Word of the day


Demurrage – a charge payable to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed; the charges that the charterer pays to the ship owner for its delayed operations of loading/unloading; the detention of a ship by the freighter beyond the time allowed for loading, unloading, or sailing; a charge for detaining a ship, freight car, or truck.

Thatcher thinks


Do not trade


What’s truth got to do with it?


‘Truth has become a right wing concept’:

Apropos of this, Labour is misrepresenting National’s policy on prescription fees:

. . . Willis said she was personally offended by some of Labour’s response and made it clear National would not remove any rights women currently have. It could look to “enhance” some, she said, like potentially greater subsidies for longer-acting contraceptives.

After Luxon’s comment on Wednesday afternoon, Labour MPs attacked National, calling it “out of touch” and suggesting some comparison between National’s position and the situation in The Handmaid’s Tale TV show.

That’s despite there currently being $5 fees on prescriptions. There has been throughout Labour’s time in power. Labour’s removal of the fee doesn’t happen until July 1. . . 

Willis said National wasn’t proposing any change to women’s current entitlements to contraception, including their access to free contraception clinics or subsidised birth control.

She said National wants to “enhance” those rights and could remove the prescription fee for lower-income people.

“What we have said is that we just don’t think there should be free access to all prescriptions for everyone on every income. We are also looking, and I have spoken to our health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti about this, at whether or not there are some longer-acting contraceptives that should be more heavily subsidised than they are at the moment.” . . 

Jo Moir sums Labour’s lies up:

And let’s not forget this misrepresentation comes from a party led by a man who doesn’t know what a woman is:

Co-governance for your deck


Graham Adams writes at The Common Room on co-governance for your deck :

An effective campaign against the RMA reforms will be a nightmare for Hipkins.

After a Budget that failed to excite voters and a lacklustre party conference where his senior colleagues faintly praised him for his proletarian taste in food, the very last thing Chris Hipkins needs is a light shone on the vexed topic of co-governance.

An aficionado apparently not only of sausage rolls but also of spaghetti on toast (according to Kelvin Davis and Grant Robertson respectively), the Prime Minister is no doubt still hoping he can steer the election debate almost entirely towards “bread-and-butter” issues. Unfortunately for him, raising awareness of the co-governance provisions in the new RMA replacement legislation going through Parliament is central to the Taxpayers’ Union’s latest national campaign. With the title “Hands Off Our Homes!”, the roadshow will take in 30 towns and cities over three weeks, after beginning with a meeting last Monday in Christchurch.

Federated Farmers, which also strongly opposes the legislation, will co-host nine of the scheduled events. The tour ends in Whangarei on June 22 — less than a week before the Environment Select Committee is due to deliver its report on the Natural and Built Environment Bill, which repeals and replaces the Resource Management Act 1991, working in tandem with the Spatial Planning Bill.

The union says it is “fighting David Parker’s proposal to replace the Resource Management Act (and your local council) with co-governed Central Planning Committees”.

Given the Taxpayers’ Union’s successful campaign to draw voters’ attention to Three Waters last year, the Prime Minister should be very afraid — not least because David Farrar, a co-founder of the union, says the replacement legislation for the RMA is “much, much worse” than Three Waters and will “dictate what you can do with your house, your farm, and your business”. That description is bound to alarm the public.

The campaign will be music to the ears of National and Act, who voted against the bills at their first readings on November 22 last year. Chris Luxon and David Seymour have both been highly critical of co-governance.

Hipkins promised in the early days of his premiership to clarify what co-governance entails. Discussing Three Waters shortly after he became Prime Minister in January, he said there was “an uncertainty in New Zealanders about what we mean when we are talking about co-governance. I want to make sure that in each context we are very clear about what we mean and I acknowledge that that hasn’t always [been the case]…

“So we might need to slow down and better explain what we’re working on.”

His new Minister of Local Government, Kieran McAnulty, also professed pious intentions. After a 1News-Kantar poll in March that showed only 17 per cent of eligible voters thought they had a good idea of what co-governance meant in relation to Three Waters, the channel’s political editor, Jessica Mutch-McKay, asked McAnulty: “Do you feel the government has failed New Zealanders by not communicating properly what co-governance means?”

Kieran McAnulty: “Well, it shows that the majority of people don’t get what we’re trying to achieve. And I think that’s on us to explain it better.”

In the past four months, Hipkins and McAnulty have not enlightened voters at all. In fact, they have muddied the waters and left the public even more confused. When Three Waters was rejigged in April to increase the number of Regional Representative Groups from four to 10, Hipkins claimed that co-governance had never been part of Three Waters anyway — despite his senior ministers, including Grant Robertson and Nanaia Mahuta, having invariably used that term. In contrast, McAnulty, rather than pretending co-governance was not a feature, defended it as a Treaty requirement, while dismissing “one person, one vote of equal value” as an ‘academic’ version of democracy.

The Taxpayers’ Union’s campaign against the new RMA laws echoes its objections to Three Waters. These include loss of local control by taking responsibility for planning rules away from the 67 democratically elected local councils and setting up co-governed committees on which unelected iwi and hapū representatives, with full voting rights, will sit alongside council appointees.

As Farrar put it: “Under this proposed law, powers over planning and when a resource consent is required will be stripped from local councils and handed to 15 new co-governed ‘Regional Planning Committees’. That means the decisions about the building consent for your deck, new home, factory, your farm’s water take, and how your city or town is planned will be made by people you cannot vote out.”

The new laws have been damned as “co-governance for your deck.”

Last September, Minister for the Environment David Parker made a show of having stepped back from co-governance in the legislation. It looked like a feint, and it was. While co-governance appears at first glance to be a less prominent feature than in Three Waters, looks can be deceiving.

In Three Waters, the 10 Regional Representative Groups — which set the overarching strategy for each region — will be made up of equal numbers of unelected iwi representatives and council members. Under the new RMA replacement laws, Regional Planning Committees will consist of a minimum of six members selected by local government, local hapū and iwi, and possibly central government. At least two members must be representatives from iwi and hapū and at least one member may be appointed by each local authority in the region. Regions get to decide how many members the committees have in total beyond these minimums.

However, the local authorities and iwi/hapū group that will decide how many seats will be allocated on a Regional Planning Committee must reach agreement on its composition. And while the current RMA law stipulates that decision-makers must “take into account” the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the Natural and Built Environment Bill goes further and requires decision-makers to “give effect” to them. Given the Waitangi Tribunal has made it clear that to satisfy the “partnership” principle a 50/50 split is required, two seats will be just the starting point.

The expanded role for Māori does not end there. Anyone exercising functions under the Natural and Built Environment Act “must recognise, and provide for, the responsibility and mana of each iwi and hapū to protect and sustain the health and well-being of te taiao [environment] in accordance with kawa, tikanga [protocol] and matauranga [knowledge] in their rohe [tribal area]”.

Consequently, an iwi or hapū can, at any time, produce a Te Oranga o te Taiao (environmental wellbeing) statement to the relevant Regional Planning Committee. What weight these statements will carry is not specified but for a government not averse to adding contentious clauses after public submissions have closed there will be plenty of time for their role in the legislation to be expanded. Anyone acquainted with the vast power of Te Mana o Te Wai statements in Three Waters will be alert to this possibility.

The bill also establishes a National Māori Entity to provide independent monitoring of decisions made under the Natural and Built Environment Act or the Spatial Planning Act. This body’s proposed role in relation to the courts, and other serious concerns, led the Chief Justice, Helen Winkelmann, to take the extremely unusual step of making a written submission to the select committee in February.

Noting that “monitored entities” are required to respond to the reports the National Māori Entity prepares, Winkelmann pointed out that the courts, “appear to fall within the scope of the… definition of monitored entities. We assume this is an error in drafting or an oversight. Providing for decisions of the Environment Court to be subject to review by the Entity would be inconsistent with New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. Court decisions are appropriately challenged by way of appeal, not by way of review by a statutory entity. Such a review would be constitutionally unprecedented and problematic.

“Still more problematic would be any requirement to respond to such reports… The courts should be expressly excluded from the operation” to ensure “they are not monitored agencies”.

Given that “drafting errors” in the Three Waters legislation were blamed for geothermal and coastal waters mysteriously being added to freshwater as categories falling under the purview of Te Mana o Te Wai statements, not everyone would be as generous as Winkelmann in excusing the unconstitutional proposal as an oversight.

The Chief Justice also warned that the lack of clarity in Parker’s reforms would disrupt and overburden the courts by giving rise to “extensive” litigation.

And she wasn’t the only influential citizen to sound a warning. Environment Commissioner Simon Upton — the Environment Minister in Jim Bolger’s government who shepherded the RMA through the House in 1991 — said in his submission that the reforms are so flawed it would be better to ditch them and amend the current law. “As they stand, they substitute the uncertainty of new law with novel definitions and complex ambitions for the relative certainty of amending the existing legislation.”

Announcing Federated Farmers’ nine-stop roadshow that began on Tuesday in Ashburton, its RMA spokesperson Mark Hooper said the organisation “strongly opposes the current reforms because they will shift land use planning away from democratically elected councils towards ‘Regional Planning Committees’, which will be at arm’s length from their local community.”

In his submission to the select committee, he said the new laws were “likely worse” than the current RMA. “Despite the rhetoric of better, faster, cheaper, it’s really hard to see how this will be the case.”

In short, David Parker’s proposed cure is widely viewed as worse than the disease.

The question remains that if the blowtorch applied to the new legislation becomes too intense in the months ahead, will Hipkins cut his losses and delay the bills until after the election, or forge ahead regardless?

Poll results between now and October will certainly help to focus his mind.

