John Howard Lecture to Menzies Research Centre – Bill English

Our deputy PM and Finance Minister, Bill English delivered the John Howard Lecture to Menzies Research Centre last week:

Thank you for inviting me tonight.

It’s a pleasure to be here in Australia.

What happens over here, and what people are thinking, affects New Zealand profoundly.

That’s why I try to visit here regularly and talk to as many people as I can.

I want to acknowledge the warm relationship shared between our respective Governments – and the constructive engagements we have with Prime Minister Abbott and Joe Hockey in particular.

Australia has enjoyed 25 years of solid economic growth. Following the end of the mining boom, I believe you are well placed to make the necessary adjustments and continue that run of solid growth.

Australia is New Zealand’s most important trading partner and biggest source of overseas investment.

It’s also where many New Zealanders have come to live.

That is, until the last couple of months when – for the first time since 1991 – there was a net migration flow from Australia to New Zealand.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, a net 130 people moved from Australia to New Zealand last month, and I’d like to welcome each and every one of them to our country.

It’s also a pleasure to be following in the footsteps of Prime Minister John Key, who gave this lecture in 2012.

He is the outstanding New Zealand political leader of recent decades.

He brings to bear a remarkable combination of analytical and political skills with the confidence and aspiration New Zealand has needed in tough times.

I know John Key has a huge amount of respect for John Howard.

So do I.

I followed his career for many years through the pages of The Bulletin, which I read in my farming home in the far south of New Zealand.

My first substantial conversation with John Howard was in extraordinary circumstances.

I came over to Australia to meet him in May 2003, as the leader of the opposition National Party.

Unfortunately my visit coincided perfectly with the resignation of the Governor-General.

John Howard obviously had a great deal on his hands dealing with this critical constitutional issue.

However, after watching the Prime Minister answer questions in a very sombre Parliament, I was summoned to his office, greeted warmly and treated to a 45-minute, relaxed, wide-ranging discussion on politics.

That afternoon, I could not have been less relevant to his considerations. But I could not have been treated more warmly and respectfully.

It was a real boost for a young, struggling opposition leader, and I have always remembered his generosity.

Unfortunately, his wisdom and guidance was not sufficient to prevent me from losing my job a few months later.

But John Howard’s example showed me that in politics, persistence is rewarded.

Here I am part of a successful government, now into its third term and hopefully with more to come.

I want to offer some thoughts tonight about the business of government, from a centre-right perspective.

Others can determine whether those thoughts are applicable elsewhere. Each country has its own set of circumstances and its own unique challenges to deal with.

A guiding principle of the John Key-led government has been to take the public along with us as we make changes, explain the reasons for them well in advance, lay out the logic, adjust expectations and implement those changes competently.

Over time, that builds up a popular support for our changes so they will stick.

This approach was developed partly from the experiences of the 1990-1999 National government.

The early 1990s were a time of extensive and sometimes unexpected changes in New Zealand. We implemented sound policies, but we failed to build broader constituencies for those changes.

As a result we lost support, the electoral system was changed to MMP, and many of our policies were undone by the subsequent Labour government.

Since our election in 2008, we have taken a different approach.

Over the past six-and-a-half years the National-led government has been able to implement sound centre-right policy which is now sufficiently embedded with public support that I am confident it will remain in place.

Our approach has been dubbed ‘incremental radicalism’. This differentiates it from another approach to centre-right reform which I call ‘crash or crash through’.

The elements of the ‘crash or crash through’ method include creating a burning platform, initiating rapid change, and spending large amounts of political capital which you hope you will recoup when the expected benefits flow through sufficiently strongly for the government to be re-elected.

In some circumstances this has worked. In the 1980s it was probably necessary.

We didn’t have that choice this time around – nor did we want it.

Our MMP system ensures that electoral success always comes down to a few seats in Parliament.

In last year’s election we beat our main opponents by 47 per cent to 25 per cent of the vote, but our four-party coalition has only a slim majority in the House.

This means we have had to build and maintain continuous public support for our policies.

We have kept a tight rein on new spending – including delivering two budgets in a row with no net new discretionary spending – but it hasn’t felt to people like fiscal austerity.

For instance we increased welfare benefit rates for families with children in our most recent budget – the first time this has happened in more than 40 years. But it was within an overall spending increase that was very slim by historical standards.

In 2010, we implemented a revenue-neutral tax switch which cut all income tax rates and the company rate, funded by an increase in GST and property taxes.

We spent a long time working publicly through the issues so the changes were largely uncontroversial by the time we finalised them, and people could see that the package of measures was balanced and fair.

We also sold 49 per cent of three government-owned electricity companies.

We laid that plan out to the public at the beginning of election year 2011 and campaigned on it, because the legacy of previous asset sales in New Zealand is one of distrust when the public feels assets are sold without a mandate.

While opinion polls showed people didn’t like the policy, there was no evidence of a backlash against us in the 2011 election, and no question that we had a mandate.

In the right circumstances, I believe people can grasp long-term policy trade-offs, so we’ve tried very hard to be predictable, consistent and upfront with voters.

Our fiscal policies and microeconomic reforms are familiar centre-right approaches adapted to New Zealand’s particular circumstances.

But it’s the third part of our policy programme I really want to talk about tonight, and that’s our public sector reforms.

Excluding transfers, government makes up around a quarter of all economic activity in New Zealand.

Government is a huge, diversified business and we can make a big contribution to the country’s prosperity by running that business more effectively.

Centre-right parties tend to want to limit the role of government, which they believe holds back growth in the economy and undermines individual and community liberties.

I share that view – the more so the longer I am in politics.

However because of their scepticism about government, centre-right parties can underestimate their ability to improve the economy by understanding and improving government.

I believe in smaller government.

I also believe the best way to achieve smaller government is to deliver better government.

The centre-right toolkit has traditionally focused on reducing levels of spending, rather than addressing the long-term drivers of that spending.

But too often, spending cuts are only temporary, as they are reversed in the face of public opinion or reinstated by an incoming government.

What is less intuitive for a centre-right party is to better understand the lives and needs of the government’s regular, long-term and most expensive customers.

When government does its job well and intervenes effectively it enables vulnerable people to increase their resilience and social mobility, and it helps them make positive changes to their lives.

It also reduces demand for public services over the medium to long term, and therefore saves taxpayers money.

What works for the community works for the government’s books.

If you compare it to the private sector, a business needs to understand its customers because they drive its revenue. We need to understand our customers because they drive our costs.

It makes sense to get to know our most expensive customers.

Their lives are complex and often challenging. Their interactions with government agencies can be chaotic and crisis-driven.

The result is a loss of human potential and long-term harm to families and communities. And there are big costs for taxpayers.

We are starting to dig into those costs, and the information is proving to be a powerful driver for institutional and policy change.

We can now pretty accurately know the likely life path of different groups of children. For example, there is a relatively small set of children with multiple problems for whom we can expect that:

  • three quarters will not get a high-school qualification,
  • four in ten will have been on a benefit for more than 2 years before they are 21, and
  • a quarter will have been in prison by the time they are 35.

Each of these children will cost taxpayers an average of $320,000 by the time they are 35, and some will cost more than a million dollars.

Front line workers in the community will know most of their names. We can deal with them one by one.

The ideal outcome for us is fewer customers, not more. Fewer dysfunctional families. Fewer parents who spend decades on welfare. Fewer people who commit crimes.

Part of our response is to recognise that people can do more for themselves, and often want to.

We expect more from people, because ultimately they are responsible for their own lives and responsible for their own families.

We expect parents to actively support their children at school. We expect prisoners to get off drugs and gain work skills. And we expect young sole parents who are on benefits to get qualifications.

We’ll help them do that.

We don’t believe that people whose lives are difficult are automatically helpless and will stay that way forever.

But reducing misery, rather than servicing it, requires us to organise responses around these individuals, with them at the centre of public spending.

Inconvenient as it might seem, people don’t live in government departments, they live in families and communities.

Last year we got officials from the health, education, welfare and justice sectors to bring along a summary of analysis about at-risk children and youth.

What we saw were four well-crafted ways of analysing exactly the same people. But they were all quite different because of each agency’s own institutional and professional history and culture.

One agency, for example, used a deprivation index that goes from 1 to 10, while another used one that goes from 10 to 1. Same kids.

That sort of issue is at the easier end of the scale to fix, or at least it should be.

It’s more difficult to set up structures that recognise people’s problems are connected.

Take the case of five-year-olds in state care.

In New Zealand, there are 1,500 of them each year and by the time they are 35 they will incur prison and welfare costs totalling $550 million.

Traditionally we’ve looked after those kids on a shoestring budget, through the valiant efforts of foster parents and front line social workers.

The question is, what can we do differently now, and spend up front, to save those children from such a life and save a good portion of those $550 million in future costs?

When we ask that question, departments usually don’t know the answer because they haven’t tried to solve that problem.

Instead, governments have simply serviced the system for caring for children, and serviced the prison system, and treated those as two separate issues. They are not.

We are starting to link these issues of foster care, education, welfare dependency, youth justice and prison sentences through analysis that shows the costs and potential for more effective intervention at multiple points in a child’s path to adulthood.

We are prepared to spend money now to secure better long-term results for the most vulnerable New Zealanders, and lower costs to the government in the future.

We call this social investment.

It challenges a lot of the structures that have been set up to manage government spending on an annual basis.

If there’s enough good-quality data, the investment approach can look out 20 or 30 years and model the costs of dysfunction, and the benefits of intervention, for particular communities and populations.

That’s how we are now approaching the welfare system.

We previously had a cash-driven, point-in-time view of the welfare system. This led to a focus on short-term results, like bringing down the number of people on the unemployment benefit.

A couple of years ago we commissioned Australian actuaries Taylor Fry to calculate the lifetime welfare costs of people on benefits.

That liability turned out to be $78 billion – or just under 40 per cent of annual GDP.

And we discovered that those on the unemployment benefit made up only 4 per cent of the future liability.

Groups you never thought of made up a bigger percentage. Like those we call ‘recent exits’ – people who have recently returned to work after being on a benefit.

It turns out that many come back on welfare, and their long-term cost was higher in total than the people currently on an unemployment benefit.

Sole parents had an even larger lifetime liability. So did a large group of people with psychiatric and psychological conditions.

You can drill down further into this information.

Among sole parents, for example, you can then ask “Who is going to cost us the most money?” and it turns out it’s the ones who go onto a sole parent benefit before they turn 20.

A teen sole parent on a benefit in New Zealand is on a benefit for around 20 years, on average, with a net present cost of $213,000 per person. So that helps us know where to focus our efforts.

The next obvious question is “what can we do about it?”

With that group of teen sole parents, for example, we no longer just give them a fortnightly benefit and wish them good luck.

They are now enrolled in a scheme that, among other things, ensures they are in school or training, gives them each a supervising adult, and manages their money for them. That programme is showing promising results.

We are also much more focused on getting sole parents of all ages off a benefit and into work, through extra support and greater work obligations.

The latest welfare valuation, which is updated every six months, shows the future liability of beneficiaries has reduced by $7.5 billion in the last year, with $2.2 billion of this due to steps we have taken as a government.

There are now 43,000 fewer children living in a benefit dependent household than there were three years ago, and the number of sole parents on a benefit is the lowest since 1988.

In other areas too, there is a role for better data, and better use of data.

We need to manage privacy and other issues very carefully, but data gives us an opportunity to drive a programme of work firmly focused on getting better results.

That focus is a challenge to public accounting.

The traditional public finance structure is designed to track where every dollar goes, but was never designed to find out whether it made any difference.

Making a difference is the whole point though.

Too often, success has been defined simply in terms of spending money on something. Politicians say “look, we spent more” as though that on its own is what matters.

Public services, which are full of good and capable people, still spend a lot of time not sure of the effects of what they’re doing.

The public think we know, or at least they think we’ve got good intentions.

Borrowing and committing billions of dollars on good intentions has been the post-war model.

Where possible we want to start purchasing results.

We want to buy reductions in recidivism, for example, more educational achievement, and lower welfare dependence.

We also want to broaden the range of organisations and providers we buy these results from.

The more people who worry about New Zealand’s longstanding social challenges, and work on innovative approaches, the better.

The Government doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas, resources and expertise.

So I expect more involvement from not-for-profit and private sector providers alongside government agencies.

We are aiming to make data more open, so people and organisations outside the usual public policy process can analyse it to develop new ways of reducing dysfunction in vulnerable groups.

Individuals will also benefit from more information about what works, because it supports the ability for them to make choices.

Why shouldn’t someone with a disability, for example, have access to comparisons of different employment support services?

Technology is allowing us to develop new tools to take these sorts of ideas and make them a reality.

Our social investment approach is based on common sense, not a profound new theory.

People have talked about having a results focus for years, and taking a cost-benefit approach to social spending is probably taught in all good public policy courses.

But the difficult part is being able to put these ideas into practice in the real, messy and contentious world of government.

The social investment approach won’t be suitable for all public spending, or even a majority of it, but we’re rolling it out as far as we can.

That’s the opportunity for the centre-right.

Parties to the left of us appear to have given up on innovation in public services. Certainly that is the case in New Zealand, where the Labour Party consistently argues for the status quo.

Centre-right governments have the opportunity to achieve smaller government by delivering better government.

Public services should make a genuine difference to those people in our communities who live with the least resources, and the least hope.

In fact, they should make enough of a difference to reduce the number of people who suffer these disadvantages.

If we focus on making that difference, the centre-right can change government for the better.

More importantly, we can build on the resilience and aspiration of those who are excluded from the economy and community by a passive, unaccountable welfare state.

Thank you.

154 Responses to John Howard Lecture to Menzies Research Centre – Bill English

  1. Dave Kennedy says:

    We were positioned well to have far more economic success than we have and it was squandered through not investing in things that would have made a real difference. We have allowed inequality to grow and the growing numbers on bottom of the socio-economic heap have become a real drain on our resources (child poverty costs us around $5 billion a year).

    Sadly many of the answers to our social and economic problems have been passed on to this Government and they have been largely ignored. Rather than leading with a clear plan and informed strategies this Government has fumbled around making costly mistakes.

    Housing has been a great example of poor governance. The Government was aware in 2008 that we had a housing problem but sat on its hands while a privileged few reaped the benefits of our unconstrained property markets. Now that the level of desperation and homelessness has reached a crisis point we have the housing responsibility shared across three Ministers and crazy desperate solutions being thrown around.

    When things get really bad this Government often throws up its hands in despair and proclaims it can’t cope and should never have had the job in the first place. We are now having state housing sold off and the plan to pass the responsibility onto cash strapped local NGOs was an immediate failure. The latest plan to sell them to Australian and UK companies is even more appalling.

    The Government already manages and owns around 68,000 houses and there are huge advantages in economies of scale and paying for new developments and upgrading through cheap government loans. It will be so much more expensive in the long run to rely on the private sector to provide social housing when profit margins are necessary element.

    This Government is claiming that we are getting a cheaper and better deal from our state services and this is clearly a lie and heavy spin. Our DHBs are imploding, centralised services have failed many regions, rural communities have reduced services and the cost of consultants and redundancy packages have been astronomical:

    This Government has allowed a wealthy oligarchy to become established where Government CEOs earn far more than their OECD equivalents. Rather than money being targeted at frontline services, millions now goes to favoured consultants and top management.

    There is no innovation being seen in our current Governance, but the tired use of failed Neoliberal policies of trying to provide social services by passing them on to profit driven private companies. Social services are personnel dependent (needing well qualified, specialised skills) and the only way to wring a profit from such services is to drive down wages and salaries and understaff.


  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    I notice some quick objections to what I have written above but I am open to hear what the Government strategy has been since 2008 to provide affordable housing (given that it knew there was a growing problem).

    The Green Party wanted to introduce a capital gains tax and limit nonresident investors in the property market to dampen the demand side. We supported Labour’s intention to build new houses using the Government’s ability to get cheap loans and drive down building costs through the economies of scale and this would help the supply side. The Greens would have introduced a rent to buy scheme for state housing residents which would have helped pay the costs of construction and supported greater financial independence from those who are challenged financially. Allowing more people own homes would have lifted families out of generational poverty and they are more likely to care for a home that is potentially their own than a rented one. Another thing that would help is greater regional development to take the pressure of Auckland, especially in Northland and the East Cape.

    I don’t want to hear excuses and blame for inaction, what is the summary of the Governments strategy over the past 7 years to address the demand and supply sides of the housing crisis and how many affordable houses have been actually built to meet the need over this time?


  3. JC says:

    As is my occasional wont I take the first link from DK to help set the tone for the rest of his comments..

    The first link on inequality is one that DK uses a lot, probably because although its been debunked and ridiculed internationally by economists on both left and right it says what he wants hear.

    Eric Crampton, Tim Hazeldene (a lefty economist) have shown how ridiculous the thing is.

    DK would be better looking at the recent Treasury paper that shows inequality in NZ is currently dropping.



