Quotes of the month

01/09/2021

I said, ‘I’m not an activist’. They said, ‘what are you?’ I thought, ‘what am I?’ Somebody that’s concerned about what’s happening to New Zealand, that’s all I am – Bryce McKenzie

This isn’t imagined. If you don’t know about it, we’d like you to try and find out. It’s general — people are hurting. – Bryce McKenzie

They are worried not about themselves as … [much as] what’s going to happen to their kids, their grandkids. The family farm, if we keep this up, is gone.

If New Zealand goes to corporate farming, does New Zealand really want family farms gone? They need to just have a good think about that. – Bryce McKenzie

We have never ever not offered a solution in everything we’ve stood for. We’re not against any of the stuff; we just think there’s a better way to treat everybody far better.

It all comes back to one thing: some of these regulations are unworkable – you cannot get around that. – Bryce McKenzie

There’s not enough hand sanitiser in the whole of Japan to clean that act up. That was just absolutely terrible. – Ruby Tui

What rain? Bring on the thunder, we’re at the Olympics, let’s be happy, let’s compete safely and peacefully, peace and love, love you guys.  – Ruby Tui

First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community, and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity.

I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations, and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible.

However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.  – Anna Vanbellinghen

So why is it still a question whether two decades, from puberty to the age of 35, with the hormonal system of a man also would give an advantage [in competing against women]?

I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense, and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes the whole thing feels like a bad joke.

Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless.

Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the question is never free of ideology.

However, the extreme nature of this particular situation really demonstrates the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports.

Because I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others.Anna Vanbellinghen

Pushing up wages without driving productivity just adds to inflation.

The cost of living becomes a race between prices and wages. History tells us that this is a race the poorest people always lose.

New Zealand faces a dangerous cycle of inflation in the next few years if we let this labour shortage roll on unaddressed.

It will push interest rates higher at a time when the mortgage debt burden is extreme for young homeowners.

Higher interest rates will also be a handbrake on business investment, putting another handbrake on hopes for boosting New Zealand’s productivity. – Liam Dann

We need a rare and difficult combination of bureaucratic competence combined with pragmatism and flexibility. Liam Dann

Criminalising things is not a good thing, it doesn’t get us anywhere. – Dame Sue Bagshaw

If anything, I’m even more determined we don’t lose our humanity through fear in this pandemic. We have at times. Our authorities have forced our elderly to go without company at the end of their lives. They’ve forced them to die without loved ones. They’ve forced their families to stand outside windows looking in, watching them die, unable to just hold their hands and say something like “mum it’s okay”. They’ve kept families from funerals. They’ve made rules that left a daughter to cry inside the MIQ fence as a mother’s hearse passes. A son resorted to going to court to force the Health Ministry to let him spend the last 36 hours of his dad’s life with him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Somehow in this pandemic you and I and our families have been turned into numbers. Numbers in MIQ, numbers of Covid cases, numbers of deaths. My Ouma will be just another 1 added to South Africa’s Covid tally that then gets reported to the WHO.

But we are people, not numbers. We must balance risk with humanity. We can’t let the people who held our hands die without us holding their hands. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

New Zealanders returning after a few years abroad might wonder whether they’ve blundered into a parallel universe. A government that is pitifully thin on ministerial ability and experience is busy re-inventing the wheel, and doing it at such speed that the public has barely had time to catch its breath. To quote one seasoned political observer: ‘It seems like a hostile takeover of our country is underway and most people feel powerless to do anything about it’.

The most visible change might crudely be described as Maorification, much of it aggressively driven by activists of mixed Maori and European descent who appear to have disowned their problematic white colonial lineage. Self-identifying as Maori not only taps into a fashionable culture of grievance and victimism but enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.Karl du Fresne

 What has been framed as an idealistic commitment to the survival of journalism is, in other words, a cynical and opportunistic bid for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering. This is a government so shameless, or perhaps so convinced of its own untouchability, that it is brazenly buying the media’s compliance. – Karl du Fresne

The main reason centralisation fails is culture, “the way we do things around here”. A centralised organisation has to be command and control with rigid rules. It is a culture that crushes initiative and problem-solving. –  Richard Prebble

A university by its nature cannot have a prescribed view about the value of one idea or culture over another. Until recently, a university was an institution committed to free enquiry and rigorous debate. Indeed that was its raison d’etre when I was an undergraduate and graduate student. – Bruce Logan

Science by its very nature can never arrive at a consensus. Consensus is the language of politics, not science.

A university is not a church preaching revealed doctrine. It is an institution given to the support of scientific method; certainly in those faculties that have science in their name. If that is not the case, then the university should pack its bags and go home to the planet of the Wokerati.Bruce Logan

Precisely. Science is a universal tool because it rests on the universal truth that the world is an ordered place. Hypotheses can be imagined, experiments repeated and the findings
found to be true or false. – Bruce Logan

When the university fails to fulfil its traditional function it becomes an institution interested only in its own survival. Western culture loses its confidence. Truth and therefore justice is up for grabs and government policy becomes “the views of the university”. Māori and Pākehā share the common loss.Bruce Logan

But the reality is that countries far better prepared, and better equipped than us, have struggled to cope with the latest outbreaks.

So in the end, it will be down to us, and how we respond as individuals, that will make the difference – just as it did last time. – Tracy Watkins

This is a government that has been good at reacting to a crisis, but then useless at dealing with a strategic plan for the longer term. Mike Moore

Many advantages become ingrained. Subsequent hormone therapy may well take the edge off performance, but bones will always be stronger, muscle will not revert to the female level, nor will hearts and lungs shrink. It is hardly fair for someone who retains such advantages to compete against women. – Debbie Hayton

I largely think it’s because cookbooks are associated with the domestic sphere, and they’re associated with women,” she says. “Any books written specifically for a female audience are thought of as not very clever; written with lots of pictures and small words, so women with our small brains can understand them. It’s a bit like the genre formerly known as chick lit. You know, they’re pretty stories for ladies. Cookbooks are the same. – Lucy Corry

Whenever something is perceived to be for women, it very quickly gets perceived to be frivolous and something that you can make fun of and something of very low value. I’m just going to call that out as out-and-out classic, dirty old sexism.

You can’t on the one hand task 50 percent of society for centuries with feeding their families and make that part of their identity and then have a go at them when they buy books to help them do it and get some inspiration. – Claire Murdoch

I think cooking connects you to nature, because practically everything you might want to eat starts out as a seed or a spore, and it’s going to take weeks or months or sometimes years before it’s ready to harvest or be eaten. And it connects you to your own culture and other cultures; and it connects you to your family and friends. And it also connects you to your creativity. It’s a very nourishing thing.  Annabel Langbein

I think it is really difficult for lots of people to feel successful in their daily lives because of pressures and money and resources and all sorts of other things. But cooking is a very simple way to have a sense of ownership of your life; of sharing and connecting and feeling validated and useful. – Annabel Langbein

The answer as to why the government is moving so slowly on so many fronts, including the vaccine roll-out, is that it fundamentally doesn’t believe in incentives and the private sector’s ability to deliver. It has relied on bureaucrats and central planning, which isn’t working.  – Robert MacCulloch

Ministers should not be moaning about why things are not happening more quickly, and waiting for advice from officials. They should be making them happen. – Claire Trevett

I have never seen in my time, and I go back to Muldoon, a more lacklustre, aspiration-less, myopic, and isolationist government. –  Mike Hosking

Are we gonna have police in the church hall deciding whether people are saying the right things? That’s where this gets incredibly messy – David Seymour

We really do not want to go down the route of state intervention every time there are complex medical or wellbeing matters to be discussed in families.Simon Bridges

It is equally obvious that a cause can triumph without being good: it has only to inspire the belief that it is good and is worth fighting for. Indeed, a cause can be profoundly evil and triumph, at least in part through the strength of belief in it.

The lengths to which people go to promote a cause are often held up as some kind of evidence of the value of that cause, but they are nothing of the kind. People may go to great lengths to promote good causes, but those lengths are not in themselves evidence of goodness. After all, even Nazism had its martyrs whose deaths were exhibited as proof of righteousness. – Theodore Dalrymple

Everyone associated with the introduction of the RMA should be ashamed. Despite its worthy intentions, it was plainly naïve from the beginning about human nature and how people would respond to getting power to interfere in decisions on land use changes. A hostility to individual right to decide how one’s own property should best be used, without compensation from those who’d benefit from stopping change, was baked into the RMA. – Don Brash

There is no point in pretending to treat seriously a Bill that is little more than a series of conflicting aspirational claims, dressing up an intention to control future land uses by Ministerial and Planning Committee decree. – Don Brash

It has long been very obvious that environmental protection has been a spurious excuse for endless interference in routine land use decisions with little or no benefit for the natural environment. – Don Brash

The Bill is remarkable for omitting nearly everything that might end the damaging power of NIMBYs and planners, and the green idealists who have empowered them. The Bill contains more puffy slogans, lists of competing, unranked and contradictory purposes, goals and weasel words than the RMA. The lawyers, planners and other vested interest beneficiaries of the status quo rely on the powers they get from the naïve “principles” of the RMA. They will be even more confident of being able to exploit the regime foreshadowed by the Bill. – Don Brash

Ambiguity in law delivers power and profit to lawyers. lawyers notoriously resist normal cost disciplines. they believe that what they do is all about “justice” so that it is improper to demand that they trade off their rolls royce procedures for economy speed and certainty. they can be indifferent to the costs borne by the rest of the community. Don Brash

Are flip flops, false promises and knee jerk reactions good for us?

Well not if you want some stability and consistency from your leadership, some long term strategic management. I would’ve thought good leadership is about properly doing the work up front before you leap into announcements.

Costing and canvassing something to the hilt, before you throw out the press release and roll out the Minister. And then once you have your plan, sticking to it. – Kate Hawkesby

So what we’re seeing here, therefore, is less of a government governing, and more of a reactive popularity contest based on poll data.

Is that good solid leadership? Or is that just amateurs winging it?

Sadly I think it’s the latter. – Kate Hawkesby

What people hear from the government’s silence is: ‘We’re going to make some things that you say illegal but we’re not going to tell you which ones.’ And that’s the kind of uncertainty … that makes a lot of middle New Zealanders feel a little uncomfortable. – Ben Thomas

his government is full of people who don’t get it, who wouldn’t pass NCEA Economics Level 1, and most embarrassingly don’t seem to realise that saying this stuff out loud leads to 10 point drops in polls.Mike Hosking

So, what I’m saying is how can we possibly have pumped in billions of extra dollars, and it not appear to have made a difference? – Andrew Little

These organisations are not just “community support groups” or “surrogate families”. They aren’t “motorcycle clubs”. Or – as I like to say – they’re not “Rotary in Leather”. They are organised criminals.Judith Collins

My husband and I regularly talk to farmers and growers, young and old, involved in horticulture, cropping and livestock. Whether they are more traditional or progressive, the main frustration is not the “why” something should be done – everyone, bar a few stubborn ones, agree on our country’s environmental issues. It’s the “how” that they’re frustrated about.

The crux of it is that farmers feel they’re being made to be entirely responsible for reversing our environmental problems, in a comparatively very short space of time, with what they feel are unworkable solutions. – Nadia Lim

New Zealand is not a team of 5 million. New Zealand is a team of 6 million.

Rhetoric around a team of 5 million implies that the object of security is geographical New Zealand, as opposed to New Zealanders. It has created an ‘us and them’ mentality where Kiwis can simultaneously tut at nationalistic policies abroad while refusing to acknowledge the wall built around their own interests. The government’s responsibility is to its people – all its people.Guest at One Sock

We are all connected; kotahitanga, whakapapa, whanautanga and kaitiakitanga. The price of the situation at the border isn’t just economic, or even humanitarian – it’s our principles. We can choose to ‘be kind’ to some, but not all. We can choose to shut the gates to the village and leave our children and siblings outside. We can choose not to risk the many for the few. Most outside would understand this. But when but the government on our behalf chooses to make space for the rich, for profit-seekers, sportspeople and others to entertain us (Larry Page, 401 Dubai Expo attendees, Wallabies, the Wiggles, to name a few) we have declared what our priorities are, and what they are not.

Perhaps it is rash to presume the government is espousing compassion but pursuing profit with its management of the border. In that case, there is a fine line between caution and cowardice, just as there is between bravery and stupidity. But history teaches us that the outcomes of each are seldom a matter of deliberation, but principle.

One day the border will open and, like the rest of the world, we will have to learn to live with this virus. We will also have to live with the memory of how we treated each other. – Guest at One Sock

One of the most disappointing features of this era of late-stage capitalism is the moral cowardice of those running our civil institutions and their failure to uphold the values of a liberal capitalist democracy. –Damien Grant

Much good has come from this focus on the primacy of the shareholder. A firm succeeds by meeting the needs and desires of its customers and winning business over decades. A solvent, well-run business provides employment not only for its staff but those who toil for its suppliers, as well the positive externalities enjoyed by its customers and even a healthy bounty to the local tax authority. – Damien Grant

No longer are boards responsible for the dreary task of making an honest profit. Now they could be actors in the great game of state, using the capital and networks at their disposal to grandstand on the vital issues of the day.Damien Grant

Between the decision to rip up the rules on the gas market, to the difficulty consenting renewables projects, to the threat to build hydro storage at Lake Onslow, the market is simply responding to the signals that the Government is sending it. – Hamish Rutherford

The Government’s ban on new gas exploration and consequent destruction of the gas industry was a major contributor to the lack of gas. This will only get worse as fields rapidly run down. We should be enthusiastically drilling for gas, including shale gas in the North Island and the South Island.Bryan Leyland

The Maritime Union says its members are angry that they were put at risk by going on board a ship with Covid cases. Maybe I am the first to tell the union, the country is angry that its members have put everyone at risk by willfully refusing to be vaccinated.

