Sowell says


“Dangerous precedent”


The open letter from the public law experts:


Bulldozing democracy


Labour has gone to great lengths to counter accusations they are taking assets from councils.

They keep telling us all, that councils will still own their assets.

A legal opinion from Franks Ogilvie states that is wrong:

Ministers have repeatedly asserted that Councils will have “ownership” of the four new “entities” (actually bespoke statutory corporations) to take over three waters assets under Minister Mahuta’s scheme. The Water Services Entities Bill (the “Bill”)contains statements that Councils will “co-own” the corporations in “shares” to be allocated to them. In this opinion the assertions that Councils will share ownership are referred to as the “Claims”.

The claims are false, misleading and deceptive. The Councils will have none of the bundle of rights that define and are conferred by ownership in any sense familiar to lawyers, or understood as the common significance of ownership. Councils are expressly denied the rights of possession, control, derivation of benefits, and disposition that are the defining attributes of ownership. . . 

In spite of this, the government keeps telling us that councils will still own the assets.

However, by entrenching the clause in the Water Services Entities Bill (the one that was about Three Waters and is now about Five Waters), that stops the entities being sold, it loses that argument.

If the councils still own the assets whose business is it if they wanted to sell them?

Its theirs, their ratepayers’ and residents’ business, not the government’s.

If it’s not the business of councils, ratepayers and residents, but the government’s, the government admitting that councils won’t continue to own their assets.

That is an important issue, but not as important as the government’s entrenching the clause and thereby attempting to bind future government’s to a partisan and deeply unpopular measure.

Entrenchment has until now been for constitutional matters. Requiring a super majority for them is a democratic safeguard.

Entrenching a highly contentious and politically partisan measure like this is an attempt to bind future government’s to the current one’s will and that is the antithesis of democracy.

Law professor Andrew Geddis explains what happens when MPs entrench legislation and why it matters and concludes :

. . . The point being, what happened on Wednesday was a potentially momentous broadening out of an existing wrinkle in our system of parliamentary governance. Since 1956, our law has said that some key bits of our electoral system are so at risk of partisan gaming that we can’t trust a bare majority of MPs to decide them. Now, the amended three waters legislation also says that there is a basic policy issue that is so overwhelmingly important as to justify today’s MPs placing handcuffs on tomorrow’s MPs when dealing with it.

If that is indeed the case, what other sorts of issues might a supermajority of MPs think rise to that level? And, in this brave new world, what happens to our system of parliamentary law-making, based as it is on the assumption that the view of the current majority is always subject to revision by the future’s?

David Farrar has a few suggestions for policies past governments could have entrenched and  future government could entrench.

There would be an uproar if a future National-led government attempted to entrench these or any other partisan policies which illustrates just how dangerous the precedent Labour, aided by the Greens whose MP Eugenie Sage moved the Supplementary Order Paper to include entrenchment.

There is an uproar on social media, and the issue was discussed on NewsTalkZB yesterday afternoon it ought to be making headlines everywhere.

Labour has been bulldozing Five Waters with no concern for democracy from the start but until now there was the knowledge that a change of government could easily repeal the legislation and replace it with something far, far better in proper consultation with the councils which own the assets.

Entrenching the clause has made that a bit harder and shown how little regard Labour and the Greens have for democracy.

Garrick Tremain says it all:

Sowell says


Sowell says


This isn’t NZ as it should be


WorkSafe keeps telling us everyone should come home healthy and safe.

Of course they should, even though some workplaces are potentially more dangerous than others.

Until recently shops wouldn’t have been among the riskier workplaces.

But an increasing number of ram raids and other brazen robberies has changed that.

Dairy and Business Association chair Sunny Kaushal warned that someone would die, and now someone has.

. . . “This incident has left us numb with sadness. It’s quite shocking, very horrific,” Kaushal told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

Kaushal said fellow dairy workers will be scared when they go to work on Thursday. 

“They would be fearing for their life everywhere. We were thinking this would happen and the worst has happened and it’s just not good. The family of this young fellow would be looking for answers,” Kaushal told AM.

Kaushal told AM he and the Dairy and Business Owners’ Group have been warning the Government an incident like this would happen for a long time. 

“We saw this would happen. This was the worst fear and last night it has happened,” he said. 

We have been warning the Government and the authorities for a long time that this is coming and no action is taken and the Government has not taken any action.” . . .

Heather du Plessis-Allan opines:

. . . With all those ram raids, daylight robberies, tobacco thefts, we could see this coming. 

I’m not going to lay blame on anyone for this other the person who did it. Because no one put the knife in their hand. They did it, it’s their fault.