  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, how do you and the writer measure growth? If it is through GDP then there are immediate weaknesses in your arguments.
    Rebuilding Christchurch caused an increase in GDP even though it was based on costly tragedy. The building of motorways adds to GDP growth even though there will be delayed costs through expensive PPP schemes etc.

    Your second link exposes another flawed perception, the growth of inequality was slowed because of a $3-4 billion annual intervention by the Government to subsidise wages and rent (Working for Families and the accommodation supplement). Government intervention (Labour and National) has hidden the true extent of wages falling behind productivity increases. The economic gains produced by most of us have only been enjoyed by a few.

    I am still waiting for an answer to my real challenge regarding the Government’s strategy and progress related to affordable housing over the past 7 years. Here is an earlier critique of the Government’s belated attempts to only address the supply side and ignoring the demand side:


  5. Gravedodger says:

    Gee DaveK, would I be correct to suggest there is absolutely nothing surprising or even new in that little homily.

    How about some background as to what the Green party thinking on social housing was while the Clark Government wasted the best decade of export income in over half a century only to leave office at the date you cherry picked, with the treasury predicting a decade of deficits, a two billion dollar investment in a failed and no prospect of recovery antiquated 19th century transport millstone.

    If social housing was in such disarray in 2008 as you suggest, that did not happen overnight, in the closing weeks, the closing months or the last three years when the only thing keeping that rotting hulk afloat was the prop of confidence and supply of your “chariot of shame”.

    The whole created meme of “Poverty” and “Housing crisis” that obsesses the socialists is pretty much a myth when it is studied and assessed by many who were born in the 30s and 40s when such serious depredations were part of the daily grind for almost all citizens who were forced to economise and make do with what a c2015 family are enduring with under one of the most generous welfare providing regimes in the world.

    I would place much if not most of the policies of the Key Government in neo-socialism not neo-liberalism.
    Current electoral support bears that assessment out and that is the intractable dilemma of your mob and their socialist mates. June 24th I think Dave.

    I don’t normally link to such sites as I guess intelligent inquiring people would regularly access such sources of good data and Eric Crampton @ offsetting behaviour is a daily.

    Btw do the Green party have a valid opinion on the Kereru debate If they do I must have missed it. I guess Dear old Sonny Tau’s efforts freed up five pigeon perches in Southland?


  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    You are right that the housing crisis didn’t start overnight, Labour was beginning to address it with the accommodation supplement, WFF and some new building etc but the warning bells were well and truly ringing when National took power. Its immediate response was to tick along with the accommodation supplement and hope that the market would respond.

    I must congratulate National for one housing initiative, however, the MOU with the Greens that has seen over 200,000 homes insulated, it’s just a pity that it was downgraded over the second term and there has been no strong push to ensure the lowest quality rentals are done. A decent warrant of Fitness for rental is desperately needed and I acknowledge some moves towards this.

    Regarding National’s Neoliberal tendencies, I think that this Government is clever at pushing through Neoliberal agendas that most people don’t support (selling state assets, Charter Schools, privatising government services) by also appearing to give on other things. Increasing the benefit was clever and so has spending on cycling trails and talking tough on child abuse. However you just have to look at the rhetoric and then compare the actual financial commitments involved and you find that National is much more generous in its enthusiasm for corporate welfare: Saudi Businessman ($11 million), Warner Bros ($34 million) and Rio Tinto $30 million).

    I am still waiting to hear about National’s housing strategy and the low cost and social housing built over the past 7 years.


  7. JC says:

    “JC, how do you and the writer measure growth? If it is through GDP then there are immediate weaknesses in your arguments.”

    Yet your favourite paper on inequality you quote is all about growth in areas that make up GDP.. you are filibustering.

    “The economic gains produced by most of us have only been enjoyed by a few. ”

    Yeah right. According to Statschat the median wage 2008-2013 was up 14.6% against inflation of 11%, per capita GDP went up 9.7%, mean weekly income up 21%, median weekly income up 18.8% and average household consumption went up just 7.8%.

    Benefits have kept parity and better with inflation and my after tax super has gone up $100 per fortnight.

    Despite the worst recession in over 80 years and a $40 billion hit to Christchurch and a big hit there to 15% of the economy we are all better off. At best the left have been left to interview itself to maintain the sense of miserableness it feels and its isolation from the sense of well being enjoyed by 80-90% of the population as established by local and OECD surveys.



  8. Dave Kennedy says:

    European men older than 24 have done very well under this Government, JC, but these are also what the census revealed:

    Large median income gap between men and women

    The gap between the national (total) median personal income and the median personal income for Māori increased.

    Europeans have highest median personal income of
    the major ethnic groups
    In the 2013 Census, the median personal incomes for the major ethnic groups were:
    • $30,900 for European
    • $22,500 for Māori
    • $20,100 for Asian
    • $19,800 for Middle Eastern/Latin American/African (MELAA)
    • $19,700 for Pacific peoples.

    Young adult median personal incomes drop

    The only other decrease in median personal income between the 2006 and 2013 Censuses was for the 20–24-year-old age group (a 4.8 percent decrease).

    Of the 16 regional council areas, the regions with the highest proportion of people having an annual income of $15,000 or less were:
    • Auckland (31.3 percent)
    • Northland (31.1 percent)
    • Gisborne (30.6 percent).


    This is is a Government that is dominated by affluent European men and this demographic have also gained most between 2006 and 2013.

    You guys are desperately shifting the argument away from my housing challenge, which is still hanging there with no response 😉


  9. TraceyS says:

    “This is is (sic) a Government that is dominated by affluent European men and this demographic have also gained most between 2006 and 2013.”

    Despite the 2013 Census showing a slight drop in median income for Pacific Peoples between the 2006 and 2013 period the New Zealand Income Survey shows a different picture:*

    From 2010 to 2014 median income for Pacific Peoples increased by 20.42% compared with 11.83% for Europeans. Maori median income increased by 14.63% and Asian median income increased by 32.23%. The total increase in median income was 13.42% which Maori, Pacific, and Asian groups were all ahead of.

    European median income actually did better under the last Labour Government years between 2004 and 2008 with a 25.82% increase.^ During this time, median income for Maori and Pacific Peoples increased by a similar percentage to European meaning that overall, increases were more equitable across all ethnic groups but did nothing to close the ethnic income gap.

    Clearly the National Government has done more which will lead to closing the gap. Long may the momentum continue.

    Cue inevitable comment about stats and lies….

    * (June 2014 quarter tables: Table 4)

    ^ (June 2008 quarter tables: Table 4)


  10. Dave Kennedy says:

    Stats are tricky (and we could go on for every dredging up contradictory data), but my housing challenge is still being stubbornly ignored 😉


  11. Dave Kennedy says:

    oops ‘go on forever’


  12. TraceyS says:

    I don’t find stats “tricky”.

    And we don’t need to go on forever. The data are there for people who wish to form considered opinions.

    I’m just happy to have the skills to help a little. My altruistic side I guess…!


  13. Dave Kennedy says:

    Good on you Tracey, you can obviously see through the many ways that stats can be distorted and misrepresented.

    How about my housing challenge? It is possibly one of New Zealand’s most pressing crises and not one person here can articulate this Government’s strategy and its success over the last 7 years.


  14. Dave Kennedy says:

    Council housing spokesman Cr Glenn Livingstone said the target was not achievable in the current market partly due to construction costs and developers “land banking”.

    “We have the supply [of] shovel-ready sections but it is the developers sitting on them and banking land which is also putting up prices.”

    The Government needed to intervene with “large scale” building programmes, he said.


  15. Mr E says:

    I recognise this thread to be about right and left philosophies. The size and scale of government and the approaches taken.

    Despite housing having not been mentioned in the title at all, you have headed off in a self induced housing diatribe.

    Infact, you have mentioned the word “housing” 19 times, despite no mentions of it in the opening. Not only that, I guess some readers have tastefully ignored direction and you seem to be demanding your “challenge” is taken up.

    I think this is trolling behaviour. Even though I have views on housing I will not support the direction you are taking. I think it is disrespectful to the author of this blog and other readers as well.

    I certainly think housing is a worthy topic of discussion, but I think it is more respectful to save it to the right time and right place.


  16. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, here are quotes from Bill’s speech:

    “When government does its job well and intervenes effectively it enables vulnerable people to increase their resilience and social mobility, and it helps them make positive changes to their lives.”

    “But reducing misery, rather than servicing it, requires us to organise responses around these individuals, with them at the centre of public spending.”

    “The Government doesn’t have a monopoly on good ideas, resources and expertise.”

    “Public services should make a genuine difference to those people in our communities who live with the least resources, and the least hope.”

    “In fact, they should make enough of a difference to reduce the number of people who suffer these disadvantages.”

    “If we focus on making that difference, the centre-right can change government for the better.”

    Bill’s speech was high in rhetoric and philosophy and thin on convincing examples. In my initial comment I explained that although he recognised that Government doesn’t hold all the good ideas his has actually ignored much good advice and when things got tough has tried to pass responsibilities on to NGOs and the private sector.

    Given that warning bells of an overheated market and a huge shortage of social and low cost housing have been ringing loudly since 2008 and (given the above quotes), the housing sector is a true test of competence.

    This is not trolling it is a fair test of the government’s competency that Bill has celebrated. For a Government that proclaims itself as a sound economic manager, how have they managed the supply and demand side of the housing market to ensure that New Zealanders have healthy homes “to increase their resilience and social mobility” and to “reduce the number of people who suffer these disadvantages”?

    The obfuscation, distraction, active avoidance and accusations of trolling just doesn’t wash. This is a “show me the money” moment. All you guys have to do is link to the Government’s overarching strategy (it must exist) and produce the statistics of the low cost and social housing built over the last 7 years to meet demand. Auckland alone needs 39,000 immediately and, according to the New Zealand Initiative we need to build 113,800 in the next 15 years.

    To make matters worse this is just the houses needed, we also have to upgrade a high % of homes to get them to minimum health levels. We are still dealing with thousands of leaky houses and schools created by the previous National Government:

    Show me the strategy, show me the numbers!

    Dig out those stats, Tracey 😉


  17. Will Dwan says:

    I have asked several times for a detailed explanation of how taxes control the climate. Yet to get an answer.


  18. Dave Kennedy says:

    Sorry, Will, you must have missed it (and nice try with yet another diversion):

    And back to the housing question…anything?


  19. Mr E says:

    No Dave,
    You are on some housing beat up. That could not be clearer to me.
    None of the sentences you cited were specific to housing yet your diatribe has a housing thrust.

    You might think you are not trolling, but I disagree. And I wont join you in such behaviours.

    It is humorous to me to watch you accuse Will of a diversion, when this thread is not about housing. Yet that is the thrust of what you want to discuss.


  20. Dave Kennedy says:

    “None of the sentences you cited were specific to housing yet your diatribe has a housing thrust.”

    Mr E, all I have done is used one aspect of governance responsibility to test Bills claims. As I said before it is a sort of “show me the money” moment that Key used effectively.

    If Ele and those who generally comment here agree with Bill’s comments that his Government is reducing the numbers of those suffering disadvantage then let’s use one aspect of disadvantage to test his claim. I happened to to choose housing because it has been known to be one of the main contributors to disadvantage for many since this Government first came to power.

    The whole speech was about this Government’s ability to use a “centre right” approach to deliver good outcomes for New Zealanders and to claim that housing isn’t a valid test of this Government’s competence is clearly nonsense.

    If you really wanted me to shut up regarding this important issue, just post a link to the Governments housing strategy (or explain it yourself) over the last 7 years and the numbers of extra social and affordable housing that has been built over the same time.

    I did actually expect some response and the fact that nothing has been presented by anyone (including Ele) is actually becoming hugely worrying.

    It actually does appear that this Government’s competence is based on smoke and mirrors, there has been no ongoing strategy over the past few years and this must explain why all I can find is the figure of 350 new houses that have been built to meet demand (only fifty houses a year from 2008 and 0.1% of what is required). Surely this Government can’t be that incompetent regarding this one extremely vital indicator.

    I can find heaps of links to mismanagement and incompetence, however:$1-point-5b-fixing-up-state-houses


  21. Paranormal says:

    As for competence DK you still haven’t answered Wills question. The link you provided does not answer the question (as if I’m surprised with that….).


  22. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, for those who agree that reducing carbon emissions will lessen the risk of catastrophic climate change, then the BC solution is an excellent example how taxation can control our future climate. You may not agree with my answer but I have more than addressed the question (I am quoting the speaker here 😉 ).

    However it is becoming glaring obvious that not one of you is even prepared to try and address my question regarding housing. Not Ele, not JC, not Gravedodger, not Will, not Tracey, not Mr E and not even yourself. The silence is deafening!

    …and Bill’s credibility is on the line.


  23. Mr E says:

    I doubt it is the silence that is deafening you. I suspect it is your Green Party membership.


  24. David Russell says:

    It’s also where many New Zealanders have come to live, pay taxes, and raise the Australian standard of living, while being treated like trash.
    Here I think I am part of a successful government, now into its third term but the goodwill is wearing thin. In places the goodwill has gone. Most places in fact.
    A guiding principle of the John Key-led government has been to take the public along with us as we make changes, explain the reasons for them well in advance, lay out the logic, adjust expectations and implement those changes incompetently, to the detriment of the middle and lower classes. Yes, we are back to a class system in NZ, and goodie, I’m in the rich group, so I can afford things like health care.
    In last year’s election we beat our main opponents by 47 per cent to 25 per cent of the vote, but our four-party coalition has only a slim majority in the House. This means we have had to build and maintain continuous public support for our policies which we do by lying.
    In 2010, we implemented a revenue-neutral tax switch which cut all income tax rates and the company rate, funded by an increase in GST and property taxes, which benefited our rich friends, and made sure that the poor really needed the work so much that we were able to stifle the unions and get people onto unfair (for them) contracts.
    There are now 43,000 fewer children living in a benefit dependent household than there were three years ago, and the number of sole parents on a benefit is the lowest since 1988, and although they are worse off, and they have to choose between electricity or food,they are off our books making us look good, dum-dee-dum.
    I could go on,as indeed he did.
    The rose spectacles are cracked and broken, but he has not noticed.


  25. Dave Kennedy says:

    Goodness me, Mr E, you really are dredging the bottom of the barrel with that last desperate ploy.

    As you know our membership grew substantially over the year or so before the election and we raised more money than Labour for our campaign. Our membership is holding steady (when generally there is a marked decline after an election) and our fundraising is still ticking along above expectations. We are actually a pretty lively party we had a successful AGM a few weeks ago, elected a new leader who has already had lots of positive media attention and the Asia Pacific Green Federation Congress was very successful.

    There is lots of busy noise in the background from our membership, thank you, as opposed to this very odd silence regarding this Government’s housing strategy and progress. It has become this yawning black hole of dense emptiness with all of you desperately running for cover. Not one sentence on the topic has appeared.

    I do congratulate you though, Mr E, at least you are brave enough to actually use the word housing, the others have been very shy about it 😉


  26. Mr E says:

    More of that trolling, I reckon, that’s why people wont humour you.

    We used to have a person that would come in a twist each and every blog towards his agenda. From memory he was booted out. It seems so long ago the name has become unimportant to me.

    I am curious why you don’t lodge a housing thread over on your own censored blog though? I’m sure you will get hours of fascinating debate with your readers.

    Wait just a gosh darn minute, a quick visit there shows you have recently done just that – and surprise surprise, NO COMMENTS.

    Your supporters and readers Dave, seemingly, limited, censored, running for cover and very shy to talk about housing. Or is it that they just don’t care for what you say? Or perhaps blocked from speech?

    Yawning black hole of dense emptiness, indeed.


  27. Dave Kennedy says:

    Even more personal attacks, Mr E, and pretty nasty ones too 😉

    How on earth can you claim that my blog is censored? Paranormal, Gravedodger, JC comment and I have censored none. I think you may have had trouble commenting yourself, but I do not understand the issue and it certainly isn’t because of anything deliberate on my part (very defamatory and nasty, Mr E).

    As for the lack of comments, my most popular post has reached over 51,000 views and continues to be linked to. I guess the scarcity of comments is because most who read my posts are in agreement and don’t think further comment is necessary. You will also notice that when I am questioned regarding a post, I courteously respond.

    If I was a real troll then I expect Ele would intervene and put a stop to it as she has done in the past. In this case I read the speech she reproduced and tested the validity of its content with a pretty simple, but relevant question. The fact that there has not been one person even attempt an answer, and I am now being accused of trolling and censorship, must mean I have hit a raw nerve (and a pretty painful one at that given the responses).

    I actually didn’t think it would be this easy to expose this Government’s lack of substance.


  28. Will says:

    I would be happy to answer the question about housing, but I am not a government spokesman and don’t really have the right to explain the policy. What if I get it wrong?

