Teenage fertility rate drops to lowest ever

February 23, 2018

New Zealand’s fertility rate has dropped well below replacement level:

In the December 2017 year:

  • 59,610 live births and 33,339 deaths were registered in New Zealand, resulting in a natural increase (live births minus deaths) of 26,268.
  • There were 180 more births and 2,160 more deaths compared with 2016.
  • The total fertility rate dropped to a low of 1.81 births per woman, compared with an annual average of about 2.01 from 1980–2017.
  • The infant mortality rate was 3.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • All regions had more births than deaths.

If it wasn’t for a lower death rate and more immigration our population would be in decline.

The replacement rate for fertility is around 2.1% in the developed world. New Zealand has joined other OECD countries in falling below that.

Part of the reason for that is more couples are choosing to have no children or just one child.

Another reason is that more are leaving it too late and fertility drops for both men and women as they age.

The birth rate has dropped for all ages and among the statistics is one very positive one,  the teenage fertility rate has dropped to its lowest ever:

The teenage fertility rate has dropped to its lowest ever, with 15 live births per 1,000 women aged 15–19 in 2017 – just under half the 2008 rate of 33.

In 1962, when fertility rates were highest for women in their twenties, the teenage fertility rate was 54 births per 1,000 women aged 15–19. While rates dropped for women in their twenties throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the teenage rate increased to a peak of 69 births per 1,000 women in 1972. The teenage rate then decreased to 30 births per 1,000 women in 1984. 

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The media release doesn’t say how many of the teenage mothers are single but the drop in the number of teens giving birth is reflected in a drop in benefit numbers for teen parents.

In 2017, the median age (half are younger and half older than this age) of New Zealand women giving birth was 30 years.  It has remained at 30 years since 1999. In comparison, the median age of women giving birth in the 1970s was 25 years.

If, we want a return to replacement fertility rates or higher the aim should be to encourage more couples to have children sooner but not too soon – in their 20s rather than their 30s or teens.

 

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No mention of elephants in homeless room

February 13, 2018

The report on homelessness shows the problem is getting worse.

. . .Co-author Alan Johnson says the data shows how far behind we are when it comes to building homes.

“The current position around homelessness and people with temporary and unsatisfactory housing is that it appears to have got gradually worse.

“In terms of the population growth we’ve seen in New Zealand and particularly in Auckland over the last three years, we just haven’t built enough houses to accommodate that growth.

“That’s one of the biggest causes of what we’re seeing now literally on the streets of New Zealand.

“Part of the problem, then, is that it will take some time to resolve that.”

The report considers homelessness, the rental market, housing affordability and housing supply around the country, with an in-depth focus on Auckland. . . 

What the report doesn’t consider is two of the causes of the problem – family dysfunction and community living for the mentally ill.

When a marriage or relationship breaks up a family which lived in one house then needs two.

Relationship breakdowns happen for many reasons. When there are irreconcilable differences and/or problems such as violence and addiction a break up can be the only solution  and children can be better with two parents living happily separately than unhappily together.

But no matter how justifiable a break-up is, a family needing two homes contributes to the housing shortage.

Then there are young people whose parent or parents can’t, or won’t, have them at home.

The reasons for that can be complex too but whatever they are, the result is too often young people with no family home to go to and without resources to make one of their own.

Another contributor to homelessness is deinstitutionalisation of people with mental illnesses . In writing about the mental health inquiry Karl du Fresne says:

. . .My prediction is that activists will do their best to ensure that the inquiry focuses on the supposed “drivers” of mental illness. These will include poverty, racism, colonisation, homelessness and homophobia. In other words, they will want to make it all about victims.

No one will want to talk about the virtues of the old “asylums”, because the word is deeply unfashionable. But they were given that name for a reason. An asylum is a place that provides sanctuary. That’s why we talk about political prisoners seeking asylum and asylum-seekers who have fled from unsafe countries.

An asylum was a place where the mentally ill were guaranteed a warm bed, three meals a day, medical care and company, if they wanted it. There were nurses to ensure they took their medication. It wasn’t an ideal existence, but it was safe and secure.

In the 1980s, however, mental health professionals decided the system was inhumane. Hospitalisation was little better than imprisonment, they argued. The mentally ill were entitled like everyone else to live independently and autonomously.

Wrapped in the warm embrace of that amorphous thing called the community, they would be liberated to fulfil their true potential as human beings.

It didn’t seem to matter if they were incapable of cooking, shopping, managing their finances, holding down a job, washing their clothes or showering. And so they ended up living in squalid flats, boarding houses and caravan parks where there was no one to ensure they took their meds. At best, a nurse or mental health worker might check on them occasionally.

It was an ideologically driven change, but the government bean-counters and deconstructionists liked it because it meant the closure of all those big, expensive old institutions.

Doubtless this bold experiment worked for some people, but its negative consequences can be seen in frequent heart-breaking newspaper reports about acutely ill patients living in the community who have committed murder or suicide. . . 

