Quotes of the month

As evidenced by my seven years in Parliament, I’m not here to create a brand or profile. That stuff doesn’t interest me – I just want to do the work and that’s what I get the most reward from, – Matt Doocey

Sometimes I realise success is the things around you, rather than what you’re striving to next.Matt Doocey

If you set a centralized bureaucracy a target—and the British educational system was and is very centralized and bureaucratic—it will meet it by hook or by crook. It will change the meanings of words and alter the way by which outcomes are measured. – Theodore Dalrymple

Ardern’s new incoherence includes saying on some days that vaccination rates are considered in decisions about ongoing restrictions, and others days saying they aren’t. Some days she implies liberalisation requires vaccination of 90 per cent of everyone aged 12 or over, and in every regional, socioeconomic, age and ethnic group. Other days Beehive strategists deny any target and imply liberties could be restored below 90 per cent coverage.

Insofar as “the science” ever drove political decisions on Covid, it clearly doesn’t now.Matthew Hooton

Playing the person not the ball was Ardern’s only option since she will inevitably pick up the Opposition’s ideas very soon, as she has done ever since Covid emerged in Wuhan. – Matthew Hooton

If Ardern looks like a possum in the headlights, that’s because the vaccination bus is about to run over her. Matthew Hooton

The police can’t arrest all 3.4 million, meaning Ardern will have lockdowns removed from her toolbox whether she plans it or not.

This is a major healthcare, social, economic and ethical problem but Ardern apparently isn’t even thinking about it.

It demands the type of urgency beyond her and Ashley Bloomfield and requires tension to be put into the vaccination effort.  – Matthew Hooton

For as long as freeloaders believe Ardern won’t liberalise until well over 90 per cent of every demographic has been vaccinated — a target not achieved anywhere in the world except Gibraltar and Pitcairn Island, and utterly improbable in New Zealand — then they have nothing to worry about.

Yet they would hold captive the 80 per cent of us who have done the right thing.Matthew Hooton

Unvaccinated freeloaders have a right to take their chances with Covid, hospitalisation, ICU or worse.

But property owners, leaseholders and renters must also have the right to decide who enters their premises, and employers the right to make vaccination compulsory for their workforces, including public sector employers.

These rights need to be clarified in law.

Taking control of the situation and setting a date would be a much better strategy for Ardern than standing by, borrowing $100,000 a minute, and watching social cohesion erode and fatalities rise as the 80 per cent who do the right thing refuse to have their liberties curtailed by those who won’t.  – Matthew Hooton

It perfectly suits politicians to outsource the perception of responsibility to the public service. The flipside of increasingly prominent officials is the deterioration of the concept of ministerial responsibility.

That’s why more and more government failures are dismissed by ministers as “operational matters” that are none of their business.

The downside for the public is a landscape where accountability keeps being shifted around until it has been made to almost vanish.  Ben Thomas

But political risk can never disappear, it can only be moved. The risk for officials is they can be left carrying the can for political decisions.  – Ben Thomas

More than a whiff of misogyny is in the air. It is striking that there is no comparably zealous campaign to abandon the word “men” in favour of “prostate-havers”, “ejaculators” or “bodies with testicles”. It is almost always women who are being ordered to dispense with a useful word they have used all their lives. The Economist

Most broadly of all, the point of language is to communicate. Insisting on unfamiliar or alien-sounding terms will make it harder to discuss issues that affect only or disproportionately girls and women, such as female genital mutilation, domestic violence, child marriage or the persistence of pay gaps. – The Economist

Cowed by the insults and viciousness such discussions provoke, many people are fearful of taking part. If harshly policed, baffling and alien-sounding language is added to the price of joining the debate, even fewer will be willing to elevate their cephalic protuberance above the parapet. The Economist

 It just makes me laugh. Should anything happen again after this … the world’s going to look to New Zealand and say, ‘Nah, not coming’. – Noel Ballantyne

Never have I seen such a circus of an immigration system. – Noel Ballantyne

They came here because New Zealand wanted them to help with the economy, and now they’re sitting here years later not knowing what their futures hold. – Connie Nicholson-Port

Gender ideology might not be a religion in the traditional sense but it is certainly a belief system. Gender identity — its principal dogma — is unprovable and unfalsifiable, yet we are expected to believe in it or keep quiet. It has its catechisms — Transwomen are women, transmen are men and non-binary people are valid — and its priestly class. They would be transgender people like me, supposedly with esoteric knowledge about what it means to be trans. – Debbie Hayton

Words matter, because if we change the words we use we change the way we think. In many contexts, sex has been replaced with gender and — equally troubling to me — transsexual has been replaced with transgender. In both cases, people are separated from their reproductive biology. That doesn’t help anyone live their life in the real world where sex does matter. – Debbie Hayton

The Government is not proposing to force banks to offer concessions on loans, councils to reduce rates or insurance companies to reduce premiums. Forcing rent relief is choosing one of a number of problems and forcing that problem on to someone else

But worst of all is not the policy itself, but the message this sends. The Government is happy to make complex policy decisions in secret and act without outside help or advice. – Hamish Rutherford

Time and again political observers have warned that Labour is prone to close ranks when it faces complex problems, make decisions based only on input from those within the Beehive then be forced to try to push through bad policy because it has already announced the decision.

It does further damage to New Zealand’s reputation as a stable operating environment because investors perceive that the rules may change with little notice or research. – Hamish Rutherford

My tax bill is projected to increase by $50,000 under the new rules, so does this mean I can bypass that if I don’t renew the agreements of the students who live in the properties and hand the keys over to Link People instead? . . . The social implications of that are off the charts. Hundreds of thousands of people currently rent but aren’t on a social housing list. The financial incentive to not rent to them is now thousands of dollars a year.Nick Gentle

Alert fatigue is a risk. It does not stem from a lack of motivation to adhere to rules, but confusion about rules and direction that are frequently changing.

It’s time to cut through confusion with a clear and detailed plan to provide hope that life will become a bit more normal. – Andrea Vance

However, only in New Zealand, with its single House of Parliament, did we effectively return to our old system of “elected dictatorship”.

On election night, the Prime Minister trotted out the tired old trope about “governing for all New Zealanders”. Since then her Government has become increasingly high-handed.Steven Joyce

Rather than the Government compensating companies who can’t afford to pay their rent because of government-induced lockdowns, it decided to legally require people who own the properties to do so instead.

This is an eye-watering precedent with far-reaching consequences to the sanctity of commercial contracts. – Steven Joyce

A year after being handed an old-style first past the post result, and having possibly developed a taste for bossing people around during the Covid response, the current Government is regularly behaving like its Muldoon-style predecessors. – Steven Joyce

I do not expect any time soon that the inquisitors of hate speech will call for class warriors to be banned from expressing themselves in the social media or anywhere else. Some hatreds, then, are deemed respectable, even praiseworthy, and expression of them, even to the point of incitement, a manifestation of a good or pure heart. – Theodore Dalrymple

Contrary to the hydrostatic view of emotions such as hatred, they tend with venting to increase rather than to decrease. The view that if an emotion is not expressed openly it will do incalculable damage to a person is one of the “gifts” of psychoanalysis to the world. Theodore Dalrymple

Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, not gentility or decency or even intelligence. – Theodore Dalrymple

But it is he or she who draws attention to an evident truth, rather than someone whose words seethe with insult and crude insensate loathing, who is held to be guilty of hate-speech—because hatred in the name of equality is regarded as generous, despite its record of mass murder rivalled only by racism. – Theodore Dalrymple

But two things need to be pointed out. First, if by equality is meant identity or even similarity of outcome, rather than equality before the law, then there could be no greater injustice than equality, at least if justice is the distribution of reward according to desert.

Naturally, desert is a complex and difficult concept, but real egalitarians wish to eliminate it completely in their desire that all should have prizes, and the same prizes at that. However, if reward is disconnected entirely from desert, much, most or all meaning in life is eviscerated, for the reward will be the same whatever you do. Why, then, even try? – Theodore Dalrymple

Second, however, is the fact that while justice is desirable, it is not the only thing that is desirable, and sometimes must yield place to considerations such as charity, kindness and humanity. 

An utter wastrel may well deserve to starve, considered in the abstract, because of his constant and repeated feckless behaviour, but we should not let him starve because our humanity will not allow it. – Theodore Dalrymple

A society is certainly conceivable in which only a tiny proportion of the population deserved by their efforts to enjoy the better things in life, but we should not care to live in such a society, however just it was. But the problem with modern redistributionism is that it is founded much more upon hatred of the rich or fortunate than it is upon love of the poor or unfortunate. – Theodore Dalrymple

Hatred is an incomparably stronger political emotion than love. In the worldview of redistributionists such as Angela Rayner, it is more blessed to take than to give, which is why taxation is for them an end in itself, irrespective of its effect upon the economy and society as a whole.