    My impression is that they are trying to improve supply, which is slow going. As they are doing nothing about demand you won’t see anything change. But the govt. knows that migration flows can reverse almost overnight and are probably reluctant to be too heavy handed here. The Left tends to stomp around the economy like a bull in a china shop, National are more cautious. If they triggered a market crash, you would be quick to apportion blame. Remember the problem is really just confined to Auckland and there is no real solution to it. There is evidence Aucklanders are starting to leave the awful place so a balance will come about eventually.

    In my little town of Cambridge we are seeing incredible growth, even more so in Hamilton, and there is plenty of room for expansion. The govt. is building a vast network of new roads to cope with it all, really it’s an amazing time up here. So I guess that is part of the answer.

    Dave, you continue to evade my question on climate control. I have already explained that BC system is not applicable here due to New Zealanders’ reluctance to subsidise farming. So once again, in your own words, how will taxing my animals cool the planet, prevent hurricanes, floods and droughts, and stop the ocean from inundating us?


  29. Dave Kennedy says:

    Thanks, Will, for your honest response to my housing question. You’re the only one who has attempted it. My response to that, however, is that the Government can’t be communicating their strategy very well if that is all you know. It also concerns me that it is being so extremely cautious regarding the profits of investors (only now addressing the issue of nonresident investors and money launderers) and little to immediately address the desperate shortage for 40,000+ people.

    I’m afraid it isn’t just Auckland being affected as the Government has accepted that the low cost housing issue is now spreading widely. Auckland is the main one but there is a shortage in Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Queenstown and even in Invercargill we have a shortage of special social housing for the most vulnerable.

    As for taxing emissions I actually believe multiple methods are necessary and taxing farming emissions would still be needed. The Green policy looked at a lower level due to the unavoidable nature of much of it and the importance of the industry. We also looked at ways that good practice could be recognised to reduce it further. I think this needs ongoing work and collaboration, but according to the Government’s own paper about 40% of our emissions come from agriculture. There has been some recent science that looks promising too:


  30. Mr E says:

    You block people who blog like me from contributing on your blog. Ele doesn’t, you do. Call it what you like but it is a form of censorship, mild as it may seem.
    If pointing out this fact is nasty, you must be a sensitive wee fella. In fact I suspect it would make you one of the most sensitive politicians, or wannabe politicians I have spoken to.
    Perhaps that’s a good thing. Sensitivity is a sign of caring, even though some would see it as weakness. For the time being Ill accept it as a sign that you care.

    I do love this little Gem.
    ” I guess the scarcity of comments is because most who read my posts are in agreement and don’t think further comment is necessary. ”

    I hope you keep making guesses like that!


  31. Will says:

    You say taxing emissions would be needed, but not why. What effect will it have? My response will probably be to crack on the nitrogen and increase numbers. I would prefer not to. If I reduce output, my place in the market will be taken by someone overseas, probably South America. Just chop a bit more rain-forest down.

    There are plenty of houses available up here, and new subdivisions opening up. Wellington is geographically constrained like Auckland, and Queenstown is not really typical. But as long as immigration is running at about 1000 per week, there will be problems with supply. You have to remember that immigration brings talent and capital to our country, adds diversity and creates markets and opportunity. And I expect JK is hoping the increased numbers will enable him to honour the superannuation commitment previous governments made. So there is an upside.

    I am not a National voter, so I’m not well placed to present their policies. ACT’s policy is to de-regulate, reform the RMA, free up the land and let the market do its thing. Land banking is unlikely to deliver good returns in a de-regulated environment.


  32. Dave Kennedy says:

    Mr E, it is a bit harsh calling it censorship when it appears that the problem is tour own when Gravedodger and others have no problem. Censorship implies a blocking of ideas and that certainly isn’t an issue for me, so your comments are emotive and over the top.

    Given the fact that I keep commenting here, I can be hardly called sensitive I do question your below the belt hits though 😉

    Obviously humour passes over you too and still no response to the housing question, at least Will has given it a go.


  33. Mr E says:

    One minute – “nasty”, next minute “harsh”, then “over the top”

    You’re diluting your adjectives Dave.

    The fact is when you changed your blog settings, you limited the publics ability to contribute to your blog. You censored. It’s a fact.

    when I point it out you get upset.


  34. Dave Kennedy says:

    But, Mr E, how come Gravedodger and Paranormal can comment and you can’t. I think the problem is you not me, and you are still evading the question, very determinedly.


  35. Mr E says:

    I blog different to GD and Para. Their memberships allow them to contribute to your blog.
    But like many others who contribute here, I can’t contribute on yours. My views and many others have therefore been censored from your blog.

    Whilst I’m happy to discuss my views on housing, as I view your attempt to raise it as trolling, I’ll not do it here. I’ll wait for a suitable thread to discuss it.


  36. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, the point has been made convincingly that when it comes to low cost, social housing that the private sector are reluctant to get involved because profit margins are limited. There are economies of scale that Governments can take advantage of, including access to low interest funding. Building 40,000 low cost houses is not something the private sector would contemplate, especially when the cost of our materials is 30% above Australia’s. It would make sense to me to churn out prefabricated modular houses that can be constructed in a number of configurations (number of bedrooms and arrangement of rooms) that could be trucked to various sites and erected quickly. We could make more use of our abundance of wood (Lockwood?) as a cheap resource.

    It is not because the Government is a poor manager of social housing that it needs to be palmed off (because it has been relatively successful for over 70 years) but recently lacked oversight and good management. The fact that so many state houses have to be upgraded for sale because their maintenance has slipped is just down to poor systems, budgeting and oversight. Getting rid of the responsibility and wanting to give it away to others, including UK and Aussie companies is just a cop out in my view.

    This Government’s approach to housing seems to involve shifting blame to cover up for no strategy or initial resolve. The housing shortage has been blamed on councils not providing enough land (when land banking is actually a major issue), it has been blamed on the RMA (when despite having a majority it hasn’t been able to convince coalition partners that changes are a good idea), it has been blamed on poor fits and poor locations of current housing (the numbers involved have been questioned) and it has been suggested that it shouldn’t even be the Government’s responsibility (when the private sector continually reneges on low cost housing commitments in new developments and NGOs have rejected it).

    In 7 years this Government has only managed to get built 0.1% of the required housing to meet the most pressing immediate needs. However housing isn’t a cost, it’s an investment and it allows for the very things that Bill highlighted in his speech about building resilience and providing opportunity, especially for the next generation.


  37. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I blog different to GD and Para. Their memberships allow them to contribute to your blog.
    But like many others who contribute here, I can’t contribute on yours. My views and many others have therefore been censored from your blog.”

    Mr E, what petulant and petty comments, it is just a matter of registering to the Google blogging system and you can easily comment on my blog, I had to do the same thing to comment on others. That is not censoring on my part but your refusal to be bothered to do it.

    As for not sharing your views on housing here, that is just the height of pettiness and hypocrisy as you have often come into a thread and introduced something unrelated. My reasons for bring up housing here were valid. You even have the audacity to act in the role of misguided policeman on this blog when it isn’t even your own – what arrogance!

    I used to enjoy debating you, and even respected you, however you use so many bullying techniques in your engagement and your childish manipulations are becoming more and more frequent.


  38. TraceyS says:

    “Dig out those stats, Tracey”

    Which stats are you asking for, Dave?

    I already gave you figures showing a percentage increase in Maori and Pacific Peoples median income which was significantly higher than the percentage increase for European median income in the period 2010-2014.

    Better incomes will fuel demand for home ownership.

    The percentage of Pacific Peoples and Maori reporting “not enough” or “just enough” adequacy of income to meet everyday needs* dropped 5.4% and 11.3% respectively between April 2013 and April 2014. This must surely mean an increased likelihood of disposable income being put aside towards home ownership (which is presently very low for Pacific Peoples and Maori compared to European home ownership).

    Higher demand for home ownership in turn fuels property prices. It is a vicious cycle. Perhaps you have a way of preventing that but I doubt it.

    * New Zealand General Social Survey:


  39. Will Dwan says:

    Developers build expensive houses because initial overheads are so high only a mansion will return a profit. The cost of the section, the consents, etc. Reduce those with deregulation and it will be economic to build cheaper houses. Government projects seldom achieve economy of scale, partly because they are always accompanied by bureaucracy, public sector salaries, the usual govt. inefficiencies.


  40. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, the level of bureaucracy in Government departments has been slashed hugely over the years and many are running on minimal staff working beyond their hours. Our Government departments now are leaner than most in the OECD.

    I agree that management and CEO salaries are often too high, but this is what has developed under this Government especially. Teachers rejected paying the Executive Principals and Lead Teachers large sums under the Government proposals because we would rather have the millions spent on special needs and teacher aids instead of management.

    Properly managed Government departments occur through good leadership and governance and this Government centralised Housing New Zealand, disestablished regional staff, set up a call center and let maintenance slip. Good governance and bad governance occurs in both public and private sectors and Housing New Zealand can be made to operate well if there is the will and ministerial competence to do it.

    Tracey, you highlighted the problems I already identified regarding the supply and demand sides of the property market. There is a huge shortage of decent, low cost housing. So what has been the Government’s strategy over the past 7 years and how successful has it been? This can be shown by the number of low cost housing built over that time (I only found 350 houses) and the numbers of people on waiting lists (increased by thousands since 2008). This Government is failing, big time!


  41. Mr E says:

    Ha Dave,

    I love it. An emotional outburst, in a attacking fashion. You Greens make me laugh!

    But I think most of your tirade is just weirdness. Weirdness that shows a lack of understanding.

    Many Many people choose to comment in the form that I do. Many many people have their reasons for doing so. I choose not to register with Google, and the reasons are many. You might consider those reasons petty but that just shows ignorance, and intolerance. And just so you know – not being “bothered” is not one of those reasons.

    When you restricted access to the many many anonymous commenters, you will have noticed a decline in contribution. That limits the discussion of ideas. That is a form of censorship. Hate me all you want for pointing that out, but sometimes you have to face facts.

    With regards to your suggestion that my unwillingness to meet your challenge of a housing discussion is petty, I disagree. I do not like to see threads hijacked to meet the needs of somebodies agenda. And it is clear that you are on some housing beat up. A topic that is clearly not what the thread introduced.

    As for this little gem
    “You even have the audacity to act in the role of misguided policeman on this blog when it isn’t even your own – what arrogance!”

    Comedy gold. I laugh because you are blatantly wrong. I have not acted as any sort of Policeman. That would suggest enforcement. I have simply acted as a responsible member of the public, and have tried to point the error of your ways. You are ‘shooting’ the messenger, not the enforcer.

    In shooting the messenger, you appear to be suggesting I have no right to point out this aspect – that it is arrogant for me to do so. You think my views have no place? Censorship?

    Anyway, I’m aware that this discussion around censorship and trolling has gone on far too long with no progress. So with respect to other contributors, and the Blog author, I will suggest – lets agree to disagree on the matter, and move on.


  42. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I choose not to register with Google”
    So, Mr E, nothing to do with censorship it is your own choice 😉

    As for your forced laughter and lengthy explanations I have noted in the past that that is what you do when you don’t want to discuss a particular topic.

    You also have no idea what trolling means and your own behaviour fits it more than mine. Trolls disrupt the threads with short sarcastic putdowns directed at individual commenters with no intention to discuss or debate. Reading through this thread I note that I have sincerely explained my motives for using housing to test the substance behind the speech and do have Will and Tracey engaging. You are yapping around the periphery of the thread histrionically accusing me of trolling, censorship and petulantly refusing to engage. Your attempts at scrambling for the higher moral ground have been stymied by you previous groundless accusations.

    “Anyway, I’m aware that this discussion around censorship and trolling has gone on far too long with no progress. So with respect to other contributors, and the Blog author, I will suggest – lets agree to disagree on the matter, and move on.”

    Good call, Mr E, and moving out of this thread would be helpful, you are adding nothing of value to this discussion.


  43. Mr E says:

    “Trolls disrupt the threads with short sarcastic putdowns directed at individual commenters”

    “You are yapping”
    “you are adding nothing of value to this discussion.”

    The words speak for themselves.


  44. Dave Kennedy says:

    This link connects closely to the speech reproduced here. It is another view on the validity of English’s “centre right” approach to meeting needs and supports my concerns:


  45. TraceyS says:

    “…you highlighted the problems I already identified regarding the supply and demand sides of the property market. There is a huge shortage of decent, low cost housing. So what has been the Government’s strategy…”

    I did. So what is the Government to do about the demand side for low cost housing? Everyone wants better wages but this fuels demand, especially when there are groups such as Pacific peoples with home ownership below 30% and Maori below 40%. Then when home ownership increases there is bound to be an upward effect on unemployment. Home ownership is ‘good’ but unemployment isn’t. Better wages are ‘good’ but greater demand for homes isn’t. Everything is connected. A ‘win’ here is a loss there and vice verse.

    On the supply side I have to state that in principle I do not agree with the Government owning individual rental properties. Good governance is being assured that there is the right mix and level of homes rather than providing and managing them directly.


  46. TraceyS says:

    By the way, Dave, I do not comment on your blog for exactly the same reasons as Mr E has given.


  47. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, I agree with your views on employment and home ownership. The problem with many new housing developments, and the inclusion of some low cost and social housing, is the lack of profitability for developers and and the NIMBY issue. Either we build low cost housing in separate developments away from where the affluent wish to live (problems then with transport to jobs and creating ghettos) or stand firm and demand a good percentage of low cost and social housing in each development. The Government has backed down in Hobsonville even though it is Government land:'laughable

    After promising 300 cheap homes in 2009, only 17 were built four years later and now 6 years later there are only 4 out 69 that are available for less than $500,000 (all have only 2 bedrooms).

    The Government has only just started to limit non resident buyers from pushing up market prices (demand side) and reluctantly introduced a weak capital gains tax. It has done very little to meet the supply side with 0.1% of low cost/social houses built over the last 7 years to meet the demand. It is blaming all others and yet on Government owned land the 300-600 houses promised have trickled out and even been diluted in number.

    “I do not agree with the Government owning individual rental properties”

    I guess you are referring to State Housing and would support the selling of all 68,000 currently on their books. The Government is currently the largest manager of social housing and had even more properties in the past (John Key lived in one). Who do you suggest do this? Currently many private landlords do not adhere to the standards expected of state housing and the welfare of tenants come secondary to profits. How would you ensure better outcomes in the private sector than those currently provided?

    “By the way, Dave, I do not comment on your blog for exactly the same reasons as Mr E has given.”

    That is your choice, Tracey, the is one of the more common providers and the fact that you do not wish to engage with the blogs that publish from there is nothing to do with me (and nothing to do with censorship as Mr E amazingly tried to claim).


  48. TraceyS says:

    Oh so you you can’t change those settings?


  49. Dave Kennedy says:

    Oh so you you can’t change those settings?

    I probably could, Tracey, it was more open, but I was plagued by spam from all over the world and it is safer to ensure it is a real person who wants to comment rather than an anonymous spammer. It may be a bit of a hassle for you but I have to do the same thing to comment on blogs using another provider too.

    When Tony used to blog from Keeping Stock we became Facebook friends and you are welcome to comment there as I mainly use it for political networking.


  50. Dave Kennedy says:

    I am only posting this because climate change was referred to by Will earlier (I don’t want to be accused again of trolling or highjacking the thread). It is an interesting series of graphs on climate change produced by Bloomberg (hardly a socialist forum) and just more evidence of the mainstream acceptance of the science:


  51. Mr E says:

    “I don’t want to be accused again of trolling or highjacking the thread.”

    It seems some of what I have proposed has sunk in. Take your victories where you can, I say.

    Good on you Dave.


  52. Paranormal says:

    DK – admittedly without doing an indepth look at the graphs it appears the figures have been typically gerrymandered. Just a casual look shows that the ‘mini ice age’ of the early 1940’s is represented as above the 1880-1910 average. Clearly not correct and shows something dodgy at olay in the background figures.

    Trying to prove supposed greenhouse gases are the cause by manipulating datasets so they look as if there is a correlation is right up the climategate alley.

    However if they matched what we know from the geological record where CO2 has followed warming – therefore clearly not the cause – then we might just start to getting closer to working out what is really happening.


  53. TraceyS says:

    “I guess you are referring to State Housing and would support the selling of all 68,000 currently on their books.”

    No, not necessarily. But if that were possible (ie. people didn’t need State housing) wouldn’t be the mark of a great society?

    “The Government is currently the largest manager of social housing and had even more properties in the past (John Key lived in one). Who do you suggest do this?”

    Public-private partnership perhaps – managed day to day by the private side with State input at strategic and governance levels. To be honest, I don’t think it would matter much whether the ‘private’ was a NZ-owned or overseas-owned business. What I do not like seeing is public entities getting milked because businesses who contract to them often see Government (whether central or local) as having deep pockets. The management savviness to identify and manage this resides in the private sector and the Government needs access to that because there aren’t enough really good savvy managers to go around. Capability is the most important criterion – not ownership which is essentially passive.

