The Dim-Post

September 26, 2011


Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 6:20 pm

Via TV3:

A rift has opened between ACT leader Don Brash and his most important election candidate over the decriminalisation of marijuana.

Dr Brash on Sunday suggested marijuana should be decriminalised, saying it was a relatively harmless drug and prohibition was ineffective and expensive.

ACT has previously run a tough anti-drugs policy and his comments surprised other parties.

They also appear to have surprised John Banks, a former police minister in the National government, who is ACT’s candidate in Epsom – currently held by former ACT leader Rodney Hide – and has to win it to ensure the party stays in Parliament.

“I’ve always been opposed to drugs and I always will be opposed to drugs,” Mr Banks said on Radio New Zealand.

“It isn’t party policy and I can’t see myself walking into Parliament to support the Greens in decriminalising marijuana.”

Worth noting that this is absolutely consistent with Brash’s behaviour as National leader. He’d decide to make a speech about something, email a bunch of his friends and ask them for ideas on the subject, and then he’d announce their suggestions as party policy in his speech, scaring the hell out of the rest of the National Party, a dynamic that led to Brash sacking his Welfare and Maori Affairs Shadow-Ministers.

Brash can’t sack Banks, obviously, and I now hope that ACT gets enough of the vote for a Brash/Banks parliamentary party.



  1. A beat up looking for a story. Brash expresses his opinion and the sky falls in? Didn’t think so.

    Comment by Ross — September 26, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  2. Brash can’t sack Banks, obviously, and I now hope that ACT gets enough of the vote for a Brash/Banks parliamentary party.

    Nah, not enough to get my vote. Though I could never imagine a world in which ACT would get a tick from me.

    Surely this whole issue highlights that John Banks’ personal outlook is inconsistent with the ‘liberalism’ of his new party.

    And, if so, does this make it clear that Brash only picked Banks for the Epsom candidacy due to his popularity, and because both/either of them wanted the baubles? Why else is Banks standing in Epsom if he’s not going to support his party/leadership.

    Also, how do ACT party supporters justify Banks’ comments on TV3 news tonight contrasted with Brash’s reaction? I mean, how politically bankrupt does a party need to be to lose your support? Serious question.

    Comment by Patrick — September 26, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  3. > how politically bankrupt does a party need to be to lose your support?

    I dunno, why don’t you put that question to Labour supporters?

    Comment by Ross — September 26, 2011 @ 6:51 pm

  4. Aren’t drugs alcohol and sex votes typically conscience sites anyway? So not such a big deal….

    Comment by Amy — September 26, 2011 @ 6:54 pm

  5. You might be interested to read my new book “Matters To A Head: Cannabis, mental illness & recovery”. You can check it out through my website The book discusses extensively the relationship between cannabis and mental illness, and why the decriminalisation argument is far less important to NZ than the real issue of providing and resourcing appropriate treatment and services to those who become unstuck by the drug. Of which our mental health services and prisons have many such sufferers. Sometimes running into the law is the only way that people end up getting any help. I’m a Registered Nurse and a prison volunteer so I speak with a lot more experience than Brash, and he’s missing the mark big time.

    Comment by Kate K — September 26, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

  6. So ACT are appealing to the business friendly redneck stoner niche? You can say what you like about MMP but it certainly is a fillip to polictical diversity.

    Comment by Adrian — September 26, 2011 @ 7:06 pm

  7. Adrian,

    Brash was merely expressing his personal opinion. The chances of decriminalisation are on a par with Canada beating the All Blacks.

    Comment by Ross — September 26, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  8. Ross, you get the “Titanic Award” for dogged defence (“many good days, only one bad one”). Good on ya.

    Brash and Banks both want to be prominent Ministers in the National government, and the Prime Minister has told Epsom voters to back them instead of his own party. So their dysfunctional relationship is a wee bit more important than a “beat-up”.

    Comment by sammy — September 26, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

  9. Presumably Brash _could_ sack Banks after the election? Even if ACT lost the resulting byelection, I’m fairly sure Brash would remain in parliament.