I have yet to find anyone who argues against the need to replace the Resource Management Act (RMA).

But no-one arguing for a replacement expected to get one that is not only worse than the Act it seeks to replace, it’s also worse than Three Waters.

The ODT report is here.

You can sign the petition here.

Word of the day


Torporific  – causing inertia, sluggishness, torpor;  state of mental or physical inactivity or insensibility; dulling, stupefying; the  dormant, inactive state of a hibernating or estivating animal.

Thatcher thinks


We can’t afford this


Quotes of the week


We ended up sliding closer to third world electricity supply because we forced this to happen.

Look, it’s abundantly clear that the climate luvvies are going to chase decarbonisation come hell or high water.

But couldn’t they have got the replacement batteries ready before they started forcing things off, so we could at least have guaranteed electricity supply on cold days? – Heather du Plessis-Allan 

Be wary of anyone wanting to make tax “fairer” because the bottom-line is that they just think that they (or people they support) are better placed to spend your money than you are.  Oh and the spin-merchants of so-called “wealthy” people who say they “want” to pay more tax (but wont actually do it unless others are forced to) are a bizarre breed who actually think politicians and bureaucrats can spend their money better than they can, for benevolent purposes.  Liberty Scott 

Women have a well understood need – which we learn from childhood – to protect ourselves when vulnerable such as when in states of undress; hospital wards; toilets and so on.

Any man transgressing this norm raises a red flag for us.

It doesn’t matter whether or not a man is innocently seeking to use women’s spaces or services or whether he has an ulterior motive.

Women want the norms of privacy, dignity and our need for safety to be respected by Government.

It’s not “hatred” for women to assert this. – Women’s Space Ireland 

And finally, the magnitude of criminal activity will hopefully stop people judging the victim’s decisions. To make a difference we need to continue the prevention ‘keep-yourself-safe’ messages for women; but equally, we need to amplify the same messages to men around alcohol, drugs, women and respect.The abuser is always at fault, but realistically we all need to take responsibility to stay safe.  Francesca Rudkin

We don’t necessarily have to agree with each other on our opinions but you are entitled to have one.

You can’t be punished for the rest of your life for having an opinion that most of us disagree with.

I’ve always believed that you can’t help somebody change by leaving them on the outside. – Steve Hanson

The flag is being brought to the attention of people, and the awareness of why it is there is to support the people that are judged and treated poorly because of who they are.

They deserve to be loved and cared for as much as anybody else. If we all did that it’d be a happy place, wouldn’t it?

The big lesson there is just treat everyone with kindness and love.Steve Hanson

Which is the worst offence?


Education Minister Jan Tinetti has been referred to parliament’s Privileges Committee for possible contempt:

. . .The issue at the heart of the matter is that Tinetti told the House in February that she had no responsibility for the release of school attendance data.

She was told later that day by staff that this was an error, but only corrected the record on May 2 – 14 sitting days later. Parliament sat on February 23, when Tinetti could have corrected the answer.

Speaker Adrian Rurawhe told Parliament today he had referred the question to the Privileges Committee.

He said that a complaint had alleged that Tinetti had “deliberately misled the House by failing to correct a misleading statement at the earliest opportunity”.

“It is an important principle that the House can trust the accuracy of ministerial replies to Parliamentary questions,” Rurawhe said.

When correcting the answer earlier this month, Tinetti said she “subsequently became aware that my office did have input into the timing of the release of the data”, but did not say that this had been brought to her attention the very same day she made the incorrect statement.

While mistakes are sometimes made which can result in the House receiving a misleading statement, it is vitally important that as soon as this is discovered, the minister returns to the House to correct their answer at their earliest opportunity,” Rurawhe said.

He said Tinetti did not think she needed to correct the answer in the House until she received a letter from Rurawhe on May 1 telling her that she did.

Rurawhe said the issue raised a potential matter of contempt, and the Privileges Committee would determine whether the delay would amount to contempt. . .

Do we believe that staff delayed the release of data without telling their Minister until after she had made the statement in the house?

If we do, it reflects very badly on her staff and her oversight. If we don’t, she lied.

Regardless, if a Minister doesn’t understand her obligation to correct an incorrect statement can we have confidence about her understanding of, and competence in her portfolio?

Possibly lying and what looks like incompetence are serious but Alwyn Poole points out, worse still is Tinetti following the previous Minister, now Prime Minister, in driving education into the ground:

. . . It should also be noted for T4 2022 approx. five hundred schools didn’t submit data. It is not actually compulsory for them to do so – -for reasons I cannot begin to fathom. Of the 1,985 schools that did submit 249 nine reported less than 30% fully attending. Tinetti deserves the sack for sheer incompetence.

Educational failure can’t be blamed only on this government but the escalation in the failure rate can be.

The whole episode reflects badly on Tinetti’s character and competence. She has let herself, and her government down.

But the educational failures she is overseeing is letting the country, its pupils and their future down, the impact of which makes this by far the worst offence.

Word of the day


Joblijock – anything tending to interfere with domestic comfort or peace; any kind of domestic disturbance; anything that disturbs domestic peace – cats/children/builders/neighbours/falling out of bed. . .

Thatcher thinks


Rural round-up


Sheep and beef farm inflation highest in 40 years – report :

Farmers are dealing with the highest level of on-farm inflation in 40 years, a new report has found.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s report Sheep and Beef On-farm Inflation 2022-23 showed on-farm inflation sitting at 16.3 percent, two-and-a -alf times the consumer price inflation rate of 6.7 percent.

The driving factor is farmers paying higher interest on debt, which comprises 10.9 percent of total farm expenditure.

Floating interest rates doubled from March 2022 to March 2023 while fixed and overdraft interest rates increased by around 50 percent, the report found . .

Govt must push for emissions to be managed based on warming – B+LNZ :

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) says the Government needs to argue for an agreement that would see emissions managed based on the warming impact of greenhouse gases at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference later this year.

B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the GWP100 metric, the metric the UN uses to measure greenhouse gases, overstates the warming impact of methane when emissions are stable or falling, and is therefore not fit for purpose.

“New Zealand pastoral agricultural systems already provide a model for others to follow as our red meat has a greenhouse gas footprint that is among the lowest in the world, enhances biodiversity and has some of the highest animal welfare in the world,” McIvor says.

“Because of this, we support the New Zealand Government taking a leadership position on agricultural climate change and suggest that a good place would be start with an international coalition that recognises the short-lived nature of biogenic methane and manages it appropriately,” he says. . .

High country hoons tear apart DoC land :

Farmers say the conservation department has let former grazing land set aside for soil and water conservation become a playground for “Joe Bloggs in his four-wheel-drive”

The intention may have been good when the government granted open access to precious Central Otago high country 13 years ago.

But since guardianship of the Mt Ida Conservation Area was taken from its long-time users, the area has suffered, many say.

For some visitors the vast rugged range is perfect for a rip-roaring hoon: no locked gates or security cameras, no one around to see what you’re up to and endless terrain. . .

The case for getting Young Farmer of the Year back on TV – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Most New Zealanders know which side their bread is buttered, and where their cheese and meat comes from. The enduring interest in Country Calendar on television and Countrylife on radio is testament. Rural News features twice a day on Radio New Zealand and agriculture appears in many places, including on major websites.

New Zealand has a bioeconomy and people, when they think about it, know that the exports from the primary sector pay for the imports of goods. They might not realise how many times money circulates within the domestic economy but can imagine that at each transaction of a dollar, some vanishes to GST and some might be saved.

But the money received by a farmer from exports through their processors is paid out in wages, inputs for the farm and taxes, and a certain amount in food and clothing for the family. Supermarkets and clothes shops can then pay their wage bill and power bills, and so the money circulates.

There was a global hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, media outlets pointed out that when China sneezes Asia catches a cold, and when the United States sneezes the world does likewise. . .

Power couple win 2023 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards :

The 2023 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year are described as a power couple who are driven, genuine and focused dairy farmers.

Hayden and Bridget Goble from Taranaki were named the 2023 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year, Canterbury/North Otago’s Jack Symes became the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and Bill Hamilton from Northland was announced the 2023 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year. They shared prizes from a pool worth over $220,000.

The winners were announced at a Gala Dinner held at Cordis Hotel in Auckland on Saturday night, in front of more than 500 people.

Tim Mackle, DairyNZ CEO, was awarded the Services to the Dairy Industry Award, in recognition of his contribution to and advocacy for the New Zealand dairy industry over many years, while Cameron Henderson won the Fonterra Responsible Dairying Award. . .

Entire global food supply at risk from disastrous response to so-called ‘nitrogen crisis’ – Chris Morrison :

The full horror of the ‘nitrogen’ war on agriculture is becoming more apparent every day. Food supplies around the world face collapse if the use of nitrogen fertiliser is severely restricted under Net Zero requirements. It is claimed that the fertiliser is warming the Earth and causing the climate to break down, as the by-product nitrous oxide is released into the atmosphere. In fact the entire global food supply is in danger of being trashed for the sake of what recent scientific work notes is almost unmeasurable 0.064°C warming per century.

Policies to address this non-existent crisis have already done enormous harm in Sri Lanka, where a ban on nitrogen fertiliser caused a rapid collapse in food yields, and led to the President fleeing the country in a hurry. The Canadian Government is committed to a 30% reduction in N2O levels by 2030. In the Netherlands, the Government is following European Union instructions and trying to remove farmers from the land. Any compensation paid will be tied to a restriction not to start farming again anywhere in the EU. Political discontent is growing, and there are already fears for the supply of agricultural products since the Netherlands is the second largest food exporter in the world.

