Quotes of the month

01/05/2021

No other new government in the last half century has been as ham-fisted as this one. Fancy initially announcing a policy that had been the subject of no research! Then spending to start that research, and then establishing a new unit to consult the public, look at options and produce costings. – Michael Basset

Light rail comes on top of Kiwibuild, ending child poverty, and housing the homeless. This government is nothing more than a collection of willful children blundering about clutching the taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ credit cards, shifting from one cow pat to another. – Michael Basset

One of the economic lessons we are determined not to learn is that government cannot regulate prosperity. Each generation must learn, from scratch, this lesson. Helpfully, we already know the script.

A successful economy is, over time, corroded by a growing layer of restrictions. Each set of regulations imposes an unintended and unanticipated cost or outcome. This necessitates further rules and government oversight. Eventually the entire system becomes so overwhelmed that it either grinds to a halt or there is a sudden and dramatic economic liberalisation – Damien Grant

The businesses, entrepreneurs, financiers and investors who are essential to maintaining our quality of life will all react to the new restrictive environment. Some changes will be large, some firms will fail. Other developments will be incremental: investments will not be made, staff not employed and opportunities lost.

Few of these will be notable, but the collective impact is that we will be a poorer nation as a result, our economy will underperform and, over time, we will slide further away from our potential until, at some point, we will begin to resemble a Polish shipyard. – Damien Grant

The first rule for a government minister put in charge of a New Zealand industry should be: “don’t break it”. Even a small sector has thousands of actors, most of whom have been living and breathing their industry for years and will likely know much more than the minister. And as a small country with relatively thin markets, breaking a sector is easier than you might think.

The second rule is: when designing a policy, have a clear idea what the objective is, and then look for levers that will help you get there. Think through the effect each lever will have, or you might fall foul of the law of unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, quite a few ministers in the current Government seem to be unaware of these important rules of thumb. In industries as diverse as housing, energy, tourism, international education and broadcasting, ministers are being highly interventionist in ways which will depress investment and generally make a bigger mess. Messes that will thwart their objectives and which we will all end up paying for. – Steven Joyce

The Government’s stated objective in the energy sector is to reduce carbon emissions, which is a laudable public policy goal. However the levers it is pulling to achieve that outcome are both expensive and delivering results that counter its objective. – Steven Joyce

Simply put, Onslow is the wrong solution in the wrong place. It will chill other renewable electricity investments and either force up our already rapidly rising electricity prices or leave a massive bill for taxpayers. – Steven Joyce

Ministers need to more carefully think through the consequences of their actions. Right across the economy, poorly thought-through interventions risk damaging industries, discouraging investment and providing poor outcomes for kiwis. Its almost like Muldoonism and the command economy never went away. – Steven Joyce

But even in a crisis you have to lift your head above the parapet and start mapping out a path for the future, and the first step along that path must inevitably involve gradually reopening our borders. – Tracy Watkins

Vaccines work and they’re critically important, and when my turn comes, I’ll get mine with enthusiasm. – Dr Shane Reti

The Ardern Government has decided to avoid awkward questions about its pathetic record for per capita income growth by trying to focus attention instead on “well-being”, as if well-being can be improved in a sustainable way while per capita income growth is negligible. The new head of the Productivity Commisson’s definition – “Productivity = applying our taonga to deliver wellbeing” – says it all. – Don Brash

Road congestion is of course a very real problem, as tens of thousands of motorists understand only too well almost every day – the result of underinvestment in road networks over decades. But why not adopt a modern form of congestion pricing? Such systems work brilliantly in cities like Stockholm and Singapore and, according to surveys by the Automobile Association, are popular among motorists. To make them even more popular, the revenue from congestion pricing could be used to reduce the excise tax on fuel – cheaper fuel and less congestion – what is there not to like? – Don Brash

Investing huge sums of our limited capital in low-yielding vanity projects is what got us into this hole in the first place.  – Don Brash

Advised by impressively credentialled and highly experienced public servants, today’s Labour MPs feel obliged – by the meritocratic principles central to their personal identities – to do exactly what they’re told. And if they discover subsequently their advisers have lied to them, well, they must have had a very good reason for doing so. A reason they simply aren’t qualified to understand – or challenge. Not when the only alternative is allowing the people to decide. Because, seriously, what do they know? – Chris Trotter

The gods of political correctness are jealous gods: they will not have any other gods before them. Unfortunately for worshippers, however, there is a whole pantheon of them, and their demands may conflict. – Theodore Dalrymple

These days, professional politicians are so avid for office, and so much in the public eye, that all their activities must be interpreted politically, from their musical preferences to their diet to their visits to churches and other institutions.Theodore Dalrymple

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” (false in one thing, false in all) used to be a legal dictum applied to witnesses in court who had once told a lie on oath; it is no longer applied in most jurisdictions, but now, in our intolerant age, we hold it true with regard to opinions. One bad opinion makes a man bad in all other respects, unfrequentable by the decent person in fact. – Theodore Dalrymple

The ultimate object of the monomaniacs is not only to make certain things unsayable, but—because they are never said—unthinkable. As the good totalitarians they are, they want everybody to think alike. – Theodore Dalrymple

The fact the government is now prepared to face the potential emotional backlash involved in turning citizens away from the country’s border suggests to me that matters may really be turning pretty dire, and so a temporary removal of the right to enter is justified. Or, at least, I hope and trust that is the case. Because if the government has gotten this one wrong, it’s a betrayal of everything that citizenship is meant to promise. – Andrew Geddis

The worst form of racism perpetrated against Maori is that “they all think the same way.”Lindsay Mitchell

New Zealand has tended to pride itself over many years about the incorruptibility of public life. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases over the last few decades that suggest this is more folk myth than reality, although clearly there are many places worse than us. But “many places worse than us” is simply not an acceptable standard; rather it expresses a degree of complacency that allows standards to keep slipping a little more each time, with excuses being made (“not really that big a deal”), especially for those who happen to be in favour at the time. But those sorts of cases, those sorts of people, are precisely where a fuss should be made, where mistakes or rule breaches should not be treated lightly. Integrity – and perceived integrity and incorruptibility – really matter at the top, and if there is one set of accommodations for those at the top, and another (more demanding) standard for those at the bottom it simply feeds cynicism about the political system and about our society. – Michael Reddell

It’s partly an art – you’ve got to have good technique, you’ve got to persist, you’ve got to train hard. If you’re going to write anything, there’s only one way to do it – you do it.Brian Turner

How does a man cope with that? You get a grip, mate! You just get on with it! – Brian Turner

 At the heart of their weaknesses is that they are a government of designers. They are effective at the stuff they can do with a “stroke of the pen”. – Bruce Cotterill

Increasing taxes, eliminating interest deductions and extending the brightline test (or capital gains tax) for property owners are a function of the same activity. Design. A stroke of the pen. A series of proposals that become rules that others will abide by. Design. A stroke of the pen.

