but abortion campaigners still worried
Mildred Armah (Stuff): Roe v Wade: Constituents call for Simon O’Connor to resign after social media post
Bridie Witton (Stuff): National’s Christopher Luxon says fall of Roe v Wade in US came as a ‘shock’ to many
Claire Trevett (Herald): National MP Simon O’Connor speaks about removing anti-abortion social media post at Chris Luxon’s request
RNZ: Ex-senior Nat Amy Adams warns caucus over abortion issue position
Gill Bonnett (RNZ): Roe v Wade: Thousands eye up move to New Zealand after US Supreme Court decision on abortion law
James Perry (Māori TV): Dr Reti affirms anti-abortion stance as Nats health spokesperson, says law change not on cards
No Right Turn: Still digging
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on why she spoke out on Roe v Wade decision
Ireland Hendry-Tennent (Newshub): Grant Robertson accuses Christopher Luxon of political spin to hide real views on abortion after Roe v Wade overturned
Michael Neilson (Herald): Roe v Wade abortion decision: Former National MP Alfred Ngaro criticises Christopher Luxon’s gagging order
Newshub: Roe v Wade: New Conservative candidate Dieuwe de Boer says Handmaid’s Tale Twitter post was to mock ‘feminist fantasy’
Anna Whyte (1News): Acting PM takes aim at Nats over abortion as he faces Mahuta questions
Craig McCulloch (RNZ): National MPs committed to not changing abortion law, Luxon says
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Newstalk): Luxon needs to wheel out Simon O’Connor and make him apologise
Herald: Editorial: How far will US abortion ruling resound? (paywalled)
ODT: Editorial – Robbing women’s rights
Margaret Sparrow (Spinoff): On what the US abortion decision means for NZ
Gordon Campbell: On the Roe v Wade aftermath
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Grant Robertson slams National leader Christopher Luxon’s abortion stance
The Spinoff: Roe v Wade – If you want to channel those feelings, here are some options for you
Anna Whyte (1News): Nat MP could see abortion post ‘was possibly insensitive’ – Luxon
Waatea News: Māori lag in abortion access
Leah Tebbutt (RNZ): NZ health sector may see influx of US doctors after abortion ruling – agency

EU TRADE DEAL
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): New Zealand-European Union trade agreement: Meat industry ‘deeply disappointed’, Damien O’Connor says it’s ‘high quality’
RNZ: Meat and dairy industries very disappointed with New Zealand European Union trade deal

Nigel Stirling (Farmers Weekly): Big exporters say EU FTA doesn’t shift the dial
RNZ: National gives EU free trade agreement a six out of 10
No Right Turn: Labour fxxxs us on copyright again
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): New Zealand wins $1.8b trade deal with EU at eleventh hour
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): EU and New Zealand secure free trade agreement
John Anthony (Stuff): New Zealand-EU free trade deal blocks use of the name Feta, cheese association says
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): New Zealand-produced ‘feta’ will have to find new name under EU free trade agreement
Richard Harman: Dairy industry chief slams EU Free Trade Agreement (paywalled)
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Warnings Jacinda Ardern might walk away on trade deal as she heads to Brussels
Rebecca Howard (BusinessDesk): My bet? Ardern says the EU-NZ FTA needs more work (paywalled)
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Will Jacinda Ardern get an EU trade deal tomorrow?(paywalled)

