Opinion: Put aside talk about Judith Collins' hair and Amy Adams' jacket - National's leadership race isn't a beauty contest

The truth about Judith Collins and Paula Bennett's hair?

Judith Collins and Amy Adams.
Source: 1 NEWS

The truth is the contest to be National's leader is not a beauty parade.

Judith Collins on why she wants National's top spot. Source: 1 NEWS

And the really ugly truth is the moment you start talking about a female politician's appearance, you diminish her power, her value and her contributions.

How much does Paula Bennett weigh now? Why have she and Judith Collins changed their hairstyle? Where did Amy Adams get her jacket?

Do the answers to these questions help you decide who is the best person to lead National? Of course not.

Ms Adams says it's her "ambition and goal" to win the 2020 election. Source: 1 NEWS

But, when you bring up a woman's hairstyle, her shoes or even whether she "looks a bit tired" you invite contrary or concordant opinions.

Before you know it, assessing her attractiveness becomes the lens through which she is viewed. It becomes the prevailing narrative.

It's 2018. We've had three female PMs and countless competent ministers. How is it that female politicians are still judged in stereotypes? As ball-busting dominatrices, too light-weight or too emotional?

The former deputy PM said she’s not an expert on the topic, but sympathises with those who cannot afford the surgery. Source: 1 NEWS

Last year a UK charity – Girlguiding – found sexist media coverage was putting young women off going into politics.

A 2013 US study found there was a 7-8 per cent drop in vote share when respondents were shown material (positive or negative) focusing on a candidate's appearance.

The incessant objectification of women is hurting female politicians and side-lining young women from the conversation.

Women now make up 38 per cent of Parliament. There are already enough barriers to women in politics – we need to stop demeaning female candidates by treating them differently from their male colleagues.

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US President Donald Trump vows to inflict 'severe punishment' on Saudi Arabia if found responsible for journalist’s murder

US President Donald Trump has vowed to inflict "severe punishment" on Saudi Arabia if it is found responsible for the murder of a Washington Post journalist.

Jamal Khashoggi disappeared 11 days after entering Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, the BBC reports.

The US President today said there would be "severe punishment", but ruled out the possibility of enforcing sanctions which could rule out hundreds of billions worth of arms sales.

"I actually think we'd be punishing ourselves if we did that," Mr Trump said.

"There are other things we can do that are very, very powerful, very strong, and we'll do that. Now, as of this moment, nobody knows what happened - as of this moment.

"We're looking into it very seriously - Turkey is looking into it at a very high level, at the highest level, and so is Saudi Arabia."

Mr Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in order to obtain papers for his wedding - his fiancee waiting outside - but was not seen leaving the building.

The Saudi Interior Minister dismissed claims Khashoggi's body was dismembered as "lies".

Turkish police have been barred from searching the Saudi consulate.

Jamal Khashoggi disappeared 11 days after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Source: BBC

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Greens call to legalise safe drug testing before summer festival season begins

The Green Party wants to see safe drug testing legalised before the summer festival season begins.

Testing has already been taking place at some events, but the practice exists in a legal grey area.

"So no one here is saying that drugs are cool or fun, but we're saying that after decades of trying to say, 'Don't use them,' the reality is that they are being used and they do exist," Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick said. 

"Mums and dads, when they're sending their kids off to festivals, obviously, we'd hope that their kids aren't using these substances, but if they are going to use them, surely, you want to ensure that they're doing so in a safe way where harm is minimised."

Ms Swarbrick is confident that law changes can be made in time for summer, as Health Minister David Clark has already requested advice on what legislative change would look like.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick wants to see safe drug testing legalised before the summer festival season begins. Source: 1 NEWS

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Government has room for improvement to curb mental health crisis, Mental Health Foundation says

It's a good start, but there's more work to do to curb the mental health crisis, the Mental Health Foundation says.

Described as a nationwide "epidemic", the issue took centre stage during last year's election and was a major drawcard for Labour.

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said at the time, "If you're going to talk about hope, then my view is we need to do something about mental health in this country".

One year on, Ms Ardern says the Government has "moved as quickly as we can" to improve mental health.

Part of the changes include dedicated mental health support in Kaikoura and Canterbury primary and intermediate schools; a $10 million cash injection to pilot free counselling services for under 25s and extended school-based health services to decile four schools.

Mental health campaigner Mike King said the Government "deserves more praise than we are giving them".

However, some say there is still room for improvement, including on the topic of suicide prevention.

Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said, "Now that's definitely been kicked for touch until the inquiry comes back. It does make sense in some respects, but there are probably some things that they could have done".

An overstretched workforce is also proving problematic.

"You know, it's all very well to say, 'We want services' or 'we want to put mental health workers into schools', but are those workers there?" Mr Robinson said.

The Prime Minister recognised the "workforce issue", and said the Government has "tried to scale it up as quickly as we could".

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has spent the past week talking to university students, where education has also been a recurring concern.

"When somebody falls over and breaks their leg, you know that you call an ambulance, but when somebody's having a mental health breakdown, we currently don't have a go-to resource," Ms Swarbrick said.

The independent inquiry into mental health and addiction - due to report back next month - will form the backbone of the Government's response to the issue. Those on the frontline are keen to see what's implemented - and how quickly.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a new ship," Mr King said.

"What I fear is going to happen is we're going to continue to throw patches on the old boat."

The Mental Health Foundation says there’s room for improvement in the government’s work on mental health. Source: 1 NEWS


Good Sorts: Meet the Good Sort who failed to finish cross country...twice

This week's Good Sort is Phoenix Horo from Rahotu School, a 45 minute drive from New Plymouth.

Phoenix was nominated by his teachers for failing to finish his school cross country not once, but twice.

Hadyn Jones explains all in the video above. 

Phoenix Horo from Rahotu School was nominated by his teachers. Source: 1 NEWS