    “Currently many private landlords do not adhere to the standards expected of state housing and the welfare of tenants come secondary to profits. How would you ensure better outcomes in the private sector than those currently provided?”

    See my comment above.


  54. JC says:


    The graphs carefully state the temp is “observed” but there’s no such statement attached to the greenhouse gas line.. thats because it isn’t observed but derived from a model.

    Second, why with all the actual figures known and observed about temp and Mauna Loa CO2 levels did they stop the graph at 2005? Because of the second decade of the near 20 year period on no increase in temps despite a continuing increase in CO2.

    I’m hoping the following graph shows up that proves this point otherwise you’ll have to go to the WUWT link in the comments that shows it down at 2.48pm.



  55. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal and JC, I should have predicted your responses 😉

    It is obviously a concern that Bloomberg joins a long list of institutions and organisations that have joined the climate conspiracy. We can’t trust our Governments, our scientific institutions, our most respected newspapers and now Bloomberg joins Forbes, Time and our own NBR in believing the climate science.

    I guess you guys must be thankful that the Heartland Institute, Lord Monckton and the retired TV weatherman (that you linked to JC) can point out the errors in the mass of peer reviewed science that is behind the conspiracy. I have heard the reason for the conspiracy is that scientists are driven by financial gain and others hope to make a killing in green and sustainable energy markets.

    It’s a good thing that the fossil fuel industry is able to expose this international conspiracy to falsify the science. Obviously a mass shift away from fossil fuels will destroy the most profitable companies in the world must be stopped at all costs. This noble fight is also being fought by the tobacco industry, that uses similar think tanks and scientists like Fred Singer. Mainstream science was so wrong about tobacco smoke too.

    I apologise for the sarcasm, it is a low form of debate, but you guys really do ignore the mass of arguments and evidence and latch on to anything that supports your view as if those individuals you quote trump all the others.

    Here is a link to the most prominent scientists that support your views, many you have linked to yourselves. I agree that some are sincere and respected for much that they have achieved. However most are not actually climate scientists, and some like poor David Bellamy based his views on Fred Singer’s flawed work:

    Sadly this group of scientists represent a tiny, tiny percentage of scientists compared to the hundreds of thousands who have a different understanding. If there was some truth in climate science skepticism then their numbers would be growing, but the opposite is true:

    Tracey, you make a lot of assumptions regarding Housing New Zealand’s current performance and your enthusiasm for more private sector involvement. I would love to see evidence for this as what I have read there is not a lot of interest from the private sector to fulfill this role and even NGOs claim that it is beyond them.

    Interestingly you claim at one hand that the private sector milks Government departments to their advantage but, if that is their level of dishonesty, how can we trust them with housing vulnerable people without exploiting them? Despite the lack of proper Government oversight Housing New Zealand still delivers better standards of housing for our most struggling people.


  56. TraceyS says:

    A popular explanation for the big gap between blue and red lines (above) is that the heat has gone into the ocean.

    To check that theory, the following graph should be overlaid upon the above one.

    In this case, it is not the modelled heat trend data which is seen to be in question, but the observed data.

    The modelled ocean heat content trend (yellow line) is flatish between 2000 and 2010 – similar to the observed land surface temperature trend for the same period. This trend differs markedly from the observed ocean temperature trend (red line). However, the inconsistencies (marked with black squares) are not verified by observations of supporting phenomena (eg. relative sea-level change). The authors suggest sampling/measurement error.

    Therefore, this study “…calls into question whether ocean reanalyses can be used to robustly attribute increased Ht [heat trend] below the ocean mixed layer in the early 2000s as an explanation for the onset of the recent slowdown in surface warming (Guemas et al., 2013).”*

    If the modelling (and closely correlated observations in the latter part of the decade studied ie. 2008-10) are correct then it is far from clear that the missing heat has disappeared into the ocean.



  57. TraceyS says:

    “Interestingly you claim at one hand that the private sector milks Government departments to their advantage but, if that is their level of dishonesty, how can we trust them with housing vulnerable people without exploiting them?”

    The answer to that is rather obvious; by being in a partnership with vested interests rather than a purely transactional relationship.

    “Despite the lack of proper Government oversight Housing New Zealand still delivers better standards of housing for our most struggling people.”

    But does it offer the best value for taxpayer dollars spent?

    If so, how do you know? (evidence please)


  58. Paranormal says:

    So DK – Bloomberg went out and did their own independent scientific study did they? Or did they just use the same old hash churned out by the Climategate colluders? There’s your issue.

    You also willfully ignore the incentives for institutions and governments to continue the political farce that is Gorebull Warming.


  59. JC says:

    Lets start with your claim against Fred Singer who said that the EPA had bullshitted the facts on passive smoking.

    His views are supported by the Congressional Research Unit 1995, Federal Court Judge William Osteen who threw out an EPA suit on passive smoking because of “scientific misconduct” in 1998, Investors Business Daily investigation 1993, British Medical Journal 2003, World Health Organisation (Lancet 2010/11), Biomed Central (supported by the Canadian National Cancer Institute and Canada Cancer Society.

    And of course you and others make much of the fact that Singer has accepted tobacco money. I’m pleased you raise this because you will absolutely condemn all research produced by the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia because it was specifically set up with grants from Shell and BP and as of 2008 was still funded by these two Big Oil companies plus the nuclear industry of the UK.

    Its also of interest that you didn’t challenge the findings I reported but went straight to attack on the people you consider detrimental to your favourite warming ideas.. its all you have.



  60. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, you have again fallen into the trap of cherrypicking a paper to suggest all climate science is potentially flawed. The publisher, AGU, is an organisation of 62,000 members across 144 countries and the overall view that it endorses on climate change is this:

    I don’t have the ability to critique individual papers for their scientific validity as you appear confident to do (I note that the one you have linked to has only had to anonymous reviewers), so I bow to the collective wisdom of the organisation.

    “You also willfully ignore the incentives for institutions and governments to continue the political farce that is Gorebull Warming.”

    Paranormal, please describe these. i would have thought the incentives to support the fossil Fuel industry would be greater as its funding for US political campaigns is substantial and oil companies receive generous subsidies despite their profitability. Is more money coming from the wind turbine industry that I wasn’t aware of, or is it actually the science that has shifted thinking?

    JC, I admire your ability (obviously similar to Tracey) to critique science research and be able to decide that it should be regarded as pivotal work in the large mass of climate science. Tracey linked to the AGU that publishes a range of research including some that obviously questions some aspects of climate science, however the overall view of the organisation supports the majority understandings of climate science and currently believes:

    The American Geophysical Union today released a revised version of its position statement on climate change. Titled “Human-induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action,” the statement declares that “humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years” and that ”rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” AGU develops position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to Earth and space science. These statements are limited to positions that are within the range of available geophysical data or norms of legitimate scientific debate.

    ”AGU has a responsibility to help policy makers and the public understand the impacts our science can have on public health and safety, economic stability and growth, and national security,” said Gerald North, chair of AGU’s Climate Change Position Statement Review Panel. ”Because our understanding of climate change and its impacts on the world around us has advanced so significantly in the last few years, it was vitally important that AGU update its position statement. The new statement is more reflective of the current state of scientific knowledge. It also calls greater attention to the specific societal impacts we face and actions that can diminish the threat.”

    Even the Shell has stopped challenging the science and has shifted its position because of the irrefutable evidence:

    As for your mate, Fred, I am not qualified to criticise his work but I believe the scientific community is and he doesn’t come out well:


  61. Dave Kennedy says:

    But does it (Government) offer the best value for taxpayer dollars spent?

    If so, how do you know? (evidence please)

    Tracey, if you divide the annual budget for Housing NZ by the 68,000 houses it manages it will give you an idea of the current costs per unit of the Governments management. I haven’t done it but obviously the Salvation Army has done something similar and found that it is too hard for them to do as a non profit organisation. The likelihood of private enterprise to make an income from social housing must therefore be extremely limited, unless they cut costs somewhere that will be detrimental to tenants. I admit it is a theory, but it seems logical and appears to stack up better than your theory that PPP social housing will deliver an income for private investors.


  62. Paranormal says:

    DK you continue to be willfully blind to the incentives Gorebull Warming provides governments and organsiations in the form of big government money. Why do you think the good people at Enron first came up with the idea of carbon trading? It is the same base incentive.


  63. Dave Kennedy says:

    “willfully blind to the incentives Gorebull Warming provides governments and organsiations in the form of big government money.”

    Paranormal, you will have to explain to me in more detail how this works. Are you saying that Government’s are fabricating decades of climate science so that they can invent new forms of taxation that will then impact on the industries that support their political campaigns?

    I am sorry but i don’t get your logic or see the drivers for such an elaborate conspiracy. There are numerous books like the ‘Merchants of Doubt’ that have researched evidence of the influence of large industries on science and government policy, but I have read nothing convincing about how climate scientists have conspired to achieve global fraud. I would love to have some links that support this.


  64. TraceyS says:

    “…you have again fallen into the trap of cherrypicking a paper to suggest all climate science is potentially flawed.”

    Oh no you’re wrong there. I have never ever said that all climate science is flawed. You are misinterpreting my preference to rely on the latest research and are conflating my curiosity with the views of others. Nor am I cherry-picking. This is not the first paper to question the recorded sea temperature measurements between 2000 and 2010.

    Purely out of curiosity, I have overlaid the two graphs:

    The modeled ocean heat trend (yellow line), modeled net energy balance (green line), averaged actual net energy (lower blue line), and averaged actual surface land temperature trend (upper blue line) are all flat between 2000 and 2010.

    The only trends which are not flat are atmospheric CO2 and measured ocean heat – and there appears to be no correlation between the two of those.

    The authors of the study I referenced suggested that the variability in measured ocean heat post-2000 up until around 2007 is caused by measurement errors. Pre-2000 the variability seen within all variables analysed was due to natural external forcing (ie. volcanoes). What I deduce is that actual measures of ocean heat (minus the errors) may well be following a similar trend to the models and actual surface land temperatures (as it appears to from 2008 onwards). Which would mean that ocean temperature, whilst having probably increased over time, does not track in line with increasing CO2. If this is the case, then the question remains “where has all the greenhouse heat gone”? More studies are needed to draw any conclusions. I suggest we park the discussion and return to it in five years’ time.

    The earlier study (Cheng and Zhu, 2014) which looked at ocean temperature during the 2000-2010 period provided good evidence of measurement problems. I suggest you read it:

    “Tracey linked to the AGU that publishes a range of research including some that obviously questions some aspects of climate science, however the overall view of the organisation supports the majority understandings of climate science and currently believes… (my bold)

    Dave, check the date of that position: 5 August 2013. It predates the very recent studies I referenced (2014 and 2015). So it’s a bit silly to question why the organisation’s position hasn’t changed. Those papers hadn’t even been written then! And no one would necessarily expect a couple of papers to change that position either. You seem to have a view of science that it’s consensus-driven group-think.

    As you’ve been told by commenters over and again; that is POLITICS, not science!


  65. Dave Kennedy says:

    Also do you believe that the justice system is part of this conspiracy:

    You constantly refer to “Gorebull” as if this ex vice president is a significant influence on the climate debate. His movie ‘Inconvenient Truth’ was made 10 years ago and while some errors and exaggerations were identified by a UK judge, he did find that the film was “broadly accurate” and should be shown in schools.

    Al Gore is not a scientist and although he collaborated with scientists to make his film, he is still a politician. I would generally refer people to the work of James Hansen (Storms of My Grandchildren) who is generally regarded as one of the worlds pre-eminent climate scientists and I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago when he spoke in Southland.


  66. Dave Kennedy says:

    “You seem to have a view of science that it’s consensus-driven group-think.”

    Oh dear, Tracey, that is exactly what science is.

    Science institutions where scientists peer review and share research is how we have reached scientific agreement for hundreds of years. It is these respected and independent institutions that also determine what should be understood regarding climate change. These same institutions also established what we all accept as common scientific understandings regarding how our natural and physical world (and the universe) operates. Wikipedia sums it up well regarding the significance of science communities and institutions:


    Learned societies for the communication and promotion of scientific thought and experimentation have existed since the Renaissance period.[81] The oldest surviving institution is the Italian Accademia dei Lincei which was established in 1603.[82] The respective National Academies of Science are distinguished institutions that exist in a number of countries, beginning with the British Royal Society in 1660[83] and the French Académie des Sciences in 1666.[84]

    International scientific organizations, such as the International Council for Science, have since been formed to promote cooperation between the scientific communities of different nations. Many governments have dedicated agencies to support scientific research. Prominent scientific organizations include, the National Science Foundation in the U.S., the National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Argentina, the academies of science of many nations, CSIRO in Australia, Centre national de la recherche scientifique in France, Max Planck Society and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in Germany, and in Spain, CSIC.

    Are you seriously saying that when the AGU reviews its position on Climate Change in 2017 (a review occurs every 4 years) that it will change it’s position based on the one paper you have presented? Over the years the trend has been for science institutions to become even more convinced of the seriousness of our collective impacts on climate change. I would be interested if you can prove otherwise.


  67. Paranormal says:

    “but I have read nothing convincing about how climate scientists have conspired to achieve global fraud” – so you haven’t heard of the Climategate emails then.


  68. Paranormal says:

    DK do you actually bother to read the links you provide. Yet again I have wasted my time in looking at the Mother Jones link. Mann hasn’t won anything yet. The article is about Mann’s case not being thrown out.

    Similarly you repeatedly ignore the judgement in the NIWA case where the judge decided the courts were not the place to decide science.

    There is a court ruling you are (unsurprisingly) being misleading on though – the British court that ruled Gore lied in his eco horror movie, and whilst it could continue to be shown in schools had to be provided with guidance notes so that students would not be misled (as you apparently have been):

    Interesting you prefer a scientist that has been called a liar, admits he is a crusader, and who alters datasets to achieve the outcome he wants.


  69. Paranormal says:

    Btw DK – you’ve lost it when you think science is about consensus. That’s politics.


  70. TraceyS says:

    “Are you seriously saying that when the AGU reviews its position on Climate Change in 2017 (a review occurs every 4 years) that it will change it’s position based on the one paper you have presented?”

    Are you trying to be annoying or is that just how you are Dave?

    What I wrote earlier was:

    “…no one would necessarily expect a couple of papers to change that position…”

    Can you answer your own question now?


  71. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, you keep coming up with the same arguments and are misrepresenting the facts.

    Mann has been subject to pretty serious abuse on his character and work despite having strong support from the wider scientific community. The link showed just how fanatical and crazy his main critics are:

    Weisberg’s order is just the latest in a string of setbacks that have left the climate change skeptics’ case in disarray. Earlier this month, Steptoe & Johnson, the law firm representing National Review and its writer, Mark Steyn, withdrew as Steyn’s counsel. According to two sources with inside knowledge, it also plans to drop National Review as a client.

    The lawyers’ withdrawal came shortly after Steyn—a prominent conservative pundit who regularly fills in as host of Rush Limbaugh’s radio show—publicly attacked the former judge in the case, Natalia Combs Greene, accusing her of “stupidity” and “staggering” incompetence. Mann’s attorney, John B. Williams, suspects this is no coincidence. “Any lawyer would be taken aback if their client said such things about the judge,” he says. “That may well be why Steptoe withdrew.”

    Remember the UK judge’s overall finding was that Gores film was ‘broadly accurate’ and many of the claimed errors have found to have factual support since.

    As for your criticisms of NASA scientist Hansen they appear to be a little emotive. Who called him a liar? What is wrong with being a crusader for something you believe is important? Where is the proof that he deliberately altered data sets?


  72. Dave Kennedy says:

    Then you have lost me again, Tracey, what is your point behind your comments. If it is that science involves a range research that can come out with conflicting findings, because then i am in total agreement.

    But is it your intention to question the wider findings of science institutions and suggest the the enormity of the problem is exaggerated by using the odd piece of research?

    Are you a skeptic, a denier, do you agree with me or are you just a confusing commenter throwing out random pieces of research for logical purpose?

    My thinking is that because most science institutions have reviewed the mass of climate science and their collective views have become closely aligned is strong evidence for the influence of man made GHG on our climate. I don’t believe you or I have the ability scientific ability to determine the significance of single pieces of research on the whole.


  73. TraceyS says:

    “You seem to have a view of science that it’s consensus-driven group-think.”

    “Oh dear, Tracey, that is exactly what science is.”


    Science is “…a disciplined way to study the natural world”.

    Peer review is “…the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers).”

    Peer review “…methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility.”

    Group-think is “…a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.” (my bold)

    Group-think is the antithesis of science.

    Your failure to discuss credible scientific information with me, from reliable mainstream sources, in a reasoned way, simply because you disagree with it, shows how truly group-thunked you are!


  74. TraceyS says:

    “I don’t believe you or I have the ability scientific ability to determine the significance of single pieces of research on the whole.”