Institutions weren’t perfect. People who with the right help are living much better lives in the community are better off without them.

But some people can’t cope in the community and far too many of them are homeless because of that.

Homelessness is a driver of mental illness and the reverse is also true – mental health is a driver of homelessness so is family dysfunction.

They are the elephants in the homeless room and neither will be solved by building more houses.

 


Thank you for saying thank you

February 11, 2018

From  Cheyenne McKay on Facebook:

A farmer.

Most of us know a farmer. Some of us may just even be blessed to be one, or be the child of one. For those who live on farms, or even live in town and drive out to work for someone who owns a farming business, I wanted to say this.

Thank you for the bruises you get on your legs when you’re working in the yards with the sheep.

Thank you for your tough hands that fix machinery and fences.

Thank you for fixing pipes in the heat of the day so stock has water every hour of the day.

Thank you for growing food for your stock, so it grows and then eventually feed the rest of Australia.

Thank you for shearing your sheep, so ladies have wool to knit with for their grandchildren and to keep others warm.

Thank you for the sleepless nights during seeding season and during harvest.

Some people seem to forget to take five seconds to recognise that there are individuals busting their asses off to feed us. Day in and day out.

Harvest would have to be the most tiring and horrible time of the year.

It’s the time where you wake up early in the morning and get started before it’s too hot. It’s putting out fires when bearings snap. It’s working with other people, working in chaser bins and trucks transporting it to silos.

It’s constantly watching the weather, if it’s too windy it’s safer to not harvest, just in case a fire breaks loose. You can’t harvest when it’s damp, silos won’t accept it.

It’s going backwards and forwards in a paddock in a machine that doesn’t go so fast, for hours on end every day.

It’s where you transport a truck load of grain that will make 42,000 loaves of bread that worth over $84,000 but we only get $6,000 for it.

It’s finishing late at night when your wife and children are already asleep, and the dinner that has been cooked for you is in the microwave or oven so the cats don’t eat it. It doesn’t taste as nice as when it’s fresh off the pan.

It’s falling asleep on the couch after dinner because you’re just trying to relax for a few minutes before you shower to rid of the itchiness.

It’s that one day off every few weeks to spend time with your family but there’s always that something around the house that needs fixing, or there’s a special event to attend.

It’s where your family is trying to cope around the house not seeing their dad/husband. That one empty spot on the dinner table that would normally be occupied.

It’s sitting there thinking of your family and hoping they’re coping okay without you, and that you’re excited for it all to be over.

And once harvest is finished, relief washes through both you and your family. Finally! You’re together again!

And before you know it, seeding season starts again and you’re back into the routine with shearing and lambing and spraying weeds, aswell as fixing those fences again.

It doesn’t have to be revolved just around grain farming. This can include fruit and veg, dairy, cattle, piggery. Everything has its season and it’s all busy.

So please, when you sit down with your spouse and children to eat tea, recognise the farmers who have worked hard so you can have food.

Thank you dad for working so hard to provide for so many people and earning the money to help us pay bills, pay for food and keep clothes on our backs. It means a lot to us much more than you think.

We don’t have to feed millions of people, we choose to. Show a little more appreciation, it keeps us going.


Is pregnant PM a world first?

January 19, 2018

Is this another world first for New Zealand?:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her partner, Clarke Gayford, have today announced that they are expecting their first child in June.

“We’re both really happy. We wanted a family but weren’t sure it would happen for us, which has made this news unexpected but exciting.

“Yesterday I met with Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, to share the news and to ask him to take on the role of Acting Prime Minister for a period of 6 weeks after our baby is born.

“As is the case when I am overseas, Mr Peters will act as Prime Minister, working with my office while staying in touch with me. I fully intend to be contactable and available throughout the six week period when needed.

“Mr Peters and I have a great relationship, and I know that together we’ll make this period work. I will make arrangements for appropriate Ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament.

“At the end of my leave I will resume all Prime Ministerial duties.

“Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary caregiver. Knowing that so many parents juggle the care of their new babies, we consider ourselves to be very lucky. . . 

Several women have become mothers while they’re MPs but this is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to be pregnant in office.

Jenny Shipley’s children were in their teens when she became PM and Helen Clark didn’t have children.

Someone with a better knowledge of New Zealand political history than mine might correct me, but I can’t name a New Zealand Prime Minister who became a father while in office. *

My knowledge of international political history is even more scanty. I can name several women Prime Ministers with children but none who gave birth while holding the office.

My generation was probably the last to be brought up thinking we’d marry and have babies, in that order, and that at least while the children were young would put mothering before paid work.

Younger women have been brought up being told girls can do anything which is often interpreted to mean not just everything but everything at once.

That is of course impossible. But younger men have also been brought up with the expectation they will play a much more active role in parenting than the men of earlier generations did.

Providing the pregnancy, birth and childhood go smoothly, it is possible for a woman to grow and deliver a baby, take some leave, then return to work and for the baby’s father to take on the role of stay-at-home parent.