But I’m talking about the politics of this.

Because this is very, very bad for the Government, but especially for Jacinda Ardern. 

The public fury at what’s happening to our shopkeepers and shops is at fever pitch.

We have bystanders now chasing and confronting robbers in baklavas out of sheer frustration at the fact that the authorities seem to not be doing enough.

People are going to be very angry that it has now claimed a life.

And they will blame the Government because it is the Government they look to, to do something. 

And nothing has been done other than a pitifully slow roll out of bollards to a handful of shops.

It doesn’t help Labour that they are perceived as ‘soft on crime’.

They’ve repealed the three strikes law, they’ve given millions to the Mongrel Mob, they’ve emptied the prisons, and they’ve admitted jail is not a solution for them.  . .

This isn’t New Zealand as it used to be and should be again.

Prisons are, as Bill English said, a moral and fiscal failure, but until there are other ways of keeping criminals from endangering others, where else should they be?

Causes of crime are multiple. Addressing them will take time and money.

That will be no comfort to the family and friends of the murdered man, nor to all the other workers who fear for their safety and who deserve more from the government than kind words.

Sowell says


Listening not hearing


Federated Farmers wanted Te Mana o Te Wai to be extended to coastal and geothermal water?

In an email to members, Feds president Andrew Hoggard said that was definitely not the case:

Some media interviews on debate in the Parliament on the Water Services Entities Bill has raised questions over Federated Farmers’ stance on three waters reform and Te Mana o Te Wai. We clarify our position here.


Nanaia Mahuta in the House last night said…

In Part 1 of the bill, what we will see is a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) which makes clear Te Mana o te Wai clarifications. When I look to the work of the select committee, it was actually the Federated Farmers, in their submission, who highlighted that they wanted greater clarification of Te Mana o te Wai and its meaning, which is set out in SOP 306.


Cabinet Minister Megan Woods said in a radio interview that Federated Farmers had asked that Te Mana o Te Wai in regard to the new water entities to be extended to coastal and geothermal water. This is simply not correct.


This is what Federated Farmers recommended on Te Mana o Te Wai in our submission on the Water Services Entities Bill:

• The concept of Te Mana o Te Wai be fully described in the Act (and any subsidiary legislative instruments) in order to provide legislative certainty.

• Issues around Te Mana o Te Wai be subject to further careful consideration to ensure there is clarity for WSEs, councils, and for water users (including how Te Mana o Te Wai Statements may influence resource under Section 104 of the Resource Management Act).

• Greater detail is provided in the Bill on the form Te Mana o Te Wai statements must take.

• Te Mana o Te Wai statements be made non-binding by removing reference to Te Mana o Te Wai in WSE Statements of Intent (delete clause 145(2)(c)).


This should be read in context that we opposed the Water Services Entities Bill for many reasons, with uncertainty around Te Mana o Te Wai one of the many reasons. .


The definition of Te Mana o Te Wai in clause 6 of the Water Servces Entities Bill as it was introduced was as follows:

• Te Mana o te Wai has the meaning set out in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management issued in 2020 under section 52 of the Resource Management Act 1991 and any statement issued under that section that amends or replaces the 2020 statement (and see also sections 4, 5, and 13)


This is the Minister’s proposed ‘fix’, as set out in SOP306:

• In clause 6, replace the definition of Te Mana o te Wai (page 17, lines 20 to 23) with: Te Mana o te Wai—

(a) has the meaning set out in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management issued in 2020 under section 52 of the Resource Management Act 1991 and any statement issued under that section that amends or replaces the 2020 statement (and see also sections 4, 5, and 13 of this Act); and

(b) applies, for the purposes of this Act, to water (as that term is defined in section 2(1) of the Resource Management Act 1991).


Although it is indeed a clarification in response to a recommendation in our submission this is not a good change as it puts in the Bill (that will if passed become and Act) a definition that is included in secondary legislation (i.e., regulation) which could be changed by Cabinet without reference back to Parliament. A more appropriate response would have been to set the provisions of what Te Mana o Te Wai means in the Bill itself or more clearly in the RMA (not withstanding that it is on the black for repeal and replacement) and not refer to the NPS.

Heather du Plessis-Allan interviewed Andrew here.

Labour keeps saying they’re listening but this makes it very clear they are not hearing, or not understanding, what is being said.

That explains a lot of what they’re doing.

For more on Te Mana O Wai :

Graham Adams says voters don’t know the half of it and writes on the stealth move taking Three Waters to Five Waters.

Thomas Cranmer says New Zealand has been duped.