Nitrogen is a vital component of plant metabolism which is obtained from the soil. Alas, there is not enough nitrogen in the soil to grow plants at the scale needed to feed global populations. Before the arrival of commercial nitrogen fertilisers, famine was a frequent feature of the unreliable food supply across parts of the world. Without the fertiliser, famine will resume its gruesome role, something mainstream Net Zero politicians have to address in the near future. Virtue-signalling green delusions about ‘rewilding’, bug diets and organic farming will not feed the world, probably not even a quarter of it. . .

Did you see the one about?


New Zealand’s totalitarian mentality – Bruce Logan :

The British philosopher Roger Scruton has claimed, “the first move the totalitarian mentality makes is to stop free-minded, open scholarship in pursuit of truth”.

Right now in New Zealand a totalitarian mentality in thrall to hate speech legislation is looking like the architect of bondage. Hate speech legislation is the tribal designer’s major tool as the diversity, inclusion and equity trinity (DIE) becomes Aotearoa’s civil religion; a religion that demands submission; mind first, body second. Hate speech legislation is necessary to punish the blasphemy of unbelief.

“Free-minded open scholarship” is not possible in the “decolonialising Aotearoa” because freedom is grounded in the existence of permanent and objective truth ordering the material world. DIE, instinctively suspicious of scientific method with its concept of falsifiability, would rewrite history to ideological fashion.

The difference between “free-minded open scholarship” and “the totalitarian mentality” images the difference between child and adult. The child insists that the world should accommodate his or her desire. A wise adult knows better. For example, the free minded rational scholar believes everyone profits by learning to adapt to an ordered world.

The totalitarian mentality, like a petulant child, depends entirely on the authority of the subjective (my feelings) for its supremacy. It must always be able to adjust truth to pursue its own ends. Indeed the ends will justify the means. The cult of fluid sexual identity is the most pervasive contemporary example.

That’s why cancelling the dissenter is essential. Convinced of its own self-righteousness DIE must permit no criticism. To do so would be to admit that the authority of its submission to subjectivism is flawed. DIE’s house of cards would be exposed as a parody of itself. The rest of us would see, what we already suspect but are not allowed to say, that it is a description of a fantasy that, in order to survive, must be imposed by the state on all citizens.

So civil religion preaches its own irrefutable strategically positioned doctrine of cultural pluralism, that creator of “designer tribalism”. The redeemed believe that their salvation will be found in the cultural medication of DIE. It has its own indoctrinating priesthood of bureaucrats, dissent is the unforgivable sin. Even if an unbeliever confesses his or her trespasses atonement must yield to the totalitarian’s pleasure.

The civil religion is aptly labelled DIE because that’s exactly what it will bring about; a seedy kind of justice and the accelerating decay of democracy: an end to freedom of religious expression and speech. The demand for hate speech legislation is nourished by the self-righteous politics of politicised identity. Poisoned by subjectivism it must be protected by the bureau of increasing regulation.

The faithful believer embraces regulation; indeed, it is regulation that shapes public morality and the new social order demanded by the civil religion; the church of cultural relativism and the state in cahoots.

The demand for hate speech legislation camouflages the true nature of “social justice”, that uniform state redistributor of society’s advantages and disadvantages; about getting people what the state says they should have and not about anyone getting what he or she might deserve.

Hate speech legislation is social justice’s camouflaged bullet-proof vest. It hides under the canopy of the “common good”. Aristotle might have known what that is but in a decaying civilisation seduced by the poison of subjectivism who decides what the common good might be. Certainly not the common man or common woman.

Ultimately the common good must collapse into total state control. Having lost the conviction of a shared permanent and transcendent public truth vital to social harmony the “common good” can only be achieved by faithfully practising the religion of DIE. Ironically DIE’s fulfilment of individual desire and reinforcement of its fantasies, will be snowed under by the onset of an everlasting totalitarian winter. 

‘Liberal’ thought police echo Salem witch trials – Hadley Freeman :

. . . Sometimes an accusation is so ludicrous that addressing it feels like trying to hold an eel in your hands: the harder you grip, the more it slips from your grasp and entwines around your body until you fall on your face. The hardest crime to disprove is a thoughtcrime, as George Orwell called it, and it’s striking how many women have been accused of it over the past half-dozen years, always about gender. In Channel 4’s upcoming documentary Gender Wars, the feminist academic Kathleen Stock is repeatedly accused of hating trans people, endangering trans people and doubting trans people’s right to exist, and her denials merely confirm her guilt in the eyes of her detractors. “Being in the same room as Dr Stock and hearing her say the things she says, when I know the meaning she has behind them, it just feels aggressive against me,” one Cambridge student says. Even if you say the right words, they know you’re thinking the wrong thoughts.

If you’ve quietly longed to stick it to women for years, especially middle-aged ones, then this has been a boom time for you. I’ve watched so-called liberal men chinstroke over which women should be allowed to speak in public. JK Rowling? Certainly not. The Scottish politician Joanna Cherry? Best not. One author friend was dropped by her agent not for anything she’d actually written but because of a general sense that she might have thought wrong thoughts about the gender argument. A manager at a publishing house tweeted last week that people in the book industry will be “called out” just for following “GC people” — gender-critical people, aka those who understand there are two biological sexes. In 2020 more than 300 Guardian employees signed a letter complaining about a “pattern of publishing transphobic content”. The letter didn’t specify what that content was, but a strikingly well-briefed Buzzfeed article said it was “in response to a column by Suzanne Moore” that had argued for the protection of women’s rights. What, precisely, in this column was transphobic was not specified. Just make the vague accusation and let it settle like a stink. Soon after that, Moore left the paper.

Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible is 70 years old this year, and it’s devastating how prescient it still feels, even though it is set 330 years ago during the Salem witch trials, the ultimate tale of women and thoughtcrime. The play was a parable about America’s then most recent foray into prosecuting thoughtcrime, McCarthyism, when anyone suspected of communism was damned. One character says that “witchcraft is . . . an invisible crime, is it not? . . . Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself, granted? Therefore we must rely on her victims — and they do testify, the children certainly do testify.”

The children will keep testifying. Let us hope more adults can do what the EHRC did last week: find the backbone to stand up to them.

The silencing and vilification of women and girls – Edie Wyatt :

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem has issued a statement voicing concerns about the silencing and vilification of women and girls who are attempting to engage in debate about the human rights of women and girls.

Ms Alsalem said that ‘women and girls who emphasise the specific needs of women born female and who call for and engage in discussions around the definitions of sex gender and gender identity and the interaction of rights’ should be able to ‘express themselves and their concerns on these issues in safety and in dignity’.

It shouldn’t be an astounding statement, but it is, and at a time when the Australian government is ramping up censorship toward the very people Reem Alsalem is refereeing to, gender-critical activists. . . 

Reem Alsalem said that she is concerned about the reprisals women face for speaking on this issue such as ‘censorship, legal harassment, loss of jobs, loss of income, removal from social media platforms, speaking engagements and the refusal to publish research conclusions and articles’. I now know dozens of women in Australia who have faced these kinds of reprisals because they refuse to yield the factual definition of sex.

Women like Jasmine speak up because they can’t turn from what they see. In the world of breastfeeding, the inclusion of gender identity ideology in women’s support infrastructure, is leading to the assumption that male people can produce milk suitable for an infant, and these males should be supported in the pursuit of feeding an infant from their body by the entirety of the medical profession, including birth and lactation specialists. Apart from the coercion that is required to implement such a practice, the process by which endocrinologists are getting human males to exude a substance from their nipples, seems to be ethically debased and scientifically unsupported. . . 

When I raised this issue on Twitter recently, a trans activist posted a study in response, as an argument for the support of men ‘chest-feeding’. It was called Case Report: Induced Lactation in a Transgender Woman and it involved experimentation on an adopted human infant.

Isidora Sanger, who is a medical doctor and author of Born in the Right Body, says that the study is not only unethical but ‘fraught with incomplete and misleading information, disingenuous analysis and undeclared conflict of interest’. In what could be a warning to health professionals in Australia, Sanger said the study is ‘an example of how transgender health clinics prioritise emotional needs of trans-identified males over the welfare of women and children’.

If what the women are saying in the censored tweets is true, endocrinologists could be conducting unaccountable experiments on human infants in this country, and there is not a news outlet in the nation that would cover this using actual words that mean what they say.

The smoke and mirrors of ‘inclusive’, ‘queer’, and ‘diversity’, mask an unpalatable tale of misogyny and abuse of power that is told only when we are permitted to use words with correct meanings. The reality is that gender identity cannot survive without linguistic subterfuge and the broadscale censorship of women declaring their bodily needs and political interests. . . 

After being in this fight a few years, I can report that trans activists are some of the meanest, nastiest individuals I have ever encountered in my life, and no woman would pick a fight with them without serious consideration. The most aggressive of the activists, stripped of identity signifiers, are mostly straight white men.

We are facing a failure of democracy and a corruption of liberalism and a time when we have a chronic dearth of liberals. The recent problems with John Pesutto and the Victorian Liberals show just how quickly the testicles of the Australian Liberal man will shrink back into his body when he is threatened. It has become obvious that some Victorian Liberals are fleeing for safety in appeasement to gender identity ideology in the face of aggressive state power, or what we used to call tyranny. . . 

I hear political commentators regularly citing ‘the trans issue’ as a fringe or minor issue, but if the state can re-define the sex of our body, the role of a mother, and the purpose of a baby, and we are not permitted to critique that, we have already yielded essential liberties. Liberties that we need to politically organise and bring our requests to the state that we fund, to the liberal democratic state that is supposed to be accountable to the people, including women people.

