Optional hypocrisy

September 29, 2016

The Green Party has announced it won’t be contesting the Mt Roskill by-election, should there be one.

Not wasting time and resources on a contest they can’t win isn’t stupid but it shows up both the Greens and Labour as hypocrites.

Both have been highly critical of National for not trying to win Epsom and Ohariu to help Act’s and United Future’s candidates.

The hypocrisy is particularly bad for Labour’s candidate who stood in Epsom at the last election.

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Labour and the Greens claimed the principled high ground in their criticism of what they called ‘dirty deals’.

Neither can claim to be so principled and both are guilty of making the wrong choice when faced with otional hypocrisy.


The good old days?

September 20, 2016

Kia Ora Station, once owned by former PM and Governor General Sir Keith Holyoake is on the market:

A sheep and cattle farm partly paid for by National Party supporters to lure a future Prime Minister to their electorate is up for sale.

Kia Ora Station, which is about 18 kilometres from Dannevirke in Manawatu, was bought during World War II by Sir Keith Holyoake – the only person to have ever held the roles of both Prime Minister and Governor General of New Zealand.

Holyoake, New Zealand’s third longest serving Prime Minister, bought the 393 hectare farm in 1942.

While he paid for £11,874 (just over $1 million in today’s money) for the property, £3000 came from a donation by the Dannevirke electorate branch of the National Party as an incentive to tempt the up-and-coming politician north from his then hop and tobacco farm near Motueka.

The family never actually resided at Kia Ora Station, preferring to live in Dannevirke.

As a full-time politician, Holyoake spent much of his week in Parliament in Wellington and only ever visited Kia Ora Station occasionally on weekends – where he gained a reputation for feeding out hay to the stock from the boot of his Daimler car. . . 

I don’t think a branch of any political party would have enough money to help a prospective MP buy a farm these days and if it did I doubt very much that it would.

From my, admitedly cursory, knowledge of electoral law I don’t think helping a candidate in this way is illegal but imagine the negative publicity someone would face if s/he accepted such an offer.

Those were the old days but were they good?


All ministries should be there for all people

September 20, 2016

At an IHC conference many years ago an impassioned plea was made to a visiting minister for the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of Disability.

He replied that while that would give disability issues a voice at the cabinet table it would give all the other ministers an excuse to sideline disability issues as someone else’s business.

Act MP David Seymour is echoing that logic in wanting what he calls “demographic ministers” to be scrapped.

“I think it’s wrong to have ministers exist purely for a particular type of person. I actually think that all ministers should be working for all New Zealanders,” he says.

Different groups of people might have different issues but addressing them inevitably impacts on other groups in one way or another.

Siloing people and their issues emphasises differences and is more likely to put up barriers than build bridges.

Instead of ministries for different people we should have a single ministry for all people, or better still a culture within every ministry that considers the perspective of, balances the needs of, and works for, everyone.

That doesn’t mean ignoring different needs of different groups, be they be based on gender, age, ethnicity, or disability. It means looking at them and their differences – as part of the whole.

Rather than emphasising what separates us, it would build on what we have in common and as an added bonus, it might even save money.


Voting age women outnumber men

September 19, 2016

Statistics New Zealand has marked Suffrage Day with a media release which says voting-age women in New Zealand outnumbered men by about 137,000 at the 2013 Census, and women are more likely to vote.

In 1893, New Zealand became the first nation in the world to grant women the right to vote. This year, Suffrage Day (September 19) comes just as local government voting papers go out on 16–21 September.

Census figures showed there were more than 1.66 million women in New Zealand aged 18 years and over (18+), compared with about 1.53 million men.

Women on average live longer than men which will account for some of the difference but just as women are more likely to vote, I wonder if they’re more likely to fill out census forms.

Women are more likely than men to vote in general and local government elections, according to past Statistics NZ General Social Surveys. In a survey after the 2011 general election more than 80 percent of women said they voted, compared with about 77 percent of men.

Almost 95 percent of women and men aged 65+ years said they voted in the 2011 general election, compared with just over half of those aged 18 to 24.

Voter turnout is lower for local government elections, at less than 65 percent for women and 62 percent for men. However, 87 percent of all those aged 65+ said they’d voted in local elections in a 2012 survey, compared with just 28 percent of people aged 18 to 24.

Census figures for 2013 showed there were 1.19 million European women in New Zealand aged 18+ years. There were about 193,000 Māori women in that age group, closely followed by almost 187,000 Asian women. Pacific women aged 18+ totalled about 90,000.

The candidates in my district and regional council wards have been elected unopposed which means the only decision I’ll have to make is whether to support the sitting mayor, Gary Kircher, or his challenger whose name escapes me.