The Maritime Union is affiliated to the Labour Party. Is this the reason ministers have not insisted port border workers be vaccinated? This is the fourth ship with Covid in a month.

Chris Hipkins, the Covid Response Minister, has been in politics all his life. He joined the Labour party as a schoolboy. You have to be highly political not to have acted on the Simpson/Roche report. Last weekend he was even denying the MIQ booking system is a failure. – Richard Prebble

The MIQ system is a shambles. The government’s Covid policy relies on luck. – Richard Prebble

The failure of education standards will prove to be a far greater catastrophe for New Zealand than Covid. Without the next generation of well-educated school leavers we are destined to be a failed state.

For Maori and Pacifica students, it is already a tragedy. The majority are leaving school after 16,000 hours of tuition unable to read or do math at a level required by the modern economy.- Richard Prebble

It is hard to learn if you are not at school. Paying state schools for their average daily attendance instead of the nominal roll would make attendance every school’s top priority.

The teachers’ unions would go nuts but educational achievement would improve immediately. – Richard Prebble

Will a future Labour government make a formal apology for the Ardern government’s failure to give today’s pupils a world class education? Hopefully there will not also need to an apology for leaving our ports wide open to Covid. – Richard Prebble

Governments work best when officials understand and are in sync with Ministers’ policy expectations. Ministers start to look shaky when they seem unable to impose their will on their respective departments, or when their public pronouncements begin to sound more and more like the bureaucratese officials can so quickly resort to, to cover inaction.Peter Dunne

Indeed, there are at least three other current examples where ministers seem to be struggling to get the response they want from public agencies for which they are responsible, or where they are starting to look no more than mouthpieces for their departments. – Peter Dunne

A less overworked and consequently more focused minister might well have questioned from the outset the wisdom of relying on the cumbersome and largely incompetent district health board structure, and the exclusion of other community resources, to deliver the vaccination programme with the rapidity and flexibility required, if New Zealand is to be in a position of safety where it can consider returning to somewhere near normality any time soon.

Similarly, Hipkins’ recent public frustration at the lack of response from officials to his request to look at new more patient-friendly Covid19 testing systems – like saliva based tests, for example – to replace the current intrusive nasal test is illustrative of a minister increasingly unable to get officials to implement his agenda, suggesting he is now working more at the officials’ behest than the Government’s intent.Peter Dunne

All this means New Zealand’s recovery from Covid-19 now rests more with the convenience of cautious bureaucrats than the insistence and any urgency of the Government. – Peter Dunne

Hipkins’ colleague, Immigration and Justice Minister Kris Faa’foi has, over recent weeks, almost destroyed any reputation for effectiveness he had built up during his first term as a minister. His weak handling of the hate speech and conversion therapy issues, and the extraordinary inconsistencies in the way migrant workers and their families are being treated during the pandemic have been astounding. Faa’foi, who is apparently keen to leave politics, looks increasingly uninterested, and out of touch with the major issues affecting his portfolios. His media performances on the hate speech and conversion therapy issues have given the impression of someone who neither understands the complexity of the issues involved, nor wants to get too heavily involved in clarifying some of the challenging issues being raised.Peter Dunne

Whatever the explanation, it is a sad day for New Zealand when free speech is considered to be politically risky. An institution that cannot deal with diversity of opinion is a priesthood; it has no right to call itself a university. – Martin Hanson

Claiming people are “hurt” as a rebuttal to another academic’s argument is surely at odds with what academics do — debate ideas logically in the hope of finding the truth. Why is it relevant that some people felt “hurt and dismay”? It is possible to be hurt and still wrong.Matt Heath

Instead of weaponising people’s hurt, we should encourage hurt people to concentrate on why they are hurt. Taking offence is a choice. Choosing not to be offended is a win-win. If your opposition’s claims aren’t valid, they will be easy and fun to refute. If the claims are correct, even better, you have been gifted truth. In which case, the honourable emotion is gratitude. Either way, you don’t need to feel “hurt and dismay”.

Anger, hurt and dismay are gut reactions. You have to act fast before negative emotions take control of your words and actions. An excellent place to start is empathy. – Matt Heath

If you ask me (no one did), academics who hide from uncomfortable discussions by claiming they or others are “hurt” are taking the easy way out. Argue the points, not the emotions. If you disagree with me, come at me. I won’t get hurt. I’d love to be proven wrong; it would be the gift of knowledge. – Matt Heath

We heard as we travelled around the countryside submitters from far and wide. Many of the leaseholders came to speak to the select committee during our hearings in Wellington, in Queenstown, and in Christchurch, and they were amongst some of the most heartfelt submissions that I’ve heard in my time in Parliament. These were representatives of families who had farmed sensibly, pragmatically, with conservation and environmental values at their heart for several generations, and they were distraught, they were hurt, they were confused and unconvinced by the need or the desire for why this Government would want to treat them so harshly, so poorly, and so insultingly. – Scott Simpson

This seems to be a bill that is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. High country farmers, the leaseholders, can feel rightly upset and angry with the moves that this Government is making, because at the heart of this piece of legislation, it undermines the generations of goodwill that have been established between the Crown and the leaseholders. It undermines the good work and the faith that they have invested, not only in terms of their emotion, their hard work, their blood, sweat, and toil but also millions, tens of millions, of dollars of improvement, enhancement, and careful, prudent management of the high country leases. I felt very, very sorry for those submitters who came and, in many cases, were emotional, understandably emotional, about the way that they were going to be treated under this piece of legislation, because at its core, it changes the relationship that they have entered into. – Scott Simpson

When the Prime Minister and the Health Minister go out of their way so obviously to avoid directly answering a question, it is a flashing sign they understand a truthful answer would be highly damaging. – Graham Adams

“Bi” is Latin for two. It therefore inevitably throws emphasis onto the differences, real and imagined, between Maori and Pakeha.

It’s this focus on separateness, rather than the things that draw us together, that has enabled a political culture to flourish in which people of Maori and Pakeha descent are increasingly at odds. – Karl du Fresne

On the contrary, silencing people will almost certainly magnify resentment due to the perception that only one side of the debate is allowed to be heard.

Besides, we should admit that underneath what appears to be crude anti-Maori rhetoric, there is a legitimate grievance: namely, a feeling that the political agenda is largely being driven by people who represent only 16.5 percent of the population, and that other voices are increasingly excluded from the public conversation – or at least that part of the conversation controlled by the media and the government. A situation in which a minority group is perceived as wielding disproportionate power and influence is plainly at odds with fundamental notions of democracy.Karl du Fresne

This doesn’t mean denying that many part-Maori people are disadvantaged in many respects, or prevent us from doing whatever we can to put them on the same footing as the Pakeha majority. As a Pakeha, I can’t see how it could possibly be in my interests for Maori to fail. On the contrary, we would all benefit if Maori health, education and imprisonment rates were improved.   But I don’t see how this can be achieved by setting up a potentially destructive contest between the two main population groups. – Karl du Fresne

The runners with Down Syndrome always bring tears to my eyes. I remember seeing a race in which the two leaders stopped to hug each other instead of crossing the finish line.

Heroic and magnanimous are the words that came to mind when I witnessed their elegant gesture of camaraderie.

Winners. Raising the bar of being wholly human. – Robert Fulghum

Calling someone a racist seems to be the first thing that comes to mind for certain parts of NZ when they don’t agree with something that is said. That’s actually the problem here. Hence my call for NZ to wake up to the danger of the insipid cancel culture that is doing a lot of damage to NZ. – Peter Williams

If a country wants to change its name officially it should do so in a democratic and measured way.  We all know very well why the political class don’t want such a democratic activity – they know what the result will most likely be. The majority will want to retain New Zealand. And there is a certain group of people in this country who are just not prepared to accept democratic outcomes anymore. And that is the most worrying aspect of this entire episode. Peter Williams

To adapt an old aphorism, everyone is an environmentalist until the lights go out. Then we discover a deeper and more immediate concern – a drop in our living standard. – John Roughan

Climate science does not have much luck. The latest dire report from the IPPC was scheduled for release on the same day we awoke to news of the previous night’s blackout in Hamilton and other places. The report duly came out on Tuesday. You might have heard people worrying about what it contained. I didn’t. I heard plenty of concern about the power cut.

The problem for governments that make it their overriding mission to tackle climate change is that most people will not lower their living standards. They will not and nor should they. Human ingenuity can do better. If a government gives climate change greater importance they will change the government. – John Roughan

I began to feel I was too Māori to be Pākehā and too Pākehā to be Māori. Not a proper one at least… If you can’t speak te reo you ain’t a real Māori. And real Māori are Labour. – Simon Bridges

Just as all Scots don’t wear kilts, we can’t put Māori over there as the ones with te reo, moko and marae. – Simon Bridges

I’ve been prone to look down on stay-at-home dads, because our conception of masculinity, whether we like it or not, is of breadwinners.

It’s some deep evolutionary thing. We’ve been hunting animals, and then we’re meant to be out working.

And as I say in the book, whilst I’m not the tough guy playing rugby, for me masculinity I have always associated with work. Long hours is what real men do.

But of course, in 2021, we need to be clear that a real man can be a guy who’s at home with his children while his partner is out as the breadwinner. And I’m glad I’ve woken up to that reality. – Simon Bridges

I’m not gonna suggest that there’s been no moments in my life where the gamesmanship has meant I’ve done something. But if that’s all it is, that’s a real problem,” he says.

“We’ve got this narrow political culture where Red and Blue are actually pretty similar. They’re all professionals.-  Simon Bridges

I could spend a long time trying to do something about it. But no, that would feel like a betrayal of who I am. And in a world where identity and authenticity are such big things, it just wouldn’t be any of that. – Simon Bridges

New Zealand should be very concerned about the possibility that a major event occurs and we simply can’t scramble our Defence Force quick enough; really highly professional people, well trained, have always responded well in the past.

But at the moment … there’s a real shortfall if something was to happen in the Pacific, or further afield that they need to respond to – Chris Penk

Rimmington has correctly analysed that Labour will happily waste $10 million on a train no one uses, but National would not regard $10 million for 30 commuters as sensible spending. – David Farrar

The Green Party stands for many things, a great many things indeed, some of them real, some of them quite fanciful and yet wonderfully appealing in their innocence, but one thing we won’t tolerate is a painting of someone who galvanised a nation in the fight against the Nazi regime and the threat it posed to democracy, freedom, and, you know, life. – Steve Braunias

So many things that probably could have got to me and should have got to me, didn’t get to me. That really got to me, the accent stuff. . . I do think that the book will, in that portion, stop it. I reckon media will read that and appreciate it’s a pretty narrow, parochial snobbism – that if they’re worried about gender and race and all the other things, which they should be, they should be about that as well.Simon Bridges

I realised, getting vaccinated was not actually exclusively about me. It’s actually about those in our community who’re vulnerable and immune compromised, and how would I feel if I passed it onto them? Also, it’s a collective effort to help our country get back into a connected functioning part of the world. We cannot remain an isolated hermit kingdom forever. – Kate Hawkesby

Now I understand being lean isn’t a priority, being strong is,” Donoghue says. “It doesn’t matter what I sit at on the scales. It’s opened us up to understand it’s not about a number but more about a good feeling, knowing we’re fuelling well. – Brooke Donoghue

So we changed the wording. Where we would usually say ‘If you don’t fuel enough, this is the result’, instead every communication became ‘If you fuel according to the work you’re doing, this is the result you’ll get’. It was an excellent approach to behaviour change.Christel Dunshea-Mooij 

Ideal race weights were really a proxy in the past for being healthy and in a good position. You heard stories that ‘leaner is better’. But we’ve got better insight now, so we don’t use those terms. – James Coote

It used to be you ate less to stay a lightweight. But to be able to see I could eat a lot more and then train harder – and stay at the same weight – was eye-opening. It made a huge difference to the way I trained, because I could work harder. – Jackie Kiddle

Being strong has often been seen as a masculine thing in sport. But in rowing, throughout our athletes and staff, the push to be stronger is a positive thing for women too.

As a female athlete, I want to be strong, so I’ve made some massive gains in the gym. I can see my strength performance getting better as well. Our physiologist helped us change the way we look at ourselves. Jackie Kiddle

I’d like to see this support expanded down to high school girls, to take away the stereotypes of strength being masculine, or not eating because you need to look a certain way.

We want to be good role models when it comes to female health. To show girls at high schools that you can row and be healthy – Jackie Kiddle

The surest way to a space in MIQ, for the past 16 months, has been political influence. Those with political influence get spaces. Those without it are forced into a broken room booking system. Getting a room through that broken system seems to be a full-time job all on its own: some would-be travellers have even hired people to sit at a computer and hit the refresh button, all day long, on their behalf.

But for those with political pull, things are a bit easier.- Eric Crampton

The rules ensure that those with political pull can find a way through. Longstanding insiders have political pull. More recent migrants who have not seen their families for a year-and-a-half do not.

The system seems corrupt – but not in any bribe-taking sense. Instead, it is corrupt in what seems a particularly Kiwi sense of the term. No money changes hands. No officials or ministers are bribed. None need to be. The corruption instead is baked into the rules of the system providing a fast-track for those with political pull.

Officials follow the rules of a game that was rigged from the outset.Eric Crampton

Political influence determines who gets fast-tracked entry through MIQ, who is denied any access to the MIQ system, and who is relegated to a broken booking system where the rooms are officially free but come at terrible cost.

The cost of a free room is the time spent trying to secure a space – which can be weeks of dedicated effort. It also includes the terrible uncertainty faced by everyone who fears a sudden turn of events could require them to travel, but that that travel would prove impossible. If you do not have pull, there are currently no rooms available through November.