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Shane Jones (Herald): Just where is PM Jacinda Ardern positioning New Zealand?(paywalled)
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): China warns of ‘consequences’ for New Zealand, Asia-Pacific countries if they move closer to NATO
Global Times: Editorial – Asia-Pacific countries should not stand under ‘dangerous wall’ of NATO
RNZ: Chinese hit back at Jacinda Ardern’s ‘unhelpful’ comments at NATO summit
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): ‘Wrong and regrettable’: China hits back after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern comments on superpower at Nato summit
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): China calls out Jacinda Ardern’s NATO comments as ‘misguided accusations’, ‘not helpful’ for relationship
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): Jacinda Ardern, Boris Johnson to discuss extension to key visa scheme, ‘security challenges in Indo-Pacific’
Richard Harman: China hits back (paywalled)
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Jacinda Ardern at Nato: The glitz and glamour of PM’s time in Madrid
Seni Iasona (Newshub): Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern shares solidarity with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky over the phone
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): Jacinda Ardern calls for nuclear disarmament, criticises China over human rights during Nato speech
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Jacinda Ardern makes nuclear plea to Nato, issues warning about China’s assertiveness
Katie Scotcher (RNZ): Jacinda Ardern tells NATO leaders Ukraine war must not fuel arms race
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): Misinformation is a threat and affecting NZ, Jacinda Ardern says ahead of Nato speech
Michael Neilson (Herald): Head of MFAT says ‘no question’ Russia directing troll farms to spread disinfo here
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls out ‘more assertive’ China at NATO as Beijing warns against military alliance expanding to Pacific
Tess McClure (Guardian): West must stand firm as China challenges ‘rules and norms’, Ardern tells Nato
Thomas Coughlan (Herald): Jacinda Ardern begins Europe trip meeting with friends, but can they help her? (paywalled)
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): What’s at stake as PM Jacinda Ardern arrives in Europe
Thomas Manch (Stuff): New US-Pacific partnership a ‘desperate’ attempt to curb China’s influence, analysts say
Sam Sachdeva (Newsroom): Much ado about Nato as Ardern attends summit
Robert G. Patman (The Conversation): Some see NZ’s invite to the NATO summit as a reward for a shift in foreign policy, but that’s far from accurate
Thomas Manch (Stuff): Government announces further support for Ukraine in war against Russia
Ireland Hendry-Tennent (Newshub): Ukraine invasion: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned down meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over scheduling issues

HEALTH
Bridie Witton (Stuff): Doctors and nurses fear Health New Zealand will ‘preserve the status quo’
RNZ: Govt warned of DHB staffing crisis over a year ago, letter reveals
Damien Venuto (Herald): Will the DHB shakeup improve NZ’s healthcare?
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Newstalk): Andrew Little is having a laugh pretending he didn’t know about health system woes
Michael Neilson (Herald): Health sector shake-up: Minister Andrew Little and National’s Dr Shane Reti on the major reforms
John Tamihere (Herald): Why the Māori Health Authority will improve the health of our most vulnerable and provide better outcomes for all Kiwis (paywalled)
Mike Hosking (Herald): The dire situation in our hospitals is an irony of the Govt’s making(paywalled)
Lucy Warhurst (Newshub): Andrew Little concedes New Zealand’s struggling health system isn’t an overnight fix
Jamie Ensor (Newshub): New Zealand health reforms: What the major overhaul means for Kiwis
Ian Powell (BusinessDesk): A row is brewing over paying for GP visits
Emma Hatton (Newsroom): Health NZ day one: ‘We’ve got our runners on and sprinting’
Kate Hawkesby (Herald): Stretched health system: I’ve seen how swamped medical staff are
John MacDonald (Herald): Now is not the time for fixing a broken health system
Ian Powell: Train wrecks and election outcomes
Jamie Tahana (RNZ): Māori Health Authority launch: CEO ‘planning for big transformation’
Michael Neilson (Herald): Winter health pressures: DHBs warned Govt of ‘critical workforce issues’ a year ago
Stephen Forbes (Local Democracy Reporting): Health Minister says free GP visits are a success before review is complete
Wilhelmina Shrimpton (Today FM): New Zealand’s war on drugs isn’t working, so here’s my solution
RNZ: Most New Zealanders support change in drug laws – new poll

GOVERNMENT
Pete McKenzie (New York Times/Herald): Abroad, Jacinda Ardern is a star. At home, she is losing her shine (paywalled)
The Facts: 50% of Kiwis believe NZ is heading in the wrong direction