And like much design, the outcome will not solve the problem it was invented for. The reality is that, if we have a housing crisis, it will be resolved by a simplified resource management process, more land becoming available and new houses getting built. In other words, engineering and execution. Instead, these new policies will see rents increase and property developers and owners spending their time restructuring their affairs to minimise their now heightened tax obligations and not much more. – Bruce Cotterill

When we look for engineering and execution, there seems to be an extensive array of failed promises. These breakdowns are in the initiatives that require more than a stroke of the pen. They require governments and their numerous personnel, having changed the rules, to actually do something. To make it happen.

There are now a number of major policy areas where outstanding public relations campaigns have trumpeted design, planning and vision while the delivery teams have completely failed with the engineering and execution. – Bruce Cotterill

There are times when good design alone, is enough. However, in most cases, good design of everything from grand visions to workable solutions needs to be accompanied by good engineering and ability to execute.

As we approach the three-quarter mark on this Government’s current six-year term, it would seem that the designer will ultimately fail due to its inability as an engineer.  – Bruce

Paternalism is an ugly concept we’ve long decried, having witnessed the damage it did throughout the British Empire, when colonisers treated indigenous peoples like naive children who needed instructing.

But paternalism is what is unfolding here: one group imposing restrictions on another, against their will, stemming from an attitude of superiority. We think we know what’s best for them. We might not.

The Cook Island’s Prime Minister is an adult, elected by his country to run his country. He must weigh up the risk of Covid-19 against the risk to his economy. He must decide if the country is equipped to mop up any outbreaks. It’s not our place to question his capacity to make those calls. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our healthcare system is gaslighting us. This arrogant culture contributes to misdiagnosis, long wait times, and lower survival rates for illnesses. And just as we’ve been brushing off women’s symptoms, we continue to ignore the gender imbalance at the doctor’s surgery. – Andrea Vance

Constantly blaming racism for the problems faced by Māori is wrong. We can’t move forward as a nation if that is our only response. Rather than using such divisive language, our Government should be uniting New Zealanders behind good ideas that lift everyone up.Karen Chhour

That leads into the second problem with Mythical Plan Chart B: It appears to be completely made up. When Bishop asked Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins for the data underlying the chart, so that the Opposition and media can better hold the Government’s rollout to account against its own aspirational targets, he said there were no numbers behind it. Instead, he said that Mythical Plan Chart B “is intended to be illustrative and approximate”. – Marc Daalder

A proper plan would be built around targets that are not merely achievable but aspirational. It should be epidemiologically informed, not based simply on Ministry of Health bean-counters adding up vaccine supply, expected demand and workforce availability.Marc Daalder

The Ministry of Health won’t give out daily vaccine data, ministers and officials can’t say what percentage of the frontline border workforce meant to be vaccinated by early March has actually been immunised and now an unvaccinated border worker has tested positive for Covid-19 and no one has any clue why. Making it up on the fly has failed us – it’s time for the Government to give us a plan. – Marc Daalder

How do we best manage our renewable water for environment and human use? Thinking will help turn luck into a valuable resource. It’s what Kiwis have done in the past and can do again – as long as regulations enable innovation. Jacqueline Rowarth

The cold, hard irrefutable fact is that in all human activities the private sector always outperforms the state. The state’s prime role is as a rule setter and it should only supply services which are necessary but unprofitable, such as our railways, police and so on. Bob Jones

My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate. His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved.Princess Anne

Economists like to talk about “optimal policy instruments” – essentially, policies that achieve their objectives more effectively or efficiently than the alternatives, and have minimal unintended consequences. Judged by those criteria, the New Zealand government’s recently announced package of housing policy instruments is a long way from optimal. You might even call it a shambles. – Norman Gemmell

Science is a method for inquiry—guided by intellectual humility, skepticism, careful observation, questioning, hypothesis formulation, prediction, and experimentation—that is open to everyone, that aims to advance knowledge and improve the lives of all. While indigenous epistemologies are certainly worthy of study, and valuable in their own right, such epistemologies should not be promoted as superior to, or as a replacement for, Enlightenment epistemologies. – Samantha Jones

I do know how important it is to have a husband—a partner—who is a source of strength and a rock in times of trouble. – Theresa May

 Of course, if we don’t celebrate physically blocking trade, we shouldn’t celebrate any other means of blocking it. Like the gambler’s fallacy, the fallacies of protectionism, can be exploded with just a bit of logical thinking.Tom Palmer

The desire to compensate people for the historical wrongs done to their ancestors isn’t an altogether dishonorable one (except that the desire is usually to be fulfilled at the expense of someone else). – Theodore Dalrymple

The doctrine that is indoctrinated doesn’t have to be true to have real psychological effects, only to have emotional resonance. Every totalitarian, or would-be totalitarian, knows this.Theodore Dalrymple

A child who has spent all or most of their life dependent on their parent’s benefit is very likely to migrate onto their own benefit as a young adult. In my experience as a volunteer it wasn’t uncommon to find the parent encouraging this event as it upped the household income. – Lindsay Mitchell

The people of New Zealand, businesses under dire strain and families desperate to reunite across the Tasman have every reason to feel angry and upset.

We have been let down again. Surprisingly, however, the public and much of the media seem relatively blase. It is as if we think we will again get away with the mistakes, the slackness, the false assurances. After all, we have mostly in the past.ODT

But we yet again have a Government, full of high-sounding words, that struggles to perform. All border workers should have been vaccinated with the first dose or removed from the front line before now.