Paying more for government’s spending


The Reserve Bank announced yesterday it would increase the Official Cash Rate by  0.75 basis points to 4.25%.

That’s the biggest increase New Zealand has ever had and it could get worse:

This increase will push up mortgage rates for Kiwi households, many of which are coming up for renewal in the next few months. New Zealand families are already facing significant pressure on their household budgets due to the extremely high levels of inflation.

The Bank’s Funding for Lending programme—which allowed banks to borrow from the Reserve Bank at the Official Cash Rate to offer cheaper mortgages—also runs out next month. Kiwibank has estimated that this could be the equivalent of a further Official Cash Rate hike of between 15 and 50 basis points.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Callum Purves, says:

“The Reserve Bank has been forced to put up the Official Cash Rate because of its failure to keep inflation below 3%.

“The extremely high levels of inflation we are facing are in no small part down to the double whammy of reckless Government spending that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the pandemic and the Reserve Bank’s own money printing programme that is already forecast to cost the taxpayer billions in losses.

“Government tax revenues and expenditure are at record highs. The Government urgently needs to reign in its addiction to excessive spending and bring expenditure back down to pre-pandemic levels at the very least. New Zealanders cannot continue to afford this toxic combination of high taxes and high inflation.” 

Tax revenues are high because inflation pushes up prices, which increases the GST take. It also leads to higher wage increases which pushes people into higher tax brackets.

Some of the blame can be laid at international factors, but Labour’s addiction to spending is also responsible.

It’s not just the poor who are struggling with the cost of living crisis, middle income people are too and increased mortgage rates will add to the pain.

Much more pain is on the way for Kiwis as out of control inflation has forced the Reserve Bank into New Zealand’s first ever 75 basis point Official Cash Rate hike, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Never before in the history of the OCR have we seen such a dramatic interest rate increase. This comes as the ninth rate hike in a row, as the Reserve Bank is forced to screw ever tighter on interest rates to try and put a lid on rampant inflation.

“Ominously, the Reserve Bank is not only forecasting a year-long recession, but it believes inflation has not peaked, and will still be higher at the start of next year than it is now.

“This spells yet more worry for the growing group of Kiwis being kept up at night concerned about the growing size of their mortgage payments.

“Kiwis are now paying the price, literally, for Labour’s ‘fire-hose’ approach to government spending.

“Half of the mortgages in New Zealand will come up for refixing in the next 12 months. Many already stretched New Zealanders will now have to find hundreds of extra dollars a week to meet their payments.

“Kiwis are getting squeezed in all directions – rent, groceries, and mortgage payments. Under Labour, the only way these costs are going is up.

“New Zealand needs careful economic management and fiscal responsibility to get us through this difficult period.

“National has a plan. We would rein in wasteful spending, stop adding new costs and taxes, refocus the Reserve Bank on price stability, let Kiwis keep more of what they earn, and remove bottlenecks in the economy like Labour’s overly restrictive immigration settings.”

The election could be a year away.

How much harder will life be for far too many people by then?

Sowell says


Rural round-up


Feds breaks ranks on HWEN – Sudesh Kissun:

The He Waka Eke Noa Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership and Māori Agribusiness Partners are calling on the Government to change key aspects of its proposal on agricultural emissions pricing.

However, Federated Farmers has decided not to back the joint submission from the 10 partners.

It recommends changes that would develop an emissions pricing system that creates incentives and opportunities to reduce agricultural emissions while maintaining the viability of the primary sector.

The submission recommends changes to price setting, governance and transitional arrangements that would see decision-making on emissions pricing balance the socio-economic impacts on the primary sector and wider economy with emissions reductions.  . .

HWEN partners question methane targets – Neal Wallace:

The primary sector wants the government to review its methane targets before it starts pricing agricultural greenhouse gases.

This is included in the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) submission on the government-proposed pricing structure, saying new targets that reflect the latest scientific evidence are needed before the sector starts to be charged in 2025.

Methane targets were legislated by Parliament in 2019 as part of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Act, requiring the sector to reduce emissions 10% below 2017 levels by 2030 and by 24-47% below 2017 levels by 2050.

The HWEN submission pulls few punches, saying the government’s changes are not acceptable to the partnership and the growers and farmers they represent. . . 

Emissions plan: DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – The Country :

No deal is better than a bad deal when it comes to pricing agricultural emissions, DairyNZ chair Jim van der Poel says

DairyNZ had made a submission in the emissions plan and hoped for a response from the Government, van der Poel told The Country’s Jamie Mackay.

“We had to go into this next stage in good faith because our primary objective is still to get a solution here and put this to bed.