Graham Adams (The Platform): More on the Mahuta mess
Jo Moir (Newsroom): Jackson not ‘comfortable’ with co-governance draft
Peter Dunne (Newsroom): The dangers of our laissez-faire approach to government
Duncan Garner (NBR): What’s not in a crisis right now? (paywalled)
Isobel Ewing (Newshub): Politicians give their take on Nanaia Mahuta’s family member appointments

PARLIAMENT AND ELECTIONS
Luke Malpass (Stuff): Parliament to appoint a parliamentary standards commissioner
1News: Parliament’s new conduct watchdog to keep MPs on best behaviour
Herald: More than 70 mayors and councillors support petition to lower voting age to 16
Jane Clifton (Listener/Herald): Could the grumpy vote propel Bishop Brian to political glory? (paywalled)
Thomas Manch (Stuff): Winston Peters launches legal proceedings against Speaker Trevor Mallard over defunct trespass order
Glenn McConnell (Stuff): From land occupations to OE in Cuba: What shaped a radical
Claudette Hauiti (Waatea News): Reopening puts Parliament grounds in indigenous space
Michael Fallow (Stuff): Former Awarua MP Rex Austin dies
David Farrar: Why some women vote left

ECONOMY AND EMPLOYMENT
RNZ: Business confidence reaches lowest point since pandemic began
Susan Edmunds (Stuff): Prices likely to keep rising faster for longer, economist suggests
Oliver Hartwich (Herald): The inflation lesson we failed to learn from (paywalled)
John Anthony (Stuff): Household confidence in regional economies remains ‘down in the dumps’
Robert MacCulloch (Herald): Politicians have sucked the life out of young New Zealanders (paywalled)
Bernard Hickey (Spinoff): In a labour market this tight, why are so many of us scared for our jobs?
Damien Venuto (Herald): Key reasons NZ will keep getting power blackouts
Herald: Nationwide power worries – Transpower issues warning as winter big chill kicks in, threat now under control
Mike Yardley (Stuff): If we can’t radically whittle back welfare dependence now, we never will
Riley Kennedy (ODT): NZ recession ‘almost certain’ says independent economist
Jem Traylen (BusinessDesk): Fair pay agreements top priority for government(paywalled)
Rachel Sadler (Newshub): Hope on ‘misinformation campaign’

RESERVE BANK
Liam Hehir (Patreon): Make the Reserve Bank do its actual job
Jenée Tibshraeny (Herald): Conflict of interest? Insurance company director appointed to Reserve Bank board (paywalled)
Anan Zaki (RNZ): Reserve Bank changes put financial stability as its core role – analyst

LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Tom Hunt (Stuff): Unsafe and unhappy: Wellingtonians deliver fail grade to council and city safety
Erin Gourley (Stuff): Wellington rates increase of 8% ‘disappointing’ during cost of living crisis
Dave Armstrong (Stuff): Wellington’s mayoralty contenders now number five
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Wellington mayoral hopeful says it’s time for women to lead after Roe v Wade decision
Tom Hunt (Stuff): The Wellington mayoralty is now a five-horse race. Will Andy Foster make it six?
Rosie Gordon (RNZ): Wellington mayoral candidate refuses to remove billboards, despite being ordered to
Herald: ‘Labour doesn’t rate him’: Paul Eagle’s Wellington Mayoral announcement met with scorn
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Paul Eagle’s campaign engages lawyer over billboard stoush
Todd Niall (Stuff): What’s really at stake in Auckland’s crowded mayoral race
Bernard Orsman (Herald): Driver accused of dangerous driving and abuse towards Auckland mayoral candidate Efeso Collins speaks out
Tina Law (Stuff): David Meates confirms Christchurch mayoralty bid: ‘We can do better than basic’
Tina Law (Stuff): Former health board boss David Meates expected to run for Christchurch mayoralty
Tina Law and Hanna McCallum (Stuff): Second Christchurch mayoral bid will encourage debate and more voters, city leaders say
Stefan Speller (Stuff): There’s much courage amid the ‘insanity’ of seeking public office
ODT: Editorial – Stand and be counted
Todd Niall (Stuff): Pay rises of more than 6% for some Auckland local politicians

