Paula Bennett

National apparently doesn't think gang members with criminal records are properly human. Or, rather, they don't deserve to be given the same rights that full humans possess.

Yesterday, National announced a gang and drugs policy that promised both progressive and regressive change. Promises of extra money to fund drug treatment and community harm prevention sat alongside such war-on-drugs staples as heavier prison sentences and new offences for drug users.

The Spinoff last week asked me to consider the political highs and lows of 2016. So I did that and saw there first package come out over the weekend. So here are my thoughts on all that

Champs: Who would you rank as the best performing individuals in politics for 2016?

1. John Key, for perfectly executing the coup against himself, and Bill English, the little engine who finally did.

2. Winston Peters, who starts an election year with stronger polls than ever

3. Michael Wood, for reminding everyone that all politics is local

Today the right thing was done for two individuals by public officials who were not forced into doing so. Let's just take a moment to savour an occasion when things worked the way they should.

Back in June I wrote a post about the Ombudsman's pretty damning report on the State Services Commission (SSC) Inquiry into leaked MFAT documents, and in particular the way that this Inquiry treated a MFAT employee, Mr Derek Leask.

When it comes to our homelessness crisis, you can come up with constructive ideas or, it seems, you can blame those living in their cars for bringing it on themselves

Solutions. At least the immediate and practical ones. They've been pretty thin on the ground in the Auckland housing debate, especially when it comes to the social housing crisis. But today another couple of suggestions caught my eye.

John Key took social housing head on in his first big speech of the year and in doing so raised the ideological politics of ownership, trying to cast it in a new light

The thing about being in government is that you get to actually do things. While Oppositions position, pose and chip away, as Andrew Little did this morning, John Key got to talk about, y'know, an extra $40 million in spending on social housing and plans to sell up to 8,000 state houses this term.