    I fundamentally disagree. It is very important that everyday people (and/or their representatives) take a critical interest in relevant research whether at a collective or individual study level.


  75. TraceyS says:

    “But is it your intention…” No, none of that which follows your question.

    My intention is to question and keep minds open. That tight little bud of yours just won’t budge though. What is inside that you could be trying to protect?

    Have you considered why the two papers I referred to were open-source? Maybe someone thinks they should be widely read. Did you…I wonder…read them Dave?


  76. Dave Kennedy says:

    I haven’t really come across the term group-think before, Tracey and assumed that it meant scientific consensus. So I agree that the term doesn’t describe good science. I am surprised that you have evidence that this is what I would support when everything i have said supports the discipline and robust scientific process that give scientific institutions their credibility. It is an odd accusation.

    I have always questioned the maverick nature of many of the links being used here to support the skeptic arguments because most are not supported by the wider community of scientists that provide the legitimacy fro any research.

    I won’t debate the merits of individual pieces of research with you because:
    a) I don’t understand your need to do this with me, what is the purpose?
    b) I am not a climate scientist so have no understanding of the broader scientific context of any single piece of research.


  77. Dave Kennedy says:

    “My intention is to question and keep minds open”

    Open to what? If it is your intention that we accept that science is continually evolving and it is healthy to question current understandings or past research then we are in agreement. But that is also the job of our science institutions and why I accept that their wider findings will always be superior to anything I can do as an individual. That you feel that you can operate as an equal to these and that our discussions could be useful in determining the truth behind climate science is a little concerning.


  78. TraceyS says:

    “I don’t understand your need to do this with me…”

    Intellectual exercise. Good for expanding the vocabulary I hear 🙂

    “Open to what?”



  79. TraceyS says:

    Maverick links? Show me one that I have used?


  80. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey I am always open to new perspectives and ideas. I actually learn a lot form my engagement here (and appreciate the wee lesson about group-think), I would be arrogant to think I knew it all.

    However, you carefully select research that questions aspects of climate science and just say it is for information. It doesn’t appear to be that random and yet you are being very evasive about your true intent or own wider view.

    Please answer this without evading it:

    Do you believe that the current AGU statement on climate science is an accurate reflection of the majority scientific view?

    If you don’t, then that gives me a context for your comments.

    If you do then we are largely in agreement and I don’t see your point in wanting me to debate individual pieces of random research.

    If you don’t answer, or talk around the question then you are being disingenuous.

    I don’t agree with JC and Paranormal, but they are honest in their intentions and belief and you are not being transparent about yours. It seems that you main purpose is to try and catch me out and point score.


  81. Dave Kennedy says:

    Maverick links? Show me one that I have used?

    The most recent one has had two anonymous reviewers and no other solid peer review process that I can find (do you have a link to a review?). Until it has been included or cited in further research then it is an outlier of mainstream research and should be regarded with caution.


  82. JC says:

    “The most recent one has had two anonymous reviewers and no other solid peer review process that I can find (do you have a link to a review?).”

    You are joking, arent you?

    Anonymous peer review is the standard tradition of peer review for science.

    Open peer review is more recent and is still argued about in terms of efficacy. I might prefer open review but anonymous review has a long history and has been by far the most common and preferred in the past.



  83. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC why should science peer review be anonymous when it is research in the public interest and isn’t it useful to have those reviews available?


  84. Will says:

    A teacher who has never heard of ‘group think.’ Cheers Dave, I needed a laugh.


  85. JC says:

    “JC why should science peer review be anonymous when it is research in the public interest and isn’t it useful to have those reviews available?”

    I agree. The move to open review received an enormous fillip from the Climategate emails where those world experts were exposed arranging “anonymous” reviews of each others work in order to hoodwink other scientists and the public about the quality of their works and papers.

    Anyway its all a bit moot now that the UK Met has put out a paper saying Britain and the Eastern US could be entering a mini ice age not seen these last 300 years.

    As you noted earlier the Daily Mail has seen the light and is now fully on board with the warmist agenda..

    I particularly liked this comment from the Met..

    “‘This research shows that the regional impacts of a grand solar minimum are likely to be larger than the global effect, but it’s still nowhere near big enough to override the expected global warming trend due to man-made change.

    ‘This means that even if we were to see a return to levels of solar activity not seen since the Maunder Minimum, our winters would likely still be getting milder overall.’”

    This validates my statement of a few days ago that “the colder it gets the hotter it will be”.

    Its always nice to have publicly funded real scientists agree with me and especially that the sun has some influence on climate.



  86. Dave Kennedy says:

    “This validates my statement of a few days ago that “the colder it gets the hotter it will be”.”

    I agree with you JC when you account for the extreme weather patterns that are happening more often. Freezing storms and droughts and record highs as well. We are experiencing them already.

    Yes, JC, the sun has an impact but man made GHG add to the natural forcings. Here is a list of the common skeptic myths and the scientific responses. At the Gore presentation, Hansen responded to a lot of these thrown at him from the floor and he dealt with each easily. Choose your myth…

    Will, pleased you had a laugh at my expense, it was obviously nothing I used in my teaching practice 😉


  87. Paranormal says:

    JC – well done. You could ask for your hook, line & sinker back?


  88. JC says:

    “I agree with you JC when you account for the extreme weather patterns that are happening more often. Freezing storms and droughts and record
    highs as well. We are experiencing them already.”

    Except we are not. IPCC Working Group one Chapter two 2013 has the summary..

    “Overall, the most robust global changes in climate extremes are seen in measures of daily temperature, including to some extent, heat waves. Precipitation extremes also appear to be increasing, but there is large spatial variability”
    “There is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century”
    “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”
    “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”
    “In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems”
    “In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. However, it is likely that the frequency and intensity of drought has increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and decreased in central North America and north-west Australia since 1950”
    “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low”

    “Choose your myth…”

    Well, you certainly have. I generally don’t comment on the dodgy sites you use but climate fraud John Cook who runs Skeptical Science is a bridge too far. Google has pages on his 97% fraud. As for Hansen’s answers they are mostly wrong, disputed, overtaken by more research or self serving.



  89. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, so do you agree with the IPCC’s overall stance on Climate Change or do you just cherry pick the bits that support your argument? This also comes from the IPPC:
    “Specifically, the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes increased by about 75% since 1970. The largest increases were in the North Pacific, Indian and Southwest Pacific Oceans. However, numbers of hurricanes in the North Atlantic have also been above normal in 9 of the last 11 years, culminating in the record-breaking 2005 season.”

    If we are talking about science credibility then the attacks on John Cooks site lack that. In the main his links to research that addresses each myth are relevant and I note that much of the criticism against his site are either wild, unsubstantiated allegations, quotes taken out of context or trying to use a minor element to question the whole. A little like the attacks on climate science in general.

    This makes interesting reading about your suggestion of fraud around the 97%:

    “As for Hansen’s answers they are mostly wrong, disputed, overtaken by more research or self serving.”

    Given that Hansen is well regarded in the climate science community it interests me who is questioning his science. I am genuinely interested in links to to those critics and criticisms.


  90. TraceyS says:

    “Do you believe that the current AGU statement on climate science is an accurate reflection of the majority scientific view?”

    The AGU has around 62,000 members. That’s a lot!

    “Gerald North chaired AGU panel revising climate statement…North said the panel had received only about two-dozen member comments on the draft when it was published for comment last November. He said also that “it was amazing to me” that in the initial weeks since adoption of the new AGU statement he had received so few “hate mails”…”^ (my bold)

    Are the silent 99.96% of members assumed to be in full agreement with the statement?

    I would not be comfortable making that assumption based on a 0.04% response from the membership and lack of hate mail. These don’t look like very scientific methods to me. So it is very hard to answer “yes” to your question with any certainty.

    What I do or do not “believe”, Dave, is not important anyway. What is important is that assumptions arise from a disciplined way of looking at things. That’s what science is.

    If climate assumptions are arrived at via the scientific method, even if the results disagree with mainstream acceptance, it is still science.



  91. TraceyS says:

    “Will, pleased you had a laugh at my expense, it [group-think] was obviously nothing I used in my teaching practice.”

    Peer-pressure, Dave. Was that not something you ever came across in your teaching practice, the Union, or even as a parent? I can’t believe that you wouldn’t have.

    – Group-think:
    – Peer-pressure:
    – Spiral of silence theory:
    “…stipulates that individuals have a fear of isolation, which results from the idea that a social group or the society in general might isolate, neglect, or exclude members due to the members’ opinions. This fear of isolation consequently leads to remaining silent instead of voicing opinions.”

    Your apparent ignorance of such forces is curious. Perhaps it is because they are convenient to you?


  92. Dave Kennedy says:

    Tracey, I admit I hadn’t really come across the term ‘groupthink’ before, however I have quickly sorted that (thanks to you) and find the whole concept fascinating. I discovered the origins in Irving Janis’ research and how it has been used to describe the rationale behind the war in Iraq and it is clearly applicable to the thinking behind climate skeptics and deniers.

    It isn’t really simply peer pressure (in it’s general meaning) as you suggest but is related to a need for solidarity or a decision from a leadership group. It generally comes about when good process is ignored and a decision is made that has little prior basis (a clutching at straws scenario).

    It means that an impulsive decision is made that then has to be justified. Obviously if information is presented contradicts that decision it is ignored. A process of cherry picking occurs where anything that will support the stance is grabbed and often given greater relevance or status than is deserved. The consequences of such groupthink decisions tend to have unfortunate consequences.

    “To investigate further, Janis studied several policy fiascoes, including the Bay of Pigs, the failure to protect Pearl Harbor, and the escalation of the Vietnam War. In each case, the participants “adhered to group norms and pressures toward uniformity, even when their policy was working badly and had unintended consequences that disturbed the conscience of the members,” he wrote. “Members consider loyalty to the group the highest form of morality.” ”

    I can see the groupthink explains the how climate deniers operate and how the current Government has approached the housing problem (a desperate decision made and then attempts to make the policy work when there was no initial supporting evidence).

    Thank you for your link to the Spiral of Silence theory too as I can see elements of that happening here, where anyone who has a different view from the ‘group’ are attacked with some energy in an attempt to silence them. The Government uses the same approach by limiting government servants’ ability to voice concerns about government policy and withdrawing funding from NGOs who dare criticise them (rape crisis, the Problem Gambling Foundation and Relationships Aotearoa).

    I also see an effort in your last comments to ridicule me and question my intelligence by throwing around terms that have academic applications that may not be widely encountered. Amusingly, this has backfired on you because they have ended up supporting my own arguments rather than yours. 😉

    You have also adopted the disingenuous option I presented by not actually stating your position but questioning the validity of the organisation that you cherry picked research from (an example of groupthink in action).

    You are implying that the leadership of all the world’s science institutions cannot be trusted and are operating without the consensus of their members. Your link did not support your case but demonstrated how deciding on the final climate statement, the AGU actually used sound process with a representative panel and the criticisms of an ‘outlier’ scientist were actually not rejected but were given due consideration and elements changed to accommodate him.


  93. Paranormal says:

    I find it interesting DK that you suggest you are not a scientist and therefore incapable of discerning science. You clearly have no idea of the scientific method or for that matter commonly recognised phenomenon (groupthink for example).

    Yet you seem to think you are eminently qualified to discredit anyone that says anything contrary to your religion.

    How is that possible or perhaps more tellingly, why is that?


  94. TraceyS says:

    “You have also adopted the disingenuous option I presented by not actually stating your position but questioning the validity of the organisation that you cherry picked research from…

    That is wrong. I questioned whether there was enough evidence of consensus amongst AGU members NOT the “validity of the organisation”.

    The authors of “Earth’s energy imbalance since 1960 in observations and CMIP5 models” (2015) are from Met Office Hadley Centre (Smith, Eade, Hyder, Palmer, Roberts, Scaife), Department of Meteorology, University of Reading (Allan, Liu), National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (Coward), NASA Langley Research Center (Loeb).

    The American Geophysical Union (AGU) publishes Geophysical Research Letters in which the article was published. This does not mean that it is the work of the AGU. It is the work of the authors. Indeed the AGU’s Publication Guidelines plainly state “an editor should respect the intellectual independence of authors.”


  95. JC says:

    “JC, so do you agree with the IPCC’s overall stance on Climate Change or do you just cherry pick the bits that support your argument? This also comes from the IPPC:”

    Oh dear Lord!

    That is a former assessment (AR4) to the 2013 one I gave you above which states:

    ““Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”

    That is a repudiation of the AR4 conclusions.. and not the only ones as detailed in my above post.

    “This makes interesting reading about your suggestion of fraud around the 97%:”

    So you jump from the fraudster Cook to that paragon of scientific virtue the Gruniad to Cooks fellow author on the 97% consensus to validate the paper?

    Thats seriously creepy.

    As for Hansen, read the man himself and his predictions.. some of them are here:

    He just says what ever he thinks sounds alarming.



  96. TraceyS says:

    “You are implying that the leadership of all the world’s science institutions cannot be trusted…”

    Lying will not win you the debate, Dave.


  97. JC says:

    “I discovered the origins in Irving Janis’ research and how it has been used to describe the rationale behind the war in Iraq and it is clearly applicable to the thinking behind climate skeptics and deniers.”

    Now you are really jumping the shark.

    Janis went on to say..

    “The main principle of groupthink, which I offer in the spirit of Parkinson’s Law, is this: The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making ingroup, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against outgroups.[6]:44”

    Now, if you think your 3% of so called deniers is recognised as the “ingroup” then thats a whale you are soaring over.

    Wikipedia nails it..

    “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints, by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.”

    Actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints and isolating themselves from outside influences is exactly what the majority ingroup of climate activists do.



  98. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, as I said earlier I am really grateful for having been introduced to groupthink as it explains a lot that I hadn’t had a label for before 😉

    You refer to accepting the generally held views of climate change as a religion and that I attempt to discredit those who don’t have the same beliefs. I don’t believe mainstream science is a religion or that the Governments and national science institutions promote religious views. They all appear to have a scientific basis to their understandings.

    I would suggest that you have been captured by something that is actually closer to a religion. The institutions that support your theories are tainted by their past (as opposed to the Royal Society) and most of your statements appear ideological and are rarely supported by scientific communities. The individuals you link to are generally outliers to mainstream science or those with minimal scientific credibility. Rather than just saying this I try to link to critiques of their theories by those who have a greater understanding of the science than myself. But I not JC has rubbished Hansen but hasn’t provided the evidence for why his work has been discredited (I would have thought all his international awards would provide a different perception).


  99. Paranormal says:

    How can you make those assumptions DK when by your own admissions you don’t know what science is and are unqualified to judge the merits or otherwise of climate science?


  100. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, I have tertiary level of understanding of some science but I would never claim to have a postgraduate research base in climate science. I do read widely make judgments based on what is presented and who is presenting them. This is the approach I have continually taken here.

    Your argument appears to be that climate science is largely a conspiracy and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. You appear to believe that government’s see man made climate change as a useful (but false) construct to increase taxes. You have also suggested that there is a communist plot to destroy the world’s economy and redistribute wealth from businessmen and corporations who have honestly earned it. To support your views you use websites and link to individuals that present plausible scientific arguments that question mainstream science. Does that sum it up?

    I believe that most science institutions and governments are generally honest and the mass of science research (collected over decades) produces a concerning picture of a future climate crisis. Similar things happened with acid rain, the depletion of the ozone layer and the dangers of tobacco smoke. Many industries were threatened by the revelations and they managed to gain enough support through questioning mainstream science to delay mitigating action.

    I believe that think tanks funded by oil companies that question climate science have huge conflicts of interest that don’t exist in NASA and the Royal Society. The fact that Shell stopped fighting the science some years ago and is trying to save company’s interests by shifting its attention to cleaner fuels, looking at sequestering carbon and investigating alternatives is telling. It is also telling that many investors and financial institutions are now divesting themselves of their shares in the fossil fuel industry as they see the writing on the wall.

    As I have asked before, Paranormal, if most of the scientific institutions, most governments and now leading financial institutions accept mainstream climate science, who is batting on your side.

    The Oregon Petition and the Heartland Foundation produced lists of scientists who are supposedly climate change skeptics but both lists have been found to be flawed after simple scrutiny. The Heartland Institute is largely discredited and struggles to exist (its last conference was a fizzer) and many past skeptics have changed their views. Despite this the numbers of genuine skeptical scientists are an insignificant number compared to those that support mainstream science.

    I’m sorry but your broader arguments don’t stack up.


  101. JC says:

    “As I have asked before, Paranormal, if most of the scientific institutions, most governments and now leading financial institutions accept mainstream climate science, who is batting on your side.”

    That is so very true, the numbers are very few, the finances pitiful in comparison to the hundreds of billions on the warming side, the costs of skepticism huge to reputation and job prospects and likely personal safety.. but on the other hand…

    *The gap between observed temperatures and warmist models is huge and growing, ie, the models run too hot.