It also has the great advantage, from their point of view, of conferring great power on those who levy it, namely themselves. All power corrupts, but the desire for power corrupts even before it is ever achieved.Theodore Dalrymple

The truly frightening thing about life in a hermit kingdom is that you get used to it.- John Roughan

I’m past anger, worry, fear or even boredom. The days go by surprisingly fast considering you hardly see anyone, go nowhere and nothing different happens. You get used to it, and oddly contented. This must be what it’s like to become an institutionalised prisoner.John Roughan

Most people are not in business, do not export or import or notice how much their living standard depends on people who do these things. Most people do not have a need to travel or a desire to do so now that the virus is endemic just about everywhere else. – John Roughan

Like North Koreans, Kiwis have been pounded with a message that the world is a dangerous place, dominated by a force that’s out to kill them.John Roughan

Like North Koreans, Kiwis have been pounded with a message that the world is a dangerous place, dominated by a force that’s out to kill them.John Roughan

If you’ve got people with skin in the game involved, it’s far better having someone like that than someone in central government dictate how you’re going to do things. They can set the direction, we set the detail. – Peter Mitchell

There’s a lot of challenges out there so there’s going to be a lot of opportunities. That’s a good way of looking at life. It’s about looking at those opportunities and having a go at doing something about it.Peter Mitchell

Ardern’s perpetual struggle is transforming her care and compassion into public policy. Thus, the contradiction where she thrives in a crisis yet falters in its aftermath. The prime minister rightly won praise for her deeply human response to the Christchurch terror attacks in 2019. But in the two years after the attack, as the victims and their families suffer mental anguish, Ardern has repeatedly refused to intervene and grant those sufferers support under the government’s accident compensation scheme. It’s a baffling failure, given the commitments she made to the Muslim community, yet it demonstrates in micro what we could witness in macro: that the prime minister’s personal care and compassion do not always align with her public policy decisions. – Morgan Godfery

I totally agree with you that it is your right not to get jabbed. But with that right comes consequences. –  Heather du Plessis Allan

So, while I support your right to refuse to get the jab legally, I want to warn you that none of the rest of us wants to hear your complaining about the consequences because we are already wearing the consequences on your behalf.

What’s been announced in the last few days is just the start of it. Get ready. –  Heather du Plessis Allan

We have, lately, seen the Ardern Government, unshackled by the annoyance of having to count votes, act in the way that first led New Zealanders to eschew First Past the Post voting system, and, instead, opt for MMP. No excuses, now. It’s on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her crew. Judith Collins

Fair Pay Agreements that sound soft and kind, until we realise that they are nothing but a return to compulsory unionism and the nationwide awards system that stifled New Zealand’s innovation, drive, and success before 1991. The only place they seemed not to operate was in the owner-occupied businesses known as family farms. No wonder farming led innovation and the adoption of new technology. – Judith Collins

Three Waters; which is accompanied by what should be declared false advertising – $4 million of taxpayers money spent on advertisements seemingly trying to convince Kiwis that our drinking water isn’t safe. For the record, it’s a crock. And $710 million spent by Government from the Covid-19 Recovery Fund, essentially bribing local councils to fall into line.

Of course, infrastructure needs maintaining and sometimes renewing, but the $183 billion this Government says will be needed, is almost twice the current Government debt and is four times the debt Labour inherited.

Putting that aside, what is really behind Three Waters is a wish to take the assets of local government, and put the governance into four groups half appointed by councils and half by iwi.

It has little to do with water quality and a lot to do with control. – Judith Collins

You might ask, “what of He Puapua?” Well, that’s the roadmap that the Ardern Government seems to be sticking to. Clearly, it is the only plan that they seem to have. KiwiBuild, the plan to build 100,000 houses in 10 years, was a $2 billion flop.

The Covid elimination strategy has failed. It worked when we all accepted lockdowns as there was no vaccine. Then there was a vaccine, just not enough of it in New Zealanders’ arms. This latest lockdown will spell the end of some businesses. – Judith Collins

I realise the Government has little thought for small businesses. Those businesses are really people. They’re families and they’re mums and dads and they’re kids watching their home being sold to pay the debts. That’s what happens when governments fail to understand that actions have consequences, and debts have to be repaid. Judith Collins

That means, embracing success. That means ridding ourselves of the notion that turning up is enough. That means deciding to be the best we can. Every, single one of us. That must be us.

That’s what we can do. That’s what this country needs.

And, in the meantime, can the Government please stop telling everyone to “be kind”, until it decides to be competent.  – Judith Collins 

It is the Ardern-led Government’s unwillingness to follow the Ciceronian legal principle of “sulus populi suprema lex esto” – the safety of the people shall be the highest law – that lies at the heart of New Zealand’s rapidly deepening Covid-19 crisis. The generation now in power is, quite simply, politically allergic to adopting the hard-line policies required to rescue both themselves – and the New Zealand people – from disaster. Even when Ms Carrot’s “kindness” is so obviously failing, this Labour Government refuses to reach for Mr Stick. – Chris Trotter

For weeks, government officials have been trying to protect the reputations of the sophisticated international crime syndicates that brand themselves domestically with monikers like Mongrel Mob, Black Power and Head Hunters.

Other countries use words like mafia, triad or yakuza to describe these groups. Here, the Wellington and Grey Lynn liberal elites have convinced themselves that the local franchises are primarily support groups for the dispossessed, with a bit of crime on the side. – Matthew Hooton

The number of Covid cases over the next 14 days and the 20-34-year-old vaccination rate by the end of the month will thus depend materially on the gangs doing their thing.

It is a revolting form of extortion, but your job, your business and whether you get a summer holiday now depend on the gangs’ efforts to persuade their stakeholders to obey the rules and get double-jabbed. – Matthew Hooton

I expected the elimination strategy to end one day. Maybe during this outbreak, but with a bang and not a whimper, by throwing everything we had at it. Once we had a heavily vaccinated population, not quitting before the finish line. This is a cowardly decision that attempts to please everyone, and that means the elimination strategy has ended on Covid’s terms and not ours. – Blog Boy Nick

Because the cost of taking companies’ property is not the administrative overhead, as officials suggest in the RIS.

The cost is all the investment in innovation that will not happen in the future.

Those costs are large, big enough to be measured in percentages of GDP. So it is laughable that officials could list administrative costs as the only real downside of their proposal. – Matt Burgess 

Do officials at the Ministry of Health understand how investment in specific assets works? Do they understand that investment in intellectual property, and in all sunk assets, depends on the credibility of the government’s promise not to take the property once it is created? Do officials recognise that even threatening such opportunism in one sector could have wider ramifications about security of property elsewhere? That prospective investors in wind turbines or EV charging infrastructure won’t notice the government putting in place machinery to take the property of medical companies?Matt Burgess

You don’t need to like Collins, or even to be National supporter (I’m certainly not) to regard O’Brien’s constant attacks on her as grotesque, vicious and weirdly obsessive. What journalistic purpose is served by mauling a lame and politically impotent Opposition leader while the politician wielding real power gets away scot-free – in fact avoids situations where she might be asked awkward questions about the government’s multiple failings? (I note that this week Ardern was out in the boondocks smiling for the cameras – anything to avoid having to explain the government’s about-face on its Covid-19 elimination strategy.) – Karl du Fresne

Having topped the Nobel 2021 class, Messrs Julius and Patapoutian should be encouraged to switch their efforts to advancing our understanding of Jacindaprehension, the process by which the pronouncements of the Prime Minister are recognised by our sensory cells and converted into signals that can then be interpreted by the brain as perceptions of the Government’s Covid strategy. – James Elliott 

I could see that the PM was speaking because her lips were moving. And the words that she was saying were travelling in sound waves from the TV to my ear drums which then vibrated causing fluid inside my cochlea to ripple across the basilar membrane activating the stereocilia to send electrical signals via the auditory nerve to my brain. It was that point that the process broke down. My brain was not able to process those electrical signals into a coherent perception of what the Government’s Covid strategy now is. – James Elliott 

Monday’s announcement was like watching the head prefect explaining the catering arrangements for the school ball in excruciating detail without telling us the basics like when the ball is, what the alcohol policy is, and whether there will be a DJ or a band. My summary understanding is that since midnight on Tuesday I’ve been able to have a picnic with another bubble provided our picnic rugs are socially distanced. That’s provided for under alert Level 3, Step 1. Under Alert Level 3, Step 1, Category A if I’m picnicking with another bubble and they are unvaxxed then they must be both socially distanced and downwind. And under alert Level 3, Step 1, Category A, Rule (iv), after I have picnicked upwind from an unvaxxed bubble I am required to send my picnic rug to Jet Park for 14 days followed by a deep clean. James Elliott 

The news cycle is so dominated by Covid that the media have been able to develop a type of shorthand, ditching superfluous words. The media no longer report alert levels, now they’re just levels. They’re no longer Covid or Delta cases, now they’re just cases. And they’re no longer the percentage of the population yet to receive a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, now they’re just the unjabbed. Deaths are still being reported as deaths until such time as a yet-to-be-convened government-appointed think tank approves the use of “PPPs”, previous pandemic participants.

The next phase in news reportage will see the ditching of words altogether. Alert levels, tests, cases, deaths and vaccination rates will all just be reported as a single sequence of numbers. It will be like a Lotto draw that nobody wins.  –  James Elliott

David Bernstein, Nicole Levitt and Daniel Newman

Critical Social Justice presents as the antidote to bigotry. But in the increasingly radical form now taking root on campuses, it has become the proverbial cure that’s worse than the disease. And so while we applaud those progressives who call out the specifically antisemitic—and more generally anti-liberal—elements of CSJ, it has now become clear that it is the ideology as a whole that must be rejected. David Bernstein, Nicole Levitt and Daniel Newman

Jacinda Ardern may be as superficial, intellectually shallow and verbally glib as some of her detractors claim, but her advisers and spin doctors are none of those things. Rather they are clever, cynical and even manipulative in the lines they give her – and she certainly delivers them well. – John Bishop

The detail is absent. Community leaders and interest groups have criticised the lack of clarity and the absence of target dates.