Baroness Falkner is right to stand up to gender ideology – Joan Smith :

Exposing a lie sometimes has dramatic consequences. For years we’ve been told there’s no conflict between women’s rights and the demands of trans activists. If that were really the case, no one could possibly object to putting the word “biological” in front of “sex” in equality legislation, could they?

Nothing could be further from the truth, as the head of the UK’s equal rights watchdog, Kishwer, Baroness Falkner, has discovered. She has endured weeks of abuse since the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) wrote to the Government, proposing consideration of a technical amendment to the Equality Act 2010 to make it clear that sex means biological sex. 

Since then, all hell has broken loose. Falkner has been called a ‘“Nazi”, a particularly vicious slur given that her husband is German. She’s been attacked by a slew of Labour MPs, who’ve made the baseless accusation that she’s trying to take “rights and protections” away from trans people. Now it’s emerged that a group of employees at the EHRC has compiled a dossier of complaints against her, including “transphobia” and harassment. Falkner is said to be “heartbroken” about the allegations, which her supporters describe as a witch-hunt, but she’s standing her ground.  . . 

The organisation’s role in balancing the rights of various groups is evidently not understood by gender extremists, who appear to think their demands should have priority over everyone else’s. 

The attempt to oust Falkner shows how much is at stake. When trans activists claimed they weren’t trying to take anything away from women, they were telling an obvious untruth. Now everyone can see the reality for themselves, as convicted male sex offenders demand to be housed in women’s prisons and disabled women are called bigots for refusing intimate care from trans-identified males.

Adding the word “biological” to the Equality Act would achieve a very simple outcome, which is to confirm that the law means what we always thought it did. No one ever imagined, when the act was passed 13 years ago, that a group of women who share the protected characteristic of sex should include men who say their gender identity is female. If it did, it would mean the end of women-only spaces and services, which is why it is vital that the law should be clarified.

Another untruth is at risk of exposure here, however. Trans people in this country have the same rights as everyone else, which is right and proper. What activists are demanding is additional rights, which in this case compromises women’s rights to privacy and safety. And if the attack on Falkner shows anything, it’s the desperation of people with authoritarian views who fear they’re going to lose. 

What’s happening is a nasty, personal campaign against any woman who advocates strengthening the legal protections women already have. . . 

The tyranny of acceptance – Josephine Bartosch :

. . . The path between sexual abuse as a child and entering the sex industry as an adult is well trodden. Studies consistently show about three quarters of women in prostitution have been abused as girls and as many as a third were in local authority care. The same pattern is observable in the smaller group of men in the sex industry.

Robert was sexually abused as a boy, and as a young adult he was drawn into prostitution. He recalls that “being groomed can seem very empowering” because the child is the focus of adult attention. He adds “giving the victim a false sense of agency is part of the groomer’s toolkit”.

“It may set you into a way of thinking that sex is transactional, it removes the link between sex and love…. You become scared of seeing sex in the context of a loving relationship. It doesn’t make sense in that context. Again, this might not happen for everyone, but child sexual abuse and prostitution without doubt has contributed to this being the case for me.”

Reading Naqvi’s piece Robert reflects: “It’s interesting that the person at the centre of this article talks about pornography giving them a sense of power over men. But they [the male punters] are the ones who are gaining ephemeral and fleeting gratification, and the performer is losing something permanent.”

It should not take grisly “lived experience” such as Robert’s to illustrate the point that behind the magic words “agency” and “empowerment” lurks a bitter reality. Just as it’s easier to pretend women lie about male violence, it is ethically and socially cheaper to rebrand so-called “sex work” as a choice. And disturbingly, this seems to be part of a trend spanning academia and practice on the ground where behaviours like BDSM are increasingly being touted as a way for rape survivors to overcome trauma. 

The group EBSWA (Evidence-Based Social Work Alliance) is clear that “People who are used in the sex trade are exploited, disempowered and objectified.”  . . .

Questioning the choices of adults gives many people the moral “ick”. And it takes arrogance (guilty) and an unfashionable sense of morality to confidently tell a grown woman “no, what you are doing will hurt you more, and it will contribute to hurting others.” But this is not just about M’s story. It is about the creep of a new narrative that presents commercial sexual exploitation as a positive step in recovering from abuse and how BASW has colluded in this.

Previously, social workers were criticised for overlooking the pimps at school gates and around the care homes across England. Abusers were labelled boyfriends, the girls were understood to be exercising their agency. Judgment was reserved for those who dared to question whether the girls were equipped to consent. This approach was, and remains, easier than facing the true horror of the problem. But today, abusive men no longer need to wait outside for their prey. The pimp has been internalized as simply an expression of sexuality.

A porn-fed generation now struggles to understand mutuality and the emotional bond that sex can create. The result is not only the rebranding of abusive acts as love tokens, but also in the isolation felt by the men conditioned by pornography to see sex as an exercise in domination. It is in the entitlement of punters who believe that they can buy a sexual act. . . .

There is a place for judgment and stigma, and that place is not on people like M or Robert. It rests on the men who pay for a simulacrum of sex. The weight should also be felt by the social workers and indeed journalists who enable them. Over recent years there’s been a flurry of questionable stories about women making money on Only Fans, but these “heartwarming” tales are not ethically neutral, and it doesn’t take an expert in trauma to recognise that.

There is no triumph in M’s story. Perhaps the last words should be offered to Robert, who warns:

A time may come when your sexuality becomes something very precious to you, rather than a means to an end. And having given it away for money, you’ve said to yourself that it’s a commodity rather than a gift to share with someone you love and trust. That’s not to say that having sold it, you can’t give it again in a healthy way in the future. But shame, guilt, self-hatred…these are the emotions you’ll likely have to deal with. Or not. You can’t really tell.


Follow the science


Climate change fanatics keep telling us to follow the science. If that’s the case why is the mammoth methane mistake, about which Barry Brill writes,  not being corrected?

For over 30 years, New Zealanders have believed that they produce relatively high emissions of greenhouse gases; and that our farmers are responsible for nearly half of all those emissions.

No longer. Science moves on.

We now find that all our climate change calculations have been based on a simple but fundamental error.

Several leading climate scientists identified this mistake as long ago as 2017. Their peer-reviewed research paper (Allen et al 2018) showed that the global warming potential (GWP) of livestock methane had been over-stated by some 400%. The old (1991) opinion that methane was 28 times more potent than CO2 was based on demonstrable errors.

This research was widely accepted around the world and was mentioned with approval in the 2019 Special Report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report on 1.5°C. No rebuttals or countervailing arguments appeared in the formal scientific literature.

Oxford Professor Myles Allen – one of the world’s best known climate scientists and dubbed by the BBC as ‘the physicist behind net zero’ – had no doubt at all that the correct multiple is about 7: “That this formula is vastly more accurate than the traditional accounting rule is indisputable.”

But some New Zealand authorities have been understandably reluctant to accept such a consequential change after so many years of beating the same drum. Thousands of farmer meetings had been assured that “the science is settled”.

All of New Zealand’s published greenhouse gas inventories relied on the out-dated GWP figure – as did our calculations for the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement and every annual COP for two decades. The computer modelling for the Zero Carbon Bill was based on the discredited GWP as were all the carbon budgets and other work by the Climate Change Commission; along with the Government’s consequent Emissions Reduction Plan and even its First Risk assessment.

New Zealand’s first Climate Change Ambassador, Adjunct Professor Adrian Macey, stresses the importance of reporting accurately if the Paris Agreement is to achieve its goals. He expresses dismay that the Ministry and the Climate Change Commission (CCC) initially misunderstood the flaws of the old GWP. He points out that the error is disproportionately affecting New Zealand among other OECD countries.

The GWP of methane did not matter too much to other developed countries, whose main emissions worry was CO2. But New Zealand was different. As livestock methane made up almost 40% of all the country’s projected warming, it’s true GWP was highly material to every calculation and every policy.

The Minister has been playing for time. A small number of European academics were questioning the metrics and undertaking further research. But that all came to nothing and no scientific articles or papers were ever published to support the languishing GWP. However, until the next formal assessment report by the IPCC, no viewpoint could claim to be finally set in concrete.

Then came another peer-reviewed journal paper. Lynch & Garnet (2021), which again highlighted the “special characteristics” and “nuances” of livestock methane and warned against “heavy-handed policy interventions”. The two articles in the Nature journal “Climate and Atmosphere Science” were highly influential and both are now in the 99th percentile for measured impact.

But the Green Party Minister continued to kick for touch. The hope now was that New Zealand farming leaders would volunteer to a compromise figure under the long-running He Waka Eke Noa negotiations. The actual science had lost its relevance.

Then the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC landed like a mortar shell on those negotiations. AR6, which has been tabled progressively over 2022-23. Working Group 1 (“The Physical Science”) squarely addressed the methane GWP issue at page 1016 of Chapter 7:

“…expressing methane emissions as CO2 equivalent of 28, overstates the effect on global surface temperature by a factor of 3-4”

That is the final word. With a level of infallibility to rival the Pope, the “gold standard” of climate science has left the New Zealand authorities with nowhere to hide. If there was ever a debate, it is now over. The use of a GWP of 28 for agricultural methane is simply a dead parrot.

About these momentous events, the Minister has had nothing to say. Although the IPCC’s decision is clearly the news of a lifetime for all of New Zealand’s copious subsidised climate change reporters, they too have been strangely silent. A hush has settled over He Waka Ika Noa.

Perhaps bureaucrats are working overtime in the background to rewrite all the Government’s policies? Or perhaps diplomatic pathways are being cleared for revised climate pledges? Maybe the Minister intends to challenge the scientific authority of the IPCC? Perhaps the National Party will emerge blinking into the sunlight and share its opinion?

