Gerry Brownlee defends phone call to law firm in which he's accused of bullying junior solicitor

A law firm is accusing Gerry Brownlee of phone bullying after a 15 minute call he made to their offices, but the National MP says how can you bully a law firm?

A junior solicitor at Adina Thorn fielded the call from Mr Brownlee who was calling to note his concern about a letter from the firm warning Christchurch residents about dodgy steel mesh and inviting residents to join a class action.

Mr Brownlee rejects many of the claims the firm has made in a press release publicising the matter and told Morning Report he was not angry or ranting during the call.

"I was very keen to understand what the basis of the pleading was.

"This is a law firm, asking people to sign up with them, saying they're going to stand before the court and plead a case on their behalf for compensation for ... what?"

He said by signing up to the class action, people would effectively be identifying themselves as having a problem which could have a long term impact well beyond compensation they might get from a court.

"Was it for product failure, or potential product failure, or catastrophic failure in the event of an earthquake or was it because the Commerce Commission had fined steel companies for inappropriately labelling their products and that people might have bought it inappropriately?

"They are not unreasonable questions to answer."

Mr Brownlee said he thought he was speaking to Adina Thorn and did not identify himself in the phone call.

"They wrote to me as a householder so I spoke to them as a householder."

He said he assumed the call was recorded and welcomes the release of the taped call.

"That would demonstrate that there was certainly no ranting and no bullying.

"Had I identified myself right up front, would they have had different answers for me?"

He said the law firm has not contacted him since the phone call despite having concerns for its staff member.

rnz.co.nz

The National MP for Ilam strongly denies what he calls “outrageous accusations”, saying he was just doing his job.
Gerry Brownlee. Source: 1 NEWS



British dance group Rudimental coming to New Zealand to headline festival

British chart topper Rudimental is headed to our shores for the first time in several years.

The drum and bass outfit, known for their collaboration with Ed Sheeran and other artists, will be among the headliners at Christchurch's Electric Avenue music festival in February, festival organisers announced today.

The festival is expected to attract a crowd of about 15,000 as the band performs a DJ set with live vocalists and instrumentalists.

"Bringing major international artists to Christchurch is a key factor in the Festival's future growth," said festival director Callam Mitchell.

"Christchurch has definitely missed out on being able to host big international artists a lot recently, so we try to fill that gap."

Rudimental first scored a hit in 2012 for their collaboration with singer John Newman on Feel the Love. In 2015 the band released Lay it All On Me, which featured Ed Sheeran.

Other headliners headed to Christchurch on 23 February for Electric Avenue include Netsky, Orbital and The Correspondents.

Early bird tickets for the festival go on sale at midday on Monday.

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: British dance act Rudimental perform at Lollapalooza Berlin on September 10, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.(Photo by Ant Palmer/Getty Images)
British dance act Rudimental perform at Lollapalooza Berlin in September 2017. Source: Getty



Green Party co-leader's 1080 comments put 'spoke in the wheel' of conversation effort - National

The National Party has criticised the Green Party for contradicting themselves over the use of 1080, after co-leader Marama Davdison said protesters had "valid concerns".

It came after 1080 protesters left dead birds and scattered fake 1080 on the steps of Parliament yesterday.  

Fake 1080
Workers picking up fake 1080 pellets left on the steps of Parliament. Source: 1 NEWS

National's conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie said Ms Davidson's comments "completely contradict" the sentiments Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage. 

"Ms Sage has consistently argued that 1080 is the best tool for protecting New Zealand’s native species and the statement by Ms Davidson that protesters have valid concerns puts a spoke in the wheel of the Government’s conservation programme," Ms Dowie said. 

Ms Davidson told media yesterday the protesters had "valid concerns and I understand they are concerned about water and they're concerned about aerial drops".

"We need to keep having considered conversations about saving our forests, our birds and our native species. We need to have a community-led conversations about this."

Ms Dowie said Ms Davidson's comments "muddy the waters and undermine the efforts and hard work of Department of Conservation staff in protecting New Zealand’s species". 

Marama Davidson said New Zealand needs "community-led conversations" about the use of 1080. Source: 1 NEWS


New Zealand should legalise drugs, treat addiction with 'compassion and love' as they have in Portugal, says researcher

When it comes to treating addiction and potentially legalising drugs, New Zealand should look at role models like Portugal where the system is based on "compassion and love", an expert has said.

Journalist Johann Hari spent several years researching addiction for his book, Chasing the Scream and is in New Zealand for a three-day conference in Rotorua where the nation's drug problems will be discussed.

Mr Hari told TVNZ1's Breakfast that he learned the common understanding of addiction is fundamentally misunderstood.

"When I started researching this question about seven years ago now, you know I was in a real state of confusion, I wanted to help the people I loved, but I couldn’t see how to do it, so I ended up going on this quite big journey all over the world," he said.

"The core of what I learned is that I, and many of us, have profoundly misunderstood what addiction is and that's led us to misguided answers here in New Zealand and across the world."

Mr Hari says research by Canadian psychology Professor Bruce Alexander showed that addiction was not simply a matter of a person craving a substance, heroin for example, that has a chemical hook.

The professor did a series of experiments in the 1970s where he gave two groups of rats the option of drinking water or water laced with heroin.

One of the groups was left alone in cages while the others were in a cage dubbed "rat park", where the rats had company, plenty of food and things to play with.

Professor Alexander found that the rats in the cage dubbed "rat heaven" never overdosed on the heroin-laced water.

"When rats have the things they need in life, they don’t find compulsive drug use compelling, and there's a lot of human parallels," Mr Hari said.

"This shows us the opposite of addiction is connection."

Dramatic turnaround in Portugal

Mr Hari said Portugal was the leading nation when it came to adopting this approach after a dramatic turnaround from 2000.

At the turn of the century, Portugal had one of the worst drug crisis in the world, with one per cent of its population addicted to heroin.

"Every year, they tried the American way more, which is followed in New Zealand but not as harshly, imprison people, shame people, give them criminal records and every year, just like here, the problem got worse," Mr Hari said.

On the advice of experts, Portugal legalised drugs and invested money into not only residential rehab but also therapy and job creation programs for addicts.

"The goal was to say to every person with an addiction problem in Portugal, we love you, we value you, we’re on your side, we want you back," Hari said.

The changes saw an 80 per cent reduction in injecting drug use and even those that had criticised the legalisation of drugs were convinced, Mr Hari.

"I went to the places that have the most loving and compassionate approaches, Portugal, Switzerland, what are the results? Their drug crises have massively reduced."

"For 100 years now, we've been singing war songs about people with addiction problems, we should have been singing love songs to them all along."

'We’ve got to start copying the models that have succeeded'

Referencing a potential referendum on the legalisation of cannabis, Mr Hari implored New Zealand to stop following models that have failed.

He said we should look at the nations who have legalised drugs, where he says, "they are not having 40 people die a year from synthetic cannabis the way you are here in New Zealand".

"New Zealand is spending a huge amount of money making people with addiction problems worse, what they did in Portugal, is they took that money and they transferred it to making people better."

"At the moment, what you guys are doing here in New Zealand, what we’re doing in my country Britain, is we’re copying the places that failed."

"At some point we’ve got to start copying the models that have succeeded and they’re based on love and compassion and bringing order to the chaos that we currently have in an illegal market."

Johann Hari, who spent several years researching drug use, addiction and treatment for his book, says we’ve misunderstood addiction. Source: Breakfast