We again have a director-general of health who reassures us all is well and under control. But we again find some of those reassurances are false. – ODT

After the stinging criticisms from the Simpson-Roche and Kitteridge reports (both kept from the public for many months), we must have doubts about both the wider vaccine roll-out and about the extent of Government obfuscation.ODT

So it seems fair to ask what would be the bigger lie: an individual signing a false declaration about testing. Or the New Zealand public being told that testing was already mandatory and occurring. – Duncan Grieve

 Increasingly it looks as if the Government wants safer borders in the same way that I want to lose weight every New Year’s Day. That is, we would both be delighted if it happened, somehow, but there’s no real link between our goals and our subsequent actions. – Ben Thomas

We’re not looking after babies until we look after their mothers, and the story reminded me I am just one of countless women who have a tale of trauma about our maternity system; a system firmly based on the belief that baby-care is an innate female skill. Virginia Fallon

WHEN GOVERNMENTS EXTEND the state’s power to monitor their citizens’ ideas and activities, we should all be on our guard. Even when such extensions are introduced in response to a terrorist atrocity, we need to ask ourselves: would these new powers have prevented it – Chris Trotter

The state can punish Lone Wolves, but it cannot stop them. In attempting to minimise the terrorist threat, however, the state can eliminate our freedoms.Chris Trotter

Because people aren’t dying, it is tempting to confer retrospective competence upon a bureaucracy which, in the months since the decisive battle against Covid in March and April of 2020, has demonstrated almost unbelievable ineptitude. The government’s response to these repeated failures has been insufficiently forceful to prevent their recurrence. What’s more, in the absence of bold measures to reconfigure and reinvigorate them, our public institutions’ disturbing propensity to fuck things up may finally overwhelm Godzone’s good luck. – Chris Trotter

It’s good to know the Government and Health Ministry can still surprise us, even as a growing number of us thought the levels of ineptitude couldn’t possibly get any worse. – Mike Hosking

This is just sheer dumb luck that you can mess it up, know as little as they do, refuse to improve the way they have, and still be moderately unscathed. It’s little short of a miracle.  –

Surely in your quiet moments, you have to be wondering to yourself just how it is they can be this useless and still be in work.

They literally can’t deliver a thing. Not a house, not light rail, not a shovel-ready project, not a mental health programme, not a flu jab rollout, not a PPE rollout, not a Covid vaccine rollout, not a comprehensive secure border rollout. – Mike Hosking

This incompetence is absolutely outstanding. The stonewalling and obfuscating from the Government is appalling.

I think it is just there to prevent the world from seeing they haven’t got a bloody clue, and I maintain, looking at this record from the past year, that it is dumb pure luck. – Kerre McIvor

We need to be treading carefully when legislating against people’s thoughts. It shouldn’t be the Government’s role to dictate what people can and can’t say. – Simon Bridges

Including political belief in hate speech laws is a grave threat to free speech. There may be a case for laws against vilifying someone for immutable characteristics such as sex and age and disability but to extend that to religious and political belief is just staggering. – David Farrar

Much of the business community is keeping its head down and playing a wait and see game on new investments as they worry which sector is going to be the next to be negatively impacted by a government decision. Last week it was freedom campers and Air New Zealand. This week it’s livestock exporters. Next week? – Steven Joyce

A big part of this sense of drift is the growing realisation that the current Government, while good at stopping things, is having a real problem actually making anything happen. – Steven Joyce

Let’s be blunt. In the last nearly four years since the change of government, almost nothing of substance has been built. There have been announcements up the wazoo, some funding has been allocated, but there’s been precious little action. – Steven Joyce

Another part of the problem is that the obsessive anti-car lobby always carries outsize influence in Labour governments relative to their constituency. These are the people who believe a lane on the Harbour Bridge should be given over to cycling, or that all road-building induces more traffic. Which it sort of does, along with economic growth and jobs and houses and useful stuff like that. – Steven Joyce

But as Australia and other places accelerate faster than us out of this pandemic we wouldn’t want the view to take hold again that New Zealand is a place you leave in order to succeed. Over the last decade or so our country has built a reputation as a more vibrant well-connected happening place. We don’t want to lose that. – Steven Joyce

When the history of New Zealand’s management of Covid-19 comes to be written, it will record that almost every government action to protect the country happened too late, and then only after politicians and officials were forced into action because a sceptical journalist (there are still a handful, thank God) or alert opposition MP (not a lot of them either) exposed glaring deficiencies in their performance or flagrant porkies in what the country was being told. – Karl du Fresne

What matters, especially to a Government that seems to have lost its way and is treading water on more pressing issues, is that banning live exports will make a lot more people happy than it annoys, and the people who do get annoyed by the ban probably weren’t going to vote for them in the first place. – Craig Hickman

Activities that we farmers undertake without second thought may in fact be very large risks to our industry, and the live export of animals was one such risk. If enough people object to a farming practice, regardless of the facts of the situation, we slowly begin to lose our social license to operate. We lose public support, and it becomes increasingly more attractive for the Government of the day to take action. –  Craig Hickman

New Zealand figures other democracies can do the fighting. New Zealand can meanwhile sweet talk China and clean up businesswise. But it may be worse than that. I think woke culture is also to blame. “New Zealand’s foreign minister is dizzy with her new age earth worship and old nature gods. For her, China is an ally in the fight against global warming, which seems to her far more important than the danger of war. China would be laughing.Andrew

In general, the lifestyle leftist values autonomy and self-realisation more than tradition and community. He finds traditional values such as performance, diligence and effort uncool. This is especially true of the younger generation, who were so gently guided into life by caring, mostly well-off helicopter parents that they never got to know existential social anxieties and the pressures that arise from them. Dad’s small fortune and mum’s relationships at least provide so much security that even longer unpaid internships or professional failures can be bridged.