As Liam Hehir says the country should keep running while she’s on leave.

. . . This is good news. Children are a blessing. But apart from happiness for Ardern and her partner, there is another reason to be glad. This is an opportunity for New Zealand to demonstrate its bona fides as a mature and stable liberal democracy.

The good governance of this country should not depend on the constant availability of any one person. If a system breaks down over the temporary absence of a single individual, then that system is not fit for purpose. The prime ministership is not, and should never be, be a single point of failure for the country as a whole. . . 

Mark Richardson was roundly criticised for asking Ardern about her plans to have a family.

The criticism wasn’t entirely fair. The couple’s family plans are their own business but a question on the impact that might have on the country is legitimate.

At the time I thought the critics were underestimating the demands of both roles – that of Prime Minister and parenting. But others can deputise for the PM.

Women have been raising families while their children’s fathers were in demanding jobs for aeons. That is still more common but men are increasingly taking on parenting to enable their children’s mothers to pursue their careers.

Before he was an MP, Bill English was a stay at home parent while his wife Mary worked as a GP.

New Zealand’s systems should be robust enough to ensure there is no cause for concern about the running of the country while motherhood takes priority for Ardern and the running of their home and family is not our business.

I wish them well and I hope that everything goes as planned.

Whether or not it does, I hope that the baby will come before the country.

There are plenty of other people who are able to put New Zealand first. All babies deserve parents who will put them first.

* Update: The Herald says: Benazir Bhutto, then President of Pakistan,  gave birth to her daughter Bakhtawar on January, 25 1990,  while in office.

 

 

 

 


Quotes of the year

January 3, 2018

. . . And there it was, the secret of all overseas-born grandparents the world over who give up everything, their own brothers and sisters back home, their independence, their everything to look after grandchildren.

They do it so their sons and daughters can work or study full time (and keep the economy running) and avoid insanely expensive childcare options.

They do it because they love their grandchildren so much they are willing to live in a country where they can’t understand a lot of what is being said or written around them, but march on nonetheless.

And, in the case of Nai Nai, they do it knowing that even if they can’t teach their grandchild English they will do whatever they can to make sure someone else can. . . Angela Cuming

Cooking means you use better food and you have far more control over what you eat. It also brings a lot of the things to the table – manners, eye contact, social skills, the art of conversation and confidence. . . Ray McVinnie

. . .Yes, according to the science, dairying is a major factor in a decline in water quality. The science also shows this is the result of 150 years of farming, albeit escalated in the past 20 years.

Dairy farmers are doing everything asked of them to reduce the loss of nutrients from their farms. They have bridged stream crossings, fenced waterways, planted riparian strips and built highly technical effluent treatment systems. They want clean streams as much as any other New Zealanders.

But those with their own axe to grind don’t want to know this. And the ignorant follow along.

The opinion writers and the commenters seem to think that clean streams and lakes can be accomplished immediately, that 150 years of pollution can be erased overnight.

It can’t be – even if all farming was banned and the land converted to trees and bush, the leaching would go on. . . Jon Morgan

The brutal truth is that while the Treaty’s influence has grown to the point where it is now cemented into New Zealand’s unwritten constitution, Waitangi Day is sinking under the weight of its conflicting roles.

It doubles as a mechanism for acknowledging legitimate Maori grievances past and present while also serving as the country’s national day and which is about projecting an image of unity and happy families.

Divisiveness and inclusiveness are oil and water. They don’t mix.

The tiresome antics regularly on display at Waitangi have undermined the power and symbolism of the occasion.

The wider New Zealand public which should be happily embracing the proceedings instead feels alienated by them. – John Armstrong

I can perfectly describe why we’re dying on the roads.

It’s you.

It’s not the lack of cops, or lack of passing lanes, or sub standard roads. It’s you. It’s the 40% in 2016 who died or caused death on the roads due to drugs and alcohol. The 24% who died due to speeding and dangerous driving. And the majority of the remaining deaths caused by those who were so clever they didn’t need a seatbelt. Why the hell wouldn’t you put on a seatbelt when you get in a car? – Bernadine Oliver-Kerby

If you become what you are fighting you have lost. You must fight freedom’s cause in freedom’s way. Helen Dale

Trump is never more certain than when he is completely clueless. The truth is that protection against foreign trade leads away from prosperity and strength. A country that deprives itself of foreign goods is doing to itself what an enemy might try to do in wartime—cut it off from outside commerce. It is volunteering to impoverish itself. – Steve Chapman

Protectionism amounts to the claim that everyone benefits when choices go down and prices go up. The only reason more Americans don’t dismiss that claim as self-evident crackpottery is because it comes cloaked in the language of nationalistic resentment.  – Jeff Jacoby

Honesty is to be preferred. However, there is a genuine gulf between the burdens of opposition and leadership. Opposition is fun, and largely without responsibility.  Leadership only sounds fun, and carries abounding burdens, among them the inchoate demands of “American leadership” and the rather specific requirements of interagency coordination. –  Danielle Pletka