“We’ve been talking about this since 2004 and it’s not going to go away.” . . 

Cherry on top growers feeling “positive”, expecting record volumes of fruit :

Central Otago cherry growers are expecting record volumes of fruit this season.

45 South Cherries chief executive Tim Jones said now that they had survived October’s nasty weather, they had been able to assess crops, and fruit volumes may be double that of past years.

New plantings were coming into their own, he said.

“The last three years have been pretty disappointing crops but all those trees that have been planted in the past five or six will really hit their straps this year.

“Last year the industry exported a little over three thousand tonnes and I would suggest this year it could be at least five or six thousand,” he said. . . 

It’s time to resolve carbon forest conflicts –  Dean Baigent-Mercer :

 Forestry is back in the spotlight. After years of being on the margins, forestry has come full-circle and is again at the heart of discussions about New Zealand’s future. Why? Because of climate change and biodiversity. The opportunity is exciting but there are issues to resolve. A key question is native versus exotic forestry carbon sinks.

The world risks overshooting its climate change targets. We need to stop using fossil fuels, cut emissions and store increasing amounts of carbon in forests, wetlands and other natural carbon sinks for centuries to come.

New Zealand forestry has been quick to act and respond. New Zealand has gone down the pine forest carbon storage route as a relatively fast and cheap way to store carbon.

But it’s clear that this is no longer a viable path. The Climate Change Commission has advised that we must stop relying on pines to store carbon and instead rely on permanent carbon sinks in native forests. Pine planting may appeal in the short term, but a large blaze can release a carbon bomb. There is increasing evidence that pine-based carbon sinks will end up being stranded assets or uninsurable. . .

Rural tourism business finalist at New Zealand Tourism Awards :

“The future of rural tourism is bright”, say Will and Rose Parsons of Driftwood Eco Tours, finalists of the 2022 New Zealand Tourism Awards for community engagement.

The annual New Zealand Tourism Awards, hosted by Tourism Industry Aotearoa in Hamilton, highlights excellence in tourism and helps operators aspire to greater customer service.

Driftwood Eco Tours was delighted to be one of three finalists for the community engagement category.

Operating since 2004, Driftwood Eco Tours is based in Kaikōura, but runs small group, multi-day tours throughout the upper South Island and on offshore islands, offering guests the chance to visit and experience some of New Zealand’s most isolated rural communities. . . 

Cameron Brewer Nat candidate for Upper Harbour


Former chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association, Cameron Brewer, has been selected to contest the Upper Harbour seat for National:

Cameron Brewer has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in Upper Harbour for the 2023 General Election and is excited to hit the ground running and campaign hard for the seat.

“I’m thrilled to win the support of local party members and will be working hard to earn the support of Upper Harbour as National’s candidate,” Mr Brewer says.

“Upper Harbour is growing fast as more young families choose to make it their home. The issues they face are the ones I’ll focus on relentlessly, particularly addressing the cost-of-living crisis and cracking down on the crime we’re seeing across the electorate.

“Families in Upper Harbour are being buffeted by skyrocketing mortgage repayments or rents and are confronted by the realities of Labour’s economic mismanagement every time they fill up the trolley or the gas tank.

“National’s plan to address the cost-of-living crisis will restore discipline to government spending, provide tax relief to hardworking Kiwis and back our businesses to get ahead, instead of saddling them with higher costs.

“I’ll advocate for clear plans for Upper Harbour when it comes to things like transport, infrastructure and core services and I’ll deliver. What I and National won’t do is prioritise a failed light rail scheme down Dominion Road at the expense of the rest of Auckland.

“I’ve spent most of my career fighting and delivering for Aucklanders and will do exactly that for Upper Harbour if I earn the right to be their new MP as part of Chris Luxon’s energised National team.”

Paula Bennett held this seat until her retirement in 2020.

It was won by Labour in the red tide but given the extended Auckland lockdowns and other problems facing the city for which the government can be blamed, Brewer will have a reasonable chance of winning it back.

‘It beggars belief ‘


Take 608 acute mental health beds, add $1.9 billion and how many beds do you get?

When Labour came to power the country had 608 beds for acute mental health patients.

Five years and billions of dollars of health funding later, New Zealand still has 608 beds for acute mental health patients. . . 

Back in 2019, the Government announced a $1.9 billion programme to fix it up. But Newshub can reveal there are exactly the same number of acute mental health beds now as there were when Labour took office. . . 

In 2017, there were 608 beds. It’s fluctuated since then, reaching a peak of 619 in 2021, but now we’re back where we started at 608 beds.

608 + $1.9 billion = 608? That doesn’t compute.