Since the lifestyle left has hardly come into personal contact with social issues, they are usually only marginally interested in them. So, they do want a fair and discrimination-free society, but the path to it no longer leads via the stodgy old topics from social economics, i.e. wages, pensions, taxes or unemployment insurance, but above all via symbolism and language. – Sahra Wagenknecht

A society in which people must affirm political doctrines in order to maintain employment and respectability is no better than one in which atheists must pretend to accept religion to get by.Spencer Case

When a particular expression is expected from everyone, refusing to go along is automatically a countermessage. There’s no possibility of opting out of significant political communication altogether. We’re in danger of ending up in a society like this. – Spencer Case

Politics has its place, but that place shouldn’t be everywhere, all the time. When politics is pervasive, it is worse. There must be space for political neutrality, and this means that we must be able to remain silent on political matters in most contexts without (too many) adverse social consequences.Spencer Case

Sadly, as society increasingly politicizes, political silence becomes harder to maintain. And there’s reason to worry that what we say can and will be used against us in a different sort of court. – Spencer Case

Even if it were possible to measure the strength of a man’s beliefs or fears on a valid and reproducible scale, the fact is that none of us either does or can spend his life examining the evidence for all that he believes or fears. At best, we can do so only intermittently and in bursts. We are obliged to take much on trust or according to our prejudices.Theodore Dalrymple

The fear of immunization against Covid-19 seems to me exaggerated and irrational. The fact that none of us can be fully rational does not obviate the need for us to try to be as rational as possible. – Theodore Dalrymple

If we were to take notice of a 1 in 936,364 chance of dying from something, all human activity whatsoever would cease. Even if half the cases were missed, the figure would still be 1 in 468,182. To adapt Dr. Johnson slightly, nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible dangers must first be avoided – Theodore Dalrymple

Child poverty stats are a joke. If grown-ups get collectively poorer, children get richer (relatively).  – Lindsay Mitchell

There is so much documented evidence, here and internationally, that shows benefit dependence – especially long-term – is detrimental to children’s outcomes.  Benefits erode family cohesion and they discourage work. – Lindsay Mitchell

Societies have always comprised collectives of minority groups and ALL members of ANY society can claim to be in a minority-be it age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender (yes, males are now a minority in New Zealand), sexual orientation, socio-economic status, the list is endless. We can all claim to be a member of a minority-which is actually and factually, at the base of governmental problems. – Henry Armstrong

Yet, the Ardern government has deliberately opted for diversity over merit (skills, experience, competencies, and management ability), so is it any wonder they are floundering around achieving almost nothing-except of course, keeping Ardern in front of the cameras, giving her trademark, almost daily, theatrical performances?

 Representational politics based on minority interest groups, can only result in ignoring the needs of the majority, ie everyone else-but then majoritarian democracy is long dead in New Zealand under MMP. So, is this government acting in the best interests of ALL New Zealanders? – Henry Armstrong

On any of the well-accepted criteria of good governance, the Ardern government has to be described as an abject failure. Attempts to portray our shared history as being based on oppression, is ostensibly untrue. Attempts to portray “old white men” as being responsible for all of the issues which beset New Zealand society, are not only insulting, they are deeply offensive and divisive.

The treaty offered us all an opportunity to progress which, by and large, as citizens of New Zealand, of every ethnicity and creed, we have achieved. This government seems to be, through its total incompetence, determined to divide us.Henry Armstrong

However, we also need to talk about them because our language is falling victim to the ‘righteous’ indignation of those who confuse offence with harm and take it upon themselves to be offended on behalf of others. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt.

Saying ‘man’ or ‘woman’ does not amount to a harmful failure to acknowledge those who nominate another gender identity. Frankly there are far more serious forms of discrimination against those groups and individuals that should concern us.Gavin Ellis

You’re either startlingly arrogant or thick or quite possibly in this case both, that you can stitch up something as shonky as this, not ask a single legal mind a single question, slip it out at Christmas, and then assume nothing is going to come back to bite you.  Add it to the list of stuff they’ve cocked up and we’ve paid for. If National and ACT are taking notes, they’re going to have an astonishing list set to go by 2023. – Mike Hosking

Instead of a system that refuses to tolerate their destructiveness, we get a system which rewards them with no-strings-attached cash and plenty of excuses for their defection from the rest of society. Nobody has explained to them that the social security system was born out of shared values, shared compassion for genuine need, and shared commitment to fund it. – Lindsay Mitchell

Someone needs to get – and someone needs to give – the correct message: you can’t keep biting the hand that feeds you. Don’t hold your breath for that someone to be the person in charge though. – Lindsay Mitchell

I don’t want any racist tirades about this issue, I want some reasoned discussion. And for me, it comes back to this. I believe in the concept that all people are equal, that in this country everybody’s vote is as important as everybody else’s. We are all New Zealanders. – Peter Williams

At the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage are two words. Human dignity. Everything else flows from this. Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness.

Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, another human being, the beating heart in front of you, you’re less likely to disrespect them, insult or show contempt or hatred for them, or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion these days. You’re less likely to be indifferent to their lives, and callous towards their feelings. – Scott Morrison

Appreciating human dignity also fosters our sense of shared humanity.This means that because we are conscious of our own failings and vulnerabilities, we can be more accepting and understanding of the failings and vulnerabilities of others.

True faith and religion is about confronting your own frailties. It’s about understanding your own and our humanity. The result of that is a humble heart, not a pious or judgemental one. – Scott Morrison

Human dignity is foundational to our freedom. It restrains government, it restrains our own actions and our own behaviour because we act for others and not ourselves, as you indeed do here this evening. That is the essence of morality. – Scott Morrison

Liberty is not borne of the state but rests with the individual, for whom morality must be a personal responsibility. – Scott Morrison

Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. This is not about state power. This is not about market power. This is about morality and personal responsibility.

Now, morality is also then the foundation of true community. The place where we are valued; where we are unique; where we respect one another and contribute to and share one another’s lives. Where we pledge faithfulness to do together what we cannot achieve alone. – Scott Morrison

The determination to step up and play a role and to contribute as you are indeed doing this evening as part of this amazing organisation. Not leaving it to someone else, to another. That is the moral responsibility and covenant, I would argue, of citizenship. Not to think we can leave it to someone else. 