    *There has been a near twenty year hiatus in temp rises which was never predicted by models.

    *Warming of 6C by 2100 as predicted is now horribly off track and may end up anywhere between 0-2C.

    *The oceans are not rising to produce a twenty foot wall of water by 2100 as predicted but are rising at slightly less than observed increases of the past.

    *Ocean acidification is about what it has been for many decades. It took the removal of 80 years of records to produce a minor increase that would have replicated the conditions in the era when shellfish first appeared.

    *There has been no statistically valid increase in extreme weather events.. a point now admitted by the IPCC.

    *Current climate temp increases are well within the norm of the last 8000 years of the Holocene regardless of CO2 levels. In fact the Earth has cooled slightly in the last 6000 years.

    *There is effectively no top of the atmosphere tropical “hotspot”.. a crucial plank in justifying the warmist position.

    About all you can say about this tiny number of skeptics is they’ve been more right than wrong about the climate.

    And of course there are those 7.6 million people with internet access who rate climate change as the least of their priorities and the countless surveys and polls that show the publics) around the world acknowledge climate change but are not prepared to do much about it.

    I’m with the vast majority of people in the world.. we believe there has been warming in the last 100 years and that Man has had an influence on climate but not so much as to believe there needs to be much done about it bar continuing to reduce or eliminate pollution; and at this stage definitely not to make major economic decisions that pander to climate activists and extremists.



  102. Dave Kennedy says:

    JC, that is your opinion that the skeptics are correct and supported by skeptic scientists who are in a minority for a good reason, their science doesn’t stack up. All the things you list have been challenged. It doesn’t make sense that NASA can be trusted to send space craft accurately into the outer reaches of our solar system but can’t read and predict climate data and the only scientists we should trust are the small group outside mainstream science.

    I have put up links to show how outliers to mainstream science (from actual scientists) are regarded respectfully and the most shocking behaviour has come from deniers.

    “Despite the fact that the U.S. National Research Council endorsed Mann’s “hockey stick” findings in 2006 and subsequent research has substantiated them further, Mann has still faced a steady stream of personal attacks on his credibility, death threats, and even a simulated anthrax attack.”

    “Many of the attacks Mann faced are chronicled in his recent book-length account, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Among these, in 2009, scientists’ emails were hacked—including Mann’s—and a trumped-up controversy ensued. Mann’s employer, Pennsylvania State University, along with multiple governmental committees, upheld his research and conduct. Still, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, another climate contrarian, sued the University of Virginia, Mann’s former employer, to gain access to his private emails. After the Union of Concerned Scientists organized a letter from Virginia academics protesting the investigation, the university stood up to Cuccinelli in court and won. Another demand for his emails – this time from a group called the American Tradition Institute – is still working its way through the courts.”

    When you divide the money devoted to climate science by the number of scientists working in the field, few make much money. On the other hand individual oil companies earn more than many countries (6 of the richest 10 companies globally are oil companies), scientists and think tanks prepared to go against the mainstream are rewarded handsomely:

    One of the difficulties with climate science is the media have tried to be fair and given skeptics equal time to mainstream science and would be like (for you) giving the Internet/Mana equal media time as National in the election campaign. This has distorted the public’s view of where the true balance of climate science is.


  103. Paranormal says:

    So let’s summarise DK, You put your ‘faith’ in institutions. The same institutions that make a fortune out of climate change.

    As JC says, those that stand up and point out the emperor has no clothes are vilified. You are guilty of that as well , rather than addressing the substance of their facts.

    I know it’s late for a Thursday quizz question but – what NZ song said “they put all their faith in tall buildings”. Seems apropos for your situation.

    Interesting that when the original emails from climategate show a clear collusion, the warmists talk of something being ‘trumped up’, Yet these same warmists guard their source data with a passion as it shows the climategate issue is not trumped up at all.

    Interesting also when i put logic and facts to you, you cry ’emotional’. Yet you can’t see the emotional claptrap in your own writing.


  104. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, you know that the really big money is in the fossil fuel business and most scientists are not on large incomes. I have produced links to show the level of abuse and death threats that scientists like Mann suffered. It is not dissimilar from the attacks New Zealand scientist Mike Joy has experienced. Anyone who threatens the economic status quo are attacked because those who control the markets and the money want to maintain their revenue streams, no matter the environmental consequences.

    There is a common argument coming through from the Heartland Institute and business think tanks that is strongly averse to carbon taxes and tighter regulation. It is claimed that it is communistic type control and there is an attempt to redistribute wealth to the poor. Yet a lack of regulation caused the recession and I have shown how BC’s introduction of a carbon tax actually simulated and strengthened their economy.

    Sustainable and renewable energy is a growing market, not because it is based on lies and artificial drivers, but because solar energy makes more sense than destroying Alberta’s environment by digging up the tar sands or destroying Southland farms for a fifty year lignite industry. We have moved on from the coal driven Industrial revolution and we are now transitioning from a oil based economy and it is hard for luddites locked into the past to see the opportunities in new ideas and technology.

    I keep throwing up new links and evidence to support my argument and you keep referring back to nonsense like Climategate, that was sorted years ago through a number of legal and scientific challenges.

    Climategate was just another example of the vicious, underhand attacks by deniers and not dissimilar to the kind of stuff that Cameron Slater and Carrick Graham do by attacking scientists and public servants who threaten the tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries. They label those who are actually concerned about health as troughers from the public purse when they themselves are being paid by those industries to discredit them. Carrick Graham was quite open about it in a recent interview.

    “You put your ‘faith’ in institutions”
    We all do Paranormal, you put your faith in the institutions and groups that you feel comfortable with and the messages you are reproducing here largely come from conservative think tanks that are largely funded by the oil industry. Do some research of your own and track back the sources of your main theories and see where they originated.


  105. Paranormal says:

    Renewable energy is a ‘growth energy’ particularly because of the artificial drivers – being warmist driven government subsidies. I am not denigrating solar, when it becomes more efficient and cost effective I will have it on my roof, but its rapid growth has come from government incentives, not because it is efficient. Just look at the billions lost in solar to date.

    Instead of shooting the messenger, why don’t you look at the message. JC has a good list of some of them above.

    I thought you would have followed one of your Green traiblazing politicians when he is alleged to have said – “question everything”.

    The fact you continue to denigrate the source and not address the argument shows you are the conspiracy theorist scrabbling to keep the momentum on your failing religion alive.


  106. Dave Kennedy says:

    “but its rapid growth has come from government incentives, not because it is efficient. Just look at the billions lost in solar to date.”

    You are wrong, Paranormal, the biggest growth of solar is in China because of their huge issues with pollution from their largely coal driven industrial growth. Also the fossil fuel industry gets far more subsidies (tax cuts, carbon credits) than solar in NZ and our cheap electricity supply is being over priced as it used as a source of tax revenue through the dividends produced.

    “you continue to denigrate the source”

    Just as you do, Paranormal, when you dismiss the science communities as accessing billions of government money for what you claim as fraudulent research.

    It just comes down to who has the most credible argument and who must be the most compromised by their funding sources. I notice that you haven’t challenged me about my conclusions regarding your institutional sources. Climategate and Manns graph continue to be major elements of your argument and yet both campaigns can be tracked to the same sources.

    As I said before, the same scenarios are being repeated in other sectors, the fight against climate science is similar to the fight against regulations against unhealthy processed food:

    And the dirty attacks against the health professionals that threaten the processed food industry:


  107. Paranormal says:

    So I’m wrong about incentives the DK?

    You still have that marxist mentality that tax forgone is a subsidy and yet you rail against other commenters that suggest the Greens are marxist?

    As for climategate, are you suggesting the emails and their contents were forgerys? The fact you want to continue denigrate the source rather than arguing the science is telling. Whereas I have denigrated the likes of Hansen because of his science or is that lack of science. you continue to play politics and waste resources when if that level of attention was put onto real issues – such as the plastic pollution in the sea for example, we could see real change in the environment.


  108. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, that’s shocking, but we must agree that there are issues with many markets and this Government has been giving out carbon credits to local emitters and allowing them profit by using cheap Eastern European credits instead (since rectified, but only recently). We have Fonterra using coal to dry milk because it is cheaper than cleaner energy.

    You keep trying to pigeonhole me as a marxist when I am actually supportive of the market system, however few operate like true markets as the likes of Adam Smith envisaged. Some intervention is necessary to maintain fairness and limit exploitation and corruption.

    This is little I can do about your belief in climate change if you refuse to accept my links that showed the legal and scientific response. It is also a concern that you don’t realize that they were used out of context and it was a Cameron Slater style attack.

    Time has also moved on since the Climategate beat up and much more research has been done in the ten years since that still supports the earlier findings.

    You still attack Hansen’s science but have produced no link to your sources. I would be interested to know who has challenged his research. I actually struggle to see how you are happy to support organisations and individuals who have attacked the likes of Mann so appallingly, just because his science challenge the profits of the fossil fuel industry.

    Do you also support Slater and Carrick Graham’s similar attacks on Prof Doug Sellman and Boyd Swinburn. These are the sort of guys and tactics you support regarding climate change.


  109. Will Dwan says:

    You ARE a Marxist Dave. It’s in everything you say. Smith did not ‘envisage’ or ‘propose’ anything. He simply described a phenomenon that had been around since pre-history, and explained where it went right and wrong.

    ‘Wealth on Nations’ is three simple principles and nine hundred pages of proof.

    1. Pursuit of self interest. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your situation. People like you label this as greed.

    2. Division of labour. It makes no sense to try and do it all yourself like communes do. Specialise in what you do best, and trade your surplus, hence…

    3. Freedom to trade. None of this works without the freedom to trade as widely as possible, without impediments.

    Where does it go wrong? Coercion. The whole business of authority is to interfere with other people’s business. Rulers can not resist restrictions on the three principles because they empower people and represent a challenge to authority. Coercion destroys the mutually beneficial nature of trade, which destroys the trading, which destroys the division of labour, which destroys our self-interest. Even modest restrictions place us on the slippery slope to Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

    Sorry to labour the point, but I believe these ideas are at the heart of our differences, and your often complete lack of understanding muddies the waters in our conversations.


  110. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will Dwan, Smith’s pure vision of a capitalist system was optimistic and over the last 250 years a number of following economists had to adjust the vision with the reality of how people and institutions really operate. You obviously haven’t heard of Pareto or Hicks nor any economists rooted in contemporary realities.

    You distrust regulation or any form of control on already compromised markets. Do you believe that monopolies or duopolies are fair and I wonder if you have even thought about the ramifications of patent law with regards to the development of new technologies? You will obviously support the TPPA but have no concerns about the potential ability of corporates to over-ride the sovereign rights of nations over the use of their resources. What about consumer protections? There are numerous horror stories of what companies pass off as safe to make money where regulations and monitoring are limited. The tobacco industry is a prime example.

    Applying Smith to the realties of real markets and the global economy is a little like trying to govern after studying economics at high school. Like Paranormal you are repeating the same scare tactics of conservative think tanks by suggesting that any form of market regulatory control leads to communism. Any student of contemporary economics knows that is patently ridiculous.


  111. Will Dwan says:

    The point I was trying to make is that it is government coercion that corrupts market behavior. You rightly criticise various distortions, but you just want to replace them with your own.

    Monopolies are fair if they come about by competing successfully in a free market. Not by lobbying politicians for favours which is the usual way. Patent law is an argument about property rights; it’s an area that needs solid legal protection but not so much that it can be abused. A proper role for the state.

    I supported the TPPA when it was still a trade agreement. That ended when the US and Japan got involved. I would go back and sign the original deal with the founding four.

    I don’t buy the argument about the need to constantly ‘protect’ people from ‘evil’ corporations. They know they have to protect their brands; ripping customers off is a short term strategy, bound to fail. NOT a role for the state. Especially these days with online reviews etc. Consumers rule!

    I wrote all that stuff earlier because, when I read your remarks about free markets and capitalism, I get the impression you have no real understanding of the basics. There is much more of course, Riccardo’s law of comparative advantage is worth looking at, J.S. Mill’s work and the contentious Austrian school.

    Marx just saw everything as a perpetual conflict between capital and labour; all his ideas spring from that. Your ideas seem to belong within that paradigm.


  112. Dave Kennedy says:

    You assume too much about my beliefs, Will Dwan and listen to others’ interpretation of green economics rather than what we are really saying.

    Your support of monopolies is naive because a true free market is an illusion and most monopolies obviously end up controlling the market for their own ends.

    Many commodity markets become captured by a few corporates that end up in a controlling position where regulations are weak and ineffectual. I recently received a paper regarding the mining industry that was well researched and showed how the cost of mining equipment was kept artificially high and the same with the mined minerals. Just like land banking is a real issue with our housing market, limiting the supply of a commodity that is actually plentiful raises the price. Such profiteering also occurs with food and can cause millions to starve simply by limiting the supply of a plentiful commodity such as rice to keep the price high.

    Corporates aren’t evil in themselves, they are just what they are, institutions that are expected to continually expand and return a profit and dividends to shareholders. They are not necessarily bound by internal ethics, human rights or environmental considerations and will only refer to such things if there is economic advantage to do so.

    Our philosophies differ where you appear to support a kind of market nirvana where everything will work out if only the market was left alone to do its natural thing. Apparently for you it is the interventions to a market that stuffs things up. Smith believed that good social outcomes would result from free markets and a kind of natural equilibrium would result.

    My belief is that markets will never operate fairly or deliver good outcomes in a regulatory vacuum. Marx’s theory is as ultimately flawed as Smith’s in my mind. What we need to start with is some idea of what we want an economy to deliver in the first place. In the very earliest trading and market environments communities were largely self sufficient and any surpluses and skills that existed beyond meeting their needs could be traded for services and goods that they could not supply themselves. When several communities traded together there would be useful competition to make their tradable goods more attractive and innovation and development would prosper.

    We have long forgotten that our economy exists to deliver the best returns for our community. The ultimate realisation of that is to have a healthy capable community where all can participate and contribute within the economy for mutual benefit. It made sense not to put too much pressure on local resources as they are the basis of a sustainable economy. Diversification allows some protection against single commodity, boom and bust scenarios. Nurturing and mentoring young ensured that most would contribute purposefully later and caring for our aged meant that their wisdom would ensure that the mistakes of the past weren’t repeated. A well managed economy limits the negative effects of greed, self interest or silo thinking (that doesn’t result in positive community outcomes) and unsustainable practices developing. Competitive markets (not monopolies) ensure continued innovation and improvement.

    When the economy becomes more important than the people it is supposed to serve we get distortions where unsustainable profit that benefits an elite few becomes the main driver. This results in extremes of wealth existing, resources consumed for short term profit and major sections of our community locked out of both participating or benefiting from the economy.

    The Fonterra monopoly produced some initial export gains but stifled innovation. The housing market has been allowed to distort until only a few benefit and many are locked out (we now have some of the most expensive housing in relation to income). We currently have one of the most open economies in the world to the extent many foreign interests have first right to our resources and where we were once self sufficient we are now even more reliant on external supplies. Consequently our current account deficit is one of the largest in the world.

    My ideas have little basis in Marxism but I share the intent of both Marx and Smith where they both believe that all people should be able to benefit from an economy and extreme inequity shouldn’t exist.

    In his “Wealth of Nations’ Smith believed that within a stable market economy man inadvertently acts in the wider interests of society. But we now have an economy where whole sections of society are expected to make personal sacrifices to support an economy that really only serves a minority. 50% of our society must give up on ever expecting to buy their own house to maintain the capital gains of a few. This is not a healthy economy that works in the interests of all.

    This is another useful perspective on Green economics where we actually supported the Government’s legislation when Labour didn’t. We actually agreed with the intent of the bill but wanted it to be expanded further:


  113. Will says:

    It is hard to know how to tackle such a long stream of conciousness ramble coherently. I wish you would focus your arguments a little. The bit about monopolies is silly. I meant that in a free market, the only way to form a monopoly is by creating so much value no-one else can compete. Not easy! That we do not have free markets is no reason to cease trying to achieve them.

    I’ll just focus on a few points which stood out for me. You speak of early communities being self-sufficient, but it did not work like that. Even then, division of labour applied. The little guy with clever fingers shaped the arrow/spear heads, the big bloke killed the bear. The arty one painted a nice picture of it on the cave and everyone ate. They were individuals. Smith said something like, “It is not to the benevolence of the butcher or the baker that we owe our daily meat and bread, but to their own self-interest.” But you say, “‘WE need to start with some idea of what WE want the economy to deliver.” Inevitably that means you coercing me or someone else. A community is made of individuals working for themselves. That does not rule out altruism but it must be voluntary.

    You speak of land banking. A perfect example. Just zone all land residential. No more land banking. It’s the restrictions that make it possible.

    Fontera is not a monopoly. Why do you say such stuff?

    The economy serves everyone in it. We all have thousands of people working for us. That’s all I have time for now.