For many people desperate to rejoin their families, the real price of entry is infinite: there is simply no way they can enter, because they do not have the required political pull. – Eric Crampton

It has been considered unfair for prices to have any role in allocating scarce MIQ spaces. But allocating spaces by political influence and a broken booking system has been worse. If MIQ will be required, for at least some travellers, even after the vaccine roll-out, the Government needs to stop allocating scarce spaces through the aristocracy of pull.Eric Crampton

Some words, in their modern usages, either invite lies or are in themselves implicit lies. One such word, of course, is diversity. Another is inclusion. Just as the Ministry of Love in Nineteen Eighty-Four was responsible for repression and torture, so the word diversity promotes the imposition of uniformity and inclusion promotes exclusion.  – Theodore Dalrymple

No doubt sheer cowardice had much to do with it, for cowardice is often the midwife of lies. Theodore Dalrymple

We are about to witness one of the worst tragedies for women and girls in modern history. From now on, once more, young girls, pre-teens, will be married off too much older men, often enough with multiple wives. Young girls won’t be allowed to go to school, they won’t be allowed to learn to read and write, let alone sing, they won’t be allowed to practice most careers, they won’t be allowed to go the bazaar without the permission, and generally the presence, of their controlling male relative. – Greg Sheridan 

Te Huia is doomed to be yet another spectacular fail from this government, but they have too much political capital at risk to admit it. – Frank Newman

In recent years with the public renaissance of Māori culture, most public events will have a religious dimension in a Māori prayer or karakia. I love this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it brings some life and culture to our otherwise arid secularism. Secondly, I believe our tangata whenua are spiritually set apart and important to our country.

There is an exquisite irony in what’s happened here. Our public servants and civic leaders, who’d spit on the ground during a Pākehā’s Christian prayer, beam like Cheshire Cats when the same is done in te reo. I love this. God works in mysterious ways and he clearly has a sense of humour. – Simon Bridges 

None of this means I hold any Messiah complex. There have been long periods of my life where I have sought answers through prayer but the phone to the Big Guy has seemed off the hook. Despite my stories, I don’t believe in dial-a-God. It’s simply that I believe God is there wanting a personal relationship with everyone. I am not special. – Simon Bridges

The Government’s vaccine purchase of late last year is a microcosm of what’s wrong with its priorities, and a worrying indication that ‘getting the message right’ trumps real world achievement. – Kate MacNamara

There’s no reason to question the spending on contract negotiation, it’s specialised and its consequences were staggeringly large.

And given that New Zealand’s first receipt of the Pfizer vaccine was months behind other countries, and very low for months more, there’s a strong argument to be made that more money should have been spent on advice.

There’s no such rationale for coughing up large sums out of that kitty for communications advice, however: the services MBIE bought with the second largest chunk of that $700,000 were for PR.Kate MacNamara

To give a sense of the priority, that spending trumped the $38,000 that went on the Science and Technical Advisory Group, the $49,000 that went to a research advisor, the $12,000 paid to Horizon Research to study potential Covid-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake, and the $5,500 spent went on translation services.

The breakdown is instructive because it points to how the government, and by extension, its political masters, weighs messaging. – Kate MacNamara

As Auckland University economist Robert MacCullock has estimated, it’s likely New Zealand could have paid an extra $40m (in the order of $4 more per dose) to receive early vaccine delivery.

If it had done so (combined with a competent rollout) we would now be in the position of having already offered inoculation to everyone in our small population, or close to it. – Kate MacNamara

When asked by the Herald last month why the Government didn’t pay more to get Pfizer vaccines early, Hipkins claimed such a move would have been “unethical”.

It was a fatuous remark that sidestepped the Minister’s primary responsibility, which is to the New Zealand public. All the more so now that the public is again housebound in a level 4 lockdown, and footing what Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, has advised is a weekly bill of some $1.5 billion, a tally that notably excludes a host of costs, not the least of which is lost education to school children.

Minister Hipkins needs a new moral compass, if he ditched the spin doctors he could no doubt afford one.- Kate MacNamara

We want to be able to care for our patients – we want to care for them in a safe environment, and it’s so unsafe because of a lack of staffing. Di

Nurses are the ones who move forward and say, ‘I’m happy to do this. We’re here to help, and we’re doing it differently. We’re working outside our normal areas, and normal hours – we’re doing it again.- Geraldine

I understand lockdown had to be done fast, but it’s significantly harder for people whose pay is not consistent. I was lucky enough to get paid the night we went into lockdown and worked 45 hours last week so had enough money to buy groceries but that’s not the case for everyone.

I know people who get paid Wednesday/Thursday and they won’t get paid for their hours this week. They’ll have to go without the essentials because they didn’t have enough money to go to the doctors for their prescriptions renewed. – Ellsie Coles

“We had all these customers desperate to get back to their local cafes and bars, but the way [customers] treated us was appalling. Before lockdown, customers were dismissive, abusive and rude but it was almost like they had completely forgotten their manners. It was also how drunk they were getting. – Ann King

Xenophobia is, regrettably, not a new strain in the national psyche, more an endemic seasonal virus that has circulated since time immemorial. However, the prevailing attitude, expressed through policy and the rhetoric of our leaders, to New Zealanders outside the border – ranging from frosty indifference to outright hostility – is very much a new development. Ben Thomas 

However, since Covid, New Zealanders’ circle of empathy seems to have been pulled tight, like a knot, around the territorial boundaries of the country.

New Zealanders caught outside, or the families of foreign visa holders here doing often essential work including nursing and teaching, feel very much like they are looking in. In some respects, the pandemic has made the country smaller. Our families, our co-workers’ families, our friends, now show up in the public discourse mainly as risks to be managed or, more likely, excluded.

While government surrogates criticise “lifestyle” travellers and those who “chose” to live overseas, stories mount of partners who have not seen newborns. – Ben Thomas 

The New Zealand state’s efficiency and wraparound service, seen in the dispensation of wage subsidies and (ironically) passport processing speed, is experienced by offshore New Zealanders, setting regular alarms to stay online and wait to click hopelessly for hours to book non-existent spots in MIQ, as uncaring and capricious.

In order for values to count as character, they have to endure in good times and bad. Is the New Zealand national identity we treasure a reflection of who we really are, or of the benign times we have lived through until now? With the imminent effects of climate change and the movement of mass refugees from the hell of Afghanistan under the Taliban, these are questions we may be answering soon. – Ben Thomas 

Education is more than just a pathway to a job. It’s about growing young people who are filled with aspiration, with capabilities, with vision for themselves and the world around them.

The focus of education has definitely shifted … there’s been a focus on what can be measured, and evaluated.

The arts play an important part in developing creativity, engagement with the world around them … it’s more than a skillset  – Esther Hansen

Like any mother, it doesn’t matter how old your children are, you want to be with them. I’m sure there’ll be lots of other families around the area who identify with how we’re feeling at the moment.Anne Tolley

I think it’s time that these modern day politicians showed the great man a bit of respect. He was not perfect, but then again, who is? He was a man of his age and his opinions and actions reflected that. Indeed, attempting to impose today’s opinions on historical figures, as many on the left do, is just childish.

What is not up for debate, however, is that the world, including New Zealand, owes Churchill a great debt. And he will be revered long after this obsession with wokeness has passed and politicians like Ardern have thankfully left the stage. – Paul A. Nuttall

No other country has achieved lockdowns as tough as New Zealand’s, and thereby executed an elimination strategy. Especially with the Delta strain, almost everyone else has accepted that Covid is here to stay. Instead of being preoccupied with national self-congratulation, they have focused aggressively on early vaccination. Matthew Hooton

Even once we reach the undefined level of vaccination Ardern says would lead to the borders reopening, Covid will keep arriving, spreading, making people sick, putting some of us in ICU and even killing a few.

If Ardern’s definition of elimination means lockdown every time, then her strategy will have run its course not long after we emerge from this one.

Meanwhile, her Government’s shameful performance in preparing the public and the health system for that imminent reality should be a national scandal.

More than a year since Ardern was forced to switch from flattening the curve to elimination, the Ministry of Health reports no material improvement in ICU capability. – Matthew Hooton

There were 334 ventilators and 358 ICU beds at the end of the first lockdown. The Ministry of Health says there are just 284 fully staffed ICU beds across public hospitals. While there are 629 ICU-capable ventilators, including 133 in reserve, the number of nurses trained to work with them improved by just 1 per cent. The problem that forced Ardern to opt for her ultra-tough strategy is as bad as ever.

Little new can be said about the vaccination fiasco. We have the slowest rollout in the developed world, not all frontline border and MIQ workers are yet vaccinated and there was no chance of reaching population immunity until mid-December, even without this week’s pause.Matthew Hooton

Yet Ardern and her Beehive should not be let off so easily. For months, ministers and strategists have privately pointed the finger at the bureaucrats for every failure while claiming success for Ardern’s rhetorical achievements.

But those bureaucrats report to ministers. If their performance is as poor as claimed, then the buck stops at the top and the time for whispers is past. If the Beehive does not believe senior bureaucrats are capable of preparing the health system for a post-elimination strategy, it should say so publicly and get in people who are. – Matthew Hooton

While we continue to have low deaths and infections, we have a woefully low rate of vaccination, which currently languishes among Romania, Albania, and Bolivia. If other parts of our public infrastructure were ranked so poorly, you’d expect ministerial resignations. Thomas Coughlan

The idea that most DHBs could be “hitting” their targets, while the population eligible for the vaccines is still roughly 60 per cent unvaccinated shows the targets for the sham they are – the emperor has no vaccine.

The Government has some serious questions to answer to the people put at risk by the latest Covid outbreak, which appears to include a large number of under-30s. – Thomas Coughlan

No one’s kidding themselves about a return to what things were like before, but for our Northern Hemisphere friends, two doses of vaccine and a bit of mask-wearing seems to buy an alternative lifestyle that has significant benefits to our own.

This somewhat upends the politics of Covid in New Zealand. Should this outbreak worsen, and modelling suggests it might, it will no longer be clear that our approach is the right one.Thomas Coughlan

New Zealand’s Covid-19 response was idealised last year. The small island nation eliminated the virus – with short lockdowns, closed borders and effective contact tracing – and largely lived without restrictions. Economic growth has been high and mortality has been low. But what worked in 2020 is not the same as what makes sense in 2021.

We now have vaccines. The ingenious jabs substantially reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death from the virus. They do not mean zero risk or, for that matter, zero cases. But they change the calculation: elimination becomes a costly strategy with very limited benefit. What’s the point of lockdowns and maintaining closed borders for a virus that, with vaccines in the mix, no longer causes much harm to individual people?

New Zealand has not come to this realisation. It has fetishised “zero risk” for the past 17 months and show little interest in updating its strategy. – Matthew Lesh

New Zealand’s zero Covid strategy has had frightening consequences. A once-welcoming nation is turning into an isolated dystopia, where liberties are taken away in a heartbeat and outsiders are shunned. Living under the constant threat of disruptive and psychologically crushing lockdowns. Being closed off to the world, with citizens’ ability to travel curtailed and foreigners largely prevented from entering. So much for the open, welcoming liberal nation projected by Ms Ardern. Matthew Lesh

The implications of New Zealand’s strategy stretch well beyond Covid. “Zero risk” gives the state limitless justification to interfere with our lives in the most extreme of ways. Individual choice, bodily autonomy and basic privacy become subsumed to the goal of taking away anything that could do us even the smallest level of harm. Fear breeds tolerance for the most extreme actions. A liberal society becomes impossible to maintain.

This pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. We have sacrificed so much in the name of public safety. But at some point, we have to declare “enough is enough”. Snap lockdowns over small numbers of cases and constant state interference in our lives is simply no way to live. – Matthew Lesh

The Government are in charge of this, they are the ones that are setting the rules. They are the ones that need to make sure it’s working properly. They can’t delegate responsibility to others.

“It’s them that I expect to make sure the that vaccination is working everywhere in the country when they say it is.Todd McClay

The conceit is in thinking that we can come up with a completely 100 per cent water-tight border. Short of letting no goods or people cross it at all, which would truly mean North Korea, there is always a risk. Fortification is effective but not failsafe. And so it proved.

Still, hopefully some good can come from this new reality. Perhaps we could collectively use the time to develop some greater clarity of thinking on our response to this pandemic, knowing what we know now. – Steven Joyce

The word elimination has become Orwellian and unhelpful. Covid is not eliminated when we keep it out of the country. It is simply shut out and we have barricaded ourselves in.

And all the evidence suggests the world won’t be eliminating it, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Kicking the term elimination to touch is important because its use by our politicians has bred smugness and complacency, particularly in them. They have acted as if Covid has been eliminated, and signalled the same to the public with their actions. – Steven Joyce

The vaccine rollout has been accurately described as a strollout.

There has been scandalous negligence in preparing our hospital facilities for another wave of the pandemic, as alluded to in the Skegg Report last week.

The Government has instead busied itself looking down its nose at the outbreaks in Australia, reorganising hospital administration (during a pandemic?), and paying for things like school lunches for kids whose parents don’t want them, or putting cameras on fishing boats, all out of the Covid emergency fund.

This is not the sort of stuff on the top of your to-do list when there is a war on.

And it is a war, with a tricky and persistent invader. – Steven Joyce

Fortifying our defences and using our moat to protect ourselves is a legitimate tactic and I support it.

Where we have fallen down is in not using the time those fortifications have given us to urgently vaccinate the population and prepare our hospital facilities to cope better with another outbreak.

When one occurs, there is no alternative to locking down.