 Greater understanding, insight, knowledge – even wisdom – are  gifts we acquire if we’re lucky, as we grow older, yet it’s when we’re young that we have to step up, and so often blunder blindly into the unknown, sometimes realising fearfully that we don’t know, or often, thinking we know better. – Valerie Davies

It was not so long ago that I was a young boy, crying in my room, wishing that I had real legs.  In an attempt to lift my spirits, my dad said one day someone will build you legs that will allow you to run faster than your friends. – Liam Malone

If only I had known that broadening a church required merely climbing up the steeple to set the clock back 20 years, I could have saved a lot of ink and cognitive energy.  Apparently, all New Zealand voters have been waiting for is for Labour to finally reinvent itself as The Alliance Historical Re-enactment Society.  Is there anything Labour’s deviously brilliant internal polling can’t teach us? – Phil Quin

Agriculture is being attacked by misinformation. Agriculture is being attacked by ignorance. Agriculture is being attacked by science illiteracy. Agriculture is being attacked by deceitful marketing. And those things do not discriminate based on party lines. – Kate Lambert

Mr Average migrant is healthier with less character problems than the average New Zealander because they had to go through all of those hoops before they got permission to stay in our country.David Cooper

My challenge to employers is to hire people based on merit, to give women as many opportunities as men and to pay women what they are worth.

It’s 2017. It’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about what she is willing to accept.

It’s about what she is worth.-  Paula Bennett

If borrowing to put money into the Super Fund is such a perfect ”free money” scenario, why stop at $13.5 billion? Surely we should borrow a couple of trillion. Nobody will notice – it’s all still on the books somewhere. Then we could make mega trillions, pay all our super costs, and never work again. – Steven Joyce

Not that it matters. None of it matters. Who came from where & what happened there. Because lets admit it, New Zealand is a tiny remote island at the ass-crack of the world…WE ALL CAME ON A BLOODY BOAT SOMETIME OR ANOTHER! – Deanna Yang

By nature, I am a pragmatist, not an ideologue. That is because, in my experience, most people just want results that work. Some people have said that my pragmatism indicates a lack of a clear set of principles. I do not think that is true. It is just that my principles derive mostly from the values and ethics instilled in me by my upbringing, rather than by the “Politics 101” textbook.  . .

Mum taught me the things that allowed me to succeed and which I think are echoed by so many Kiwi parents—that you get out of life what you put in to it, that hard work can create opportunities. And that you really can change your own life, not by wishing it was different but by working to make it different

I have brought to politics an unshakeable belief that, regardless of our circumstances, most of us share the same aspirations: we want our children to be fulfilled and we want them to do better than we have. To most of us, what matters more than anything else are the health, welfare, and happiness of those people about whom we care most. In the end, Mum did not leave me any money, our holidays were always pretty basic, and the house we lived in for a long time was owned by the State Advances Corporation. But, truthfully, she left me the most important gift of all: the determination to succeed and the work ethic to make it happen. . .  – John Key

God, I wish I ran a small country. – David Cameron

The only vision really worth having for any government in a democratic society is enabling individual citizens the maximum amount of freedom to pursue their own visions.

All the rest is just politicians indulging in their personal narcissism.Rob Hosking

But in these troubled times of shifting societal landscapes, the simple joy of a cheese roll is a throwback to when times were perhaps less complicated.

That such a simple dish has survived mostly unchanged and is still revered, is a sign that – at the bottom of the country at least – we still enjoy the simple things in life. – Oscar Kightley

He was another example of that unique Aussie — a New Zealander. We claim him with pride, along with Russell Crowe and Ernest Rutherford.  – Robyn Williams on John Clarke.

If humour is common sense dancing, John Clarke was Nureyev. He proved that you can laugh at this strange part of the world, and still keep your mind and heart fully engaged. – Don McGlashan on John Clarke.

 I think I thought he might have been immortal. The Great God Dead-Pan. – Kim Hill on John Clarke

I always said as long as my mind, my body and my heart were in it, then I could do this for as long as I like. My mind’s been pretty good, my body’s been pretty good, but it was my heart that was on the fence. So, it’s time to go.”  – Eric Murray

We prefer to be in a situation where we have a positive relationship with Australia and Kiwis get a good deal in Australia – that’s better than mutual ‘armed war’ to see who can treat each other’s citizens worse. – Bill English

Keep that moment. You get to hold the baby and the mother is there and it’s an experience you can’t prepare for. There’s going to be so many times when this looks hard and it is, so keep that moment. – Bill English’s advice to new fathers.

Beware of the guy with the soft hands – go with the guy with the calluses on his hands. – Neil Smith

Spend two minutes of the hour being negative, but you have to spend the other 58 being positive.Neil Smith

I’m the person who got us into this mess, and I’m the one who will get us out of it. – Theresa May

Civilisation is built on cultural appropriation.

Every society absorbs influences from other cultures, often cherry-picking the best of what’s on offer. This process cuts both ways, because disadvantaged societies learn from more advanced ones. It’s not all about exploitation.