    Comment by repton — September 26, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  10. Brash would remain in Parliament if Banks resigned or died, or swore allegiance to a foreign prince etc, however, he can’t sack him, as Chris Carter’s final times in Parliament showed.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — September 26, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

  11. Pretty important to note that Brash HAS NOT suggested decriminalisation (although that would be consistent with this position). He could instead simply endorse the Law Commission proposals such as a warning system. It’d be nice if the debate wasn’t framed as increasing punitiveness vs decriminalisation, but given the quality of our media and politicians I can’t see it happening.

    Comment by BeShakey — September 26, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

  12. The real issue you’ve all missed is the ‘leadership style’ or, rather, the lack of it.

    Cactus Kate is well out of it for a while.

    Comment by Adolf Fiinkensein — September 26, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  13. Yeah, Dolf, none of us have been on about ACT’s leadership, or lack thereof, constantly and far out of proportion to their representation or influence in the affairs of the nation, for the past five or so years. You’re so right.


    Comment by Lew — September 26, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  14. ACT get acres of coverage and votes from stoners. Brash never commits to concrete policy Banks quietly carries on.

    But if there’s more polls showing huge support for decriminalisation other parties might pickup the policy and before we know it NZ takes a rare positive step.

    Comment by Myles thomas — September 26, 2011 @ 10:11 pm

  15. Kiwi Komedy Kapers presents: The Flight of the Dischords.

    The fine upstanding party of Holyoake attempts to rort the electoral system to bring in a party of lunatics led by a robot and a decrepit serial adulterer courting the racist benny-bashing stoner vote. Watch the madcap suspense develop as the prospect of forming a government draws nearer. How did the saintly Squeaky Keyne end up in bed with the Cat People? Has enough been spent on “relationship building” with the media to keep it quiet? Has Maddie the mad-eyed madam played her last trick? Will the dead-baby-identity-thief spill the beans? And what becomes of the mysterious woman named Roy? Be sure to catch all the hilarity as this side-splitting comedy of terrors opens in Epsom and runs right through to November.

    Comment by ak — September 26, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

  16. To be fair, Brash is acting exactly as you would expect of a capitalist executive – dictatorship; his views proclaimed as party policy (I think, therefore you obey). At least, until his horrified party chums find out… 😉

    Key is eerily similar to Brash in style, but his soothing ‘nanny knows best’ persona seems to throw a Klingon invisibility cloak over his nanny behaviour. I mean, no-one seems to have balked at National limiting the freedom of universities to set student services fees (which unis are likely to gouge students with) after Key rams the VSM Bill through. Nanny state tells nanny uni managers how best to screw students.

    I expect nanny Key will bring the lash back next.

    Comment by bob — September 26, 2011 @ 11:45 pm

  17. Pretty important to note that Brash HAS NOT suggested decriminalisation (although that would be consistent with this position). He could instead simply endorse the Law Commission proposals such as a warning system.

    His argument on Q+A was that the status quo was good for the gangs. The Law Commission proposal wouldn’t address the benefit the gangs get out of being the ones who sell cannabis, and indeed, they’d still be pretty big players under the decriminalised model. If Brash wants to achieve the things he was arguing for, then even decriminalisation isn’t going to cut it, he was making the argument for legalisation.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — September 27, 2011 @ 1:40 am

  18. Brash can’t sack Banks, obviously…

    Never underestimate Brash!

    Comment by Richard — September 27, 2011 @ 11:39 am

  19. Hang on… Under MMP, assuming Statler and Waldorf are the only two ACT MP’s in the house, couldn’t Statler kick Waldorf out of the party, making Waldorf the independent MP for Epsom, and then declare himself the sole ACT MP and demand he be made prime minister immediately?

    Comment by Sanctuary — September 27, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  20. > their dysfunctional relationship is a wee bit more important than a “beat-up”.

    A disagreement over marijuana hardly constitutes a dysfunctional relationship.

    Comment by Ross — September 27, 2011 @ 1:35 pm

  21. I’d like to see Banks lose in Epsom and ACT get below 1%.

    Neo-liberal lunacy needs a silver stake through its heart.

    Comment by Steve (@nza1) — September 27, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

  22. Wouldn’t it make sense if it was legalised for medicinal purposes, the Government grew it to stock the Hospitals, but they decided that to balance it out they will introduce tougher penalties and sentences for cultivation of the stuff by private citizens?

    Comment by Betty — October 3, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

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