But there are warnings. Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are increasingly defined by what we expect from the state. As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for as citizens. – Scott Morrison

Now together and individually we are each responsible for building and sustaining community, and we each have something unique to bring. Because community begins with the individual, not the state, not the marketplace. It begins with an appreciation of the unique dignity of each human being. It recognises that each individual has something to offer and that failure to appreciate and realise this, as a community, means our community is poorer and it is weaker.

In short, to realise true community we must first appreciate each individual human being matters. You matter. You, individually.

And in this context I would also argue we must protect against those forces that would undermine that in community, and I don’t just mean, as I’ve recently remarked, the social and moral corrosion caused by the misuse of social media, and the abuse that occurs there. But I would say it also includes the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics.

We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal. You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things others try to identify us by, you by, in this age of identity politics. You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age.

All of these of course contribute to who we may be and the incredible diversity of our society, particularly in this country, and our place in the world. But of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity.

When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings – in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder.

We then define each other if we go down that other path by the boxes we tick or don’t tick, rather than our qualities, skills and character. And we fail to see the value that other people hold as individuals, with real agency and responsibility. – Scott Morrison

So my message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community. And together with family and marriage and the associations of clubs and community groups, faith networks, indeed the organisations we’re here celebrating tonight, and so much more, they are the further building blocks of community on that individual, providing the stability and the sinews of society that bind us one to another.

And upon that moral foundation of community we build our institutions of state. Within that moral context we operate our market place. – Scott Morrison

You matter. Community matters. In a democracy, it matters especially. It’s a tremendous source of strength and it’s why foreign actors seek to sow discord online, in many other ways, inflaming angers and hatreds and spreading lies and disinformation.

Of course, the right to disagree peacefully is at the heart of democracy, I’m not referring to that. But democracy is a shared endeavour, and the civility, trust and generosity, they are the currency that mediates our differences. – Scott Morrison 

Farmers need the best tools and technological solutions to grow enough crops – using fewer natural resources to produce sufficient high-quality food, respect the environment, safeguard consumers and support themselves.  Allowing them to use the right tools at the right time for the right crops will assist them do this.  Helping farmers build a stronger and more resilient agricultural economy, requires an open and transparent dialogue and collaboration between scientists, academia, innovators, politicians, regulators, NGOs and all along the food value chain from farmers to consumers.Mark Ross


Electoral law isn’t working

23/05/2018

The Electoral Commission is investigating an advertisement exhorting people to vote for New Zealand First.

It’s not hard to join the dots between tax breaks for fast horses and racing interests who back New Zealand First.

. . . Winston Peters has repaid the electoral support of the racing industry with changes to the bloodstock tax rules and plans for an all-weather track. 

Peters announced $4.8m for tax deductions towards the cost of breeding high quality horses, in Thursday’s budget. The change would encourage new investment in the breeding industry, he said, enhancing the country’s racing stock and making it a more financially attractive industry.  . . 

NZ First has not disclosed its party donors in the annual declarations to the Electoral Commission, this month, but Peters did have outspoken support at last year’s election from the Waikato thoroughbred and bloodstock industry.  . . 

Industry leaders were vocal in their support of NZ First, with thoroughbred breeders Sir Patrick and Lady Hogan taking out a full-page advertisement in industry newspaper The Informant to encourage racing participants to party vote NZ First in September last year.  . . .

It is permissible for people or groups to advertise in support of a party but Andrew Geddis raises some questions about this advertisement:

The advertisement definitely encouraged people to vote for New Zealand First. It was here on Sunday but if you click that link now you’ll get access denied. However it is in the link to the story at Stuff above and says:

There is only one horse to back, it’s New Zealand First. It has the race record.  It’s now imperative that you all take this opportunity to have what we want by  making our PARTY VOTE IN FAVOUR OF NEW ZEALAND FIRST.. . 

And under the signatures it says:

PLACE YOUR PARTY VOTE FOR NEW ZEALAND FRIST

It’s possible the Hogans and the industry magazine didn’t know the electoral law about third party promotion but ignorance isn’t a defence.

Although, like far too many instances when questions are raised about possible breaches of electoral law, the investigation is far too late, this horse has well and truly bolted.

Months after the election is far too late so whether or not there has been a breach of electoral law, this yet again raises questions about the effectiveness of the law.

However, it’s not too late to address any conflict the issue of Peters as Racing Minister.

David Farrar points out:

Jacinda Ardern said NZ First Ministers can’t be Minister of Fisheries due to their donations from the fishing industry. Yet she makes Winston Minister of Racing despite figures in the racing industry running advertisements campaigning for NZ First. . . 

If NZ First MPs can’t be Ministers of Fisheries because of donations from the fishing industry, this advertisement should disqualify Peters from being Racing Minister.


No ringing endorsement

18/11/2014

It took three rounds before Andrew Little gained 50% of the vote for leader – and then he only just made it:

. . . The first two rounds of counting eliminated Nania Mahuta and David Parker, leaving Grant Robertson against Little. Caucus and party member votes favoured Grant Roberston, but a strong vote from union affiliates decided the vote for Little.

The decision was a close one, said Little, who won in the third round of voting with a total of 50.52%, compared to Grant Robertson’s 49.48%. . .

That isn’t a ringing endorsement and Andrew Geddis calls it the worst result ever:

The only thing worse than electing the wrong person as leader of Labour is electing him by the narrowest of margins, by virtue of the influence of a handful of individuals acting under instructions. 

Labour just made the wrong choice, in the worst possible way. . .

First, Little beat Grant by just over 1% of the weighted votes cast. That’s about as close a margin of victory as you can get, achieved on the third round. So the overall mandate for Little’s leadership is … fragile, at best.

Second, Little lost heavily to Grant in both the Caucus and the Membership vote in every successive round of voting. Little was the first choice to be leader of only four of his colleagues (assuming he voted for himself, that is). Only 14 of 32 backed him as leader over Grant by their third choice – meaning 18 of 32 think Grant is a better person to lead them. And in respect of the membership vote, Little was consistently 10% behind Grant at each stage of the vote. . .

The Herald gives the break-down on the voting:

 

Last time members inflicted on caucus a leader the majority didn’t support.

This time the unions, who had 20% of the vote, have inflicted on caucus and the party, a candidate the majority didn’t want.