Those who seek to outlaw what they arbitrarily define as cultural appropriation would condemn us to a monochromatic, one-dimensional world beset by sheer boredom – and one in which New Zealanders would be reduced to eating tinned spaghetti on toast, since it’s one of the very few dishes we can call our own.

On second thoughts, scratch that. Spaghetti’s Italian. – Karl du Fresne

Beaver’s far and beyond what I am – he’s a top man. There’s no movie here. I’m just a little white fella that’s chipping away in Dunedin. – Marty Banks

“Yeah, well just the same way you prepare every day,” Peter Burling in response to a reporter’s question:  “You know, looking back to 13, going, okay, you guys were on match point a lot in 13, how do you prepare for tomorrow?”

The biggest software company in the world just got beaten by little old New Zealand software.” – Grant Dalton.

 . . . it’s a privilege to hold the America’s Cup – it’s not a right. And was embodied in the way Team New Zealand was under Sir Peter Blake. If you’re good enough to take it from us then you will and we’ll try very hard to be good enough to keep it. We won’t turn it so to make sure you can’t.Grant Dalton

More so than any other industry, agriculture is a relationship industry. We work with, and spend money with, people we like. People we trust. People we often times consider part of our family. Sometimes those people work for “Big Ag”. Sometimes they don’t. But farmers don’t do business with corporations or small companies. Farmers do business with people.  – Kate Lambert

You only get 40 attempts at farming. From your 20’s to your 60’s, you get 40 seasons,” says Duncan Logan, the founder and CEO of RocketSpace, a tech accelerator company. “In tech, you get 40 attempts in a week. – Duncan Logan

My philosophy is that people who are born with a healthy body and a healthy mind can look after themselves, but people that are unfortunate [enough] not to have that blessing, I’m prepared to help. – Mark Dunajtschik

I am repeating the warning that free money to able-bodied humans anywhere can do just the opposite of what it intends: take away the will to work, the guts to struggle, the spirit to pick yourself up by the bootstraps. . . – Alan Duff

I got up again. – Bill English

Just because males talk loudly doesn’t mean they have anything to say. – Deborah Coddington

Those who work to change public perception in spite of the evidence use a number of tactics – they cherry pick data, they drive fear, they over simplify, they take data out of context, they deliberately confuse correlation with causation and they undermine trust. –  William Rolleston

Innovation in agriculture is where the future health and wealth of New Zealand lies. As a country we need to invest in how we can support this innovation and practice change. Taxation as an answer to agricultural challenges demonstrates a lack of imagination. – Anna Campbell

. . . once a society makes it permissible to suppress views that some people don’t like, the genie is out of the bottle and the power to silence unfashionable opinions can be turned against anyone, depending on whichever ideology happens to be prevalent at the time. . . . What we are witnessing, I believe is the gradual squeezing out of conservative voices as that monoculture steadily extends its reach.- Karl du Fresne

I learned from the film that if we want to have enough food to feed the 30 billion people soon to inhabit the planet and we only grow organically, we’ll have to chop down the rainforest and make it farmland. But if we grow GMO crops that need less space and less water, the rainforest is safe. – Lenore Skenazy

Personality doesn’t feed your children or keep the rivers clean, personality doesn’t make the country safe, it requires sound leadership strong intellect and the right policies. – Jim Bolger

I got up againBill English

The only thing that could bring English down is Winston Peters choosing to go with Labour and the Greens. – Patrick Gower

There are good and bad people in all parties. Sometimes, people with whom you agree will do something dumb. Sometimes, they will conduct themselves in a manner of which you do not approve.

If your chief criteria for judging propriety and competence boils down to partisan affiliation and advantage, then you really are contributing to a problem that is going to drain all the goodwill out of this country’s politics. – Liam Hehir

This is the only assurance to an irreversible path to national freedom, happiness and economic prosperity.
To our neighbours, you now all know the simple choice you face; either support our rights or our refugees. – Morgan Tsvangirai

Loss comes in all forms, not just death, but loss of careers, loss of confidence, loss of relationships and marriage, my own succumbing to the high percentage of those that end upon the death of a child.

With all our collective legislative wisdom, there shouldn’t also have to be loss of faith in a system supposedly designed to protect those that need it at precisely the time when they most need it. . . .

Politics really did become personal for me then. A flick of the pen, wording of an amendment, an exchange in the debating chamber – parliament’s processes affect everyday lives.- Denise Lee

We are not a nation of holier-than-thou busybodies. We are friendly, moral realists who face facts and credit others with doing the best they can when they are in circumstances we are fortunate not to share. That is how we should be represented to the world. – John Roughan

. . . Abundance is no long-term solution. We can’t have as much as we want, for as long as we want. That’s not how life works, it’s not up to us to decide when the fun ends.

We ought to make the most of moments, of the people, of the laughs, because we are numbered. They are numbered. As you wind through them, one day there will be a final click.