An increase of 11 then back to where it started, how can that happen?

“It’s quite astonishing that the Government has gone and spent $1.9 billion of taxpayers’ money on mental health and we don’t have a single extra mental health bed available,” said National leader Christopher Luxon.

“You’ve gotta ask the questions, where has the money gone?”

That’s a very good question which doesn’t appear to have any very good answers.

Little said it’s “taking way longer than it should do, but there is progress now evident”.

Is it evident to the people needing beds and the people looking after them?

Is it evident to the people who expect very big things from spending very large amounts of taxpayers’ money?

Now new documents reveal it’s still so bad ministers have directed their implementation unit to team up with the Infrastructure Commission and “complete a deep dive” into each of the 16 Mental Health Infrastructure Programme projects and create a delivery plan that “ensures projects gain momentum and get moving”.

“The funding was available from 2019, the commitment was available from that time. It still beggars belief for me that it has taken this long to get those things going,” Little said. 

It beggars belief for mental health patients too. . . 

It also beggars belief for anyone who expects governments to make a positive difference with the spending they authorise.

It beggars belief that someone in charge of this debacle hasn’t been sacked as anyone in the private sector would be.

It beggars belief that after five long years, no-one in the government has learned that making announcements doesn’t magically make things happen and that they are responsible for ensuring that money spent makes a positive difference and does so in a reasonable time.

Sowell says


Speed doesn’t necessarily kill


National has launched a petition to stop widespread speed reductions :

National is calling on the Labour Government to scrap its proposed blanket speed limit reductions on State Highways, which would slow drivers down without actually improving road safety, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“This week, NZTA released its Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan which proposes to reduce speed limits on State Highways across New Zealand, with some highways having their speed limit slashed from 100km/h to 60km/h. 

“This is a short-sighted, quick-fix attempt to address the problem of road safety that doesn’t deal with underlying issues like poor road maintenance and the proper enforcement of road rules.

“While National supports variable speed limits outside schools during pick-up and drop-off times, this proposal is the first step towards reducing the speed limits on all State Highways across the country to a maximum of 80km/h.

“Blanket speed limit reductions will increase travel times for Kiwis, increase the costs of moving freight, and frustrate motorists trying to move around the country.

“Instead of investing in our roads to make sure they’re fit for purpose and safe to drive on, Labour is taking the easy way out once more, with a simplistic solution that won’t make a meaningful difference.

“Kiwis need both safe and efficient transport routes, especially for our rural communities and the freight companies that help move our goods around New Zealand.

“National opposes blanket speed limit reductions and we are encouraging New Zealanders to speak up against this radical proposal, and sign our petition urging the Government to dump it.”

You can sign the petition here.

The government, and Waka Kotahi, are trying to convince us that speed limits need to be reduced because speed kills but that isn’t always the case:

The police and government are pushing discredited road safety strategies, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“For years we’ve been told that lowering speeds and a heavy enforcement of speed limits would lower the annual road toll. This has proved to be untrue.”

Matthew-Wilson gave the example of Saturday’s tragic head-in collision that killed three members of the same family.

“The simple fact is: if there had been a median barrier on that stretch of road, this accident could not have occurred. As I’ve been saying for years, New Zealand’s roads are like a staircase without a handrail: you make a mistake, you’re probably going to get hurt.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that the police anti-speed messaging is consistently based on doubtful science.

“If the police ‘speed kills’ theory were true, then one of the fastest legal roads in the country: the Waikato Expressway (110km/h), would also be the most dangerous. In fact, the opposite is true: the Waikato Expressway is one of the safest roads in the country.”

Road safety science tells us two things: safe roads protect people from their own mistakes, and that speed, by itself, is not the problem.

“As a matter of scientific fact, few ordinary motorists cause speed-related fatalities. Almost all speed-related fatalities are caused by a small group of yobbos and reckless motorcyclists, and they’re often blotto when they crash. Yobbos and blotto drivers don’t read speed signs, rarely think of consequences and are effectively immune to road safety messages.”

“The government has repeatedly promised to fix our Third World roads but has failed miserably. Now the government is attempting to lower the road toll by lowering speed limits yet again, despite the fact that the widespread lowering of speed limits has not reduced the annual road toll.”

Further lowering will increase driver frustration and add time and expense to journeys but it won’t by itself lower the road toll.

“The overall road toll is actually not as bad as people think. The road toll last year was close to a third of the annual road toll in 1973.”

“While any road deaths are a tragedy, the overall road toll has been trending downwards since the 1980s. In 1973 the New Zealand population was around three million, but the road toll was 843. In 2021, the population was round five million but the road toll was 319.”