Unions have money but Act and the Conservative Party are good examples of how that is not enough without members.

Little hasn’t managed to win a seat and was the last Labour MP in to parliament on his party’s list and the union support that gave him the leadership will make many centrist voters wary.

But before he can have any chance of wooing voters, he’s got the big job of wooing his caucus and members.


Craig rules Conservatives out of govt

20/07/2014

Conservative leader Colin Craig is planning to contest the East Coast Bays seat.

He hasn’t made a formal approach but he’s keen for sitting MP Murray McCully to stand aside in the hope that people who voted for the National MP would back Craig instead.

There are several flaws with this, not least being there is absolutely no guarantee the people of East Coast Bays would vote for him in sufficient numbers.

The outcome is even less certain now that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is talking about throwing his hat in that ring too.

Craig’s case hasn’t been helped by his party’s chief executive Christine Rankin saying the Conservatives could go right or left and work with National or Labour in government.

Voting for Craig would be difficult enough for National supporters in East Coast Bays if his party was committed to supporting a National government,. Few, if any, would countenance it if they thought there was any chance they’d be helping Labour cobble together a coalition.

The Conservative’s case for an electoral accommodation is even weaker now that Craig has said binding referenda would be a bottom line in coalition negotiations.

At the Conservative Party conference today, leader Colin Craig had a clear message to Prime Minister John Key.

He won’t do any type of deal with National unless it agrees to binding referenda. . .

There is absolutely no way a major party would agree to that policy and even if they did, Andrew Geddis points out that a cconstitutional  change of such magnitude should not be passed by a bare majority.

It’s constitutionally improper to even suggest that this happen – it would be like the Maori Party saying that their price for supporting a Government would be for that Government to legislate via a bare parliamentary majority to make the Treaty of Waitangi a “higher law” constitutional document that could be used to strike down other laws. I don’t care whether you think that would be a good outcome; it would be a bad way to bring it about. . .

But even if it did it wouldn’t work under our system which gives parliament sovereignty:

. . . How in a system of parliamentary sovereignty can Parliament (in the shape of a National/Conservative majority) pass a law that says that the general public is able to, by referendum, bind future Parliaments in their lawmaking decisions?

Even if a National/Conservative Government were to use their majority in Parliament to pass a referendum law that says that if the public vote in the future for or against some measure Parliament “must” follow that vote, exactly how would this law be “binding”? If a future Parliament were to just ignore the result of such a referendum – as is the case with current Citizens’ Initiated Referendums, for which no apparent political price gets paid – then what could be done about it? How, given our system of parliamentary sovereignty, could a court order today’s Parliament to do what a past Parliament said it must do? And what could a court even order in such a circumstance? What odds a judge saying to Parliament “because an Act was passed a few years ago saying that you had to make a law if the public voted for it, you now have to draft, debate and enact this particular Bill on this particular issue.”? . . .

Craig is demonstrating his ignorance of constitutional niceties and his own political naivety by making binding referenda it a bottom line and in doing so has ruled his party out of government.

It’s the sort of policy which might gain votes from the disgruntled.

But the party is a long way from the 5% support needed to get into parliament without the safety net of an electorate seat. Thankfully the chances of him being gifted one were already low and this bottom line will ought to have killed the idea completely.


Greens camapign for state funding continues

10/05/2014

The Green Party campaign for the state funding of political parties continues:

Some of Wellington’s most recognisable names paid $3500 each to meet Prime Minister John Key at a National Party fundraising dinner also attended by his taxpayer-funded chief of staff, Wayne Eagleson.

As Opposition allegations continue to swirl around National’s so-called “Cabinet clubs” for wealthy donors, it has emerged about 15 people, including former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast and Weta Digital co-founder Jamie Selkirk, attended the dinner at the Museum Hotel, which raised $45,000 for National. . .

The Museum Hotel event was held in 2011, and organised by hotel owner and National Party fundraiser Chris Parkin.

He said yesterday the event was nothing to do with the Cabinet clubs but was his way of helping to support National.

He joked that at least $2000 worth of each donation was for the food and wine. He did not believe anyone attending fundraising dinners expected to be able to “influence” the prime minister. “They are more there to ask questions.”

Goodness me, a party supporter organises a dinner and donates the proceeds to the party.

I can’t see a problem in that but Norman does.

Green Party leader Russel Norman said the fundraiser showed wealthy people could get access to the prime minister when poorer people could not.

Such fundraisers “may be technically legal, they’re not right”, he said. “If you have a lot of money, you can buy exclusive access to the prime minister.” . .

They aren’t just technically legal, they are legal and they don’t mean that wealthy people get access when poorer people don’t.

It means wealthy people are willing to pay to have a meal attended by the PM when others get to meet and talk with him for free, every day.

A spokeswoman for Key said the Greens were welcome to highlight legitimate fundraisers by National, but Key was more interested in the job of governing.

National had frequently pointed out that all the funds it raised were declared as required by law. She did not respond to a question asking if it was Key’s usual practice to take Eagleson to fundraisers.

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said National had obeyed the rules around donations by declaring the aggregate of those who donated.

People who donated to political parties liked to see where their money was going and to have contact with those they were giving money to, he said.

People also like to see the government concentrate on governing and issues that matter.

All but the very few who are members of the left-wing parties which want state funding of political parties would also prefer that their taxes were spent on things that matter, not propping up parties which can’t persuade enough people to fund them voluntarily.


Whose referendum is it?

06/06/2012

They’re called Citizen’s Initiated Referenda for good reason – they’re supposed to be a vehicle by which the people can send a message to parliament.

That parliament has chosen to take little if any notice of the results of those held shows it isn’t a particularly effective one.

They’re also an expensive one.

The Green Party’s promotion of a CIR to oppose the Mixed Ownership Model for a few state assets adds the distortion of the intention of the process  to a waste of money.

That they’re using taxpayer funds to employ people to collect signatures makes it worse.

I accept Graeme Edgler’s view that this is within the rules but that still doesn’t make it right.

It merely provides more evidence for the case for taking the setting of the rules over parliamentary spending from MPs to an independent person or body.

It’s not just people with my political bias who are unimpressed by the Green Party’s actions.