We all know this deep down, but we gloss over it day to day. Either because more pressing issues take centre stage, or because pondering mortality of loved ones and ourselves isn’t that enjoyable.

Yes, looking back on captured moments after they’re developed is great. But being present in these moments is key to truly appreciating the finite things in life. –  Jake Bailey

Telling the truth is colour blind. – Duncan Garner

. .  .New Zealand’s GST is uniquely, and admirably, clean. It applies broadly. Every producer has an incentive to report honestly because they also report the GST they paid to their suppliers on every item when claiming GST on their inputs.

Were New Zealand to exempt healthy foods from GST, we would well be on the slippery slope. It is one of those things that sounds really easy, but would be an utter disaster in practice. . . Eric Crampton

I must say, it has been a bit rich sitting here listening to the moral awesomeness and self-congratulation of the Labour Government over the family incomes package when they opposed every single measure that it took to generate the surpluses that they are handing out. That is why they won’t get the credit they expect from the New Zealand public, because the New Zealand public know it’s a bunch of people who found the lolly bag and ran the lolly scramble without having any idea where it came from.  – Bill English

Everybody wants to do the right thing; they just want to know what the expectations are, how long they have got, what it’s going to cost, where the tools are, and they will get up and they will get on with it.  – Barbara Kuriger

. . . the United Nations has just declared access to the internet a basic human right. It’s no more that than ownership of a Rolls Royce.

One can laugh at this stuff but for humanity to make progress it’s actually damaging, leading as it does to false expectations. Far better if the UN was to talk sense and describe it as an aspiration achievable through effort rather than by right. – Sir Bob Jones

The number of children the Labour-led government will lift out of poverty next year is 12,000. That’s over and above the 49,000 the previous government’s 2017 Budget was already lifting out. That”s right 80% of the new government’s achievement was already in train.

The new caring and sharing government’s achievement is much more modest when compared with the previous heartless government’s achievement. But that’s the power of the headline.   – Rodney Hide

Essentially, progressives tend to make up their minds about things according to a grievance hierarchy, which goes something like this: Worries about Palestine trump concerns about gay rights. And concerns about gay rights trump women’s rights which, despite the big and necessary push against harassment and abuse over the past several months, tend to wind up as the last unionised, fair-pay electric cab off the left’s organised and properly supervised rank.

Or to put it another way, being anti-Western means never having to say you’re sorry, but being female doesn’t mean that the left will let you get away with having your own opinion. – James Morrow

One of the wonderful things about living the years that I have, is that Time has taught me so much about myself. In doing so, Time and opportunity have set me free to be the essence of who I really am, rather than the person who has been beset by the grief of bereavement, abandonment, divorce, poverty, pain and rejection. The insights that Time has allowed me to gather, have set me free from those profound and painful experiences to be joyful, happy, fearless, and, – I hope -loving… – Valerie Davies


Denise Lee’s maiden speech

November 18, 2017

Denise Lee’s maiden speech has been widely praised for good reason.

I think it is worth reading in full, but have bolded the part where she describes the sudden death of her son, the aftermath and how that influenced her.

Tena koutou katoa

E tau nei tetahi pirere no Tikapa Moana.

Na ka kopangia maitia e te aroha o Maungakiekie, Maungarei hoki

Ka irihia ki a wai a Tamaki Herenga Waka

Ka irihia ki a wai a te Manukanuka Hoturoa

Na ka ungia nei ahau, hei mangai, hei taringa, hei kanohi mo te hunga ra,

No reira

Aroha ki a ratou kei te Tupou o te Tini

Ka mihia ki a tatou

Kia ora mai tatou katoa

Greetings to you all

A bird (fledgling) from the Coromandel has alighted here

Enfolded by the mana of Maungakiekie & Maungarei

Christened with the sacred water of Tamaki

Christened with the sacred water of Manukau

Sent here as the mouthpiece, the ears & the eyes for the people there.

Therefore

I acknowledge those who have gone before

I mihi to us

Mr Speaker, greetings to us all. And congratulations on your new role; you are one of seven members here in the 52nd parliament who sat with my father back in the 80s & 90s.

Many of us have had family precede us here, fathers, grandfathers, cousins, but unusually two of my colleague’s fathers taught me in primary school, one of them moving on to become an MP, the other, my favourite teacher of all time. Well, now he happens to be in the building because his son is about to deliver a maiden speech.

No matter where you are in NZ, we are all somehow connected, somehow local, we inevitably know each other.

I drove into the local petrol station after the election to return yet another hired trailer used for signs. The station attendant approached me and remarked “hey are you that lady from the signs, the one that won? I’ve been watching you. If you know how to back a trailer like that you deserved to win!” I laughed, introduced myself to Lester and he told me he was a regular middle New Zealander working hard to make a living, and now that I was elected, “Miss lady from the signs” he said, “please don’t forget about us.”