Whatever the justifications, this cone of silence cannot last much longer. An election is pending. Watch this space …..

If the IPCC accepts the science that expressing methane emissions as CO2 equivalent of 28 overstates its warming effect by a factor of three to four, isn’t that what should guide policy?

That it doesn’t is because some of the loudest climate change fanatics aren’t greens but reds.

They are using the environment as a means to a socialist end.

They cheery pick the science to find theories that suit their political agenda and their prescription usually involves doing less and taxing more.

Research science and technology solved many problems that plagued the past.

They are what’s needed to solve present problems and give us a better future.

The alternative is the fanatics’ prescriptions, one of which is unsustainable reductions in livestock based on grossly overstating the warming effect of methane.

Like far too many of their other prescriptions that’s not following the science and  will leave us all colder, hungrier and poorer.

Word of the day


Dysgraphia – the inability to write coherently, as a symptom of a neurological condition or as an aspect of a learning disability; a neurological condition and learning difference in which someone has difficulty with writing for their age level; a neurological disorder of written expression that impairs writing ability and fine motor skills.

Sowell says


Rural round-up


The inquiry that failed to get to the truth – Clive Bibby :

I have never reacted to a Government sponsored inquiry (the Parata led review of land use in the Tairawhiti and Hawkes Bay regions) with as much shear disappointment as l do having watched the TV reports and the published comments from those who will most likely oversee the recommendations for changes that are necessary to avoid a repeat performance.

 In some ways, l am a reluctant responder to a “review” (note the different label which is a more accurate description of the one former Forestry Minister Nash obviously wanted) that had all the information it needed, including that gleaned from important “ground zero“ submissions ie. those whose farms were partially destroyed during the cyclone.

There is no question that Hekia Parata and her team tried to push the boundaries of the terms of reference for the inquiry in order to establish the truth about – what actually happened, who or what was to blame and most importantly of all – what needs to be done in order to prevent a similar event every couple of years or so in the future.

However, having pre-warned the likely result of the committee not being brave enough to seek the truth, no matter what it takes (which is what a real government initiated “inquiry” like the Mahon inquiry into the Erebus disaster but unfortunately, not this one, would have done) it gives me no satisfaction in taking on the role of stating the failings of this report. Someone has to do it. . . 

Forestry contractors at breaking point with an unsustainable model :

New Zealand’s forestry contractors are at breaking point, with compounding pressures from the last three years mounting. Some are already in liquidation and many more are at risk of losing their livelihoods.

Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) is hugely concerned for the viability of forestry contracting businesses at the moment. Pressure has been exacerbated by Cyclone Gabrielle but it comes on the back of a tough three years, with Covid-19, fuel hikes, high inflation resulting in significant interest rate rises, and continuous wet weather all thrown into the mix.

Pressure is compounding with increased operational costs, staffing / employment issues, market instability and contractual issues. The already low log price (which is expected to drop again next month), will definitely mean reduction of harvest targets and cancelled contracts, which many will not be able to endure this time round, says FICA spokesperson Ross Davis.

“A recent survey of our members showed a widespread reduction in production over the past year. 57% of respondents indicated their production had been reduced by 20% or more, with 16% down more than 30%,” Ross says. . . 

The fascinating benefits behind New Zealand’s world renowned manuka honey :

While the saying that nothing lasts forever applies to most things, historical evidence could prove that there is an exception to the rule, and that is honey. In 1922, honey was discovered in a pot among the items buried in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, dated to be at least 3,000 years old. This suggests that ancient civilizations not only knew about the fact that expensive honey was a superfood even back then, but it was good enough to be a food item for kings.

Further discoveries reveal that this isn’t even the oldest incidence of honey existing in human culture. An archaeological site in Caucuses in the Republic of Georgia yielded wild berry offerings to a chieftain buried in a tomb that was cured with honey. This tomb dates back to 4300 BCE, the oldest known use of honey by bronze age people, proving honey has long been valued and used.

A Superfood From Then til Now

It is no wonder, therefore, that honey is held in high regard as an important food item til today. This is particularly true with Manuka honey, a type of honey made by bees native to New Zealand and Australia that comes from the native Leptospermum scoparium bush, more commonly known as a tea tree. Hoeny is already popular for the many beneficial properties it comes with, but not too many know that of all the types of honey, Manuka honey is at the topmost level in terms of quality. . . 

Gregoire (Greg) Durand wins 2023 Central Otago Young Grower of the Year :

Gregoire (Greg) Durant of Cherri Global in Clyde, 28, won the 2023 Central Otago Young Grower of the Year regional final at the event held in Bannockburn on Friday 26 May.

The annual competition attracted five entrants and covering modules such as irrigation, first aid, tractor and machinery work, pest and disease, spraying and weed management as well as biosecurity.

Organiser Mariette Morkel, of Horticentre, says the wind and rain was a bit of hassle on the day, and made setting up the course challenging. ‘But it was great to see some new contestants entering this year, and we’re stoked with how it all went.’

Originally from France, Greg was a young backpacker when he first came to New Zealand, picking fruit in the Teviot Valley. He then moved to Clyde to work for Cherri Global, where today he works as their Clyde-Roxburgh sector manager, overseeing a 50ha block of cherries, in a role he has been in since 2017. . . 

Meat, eggs and milk play vital role in meeting global nutrition targets – Flora Southey :

Globally, the consumption of animal source foods including meat, eggs and milk can help to reduce stunting, wasting and overweight amongst children, according to a new UN report. . .

The green war on sheep – Myfanwy Alexander :

I’m writing this to the soundtrack of cacophonous bleating. The fields around my house are slowly filling up with ewes and lambs. They do look cute, these speckled faces with their black noses, but they are here to be eaten. That is the purpose of farming, after all – to raise food for us all to eat. The turning-point in human civilisation was when we were able to raise our own food, as opposed to simply hoping that nature would be bountiful. We altered nature to our own purposes. I can’t think of a more valuable human endeavour than attempting to feed the population.

Financier and environmentalist Ben Goldsmith vehemently disagrees. He declared in the Mail on Sunday last month that if we are to save Britain, we have to stop farming sheep. In Goldsmith’s telling, it would appear that everything is the fault of sheep. Global warming? Sheep. The extinction of native species? Sheep again. Flooding? Their hoof prints are all over it. I have not yet read an article explaining how sheep were to blame for the election of Trump, plastics in the ocean or Chernobyl, but it surely is only a matter of time.

This anti-sheep rhetoric has been around for some time. Guardian columnist George Monbiot came to live in Mid Wales a while ago. We can’t have made him feel very welcome, as he has been campaigning non-stop against our sheep-farming way of life ever since. He is fond of referring to sheep as ‘woolly maggots‘. He has described Britain’s countryside as being ‘sheep-wrecked‘. He has complained that the landscape of Dartmoor has been ‘comprehensively shagged’ by the ‘white plague’. I am tempted to ask: ‘Are you okay, George?’ . . 

Minette Batters : “Food cannot be the poor relation to the environment” – India Bourke :

After years of doubts and delay, last week the government presented details of how UK farmers will be paid post-Brexit. Instead of sticking with the EU’s system of subsidies based on land area, the government pledged to put “environmental protection and enhancement first”, as Michael Gove put it when he was environment secretary in 2017. Now farmers will be able to receive funding for a range of actions that support nature, from managing hedgerows to restoring peatlands and avoiding insecticide use. But while the new schemes aim to reform British agriculture for an age grappling with climate change, they may end up being a compromise that pleases no-one.

Environmentalists warn that the planned £2.4bn in government incentives will give farmers only a fraction of the support they need to restore the nation’s depleted soils, woods and waterways (and meet the targets set under a new 5-year Environmental Improvement Plan). Meanwhile, for Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, “there’s still a huge amount of concern that these schemes are seemingly not designed to be profitable at all” for those who work the land.

Even before the war in Ukraine caused the cost of energy and fertiliser to soar, the nation’s farmers were badly struggling. Many voted to leave the EU hoping that doing so would bring independence from stifling bureaucracy, but have been met instead by disadvantageous trade agreements, labour shortages and new varieties of form-filling. And while rising prices are leaving millions in food poverty, farmers can receive less than 1 per cent of the profit outlets take on their produce. Britain’s biodiversity, meanwhile, is among the most depleted in the world, according to a study by the Natural History Museum.

Food security, not just here, but globally, is at a tipping point,” Batters told Spotlight over the phone last Friday. “We must now take food security seriously and not just pay lip service to it.” Shortages of tomatoes, peppers and field vegetables are set to follow the recent shortage of eggs. . . 

Did you see the one about . . .


Just Stop Oil and the climate class war – Tom Slater :

I’m starting to think that Just Stop Oil is a Big Oil plant. What else could explain these campaigners’ phenomenal ability to turn the public against them and confirm their critics’ worst prejudices. Namely, that this environmental activism / amdram troupe is stuffed with upper-middle-class irritants who couldn’t give a damn about working-class people. Surely, this has got to be on purpose? . . 

That this new generation of environmentalists are almost uniformly posh is an established empirical fact. An academic survey of those involved in Extinction Rebellion – the mothership organisation from which Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain were spawned – found, to the surprise of precisely no one, that they were overwhelmingly middle class, highly educated and from the south. A full 85 per cent of them have some form of university degree.