  114. Will says:

    One more thing. They were not ‘equally flawed.’ Smith was right, Marx was wrong. Have proof.


  115. Dave Kennedy says:

    Will, when I talk about self sufficient communities I meant the same as you describe, markets within markets and all collectively meeting the communities needs. When we forget to look after our national community first then we are open to exploitation. It can mean selling our houses to non residents and our own people going homeless. It means selling the milk we produce overseas cheaper than here, and making excuses about trade coming before our own children.

    Adam Smith’s vision was that by people working in their own interests all would find a useful economic niche and all of our society would benefit.

    Smith’s philosophy can only work in fully rational communities and economists since have agreed that true free markets can only operate properly when they achieve a stable equilibrium. Smith never predicted the inequalities that arose in stock exchanges and money markets, despite his belief in self interest driving healthy markets he also believed in social justice and fairness:

    “…anyone who cares to read Smith’s Wealth of Nations for themselves will find an economics discussed and justified in explicitly moral terms, in which markets, and the division of labour they allow, are shown to both depend upon and produce not only prosperity but also justice and freedom, particularly for the poor. With those concerns in mind, it should not be surprising that Smith was a staunch and vehement critic of those particularly grotesque sins associated with early capitalism: European empires and the slave trade.”

    In Queenstown developers have bought land zoned residential but there is no twilight clause so the greater the demand, the higher the potential price. There is also a shortage of housing for those working in the hotels, shops and ski fields, but existing house owners in some areas have objected to having working people live nearby and there is more money in building for the affluent. Queenstown is now full of gated communities where the rich can separate themselves from those less affluent:

    “Fontera is not a monopoly. Why do you say such stuff?”
    It is how others see it, Will:


  116. Will says:

    Of course the US dairy lobby attacks Fonterra. That does not make them right. Any one of them is free to start a dairy processing company here and Fonterra must supply them with the milk at cost. Some monopoly! It amazes me that you are so keen to sign us up to some international climate deal with people like this. Do you think they won’t use it to shaft us?

    Queenstown is a tourist trap/developer’s paradise. Not your average New Zealand town.

    All Smith’s work is founded in morality. (I think I remember reading that ‘economics’ was known as moral philosophy before they invented the term.) His first work was called the ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’ which acts as a primer for ‘Wealth.’ It’s where you find the ‘invisible hand’ idea. In it he proposes that our moral instincts come, not from God, but from empathy (he called it sympathy). Libertarians today regard laissez-faire capitalism as the only moral economic system.

    Wealth of Nations rails against the seeking and granting of government favours to business. Smith had a poor opinion of merchants. Freedom, property rights and contract enforcement are essential to a functional capitalist system. Remember Smith was an enlightenment philosopher, ending slavery was a big issue at the time.

    There is some truth that, late in his life, Smith was somewhat rattled by inequality and the excesses of the industrial revolution, but it is not easy to have a full perspective on the times you live in. For ordinary people this was a relatively fantastic time, life expectancy and quality were charging ahead after centuries of stagnation. Sure, there were horrors aplenty if you look for them, but you have to see the big picture.


  117. Dave Kennedy says:

    “Sure, there were horrors aplenty if you look for them, but you have to see the big picture.”
    I agree with you, Will, the big picture is important. Smith’s philosophy could only work if people operated rationally and had a moral base. The current capitalist model cherry picks Smiths work and uses it to justify the exploitation of workers, the creation of monopolies (like Fonterra and banks “too big to fail”) and environmental degradation. Nations like the US that celebrate freedom and private enterprise have the most expensive health systems and the greatest inequality. Corporations have even been given personhood status.

    Regulation and controls on greed and exploitation are now seen as interfering with an individual’s right to obtaining greater wealth. Rather than limiting freedom many regulations and laws actually limit the capture of our economy by few and open up opportunities to many. Nanny State is used as derisory term for regulations that often provide more choices for more people and provide a level playing field. Many corporate interests use the term to stop the restrictions to sell unhealthy or unsafe products and dishonest marketing. Janet Hoek’s article is worth a read on page 26:


  118. Will says:

    You don’t think people are rational and moral Dave? How sad. I find that they are generally. I think capitalism just needs people to be able to act freely to work. You want to form a union to agitate for a better deal? Fine, as long as it is voluntary, otherwise you just have a labour cartel. Don’t like MacDonalds? Don’t buy from them. It’s your choice. The main problems with State enforcement is that it is so open to abuse or easily captured by ideology.

    Perhaps the US may have the most expensive health system – they also have the best system. I guess you get what you pay for. But I recall a great Clive James line. “The Soviets thought they had free health care, but it ended up costing them everything they had.”

    You must know a different definition of monopoly than I. You think I approve of ‘too big to fail?’ (Too big to be arrested more like) The bailout was a feature of cronyism, not capitalism. I’m not even a big fan of central banks.

    Neither of us is comfortable with the status-quo, we just have opposite ideas of where progress lies. My position is that you are arguing from false principles. (Inherently flawed Marxism) I believe you are too quick to find fault with the system we have – too anxious to turn it on its head. No system will ever be perfect.


  119. Dave Kennedy says:

    “You don’t think people are rational and moral Dave?”

    Most ordinary people are, Will, but this is not just my opinion it is what is supported by current economic realities. White collar fraud and tax evasion costs our country billions (many times more than benefit fraud), up to ten billion of criminal funds are laundered in NZ each year, we had a number of financial institutions collapse in NZ during the GFC through fraudulently presenting false records to shareholders and investors (and losing billions) and the GFC was based on immoral and fraudulent decisions. Making it easier for such people to continue their behaviour is ludicrous.

    “Perhaps the US may have the most expensive health system – they also have the best system.”

    Amongst 11 representative OECD countries New Zealand spends the least per capita and is ranked 7th. The US almost spends three times more than us and is ranked 11th (the bottom). I would be interested to know where you got your information from.

    My definition of monopoly (business) is when one company is large enough to control the supply of, or trade in, a commodity or service.

    What is yours?

    Good to see we both agree on the growing power of banks in the world economy. They used to provide a service to support the economy and now many control the economy for their own ends. We even had to take our Australian Banks to court to claw back $3 billion of evaded tax. Currently there is a class action to deal with unjustified fees.

    Will, I really object to your continual use of Marxism to label Green economics. The Green Party actually has more credibility and ‘skin in the game’ regarding business and economic management than the National cabinet.

    Metiria Turei, Commercial Law, Simpson Grierson

    James Shaw, International business advisor, PricewaterhouseCoopers

    Russel Norman, credited with giving economic credibility to the Greens.

    Kevin Hague, CEO, West Coast DHB

    Julie Anne Genter, Masters of Planning and Practice (First Class Honours), Transport Consultant with major NZ companies.

    Mojo Mathers, Masters in Forestry, joint owner of a business providing forestry management services.

    David Clendon, Programme director/lecturer in business UNITEC, Owned successful bulk foods business.

    Steffan Browning: Owner of successful horticulture business.

    More than half of our MPs have commercial and business management experience. This is clearly not a party driven by Marxist philosophies but on wanting to build a sustainable economy through utilising good business practice and fair markets. We have also proved our economic credibility through the management of our own party (despite having less members than Labour we raised more money for our election campaign). We get a lot of funding support from businesses and businesspeople that share our philosophies:

    Political commentators have remarked on our well managed conferences and most are now well attended by diplomats from a range of countries who enjoy working with us. We were the only party to have fully costed (and independently reviewed) election policies and the only one to offer tax cuts and an early budget surplus. We are known for our smart use of technology, especially IT.

    The most common occupation (around a third) for National’s top 14 is Law, followed by government sector employment. Steven Joyce has the strongest business credentials as a successful broadcasting entrepreneur and Paula Bennett ran a human resources company. After beginning his career as a GP Colman trained in business and ended up working for the same company as James Shaw. Bill English, our current finance Minister does have a commerce degree but his most significant qualification is an honours degree in English Literature. National’s 3rd ranked Minister is a teacher.

    Nothing is wrong with diversity in National’s cabinet, but to claim that National easily has more economic and business creds is plainly an exaggeration. We get no detail or substance for any of National’s economic policies, most (like the National Standards in Education and the Roads of National significance) were just ideas and the research to support them (and cost/benefit analysis) occurred after implementation. The analysis and justification for any initiative should be established first and yet time after time we are seeing the Government caught out and having to backtrack because it wasn’t done properly in the beginning (Northland bridges, increasing class sizes, selling state houses, use of Government owned land for housing, Novopay, closing schools, car registration, SkyCity…).

    National Ministers have had many decisions overturned by the courts and processes questioned by enquiries and our ombudsmen (I’m happy to provide links and lists if you like). Despite Joyce claiming our economy is looking good, it is clear that it is shaky and the Government is on its back foot. Things that should have been implemented in 2008 are only being introduced now (and many are Green Party Policy).


  120. Will Dwan says:

    Fonterra don’t seem to control much of anything these days. It seems to me you either are a monopoly, or you’re not.

    While I don’t advocate tax evasion, it’s not true to say it costs the country billions. The government is not the country. The wealth may well be doing more good in the hands of the people who created it.

    It is you who strikes me as innately marxist, reading between the line. I have said nothing about Green economics, although their attitude to private property is not encouraging.

    I have already stated I’m not a devout National supporter. If I vote for them it is usually from fear of the alternatives.

    All I have time for.


  121. Dave Kennedy says:

    A large % of those on the highest incomes pay little in tax because of legal loopholes and many do so illegally, even our banks. Given the fat that we have a growing demand for luxury goods with billions being spent on luxury cars and houses each year there is evidence that increases in productivity and profits are not always being reinvested back into businesses, higher wages and employment. I don’t disagree with people enjoying the fruits of their labours but it does appear some are taking to extremes and exploiting the efforts of those beneath them. The 2011-14 saw strong growth in our economy but this wasn’t reflected in similar increases in Government revenue or more money in the pockets of ordinary workers.

    Over the last 3 years we have lost around $21 billion in tax revenue through tax fraud. That money would have solved many of our health, transport and housing issues.


  122. Paranormal says:

    What a load of ideological BS DK. You are so ideologically blinded you clearly missed the point Will made regarding the money was not ‘lost’ to society IF there is evasion happening. And it is a big if.

    As for your links again, you can’t be serious? Another waste of time following them. A study on comparing judicial outcomes between tax evasion and benefit fraud? Tax Justice Network? Really?

    Your marxism is showing through again.

    As for suggesting the Greens have economic credibility above? The party that thinks quantitative easing at a time debt is toxic and printing money are good ideas? Don’t take my word for it, the voters said as much at the last election.


  123. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, it is interesting that you support tax evasion and don’t see the implications on Government revenue and its ability to provide core services. You truly believe that those who are wealthy should be able to operate above the law. It seems a business person who commits tax fraud, owns numerous properties (earning untaxed capital gain), owns a number of luxury cars, and pays long term staff minimal wages is economically and socially responsible. Most people now understand that the ‘trickle down’ method of ensuring all share the benefits of their increased productivity is an empty myth.

    It seems that you are supportive of wealth creation by any means possible and fairness and social justice are just marxist principles. I do think you need to re-read Adam Smith (social justice and capitalism are not exclusive concepts) and recalibrate your moral compass.

    The misrepresentation around quantitative easing is just political pusturing. It was a clever tactic used to discredit a valuable discussion paper put forward by Russel a few years ago and I don’t believe you actually understand what it means. It is actually mainstream economics and in practice isn’t much different from the social bonds the Government is piloting. I note we will also soon have a capital gains tax that isn’t as well. One has to laugh 😉


  124. Paranormal says:

    No DK – I’m suggesting your ideology is making you see monsters where there are only shadows. You talk of tax evasion when IRD have the might of the state behind them to crush anyone that opposes them. It’s not happening to the scale you think it is. It is only your deeply ingrained marxist envy that is showing itself now.

    And how is unrealised capital gain in any way tax evasion? Think about that for a moment.

    You would probably benefit from a good discussion with an accountant in public practice. it might change your view on how our supposedly ‘progressive’ tax regime stifles productivity.

    How’s that “mainstream politics” of yours helping those nations up to their eyeballs in toxic debt? It’s possible we’ve got another GFC on the way and those that played with QE have no gas left in the tank for a second run and no booming economy as a result of massive spending.

    It seems you would be one of those railing against what you call ‘austerity’. It is really is an old fashioned principal along the lines of living within your means. But then you wouldn’t consider that ‘fair’ and for you ‘sustainable’ seems to have another meaning.

    You really need to brush up on that economics thing.


  125. Will says:

    If you have luxury cars and property, you will have paid plenty of GST, rates, and excise tax before you can even think about tax evasion. Presumably you could try minimising your income, I’ve never needed to regrettably. I doubt many wealthy people pay no tax. I think it is a lie.


  126. Mr E says:

    “Given the fat that we have a growing demand for luxury goods with billions being spent on luxury cars and houses each year there is evidence that increases in productivity and profits are not always being reinvested back into businesses, higher wages and employment”

    Ill be…. The building of luxury houses, doesn’t involve businesses, wages and employment and ultimately productivity. They magically appear. Same goes for luxury cars. Amazing!

    I’m Green with envy. Wish I was rich enough to magic up such luxury.


  127. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, putting words in my mouth again, do read my links. Of course I realize that tax evasion and capital gains aren’t the same thing.

    You can’t have it both ways, condemn the Greens for fringe economics and then condemn the mainstream. Taxation also varies around the world and indirect taxes blur realities and what is paid in benefits also distort simplistic data. New Zealand taxes low incomes higher than most OECD countries and we tax our wealthy much less than others like Australia and the UK. At the same time we spend billions on working for families to top up incomes. There is no way you can simply say that a progressive tax stifles productivity. Try and match your preferred tax regime with a country that has a successful economy and I will probably find another successful economy with high tax (two countries closest to our tax rates are Iran and Kenya):

    Surely what we all need to do is take a deep breath and look around the world at what works or what would work if applied to our unique context. Austerity means different things in different countries but in many it means that when the banks the wealthy and the government stuffs up it is ordinary people and Government workers (posties, doctors, customs etc) who pay for their mistakes. US banks got paid out with trillions of dollars and many showed their gratitude by paying themselves bonuses.

    Will, are you really trying to use the argument that the wealthy pay more than enough through GST, rates and excise tax, so shouldn’t have to pay any more?

    This article written by a local barrister destroys a few myths:

    Mr E, those luxury homes are generally fitted out by stuff brought in from overseas and luxury cars are not made in NZ, our current account deficit is one of the highest in the world. If you want to add value to the domestic economy we need to lift the incomes of ordinary New Zealanders. The median income in NZ from all sources is now $32,200. Half of us earn that or less when the living wage is now considered to be $40,040. The Government pays around $3 billion a year in Working for families to subsidise low wages. A rich man can only buy so many shoes or groceries to meet his needs while the discretionary income of the average wage earner goes directly back into the domestic economy.


  128. Paranormal says:

    OK DK lets dispel some myths. First up the wealthy pay more than their fair share of tax. In fact if you want to talk inequality, those earning over $80,000 pay a disproportionate amount of tax for a much lower level of social services compared to lower incomes. How is that ‘fair’.

    And it’s getting worse! In 2007 those earning over $80,000 were 6% of earners but paid 36% of income tax. In 2013 they were 8% of earners but paid 42% of tax. it gets much worse after benefits are taken into account with those on lower incomes receiving more than they pay.

    Interesting watching you dance on the head of a pin about Austerity and then blame the banks. How can you blame the banks for the basket case that is Greece. Greece is a shining example of how socialists eventually run out of other peoples money to spend. It is almost comical those on the left applauding ‘democracy’ in Greece when in reality it is just reinforcing the truism that the country is stuffed when the people realise they can vote themselves more entitlements.

    You should get out and talk to people other than those with your negative outlook. If you spoke to an accountant as I suggest you would get an insight into just how the progressive tax system disencentivises productivity. How people will try to avoid stepping up a tax bracket for quite illogical reasons. A practical understanding of how things actually work would be better than your current misguided beleifs.

    We do not need to look around the world, we just need to get our house in order. As always the problem is not tax, it is spending. If we could get government spending under control we wouldn’t have a problem with tax. This governments work on reducing teenage pregnanciy will go a long way to reducing benefits and improving social outcomes in the long term. We need to expand this work across other classes.


  129. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, your arguments are flawed because they don’t reveal the actual reality of income spread. The top two quintiles of earners have done much better under this Government than the bottom three and the reason for the majority of the tax take coming from the highest income earners is purely because they earn the majority of the income. Currently the Wealthiest 10% of New Zealand have captured around 52% of the country’s wealth and the bottom 50% share only 5% of the national wealth. It is also clear the the wealthiest 1% most likely pay very little income tax at all. If tax was based on wealth then 50% of our population would only pay 5% of the tax. As you are aware our lowest income earners have to pay more tax than most OECD countries, but then around $3 billion of tax revenue actually gets paid back to many working people in WFF. You identify reducing teenage pregnancy as a key factor in reducing tax expenditure, I have no problem with this initiative but in terms the percentage of Government spending the amount involved is actually minimal. The growth in spending for superannuation each year is much greater than the total costs for supporting teenage mums.