Pressing a little further about what he meant, I discovered it meant he felt okay about working hard as long as he had enough to take his family on a holiday. He didn’t want law makers to take away that opportunity. It wasn’t complicated. He was outgoing and optimistic and felt strongly that he wanted to keep more of what he earned so he could choose how to spend it.

Lester is indicative of many others in my electorate of Maungakiekie. I’m honoured to have been the Auckland city councillor for the hard-working area, and now their member of Parliament and I thank them for the faith they have placed in me to continue as an elected representative.

May I acknowledge the immediate and highly-regarded past member of Parliament the Honourable Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga who joins me here in support today. Faafetai lava Sam.

I have learnt a few things about Maungakiekie along the way.

When we’re told the Manukau harbour is the poor cousin to the Waitemata, we don’t accept it. We straddle both.

When we know we’ve got NZ’s largest regeneration project because some of our social indicators are poor, we embrace it. We stick together to face change.

When we’ve got the nation’s largest industrial area contributing to GDP, we value it. We punch above our weight.

We’re highly diverse in age, culture, and income. The level of investment and activity in our part of New Zealand is unprecedented. Between the scale of Housing NZ’s build in Oranga to Tamaki Redevelopment Company, to the AMETI transport project and the huge and long-planned for yet controversial East West Link, we are a very busy part of New Zealand.

Maungakiekie contains much life-blood of our nation.

While the scale of these projects value into the billions, the true value of any electorate is always back at the local level. Panmure, Ellerslie and Onehunga, the three main village centres (Mt Wellington let’s work on one), have a distinct community feel that is hard to find in a fast-paced busy city.

Intent on keeping and fostering that village feel, before I ran for office, among other things I co-created a charitable trust which brokered local residents and business owners to pull off social projects for good, a far cry from another former role I had working with high net worth clients at Morgan Stanley in Philadelphia.

We were highly motivated to model to our own city-kids the importance of service. Town clean-ups, small business make-overs, teen mum support, community gardens, we did it all.

We were organic, responsive, innovative and frugal, everything the local government-employed community staff weren’t and a big reason why I am thoroughly committed to the principle of allowing community to produce the answers.

When I was awarded a NZer of the Year local hero award, I had someone approach me after the medal ceremony and ask me “do you get this from your Dad?”

I come from a long line of civic duty family commitment. It appears there really is something in the blood. Grandad lied about his age to serve in World War 1 as a 16 year old alongside his five older brothers. He came back after being gassed in the trenches, built much of Paeroa, and became the Mayor.

His son, (my father) became the Mayor after him.

Provincial life was unhurried and at times quaint. I recall our girl’s Brownie pack having to parade past Dad standing in front of the council chambers, dressed in his mayoral chains as part of annual town commemorations.

Each year we were taught to acknowledge the Mayor with the usual two finger Brownie salute. I figure there’s no better time than my maiden speech in parliament to finally let Dad know, a mere 40 or so years later, that one parade my younger sister Angela and I decided, in jest, to momentarily turn the fingers around.

Lucky for us your dubious eyesight didn’t catch our slight of hand Dad. Even more lucky, our 75yr old head Brown Owl, well known for her paralysing death stare, didn’t either.

I was 11 when Dad went to parliament as the MP for Coromandel. I was fascinated right from the start, in a large part due to the interesting people politics attracted. Unlike today it was often the biggest, most dynamic membership-based show in town. Ross Miller, a long-term electorate Chairman for Dad, and an unfailing advocate for my own journey, is here today and will recall with clarity a certain Miss Elsie Wylde. This woman deserves to be immortalized in Hansard.

At the tender age of 80 she would fill every room with her presence, boom out interjections, always be right with political predictions and should anyone dare to object, she would loudly and publicly remind them she taught both them and their children at school, recalling their lack of academic abilities.

I’d like to say it was her political discourse that grabbed my attention most but in all honesty it was hard to go past the time she ate beetroot at a pot luck event and without knowing it, the beetroot juice slipped from the corners of her mouth and down her deeply ingrained wrinkles, producing a tributary stream effect. Thoroughly memorable.

Although I had observed and participated in politics, studied it, sat at the feet of political icons like Rob Eady and enjoyed party membership life, at some point it needed to become my own journey. And that it did, in the form of the unexpected, the inexplicable and as official records still record today, the unexplainable.

One night I awoke as a young parent and decided to check on my two year old son Riley only to discover he had died in his sleep.

What ensued was a series of random interactions with a cold-hearted function-driven system. The failure of police inquest officers, pathologists and coroners to sensitively inform and communicate their process to two shell-shocked parents still mystifies me today.

Loss comes in all forms, not just death, but loss of careers, loss of confidence, loss of relationships and marriage, my own succumbing to the high percentage of those that end upon the death of a child.

With all our collective legislative wisdom, there shouldn’t also have to be loss of faith in a system supposedly designed to protect those that need it at precisely the time when they most need it.

Trying to keep up with where Riley’s body had gone, what they were doing to it, what they were retaining from it, receiving an abruptly-worded police letter informing us of our Coroner’s court hearing date, it was all too much.