Which brings us to the second thing we can take out of this lockdown. A new urgency for vaccination for everyone.- Steven Joyce

Vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, but they do suppress serious illness. It should by now be clear that vaccination is the only known way out of this pandemic. Frankly, it was apparent months ago, but at least with the clear and present danger we have now, the Government and all of us should have the impetus to rapidly get it done.

Temporarily halting vaccinations at the start of lockdown was not a good first step. You mean you hadn’t prepared vaccination centres for operating under Level 3 or 4? Steven Joyce

If ministers start admitting that people won’t need to be locked down once we are all vaccinated, it’s a short step from there to blaming them for the current lockdown, given that they have been supervising the world’s slowest rollout.

Alternatively, they really believe our hospital system won’t cope with even a small increase in Covid-related hospitalisations next year alongside our regular flu season. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes if that proved to be the case, having by then had two years to prepare. – Steven Joyce

We did well in the early stages of Covid but this outbreak should remove any remaining temptation to rest on our laurels. Hopefully it teaches some humility to our politicians and senior public servants and a much-needed reassessment of our plan forward from here.

We only need to lock down now because we are not vaccinated.

Our businesses, our kids missing their schooling and friends, our families missing life events, elderly neighbours prevented from talking to each other, those who feel life and its opportunities are passing them by, can’t put up with much more of “lockdown is the only solution”. Steven Joyce

Certainty is really helpful for people – not only people in business and small businesses but also for people just trying to go about their lives. A lack of certainty, waiting for a one o’clock announcement every day, this actually adds to the anxiety – it doesn’t actually help people that much. – Judith Collins

We are in lockdown because the government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

It is not enough for the prime minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now. – Judith Collins

New Zealanders are right to be very frustrated. We understand we need to have a level 4 lockdown because of the seriousness of the situation … that is taken as a given.

But what is not acceptable, is the government has been absolutely warned about this situation for many months, then only now talking about bringing in, for instance, saliva testing and rapid antigen testing … it’s like they’ve been asleep at the wheel and complacent and sitting back and saying ‘aren’t we clever?’ when ultimately, we’re not. – Judith Collins

The plan should have been in place and able to be activated at literally a moment’s notice.

Indeed, it is unimaginable that any responsible government would not have a contingency plan well in place for such an emergency, suggesting that the real point of the contrived urgency was more about showing the government was bold, decisive and in control. If, as the Prime Minister has implied, they were awaiting further information before reaching a decision, then that suggests the government and the Ministry of Health were hopelessly ill-prepared for such eventualities, something the public should be extremely concerned about. It must be hoped that the Prime Minister’s hints were yet more spin, not an accurate reflection of the real state of play. – Peter Dunne

And when the announcement was eventually made, the sanctimony and arrogance were palpable. All New Zealanders wanted to know was when we would be going into lockdown and for how long. Even then, they were kept in suspense when it was announced that the Prime Minister was running ten minutes late – a deliberate ploy to attract attention if ever there was one. Worse, when she eventually deigned to appear it was to be a further twelve minutes of generalities and slogans before she eventually got to the point we had all been waiting to hear.

All the appeals to live in your bubble, remember you are part of the team of five million, and to be kind are so much humbug. All they do is raise the hairs on the back of the neck more rigidly. Peter Dunne

Delaying the announcement several hours until the 6:00 pm television news and then not even turning up on time to deliver it suggests the process was more about keeping the focus on the government, than meeting the public’s concerns.- Peter Dunne

I would prefer the government when dealing with complex but not unexpected situations like this week’s outbreak to keep its focus solely on the facts, without the extraneous, embellishing drama. People simply need to know what is happening, how it affects them, and what they need to do. They can work the rest out for themselves without the saccharine laced platitudes masquerading as announcements that have become so much a part of the process. – Peter Dunne

We will get through the current situation for no other reason than people’s focus on their own and their families’ wellbeing. It has nothing to do with being kind, staying in bubbles, or being part of some mythical team of five million. That is all just so much unctuous poppycock. People will respond because they appreciate it is in their best personal interests to do so. Anything else is just puffery. Therefore, we deserve to be respected as mature and responsible beings, capable of sound decision-making, not errant children to be given morality lectures at our leaders’ convenience. – Peter Dunne

The greatest absurdity of this week’s announcements, in response to a situation brought on almost entirely by our poor vaccination rates, was the abrupt decision to suspend vaccinations, only to be just as abruptly overturned less than 24 hours later. It suggested a complete lack of forethought, planning and organisation. Or, as the ever-curmudgeonly Eeyore of Winnie-the-Pooh fame would say, “They haven’t got Brains any of them, only grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake, and they don’t Think.” – Peter Dunne

The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp.Andrea Vance

We were overconfident about the elimination strategy and our ability to keep the virus out. But whereas the virus got more sophisticated, more “tricky” to use Ardern’s own parlance, we did not.

While New Zealand was free of community transmission, the Government took a leisurely approach to vaccination.- Andrea Vance

If only Ardern had applied the ‘go hard and go early’ approach to her Government’s vaccination strategy. – Andrea Vance

These are failings that were foreseeable and are unforgivable. We are yet to learn how the variant penetrated New Zealand’s defences, but the most obvious pathway is a border incursion.

So for now, we will do our bit. Stay home, mask up, relinquish our freedoms and hope the consequences of a lockdown are not too severe.

The responsibility to stop the spread is once again on us – because the Government failed to play its part. – Andrea Vance

The truth is we can’t maintain zero-Covid forever. We all know that. We’re only delaying the inevitable by carrying on with it.

At some point we will have to open the borders again to the world. Pretending there is a choice not to do that is a fallacy. There simply is no other option. We must rejoin the world if we want to be part of it.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So at some point Covid will come into New Zealand. We will be jabbed, there will be outbreaks, some people will die, some won’t even know they’re crook, most people will get a touch of something then get better. That will happen. We don’t get to choose if it happens, we only get to choose when it happens.

So, knowing that every lockdown only delays the inevitable, ask yourself how many more level 4s you’re happy to do before you’ve had enough. Heather du Plessis-Allan

The truth is we can’t maintain zero-Covid forever. We all know that. We’re only delaying the inevitable by carrying on with it.

At some point we will have to open the borders again to the world. Pretending there is a choice not to do that is a fallacy. There simply is no other option. We must rejoin the world if we want to be part of it.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So at some point Covid will come into New Zealand. We will be jabbed, there will be outbreaks, some people will die, some won’t even know they’re crook, most people will get a touch of something then get better. That will happen. We don’t get to choose if it happens, we only get to choose when it happens.

So, knowing that every lockdown only delays the inevitable, ask yourself how many more level 4s you’re happy to do before you’ve had enough. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The reason the Police weren’t jabbed properly was because they didn’t have the supply. At last, Ardern admits it. We asked that very question six hours earlier yesterday when talking to Ashley Bloomfield, but he wouldn’t admit it.

The Police, of course, who have this week talked of taking legal action, have every right to be angry. The supermarket workers have every right to be angry. By weeks end, we all have every right to be angry because we have been shockingly let down. Mike Hosking

Their plan, such as it ever was, is now officially a scandal, it’s a bust. As Scott Morrison and his smug lot across the Tasman had to admit and apologise for.

So too will this lot, who suffered the same smugness, who refused to listen, who refused to accept that it was a race, the borders don’t keep out the virus, and zero Covid is a joke.

It’s a hopelessly idealistic joke believed in by people who are not remotely connected to the real world. – Mike Hosking

So, to the supply, we have been conned.

We didn’t pay the premium for early delivery, we didn’t have any urgency, we were blinded by the dumb belief that a locked border was all we needed, and we could take all year no worries. What a farce.

We could have jabbed everyone if we started in February by June. And yet here we are in August 118th in the world locked down, everything shut, and yet again going nowhere.Mike Hosking

That’s where this Government’s plan, or lack of plan has landed us. Front-liners not protected because of lack of supply, 118th in the world, locked down like nowhere else apart from the other inept idiots across the Tasman.

The scam is up. The con is exposed. The Ardern Show was as shallow as ‘be kind’ and stick a teddy in the window.

You think they’re going to put this on the cover of Vogue or Time?  – Mike Hosking

So in a year and a half, we haven’t come very far at all, in terms of mitigating the damage the virus does and in terms of treating people when the worst does happen. All the time we were rocking on at Six60 concerts and cheering on the All Blacks, there were people whispering “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. And they were right. –  Kerre McIvor

There is much that has been done well by New Zealanders and the Government in response to Covid-19. But lockdowns also remind us there is much that could be done better, particularly by the decision makers at the Ministry of Health. – Kerre McIvor

Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image of kindness and care and concern for others, Ardern is a ruthless politician who is cunning as a fox and quick to change tack in response to public criticism.

She is also shameless at stage-managing her public appearances for maximum effect — whether it is showcasing her government’s actions at her 1pm press conferences or being covered by a Polynesian ceremonial mat during an official apology for the Dawn Raids in a highly choreographed piece of political theatre.Graham Adams

Eventually her adherents — no matter how fervently they believe in their leader’s righteousness — will come to see that the fabled destination will always remain out of reach. They are steadily drifting away as it becomes more and more apparent her government is seriously incompetent in battling the scourges that afflict New Zealand — including overburdened infrastructure, crippling house prices and children living in poverty. – Graham Adams

Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image of kindness and care and concern for others, Ardern is a ruthless politician who is cunning as a fox and quick to change tack in response to public criticism.

She is also shameless at stage-managing her public appearances for maximum effect — whether it is showcasing her government’s actions at her 1pm press conferences or being covered by a Polynesian ceremonial mat during an official apology for the Dawn Raids in a highly choreographed piece of political theatre.Graham Adams

Eventually her adherents — no matter how fervently they believe in their leader’s righteousness — will come to see that the fabled destination will always remain out of reach. They are steadily drifting away as it becomes more and more apparent her government is seriously incompetent in battling the scourges that afflict New Zealand — including overburdened infrastructure, crippling house prices and children living in poverty. – Graham Adams

As is the case with so much in life, the wealthy in New Zealand and Australia have the resources to ensure their families come out of the current lockdown (and future lockdowns) relatively unscathed. The countries’ least privileged citizens aren’t so fortunate. They’re the ones that suffer the most from this strategy and the costs they’re being asked to bear will be with many of them for life. These lands down under are failing their most vulnerable with a policy of COVID-zero.Nicholas Kerr

Failing a knighthood, as a farmer there’s only one way I want the public to thank me: by happily paying a fair price for what I produce and not begrudging how I make a living. – Craig Hickman

The Prime Minister doesn’t need to hog all the media space. She already gets up to an hour a day any day she likes beaming straight into Kiwi’s lounge rooms. She already gets to pick and choose which media outlets she goes on in a bid to avoid hard questions.

When she stops meetings from taking place via zoom It goes beyond a health-based decision and becomes a political decision. She is playing politics here while she pretends to rise above that. It is impossible to respect this decision and her for making it. Heather du Plessis-Allan

Jacinda Ardern consistently calls for Kiwis to “be kind”. In today’s 4pm stand-up, the record hadn’t changed. How would she respond if asked what cruelty she had exercised in the pursuit of kindness? Because she has inflicted cruelty on New Zealanders through lock down. – Lindsay Mitchell

If she is asking people who barely tolerate each other in normal circumstances to transform under lock down, you know she lacks any understanding of the human condition under extreme stress.

She must. Or she wouldn’t be pig-headedly pursuing the same pathway she led us down in 2020.

“Be kind” is a hollow platitude. That’s all it has ever been.Lindsay Mitchell

Any confidence that we learned our lessons from last year’s lockdown regarding mass virus testing should be thrown out the window. Having been through this process before, one would assume the Ministry of Health and its various providers would have a clear and concise plan to efficiently deliver mass Covid-19 testing to as many people as possible.

Instead, close contacts and essential workers were made to wait more than 10 hours for a test – some were even turned away as demand trumped capacity. Queues of cars wreaked havoc with what little traffic was on the roads under alert level 4 restrictions, indicating a clear lack in appropriate facilities for such efforts. – Adam Pearse

The question remains; how did we let this happen again?Adam Pearse

The frustrating aspect is that we’ve been through this before. We know what happens when calls for mass testing are sounded and yet nothing seems to have changed in the 17 months we’ve had to prepare. – Adam Pearse

What is most disappointing is that it’s our nurses who are bailing us out again. They have no choice but to rise to the occasion. They know their communities need them, rain or shine, swabbing every nose possible. The hope is – likely a naive one – that their sacrifices will not be forgotten by those who hold the keys to better pay and improved working conditions. – Adam Pearse

But if the past week has signalled anything, it’s that we will never be able to successfully operate mass testing without addressing the historical issues in our health workforce.

If you head to a well-resourced medical centre, you will see how mass events should be run and what they all have in common is sufficient staffing. Without the necessary numbers, people’s anxieties will continue to defeat efforts to prioritise testing for those who need it. – Adam Pearse

Until the world is willing to admit the obvious truth—that radical Islamism sanctions atrocities against women—these atrocities will continue to happen. – Yasmine Mohammed

The New Zealand Government can take a lot of lessons from its Covid leadership.

Firstly, and most importantly, leadership should always get in the weeds and into the detail on the mission critical matters. The best business leaders in the world are always on the dance floor, not on the balcony.

Less time on PR. More time on solving problems and practical decision making. More time being proactive not reactive. – Nick Mowbray

Helicopter management simply does not work. It’s a “hit and hope” approach.

Leaders need to first understand at a macro level what needs to be prioritised and then move swiftly into action, getting into the detail, solving problems and building actionable frameworks. Unfortunately this government’s record reads poorly in this regard.Nick Mowbray

Unfortunately I fear a lack of understanding at a macro level. A good example was the wage freeze on nurses for three years in complete disregard to mass inflation (consumer/houses/assets) – so basically a wage reduction.