    If we want to have a more even spread of the tax burden to pay for essential services then we need to lift the incomes of lower income earners so that they can pay more tax. All we do by cutting taxes to the rich is diminish Government revenue and cut essential services.

    I recommend reading ‘3rd World America’ which describes the natural conclusion of your philosophy. The US has progressively cut tax to the richest until most wealthy pay minimal to almost no tax. State Government revenue has dropped to the extent that the upkeep and expenditure on social services and basic infrastructure has drooped considerably. Roads and bridges lack maintenance, water and electricity systems are failing and spending on schools and other core areas is dropping.


  130. Will Dwan says:

    Wealth taxes are a hideous idea. Effectively you never really own your property, you just sort of rent it off the state. You could see old people forced to sell their home because they havn’t the income to cover the increased value of the asset. Revenue officers sifting through peoples’ possessions to assess what they owe.

    Dave it is comments like this that prompted me to point out the Marxism that permeates your thinking. And deliver the boring lecture on Adam Smith. It’s as if you have no concept of what constitutes a free society.

    Just…get the goddamn spending under control. We, the people, have a basic right to a government we can afford!


  131. Dave Kennedy says:

    I never suggested a wealth tax, Will, I just used wealth as an indication of who controls it and why it is logical that a small % pay the majority of tax (you are constantly fighting arguments that you assume that I have never presented) . If the medium income in NZ is only just over $30,000 then we are not going to get a lot of tax from over fifty percent of income earners. Within the developed world we have a low wage economy and until we can lift incomes the tax spread will always be uneven.

    You obviously didn’t read my links as cutting spending or austerity measures will probably lead to where the US has found itself. Interestingly This Government claimed it borrowed to maintain benefits when it is clear that it mainly borrowed to cover the reduced tax take caused partly by tax cuts.


  132. Dave Kennedy says:

    Sorry, Will, I’m writing too fast and not concentrating. I meant to say “you are constantly fighting arguments that you assume that I support, but I have never presented.”


  133. Paranormal says:

    Typical DK – talking in headlines that misrepresent the factual situation. The reality is that the bottom 50% of New Zealand earners pay no net tax.

    I would be happier to see no WFF or similar for no tax on earnings under $50,000. We would be better off as a country and the distortions you complain about would be gone. it would also make for better long term decision making by families. However that is not the situation at the moment.

    As for the distribution of income – that’s irrelevant. we should be aiming for all earners to be high earners. It’s only you marxists that believe income is a net sum game. Without the distortions of WFF and other excessive spending that requires excessive tax takes the economy would truly be a rockstar economy.

    National should bite the bullet and tell those under 50 that National Super will be means tested and start older. i do like Dunnes idea that you can start super earlier or later for corresponding tradeoffs – but you know it would never work because politicians can’t help meddling in that stuff. But all that is limited by politics so it’s not going to happen. sure as eggs is eggs,

    if Liarbour and your lot ever get in it will only get worse as they bribe off different constituencies as they’ve done in the past.


  134. JC says:

    “The reality is that the bottom 50% of New Zealand earners pay no net tax.”

    The reality about tax and our so called low incomes is as follows..

    Click to access taxing-wages-new-zealand.pdf

    NZ has the lowest personal net tax burden in the OECD and the third highest company tax.



  135. Will says:

    I never read your links Dave. I learn from books. You will have to make your own arguments.


  136. Dave Kennedy says:

    “I never read your links Dave” I guess that explains why the basis and context for my arguments are never understood. I always read your links, Will, as I am interested in what you base your ideas on. The link to America falling apart fits to what is beginning to happen here. Rural roads lack funding, many of our hospitals and schools are suffering years of deferred maintenance and it has been found that our state houses need $1.3 billion to bring them up to standard. After 30,000 state servants were sacked we have lost institutional knowledge and many Ministries have declining performance.

    “The reality is that the bottom 50% of New Zealand earners pay no net tax.”

    So we are in agreement that 50% of the New Zealand population doesn’t contribute much to Government coffers except through the likes of GST and indirect taxation is this sustainable? How do we change that unless people begin to earn living wages and have some certainty of income? WFF is only paid to families where parents are in work and the median wage is no longer enough to support families and scaffold ones self to better circumstances.

    There also seems to be some support for a cross party agreement on superannuation and taxation would be useful to give some long term consistency and predictability.

    Already those on low incomes pay minimal to no tax and have access to a huge range of benefits that have to be managed by an extensive and expensive bureaucracy. A universal basic income would make sense and cost less to manage, and while I do not support all that Gareth Morgan says his UBI has merits. I do want you to read his explanation because either we spend $3 billion on working for families, around $5 billion on dealing with child poverty and the accommodation supplement costs us around $1 billion annually. What do you think of this as an alternative?


  137. Mr E says:

    I think this thread is good evidence the Green Party is a far left party.
    Of recent times they have tried to throw of the shackles of being labelled socialists, but evidence suggest it is a fitting label.

    This propaganda of spanning the political spectrum seems to me to be bull poppy. I reckon Dave has done a good job of undoing a whole lot of Green spin.


  138. Dave Kennedy says:

    I do believe I have done a credible job of revealing the flaws of poorly managed capitalist system in New Zealand. It has resulted in poor treatment of workers (unlivable wages and unsafe workplaces), tax avoidance costing the country billions per year, the existence of monopolies and duopolies, an unconstrained property market and a high level of family poverty and dysfunction. We have to drag our banks into the courts to force them to pay the tax they owe and we have a Government that is not able to substantially increase government revenue to deliver a surplus when our economy was supposedly performing better than most. Our wealthiest 10% have acquired 52% of the country’s wealth and our poorest 50% have 5% to share and this group pays little tax and requires a high level of Government support. Most families with young children are in this group.

    I have argued that Adam Smith never envisaged that such inequity would occur and his belief in social justice has been ignored to support the greed of a few.

    The arguments that have been presented against my views have been:

    1) Any attempt to bring fairness or social justice principles into economic management is basically marxism.
    2) Tax fraud isn’t really something where a hard line should be taken because those avoiding tax are contributing enough through GST etc and their business activities are providing value to the economy (I note that it appears any kind of business is good business, whereas I believe the likes of tobacco companies create deficits through resulting demands on healthcare etc).
    3) The main areas that need to be addressed to improve the economy is by reducing beneficiaries, especially solo mums who have babies to earn money and continue a cycle of bludging.
    4) Fonterra is above scrutiny from those who aren’t farmer shareholders, this company is not a monopoly and it couldn’t do anything different to avoid the current situation.
    5) Governments shouldn’t intervene in markets as open markets with no controls can be trusted to make good decisions.
    6) The OECD advice is wrong, inequality does not constrain an economy and anyone who criticises wealth are just suffering from envy.
    7) The ultimate economy is where tax is minimal and so is Government. The reason for the GFC was because of Democratic presidents and too much regulation.
    8) Austerity is just about living within means. The fifty % of New Zealanders earning $30,000 or less just have to learn that. Nothing is wrong with living in substandard housing (hostels, garages, tents etc) and wearing 2nd hand clothes etc. We all did that and it builds character (I’m paraphrasing but this is what I understand).
    9) We have one of the highest minimum wages and the market should dictate the value of wages generally (presumably Ruth Richardson’s idea of maintaining 5% unemployment to help keep wages down is just sensible economics).
    10) Employees shouldn’t expect that increases in productivity will result in increased income for themselves. Employers make the decisions and carry the responsibility of running businesses, employees should be grateful to have a job.
    11) Paying our private and public CEOs at rates well above what is expected for similar responsibilities overseas is perfectly reasonable.

    I hope I have covered them all, what have I missed?

    Most of your arguments are not supported by any evidence and are treated as common knowledge (mainly through repeated spin I suggest) that just doesn’t need to be tested.

    To me these arguments display the sort of blind indifference that caused 29 deaths in the Pike Mine and resulted in those responsible escaping charges because it was too expensive to progress. It also resulted in no effective changes to health and safety after five years and the possibility that the most dangerous occupations escape the proposed legislation (farming, forestry).

    Your vision of an economy is not one where all should be able to benefit in the way envisaged by Adam Smith but where a privileged few should not have to be constrained by laws or regulations that address basic human rights, health and safety or social justice (these ideas are marxist ones).

    I believe there are real life examples of successful economies that have managed to find a better balance than us between maintaining a healthy society and a thriving economy. The countries that have the highest levels of income equality are not communist countries but embrace both social provision with capitalist elements. I believe we should be recognising the successful elements of these economies in our own governance.

    I challenge you to identify the economies that best exemplify your economic principles.


  139. Dave Kennedy says:

    I do note that the Government has just announced a budget surplus of $1.3 million because of reduced spending in some sectors like education. Considering there are many schools that have had urgent maintenance delayed for up to four years and there is $1.3 billion of maintenance needed for state houses to make them fit for sale, it makes me wonder what has really allowed the surplus:$1-point-5b-fixing-up-state-houses


  140. Paranormal says:

    DK at 11.47 – you’re just making shit up again and then railing against it. Perhaps you should actually read what is written above.

    When it comes to reading comprehension you would get a ‘Not Achieved’ or more likely a ‘politically correct groupthink approved interpretation’


  141. Dave Kennedy says:

    Paranormal, this is what frustrates me here, it is easy to just attack me personally about my level of comprehension and claim that I am an example of ‘groupthink’ when clearly it is you who is just reproducing the mantras you hear.

    I am reading the links put up by you guys and responding with factually arguments supported by links from a wide sources. I have asked questions and put up challenges that are deliberately avoided.

    You and others arguing against me appear to refuse to read my links, avoid my questions and challenges, question my intelligence, and rarely support your arguments with any facts.

    I think my reference to economies that have been successful when combining a balance between state intervention and government funded social services with market based activities is evidence of what can work that cannot be dismissed as failed marxist experiments. They are also the countries where wealth is more equitably distributed.

    1) I challenged you to identify the countries that would be closest to the market driven, low tax economies that you would most identify with and I get nothing. Are there any?

    2) I also listed what I thought was a summary of your responses regarding employment and economic management. Did I list them correctly? What would you change?

    Personal abuse is easy, actually responding honestly takes more effort and needs evidence. My housing question in another thread met with accusations of trolling, personal abuse and silence. I thought that was revealing. Here are two direct and honest challenges and I think I can predict the response from you groupthinkers (thanks for introducing me to the term, so apt) 😉


  142. Name Withheld says:

    You and others arguing against me appear to refuse to read my links, avoid my questions and challenges, question my intelligence, and rarely support your arguments with any facts.

    To put it more succinctly and honestly then, Mr Kennedy.
    Nobody here really gives a stuff about what you think or write.


  143. Dave Kennedy says:

    Which is obviously why so many people spend so much time engaging with me Mr No Name. 144 comments on this thread alone tells me otherwise. People seem to enjoy telling me how wrong and ill-informed I am. It’s just a pity that they lack strong arguments and can’t answer the questions I put up. Those last two seem pretty reasonable ones to me, perhaps you can help them instead of appearing behind a pseudonym to make troll like comments 😉


  144. Paranormal says:

    DK “actually responding honestly takes more effort” – how would you know when you, to use your words, “put words in my mouth”. Your so called list of points weren’t even close to what had been said, but you keep driving your ideological train.

    What is surprising is you don’t understand why people aren’t engaging. Why would that be do you think?

    it seems you are quite adept at what you accuse others of.


  145. Dave Kennedy says:

    “it seems you are quite adept at what you accuse others of”

    The expression throwing stones in glass houses comes to mind 😉

    The list was presented to see if we could establish what your actual points are (I am sure I could find quotes from you guys to support them). Even addressing the first question would be useful.


  146. TraceyS says:

    Dave says:

    “To me these arguments display the sort of blind indifference that caused 29 deaths in the Pike Mine and resulted in those responsible escaping charges because it was too expensive to progress. It also resulted in no effective changes to health and safety after five years and the possibility that the most dangerous occupations escape the proposed legislation (farming, forestry).”

    Has he not heard of the Health and Safety in Employment (Mining Operations and Quarrying Operations) Regulations 2013?

    There has not been a single workplace fatality in mining since Pike River.

    The mining, quarrying and forestry industries are about to have new Codes of Practice which those industries regard as being mandatory. Anyone involved in these industries knows how much work is going on at the moment to comply. It is huge. And these are top down government-initiated changes.

    It is a massive insult, based on ignorance, to say that there have been “no effective changes to health and safety” and “the most dangerous occupations escape the proposed legislation”.

    Forest industry workplace fatalities went from 10 in 2013 to 1 in 2014 and 1 so far for 2015^. I’d call that a major improvement. Wouldn’t any reasonable person?

    To anyone involved in these industries, Dave is clearly talking through a hole in his head.


    Blind indifference to evidence and effort would describe Dave’s assertion in regard to health and safety.


  147. Dave Kennedy says:

    Dear oh dear, Tracey, I was using ACC figures and included accidents, not just fatalities. I am not surprised about the drop in mines fatalities, but you can hardly say it was all due to Government action and largely due to the bad press the industry got and the fact that most underground mines have closed. Interesting to that Key wrung the most he could from the Pike River disaster at the time, promising to recover the bodies etc and in the end it didn’t happen and those involved were never prosecuted. Think also of all those who lost their jobs in Solid Energy and Don Elder was sent on gardening leave on his $1.3 million salary. Miners have no value to this Government. The quarrying is part of the mining industry and the recent quarry death revealed there was next to no monitoring of that sector either.

    Your link showed that the industry that has the highest death toll is farming and yet there are moves to considerably cut back health and safety compliance for the industry because of the hassle to farmers. A dairy farmer has sophisticated records on the production and health of each cow but employment records and health safety compliance for workers has been sadly lacking for some time. Health and Safety of workers is not a major concern for many:


  148. TraceyS says:

    “…you can hardly say it was all due to Government action…”

    Oh dear, Dave, I didn’t say that it was “all” due to Government action.

    “…quarrying is part of the mining industry and the recent quarry death revealed there was next to no monitoring of that sector either.”

    That too is changing. WorkSafe required all quarries and mines to have registered their existence and named their qualified quarry manager by 1 July 2015. Under the old regs there were exclusions for smaller quarries but those exclusions now no longer exist. Basically any extraction site of any size is now classified as a quarry. Many actually think this change has gone too far. Small quarries will close as a result.

    “…the industry that has the highest death toll is farming and yet there are moves to considerably cut back health and safety compliance for the industry…”

    What are these so-called “moves”? Almost every farmer I talk to at the moment is gearing up for greater compliance – not less. Are you saying these farmers have been led up the garden path? You really need to get out and talk to people in these industries rather than relying on newspaper articles and propaganda. We used to have a commenter here called “Armchair Critic”. Perhaps you could now assume that pseudonym?

    “…I was using ACC figures and included accidents…”. What is the timeframe you are looking at and where is your link?


  149. TraceyS says:

    “I was using ACC figures…”

    Dave, your ACC figures are old (as I suspected). It is not fair to judge recent reforms, which are taking time to embed, and industries which are in a state of transition, based on two or three-year-old data. It is the very recent stats you need to look at and follow over the next two to three years to have an appreciation of the effect of recent and current initiatives.

    “…and included accidents, not just fatalities…”

    It is logical that a reduction in workplace fatalities would also be reflected in a reduction in workplace harm overall. Recent figures I have seen up until the end of 2014 (from memory) show a reduction in serious harm as well as fatalities in the forestry industry. Sorry I can’t provide a link. The question was asked “was that due to a reduction in production”. The answer was “no, production increased”. Any industry which can achieve an increase in production with a reduction in workplace harm is making progress and should be applauded for that. However, even though it is to the disadvantage of your arguments for safer work environments, you cannot bring yourself to do that (applaud the industry), I suspect, because that would be like applauding the National Government which is politically unpalatable to you. Shame on you!

    During a talk in Invercargill last year Wiremu Edmonds (look him up) made a statement I will always remember. It went along the lines of: We don’t need the government and we don’t need unions telling us what to do. We know what needs to change and how to do it. I believe this is right. But it does help knowing that there is a regulatory ‘big stick’ out there. That doesn’t provide the motivation but it does provide a sense of urgency and priority. Health and safety is a priority topic at present and there is a high level of anticipation and a certain amount of fear also within industries – including farming. Get out and talk to people for God’s sake.


  150. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    With Bill English’ departure it is worth recalling his excellent presentation to the Menzies Research Centre in Australia when he gave the John Howard lecture in 2015. He set out very clearly what he saw as social investment and it’s advantages. Unfortunately, the Ardern government seems to embody the traditional NZ Lab approach of spraying money about, whilst having conversations and photo ops, with a twist of including fashion shoots.


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