TRANSPORT
Luke Malpass (Stuff): The political risk with Wellington’s new transport plan: Auckland pedestrian harbour bridge mark II
Isobel Ewing (Newshub): Wellington transport: Greens say another tunnel not helpful for low-carbon future, National asks why not more lanes for cars
Stuff: Editorial – Public transport authorities are letting us down
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Let’s Get Wellington Moving announcement is déjà vu(paywalled)
Kate Green (Stuff): Let’s Get Wellington Moving: Top takes on Wellington’s light rail decision
1News: Govt’s Wellington transport preference not best for climate – Greens
Georgina Campbell (Herald): Government announces light rail and second Mt Victoria tunnel for Wellington
Kirsty Frame (RNZ): Wellington’s ambitious transport plan ‘transformational’ – but construction years away
Stuff: Editorial – Hooray for bold transport visions, time to make it happen
Ben Strang (Stuff): Why Wellington’s transit plans are heading south when the growth is north
1News: Fare-free public transport would ease cost of living woes – report
Richard Harman: Auditor General says no-one knows how many billions Auckland rail link will eventually cost (paywalled)
Kate Green (Stuff): Wellington’s second-biggest employer backs campaign for free public transport

HOUSING
Will Trafford (Māori TV): Gov’t demolishes more houses than it builds – National
Jason Walls (Herald): Govt has spent $1b on emergency housing grants, including motel accommodation
Miriam Bell (Stuff): Wake up landlords, the rental market has changed, property managers say
Rachel Moore (Stuff): Reliable housing cuts hospital visits, boosts income for people, study finds
Bernard Orsman (Herald): Auckland Council opts for middle ground on culture war between heritage and intensification
Dileepa Fonseka (Stuff): The ‘no win’ housing slump
Jacob Flanagan (Spinoff): How one council meeting derailed Wellington’s housing densification plans
Miriam Bell (Stuff): Call for ‘government architect’ to oversee housing intensification
Mat Brown (Stuff): From leaky homes to Gib shortages – the urgent need for building reform
Jenée Tibshraeny (Herald): Reserve Bank: ‘Tide may well have turned against housing’(paywalled)

JUSTICE, LAW AND ORDER
Mihingarangi Forbes (Newshub): Chris Hipkins acknowledges unconscious bias in the police, but not institutional racism
Mark Quinlivan (Newshub): Chris Hipkins accuses Mark Mitchell of attacking him over growing numbers of women in police force after fiery on-air clash
Damien Venuto (Herald): After three random attacks, are New Zealand’s streets becoming more violent?
Kirsty Johnston (Stuff): Police wrongly downgrade 33,000 family violence crimes a year
Jake McKee (RNZ): Crime survey shows Māori, disabled, rainbow communities most at risk
1News: Police used ‘violent’ sound cannon on Parliament protesters
Angela Woods (Herald): Number of Northland gang members on police list misleading – expert
Rob Stock (Stuff): Class action laws needed for access to justice, Law Commission says
Phil Pennington (RNZ): Police prosecuting one-in-5000 restricted licence breaches, data reveals

GENDER AND SEXUALITY
RNZ: New Zealand behind world on gender pay gap reporting – survey
Paula Bennett (Herald): On feminism and acknowledging everyone who stands up for women’s rights (paywalled)
Martin Devlin (NBR): Is Sport NZ mis-spending our tax dollars? (paywalled)
Stuff: Transgender conference organisers defend right to proceed
Annemarie Quill (Stuff): Government investigation into anti-queer discrimination at schools a ‘top priority’