No one is more mission-critical than nurses. We need every single one. Our health system is already vastly understaffed regardless of Covid. We should be prioritising our health professionals now more than ever. – Nick Mowbray

Complacency kills companies. It’s also what got New Zealand into this spot. Like in business if you don’t keep moving, evolving, improving and being proactive every single day you get left behind and eventually you lose.

NZ’s Covid response flat-lined a long time ago.

I hope our Government is learning from this and evolves so we can move quickly join the world again. – Nick Mowbray

These people, who ask questions, challenge the government’s response, probe and probe again after detecting inconsistencies, play a vital role in improving the Covid-19 response.

Because being part of the team doesn’t mean mindlessly accepting information at face value. And being kind doesn’t mean sitting down and shutting up.Laura Walters

Questions and challenges should be rooted in fact, with the express aim of improving public understanding and access to information, as we all work towards the same goal: keeping New Zealanders safe. But there is plenty of space between whipping up hysteria and essentially becoming part of the government communications machine. It is not the job of the New Zealand media or the opposition to make the government look good.

Unfortunately, many of those who do play the vital role of questioning the government’s handling of some aspects of its pandemic response are vilified. – Laura Walters

Watching the sausage being made can be surprising, confusing and sometimes off-putting. Repeated questioning on the same topic might seem unnecessary or even a form of badgering, but it’s also how a subtle inconsistency in a comment from the country’s leadership can reveal a wider issue. Laura Walters

So, when we talk about the team of five million, it’s important to remember there are many roles within the team, and they often look quite different.

Good science has been at the core of New Zealand’s successful Covid-19 strategy. Good science is not born out of acceptance or complacency; it’s reliant on the constant challenging and questioning of ideas and approaches, in order to get the best possible outcome. The same is true for public health policy and political responses. – Laura Walters

This is a very shonky and incompetent government. Make no mistake.Lindsay Mitchell

Isn’t it interesting how much lower the bar is for bureaucrats than the private sector?  Even our sports teams get more scrutiny. Imagine if Ashley Bloomfield was an All Black coach.

Bear in mind, this guy is our number one, head and shoulders above the next best suitable candidate. That’s the worryingly low benchmark we’re setting and accepting across the state service for where performance expectations sit. –  Kate Hawkesby

If this were the private sector, we’d score KPI’s, canvas high and lowlights, and grade performance. The only conclusion we could draw would result in a small chat with HR in which Bloomfield be invited to bring a support person, followed by a press release about spending more time with his family, and, if he’s lucky, a small pay-out.   

But this isn’t happening with Teflon Bloomfield, NZ’s highest profile bureaucrat. Kate Hawkesby

On numerous occasions he’s at best withheld or obfuscated material information – and at worst has bare face lied to Cabinet, a Select Committee and the public. On testing, on flu vaccines, on PPE, on the critical vaccine procurement and rollout, on saline injections, on text messages to Foreign Affairs.

He continues to defend the indefensible.  – Kate Hawkesby

We’ve been caught short – and he’s not fronting that with a mea culpa, or even highlighting areas where things could’ve been better, nor is he being put under scrutiny or held to account by his employer. 

He has not demonstrated the light-footed dynamism of thought that’s required in managing the risks of an ever-evolving pandemic. In the private sector he’d be toast, and yet, we have deified him.Kate Hawkesby

If these really are isolated incidents, then the only conclusion one can make is that Labour volunteers are pathologically stupid. – David Farrar

Meanwhile, my mother and I still cry a storm of tears on twice-weekly video calls and our daughter gets further and further from the place of her birth. For those Australians who say expats had all the time they needed to come home, I hope you never have to watch a loved one’s funeral on a video call or lose a job without a way to find another. I hope you never have to take out a mortgage to hug your mother. The financial cost has been enormous, but it’s the emotional toll that hurts the most. That and the realisation that what you thought was “home” was just an illusion.Gaynor Reid

The role of Opposition in our Westminster parliamentary system is vital to a properly functioning democracy. Our system is adversarial not simply because the Opposition want to win the next election, but because of the serious part we must play in scrutinising the Government and having them justify their actions to the New Zealand public.- Judith Collins

They like us to give them eight days’ notice if we’re increasing our capacity, but as I said to them, Jacinda didn’t give us eight days’ notice for the lockdown.Annabel Turley

You just completely blow up with Delta if you have got an unvaccinated population. So this [outbreak] is a consequence of being too slow on the vaccine and not buying up aggressively at the start of the year, and there’s actually not a lot of excuse for that. We have to put ourselves first, and we didn’t. – Rodney Jones

The system appears to be bursting at the seams and the Government’s only response so far has been to shrug off criticism because this outbreak is bigger than what they had prepared for.

But that ignores four stark warnings that the Government has received over the past 18 months about the state of the contact tracing system. Each of these critical reviews found that the system would struggle to handle a medium-sized outbreak. Now such an outbreak has arrived and it has been spurred on further by the fact that it involves the highly transmissible Delta variant. – Mark Daalder

It’s the struggle that Ardern has been waging for 18 months – not wanting to politicise the pandemic but having to grapple with the fact that these decisions are by necessity political. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that the government makes its decisions solely on the health advice. – Marc Daalder

It’s bad enough that Delta arrived on these shores at a time when our vaccination rates were among the lowest in the developed world. It’s appalling that our frontline workers in hospitals, ports, supermarkets and police were largely unvaccinated. – Bruce Cotterill

Training testers and contact tracers now is like training your army after the enemy has invaded. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime we have 2000 supermarket workers in isolation and six supermarkets closed in Auckland alone as a result of a lack of staff. If you think lockdowns are frustrating people, just wait until they can’t get to the supermarket.

It gets worse. Life-saving surgeries, including a kidney transplant, have been cancelled because of a shortage of nurses. Where are the nurses? Isolating of course. – Bruce Cotterill

This crisis is far from over and we desperately need to change the way we are going about it. We need a sense of urgency. We need to put people in places with the ability to get things done and authority to make decisions.

Government departments and their servants provide adequate resource when life is normal. But in a crisis you need different skills and different strategies. You need rapid response, something government departments are not typically known for. You need people who can put teams together quickly and get things done. Political affiliations don’t matter. It’s all hands on deck. Just like the wartime that most of us are too young to remember.

And we need to be thinking ahead. Someone needs to be asking what the worst-case scenarios are and how we should prepare in case they happen. – Bruce Cotterill

The starting point in solving any problem is to admit that that you have a problem.

Instead of making excuses, let’s admit that our vaccination programme has been too slow and make a plan to get ahead of the game. Order booster vaccines now (we haven’t done this yet!).

How do we speed up testing? And how do we speed up getting test results? It’s six days in some places. Too long. We need next-day results. – Bruce Cotterill

We need a plan to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. We then need to plan our re-opening. We need to share those plans with the people and businesses so they can make their own plans. – Bruce Cotterill

Meeting surge capacity isn’t just some gold standard target to make the Government and health officials feel a sense of achievement, it’s pivotal to ensuring lockdown is actually working and Delta is being stamped out.

Based on the woefully low current capacity of contact tracers, not to mention the fact 600 contact tracers are being sought in the middle of an outbreak, it’s difficult to see what stress-testing was carried out ahead of Delta arriving. – Jo Moir

Either the Ministry of Health did little to no scenario-planning or wildly overestimated its own abilities.Jo Moir

Knowledge is power and contacts of positive cases not getting tested immediately makes it difficult to gauge how big the outbreak is and, in some cases, results in more people getting infected.

In addition to that there’s now issues of people who have tested positive not being moved into quarantine. – Jo Moir

It’s becoming increasingly unclear what exactly about this outbreak was planned for. – Jo Moir

So, then, reasonable decisions about the lockdowns are being made with the information available at this moment. But it would be remiss not to point out that we find ourselves in at this moment because of decisions made by the same people and their officials earlier in the pandemic.

For whatever reasons – and I think there are like many, some of which were out of officials’ control and some of which weren’t – we have found ourselves woefully behind in the vaccination programme. Ministers are incredibly defensive whenever they are challenged on this. But you can’t take credit for one part of the response and shirk all responsibility for another. – Jack Tame

Even once everyone had the opportunity to be vaccinated, the government will not remove all Covid restrictions. The government will build its own MIQ facilities. It will take at least a year to complete. The ability to travel wherever we wanted and return whenever we wanted will be a treasured memory for many years to come.

We will be unable to take international holidays. We will not be able to visit our friends and family overseas. Doing business worldwide will remain difficult.

Meanwhile, life in New Zealand will change. We will always be bound by rules. Covid outbreaks will be a constant concern, shutting down parts of the country without warning. Any plan will always be subject to change. There will be no certainty.

The power balance in our country will have shifted in favour of the state. We will live in a world where the state is in charge of our well-being and security. A state that, by the way, consistently fails at basic tasks. No matter how grateful we are to be alive, who would want to live in such a dystopian society?

For Covid’s sake, how much freedom will New Zealanders sacrifice? The answer to that question will determine the future of our country. – Oliver Hartiwch

We are short of nurses, not just in aged care facilities but all across the country. Yet I saw the Prime Minister saying that we were prepared for Covid-19 – but that Delta had a head start on us.

Nonsense – we had a head start on Delta but the government didn’t prepare for it by bringing in the thousands more nurses needed throughout the health system. We have had only 20 per cent of the population vaccinated and there are only enough vaccines in the country right now for another 375,000 (750,000 vaccines in all, two doses per person).

That’s not ‘prepared’; that is the slowest vaccination rate in the whole OECD. It’s a joke for Jacinda Ardern to say Delta had a head start.Brien Cree

So now we have overworked nurses working for six and seven days a week. They are asking for more pay and fair enough – but this isn’t a pay issue, it’s a supply issue. Instead of allowing nurses in from overseas, they have decided to burn out the nurses we have here.

There are over 2000 nursing vacancies in DHB hospitals and over 1000 in residential care. Then there’s natural attrition as people leave for all sorts of reasons – now including exhaustion. So who knows what the real number is? – Brien Cree

Why do we have 11-hour queues for vaccines? Not enough nurses. Why are we the lowest-vaccinated country in the OECD? A shortage of nurses.

We have been asking and asking for overseas nurses to be let in here – refused at every turn. We should have been building capacity in our health system, planning for when the virus came back. We all knew it was coming and the government kept telling us it would – yet they did nothing.

The government is making it sound like they have prepared for the crisis – but the real crisis is yet to occur. That will happen when the severely stretched health system can’t cope with the lack of specialist services not bringing in overseas nurses has caused.

They should have realised we were in the eye of the storm and brought in thousands of nurses in the past year, settled them in and got them working so the system could stay robust. They didn’t, although sports teams and entertainers got in, and now they have made us vulnerable. – Brien Cree

The government short-sightedness in keeping essential workers out is mystifying. They had an opportunity and they blew it.
The health system is in crisis now and the real crisis hasn’t even arrived yet.

Let’s learn from our mistakes – when this lockdown is over, let’s get much needed nurses into the country and build some capacity back into our health system. – Brien Cree

Empty streets, shuttered businesses, and people physically avoiding each other are bleak reminders that our ‘normal’ way of living is now fragile.

That, and the ‘us vs them’ group think mentality.

Us being the ‘team of five million’ and ‘them’ anyone who dares criticise the Government’s approach. – Andrea Vance

We are complying with restrictions on movement, gatherings, and even trading.

But that does not mean we gave up on freedom of expression.Andrea Vance

Government supporters aggressively insist critics should shut up and trust the experts. That anyone questioning the prevailing approach is recklessly anti-science, undermining the response or indifferent to a higher death toll.

This is too crude. It is perfectly logical to accept the need for current restrictions, while criticising the Government for how we got here and the failings that led to it, not least in the vaccination roll-out.

Delta got in – there should be hard questions about why so that the gaps are plugged. People are being denied the right to come home – it’s only fair they get to question the managed isolation procedures keeping them out. – Andrea Vance

It is right that the decisions coming from the Beehive are informed by complex scientific evidence.

But that does not mean that only those with expertise have the right to an opinion.

No political decisions are based solely on pure science.Andrea Vance

Political decisions always involve trade-offs, moral values and priorities. – Andrea Vance

It’s not defeatism, just debate. We can reject that which does not work or apply.Andrea Vance

Expert knowledge reflects the assumptions and blind spots of the giver. Scientists disagree, evidence shifts (last year masks were ineffective, this year they are essential. Mandatory scanning couldn’t be implemented at a meaningful level, now it can. All advice is, and should be, challengeable).

Obviously, there are caveats. Misinformation, especially when it is harmful, should be vigorously challenged.

The need for debate is vital.The normal checks and balances of our democracy are suspended at a time when they are most needed.

The 1pm briefings skew the discourse in favour of the Government, at the expense of Opposition voices, which are already weakened. – Andrea Vance

Sweeping decisions on fundamental rights are being made on a daily basis without any kind of scrutiny. They might be right and justified, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be examined and debated.

Of course, she must exude confidence in the strategy and maintain consistent and clear messaging. But it’s troubling when she says she doesn’t want a debate.

And that makes it even more crucial to have robust scrutiny from outside her inner circle.

Because if they are the right decisions, then they remain the right decisions. Questions and alternative viewpoints won’t change that, and we can be more confident we’re on the right course.

We shouldn’t run from transparent and open debate – scrutiny can only improve the decision-making. – Andrea Vance

This lockdown feels much harder than the first big one last year.