“Drivers have not improved. The big improvements have been in the cars, roads and the medical system.”

“I’d like to say enforcement has also improved, but the police simply aren’t doing their job in many cases. In country areas, drinking and driving are often normal, and the locals generally get away with it. The police have also failed to effectively enforce seatbelt laws or laws against the use of cellphones while driving. However, the police are very good at issuing millions of speeding tickets, even though 85% of the road toll occurs below the speed limit.”

“Despite the overall downward trend, the annual highs and lows of the road toll tend to follow the economy. Right now, there’s a lot of building going on. That means lots of builder’s labourers with money to spend on booze, drugs and fast cars. It means lots of trucks carrying heavy freight down highways. The housing boom has also paid for middle-aged men to buy large motorbikes. This group are killing themselves at a typical rate of about one a week. “

The simple graph that explains the road toll | Scoop

“As the economy dips into recession, the annual road toll will almost certain dip with it. In the meantime, we have national roading system that belongs in the Third World. We also have a trail of broken promises from the government, and a trail of disproved theories from the police.”

“Let’s be clear, one a tiny group of motorists causing most road speed-related deaths, and this tiny group tends to drive at insane speeds. But this tiny group is not the average driver. Ticketing a family for going 3km/h over the speed limit does nothing to lower road toll, but it alienates ordinary motorists.”

Alienating motorists reduces the social licence needed to keep people obeying limits.

“I appreciate that the police are totally sincere in wanting to save lives. However, they need to accept that the current police and government strategies are clearly not working. It’s time for both the police and government to take a deep breath and change the direction of our national road safety strategy.”

Matthew-Wilson is also frustrated that both the police and the government ignore simple, affordable and effective ways of substantially reducing the road toll.

Cars with Daytime Running Lights on are up to 25% less likely to end up in fatal daytime collisions, yet this simple lifesaving technology isn’t even on the government’s agenda. What’s gone wrong with our government?” 

Lots has gone wrong with the government, including a focus on the wrong things and a failure to base policies on facts, data and science.

That, and an apparent dislike of cars, will do nothing to lower the road toll.


Keep it 18


The government plans to draft legislation to lower the voting age to 16.

. . . It follows the Supreme Court declaration on Monday morning that the current voting age of 18 is inconsistent with the right found in the New Zealand Bill of Rights to be free of discrimination on the basis of age.

But given the voting age is entrenched – meaning it requires a supermajority in the House to change – any adjustment would require the support of the National Party, which has already expressed opposition. . . .

National has other, far more important priorities:

National does not support any lowering of the voting age, National’s Justice spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“Decisions around the voting age, like other electoral laws, are decisions for a democratically accountable Parliament to make.

“Many aspects of our electoral law are decided by referendum or a super-majority of the Parliament because of their constitutional importance.

“National’s priorities in justice are reducing violent, youth and gang crime, as well as clearing Court backlogs.

“With violent crime up by 21 per cent, a 50 per cent increase in gang membership and a 500 per cent increase in ram-raids, these are pressing matters the Labour Government are failing to get under control.

“That is why National announced its plan to crack down on serious repeat youth offenders like ram-raiders to turn their lives around and to protect the public.

“Many other countries have a voting age of 18, and National has seen no compelling case to lower the age.”

Act also opposes lowering the voting age.

Constitutional matters like this requires the support of 75% of MPs, with National and Act against the move, why is the government proceeding with legislation?

It’s a waste of MPs’ and parliament staff time and taxpayer money.

It’s also more look-over-there politics when there are so many other  issues the government ought to be focusing on.

Issues such as   high inflation and an impending increase in interest rates because of that, a decrease in the prison population but an increase in violent crime, multiple crises in health that are being met with more meetings but no action, workforce shortages, high truancy and low achievement in education, attempts to reduce the road toll with discredited strategies, workforce shortages in just about every sector  . . .

The argument that younger teens wouldn’t be sufficiently informed to vote intelligently could apply to a lot of older people, but that isn’t a good argument for lowering the age.

Having more young people engaged with politics would be good for democracy but that doesn’t require the right to vote at 16.

Having more people eligible to vote won’t by itself increase the percentage voting. If the government is concerned about the number of people voting, it should address the causes rather than lowering the age.

People can drive at 16, have sex, leave school and home without permission but can’t be fully bound by any contract , such as a tenancy agreement or consumer credit contract until they’re 18. Those decisions, and the consequences of them, are personal ones that wouldn’t impact many, if any, other people.

Voting outcomes impact everyone. They change governments, policies and the country’s direction.