This feeds the developing narrative that the Government in general, and Ardern in particular, have lost control of the situation and don’t know what to do any more. – John Bishop

The other spin tactic used on Monday was the smother technique. It takes two forms. One is to be imprecise, even vague, about what is changing. . . The second part of the “smother” technique is to announce other important things at the same time. – John Bishop

Again, details are to be fleshed out by officials in working groups for a rollout next month. Good luck with meeting that target. It looks like a policy announced before the real policy work is completed, to assist with the smother strategy. John Bishop

Abandoning elimination may be the right move, but politically it is a huge shift, a massive gamble that the public will forget and forgive the sacrifices they have had to make, seemingly only now to have the Government change direction. – John Bishop

They are huge sums and that’s a problem in its own right. They’ve really just given themselves a blank cheque and said ‘trust us’, well I think we need more transparency and scrutiny on the amount of spending they’re doing Michael Woodhouse

My view is that the government should be doing everything to stop businesses falling over as a result of a government-imposed lockdown, and that means providing cash to those businesses because they live and die on cash … if we let businesses fall over, we’re gonna see more people on the jobs heap and that’s a really bad outcome. – Andrew Bayley

If you want something to work, you have to do the work. It’s not going to just happen magically because you want it to.Becky Dennison

 It’s quite magical when someone puts something on, you see it on their face, they feel better.

It’s not just a dress, often it takes trying something on to realise that. I’m selling confidence I think … and a sense of feeling special. – Becky Dennison

The way I look at it, refusing a vaccine is a bit like smoking. As far as I’m concerned, you can choose to smoke a cigarette. The health impacts are well-documented, but that’s on you. However, the moment your choice impacts upon my health, the moment I’m sucking in second-hand smoke, we have a problem.

Your freedom to smoke a cigarette in a restaurant impacts my freedom not to get lung cancer.

The primary reason someone should get vaccinated is because the science is clear – vaccinations protect our health.

But a person’s choice not to get vaccinated impacts us all. If someone’s not prepared to contribute to the greater good of society, why should they benefit from a society’s collective rewards?Jack Tame

In the War on Covid, this week has been marked by indecision, obfuscation, and missteps, which has led to an edgy mood change.

This has been a perilous week for this second-term Labour Government, and especially for the prime minister, who at times has looked and sounded panicked and unsure. – Janet Wilson

The biggest issue, and where the Government has clearly dropped the ball, is ICU capacity. After the first lockdown last year, it should have moved quickly to create a special visa class to get ICU specialists into the country. It did not.

This is an astonishing failure, given that the clear capacity constraint in the system – testing, contact tracing, isolation, hospital care – was always going to lie in providing and staffing ICU facilities.Luke Malpass

Pressure will also begin to mount on the Government over another aspect of lockdowns: they are very expensive. There has now been more money spent on the wage subsidy and other support for this lockdown (over $4 billion and counting) than the Government’s entire operating allowance for next year. That’s the amount of new money the Government will spend on ongoing operations.

There’s going to be a massive amount of tax that needs paying back, by future generations. – Luke Malpass

Yet in politics it’s often the lines that are made up on the spot, or in response to a particular issue on a particular day, that can come back to haunt their creators – think “year of delivery”. Covid for Christmas could just be one of them. – Luke Malpass

Making everything worse, is the extraordinary tangle into which the Government has gotten itself. Gone are the days of simple, but inspired, messaging: “Go hard. Go early.” “Stay home. Stay safe.” “Stamp out the virus.” In “To pee or not to pee: A full timeline of the confusing level three bathroom rule”, The Spinoff’s Madeleine Chapman makes excruciating fun of the Government’s messaging disasters. – Chris Trotter

People hating a government is one thing. What some people hate, other people are almost certain to love. But people laughing derisively at a government, that is something else entirely. Politically, it’s very hard to come back from derisive laughter.

But what other option, apart from derisive laughter, is left for New Zealanders? Except, perhaps, angry tears? And how did it get to this point? From OECD poster-child, to international laughing stock? What was it that caused this Government’s stunning reversal-of-fortune?Chris Trotter

Also inadequate, was the administrative rigidity of New Zealand’s state apparatus. This country’s people are famous for their “No. 8 Wire”, can-do improvisation, and for their willingness to give anything a decent try – and to hell with the hierarchies! Indeed, we are told it is precisely this attitude that makes Kiwis so highly-prized by foreign employers. But, if such attitudes were ever acceptable to New Zealand’s public servants, they are pure Kryptonite to the current generation of bureaucratic mandarins. – Chris Trotter

Nowhere was this more evident than in the tortuous roll-out of the official vaccination effort. Cumbersome, time-consuming, inefficient and ineffective, the official process generated enormous public frustration. If the People themselves had not taken the task in hand, New Zealand’s vaccination rates would be even worse than they are. Only when anxious communities swung into action alongside their GPs and other local health providers did the numbers getting the jab rise to something approaching an acceptable level.Chris Trotter

Ruling out alert level 4 will effectively also rule out alert level 1, leaving Aucklanders in the worst of both worlds with a large number of restrictions and a large (and growing) number of cases, hospitalisations, and deaths. That situation is no good for businesses either. We’ve seen this pattern play out again and again in multiple countries.

This is the most urgent and most important national conversation we can be having right now. At this critical point in our pandemic journey, failing to act decisively will have severe consequences for population health and wellbeing. – Dr Amanda Kvalsvig

The lockdown system fought Delta, and Delta has won.Luke Malpass

If Ardern is a rock star, I’m afraid she has reached second album syndrome. What looked so clever to many people a year ago no longer looks quite so smart.

The world can finally see that zero Covid was a dead end which delayed but did not eliminate Covid, while drawing out the economic damage from repeated lockdowns as far as the eye can see. – Ross Clark

This country’s populace is an overwhelming mix of people from all ethnic backgrounds, who simply want to get on with a life that enables access to equal opportunity in exchange for the recognition of our individual responsibilities to those who are in need of our help and care.Clive Bibby

Those who have reluctantly immunised themselves to stay employed (and for other reasons) may feel deep resentment against those who have refused and want to be financially supported as a consequence. – Lindsay Mitchell

By the way yesterday, in the middle of this dithering, it was the anniversary of the landslide election of Labour a year ago. An election where they were rewarded for their decisiveness. How things have changed.

A year ago they were caviar on toast. Now they’re just toast. –  Andrew Dickens

Among the unvaccinated, the virus travels unhindered on a highway with multiple off-ramps and refueling stations. In the vaccinated, it gets lost in a maze of dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs. Every so often, it pieces together an escape route, but in most scenarios, it finds itself cut off, and its journey ends. It can go no further. – Craig Spencer

It feels like the South Island does not exist in the minds of our senior politicians. Drop the levels to one, place restrictions on inter-island travel and continue the drive to boost vaccine numbers. Be pragmatic and adapt when it’s required to ever-changing degrees of risk and keep away from one size fits all.Bruce Smith

This country’s populace is an overwhelming mix of people from all ethnic backgrounds, who simply want to get on with a life that enables access to equal opportunity in exchange for the recognition of our individual responsibilities to those who are in need of our help and care. – Clive Bibby 

With its Emissions Reduction Plan released last week, the government is promising unprecedented control over every aspect of your life.

How you move. What you eat. Where you live. How you heat your home.

It is little short of a revolution. Between its emissions plan and next year’s Budget, which will also be about climate change, future governments of this country will have more to say about everything. – Matt Burgess

New Zealand should get more credit for its progress on emissions. On a per-capita basis, greenhouse gases have been falling since 2006. They are down 22% overall, and down 34% if agriculture is excluded.

Net emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases – relevant for the net zero target – are down 25% per person.

And it is not pine trees that are doing all the work. More than 100% of the fall in net emissions is due to lower gross emissions. – Matt Burgess

The government is not thinking about climate change this way. In fact, it does not seem to be thinking about emissions at all. It has published an Emissions Reduction Plan which will bring down emissions by about the same amount as existing policies to achieve the same emissions targets. Matt Burgess

What, then, is the point of an Emissions Reduction Plan if it does not reduce emissions?

Judging from its effects, the point is control. The plan will have two clear effects. Ministers will decide how and where emissions come down, not you. Second, you will pay more – ten times more, on the government’s own analysis – for the benefit of their judgment.

What a terrible deal. For the environment. And for your back pocket.

And all based on the twin lies that reducing emissions requires central control, and that the government’s Emissions Reduction Plan reduces emissions. – Matt Burgess

We used to aim for zero cases for better or worse. We knew a string of zeros meant we’d be allowed some freedom back. Now no one from the Prime Minister down seems capable of articulating what we need to achieve to get out of lockdown. So we stay in limbo. 

For a Government whose main and sometimes only strength is having the gift of the gab, the communication has been running rough. The hurried announcement a week ago of level 3 plus picnics and “transitioning away” from elimination pleased no one. The elimination crowd were fearful, everyone else was confused.

Even the Government’s most loyal cheerleaders lamented the lack of a plan. We spent two days sniggering at the mixed messages about using the neighbour’s toilet when you went for a picnic in their garden.  –  Steven Joyce

The Government is tying itself in knots to avoid setting a clear vaccination target. The most oft-mentioned number when ministers are pressed is 90 per cent, but then the caveats arise. It can’t just be 90 per cent overall, it needs to be 90 per cent in every community, and every ethnicity. And anyway we aren’t setting a target, and so it goes.

The whole thing would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Every week of lockdown means more retail, hospitality and hairdressing businesses going broke. Kids are missing a lot of school and their friends even more. We are trading their futures for the dithering now. It was a tough day in households with teenagers when the news broke that term four in Auckland would start as term three finished, at home and on a screen. – Steven Joyce

The country’s debt keeps growing. The Finance Minister makes much of it being a bit better than expected, but already we have borrowed more than for the GFC and Canterbury earthquakes combined – and that’s before the latest lockdown. The monetary medicine is driving a bigger wedge between the haves and have-nots as asset prices, including houses, continue to be juiced by artificially free money.