Andres Geddis who says he likes the Greens and admires their stance on several issues is also less than impressed:

So as far as I’m concerned, this is an example of spending public money on an activity designed to force the spending of more public money on something that should not happen. Which is, in my opinion, a bad thing to do. . .

. . . There then is a broader problem with a political party so deeply involving itself in the CIR process. When this was set up, it was designed to be a way in which broader civil society can send a message to parliamentarians on issues that it thinks important enough to mobilise around.  . .

. . . So to now have a political party effectively bankrolling the process of forcing a CIR represents something of a distortion of its intent.

Exactly, not the people sending a message to parliament but MPs using the public and public funds for their own political ends.


We shouldn’t have to pay for these

30/10/2011

If I wasn’t a political tragic I probably wouldn’t have watched Friday’s party political broadcast; had I started I wouldn’t have sat through them all.

Last night I was in the car when the wee party broadcasts started. Andrew Geddis managed to sit through the politics on the radio without pictures on Friday, I listened to a few minutes of Act’s last night and gave up.

Others might have a higher tolerance for such things but if the viewer numbers for Friday’s is  any indication it’s unlikely that is was very many.

So why carry on with them when there are so many more effective, and less expensive, ways of communicating with voters?

I second Whaleoil who says:

This is a complete waste of taxpayers money. These ads are all funded and paid for out of the parliamentary services rort that rewards incumbency. Effectively it is a state funded subsidy to media channels in election year to the tune of millions.

The videos are available on youTube for those who want to watch them and if parties want to broadcast on television let them pay for it with their own money.

Apropos of the youTube clips, National’s and the Green Party’s allow people to rate them. Labour’s  does not.

That reminds me of the child who’s too scared to look under the bed in case there’s a monster there.


Only two people know

09/06/2011

Only two people know what happened in Annette King’s house in the early hours of the morning around three months ago.

One of them made a complaint to the police about it and has name suppression. The other lost his job.

Police have finally decided to take the matter no further:

Police said this afternoon that they had decided to take no further action after deciding the complaint against Hughes did not reach the evidential threshold required to bring charges.

That might have been the end of it but the man against whom the complaint was laid was an MP.

He says he did no wrong and his supporters say he’s now been cleared. Others say he hasn’t.

Andrew Geddis explains what the decision means:

. . . a decision not to press any charges does not necessarily mean “nothing much happened – and certainly nothing criminal” … it may be that the police simply consider there isn’t enough evidence to justify charges (in that there is a low probability of a conviction being obtained). However, I suspect that if this comes down to a “he said”/”he said” situation with nothing much to back one side over the other, the police will err on the side of bringing matters before a court. In part, that’s because of a general awareness that such allegations have not been taken seriously enough in the past, and in part it’s because the police will be desirous of avoiding “cover up” allegations. Hence, I’d read a decision not to lay charges as weighing a bit more on the side of “nothing criminal happened” than on the side of “maybe something criminal happened, but there just isn’t enough to say for sure”.

Only two people know which interpretation is correct.

Hughes has paid a very high price for what, based on the facts made public (that he took a young man home after an evening of drinking), was at the best a grave error of judgement.

The young man has also paid a high price for accepting that invitation and laying the complaint. Although his name is suppressed there’s enough information about him in the public domain for a lot of people to identify him.

And someone else has sustained damage in the crossfire. Geddis says:

Hughes’ political fate was effectively sealed once the decision to try and keep the matter under wraps was taken by Phil Goff.

Brian Edwards makes a similar point:

Had the Leader of the Opposition handled things more adeptly, Hughes would still be a Member of Parliament.

Phil Goff is in Greece for his son’s wedding. Given the strength of poison in the chalice of Labour leadership it’s unlikely that he’ll return to find someone has taken it from him. But it provides more ammunition for those who are preparing for a post-election coup.

Meanwhile Hughes says:

“Whatever I do, I would like to continue to serve our community and our country. But there’s plenty of time.

“I now intend to take some time to consider plans for the next phase of my life and will not be making any further public comment.”

He blames the media frenzy for forcing his resignation.

He has a point – only two people know what really happened but a lot of column inches and air space were filled with speculation.

The name suppression laws are also to blame. As soon as police said an MP was under investigation it became inevitable he would be named and enough was made public to narrow the field for anyone determined to identify the complainant.

Only two people know what happened, one’s lost his career and will always be remembered for this episode. The other still has name suppression but he too will be known by many as the one who went home with Hughes on that night.

Only two people know what happened there, both have paid a very high price for it.


Labour doesn’t care about breaking law – again

21/04/2011

If the three strikes law applied to breaking the law on campaigning then Labour would be well and truly out by now.

You’d think after the condemnation from across the political spectrum for previous breaches (pledge card anyone?) they’d be especially careful about sticking to the law this time.

But no, they’re using stop-sign look-alikes which are on or visible from the road.

Kiwiblog, Keeping  Stock , Whaleoil   and Roarprawn all posted on how this contravenes Land Transport Rules and Andrew Geddis pointed out it also contravenes the Electoral Act because there’s no promotor’s statement on them.

Whaleoil has also found Facebook entries which shows they’re going to carry on breaking the law with car stickers.

It’s bad enough that a party which is supposed to be one of the major ones doesn’t know the law as it applies to campaigning. Worse still is Phil Goff’s reaction:

Labour leader Phil Goff, who launched the campaign last week, said he didn’t know who within his party had put the signs up, “but if the council has a problem of course they can talk to whoever might have put them out”.

While the signs were modelled on stop signs “nobody’s going to mistake it as a stop sign, that’s just silly”. . .

. . .”We’ll keep using those signs. If the council’s got a problem we’ll listen to them of course, but nobody thinks they’re going to be a traffic hazard, that’s just nonsense.”

The leader of the second biggest party in parliament thinks law is silly and Labour is going to keep on ignoring it – that’s not a responsible stance for anyone let alone a party which is supposed to be a government in waiting.

Cactus Kate says Labour should stop the bad social media campaigns. The party should also stop thinking the law doesn’t apply to them.

A party which doesn’t know the law with a leader that doesn’t care about it can’t be trusted back into government where it can make the law.