People have to be 18 before they can serve on a jury, the results of which affect only one person. Voting affects everyone.

Police can take under-18 year-olds home or to a youth residence or shelter if they think they’re at risk but can’t question them without a parent or guardian present.

If they are still treated as children under the law, why should they be treated as adults when it comes to voting?

No-one is allowed to marry or enter a civil union without parental permission or change their name until they’re 18 and can’t gamble until they’re 20.

Why then would they be permitted to gamble with the future of the country or change the government at 16?

Polls continually show the majority of people are opposed to a change in the voting age, the government won’t get the supermajority required to pass legislation.

It will be another expensive delivery failure but unlike all the others this failure will be popular.

Sowell says


Would you trust him?


If National had ruled out working with New Zealand First in 2017, would it have made a difference?

Polls showed about half of NZ First’s supporters wanted the party to go with National, but we’ll never know if ruling the other party out would have helped National.

Now that Winston Peters has apparently ruled out working with Labour, would it help National to rule out working with him?

I say apparently because there is wriggle room in his statement:

“No one gets to lie to me twice,” he says this week.

“We are not going to go with the Labour Party, this present Labour Party crowd, because they can’t be trusted.

“You don’t get a second time to lie to me, or my party and they did.”

He starts with the Labour Party then says this present Labour Party crowd but what does that mean?

If Labour had a different leader, which is possible if the polls consistently show it would be unlikely to win a third term, would that be enough for Peters to change his mind?

Who knows? Would you trust him?

If we can learn anything from the past, it’s that what he says doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what he’ll do.

Apparently being clear about ruling out Labour ought to give voters certainty but there is some wriggle room, and it also takes away his party’s options which weakens it, making it more like the Greens and Maori Party who will never go with National, and Act who will never go with Labour.

The party could sit on the cross benches and if National and Act or Labour, the Greens and Maori Party didn’t have more than half the MPs needed to govern. They would they would then be forced to negotiate with Peters issue by issue.

That would be a disaster.

The country is in a mess and the mess will be worse by next year’s election.

A mess that bad needs a government we can trust and gives us certainty, neither of which can be assured if NZ First is in the mix.

Besides, one of that party’s strongest platforms is policy that both National and Act would deliver without it anyway – one person, one vote, no co-governance of public assets, and assistance based on need not race.

What then would we get if enough people vote to allow NZ First back into parliament? Uncertainty and instability if it was needed in government or sitting on the cross benches. Both could still allow Labour back into government.

That brings me back to the final comments in my previous post. If people don’t want a Labour-led government after next year’s election, they must vote for a National-led one and the only way to get that is to vote for National or Act.

Five Waters – where’s the outrage?


It started with Three Waters but Graham Adams points out it’s it’s now Five Waters :

Thomas Cranmer notes it’s goes even further to Five Waters and a park:

Mike Hosking calls it a stinker of a policy:

Given all this, Bruce Cotterill is right to ask where is the outrage?

. . . Even without knowing the contents of the revised bill, haste is something we should be concerned about. It’s a pace of activity that is usually reserved for matters that the Government wants dealt with immediately; either because it is vital for the national interest or it is so unpalatable that they want to shut down the debate as quickly as possible. It would seem that the latter was their only justification. 

I’m told by a highly regarded former MP that for a matter of this nature, it’s a pace that is unusually rushed, and in the context of Parliament’s rules, technically inappropriate.

Not that we can do too much about that. Let’s face it, this Government has been in an “inappropriate” hurry on Three Waters from the start. Despite the changes not yet being signed into law, they have already recruited a heap of people and leased high-quality and expensive office space in Auckland at least and possibly elsewhere. Every step has been action ahead of the democratic process. . . 

They process has been appalling. From the advertisements telling us how bad our water was, when it wasn’t, saying it would be voluntary for councils to opt in, when it isn’t, saying they’d listen, when they didn’t to the truncated select committee process and Friday’s late afternoon document dump with the addition of two more waters plus parks and reserves.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the Three Waters legislation is about the management of freshwater, wastewater and stormwater. However, as result of the select committee’s most recent rewrite, it’s no longer just about Three Waters. You see, they’ve added a couple of new categories. Hydro, the water that flows through New Zealand’s world class and sustainable electricity system is one.

Oh, and they also added another category. Coastal. That’s right folks, the seabed and foreshore is back in play. This time, with the highly controversial and undemocratic co-governance proposals locked in.

And finally, just for good measure, they’ve also seen fit to include, at the eleventh hour, an option to include parks and reserves. Parks and reserves currently owned and operated by the ratepayers through the councils that represent them.