People of all ages are struggling mentally. It is said we had a mental health crisis back in 2017 – I worry to think what it is like now. – Steven Joyce

But whatever the internal tussles going on, change is coming.

It’s all possible because of the wonders that are these vaccines. They are true marvels of modern medicine and the brightest stars to have come out of this pandemic. The evidence from here and overseas is that while fully vaccinated people can still catch the virus, their symptoms are very mild and they mostly stay out of hospital and stay out of danger. That is fantastic. And it is clear now there are no significant side-effects.

The path is clear. Those that aren’t yet vaccinated need to stop stuffing about and get it done. Let’s take some control and set our own target for the country so we can get the borders down between Auckland and everywhere else, and see our friends and families again. – Steven Joyce

The truth is that the grass is greenest where it’s watered – and nurtured – and cared for, and if green grass is important to you when crossing fences you should carry water with you, along with fertilizer, and a manual for lawn care.
Or learn to be still . . . and wait . . . .
 – Robert Fulghum

Patience has never been my virtue – but patience is required now.
Carpe Diem – seize the day – has always been my working mantra. That’s been replaced with Carpe Manana – hold on for tomorrow.
Mutability is the operative concept.
That’s the quality of being liable to undergo inevitable change. – Robert Fulghum

Nature does not care about fences – the green will come where and when it will, driven by the invincible force of Life.
No need to look for better grass on the other side of a fence.
The grass has come to me.
The fuse of the future is lit – the life force will prevail and explode.
  – Robert Fulghum

All the arguments about the right to travel freely, the right to associate, the right not to be tracked and traced … they all come out of the argument for individual rights, which is based on individual rights being a contextual absolute, i.e., an absolute in the context in which they are promulgated. Which is peacetime, essentially. Or plague-free times.

Which is to say that virtually all the arguments whinging I’m hearing about quarantine, all the protests against marks and vaccines, all the reasoning about being able to open up on December 1st come what may, should all have appended to them the simple two words “…but plague

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, there is a different context out there at the moment. The context of “…but plague.” And in times of plague, a proper context-sensitive application of rights (which are intended to protect me from you and you from me) includes things like quarantine. And might involve things like masks and vaccination.

Why? Because plague. – Peter Cresswell

If forced to define the groupthink that binds the members of this cabal, I would suggest it’s an adherence to the ideology of identity politics – the idea that disadvantaged minority groups (more of which seem to emerge with every passing month) have needs, grievances and interests that, when push comes to shove, supersede those of the majority.

Identity politics involves a relentless focus not on what unites us – in other words, the interests and values that all New Zealanders have in common (such as freedom, prosperity, peace and respect for the rule of law) – but on grievance and division. Proponents of identity politics see society as an aggregation of disadvantaged groups that must compete for power and influence against a privileged and hostile majority that’s indifferent to their needs. It’s a world view that arises largely out of Marxist theory but which, oddly enough, is not endorsed by all Marxists. Karl du Fresne

These aggrieved minorities may define themselves by their ethnicity, their gender, their religion, their disabilities or their sexual identity. The desire to protect these groups and promote their interests, even if it means over-riding the wishes of the majority, has become an all-consuming objective for the cabal that now dominates New Zealand politics.

We see this reflected in many of the political initiatives pursued by the Labour government since it was freed from the restraining influence of New Zealand First. Obvious examples include proposed hate speech laws (still conveniently vague), Maori co-governance proposals, taxpayer-funded government capture of the media, centralisation of power via radical new arrangements in health and local government (e.g. the Three Waters), indoctrination of school pupils through a distorted history curriculum, and the imposition of Maori place names and Maori terminology unfamiliar to most New Zealanders without any mandate. – Karl du Fresne

But what sets the 2021-style cabal apart is the sheer scale of its influence. A homogeneity of thinking extends across virtually all the public institutions that influence New Zealand life. What debate there is mainly takes place on the margins – for example, on talkback radio (which the media elite regards with contempt), in social media and on blogs like this one, where dissenting opinion can be quarantined as if it were a contagious disease.

The dangers hardly need spelling out. A country where government policies largely go unchallenged by the institutions that normally hold politicians to account is a country that risks acquiescing in the face of an authoritarian state. – Karl du Fresne

Some political journalists appear to compete for the prime minister’s favour, like school children begging for the teacher to notice their upraised arms. The penalty for asking awkward questions at Ardern’s “Pulpit of Truth” sessions is that the questioner is likely to be snubbed in future. It’s a more subtle form of control than that exercised by Robert Muldoon, who banned journalists he didn’t like, but just as effective. Small wonder that Barry Soper, the most experienced member of the press gallery, has exposed Ardern’s promise of transparency as a sham.

We even see media outlets actively suppressing content for no better reason than that it’s ideologically unacceptable; witness the New Zealand Herald’s shameful refusal to publish an inoffensive advertisement for the feminist group Speak Up for Women, which has struggled to have its voice heard against a barrage of  rhetoric from the fiercely aggressive transgender lobby.

Once the guardians of free speech, the press has become complicit in the suppression of opinions that run counter to the tenets of identity politics. That media outlets like the Herald now align themselves with radical fringe groups such as transgender activists, who only a few years ago would have been regarded as deranged, demonstrates how out of touch they have become with the public they purport to serve. – Karl du Fresne

Distortion is just one of the weapons in the armoury of the cabal that controls the public conversation. Ridicule and scorn are others, as evidenced by Newshub’s report about Slater. The purpose is to intimidate dissenters into silence. And we’re paying for it, because the media elements of the cabal are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the Pravda Project, aka the Public Interest Journalism Fund. That’s the cabal’s master stroke. – Karl du Fresne

The exact tailoring of the number of hospital beds to the supposed demand, as if all future demand were precisely foreseeable, was hubristic. The assumption was that nothing unforeseen could emerge to upset the calculations. When Covid came, it was found that practically all intensive care beds were already occupied by patients with other conditions. The suddenly increased demand was met by reducing all normal activities, with consequences that have yet to be fully evaluated. Running hospitals on a factory, just-in-time basis turned out not to be very adaptable. – Theodore Dalrymple

The problem with strategic considerations is that they are not easily calculable, though the costs of taking them into account may be. The costs of not taking them into account are unknown, at least in advance. To maintain spare capacity is costly, but whether it was a cost worth bearing only future experience could tell. There might not be a severe winter, for example, in which case there will be no energy crisis, and those who denied the necessity for a reserve, or a Plan B, might consider themselves vindicated, or at least not blameworthy. – Theodore Dalrymple

How far strategic considerations should affect economic policy is a matter of judgment, and judgment by definition is fallible. If they are given too much weight, they can lead to the featherbedding of industries that are then under no pressure to improve or become more efficient. But if they are not given enough weight, they may take their revenge by causing a crisis or even a catastrophe. This is especially true in geographically vulnerable countries such as Britain.  – Theodore Dalrymple

We have had a rude awakening to the fact that the world is more complex than simple principles or calculations allow, and that the exercise of judgment—always fallible, always likely to be proved wrong, never fully definable—is as necessary as calculation. The world will always surprise us. Theodore Dalrymple

If the Government, particularly Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, had ever imagined that the Three Waters reforms would sail through without too much opposition, this week’s poll should have shattered any such illusions.

The poll shows a majority of New Zealand oppose the reforms, 56 per cent to 19 per cent. And that is across every political party, age group and region. ACT and National voters are most opposed but Labour voters are against it 39 per cent to 28 per cent, and Greens are too – 37 per cent to 31 per cent. – John Bishop

What chance has any ordinary person of influencing policy? This is simply a massive shift of power and control away from the elected representatives of our people to an unelected elite.

If you are more conspiracy minded – and plenty are on this issue – you’ll see the new entities, which will have strong iwi representation, as a cover for transferring ownership, or control, or cashflow to Māori. A sharing of resources with a Treaty partner, but without any mandate from the people to do so and without the consent of the ratepayers and water users who have built up the assets. – John Bishop

For my part I just cannot accept that this is the Government’s agenda. No minister could possibly imagine that they could, by some sleight of administrative hand, remove billions of dollars of assets from councils and put them in the hand of an unelected elite remote from the people.

The audacity of such a scheme boggles the mind. Ordinary people would quickly rise in indignation and cry ‘‘asset grab’’, ‘’hands off our water’’, ‘’leave our pipes alone’’, and similar.

It would be irresponsible and politically foolish for any government even to contemplate that and to risk the backlash that would follow when people worked out what was happening. – John Bishop

The LGNZ supposedly represents councils to government. Instead, it is being paid to represent the government to councils, precisely the reverse of what is supposed to happen.

It’s a perversion of the normal representation process and coloured by money to boot. It’s a disgraceful lapse of judgment and anti-democratic as well. John Bishop

Nanaia Mahuta is quite correct to state that the three water reforms are not about shifting ownership of council assets to Government control. Ownership of assets is not needed as the Government seems to regard ownership as a very fleeting thing. The three waters reforms are obviously about the redistribution and control of those vital assets to a new entity made up entirely of Ministerial appointments.

Ownership, even by councils is now far from essential if a government can legislate to subjugate ownership of land and water use rights to political control for political advantage. By applying this understanding, the once murky three waters rationale becomes crystal clear. – Gerry Eckhoff

While Maori claims to water is based on the three treaty clauses, it must be remembered that the all-important purpose of the Treaty of Waitangi was to enable British settlers and Maori to live together under a common set of laws. Non Maori were not to be given preferential treatment over the indigenous people. Real concerns for the well-being of Maori at that time is exemplified by two House of Lords select committee inquiries in the late 1830s which delt with how Maori were being treated. The inquiry promoted genuine concerns from humanitarian groups that exposure to disease and maltreatment was threatening the very survival of the race. Today Maori make up a healthy 16% of the population.