No explanations, no ‘frequently asked questions’ brochure, just a summons. You’ll understand I thought we were being put on trial for the death of our son.

Walking through the valley of the shadow of death, trying to understand the legalities and desperately wanting to just stay away from the world to get on with grieving, my sense of indignance grew. I was the one who asked to meet with the police, the pathologists and others to get a handle on who else may have to face what we did.

This indignance formed a seed that merged into a big part of the driving force that sees me standing here today. I’m subsequently relieved the coronial system has improved for people, the 2006 Coroners Act and later reviews better protect the interest of grieving families.

Politics really did become personal for me then. A flick of the pen, wording of an amendment, an exchange in the debating chamber – parliament’s processes affect everyday lives.

I’ve had the pleasure of being in Auckland Council’s cabinet as Deputy Chair for Planning, covering Auckland’s housing, transport, and infrastructure. $45 billion dollars of assets to make the eyes water, but what is reality for residents? Fixing the broken curb so car tyres don’t get scraped, speeding up consents so the house extension can just get built, and going to the park expecting to see the lawns have been mowed.

The settings are wider here, but however you measure it, the expectation is that we will make a difference in the everyday lives of New Zealanders. We will foster the right economy for jobs and income, which in turn fosters hope and the fruition of dreams.

I am immensely proud to stand with the National party who have overseen substantial growth in their recent term of government, despite international trends to the contrary. 10,000 new jobs each month for the last 18 months is extraordinary.

I am surrounded by a host of incredible supporters who appear to have decided I am a good investment of their time, energy, and unfailing commitment.

I can only hope I return the favour. To the National party, thank you for backing me to back Lester and backing people to choose their own future.

What I most appreciate about you and our leader the Rt Hon Bill English, is the relentless commitment to the politics of hope. It should always outweigh the politics of fear, even when the latter sells more media space.

To my core local volunteer team, you’re everything I would wish for. As chance would have it, we’re dominated by females.

Dr Lee Mathias, how you have the time to run boards, a business and back women like me, I do not know. Sue White, politics is obviously in your blood too, but for all the right reasons. Your friendship and that of your talented daughter Ainsley I hold dear.

Louise Millar, my Chair, our kids went to school together, you always say yes, and no one can sport a pair of red bands in the city like you do. Josh Beddell, the lone male voice, we all know you love it.

To my personal friends outside of politics, let’s keep it that way. You don’t like the policy detail and I like the escape. You also remind me this place is a bubble, so if I ever get out of touch, pop me.

And to my funny, often irreverent, and close-knit family, I adore you. My two sisters Rochelle and Angela and your clans, we have many more adventures ahead and I am proud of our strong and fun-filled bond.

Remember the time we ran around the Beehive as teenagers and I fell on Robert Muldoon when he opened his secret private elevator door? It’s time for the next generation of kids to let loose on parliamentary security.

Mum and Dad your rock solid presence and commitment to our family is a very large reason I am here today. In an age of transience and relativity you have been present for us and stuck to your convictions, the greatest and most admirable of which is that you love and serve others before yourself.

When we’ve hit hard times as a family, and there’s been plenty, you have adapted. I cannot thank you enough for the way in which your character has forged our family destiny and that you have supported me in the pursuit of mine.

And finally to my own precious children, my son Riley who as the good book says ‘lives beyond the veil’, you are a gift.

My daughters Sydnee and Makenna, your world is not the one I grew up in. I spent weekends rat shooting at the Paeroa dump, you navigate the virtual world, streaming mass international content 24/7 under the watchful eye of the Google and Facebook empires.

It is your world that will rapidly change what we do here in these halls and I am proud to have two incredibly talented young women to guide me in how to think ahead. I love you.

In closing, I wish us all well Mr Speaker, God-speed to the 52nd Parliament of the world’s most attractive nation.


Who knows best?

November 15, 2017

The last Labour government was criticised for nanny-statism and the new one is already in danger of courting the same criticism:

Parenting 101 from your friendly Labour Government.

New parents may relish the idea of both parents being home together, able to bond as a family in those first few weeks of a newborn’s life.

But the Government advises “no”, that’s not necessarily in the interests of your baby.

That’s why it intends to vote down a National Party amendment to the Government’s paid parental leave extension, that would let both parents take their paid leave together.

“Our concern with that is the likelihood it would reduce the amount of time that baby has to bond with their primary caregiver,” said Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.

Who knows best what’s best for babies and their parents – the parents or the government?

If both parents were off at the same time, it would reduce the total amount of time that baby’s parents would be on leave. National’s amendment would allow for parents to make a choice – it does not compel them to take leave at the same time.

There’s no compulsion, no we-know-best. It would just give flexibility to parents who could choose to take none, some or all of the leave at the same time, depending on what suited them and their babies.

In all likelihood, Labour doesn’t really believe it knows better than parents what suits them.

So they’d put politics before parents, and babies and risk the accusation of nanny-statism because it’s not their idea.

That’s simply pettiness.


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