So what we have here is the comfortably off classes – those with sufficient free time to glue themselves to roads on a Wednesday mid-morning – forcing their weird hangups on everyone else. Time and again, when they are criticised for making people’s lives a misery, they offer only patronising lectures. ‘We’re so sorry that we have to disrupt the lives of ordinary people’, said Just Stop Oil’s Eben Lazarus (I know) to Vice last year, but ‘hopefully people will see, further down the line, that the disruption we’re causing is microscopic compared to the disruption that we’re going to face because of the climate crisis’. Translation: we know better, you cretins.

No wonder that so many now respond to these cunning stunts with instant, visceral fury. . . 

Environmentalism has always been class warfare by other means. Net Zero – the deranged dream of greens and our political class – is essentially austerity on steroids. People will be forced to put up with paying more to do and consume less. And as everyone involved knows – but rarely admits – the financial burden will fall disproportionately on the working class. Plus, the cycling and locally sourced jam utopia envisaged by well-to-do crusties might make sense to them, but it really doesn’t to those for whom driving is a necessity and their energy bill is a monthly gut punch.

This class dynamic plays out on the global level, too. As Fraser Myers has argued on spiked, the international climate-change racket is essentially a campaign to force developing nations to deny themselves the cheap and reliable energy that rocketed the developed West to new heights of human prosperity. The crocodile tears at each COP get-together about the plight of the world’s poor, brutally exposed to the impact of extreme weather, are sickening, given the obvious fact that developed nations are infinitely better equipped to protect their citizens from the brutality of nature than those which are yet to enjoy their own industrial revolutions. 

Just Stop Oil may not be in the pay of the fossil-fuel industry – although, amusingly, it is partially bankrolled by oil heiress Aileen Getty – but it does reflect a crystal-clear set of class interests. These are people with the luxury of thinking about the end of the world, the privilege not to realise that graft and industry and abundant energy are what makes their plush lives possible, and the knowledge that their madcap plans won’t impact their lives anywhere near as much as they will the lives of working-class people.

Is it any wonder workers are fighting back?

The working class revolt against net zero – Brendan O’Neill :

Two kinds of road-blocking are taking place in Europe right now. In the first, the sons and daughters of privilege, people with names like Edred and Tilly, are holding up traffic to put pressure on governments to speed up Net Zero. If we don’t cut carbon emissions drastically, they say in their cut-glass tones, our poor planet will be consumed in a heat death of rotten mankind’s own making.

In the second, working people – farmers, truckers, cab drivers – are clogging the streets to put pressure on governments to slow down Net Zero. Or better still, scrap it altogether. If we don’t cut out the Net Zero nonsense, say these people who make and deliver things for the Edreds and Tillys of the world, farms will close, jobs will be lost and economic precarity will intensify.

Whose side should you take? It’s a no-brainer. This is a clash between the luxury doom-mongering of an upper-middle class more concerned with its own self-importance than with the self-sufficiency of society, and the common sense of working people who understand that farming, food production, energy creation and transportation are essential to the survival of our species. Between an elite driven mad by visions of a climate-change apocalypse and ordinary people who still inhabit the reality-based world. Between Net Zero fanatics who want to wind back modernity and Net Zero sceptics who think modernity works pretty well, thank you.

It’s the latter road-blockers – the people using their HGVs, tractors and taxis to send a stern message to our eco-elites – that we should be cheering. Their revolt against Net Zero represents a daring populist strike against the delusions and complacency of the 21st-century establishment.  . .

As part of its devotion to the cult of Net Zero, the Danish ruling class wants to slash carbon emissions by 70 per cent before 2030. And one way it intends to do that is by imposing a punitive mileage-based eco-tax on the drivers of diesel trucks, in the hope that the financial pressure will become so unbearable that they’ll switch to electric trucks instead.

The ingratitude is staggering. Truckers are the lifeblood of a modern society. They transport the fuel, food and other goods that are essential to everyday life. They drive alone, for hours, in all weathers, to keep society well stocked. And how do the elites in Copenhagen repay these people who, without fuss or fanfare, bring them everything they need? By slapping them with a new kind of sin tax – the sin in this case being to drive a vehicle that the eco-minded consider to be ‘dirty’ and ‘polluting’. . . 

Dutch farmers have been in a state of revolt for a couple of years now. They’re raging against their government’s plans to cut nitrogen emissions by half before 2030, which would entail farmers getting rid of vast numbers of their livestock and possibly lead to the closure of 3,000 farms.

The nitrogen-slashing policy was drawn up under pressure from the eco-oligarchs in the EU, who are heaping pressure on all member states to hurry toward that secular heaven of Net Zero. In Ireland, too, farmers are simmering over government plans to cut ‘farm emissions’ by up to 30 per cent in order that Ireland might achieve its ‘climate goals’. They’re worried that 58,000 farm jobs could be lost to the elites’ slavish devotion to the Net Zero ideology. 

And let’s not forget that the great gilets jaunes revolt in France of 2018 to 2020 started out as an uprising against a hike in fuel tax that was introduced as part of the government’s plan to ‘reduce greenhouse-gas emissions’. Yet another Net Zero assault on working people’s pockets. The French knew very well that this eco-punishment was an act of Jupiterian overreach by Emmanuel Macron. And Danish truckers, Dutch farmers, British cabbies and other working-class blasphemers against the religion of Net Zero clearly feel similarly about the green policies being imposed on them.

These uprisings throw into sharp relief the elitism of the climate-change ideology. They expose the class element in the green tyranny. It is increasingly clear that where the pursuit of Net Zero might benefit the elites, providing them with a sense of moral mission as they tackle the fantasy apocalypse of their own fever dreams, it is incredibly destructive for working-class communities. Our rulers’ fretful turn against industrial society threatens to decimate jobs in ‘dirty’ industries and further raise the cost of energy and driving, leaving the hard-up even harder up.

It’s even more serious than a class war, though. The brewing tension between the elite and the people over carbon-cutting feels existential. It speaks to a modern establishment so infused with post-industrial prejudice, so indoctrinated by the religion of Net Zero, so corrupted by moral relativism, that it cannot even see how important production, farming, food are to everyday life. The cavalier assaults on farms, trucks and cars speak to an elite that has fully taken leave of the realm of reason.

The final twist in this tale is that the European left is on the side of the posh road-blockers, not the working-class ones. The left sings the praises of Extinction Rebellion’s plummy disruptors of traffic, while either ignoring the revolting farmers and truckers or denouncing them as eco-sinners and dangerous populists. That’s another thing we should thank the rebels for – they’ve driven a truck through the modern left’s pretence that it gives a damn about working people.

Four years on from the Wellbeing Budget how are our wellbeing stats so woeful? – Kate Hawkesby :

As if a cost of living crisis and a crime crisis were not enough, we also have a mental health crisis in this country, and it’s heart-breaking.

It was reported the other day that, on average, 54 tradies take their own life each year, as well as 23 farm workers. They’re predominantly men. So what services are available here?

Well as we know, time and time again, because it’s constantly reported on, very few.

The mental health sector is stretched, it’s in many cases dysfunctional, there are a lack of pyschs, a lack of outlets for people, a lack of supports to tap into. There are long waiting lists, in many cases, too long. And for farm workers in particular, in many rural areas, no help at all. . . 

Where’s the money gone?

 It’s reported that “In 2019, the Government committed $455 million to primary mental health and addiction services..” But, and here’s the rub, “there is no specific industry focus for the funding.”

Why not?

Why not target it? Why not be specific about where the spending needs to go? It’s not like we don’t know where it’s needed.

So what have we got to show for it? Where’s the accountability for any of it? There is none.

No one appears to know where the money’s gone, we’ve certainly not seen the rapid cropping up of better rural mental health services, it certainly hasn’t improved access. . . 

The fixes we thought were coming, didn’t come. The money we thought would help alleviate some of the pressure in the sector, never arrived. The places the money needed to go to didn’t get it.

The people tasked with carrying the burden of all this frontline under resourced mental health care on their shoulders, got so overwhelmed many of them left and quit the sector entirely. . . 

How is it we have “Nearly one in four young adults suffering from high levels of anxiety, fatigue and depression”, (according to the Salvation Army’s 2023 State of the Nation report).

I know the mental health sector is not a quick fix, but four years on from the Wellbeing Budget, how is it our wellbeing stats are still so woeful?

Sharron Davies challenges trans athletes claims – John Boothman :

Sharron Davies, the Olympic swimming medallist, has condemned remarks made at a Holyrood committee where it was claimed there was no evidence to prove trans-identifying athletes pose a threat to women’s participation in sport.

Heidi Vistisen, policy manager at Leap Sport Scotland, which promotes LGBTI participation in sport, made the remarks during a health committee session where she insisted no proof existed that biological males got an unfair advantage when competing in women’s sporting events. . . 

Davies said the comments showed a lack of understanding of sport and demonstrated an absolute ignorance of “the 17 peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate we cannot mitigate against male puberty, even at 14 years, as set out in one of the largest studies from Brazil last year. Not one single study in the world shows we can.”

She added: “It’s a total lie to say there is no evidence, not to mention every Olympic final ever, that definitely shows us the difference in elite performance.

“In the USA 14/15-year-old age group boys run faster, jump higher, throw further than every female Olympic champion ever and also if that was the case we wouldn’t have separate male and female races at all. So a ridiculous ignorant statement. In things like rugby its not allowed to have mixed teams after 11 as it’s deemed too dangerous.”

She added: “Males hit 160 per cent harder than females of equal weight, contact sports are a serious life-threatening accident waiting to happen, and when it happens I hope they sue the people responsible.”

Mara Yamauchi, the long distance runner, backed Davies’s stance and said Vistisen was wrong. She said studies showed trans-identifying males retain male advantage after testosterone suppression, and there is evidence of this in swimming, cycling, weightlifting and running. . . 