The Government is literally testing the waters to see what reaction occurs to this three waters proposal, and to see what level of acceptance by the wider population is allowed before loss of political power occurs. – Gerry Eckhoff

If a cursory glance is cast at Government schemes to improve the wellbeing of us all, we need look no further than the failure to build the promised 100,000 new homes. The reduction of carbon in the atmosphere is mocked by importing 1million tons of coal this year alone. The mental health issue is not well managed by Government – and so it goes on. – Gerry Eckhoff

Perhaps the most ironic part of this proposal is the contention that administration of water is simply recognising this as a right of Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi. It seems rather incongruous that the treaty bestowed upon Maori one of the greatest gifts of all but unrecognized at the time in 1840. That of citizenship and equal status with British citizens. Today people from all over the world clamour to enter Britain and indeed New Zealand due to our laws and judicial system that treats all with equanimity – for the time being. – Gerry Eckhoff

It is claimed that water is a taonga to Maori which is indisputable. So too is water a taonga to non Maori, especially to those rural folk who rely on water, store water, to benefit families, friends and communities of all races colour and creed. – Gerry Eckhoff

We are set to be disenfranchised. As with most government ideas and schemes, the theory and the practise are simply incompatible. Author Danielle di Martino Booth quotes a sign found in a remote island off Norway which pretty much sums up the Three Waters proposal. (Paraphrased)

“Theory is when bureaucrats and Ministers understand everything, but nothing works. Practise is when everything works but nobody understands why. In Wellington, theory and practise are united, so nothing works as it should and nobody understands why.”  

Welcome to the world of three waters. Gerry Eckhoff

My reckon on the application of the traffic light Covid system to Auckland is that it must have been devised exclusively by Wellingtonians, a well-meaning and sensibly-dressed group who have no clue whatsoever as to how Aucklanders actually behave at traffic lights. In Auckland, a red light is a reminder that you’re entitled; part of that entitlement being that you are entitled not to stop for red lights. An orange light is actually the prompt to cross the intersection because a green light is the reminder that you’re an influencer and you need to stay stopped while updating your multiple social media accounts as to the number of red lights you ignored on the way to the North Shore influencer party at the weekend. – James Elliott

Providing equity of access for assisted dying without equity of access to palliative care is to completely undermine the goals of the End of Life Choice Act. The choice is distorted towards aid in dying and away from palliative care. – Dr Ben Gray


In years to come when a full inquiry is done into the Government’s Covid response, the executive summary will observe the obvious – the drive to get Māori vaccinated was too little too late.

If the urgency seen in the last three weeks had been in place in March, when kuia and kaumatua were diligently doing their bit and getting vaccinated, the statistics would look quite different.

If iwi and Māori providers had been tooled up, mobilised, and given the freedom to vaccinate anyone they wanted, anywhere they wanted, at any time and any cost, the picture would be far less bleak. – Jo Moir

They’re saying “enough – enough of this confusion, enough of playing mind games with people, enough of the Government not delivering on their promises and enough of expecting other New Zealanders to carry that can for them.Judith Collins

When I talk to a hairdresser in tears because her savings are all gone and she can’t pay her mortgage, my heart isn’t breaking for the bricks and mortar of her salon. It is her loss that I feel. She is losing something she has worked hard for and saved for over decades. Countless weekends, late nights and early mornings. She is losing her home, her retirement, her life’s work. . .

She feels powerless to do anything but watch her life’s work go down the drain. And now she’s been told she might have to wait months more to get any real income. She says she feels like giving up. – Judith Collins

It seems trite to appeal to the Prime Minister’s kindness when it has become such a government buzzword in recent years, but I will do just that nonetheless. What the Jacinda Ardern Government is putting Kiwis through is nothing short of cruel.Judith Collins

For a single major project – say like a moon short, a major war or a pandemic response – the state can do a good enough job, particularly if money is no object.  But looking at something like the Christchurch earthquake aftermath, it is clear that doing it cost effectively can be another matter.  Examining the standout projects during the Covid pandemic – the rapid genome sequencing and the vaccine development – you would conclude that they owed their success to their independence from close state control.

So grit your teeth now and let private businesses reshape the markets to reflect new realities. If we are not better off, we will at least have avoided a worse outcome. – Point of Order

Identity politics is at the root of all these fights. The key question is whether your value as a human being is related to some immutable characteristics such as your ancestry, sex or gender and sexuality, or whether it is related to factors that you have some control over, such as your moral character, your behaviour and your achievements. More than three thousand years of Western civilisation led to a social system that put the greatest value on the latter factors – it was the gradual recognition of the dignity and sovereignty of the individual that paved the road to modern, liberal society. This philosophical thread can be traced through Judaism, Athenian democracy, the Roman republic, Christianity, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the abolition of slavery and the establishment of universal suffrage. There was much backsliding along the way, but the direction was overwhelmingly towards judging people as equal in rights regardless of their inherited characteristics.Kiwiwit

Those who value equity above all else believe that the means justify the end. If you believe that the purpose of the individual is to serve the good of the collective, there is no limit to what can and should be done to individuals to achieve this. If you believe people are good or bad because of their immutable characteristics, there is no possibility of redemption for their original sins (viz. “white guilt”). And if you believe that the way to achieve equality is to bring those who are “privileged” down to size, sooner or later you are going to start chopping off feet. – Kiwiwit

Covid-19 has provided governments with the justification for repressing the rights-based freedoms we have taken for granted for decades – freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and freedom to operate a business or to go about your work. But governments have been selective in their application of these restrictions – certain businesses considered essential by some arbitrary criteria were allowed to remain open during lockdowns (e.g. in New Zealand supermarkets were open but not butchers), and protests and even violence by groups such as Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion have been condoned, while small, peaceful gatherings of people that the authorities disapprove of have been treated as insurrections. In other words, Covid-19 has established the principle that rights are the property of the government to bestow on those they see fit, and a privilege to be denied to those who do not have the government’s favour.  – Kiwiwit

Equity is a threat to real rights precisely because it is so insidious. It sounds like it is about fairness and dignity, and the motives of many promoting it are essentially noble. But few who promote it think through the implications of trying to enforce equality of outcomes on a diverse population with different needs and aspirations, and creating an all-powerful state apparatus to allocate resources according to inherent characteristics such as race and sex. Solzhenitsyn, in The Gulag Archipelago, described how the relentless pursuit of equality of outcome inevitably leads to gulags and genocide. Let’s hope the West wakes up to the implications of equity before we get there. – Kiwiwit

It’s astonishing New Zealand doesn’t have a fully-functional vaccine passport system already developed and tested. Almost every developed country has a system in place. Israel launched its vaccine passport system in February. New York introduced vaccine passports in March. As National’s Chris Bishop pointed out yesterday, Cuba has a vaccine passport system. Burkina Faso has a vaccine passport system!  – Jack Tame

Naivety or hubris? Why wouldn’t New Zealand need vaccine passports when everyone else did? What makes us so special?

At the very least, the delay points to complacency. The development of a domestic vaccine passport system should have been a priority from the moment we placed our order with Pfizer, even if it later proved New Zealand never needed to use it.

That vaccine certificates aren’t already functional tells us officials did not sufficiently prepare for a scenario in which New Zealand couldn’t eliminate the virus.

We’ve been caught flat-footed with vaccine certificates because we thought we were different to everyone else. We thought we were better.

We were wrong.  – Jack Tame

Here’s one more brutal thought that I think the Government has considered but can’t say out loud.

At this point the only thing that can really accelerate vaccination rates may be the spread of the virus itself – fear. – Liam Dann

Like Political Correctness before it, Wokeness started as an admirable aim and ended up as a despicable smugness, inhabited by people who need never tackle their own shortcomings while there are demonised others to unload upon. – Julie Burchill

Wokeness is the roar of the entitled mediocre, desperate to hold centre stage and terrified by any challenge to their flimsy sense of self – a temper tantrum with a socially concerned alibi.

The word ‘Woke’ means anything other than the opposite of being asleep. But there is something creepy and smug about the word – indicating that one person is inherently better than others, without actually having to do anything to prove it. – Julie Burchill

Universities have now been refurbished as pity-party play-pens where feelings trump facts, as they do for infants.

The Woke would be less objectionable if they lived up to their own pristine standards, but they fall woefully short.

In an inversion of the psychiatrist Carl Jung’s great saying ‘You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do’, once you have identified as Woke you can get away with anything. – – Julie Burchill

In this age of safe spaces for all, the spaces where women are most vulnerable – toilets, jails, women’s refuges – were suddenly flung open to any rapacious trucker who had decided that he felt like a woman. Julie Burchill

Shortly after hearing that Meghan planned to semi-retire from Royal duties in order to spend more time with her merchandising, I coined the phrase the ‘Grabdication’ (grabbing the limelight, grabbing the status, grabbing the cash) and my rehabilitation was complete. – Julie Burchill

The Grabdication was another Woke event, along with the Gender Recognition Act and the Remoaner refusal to accept Brexit, which while appearing to be liberal was actually the opposite.

The Grabdication told peasants that princes may do as they wish with no regard to public opinion; the Gender Recognition Act that men may do as they wish with no regard for the opinion of women; and a proposed second vote on Brexit that the ruling class may do as they wish and ignore the voice of the people.Julie Burchill

In short, Green – like Wokeness itself – is the first socio-political movement in which every mover and shaker ranges from well-off to filthy rich.