The mood has changed. People – especially Aucklanders who are on their fourth stay-at-home order – are grumpier. Commentators and columnists are scratchier.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Most of it, though, is driven by an enormous sense of disappointment. We thought New Zealand was exceptional. The world raved about our world-leading Covid response. But now, the world is ridiculing us at worst, shocked at best.

Our national pride is at stake, says economist Robert MacCulloch. This outbreak threatens to break our spirits and he worries that if we fall into despondency at the thought of being left behind by the world it could lead to an economic slump.

It’s likely dawning on a lot of people how unprepared our leaders were for this outbreak. Little in our Covid response has changed between March 2020 and today. That’ll come as a shock and disappointment to many who put so much faith in Jacinda and Ashley. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The pair have been touted globally as remarkable leaders, but it may be starting to feel like our remarkable leaders only have one trick and that’s locking down. They haven’t been successful at much else in this pandemic response.

They haven’t got enough contact tracers: they’re now doubling that number from 600 to 1200, showing how underprepared they were. They haven’t prepared a good testing system: people were lining up from 4am some days. They are so far behind on the vaccine rollout we are still the last in the developed world. We now face the prospect of running out next month unless we slow down the rollout.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our tolerance for the usual explanation has dropped. Back in March 2020, Jacinda and Ashley were able to – reasonably fairly – frame themselves as the victims of events beyond their control. This is a textbook crisis management technique. And we accepted the explanation because none of us expected Covid. How could they? We accepted they were building the plane as they flew it. We gave them latitude.

They tried to roll out that narrative again this outbreak. It won’t work nearly as well this time. We’re too clued up on Covid now to buy that.

For the past eight months, we’ve watched the news as the Delta variant spread, from India to the UK to NSW. We watched it evade the legendary NSW contact tracers. We watched it leak over Australian borders throwing state after state into lockdown. We knew it was coming here and we knew it would take a stepped-up response to tackle it.

So, we expected our world leading PM and world leading Health Ministry to also have watched Delta and been ready for its arrival. They clearly aren’t. Which means we’re not buying the same old explanation run out from the 1 o’clock press conferences.

That makes us more grumpy. It shakes our faith in them and their ability to handle future outbreaks.- Heather du Plessis-Allan

That criticism stunned Professor Sir David Skegg. He said he was surprised how this level 4 lockdown has shaken the faith of some commentators in the elimination strategy. But he’s mistaken about what’s shaken our faith. It’s not just the lockdown. It’s really also our leaders. We expected them to be more prepared.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow accepting this might be the only tool they know how to use. Lockdowns are proving harder and harder to live through. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

In no small measure, the Government has successfully used fear as a big motivating factor for people over the past 18 months. Now fear could work against it. As with a lot of things in this world, the Government can’t “fix” Covid, and will essentially have to level with the public about this fact. – Luke Malpass

But this all turns on the vaccine rollout working and getting through basically everyone who wants a jab by the end of the year. That’s precisely the reason Ardern has turned the top of the 1pm update into a misleading advertorial about the vaccine programme, in which she or the minister fronting produces a huge headline figure of the number of New Zealanders who “have either booked or had at least one vaccination”. It’s a nonsense number.

Being booked and being vaccinated are not the same thing. Trying to pretend that the rollout is quicker than it is by blowing up a concocted headline number does no-one any favours and hurts the Government’s credibility.

But it does speak to the political vulnerability of the Government. Elimination is still the strategy, and it needs to hold until the population gets vaccinated. Luke Malpass

All of that means this is the last-gasp lockdown. Delta is going to be here, it is going to have to be managed, but lockdowns won’t be how it is done. They are too tough, too costly and, ultimately, compliance is unlikely to remain as high in the future.

Elimination via lockdowns was arguably the best strategy. But in a world of Delta, the economic juice won’t be worth the squeeze. Now the Government has to remind Kiwis that it can’t save every life, and also realign its messaging around the fact that health outcomes are never the only consideration in policy-making.

This lockdown may drag on, and there may still be others before the end of the vaccine programme, but it is now clear that its time in the Covid toolkit is coming to an end. – Luke Malpass

To suggest that the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi in some way obviate the Crown’s need to obtain the consent of the New Zealand electorate before changing the way justice is administered, and by whom, is tantamount to suggesting that the Treaty legally entitles the Crown to extinguish democracy in the Realm of New Zealand without reference to its citizens and in defiance of its laws.

Such action would constitute a declaration of war upon the people of this country. Any government participating in such an open attack on the civil and political rights of its citizens would immediately identify itself as their enemy, and forfeit all claims to their continuing loyalty. It would be responsible for unleashing civil war upon New Zealand.

The Labour Government’s silence on these matters is indefensible. A clear statement of its determination to uphold the Rule of Law and protect the democratic rights of all New Zealanders is long overdue. Chris Trotter

The border closure followed by the smugness that led us to do nothing comes at a massive economic price.

Smugness and complacency don’t pay the bills – Mike Hosking

An ICU bed is a physical structure alone. It cannot provide care or compassion and cannot save your life. To do all these things, a bed must come with staff who literally stand next to it every hour of every day.

Although doctors are able to provide support for several patients at once, individual care is provided almost exclusively by ICU nurses. Such expertise does not grow on trees; nurses only acquire these skills after five years of (intensive) training. Trans-Tasman wage gaps ensure a significant ongoing turnover. – Dr Alex Psirides

A single ICU bed costs well in excess of one million dollars per year. There are convincing arguments to be made that investing similar sums in either public or primary health will produce greater benefits for more New Zealanders, including addressing healthcare inequities. Building a cheaper fence at the top of the cliff is surely preferable to funding more expensive ambulances at the bottom.

These difficult decisions are for politicians and health economists, but should be informed by clinicians and the expectations of the public who should simultaneously hope that they never require an ICU bed, yet that one be readily available for them should they need it. – Dr Alex Psirides

If PR spin was all we needed to defeat a virus, Covid-19 might have been vanquished by now. But there comes a point when the Beehive communications wizards run out of snappy lines and the government’s vulnerability is exposed for all to see. Perhaps we’ve reached that point. Karl du Fresne

On three key metrics – testing, vaccinations and contract tracing – the government’s performance has been, to put it politely, tardy and sub-optimal. Protection at the border has been slack and the MIQ system appears to be a shambles. Meanwhile vulnerable essential workers, from police to port employees, have inexplicably been left unvaccinated.  – Karl du Fresne

Myself, I’m conflicted on Covid-19 and the lockdown. I instinctively bridle against the government’s gloss and spin. I’m over Ardern’s patronising entreaties from the Beehive Theatrette and I know lots of people – apolitical people, in many cases – who feel the same.

I also take the cynical view that the Covid-19 outbreak gifted a floundering government with a priceless publicity opportunity and a rare chance to give the appearance of being in control of something. But while the crisis initially looked good for Labour, it turned out not to be, because it served to cast light on the multiple glaring deficiencies in its preparedness. – Karl du Fresne

 

In April 2020, the Government banned all point-of-care tests unless they are approved by MedSafe, and MedSafe has not seen fit to approve any tests. Pedants might argue that this does not constitute a ban, but banning anything that has not been approved while deciding not to approve any options sounds an awful lot like a ban. – Eric Crampton

Whatever the merits of the ban prior to Delta, it makes little sense in the context of a Delta outbreak with transmission among essential workers. Providing rapid antigen tests to essential employers, such as hospitals, care homes, and supermarkets, would provide an additional layer of protection. If the Government did not want to purchase the tests for those employers, it could at least ease the ban on them.Eric Crampton

The effective functioning of any army has forever been based on instant obedience and strict unquestioning discipline – attributes now seriously out of fashion, especially with the liberal left. Why, these good folks demand, should soldiers be required to behave like automatons, just because they enlisted in an army? This kind of stricture, they maintain, is scandalously undemocratic, and before risking being shot or blown to bits, every trooper should be allowed due process and adequate consultation. – Dave Witherow

But the armed forces, no matter how they are viewed, ARE exceptional. They are not at all like other institutions, and the nature of their role immediately precludes many people whose merits, otherwise, might be undeniable. The blind and stone deaf, for example, are of limited utility as tank drivers or fighter pilots, or even as basic infantry. Paraplegics, pacifists, octogenarians, hemophiliacs, epileptics – whole categories of estimable people, however meritorious, need not apply.Dave Witherow

Can we just stop and think about how crazy this is:  In the middle of an outbreak – our government is seriously talking about slowing down our vaccination rate, because otherwise they will run out of supply.

Surely, it’s better to have those vaccines in arms rather than the freezer?  Surely, it’s better to simply jab until you run out?  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

There is only one reason that the government would rather slow down and that’s so they don’t’ have to say the embarrassing words ‘we’ve run out’.  

Because that make global headlines “New Zealand runs out vaccine”.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So, what they’d be doing is telling up to 40K Kiwis every day that they’re not going to get vaccine protection from delta, during an outbreak, because Labour needs to avoid an embarrassing headline. That is literally the calculation that’s happened.

If Labour does this then it has made the decision that it is more important to save face globally than it is to get you jabbed if you’re one of those 40K kiwis who miss every single day.  And by the way 40K a day is 280K a week is 1.1m a month. That’s a lot of us who go unprotected to save face. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour putting its political reputation ahead of you staying protected from Covid is frankly outrageous. 

Get it out of the freezer.  Get it in arms.  If we run out, we run out, but at least more kiwis have protection that way.   – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Comparing a fictional TV series set in the context of a world war against an invading army may be seen by some as trivialising what is a real threat against an aggressive virus. However, there does seem to be a Dad’s Army element to the manner in which New Zealand has responded to the pandemic and a Home Guard feel about the way our government has managed the Delta variant. – Frank Newman

The most important chart right now, the only one that matters, is how many New Zealanders have received a Covid-19 vaccination. The Prime Minister may like to point to other charts each day, but all they show is a lack of direction from her and her GovernmentJudith Collins

 


Anne Tolley’s valedictory

24/07/2020

National MP Anne Tolley delivered her valedictory speech last night:

 

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Deputy Speaker—National): I stand here as the 74th woman to be elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives, and I want to begin tonight by recalling when I stood to deliver my maiden speech and acknowledging, in particular, my granddaughter Madeleine. She was here then, just months old, and she turns 21 this October. So for her whole life, her grandma has been a member of Parliament.

She came with a busload from Napier, all pretty excited as it was about 50 years since Napier had had a National MP, and she’s here today, with my extremely supportive family. My son Heath and his wife, Cathy, and—I can’t see the little granddaughters; oh, yes—Cassandra and Alexis. My daughter Imogen—mother of Madeleine—and my grandson, Joshua. My husband, Allan, of course—and I’ll come back to him. My London-based daughter, Andrea, who’s watching and is with us in spirit—and goodness only knows how long it’s going to be before I can give her a hug. My mother, who is in a rest home in Havelock North—and I hope she’s got the channel right. My sisters, Kate and Bronwyn; my sister-in-law, Miranda; my cousin; and my niece and nephew. They’ve all put up with years of my political career: the good, the bad, and a little bit of the ugly.

In 2002, as a list MP, I lost my seat. I went out into the private sector, and Tony Ryall and Simon Power convinced me to try to win the East Coast electorate. I was selected as the candidate in late December 2007, and took off for a last Christmas holiday to Lake Waikaremoana with my family. Well, come Boxing Day, and Tony Ryall’s on the phone. He had started a campaign for me to save the eastern bay rescue helicopter, and poor old Robyn Watchorn—who worked for Tony before her 15 years for me—was in the office on Boxing Day, faxing petitions to all the local businesses, and for the younger members of Parliament, faxes are things that look like phones that print out at the end. It was a great introduction to the relentless work ethic expected of an MP, and that family will take second place.

I’ve been very lucky to have support from my husband, Allan. To win the East Coast seat, we had to move to Gisborne. We had to leave Napier, where Allan and I had both grown up, met, wed, and raised our family. All our friends were there, and all the contacts and influence that we’d built up over the years. What an enormous sacrifice that was that Allan was prepared to make for me, and I will always be so grateful.

After almost eight years, he’d just settled down, and I then moved him again as the electorate moved across into the Bay of Plenty. Thank you, Allan—you’ve been a great partner and supporter throughout my political career.

I want to thank also my electorate chairs, Pat Seymour and Wayne Marriott. They ran the local party machine, they kept me out and about, they paid the bills, they kept up the support base and the volunteers, and they play a huge role in the life and times of an electorate MP.

I’ve been fortunate to have incredible staff, both in my electorate and in the ministerial offices, and some of them are here with me tonight. Thank you, Robyn Watchorn. What an extraordinary woman she is. She was recently honoured for her outstanding community work over many years, she is a talented artist who made our commemorative camellia broaches that all the women wear so proudly, and, as I say, she’s worked in my Whakatāne office for 15 years. Caroline Taylor worked in the Gisborne office for over 10 years. Sharron Wilson was in both Te Puke and Gisborne, and Shirley Whitwell in the Kawerau office—I don’t know where they are; they’re in different places—Carolyn Meihana in Murupara; Amanda Hillary in Wellington; and Marie Rolls and Grace Hickson and Wendy Tozer. Thank you for all your help and dedication over the years. I really couldn’t have managed without any of you, and it’s great to have so many of you here tonight.

As a Minister, I was also blessed with great staff, and two in particular were with me almost entirely throughout my ministerial life: Michelle Morehu and Gillon Carruthers. Michelle came first as a receptionist, but took over as my senior private secretary within months and continued almost until the last, and, boy, she ran my life. She was outstanding, and I quickly forgave her for the fact that she had previously worked for Clayton Cosgrove.