Susan Smith, of For Women Scotland, which campaigns for women’s rights, said it was clear that in Leap’s view “the demands of selfish men ranked higher than safety, dignity of fairness for women in sport”.

Smith said: “It takes an astonishing level of wilful ignorance to deny evidence that men are stronger than women, even as that evidence is comprehensively put to you.

“The response from the Leap Scotland representative was a perfect encapsulation of the science denialism and blind cult-like insistence of mantra over fact that infects the government-funded lobby system in Scotland.

“Even more shockingly, she had zero concern for the women who might be injured or excluded.” . .

From Godzone to the devil’s playground – Oliver Hartwich :

The world thinks of New Zealand as the land of the long white cloud. Renowned for its stunning natural beauty and resources, it is considered an island paradise. Or Godzone, as they used to call it, as in “God’s own.”

But that was a long time ago – and not just because most Kiwis have since turned their backs on organised religion.

Instead, today’s New Zealand feels like a country that has conspired to make itself poorer at every opportunity.

If someone had put the devil in charge of New Zealand’s politics, the outcome could have hardly been worse.

This is not a verdict on the current government, or at least not just that. Developments have been going in the wrong direction for many decades, under governments of all stripes, shapes and colours.

There is no better example than housing. To put matters into perspective, let’s calculate a few figures.

For every man, woman and child in New Zealand, there are 52,500 square metres of land. Even if one included the 23 million sheep in the calculation, that would still leave 9,600 square metres per capita.

And though such calculations are, of course, ridiculous, they make one thing abundantly clear: New Zealand is a large country with plenty of land but not many people (or even sheep) inhabiting it.

So how come, then, New Zealand’s housing is among the least affordable in the world? . . .

There is no reason why New Zealand should be as unaffordable as it is. It is not as if large parts of New Zealand are uninhabitable (as in Australia). It is not as if the place is tiny and densely populated (as in Singapore). It is not as if New Zealand has a spectacularly rich economy (such as Norway).

No, New Zealand’s housing crisis is entirely self-inflicted. It is the result of a combination of rigid planning rules, ridiculous regulation of building materials, and a lack of funding tools for infrastructure.

Each of these three factors alone would put a dent in housing affordability. But New Zealand applied them all at once. And then some.

New Zealand has ludicrous planning rules which protect ‘heritage’ buildings, some of which are barely a few decades old. It uses “volcanic viewshafts” to protect significant views of Auckland’s volcanic cones (of which there are many). And it limits the ways in which its cities can grow up or out, with the predictable result that they do neither.

It is equally unsurprising, at least to economists, that where supply cannot respond to demand, prices rise. Which is exactly what they have done in New Zealand’s residential property market, for decades.

In the grand scheme of Kiwi self-sabotage, urban strangulation is a masterpiece. But it is far from the only one.

For decades, New Zealanders have wondered why international capital only enters the country to finance mortgages. Some have blamed the country’s Australian-owned banks for making a buck on the back of the crazy housing market.

The real answer to this conundrum, however, is New Zealand’s rigid Foreign Direct Investment regime.

The Overseas Investment Act is a piece of legislation designed to discourage, rather than attract, foreign capital. It is like a welcome mat that says, “Please wipe your feet, but don’t come in.”

Or, in the words of the Act itself, “The purpose of this Act is to acknowledge that it is a privilege for overseas persons to own or control sensitive New Zealand assets.” And note that New Zealanders are highly sensitive when it comes to defining “sensitive assets”. Practically everything is so designated.

The result: New Zealand only attracts between US$ 2-3 billion of investment in a good year – which puts it in a league with countries like Guatemala, Latvia and Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, more welcoming jurisdictions like Denmark, Ireland or Austria receive several times that amount. And several times the business and growth opportunities.

And it is not just companies that will not feel particularly welcome to set up tents in New Zealand. It is people, too.

If you are a foreigner wanting to emigrate to New Zealand, be prepared to wait. The process Immigration New Zealand runs is so slow these days that by the time you get your visa, you might have forgotten why you wanted to go in the first place. No wonder that New Zealand is missing out on international talent. Ambitious people do not have time to wait. Neither, by the way, do the organisations that want to employ them.

On the other hand, the time waiting for your visa would have taught you a vital skill for life in New Zealand: patience. Because good things take time. And bad things, too.

Nothing in New Zealand gets done in a hurry. Yes, the health system is falling apart. Okay, many New Zealand children leave school unable to read, write or calculate. And sure, it would have been nice to build that second harbour crossing for Auckland. Or some decent roads, for that matter.

But regardless of how pressing the challenges are, the immediate response is always to do nothing. Grudgingly followed by a working group. Then garnished with small armies of consultants. Eventually culminating in planning delays and finished with a grand centralisation plan – and even then, rounded off with a botched implementation, a few decades later.

It is a tragedy what is happening in New Zealand. This country, more than almost any other, could have been the rising star of the 21st century. With the world’s economic gravity shifting towards Asia, New Zealand is in a good geographic spot – for the first time in its history, actually.

New Zealand could have built on the good reputation of its education system, which once upon a time was world-class.

New Zealand could have built modern cities with decent infrastructure and affordable housing. It has all the land it needs.

It could have even reformed more quickly thanks to its unicameral system with fewer checks and balances than most countries.

This year, 2023, is an election year in New Zealand. And perhaps this is the country’s last chance to wake from its slumber and try something new. Some policies that use New Zealand’s natural advantages to become a place of ambition, opportunity and prosperity. Even if it means a radical departure from its path to mediocrity.

If the time for that is not now, then when? 

Modernity is making you sterile – Louise Perry :

. . . Technology brings many blessings: better medical treatment, better nutrition, and better comfort for all of the world’s population, even in the poorest regions. But rapid technological development liquifies well-established traditions and sometimes we don’t realise what we’ve lost until it’s too late.

Progressivism, the dominant ideology of our times, insists that history has a shape – that as time goes by, and new ideas and new technologies arrive in our lives, the world gets better. Those who insist on holding to traditions are the enemies of this process because progress and tradition are understood – correctly – to be in direct and bloody competition with one another.

But what we are now discovering is that, at the population level, modernity selects systematically against itself. The key features of modernity – urbanism, affluence, secularism, the blurring of gender distinctions, and more time spent with strangers than with kin – all of these factors in combination shred fertility. Which means that progressivism, the political ideology that urges on the acceleration of modernisation, can best be understood as a sterility meme. When people first become modern, they have fewer children; when they adopt progressive ideology, they accelerate the process of modernisation and so have even fewer. . . 

Demographic imbalance may well represent the greatest threat to the long-term stability of Britain, and indeed the rest of the world. Put simply, our age pyramid no longer looks like a pyramid. An ageing population depends on working-age adults to fund the welfare system. An economic system dependent on high levels of debt also depends on above-replacement birth rates. The whole system is a Ponzi scheme, reliant on continued population growth in order to sustain itself.

Immigration can offset the problem. It cannot solve it. If the birth rate continues to collapse, then so too will the welfare state. A ‘hard landing’ to demographic imbalance looks like economic depression, empty and derelict cities, collapsed public services, and millions of poor and childless elderly people ending their lives in loneliness, squalor, and pain. As the American economist Nicolas Eberstadt has put it, ‘we don’t know how to be a country without population growth’. The great well of economic theory that we are familiar with was all written during times of population growth. We are about to enter uncharted territory.

The effects of fertility decline will not become evident until the last above-replacement generation dies. In Britain, that tipping point is likely to come in the 2040s, when most of the baby boomers have passed away. Right now, we are witnessing the process of demographic crisis in its early stages, and most people do not recognise it as such. . . 

We look at stagnant growth and we blame government mismanagement. We look at recruitment problems in the care sector and we blame the work-shy young. We look at lengthening hospital waiting lists and we blame chronic under-investment. We look at inter-ethnic conflict and we blame a failure of assimilation efforts. Very few people piece all of these political problems together and recognise that they are in fact the same problem. Put bluntly, there are not enough babies being born and the sticking plaster of mass migration is not going to hold for much longer. This is the most urgent political problem of our times and almost no one is talking about it.

In fact, even pointing out that there is a problem is extraordinarily counter-cultural. Most schools of feminism cheer on the dwindling of our species, having observed – correctly – that motherhood is tiring, painful, time-consuming, and restricts women’s career opportunities. If we assume that the goal of feminism is to maximise women’s freedom, then motherhood clearly does not serve that project. As one of my friends observed soon after having her first baby, ‘the only thing that limits your freedom more than having a newborn is going to prison’. She’s right.

Meanwhile, young people alarmed by climate change tell pollsters that they are rejecting parenthood for the sake of the planet. Some have even opted for surgical sterilisation. But the problem for those who advocate fertility decline for the sake of the planet is that the plan isn’t going to work, and not only because it will take too long.

The larger problem is that birth rates are not falling evenly across the whole world, nor are they falling gently. What we are seeing, instead, is precipitous falls in the rich countries that are best placed to develop the technology needed to get us out of the mess created (ironically enough) by earlier and more destructive forms of technology. Countries with shrinking populations and shrinking economies are not in a position to invest in green technology. . . 

I may have my reservations about progressivism as a quasi-religion, but that does not mean that I welcome the prospect of sliding back towards the poverty, parochialism, and authoritarianism that characterised most of our species’ history – which is exactly what will happen, if we cannot find some way of marrying modernity with a culture that promotes and supports parenthood.

A feminism that prioritises freedom above all other values will never be able to achieve this goal, which is why we need to be fashioning a feminism orientated towards care and interdependency. And if we are going to attempt this, then we will need to look at people of other times and places with new eyes and, rather than assuming that they were all bad and stupid – as the progress narrative does – instead thinking carefully about which norms and institutions actually serve the interests of women. . . 