Hearing the over-privileged halfwits of Extinction Rebellion talk about economic growth as if it were child abuse, you can sense real contempt towards people who believe that working at a job in order to make money and pay the taxes which keep society civil is a desirable thing to do. – Julie Burchill

Ecology is politics for people who don’t like people and are miffed that the masses are now free to travel cheaply, rather than being hooked up to a plough or doing laundry in a creek. Julie Burchill

And then the Grabdication went bust, and was revealed as being as morally bankrupt as the celebrity and the Wokeness which had spawned it, with a whole nasty level of its own because the three belief systems had never been seen in the same place before. –Julie Burchill

According to a recent survey, more than half of child and adolescent psychiatrists in Britain report having been consulted by young patients distressed about climate change and the state of the environment. The alleged effects of climate change (or more exactly, thoughts about climate change) upon these children and adolescents include PTSD, phobias, sleep disorders, cognitive deficits, and feelings such as helplessness, hopelessness, grief, and anger.

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)? I can only assume that it develops after watching too many video clips of little Greta Thunberg spoiled-bratting about her ruined childhood. A single photograph of her is certainly enough to trigger very unpleasant emotions in me: I think I need a safe space in which it is impossible for her to appear, otherwise I shall begin to suffer from post-Thunberg stress disorder.

In this context, however, PTSD should surely stand for “pre-traumatic stress disorder”; that is to say children are being trained up so that, when they really do suffer from something rather than merely imagine it at some time in the future, having hitherto lived privileged lives by the standards of all previously existing human beings, they will be nice and vulnerable, requiring an army of therapists, counselors, social and auxiliary support workers, etc., to get through the rest of their lives. This is necessary demand management for the professionally compassionate, who need a constant supply of the wretched upon whom to exercise their compassion. Resilience is their enemy. – Theodore Dalrymple

I can’t imagine that teaching children and young people self-righteousness will do very much intergenerational justice. Youth is already quite arrogant enough without indoctrination. It all sounds uncommonly like brainwashing to me, but placing the responsibility on little Jimmy or Arabella from Much Wenlock or Chipping Norton for limiting carbon emissions in China seems hardly the way to calm their anxieties. We all know that power without responsibility is a curse for humanity, but responsibility without power is a curse for humans, a powerful inducer of feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

I think it was Wesley (though I may be mistaken) who said, with regard to the physical chastisement of children, that it is never too soon to do God’s glorious work. Instead of chastising them with whips and scourges, however, we now chastise them with anxieties that the world might not last another ten, or even five, years, that they will live to see the apocalypse of heat, fire, rain, wind, dust, flood, tsunami, drought, famine, tropical disease (There will be locusts over/The white cliffs of Dover), that will end all human life, especially theirs.

And just as they must learn by the age of 6 to be nice to transsexuals (in the unlikely event of survival, of course), so they must learn by the same age to examine the accounts of giant banks to find out whether they have lent money to Woodside Petroleum of Australia, for example, or committed some such other crime against the environment.  – Theodore Dalrymple

So I am in favor of preserving and even improving the environment—just not as an excuse for totalitarianism. – Theodore Dalrymple

New Zealand politics contains its share of immortal lines. David Lange, debating the morality of nuclear weapons in 1985, told his opponent that he could “smell the uranium” on his breath. Michael Joseph Savage described his government’s social welfare policies as “applied Christianity”. Don Brash allegedly told US officials that New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy would be “gone by lunchtime” if he were elected. They illustrate a timeless truth—that politics has always been about persuasion, about style as well as policy substance. But now, and especially under this government, it seems that politics is more about the message and less about the results. We might even say that politics, and by extension the art and act of government, doesn’t just depend on good comms. These days, politics is comms. Alex Penk

Inspiring unity and compassion rather than division is a tremendous accomplishment. There’s also a place for the soundbite, the memorable turn of phrase that captures a moment and provokes a reaction—for the gleaming tip that caps off an iceberg of gravity, of serious thought and carefully designed policy machinery. The problem is when it’s all tip and no iceberg, when there’s little to no substance under the surface.  – Alex Penk

It turns out that rhetoric alone doesn’t change reality, that earnestly enjoining people to “be kind” in the face of the pandemic doesn’t make up for a year of self-congratulation and inaction. Skilful wordsmithery like “the team of five million”, and complacent assurances that the nation was taking “our rightful place in the delivery of vaccine”, ring hollow alongside a woefully sluggish vaccine rollout, a “reactive and conservative” testing strategy, an MIQ regime that resembles a lottery, and concernsthat the health system is underprepared for Delta and the end of the elimination strategy.  – Alex Penk

It’s not just that there’s a gap between lofty sermonising and actual outcomes—it’s that in many cases the outcome is the opposite of the intention. Mismanaging the response to COVID and leaving us vulnerable to an extended lockdown is not kind, as anyone watching their livelihood go down the drain or struggling with isolation and mental illness could tell you. – Alex Penk

If our media are our “social and intellectual environment”, then truth-telling in our day is simplistic, Instagrammable, tweetable. It rewards strong emotions like outrage with clicks, likes, retweets, blue check marks, fame and opportunity. It’s increasingly personalised and curated, so that you need not encounter opinions that trouble you. It’s tribal, as we splinter into identity groups and downplay our common humanity, seeing those who disagree with us not just as wrong but as evil. It’s brought to us by journalists who increasingly write opinion alongside, or within, their reporting. In this environment, creating and controlling the narrative, mastering the soundbite, and above all carefully curating the image of authenticity, are the qualities that win our debates—and that limit them.

The politicians do it because enough people are willing to believe impossibly lofty rhetoric about transparency and to vote for platitudinous exhortations about kindness. So they’re not the only ones to blame. Alex Penk

We, the public, need to educate ourselves to ask these questions and to cultivate some healthy scepticism about our politicians’ more grandiose claims. But it shouldn’t be too much to expect our public leaders to take some initiative and show some leadership, to remarry substance with style. Until they do, expect things to get worse, not better. Mere rhetoric will not bend reality. No matter how many times you urge people to “be kind”, the virus isn’t listening.   – Alex Penk

It used to be that history was considered to be a factual record of past events which could be verified from a number of sources. In 21st century New Zealand however, history can literally be anything a person, organisation, cultural group, even a government, wants it to be. History today is being used as a vehicle to support social, economic, political and cultural agendas. Historians now tell us there is no such thing as “one true history” of anything, but that there are as many histories as there are people who wish that to be the case. Historiography, or the writing of history, has supplanted the presentation of verifiable facts about past events. –  Henry Armstrong

 In many parts of the world, the promotion and teaching of a nation’s history is a time-honoured and professional undertaking which adds immeasurably to a nation’s identity and future. Can the same be said of New Zealand in the 21st Century? – Henry Armstrong

The service station down the road in Auckland has 91 priced over $2.65 per litre for the first time.  It was only a few months ago it was under $2.00. 

Prime Minister Ardern said we are being “fleeced”.  More like we are being “skinned”, wool and all.  It seems to slip her mind that half the “fleecing” is being done by her government.  They are grabbing $1.45 of that $2.65.  Having ratcheted up spending the government now needs all the revenue they can get their hands on. Having captured a moment’s limelight for making the claim she has moved on, yet again to another publicity podium, unable to deliver any outcome of substance.  –  Owen Jennings

Politicians know that all surveys of voters show that the population is in favour of climate change being taken seriously but then vows to not paying a dollar towards the wild and extravagant counter proposals to stop warming.  It’s the old syndrome of everyone wanting to go to heaven but no one wanting to die. –  Owen Jennings

Amidst this turmoil and pain a gaggle of globalists, elitists, politicians, crazed greenies and a few scientists will blithely jet into Glasgow, into an isolated bubble of fantasy, high priced hotel rooms, glitzy conference facilities, electric cars charged on diesel powered generators, totally remote from the chaos their policies are causing.  They might as well be on another planet. 

They will not be footing the enormous costs of their brazen extravagance.  We will – the taxpayers.  And pay we will again and again, more and more as their unnecessary, centralised controls drive energy prices higher and higher.Owen Jennings

I’m sick of it. You’re sick of it. The Government, the bureaucracy, businesses, the entire city of Auckland and the rest of the country are over it. I’m tired of writing about it and you’re probably exhausted reading and hearing about it. The problem is, our eyes and ears are drawn to any news story, opinion column or public statement about Covid-19. The worldwide pandemic has taken over our lives. All of which is probably better than having Covid-19 take our lives. – Bill Ralston

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her government have been exposed. The myth has been busted and only the truly deluded and card-carrying sycophants surely now think they’ve handled this pandemic well.

Just before half-time in the battle against Covid, Ardern left the field to take selfies and sign autographs, thinking the game was won.

The rest is called Delta. Can someone please pass this on to the luvvies who see her as a demi-god?  – Duncan Garner

Sadly, we were sitting alright – the government on its hands and we were all sitting ducks. Auckland was the biggest target of all, as Delta was always going to smack into that city first – the arrivals gate for our impending disaster.

Yet this Labour administration had more than a year without level 4, 470 days to be exact, to beef up the health system, target more staff, secure a vaccine, work out how to roll it out, put in place 24-hour clinics, and organise a better MIQ – which, to my utter shock, senior Labour Minister David Parker described to me in one interview as “damn near perfect”. – Duncan Garner

The humility was missing from Labour during the 470 days gifted to them when the hard work should have been on show.