The mayor is generally considered to have worked well in his first term so I’ll be voting to give him a second one.


Why men shouldn’t vote

September 19, 2016

It’s the 123rd anniversary of New Zealand women gaining the right to vote.

Apropos of this, Alice Duer Miller wrote in 1915:

Why we oppose votes for men:

1: Because man’s place is in the army.

2. Because no  really manly man  wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.

3. Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to the,.

4. Because men will lose their charms if they step out of the natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms and drums.

5. Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct in baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them particularly unfit for the task of government.


NZ 3rd for growth but . . .

September 16, 2016

Good news on the economic front:

The third highest growth rate in the OECD shows the Government’s management of the economy is delivering more jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders, Finance Minister Bill English says.

Statistics New Zealand reported Gross Domestic Product grew by 0.9 per cent in the three months to 30 June 2016. This took annual growth to 3.6 per cent – putting New Zealand’s growth rate in the top three among developed economies.

“Despite the tough period the dairy industry has been through, we are in the unusual position of enjoying solid growth, rising employment and real wages at the same time as very low inflation.

New Zealand’s annual growth rate of 3.6 per cent is more than double the OECD rate of 1.6 per cent and compares with 3.3 per cent in Australia, 2.2 per cent in the United Kingdom, 1.2 per cent in the United States and 0.8 per cent in Japan.

The result means the New Zealand economy is now worth more than $250 billion for the first time.

Growth in the June quarter was led by construction which grew by 5.1 per cent over the quarter. Residential construction was up 10 per cent over the last year – reinforcing the fact that New Zealand is in the middle of a significant building boom.

Exports of goods increased 7.6 per cent for the quarter, the highest increase in 18 years. 

But there is a but:

“While this result is solid and the outlook is relatively positive, there are many risks around and we cannot afford to take our current economic performance for granted. That is why the Government is continuing to focus on building a stronger, more resilient economy.

The Opposition and the other wailers have plenty of other buts including too many people not benefitting from the growth.

You could look at it that way but a growing economy is not a magic bullet.

New Zealand has entrenched problems of dependency which leads to and/or exacerbates poverty with all its attendant problems.

There are myriad causes for that none of which have easy or fast solutions.

But the opportunities to address not just the problems but the root causes of them are greater with a growing economy.

That New Zealand not only has one but has the third fastest in the OECD in spite of the dairy prices in the doldrums, is very good news.

 

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Quote of the day

September 16, 2016

But we either believe in democracy or we don’t. If we do, then, we must say categorically, without qualification, that no restraint from the any democratic processes, other than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed… If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought, and no excuse, whether of security, should allow a government to be deterred from doing what it knows to be right, and what it must know to be right…– Lee Kuan Yew who was born on this day in 1923.

He also said:

If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law – if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states – then what is it?… If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies – even those who do not subscribe to our views – as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself.

And

Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they’re conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict.

And

Let us get down to fundamentals. Is this an open, or is this a closed society? Is it a society where men can preach ideas – novel, unorthodox, heresies, to established churches and established governments – where there is a constant contest for men’s hearts and minds on the basis of what is right, of what is just, of what is in the national interests, or is it a closed society where the mass media – the newspapers, the journals, publications, TV, radio – either bound by sound or by sight, or both sound and sight, men’s minds are fed with a constant drone of sycophantic support for a particular orthodox political philosophy? I am talking of the principle of the open society, the open debate, ideas, not intimidation, persuasion not coercion…

And

If you don’t include your women graduates in your breeding pool and leave them on the shelf, you would end up a more stupid society… So what happens? There will be less bright people to support dumb people in the next generation. That’s a problem.

And

Equal employment opportunities, yes, but we shouldn’t get our women into jobs where they cannot, at the same time, be mothers…our most valuable asset is in the ability of our people, yet we are frittering away this asset through the unintended consequences of changes in our education policy and equal opportunities for women. This has affected their traditional role … as mothers, the creators and protectors of the next generation.

And

With few exceptions, democracy has not brought good government to new developing countries…What Asians value may not necessarily be what Americans or Europeans value. Westerners value the freedoms and liberties of the individual. As an Asian of Chinese cultural backround, my values are for a government which is honest, effective and efficient.

And

Ministers who deal with billions of dollars cannot be paid low salaries without risking a system malfunction. Low salaries will not attract able men who are or can be successful in their professions or business. Low salaries will draw in the hypocrites who sweet talk their way into power in the name of public services, but once in charge will show their true colour, and ruin the country. This has happened in many countries.


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