But is it any wonder that rates of postnatal depression are so high among women suddenly cut off from an ancient tradition that serves both a physical and a psychological function? Is it any wonder that women look at modern motherhood – safe, yes, but also dreadfully lonely – and say ‘no thanks’?

We could respond in two ways to the status quo. Either we could say – as many feminists have done – that modern motherhood is inimical to women’s interests and ought to be rejected. In doing so, we would be embracing the sterility meme, and accepting the end of our way of life – a prospect that is much more immediate than most people realise.

Need more than magical thinking


It’s almost as if the media has been under a magical thinking spell that led them to believe that the Chris Hipkins who is now Prime Minister is not the Chris Hipkins whose legacy as a Minister in the last five years was anything but stellar.

That same spell somehow blinds them to the fact the public don’t see him through such rose tinted glasses, a point made by Heather du Plessis Allan :

I’m surprised that voters don’t really seem to like Chris Hipkins that much. 

We’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing Chris Luxon’s poor popularity, but take a look at last night’s poll: Hipkins’ is really poor as well.

His personal popularity in last night’s TVNZ poll: 25%.

Last week in the Newshub poll, only 23%.

That means three-quarters of us don’t want him as PM. 

That’s bad for an incumbent prime minister,  . . 

So why don’t we like him? 

I suspect it’s because voters aren’t quite as dumb as politicians assume, when they think a quick switcharoo at the top changes a party’s fortunes.

I suspect it’s because voters haven’t forgotten the stuff that frustrated them about Labour.

They gave Chippy a chance, but they haven’t seen him prove that his Labour is all that different. 

Tell you what, Labour should be worried about that.

This spells trouble for them because Chippy is the only asset they’ve got.

They’ve got rubbish policies, they’ve got a rubbish track record in the last 5.5 years, they’ve got rubbish ministers, and they’ve got rubbish coalition partners. . . 

Hipkins is partly responsible for that rubbish track record as Graham Adams points out:

The Prime Minister must be keeping his fingers crossed that the mainstream media continues to largely ignore the fact he was an influential minister in Jacinda Ardern’s government. He’s got away with it for the four months since he took Labour’s leadership — and there is less than five months to go before the election. His luck may well hold.

By anyone’s reckoning, it is an extraordinary indulgence to overlook the five years Hipkins spent as part of Ardern’s kitchen Cabinet, especially given his mediocre record in portfolios that included education, health and police.

From the moment he stepped up to be Prime Minister in late January, most journalists have been happy to cast him as a new broom. This can only be true in the very limited sense that he has lifted a corner of the carpet and swept policies such as hate-speech laws and the social insurance scheme under it, from where they can be retrieved after the election.

How often do journalists remind the public that the disastrous push to centralise the nation’s 16 polytechnics under the Te Pūkenga umbrella was Hipkins’ baby as Minister of Education? Or the compulsory history syllabus foisted on school children this year that views New Zealand’s past almost entirely through a lens of colonial oppression? Or the transgender ideology of sex being a “construct” having been inserted into the Religious and Sexuality Education guidelines for primary school children — in the science section?

Let’s not forget his mismanagement of the MIQueue of misery, his lying about the women who crossed into Northland during the Auckland lockdown and his treatment of Charlotte Bellis.

On Tuesday Hipkins deplored the alarming number of ram-raids, but few, if any, journalists have pointed out that he was the Minister of Police from last June to 25 January this year.

With such determined amnesia by the media, Hipkins can continue to pretend to be a special envoy parachuted into the Beehive’s ninth floor to clean up the nation’s problems as if he had nothing to do with the policies that helped produce them. . .

His performance as Prime Minister has hardly been stellar too.

He was slow to deal with Stuart Nash, his response to  Kiri Allan’s criticisms of RNZ was weak, and there have been no consequences for her acceptance of donations from Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon and one of his Ministers has defected to the Maori Party.

Then there’s his gaslighting victims of Cyclone Gabrielle over criminal activity and what Ben Thomas describes as the decline in the overseas image of our PM from sought after to sausage rolls :

. . . Her successor, Chris Hipkins, resembles more a child who has been dragged somewhere boring by their parents. His recent international meetings all seem to begin with world leaders politely offering the prime minister a little treat: a plate of sausage rolls from the UK Prime Minister, a can of Coke Zero from the US Secretary of State.

The same Kiwi touchstones that made Hipkins a relatable breath of fresh air on his ascension to the top job suddenly seem, in the bulb flashes of the international media, at best cliched and at worst contrived and cringeworthy.

Most New Zealanders will not care too much that our image in world affairs has gone from “the anti-Trump” to “the sausage roll guy”. But political assets in any area can become liabilities. Like sausage rolls, even those from the royal kitchen, politicians have a shelf life.

It may seem ridiculous to talk about Hipkins’ best-before date only four months into the job. But next week will mark almost the exact halfway point between his elevation and the election, and like a can of Coke Zero, the fizz of a new leader can dissipate over time. . . 

While the media focuses on the popularity of National Party and Opposition Leader Christopher Luxon, many ignore the poor rating of the man who is PM.

Over at Kiwiblog, David Farrar ranks 14 PMs and Opposition leaders:

. . . So in May of election year  is the 4th highest  opposition leader and Chris Hipkins is the 4th lowest polling .

Yet the  generally report the poll as terrible for Luxon. I can only assume they don’t know history.

Whether or not they know history, many don’t recognise that Hipkins, in Damien Grant’s words, fails the moral and competence test to be PM:

. . . Hipkins fails on his own moral test. So be it. Politics is about tough decisions, and maybe Chippie has demonstrated a willingness to make the hard calls.

So long as he is competent, perhaps an element of ruthlessness is a good thing in a prime minister.

Except, he isn’t competent.

Hipkins was the Minister of Education from the start of this government until his ascension to Premier House, and under his guidance the only achievement has been his decision to close charter schools.

In a foreword to a recent study by free market think tank the NZ Initiative, Professor Elizabeth Rata articulates the decline in our education system: “The emptying out of academic knowledge and its replacement with discredited student-centred, cultural identity, and competencies approaches are the drivers of the decline.”

Under Hipkins we have seen an acceleration of the rate of descent, best reflected in a steep fall in the level of attendance.

In his last year as minister, Hipkins presided over a sector where half of all students failed to achieve regular attendance, defined as being present 90% of the time.

It was, to be fair, 63% in the year he became minister, but that had been a fairly stable figure.

Some 5.8% of students were turning up less than 70% of the time when he took over, but 12.4% when he left the portfolio. The data for Māori is worse; 10% were hitting the 70% or less figure in 2017, more than 20% by 2022.

A report in March 2022 by the Education Hub revealed that literacy rates had declined to the point that a third of 15-year-olds struggle to read and write. And this under the guidance of a politician who, in his maiden speech, declared, “if we are to realise our full potential as a nation in the coming decades, education will be critical”.

More was to come. Hipkins took 16 institutes of technology and polytechnics and forced them into one morass of dysfunction called Te Pukenga, that has managed to lose 10 percent of its student body and $63 million in 2022 alone, and asked the Crown for $330m to bail it out earlier this year.

The failure in that one portfolio should have ended his political career. He has demonstrated that he either cannot drive performance from the civil service, or he does not care what is happening in his portfolio.

Either would be disqualification for further promotion if the Government’s talent pool wasn’t as shallow as the fawning access-junkies of the parliamentary press gallery.

Then we come to Covid 19 and his central role in events.

Hipkins resolved we would be at the “front of the queue” when it came to getting the vaccine, then botched the ordering process.

In late 2020, in a report critical of aspects of the Covid response, Heather Simpson and Sir Brian Roche made a number of key recommendations, including the rapid introduction of saliva testing. Hipkins, the relevant minister, failed to sort this out and we were still groping around with the slow and expensive PSR tests nearly a year later.

The premiership of Ardern should have taught us that electing leaders on the basis of likeability isn’t optimal. Competence matters. So does experience.

Hipkins had achieved almost nothing by the time he entered Parliament, and in the 15 years since has left nought but a trail of mistakes and missed opportunities.

In his brief tenure in the top job he has managed to unwind a few unpopular agenda items of his predecessor and preside over another $7 billion budget deficit in the middle of an inflationary cycle. And yet he remains stubbornly popular.

Christopher Luxon isn’t a down-to-earth bloke who likes sausage rolls. He comes across as someone who is trying too hard to be liked because he is trying too hard to be liked.

But Luxon does not have five years of repeated incompetence and failings in government, laced with a hint of malice, on his resume.

Even if you believe in the policies of this government, it is impossible to credibly believe that they have the competence to implement anything other than a campaign to encourage the poor to have shorter showers because the electricity infrastructure has deteriorated to the point that rolling blackouts are a real prospect.

Luxon isn’t my first choice for prime minister, but he has the managerial competence and intellectual curiosity to actually govern.

There has been too much focus on whether Luxon can win the election when we should be asking if he has the skills to competently perform the duties of the office, because it appears evident that the incumbent cannot.

Luxon had a successful business career before entering parliament and since he has been leader he has re-established discipline in the National caucus, uniting what was a fractured team, and working with them to develop good policies.

He has far more of the experience and ability necessary to turn the country round than the incumbent Prime Minister who failed as a Minister and is achieving little as Prime Minister.

It will take a lot more than magical thinking to solve the many problems the country faces and who is better qualified to do that – the man who has achieved a lot in business and in leading his party, or the man who fails the moral and competence test to be PM?

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