It should have been preparing the country and making sure all systems, plans, and laws were passed and in place for the impending war against Delta. The public service is equally to blame, if ultimately less accountable, for where were all their learnings and lessons from past outbreaks? Who was monitoring the virus overseas and who got it right, who got it wrong and what did and didn’t work? – Duncan Garner

Don’t tell me the public service was too slow. It’s always too slow. Put your boots on and kick their arses. This is a pandemic. Get people around you that can make it happen. You are the government, you control the pace. Reach out to the private sector, identify people that can make it happen, and sideline those who can’t.- Duncan Garner

What a luxury, a luxury no other country had. But slowly we watched on as the trainwreck neared our station.

No saliva testing, no 24-hour clinics, hospitals understaffed and with not enough ICU beds for a mass outbreak, and either no vaccine or not enough of it.

This government’s inability to use the past 18 months to prepare and protect Auckland for the inevitable Delta arrival is not just utter incompetence it’s negligent and Auckland businesses and residents have every right to be angry and be banging on the government’s door for answers.  Duncan Garner

Ardern and sidekick Grant Robertson must pull rank. They must get competing advice on what their flimsy pathway to nowhere will cost Auckland and the country.

But there’s a reason they don’t. Because no-one in this government has ever asked for the economy to be elevated alongside Covid in this second year of suffering. It’s a glaring omission in this now-defunct and redundant strategy to eliminate Covid.

Only now can Ardern admit her strategy was doomed. Not that she’s using that language. No, she calls it ‘a transition’. That’s code for, ‘woops, it ain’t working, we got that wrong’. – Duncan Garner

This steps-to-freedom dribble reeks of something compiled at the last minute. It’s revealing too. It shows scant regard for business who require certainty. It’s amateur hour on steroids.

It shows a government that has not reached out to hear the ideas of those who battle each day with what I call risk.

Business rewards handsomely if you do it well but those who venture into it take massive risks.

They need to be at the table and the government needs to be open to hearing them. They deserve to be there. They have sucked up the lockdown pain and cost and this flaky back-of-an-envelope roadmap is an insult to them, Auckland, and all those businesses down country who just realised Aucklanders spend money in their region. – Duncan Garner

Auckland is in a state of confusion with weekly reviews that may confuse us further.

Far from leading the world, the PM and her team of missing in action minsters have dropped the ball.

We have been smug, complacent and, sadly, bloody lazy in the end, which won’t be agreed with by Ardern’s many followers who hear no evil, see no evil, and speak only in glowing terms.  – Duncan Garner

There is meant to be light at the end of the tunnel. Not in Ardern’s slapped-together afterthought. It’s a plan that says ‘shut your eyes and hope’. It’s unravelling folks.

I can’t imagine business will ever trust Labour again, if they ever did at all.

And to think so many Kiwis voted Ardern because of the way she handled Covid.

How is that looking now?  – Duncan Garner

There is no getting away from the draconian, illiberal implications of this policy. Ardern’s government has effectively created a two-tier society, a nation of first- and second-class citizens. What’s more, this divisive policy cleaves along ethnic lines. According to recent reports, only 57 per cent of Māori and only 73 per cent of Pacific peoples have had their first jab. That compares against 80 per cent for white New Zealanders. This lack of protection has meant that Māori and Pacific peoples make up 83 per cent of all recent Covid cases. And now it seems that the same ethnic groupings will also be deprived of their basic rights during any future Covid outbreaks. – Tim Black

How has it come to this? The answer lies, ironically, in the failure of the very policy for which Ardern was celebrated – namely, Zero Covid. It meant that, for too long, New Zealand pursued the unachievable goal of eliminating Covid, while neglecting the need for vaccination.

In the summer of 2020 Ardern was busily boasting of New Zealand’s success, while centrists the world over cheered. For a few days at least, New Zealand was even Covid free. We were told this was testament to the genius of Ardern’s go-early, go-hard elimination strategy – the one that many say should have been adopted in the UK and elsewhere. – Tim Black

Now, faced by continued Covid outbreaks, and pressure from those clinging to the false comfort of Zero Covid, Ardern has panicked. Having only belatedly realised that the only way out of the Covid nightmare is through vaccination rather than elimination through lockdown, the New Zealand government has opted for the most draconian solution available – a particularly harsh vaccine mandate – despite the dire implications this has for society.

Perhaps Saint Jacinda was never the saviour of the world she was made out to be. – Tim Black

For the mantra of today is that there is no truth, everything is relative, a product of the surrounding society.

So the bloke’s a product of the society that surrounded him. How can he be held to some set of eternal verities if eternal verities don’t exist? – Tim Worstall

The erosion of our freedom of choice, freedom of speech and the loss of precious time with family and friends and all the other negative aspects of a lockdown should be balanced against the health risk of Covid. Imagine if we had invested the 1 billion plus spent each week on lockdowns on improving our health system, education or roading (we had 8 road deaths in NZ last weekend).

It seems totally insane that double vaccinated people are terrified of meeting unvaccinated people. Is that how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives? What about the people that have health issues and can’t get vaccinated? Are they going to be banished from society? (for the record I’m double vaccinated)

Finally the fact that the NZ government has now said that even if Auckland achieves 90% double vaccination that it’s people may likely still be restricted from traveling at Christmas seems like a total nonsense. –  Russell Coutts

It’s also total nonsense and contradictory that double vaccinated people that have negative covid tests are being locked down for 14 days in MIQ whilst people with Covid are being allowed to self isolate in the community.

How New Zealand, a country where it’s people greatly valued freedom off choice…..how we even got to this stage of blindly accepting this sort of unilateral rule, power and dictatorship from our government is deeply troubling indeed. –  Russell Coutts

This government has just proven themselves to be a revolting pack of thieving liars. – James Gough

People nevertheless fear for their careers and even their livelihoods. Followers of movements like the Trans Movement have no hesitation in calling for the dismissal of people who attract their wrath by disagreeing publicly with them. So-called transphobia is not irrational fear of people who want to change their sex, but fear of retribution by the movement that makes such people their cause (who may not be the same people). – Theodore Dalrymple

There are several asymmetrical wars currently going on in the intellectual sphere. On the one side are guerrilla monomaniacs with a cause, for whom the subject of their monomania is all-important, and the promotion of which is the meaning of their lives; on the other, normal people for whom that particular subject is merely one thing among many others.

In this situation, the monomaniacs have the advantage of fanaticism. Like Batista’s army in Cuba, normal people melt away in the face of fanatical attack, because they do not care enough, or are not prescient enough, to defend their position—though they may later come to regret not having done so.

What is particularly alarming about the totalitarian temper that is developing in western society is that it does not originate from the government but is a genuine expression of the thirst for power of a portion of the population, that part of it—the intelligentsia—that seemingly would have most to lose if the drive to totalitarianism were successful.Theodore Dalrymple

Tolerance—a word that in the mouth of such radicals comes to mean the forced or coerced approval of what was formerly transgressive—is not natural to mankind. It is far more natural to want to suppress what one finds disgusting or does not want to hear. Our instinct is to turn away from views that are not our own, from evidence that might undermine our most cherished opinions, and even to dislike those who cite such evidence.

In other words, tolerance is an intellectual and moral achievement, an act of self-control rather than the expression of an instinct. No doubt some people by temperament find such self-control easier than others (I don’t find it easy myself), but there is a dictator lurking in many, perhaps most, of us, at least in those of us who take an interest in public affairs.

Suffice it to say that we are not living in a golden age of the kind of self-control necessary for a tolerant society in which diversity of opinion is taken in good spirit. And the so-called social media, which allow us to pour out our bile incontinently the moment we feel the inclination to do so, only compounds the problem. – Theodore Dalrymple

The conceit that we alone would beat Delta was just another manifestation of our naive national myth of Kiwi exceptionalism. Our Covid journey will ultimately follow roughly the same path as everywhere else. Mathew Hooton

Whether she admits it or not, Ardern’s failure to order vaccines in line with the rest of the developed world, and her decision to move to level 3 before near-universal vaccination, ensured hospital wards and MIQ facilities would be overwhelmed. – Mathew Hooton

It is time the World Health Organisation comes out with a universal standard of handling Covid; failure to do so is enabling many world leaders to front up press conferences with the line “our Covid response is world leading”, but the irony is no one really knows what defines “world leading”.

Is there some world leading university out there where these world leaders are going for their world leading Covid management diploma?

In the aftermath of Covid, will the total number of deaths be the only defining factor of who was a world leader in handling Covid? In the race to be a world leader New Zealand is forgetting something crucial – the carnage it is leaving behind disguised as Covid management. – Jilesh Desai

Human behaviour is such that if hope and aspiration is your tool as leader to play the population and expect them to abide by the rules, then you also deliver on that, but here’s the chronology of your continuous failure in delivery of hope you gave the population.

It all started with: follow all alert level restrictions and get your freedoms back. 

Then it was “get vaccinated and have your freedom”, then it was “all eligible population need to get vaccinated”, followed by “we all need to wait for 90 per cent single dose”, and later “we all have to wait for 90 per cent double dose”, and now “we all have to wait for the 90 per cent fully vaccinated DHBs”.

I bet Prime Minister, none of us will have a problem with the end goal, we are all behind you in achieving this mammoth of a task; my only concern is why did our kind Prime Minister, who also happens to be a symbol of transparency, not empower the population with the end goal from the start? – Jilesh Desai

Can you explain to the 70 per cent fully vaccinated people in the country why are they still locked up? If you claim that you are saving people’s lives, then do you guarantee at 90 per cent vaccination rate we won’t have any Covid-related deaths in the country?