Gillon managed my media team and, I guess, presented my life, and his advice kept me out of trouble on more than one occasion. Our greatest challenge was probably the riot and subsequent fire at Spring Hill prison—a corrections Minister’s worst nightmare. But with Gillon’s management, Ray Smith and I stood shoulder to shoulder and dealt with the media and the unions, recognising the enormous bravery of our staff, but never showing for a moment in public how dangerous the situation really was—so much so that many of my colleagues hardly even remembered there had been a riot.

There were several other staff in my office who spent some time in my office, and I was always pleased when they went on to successful careers and I hoped that I had been able to contribute in some small way to their successes. Gareth Richards, Monique Lepine, Stephen Jones, Maggie Beaumont, Antony Harvey, Ashley Murchison, Zach Castles, Cameron Olderfield, and Ashleigh Muir—thank you sincerely. To those who came from the State agencies to work with me, at times I made their jobs difficult, I accept. They were often caught between what a Minister wants and what the agency can or is willing to deliver. But, without exception, I valued their expertise and knowledge and I thank them for all their help.

I’ve had an amazing career as both junior and senior whip, as a Minister, and as a Deputy Speaker, and I want to acknowledge and thank my chief executives: Karen Sewell from the Ministry of Education, Graham Stoop from the Education Review Office, Peter Marshall and Mike Bush—who’s with us tonight—from the New Zealand Police, Ray Smith—who’s also here—from the Department of Corrections, Julie Reid in the Serious Fraud Office, Brendan Boyle from the Ministry of Social Development, and Grainne Moss from Oranga Tamariki. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked with you all such highly competent professionals, and I’m delighted that some of you have been able to come tonight. I think we accomplished much together.

Thank you to all the people that make Parliament work: the Parliamentary Service and staff—and I see Raf up the back there—the hard-working House staff, all the people in the Clerk’s Office—David, you and your team that support presiding officers—and especially thanks to the VIP Transport Service men and women, with whom I’ve probably spent more time than with my husband. They’ve all looked after me so well over the years.

But as I consider my life and my time in Parliament in its closing days, I am reminded of the meaning of the word “politics”. From the Greek “polis”, meaning “city”, comes the Greek word “politēs”, meaning “citizen”, and I’m sure that if Chris Finlayson was here tonight, he’d correct my pronunciation. But, in other words, it’s all about people. When I look back on my career, the moments and the highlights that defined my time are the people, and I thought I’d share with you tonight some of those people.

I remember well the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents who contacted me about national standards. They talked to me in airports, they talked to me on aeroplanes, they talked to me in cafes and restaurants, they emailed me, they faxed me, and they phoned me, and all with the same story: “If only we had known earlier, if only the school had told us, if only the teacher had said to us that our son or daughter was falling behind, couldn’t read properly, had no grasp of maths, or was really struggling to keep up with the basics, instead of telling us that they added value to the class, were delightful personalities, or were good participants.” They said, “If only we had known, we could have helped them and got them extra assistance. Instead, we only found out that our child was way behind when they started at high school, and then they told us, and then it was way too late.”

As education Minister, I negotiated the trades academies, which enabled young people to begin their trades qualifications while still at high school. Years later, my own grandson raved to me about his own experience with the trades academy. I knew that too many of these kids who learnt by making things—kinetic learners, they call them—were finding school irrelevant and, with the global financial crisis upon us, would struggle and drift into unemployment or, worse, into gang life. I remember taking PM John Key to the Whakatāne-based academy, where we met a large group of excited but very focused young people, and two stood out for John and me. They came from way up the coast. They left home at about 5 a.m. to ride—possibly a horse—down to catch the bus to Whakatāne, which was over three hours away. They told us they were still in school only because of that day, Friday, in the trades academy. Of course, that huge trip was repeated at the end of the day. I know one of those boys. He secured an apprenticeship at the end of that year and is working locally in Whakatāne to this day.

As corrections Minister, I took an enormous risk and OK’d the Rimutaka Prison taking part in Wellington on a Plate. Martin Bosley was the chef who sought that approval and over the years has been joined by a number of well-known chefs, and the prison event is one of the most popular. But I remember going out into the kitchen that first night and talking to a man who, with a real light in his eye, told me that in his whole life he had never been good at anything. But he had found that he could cook, and a famous chef had told him that he was talented and would help him find a job when he got out. Martin and many others did find jobs for some of these men who did have talents and have supported many of them on their release.

I also remember visiting a prison that had just started a puppy training programme where the prisoners took care of the initial training of the puppies. You know, they did the toilet training, the walking on a lead—basic things—before their intensive training started as assist dogs. I remember talking to this enormous man. He was huge. He was covered in tattoos. He was a real fierce-looking dude. He wouldn’t meet my eye, because many of them wouldn’t, of course. But I did ask him had he had dogs previously, and he nodded. I said to him, “Were they fighting dogs?” And he nodded. Then this great big fierce man bent down and picked up this little puppy, this golden Labrador ball of fluff, and with this gooey look on his face tucked it into his neck and told me that Daisy had scratched at the door to go out to the toilet for the first time the night before. That programme was about teaching empathy to people whose past crimes showed little evidence of it, and I saw that in his face that day, and I knew that the programme had made a difference.

Of course, I loved being Minister of Police. We are so lucky in New Zealand with our police because they’re so professional, and they’re not only law enforcers but they’re social workers and mental health workers all at the same time. I was so proud to be their Minister. The work my colleague Amy Adams and I began with the whole-of-Government response to family violence was led by a passionate policewoman, Tusha Penny. I well remember her recounting the story of a woman whose history of abuse was only really uncovered by agencies when they finally sat down together and began sharing her information, especially ACC—because this woman was extremely accident prone. She’d managed to shut her own fingers in car doors on several occasions. She’d had a car engine drop on her feet, breaking toes, twice. She’d spilled boiling water over herself, had fallen down stairs, and walked into doors numerous times. She’d come to the attention of the police and then the family harm group as a low to medium risk of harm. But with the full knowledge of her past injuries and violent experiences, she was immediately moved to extreme risk, with huge support and assistance provided for the first time ever. This woman I remember I never met, I never knew her name, but I know we saved her life.

I want to mention two young people from Child, Youth and Family, which is now Oranga Tamariki, and everyone who knows me understands my lifelong determination to make sure that these, the most vulnerable children in our communities, are safe and are able to thrive if they have to be in State care to keep them safe from harm. I finally grabbed the opportunity to address the system that was failing them so badly, despite the very best of intentions. You can only do that by talking to the people who live under that system and experience it. So I set up an advisory group of young people who had either been in State care or who were still in State care.

The first young man’s story didn’t actually have a happy ending. He was just 14 going on 15 when he came into my office. He was sullen. He was cynical of the process, and he was a little over-awed, and all of those three at once. Next thing, he’d run away from his foster home. But he turned up to see me at the Gisborne A & P show. I think he’d been with cousins up the coast. With encouragement, he returned to Wellington and he came alive around the table when we started discussing youth justice services, because he knew about them. He’d had a lot of experience of them. His contribution was invaluable and insightful, and I was so grateful to the officials that listened to him and made changes accordingly. Sadly, I know that this wasn’t enough to make up for everything else that had damaged him.

But one of that group, a bright, intelligent, and determined young woman, took every opportunity to contribute to the redesign process. She came along to Parliament and she sat up here and she watched the lawmaking process when she could, because she was at university studying to be a social worker. I ran into her a year ago at a local school. She had a very successful career. She was highly respected. As we hugged, I knew her eyes were on not only her future but the future of the people she was bringing up behind her. I wish her all the best.

Finally, it’s been a huge honour to represent the East Coast electorate for 15 years—so many wonderful people; such a rich and diverse cultural and social electorate. Many people have crossed my path in that time. I’ve been lucky to work with some great mayors, and we’ve dealt, through the office, with some characters, with some tragedies, but, mainly, with some wonderful, hard-working, innovative, and generous locals.

But my best memory is of Bruce, whose kidneys were slowly dying. He came to me in great distress, not for himself but for his wife. He was still able to have his dialysis at home, but his wife’s health was deteriorating, and the strain on her was overwhelming. In those days, in Gisborne, when it was no longer possible for home-based dialysis, people had to move away. They had to move to Hawke’s Bay or to the Waikato. Bruce was really worried that his wife would have to leave her home, all her family and friends, and all the support and be alone over in Waikato looking after him. So, with the help of a generous Minister of Health, the Hon Tony Ryall, we built a dialysis unit in Gisborne Hospital, and I visited Bruce there several times. In fact, he had a picture of him and I on his coffin. He was always happy to see me, he always had a big smile on his face, and he always thanked me that his wife was able to be well-supported in her home as his health slowly deteriorated. He was a lovely, lovely man and a loving husband, right to the end.

Over these past three years, I’ve met many people from across the world, focusing particularly on increasing the number of women in decision-making roles, especially in the Pacific. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me these opportunities. I also chaired an amazing committee on your behalf developing a code of conduct for the entire New Zealand Parliament, and I met and talked with staff, unions, officials, media, and MPs over the past almost 12 months. Anybody who works here or out in our electorate and community offices has the right to feel safe and respected. It’s a tough environment—we all understand that—but that’s no excuse for some of the behaviour that we know takes place. I spoke with staff who were genuinely frightened to come to work at times. I spoke with MPs who were bullied by colleagues and tolerated sexual harassment as part of the job. None of them had any expectations that something could be done about such behaviour. Well, that is simply unacceptable.

We didn’t manage to negotiate a full code of conduct with consequences—unfortunately, the COVID lockdown impacted on our time. But we did report back to you, Mr Speaker, seven statements of expectations of behaviour. They’re very simple. Let me go through them: to show that bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, are unacceptable; to act respectfully and professionally; to foster an environment where people feel safe and valued; to behave fairly and genuinely, treating others the way we would like to be treated; to use our position of power or influence to help others and avoid harm; and to speak up if we observe unacceptable behaviour. I sincerely hope everyone in the next Parliament commits to these expectations, because—I tell you what—the public expects nothing less.

As I leave this wonderful place, my heart is full of all these people that I’ve had the great privilege to work for and with. I’m confident I, along with all the people I’ve mentioned tonight, have touched the lives of many and made a difference for the better, and that’s what politics is all about.

This is the hard part, because tonight I only have one regret. My father attended my maiden speech after the 1999 election. We sat together every election night, watching and analysing the results, and he came to Wellington every time I was sworn in as a Minister. But he’s not here at the finish, and that’s a big gap in my life. I knew I’d cry, but I couldn’t leave him out, because he’s been such a big part of my political life.

So I say thank you to the National Party and to my caucus colleagues for your friendship and support over the years. As Deputy Speaker—sorry, I can’t read.

SPEAKER: You’re not meant to read anyway!

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: As Deputy Speaker, I’ve got to know and respect MPs right across the House—[Deputy Clerk hands over tissues]—thank you, Suze—and I thank you for the collegiality that breaks out every now and then, and I wish you all the best of luck in the September elections—some more than others, perhaps.

Thank you to my wonderful family for all their support and love, and I know that they are looking forward to not having a mother or a grandmother or a mother-in-law or a cousin or an aunt in politics. Allan, the good news is that I’ve dusted off the bucket list, but the bad news is that I’ve also found a to-do list. Kia ora tātou, everyone.

[Applause]

Waiata


Tania Tapsell Nat candidate for East Coast

07/06/2020

Tania Tapsell has been selected as the National Party candidate for East Coast.

Tania is replacing current MP Anne Tolley who has held the seat for 15 years and is not seeking re-election but will be on the Party List. Tania is currently the Deputy Chairperson of the NZ Community Board Executive Committee.

“I’m very excited to be chosen as National’s candidate in East Coast. I’m looking forward meeting with the hard-working people across all parts of our electorate and helping to ensure we see a National Government come September 19,” Ms Tapsell says.

“New National Leader Todd Muller said it best – while we should take some pride in the way the country has come through the health crisis, we now face an unprecedented economic crisis that will require a different set of skills.

“East Coast is a diverse, beautiful electorate spanning from Te Puke through to Gisborne with farming, forestry, horticulture, fishing, manufacturing and tourism the backbone industries of our electorate.

“While the Government has talked big about funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, it has struggled to get these projects off the ground and generate the jobs that were predicted and needed. The people of East Coast work hard and they deserve a Government that will deliver on its promises and support it through these uncertain times.

“We need the values and experience of a National Government to help guide the East Coast, and the rest of New Zealand, out of this economic crisis.

“Todd Muller leads a strong, experienced team that can be counted on to deliver. I’m looking forward to campaigning hard to ensure East Coast continues to have strong National representation,” Ms Tapsell says.

Biographical Notes: Tania Tapsell

Tania Tapsell is currently the Deputy Chairperson of the NZ Community Board Executive Committee. She has been an elected Councillor for the past seven years and is Chairperson of the Council Operations Committee which oversees $1.2 billion in public assets. She has a passion for the environment and led the Council Sustainable Living Strategy.

Tania has a Bachelor of Management Studies Degree from the University of Waikato, diplomas in business and marketing, and is completing her Master of Management. 

Tania’s first career was in tourism and iwi organisations before she went on to work for BNZ Business Partners and then Deloitte.

Tania resides in Maketu where her Te Arawa iwi is from. Her great uncle Sir Peter Tapsell was an Eastern Māori MP and Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives.

Tania has achieved national titles in cross country and gymnastics and was selected for the NZ Maori U21 Touch team. Tania is engaged to Kanin and has an 8-year-old stepson.

While some in the media are still fixated on identity politics, Tania has been selected by party members in the electorate because she is the best person for the role.

National currently has five Maori electorate MPs, Labour has only two in general seats.

But what is more important than numbers is that National doesn’t do identity politics or tokenism. It attracts able and talented people of a variety of ethnicities who share the party’s vision of equal citizenship and equal opportunity.