ORANGA TAMARIKI AND CHILDREN’S COMMISSION
Audrey Young (Herald): What is behind the bill that angers the Children’s Commissioner?(paywalled)
Tupua Urlich (Stuff): Oranga Tamariki Oversight Bill an enormous step backwards
Phil Pennington (RNZ): ‘We have let down the communities’ – Oranga Tamariki
Katie Doyle (Stuff): Oranga Tamariki bill could make youth homelessness worse, collective warns

CHARITY AND FAMILY FIRST DEREGISTRATION
Soumya Bhamidipati (RNZ): Family First does not qualify for charitable status, Supreme Court rules
Breanna Barraclough (1News): Why Family First doesn’t deserve to call itself a charity
Heather du Plessis-Allan (Newstalk): Family First situation is nothing compared to bigger picture with charities
Dita De Boni and Kate McVicar (NBR): Spotlight on charities as they struggle with cost of living (paywalled)
David Farrar: A correct but inconsistent Supreme Court decision on charities

AGRICULTURE AND ANIMAL WELFARE
1News: Chlöe Swarbrick debates greyhound racing ethics
Jon Johansson (Stuff): Shoulda, woulda, coulda: My regrets during my time inside the Beehive
Andrea Graves (Listener/Herald): The crate divide: The new rules that could disrupt farming in NZ (paywalled)
Henry McMullan (1News): Pig farmers fear animal welfare proposals could doom industry
Jamie Mackay (Herald): Government to reap what they sow in climate fight
Sharon Brettkelly (RNZ): Counting our farming emissions

EDUCATION
Kathy Spencer (Herald): Deciles determine only 3% of school funding – why are we changing it? (paywalled)
Jo Moir (Newsroom): Tinetti’s plans to reform NCEA and truancy services
John Lewis (ODT): New uni department opens in January
Mava Moayyed and Kate McCallum (1News): How did NZ’s richest school become centre of sexual abuse cases?

IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEES
Ritesh Shah (Newsroom): We must do better by young refugees
Sharon Brettkelly (RNZ): Why are asylum seekers treated differently to other refugees?
RNZ: Just over 1000 people with working holiday visas arrive in New Zealand

MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION
Mark Rickerby (One of 200): Cracked Optics
Colin Peacock (RNZ): Public media: new name, new law, new minister, old questions
Gavin Ellis: Heavy work ahead on Public Media Bill
Tom Pullar-Strecker (Stuff): TVNZ and RNZ bosses non-committal on applying to head Aotearoa NZ Public Media
Brad Lewis (Today FM): Broadcast minister Willie Jackson defends TVNZ/RNZ merger, says key audiences have disappeared
Stuff: ‘Gutsy values-led’ journalism sees Stuff and The Spinoff form partnership
Duncan Greive (Spinoff): The Spinoff announces a new partnership with our mates at Stuff

GIB SHORTAGE
Janet Wilson (Stuff): Hubris in action as Fletcher Building’s Gib crisis becomes a debacle
Emile Donovan (RNZ): Explaining the plasterboard shortage
Tim Hunter (NBR): How we created a Gib monopoly monster (paywalled)

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM AND MONARCHY
Toby Manhire (Spinoff): The most blood-stirring case for fleeing the monarchy? ‘Charles III, King of New Zealand’
Newstalk: Anti-monarchist group: NZ may ditch the Commonwealth in the not too distant future
Gavin Ellis: Unashamed monarchist revels in Queen’s jubilee

HATE SPEECH AND HATE CRIMES
Morgan Godfery (Stuff): Grant Robertson wrote a moving post about the rise of hate speech. Now his Government must act
Ngahuia Wade and Tina Wickliffe (Māori TV): The double-edged sword of hate speech law
Marc Daalder (Newsroom): Year-long delay on hate crime reform unexplained

NEW MINISTRY OF DISABLED PEOPLE
Michael Neilson (Herald): Government launches new Ministry of Disabled People; chief executive to be a disabled person
Damien Venuto (Herald): Ministry for Disabled People faces tough road to achieve its objectives