I understand that realistically you can’t do that, just as you can’t save people’s lives, you are not a messiah, you are a prime minister of a country elected to run the country not on the scare of Covid, but by competence of the nation’s health care.

Your focus should not be saying things like “thousands of people will die”, but instead use that time in empowering our health care so that thousands of people don’t die. – Jilesh Desai

Divisions occur in society when there’s a perception that information is being withheld, inequities are emerging, and everyday freedoms are being denied without a strong rationale. It undermines what we have all taken for granted: our democratic society. Rachel Smalley

This time around, there’s less clarity in the government’s communication strategy, and the Prime Minister is less confident in the way she’s delivering it. Delta has bulldozed its way through Labour’s ever-changing and hastily pulled-together political strategy, and the government is responding on the fly, moving goalposts, and trying to manage an agitated public that is demanding answers neither the PM nor her Cabinet seem to have.

Ardern, lauded for the strength of her communication in the first lockdown and throughout the Christchurch Mosque shootings, has lost her confidence as a speaker and a communicator. That’s not an opinion. It’s there for all to see, evidenced frequently during the week, usually around 1pm. – Rachel Smalley

To be a successful political communicator, it’s as much about the theatrics as it is about the quality of the communications you’re delivering. Ardern’s daily updates are heavily scripted, and she reads them, word for word, with her head down. She’s relaying a lot of complex, important information and it’s unfair and politically dangerous to expect her to ad-lib her way through them, but it affects her credibility. It’s more newsreader than world leader.

If you’re trying to instill confidence and belief in the information you’re delivering, you need to hold the room. Look up. Stand tall. Your eyes, posture, and tonal delivery all help to influence the audience you’re trying to engage. By all means, script some of your speech, but in areas where you are confident to ad-lib, speak to bullet points instead. It proves you’re on top of what you’re communicating, and you’re speaking your truth.

You also need to check your body language. Ardern, increasingly, is gesturing with her hands, often waving them mid-sentence in a sort of subconscious reinforcement of her oratory. She nods frequently when she speaks, as if trying to reassure herself or her audience that what she is saying is, indeed, the right course of action. Her expression is overly earnest or concerned, which can be misconstrued as insincere. In every communication as our Prime Minister, she should be striving to emit authority and confidence. Rachel Smalley

In a pandemic that’s now inter-island, New Zealanders need a leader, not a friend.- Rachel Smalley

Unless you’re living down a rabbit hole in Wellington, which we certainly are not, you know that Auckland’s economy is under significant stress.John Billington

And that’s the danger. We are being governed from the rabbit’s hole. Hell, the Prime Minister hasn’t even set foot in the place for close to three months. – Mike Hosking

Add to these examples Radius Care, God bless them for being human. People in aged care need family. To be prevented in your final years from being with your loved ones sums this Government up. 

They’re cold, heartless, uncaring and robotic.Mike Hosking

It’s a sign this is coming to an end. It’s a sign the trust has been lost, the will power is gone, the patience is up and the frustration now heavily outweighs the logic.

The Government have blown it. They pushed too hard, too far, for too long

And combine it with the lack of common sense, of a plan of any real detail, of the endless announcements about announcements – and whatever good grace there was, has been abused to the point of no return.

You only govern with the good will of the people.

Good will is in shorter supply than magnesium.    – Mike Hosking

Do you really think it matters in the long run if you’re Left, Right, up, down, black, white or yellow with purple stripes?  Conservative or liberal?  Casually religious or militantly less so?  Hetro He-Man archetype or ‘flaming’ homosexual?  Rich or poor?  

‘Coz it doesn’t.  

We’re all still incredibly imperfect human beings – isn’t that enough?  Aren’t we a sufficiently wretched species already?  Do we really need all of this other rubbish as well?  The cyber-fortresses of absolute righteous certainty?  The razorwire-topped walls of pseudo-ideological division?  The endless streams of senseless rhetoric and brain-dead invective in the “Comments” section of [insert name of preferred propaganda outlet], borne of ignorance and hurt and stupidity and fear?   – Jeremy Callendar

Why is it so important that we each get our moral oar in?  Why is it so hard to accept and admit that we may all be as ill-informed and deceived as each other?  As biased as each other?  As bloody stupid as each other?  As lonely as each other?  As mortal and as scared as each other?

Why are we so determined to fight the possibility of smoke with the actuality of fire?  To crush any and all who dare to have a different point of view?  A view perhaps based on an experience of life that has been nothing like our own…

Is it fixing the problems?  Is it healing anyone’s pain?  Is it making us better people?

Are our little online echo chambers helping us to sleep better at night? – Jeremy Callendar

If your journey brings you into contact with people whose opinions differ from your own, consider treating them gently: hearing them out and trying to understand them.  I mean, at the very least, you’ll be following Sun Tzu’s (and Rage Against The Machine’s) advice to know your enemy.  And if there are people around you who are living their lives in ways that just don’t quite gel with your ideas of how things should be, consider asking yourself – or, God forbid, respectfully asking them – why it is that they do what they do the way they do it.  

Alternatively, you might just try quietly minding your own [insert adjective of choice] business. – Jeremy Callendar

I think I remember once hearing about this guy who suggested that we should try loving our neighbours as we love ourselves……yes, yes I’m fairly certain I read that somewhere.

But then again, what could a Jew have possibly known about suffering…? – Jeremy Callendar

A number of government announcements in the last week or so give the impression the wheels are starting to come off at the Beehive.

It’s not just that Covid decisions are increasingly erratic, though they are. Ministers have also lost the room, particularly in Auckland, and seem to have no ability to do the things that will win it back.Steven Joyce

The Government had to be dragged kicking and screaming for weeks to announce a vaccination target. When they finally did, they set an almost impossible one in a vain and quixotic attempt to recover the “world-leading” tag so important to the Prime Minister.

Aucklanders don’t want to be world-leading any more. They just want to be able to go to the shops and meet their mates without feeling they might be breaking the law.

In other jurisdictions, leaders announce target dates and scales of freedom that increase at waypoints, like 70, 80 and 90 per cent double-vaxxed, but not here. We stay hair-shirted and locked down because that is what Wellington thinks is good for us. – Steven Joyce

Taking the voters for fools is not a sustainable strategy.

It’s made worse when the reasons for the lockdown — a slow vaccination rollout, no urgent hospital upgrades, delayed vaccination certificates, no rapid antigen testing — are obvious to nearly everyone. – Steven Joyce

Education is one of the areas where policy contradictions are most obvious. Why is it that year 9 and 10 students aren’t allowed back at school when they are as vaccinated as years 11 to 13? Why does the vaccination mandate not apply to teachers until January, when it applies to other mandated employees earlier? Who knows?

Contradictions abound everywhere. The eventual MIQ announcement was a silly half measure that pleased no one. It is apparently okay for people living here who have Covid to isolate at home (some 280 at last count), while double-vaxxed Kiwis with no Covid who have had myriad tests still have to spend seven days in MIQ prison on their arrival into New Zealand. Retaining the MIQ bottleneck is nonsensical, inflexible and inhumane. – Steven Joyce

The internal borders are rapidly becoming an unsustainable artefact. Everybody knows they won’t be here by Christmas, so why not sooner? All they likely do is reduce the urgency in regional New Zealand to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, individuals and families carry the pain. This week we heard about the heartless decision to prevent a grieving father’s sister from flying from Blenheim to Auckland to comfort him at the funeral for his 8-year-old son. He went to the media in desperation and the decision was finally turned around but it was too late. Asked what he would do on the day of the funeral, he simply said he would cry. Steven Joyce

 In non-Covid news, the Minister of Local Government, having failed to persuade people of the merits of her plan to reorganise the three waters, announced that she will unilaterally confiscate the water assets of ratepayers up and down the country despite the opposition of nearly every council. A sensible, politically adept government would have crafted a reasonable compromise. Not this one. – Steven Joyce

Announcing you will spend the equivalent of 6 per cent of our country’s whole economic output on one local transport project in the midst of a pandemic which is already blowing debt out towards 50 per cent of GDP is completely tone deaf. It beggars belief that Grant Robertson let this out the door.

The underlying thread to this week’s frenetic activity is random decision-making and no strategic leadership. Every announcement seems to add to the pile of problems and questions, rather than shrink it down. That’s bad for any government.

Ministers need to straighten up the ship and start focusing on what’s important to the public now, before it is too late. People in Auckland, Waikato and across the country need a clear path out of this. The Government does too. When the wheels start to come off, the people in the Beehive are often the last to realise it.Steven Joyce

There may still be those who want to argue that the Government has done a good job handling the pandemic measured by the number of those who have died of Covid-19. But of course that number in isolation is meaningless. If a low number of Covid-19 deaths has been bought at the cost of more suicides, more cancelled cancer operations, more domestic violence, more mental health distress, and more failed businesses – leading to the reduction in average life expectancy found by Dr Gibson – it’s not an achievement to be proud of at all. – Don Brash

I understand there is a balance to be to be struck, but the balance was just not struck in the right place. Someone in my position who was double vaccinated and who has had two negative Covid tests can’t be allowed a one or two hour visit with my dad who’s dying, then something about that is fundamentally wrong. – Sasha Holden

Labour maintains no assets will be taken, and councils will still “own” the assets and the new entities. There will be no shares and no management control – only what is simply being described as “collective ownership”.

I can’t help but be reminded of a farmer in communist Russia being told the state wasn’t confiscating their farm, they were simply moving it into “collective ownership”. – Judith Collins

What this all means for ratepayers is that if you don’t already pay for your water, you soon will. If your water is expensive, you won’t be able to vote anyone out. If the entity is bloated and underperforming, there is no democratic accountability. – Judith Collins


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