New Zealanders should be upset or even angry. We’re not though. We either don’t know about the changes being proposed, don’t understand what’s going on, or don’t care. I deeply suspect that, if Kiwis understood what was happening we would care very much. . . 

A lot of people I’ve talked to do know what’s happening but don’t know what to do about it when the government is determined to steamroller the legislation through.

We should be ropable that this is happening. And we should be stomping mad that neither of our top-rating TV news channels ran the story of the bill’s passing on their 6pm bulletins on Thursday evening. What the hell is going on here NZ?

This is major constitutional reform, involving the deliberate confiscation of assets from ratepayers and the councils that represent them, to a government and a policy that will be controlled by iwi-based or tribal interests. The consultation process around it has been minimal and most of us would say what little consultation has occurred has been ignored.

The French would have people marching in the streets and tractors blocking the freeways if this was occurring in their country. Not us. Let’s just sit back and let it happen! . . .

If a policy this bad was being promoted by a National-led government the left would be marching in the streets.

Why’s no-one up in arms now? Labour supporters don’t usually march against their own, and people on the right are much less likely to protest.

Despite not mentioning it during the 2020 election campaign, the new majority Labour government hit the ground running immediately after the election and launched a plan that would see the Government taking control of the infrastructure and services that deliver all three water assets – drinking water, wastewater and stormwater.

Despite the fact that, in most parts of the country, our fresh water is among the best in the world, they used a single event in Havelock North a few years ago as an example of what could occur if reform didn’t happen quickly.

Has anyone seen any data showing that our water is anywhere near as bas as the government is trying to make us think it is?

Has the government bothered to look at any other answers to the problems that exist in some areas?

Has anyone got any idea how much we’ll be paying for our water once they impose this overly-bureaucratic system on us?

Their plan was accompanied by a very expensive and highly misleading advertising campaign telling us that we would have brown sludge coming out of the taps unless the Government took control of the water assets from the councils.

Organisations like The Taxpayers’ Union and Democracy NZ have funded court action which asserts that the minister and her government have acted illegally. That court action is ongoing. Farmers and business owners have banners out the length of the country asking the powers that be to “Stop 3 Waters”.

And yet, despite ever-increasing opposition from a wide cross-section of New Zealanders, the Government has pressed on with its plans. Centralisation of water assets, they say, will occur, just like the already unsuccessful centralisation efforts in Health and Tertiary Education.

Most of us don’t have daily interactions with the health and tertiary education systems. All but a very few of us depend on the safe delivery of fresh water and proper dispersal of waste water many times, every day.

As a result, we have the latest steps, as outlined above, that will see Three Waters expanded to Five Waters and maybe even a few Parks.

So we see, finally, after all this time, what Three Waters has been about all along. It’s not about brown sludge coming out of your taps. In fact, it’s not about water at all. It’s about an asset grab of not only the water assets we thought, but also for a slice of our hydro schemes and for the highly contentious foreshore and seabed. By the time the third and final reading comes around, you can bet that the country’s parkland will no longer be an option. It will be included.

Perhaps the inclusion of the foreshore and the parkland will get us animated and angry.

We should be staggered that this legislation, delivering major constitutional change, is sleepwalking its way through Parliament via an aggressive majority government, while it appears that there is nothing that opposition politicians can do about it.

You see, unless New Zealanders do something, I’m guessing that the third and final reading will go much like the second reading this week. A few opposition politicians putting up a brave fight against the tyrannical majority before quietly leaving the stage defeated and deflated.

By the time next year’s election campaign is run, Three Waters final reading will have been completed and this most extraordinary and controversial series of changes will have become law. The assets will be operated by undemocratic Government-appointed boards, and the councils that paid for them will be left out of pocket, and we, the people, will be one step closer to losing our collective democratic voice. Despite overwhelming opposition, Three Waters will be law.

It would be tempting to throw in the towel. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Three Waters should continue to be a central election issue in 2023. Those parties currently in opposition must run a campaign to totally repeal this legislation and if elected they must do so promptly.

And we may as well brace ourselves for it now. Taking things away from people is always much harder than giving them out. Repealing this law will be messy and disruptive and difficult. But it must happen.

That’s why we have elections. When governments become this corrupt, they and the laws they created must go.

National and Act have both been very clear they will repeal the Three (now Five) Waters legislation and replace it with a better system in proper consultation with the councils that own the infrastructure.

If we don’t want this dreadful, racist policy we have to vote Labour out and the only way to do that is to vote for a National-led government.

Doing that means voting for National, which is my preference, or Act.

Any other vote will not guarantee a change of government or will be a wasted vote.

Sowell says


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