Saturday, July 30, 2005

Candidate Survey: Twenty-Fifth Response

From Lois Griffiths, Green candidate for Ilam. Lois is 22nd on the Green party list.

If you could ensure the passage of one act on one issue in the next Parliament, what would it be?

For the government to call for a contested tender for ½ million solar water panels in 5 years.

Solar hot water panels are expensive because there is no 'critical mass' to bring down the price. But if companies knew there would be a large market in 5 years' time, they could plan ahead. This would also allow time to train tradesmen in their installation. The government would then buy the solar panels and put some on state houses and a few on government buildings. The government would sell the rest to the public at cost price. Also the government would provide loans so that people could pay for the solar panels out of their power savings. Such a step would help NZ meet its energy needs without damaging the environment.

What three other electoral candidates or sitting MPs do you think are most similar to you in their political views?

Jeanette Fitzsimons, Sue Bradford, Keith Locke

MMP is about coalitions: What sitting MP who is NOT in your party do you think is most similar to you in their political views?

Tim Barnett I suppose. Actually I don't know any others!

Do you support or oppose:

...raising the drinking age?

oppose Certainly I am concerned about the 'drinking culture' in NZ. The Green Party would stop the advertizing of alcohol on TV. One hears stories of underage youths getting alcohol which just means the present laws are not being enforced.

...legalising marijuana (or pharmaceuticals based on it) for medical use?

support, assuming it would be for serious medical conditions. I've heard of cases of people in extreme pain from advanced cancer, being able to find relief by using marijuana. In such cases, it's hard to imagine that doctors would object.

...decriminalising or legalising marijuana for recreational use?

I support the Green Party position

The policy is that someone over 18 caught with small amounts of marijuana in his/her possession, has to pay an instant fine but does not receive a criminal record.

...allowing same-sex couples to adopt children?

support This sems to cause no problems overseas.

...amending the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry?

again, support, as this seems to cause no problems overseas. (If you really want to know my opinions on moral issues, why not ask what I think about bombing , invading and occupying countries that are no threat to your own!)

...allowing voluntary euthanasia or physician assisted suicide?

I don't really like yes/no questions as they assume one's mind is made up in advance and that one would not discuss things with colleagues and would not listen to what is said at Select Committees. Re voluntary euthanasia, I would like to hear from doctors, nurses, the relatives of the dying and the dying themselves. And a lot would depend on how the Bill was worded. It should be possible to have a 'death with dignity' bill that is drawn up with safeguards.

...state funding of integrated schools?

I see nothing wrong with the Green Party policy which is "Support schools that cater for special interest groups within society, as long as they do not require payment of fees, maintain high teaching standards and deliver the core curriculum. Support the 'alternative education programme' as an integral part of public education for students having difficulty in general educational setting"

I assume that the phrase 'payment of fees' allows some modest, but not exorbitant, payment.

...the retention of sedition as a crime in the Crimes Act?

I am not familiar with the Crimes act.

...the retention of blasphemous libel as a crime in the Crimes Act?

I don't know anything about this. It sounds quaint! My areas of interest are: foreign affairs, environment, conservation, climate change..

...further restrictions on hate speech?

Again, I don't know what you are referring to.

...the use of indefinite detention without trial for those subject to a security risk certificate?

no. And I am very concerned at the way civil liberties have been restricted recently in the US and UK.

...restoring the death penalty for serious crime?


...Georgina Beyer's Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill?

I haven't looked into this.

...Gordon Copeland's New Zealand Bill of Rights (Private Property Rights) Amendment Bill?

I haven't looked into this.

...entrenching the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act as supreme law?

I haven't looked into this either.

...New Zealand's participation in the International Criminal Court?

I assume that NZ, priding itself as an internationally responsible country, recognizes the International Criminal Court so I assume there is no reason why it shouldn't participate if called upon to do so.

...lowering MMP's threshold from the present 5%?

I haven't considered this but it can be a difficult threshold for small parties to meet.


With the benefit of hindsight, how should the government have handled the Ahmed Zaoui case?

Mr Zaoui should not have been put in solitary confinement for such a long time. That is shocking cruelty. His whole case could have been handled more humanely and processed more swiftly. He is already contributing to the country through his writing and speaking engagements. As he has been declared to have legal status as a refugee, he should be allowed to stay in the country, with his family, as a free man. The government should stop being afraid of attacks from Winston Peters.

As usual, Lois's views are her own, and do not necessarily represent those of the Green Party.


I know that 22nd on the list for a small party like the Greens means that the prospects of Ms. Griffiths getting a list seat are slim, but still I found this response a little disappointing. There seem to be an awful lot of "don't know"s and "haven't looked into this"s in there. On the one hand, at least she's clearly being honest, but on the other, is it not a cause for concern if a candidate for a serious, if small, party is not even familiar with the crimes act?

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 03:12:00 AM

I, too, was a little disappointed I suppose, but it made me wonder first of all how the questions were answered (e.g. by email as I suspect, or a more time sensitive method such as phone or IM?).

I'd tend to be more forgiving if it was by phone say, and Lois therefore didn't have time to go and check up on the Crimes Act before answering.

Interesting nevertheless.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 11:28:00 AM

Wouldn't it be more efficient for the government to just establish a "solar department" to set up solar panel factories and train installers? A contested tender would waste a lot of money for the unsuccessful contenders, and cost the government more since it would have to pay for the successful company's profit on top of the actual production cost.

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 7/30/2005 11:52:00 AM

Disgraceful. If she's 22nd then god knows what the person 60th on the list is like.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/30/2005 01:39:00 PM

I actually found the approach refreshing. It's easy to make quick shallow responses to questions on complex (and not widely debated) issues in order to appear to be informed.

Instead we were offered her opinions on areas where she knew enough to have a position. From time to time Lois Griffiths has letters to the Listener published and I have heard her speak at candiate meetings in Ilam in the previous election. From what I have read and heard, she generally has considered, useful and original contributions to make to political debates. While I don't share her politics, I get the impression that she would bring a far better judgement to bear on difficult issues that the vast majority of empty talkers that clutter up political discourse.

Posted by Anonymous : 7/31/2005 09:35:00 AM

Anon1: the survey was emailed out (I've been doing a followup push now that the election date has been announced), and the answers received back around a day later.

BerlinBear: how familiar do you think most candidates (or even most MPs) are with the Crimes Act? Unless you're a lawyer or a wonk, your knowledge is likely to be limited to a vague idea that some things are illegal while others aren't - not what legislation makes them illegal, the specific definitions of crimes, and whatnot. All things being equal, I would of course prefer well-informed candidates - but there will still be a hefty level of learning on the job required, and in most cases unless you're a party justice spokesperson or select committee representative, you can get away with a fair degree of ignorance until something actually comes before the House.

The nature of their party means that the Greens will attract people with a heavy focus on environmental issues, and a lower interest in other areas (just as National tends to attract businessmen with a heavy focus on economic issues and a lower interest in anything else). Small parties also seem to have problems with maintaining a sufficient pool of serious, dedicated candidates from election to election. Under those circumstances, I don't think its a problem for a "show the flag" candidate with a miniscule chance of being elected to focus on their interests and regard everything else as something to be learned on the job...

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 7/31/2005 11:44:00 AM


Still the fact you have an excuse doesnt mean people should take that into account when comparing you to an informed person. If I was a candidate answering this survey (actualy I did do it but I am not a candidate) I would (did where required) go and read the laws inorder to know what I was talking about and what positions the various camps have. It doesn't take long.


Posted by Anonymous : 7/31/2005 12:54:00 PM