Did you see the one about

20/03/2011

Americans call it experience not failure –  Peter Kerr calls for a change in thinking in New Zealand.

Some perspective –  Adolf at No Minister on what kills how many.

There’s glory for you! – Andrew Geddis at Pundit on a legal and literary mixup.

Party manifestos to be displayed in plain packets with government health warnings – Newsbiscuit on new rules for public protection. While there you might also enjoy Pay study shows women now 88% as good as men – a satirical take on pay equity.

Doesn’t work if you’re self employed though –  Something Should Go here Maybe Later on meetings as an alternative to work. While there you should see the footprint of my car will raise a smile.

And congratulations to the Hand Mirror on three years of Hand Mirrorness.


Did you see the one about . . .

11/01/2011

Efficiency over etiquette – Offsetting Behaviour on whether manners matter. He also points out the flaws in reatailers’ campaign to charge GST on mail order purchases under $400  from overseas in transaction costs and tax.

Chart of the day deadwood edition  – Dim Post on which opposition MPs get in the Herald how often.

Rejecting drivel in favour of thoughtful writing – Eye to the Long Run on words and phrases to avoid.

Amusing crime uound up – Anna Sandiford, Forensic Scientist at Sciblogs, whos crime can make you laugh.

Golf Sierra Lima: lessons learned –  Latitude 44 reflects on a gliding accident.

And if you click no other do click this: Apres nous, le deluge – Andrew Geddis on the first cabinet after the election which begins:

 Phil Goff (Prime Minister) (Sitting astride a Harley-Davidson whilst dressed in a leather jacket, motorcycle helmet and red-top gumboots, with a lamb carelessly tossed across his shoulder): If we could come to order, please. I think we might begin proceedings with a motion of thanks to the man who has made this day possible .. .


Did you see the one about . . .

09/09/2009

Show Time at In A Strange Land – old crafts and new junk at the Adelaide Show.

Post election polls for new governments at Kiwiblog.

Why all the talk about a new currency at The Visible Hand.

 Accidental Rape? at Macdoctor  who says ACC isn’t the right place for rape cliams.

Referendum Madness from Andrew Geddis at Pundit.

Lazarus a real nowhere man  at Inquiring Mind – we can but hope and in a similar vein Out of the ashes I rise . . . at Dim Post.

Hit Me Baby – Laughy Kate shows how low a blogger can go when driven to compete.

No photos it’s x-rated – at Kismet Farm where there’s no privacy in the horse paddock.

The Artist’s New Rubbish at Opinionated Mummy a rewrite of an old story for modern times.

Apropos of the art is rubbish issue this issue see also:

Rubbish? Art? but I repeat myself  at Not PC

Art that isn’t  at Lindsay Mitchell

Rubbish is not art by Lucia Maria at NZ Conservative

and

Modern Art is Rubbish  at Quote Unquote.

Bits on the Side for Sale at Bits on the Side – another blog bites the dust.


Lockwood vs Holmes

09/08/2009

Lockwood Smith won this morning’s debate with Paul Holmes on Q&A .

One of the points he raised was how much, or how little, some MPs do:

One of the things that I’m actually amazed the media hasn’t focused on, is you now see who are the members in demand, who are asked to speak around the country, you can actually tell it from their travel expenses, because they’re being asked to appear in front of groups all round the country.  Some members are obviously not sought after much and therefore their expenses are only a fraction of the others.

When political commentators rate MPs it’s almost always on their performance in Wellington. That’s only a small part of the work of a good electorate MP and some of the better list MPs. Those who do the most outside Wellington obviously have greater costs for travel, accommodation meals and other out of pocket expenses.

It’s fair to ask why some MPs spend so much, but of equal concern is why some spend so little. If they’re not out of Wellington working for and with constituents what are they doing?

Another point Smith made was, unlike most jobs, there is no adjustment for length of service and experience:

PAUL I’m talking about private holidays.  I’m talking about private international travel MPs get subsidised on .

DR SMITH Well one of the reasons why that subsidy came in Paul is over the years if you take my situation prior to this last election.  Twenty four years’ service, pretty senior member, mostly on the front benches during that time, on exactly the same salary as the newest list member walking in six weeks before the election.  Now in broadcasting, is an experienced broadcaster like you on the same income as someone recruited six weeks ago?  Yet that’s the only profession I’m aware of where salaries don’t change after years of service.  The one privilege, the one privilege members get after years of service is that travel subsidy, and I think actually they deserve it.

MPs get additional pay for taking on extra roles but those who stay as back benchers with no additional responsibility get no recognition for their length of service and experience. Maybe some don’t deserve it, but some electorate MPs work very hard and their experience helps them serve their constituents better.

Then there’s the pressure on families:

PAUL  Alright, but why should we pay for the spouse?  I wouldn’t expect the companies I work for to pay for the spouse.

DR SMITH Think about it a little bit.  When you work Paul you’re mainly at home.  I got married recently, no honeymoon, my wife and I have spent very little time together since I’ve been married.  That’s the pressure on families, that is the real pressure on families.  Parliament Paul chews up, destroys and spits out families, and if you want to put more pressure on families and spouses and marriages, that’s fine, I’m not going to support you in that.

PAUL  Well Dr Smith with the greatest of respect, welcome to the real world.  Professional private business executives travel without their spouses all the time, anyone who’s ambitious and gets ahead sacrifices family.

DR SMITH Paul that’s ridiculous, the amount of time Members of Parliament have to spend away from their families far exceeds that.  If you think that’s not true, stand, Paul, stand for Parliament.  There’ve been quite a few in the media who have over recent times, and they’ve bailed out real fast, when they’ve found actually the going was a damn sight tougher than they expected.

MPs aren’t alone in having jobs which put pressure on families and marriages but few if any others have the same level of demand which is placed on MPs and it’s worse for those with big electorates. The way they are on call and in the public eye almost all the time requires sacrifices for them and their families which would be rare if not non-existent, in other jobs.

The panel of Katherine Rich, Andrew Geddis and Peter Neilson give their views on the discussion here.

Stephen Franks makes a very strong defence for allowances here. One of the points he makes is that including allowances in a higher salary would suit lazier and greedier MPs.


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