National’s refreshed responsibilities

25/05/2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Just say no

27/01/2020

If National had ruled out a deal with New Zealand First three years ago, would the latter have got less than five per cent of the vote and the former still be leading the government?

We’ll never know.

But we do know that around half the people who voted for NZ First hoped the party would go with National and that a lot of them are still very unhappy Winston Peters chose Labour and the Green Party instead.

We also know that while Peters was supposedly negotiating in good faith he was also working on legal action against National’s deputy Paula Bennett and then-minister Ann Tolley.

That tells us, once again, that Peters can’t be trusted.

Simon Bridges has said he will announce well before the election whether or not National will rule out New Zealand First.

I hope he does say no to them which will make it quite clear to voters that a vote for that party is a vote for a Labour-led government.

There are risks.

In spite of their many criticisms of National not trying to win Epsom so that Act will get into parliament, Labour and New Zealand First could come to a similar arrangement in another seat in an attempt to secure an electorate for a New Zealand First candidate. If that worked, NZ First would not need to secure five percent of the vote to stay in parliament.

New Zealand First could get back, with or without an electorate,  and National could have too few seats to form a government without it and so be back in opposition.

But there are bigger risks in not ruling out New Zealand First.

It would send the message to voters that New Zealand First might go with National, even though the chances of that are very, very remote.

It would enable Peters to pretend he’ll listen to voters even though last time more opted for National than Labour.

It would give Peters the power he’s had too many times before to play the bigger parties off against each other and extract too high a price for putting them into government.

The worst day in government is supposed to be better than the best in opposition. But if the choice is government with Peters, I’d opt for opposition.

Tracy Martin says this year feels like the beginning of the end for Peters:

. . .So is it time to write Peters off?  Peters has cleverly played up his part as Labour’s handbrake, just as he once pitched himself as a bulwark against National’s extremes.  It’s how he has survived so long in politics – even after the “baubles of office'” fiasco, or Owen Glenn donations scandal.

But you can only play one side against the other for so long and it feels like Peters has played one too many hands.

So is the extraordinary Peters era coming to an end? He is our most familiar face on television; as recognisable as the theme tune to Coronation Street, as well worn as a pair of old slippers.

 But even soap operas eventually have their day.

National ruling out NZ First would make the end of the Peters soap opera much more likely.

Please, National,  just say no.


Political doesn’t have to get personal

11/12/2019

The first editor I worked for kept telling his reporters, people sell papers.

He was encouraging us to get a personal angle on stories because people like to read about people and relate better to stories with people.

It’s advice that can apply to some aspects of politics. Those making policy should consider the impact it will have on people, not just those at whom the policy is aimed but those who it will affect, including those who will pay for it.

Like the editor, politicians know the power of the personal and use people, real or imagined, to sell their own policies and to criticise those of their opponents.

Personalising politics in that way should always be done with care. It can backfire, as it did when the couple paraded at the launch of one of the first KiwiBuild homes was found to be better off than many would consider in need of government assistance.

It can be tempting to turn a disagreement on issues and policies into personal attacks on the people promoting them, but it is a temptation best resisted, as should criticising people for carrying out their roles just because we don’t agree with their politics.

Regardless of whether we voted for her, regardless of whether we support her, the PM is the PM of New Zealand and acting as such, not as leader of the Labour Party, not as leader of the government, but leader of the country, in her response to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.

Just as any recent Prime Minister, regardless of his or her political colour would have.

Just as Anne Tolley, is doing all  she can and should as the local MP.

People throwing mud at them over this should remember that it sticks to the hand that throws it and that attacking someone personally means, as Margaret Thatcher said, that the attacker has not a single political argument left.

 

 

 


What a waste

14/11/2019

WInston Peters has accepted that then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley did not leak the overpayment of his superannuation to the media.

However, his lawyer is still laying blame for the leak on the Ministry of Social Development.

Crown lawyer Victoria Casey QC gave her closing arguments this morning and argued that Winston Peters’ claim his privacy was breached “falls away entirely” when held up against the law. . .

Casey told Justice Venning the only question he needs to consider is whether her clients’ decision to brief their ministers under the “no surprises” convention breached a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether it was “highly offensive”.

“The questions is not does the court agree with these decisions to brief, or even whether the court has any reservations about the decisions to brief,” she said. . .

None of them establish whether there was a reasonable expectation in private facts. None of them establish that the communication from the chief executives to the ministers constitute highly offensive publication.

“Winston Peters could not have had a reasonable expectation public agencies with such information would not tell their ministers who have accountability to the House,” she said.

Casey also spoke of the high stakes for her clients, because these allegations go to the heart of their integrity.

She warned that if Peters’ complaints are upheld it would be “catastrophic” and career-ending for them.

“I ask the court to pay due attention to the chilling effect on the public sector and the reputational impact of even a passing comment by the High Court of the judgments exercised by these two senior public servants.

“I submit that it is appropriate that the court should exercise real caution before engaging in a review of matters that are beyond the scope of the pleaded claim,” she said. . .

What a waste of time, and public money this has been.

Peters has breached his own privacy and that of his partner by exposing them to a couple of weeks’ publicity that has done neither of them any credit.

And sadly while might have put some wavering voters off him and his party, it could also have confirmed the views of the deluded who support him that, in spite of the evidence to the contrary that this is a mess of his own making, he is somehow a victim.

The media has given very good coverage of the trail but it’s hard to beat Cactus Kate for pithiness in these posts:

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail II

Tim Murphy v Barry Soper just got ugly

Who knew in advance about WInston Peters’ super stuffup?

The media have been the story for years Barry

Courtroom 13 – the week in review

Respecting WInston Peters

Silence…

Winston Peters and subjudice

And…….Denny Crane


Timing deliberate

12/06/2018

Soon to-be acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is suing the Government.

Peters is suing the Ministry of Social Development, plus it its chief executive, Brendan Boyle, and State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes for $450,000 for breach of privacy – relating to his belief over how details of his pension overpayment were leaked to journalists.

He is also suing former ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley but that is no surprise. They have always been targets.

The really stunning aspect of the new action is its timing so close to the date he is due to become Acting Prime Minister for six weeks.

Even if he had a water-tight case – and there is no evidence that he has – wouldn’t he delay it for the sake of a peaceful transition? . . 

Quite what Peters expects to achieve by wasting taxpayers’ money on this at all let alone on the eve of his taking over as acting PM is hard to fathom.

But the timing must be deliberate and it comes with his waiting until the last minute to pull support for repealing the three-strikes legislation.

Anyone willing to bet that all will be calm and stable while Peters is acting PM?

 


Rights and responsiblities

07/09/2017

National is pledging to do more to help young beneficiaries into work:

National will help more young people become drug free, move off the benefit and get a job to help ensure they reach their potential.

“Most of our young people are doing incredibly well. There are more job opportunities and more support than ever in our country, as a result of our strong economic growth,” Social Development Spokesperson Anne Tolley says. 

“But some young people on a benefit need more support. National is committed to helping them into work to ensure they can stand on their own two feet.”

National will invest $72 million over the next four years to support beneficiaries under 25 years of age by:

  • Guaranteeing work experience or training for those who have been on a jobseekers benefit for six months or longer, and financial management training to help them develop financial responsibility
  • Providing rehabilitation services if drug use is identified as a barrier to employment
  • Ensuring all young people under 25 who are on a job seekers benefit receive intensive one-on-one case management to get a job.

“Only 10 per cent of young people who go on a jobseekers benefit stay for more than six months – but for those that do, their average time on benefit is almost 10 years,” Mrs Tolley says. “We want to invest early, and give them one on one support so they can develop the skills they need to move into the workforce.

“We will guarantee them access to work experience or training courses designed specifically to get them ready for work.

 

“In addition, one in five beneficiaries tell us that drug use is a barrier to them getting a job – so we are increasing the support we give them to kick drug use and get work ready.”

People who go from school to a benefit are less likely to be work-ready and more likely to stay benefit-dependent for longer.

Putting this money and effort into helping them become employable will pay dividends for them, potential employers and the country.

National will also place obligations on those who do not take up the significant opportunities available in New Zealand to start work or training.

Job seekers without children who refuse work experience or training or recreational drug rehabilitation will lose 50 per cent of their benefit entitlement after four weeks of not meeting their obligations, with further reductions if that continues. This will also apply to those who continue to fail recreational drug tests, where these are requested by prospective employers.

The lower benefit payments will only be able to be used for essential needs such as rent and food – like we currently do with our Money Management programme for 16 to 19 year olds.

“This significant extra support we are announcing today will come with obligations and personal responsibilities, so those who won’t take the opportunities available to them will lose all or part of their benefit until they take steps to turn their lives around.

“We know benefit sanctions are an effective tool to help people into work, as 95 per cent of people who receive a formal warning meet their obligations within four weeks.”

Any benefit reductions will be made at the discretion of WINZ staff, to take account of individual circumstances. And once individuals decide to meet their obligations, benefits will be reinstated.

“New Zealanders are creating real opportunities for themselves and for New Zealand, through hard work and a commitment to doing better. National supports those efforts and is focused on helping all New Zealanders get ahead, even our most vulnerable,” Mrs Tolley says. 

National will roll out the changes from 1 July next year.

People who work have the right to get paid and the responsibility to earn their pay.

People who don’t have jobs in New Zealand have the right to receive a benefit and with that goes some responsibilities which include being work ready.

For some people that isn’t difficult. Others need a little help and some need a lot.

This policy recognises that and is putting human and financial resources into ensuring those who need help get it and those who refuse it should face consequences.

It recognises that the best assistance for beneficiaries who could work is to help them get jobs and independence.

It is an investment that will pay financial and social dividends for young people and the country.

 

 


Tougher more consistent rules for freedom campers

27/08/2017

A re-elected National Government will introduce tougher and more consistent freedom camping rules that will protect public spaces and crack down on poor behaviour, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley say.

“Lots of Kiwis and many of our international visitors love to camp, and they make a large contribution to our tourism industry,” Tourism Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Freedom campers stay longer and spend more on average than other visitors, but there are now a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and a small minority don’t treat our roadsides and public spaces with adequate respect.

“Local councils have been asking the government to create more consistent rules and to help them penalise those who break these rules.”

National will:

  • Restrict all non self-contained vehicles to areas that are within easy walking distance – approximately 200 metres – of toilet facilities
  • Continue to allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to ban all freedom camping from certain areas, and extend these powers to LINZ and the NZTA to ensure Crown-owned land can also be restricted. The areas could be as small as a certain street or as large as a whole town centre
  • Allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to issue instant fines for those who break the rules. If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be assigned to the vehicle owner, including rental car companies

Assigning the fine to the vehicle owner will incentivise rental companies to explain he rules and the importance of adhering to them to travellers.

“We will also create a new smartphone app to show exactly where people can and cannot camp, and ensure consistent public signage across the country to ensure freedom campers know their rights and responsibilities,” Local Government Spokesperson Anne Tolley says.

“Our changes will not affect trampers, campers and hunters who enjoy our back country areas as they are not considered freedom campers.

“We want responsible campers to continue enjoying the best of what New Zealand has to offer and add to the $380 million a year they currently spend in our regions.

“These sensible changes, which build on those we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, will make the rules much easier to follow, and will still give Councils the flexibility to make rules that suit their communities alongside a simple way to punish those who break the rules with bad behaviour.”

This is a very good move.

Freedom campers in self-contained vehicles – providing they use their on-board loos and dispose of rubbish properly – don’t usually cause problems.

But people in vehicles which range from cars to camper vans without loos, do. Wayside parking areas have become littered with human waste and the problem of people defecating where they shouldn’t isn’t confined to the countryside.

A friend in Wanaka stepped in human pooh outside his gate when he went to get his paper in the morning. Another morning he saw someone who’d slept in his car walk out of the garden on the other side of the road, hitching up his trousers as he did so.

Tourism is good for the economy but the environmental and health costs are too high when travellers turn anywhere they stop into toilets.

Our tougher rules for freedom camping will protect public spaces & crack down on poor behaviour #PartyVoteNational #Delivering4NZers


Rural round-up

04/08/2017

Tool built to stop rogue spray incidents – Adriana Weber:

Winegrowers in Central Otago have developed a new tool to prevent agri-chemicals drifting and damaging their crops.

The Central Otago Winegrowers Association has created a map designed to stop rogue spray incidents.

Its past president, James Dicey, said spray drifting cost winegrowers millions of dollars every year in lost production.

“Grape vines are remarkably difficult to kill but they are ridiculously sensitive to some of these chemicals, so they can take a bit of a hit for a couple of years and that can have a downstream effect on the volume of grapes and the volume of wines that’s produced off those grapes,” he said. . . 

Westland Payout on the Way Up:

Westland Milk Products has reached a milestone in its efforts to offer shareholders a sustainable and industry competitive payout with confirmation of next season’s forecast payout.

Westland is forecasting a net payout range (after retentions) of $6.40 to $6.80 for 2017-18 season – a substantial improvement on the two previous seasons. The industry-competitive forecast comes after ten months of analysis and systems change under its new Chief Executive Toni Brendish and new Chair Pete Morrison, resulting in changes at both managerial and board level to better position the company for success in a changing and challenging global dairy market. . . 

Funding a boost for quake affected farmers says Feds:

Federated Farmers is delighted that a joint application made to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Earthquake Recovery Fund has been successful.

The Federation led the application towards a Farm Business and Land Recovery Programme, which will give direction to recovery research following the Hurunui-Kaikōura earthquake. . . 

Mid-range option considered for Manuherikia water – Alexa Cook:

A new option is on the table for a water scheme in central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments is putting $815,000 funding into the Manuherikia Water Project, which will allow a Falls Dam proposal to move forward.

The dam is about an hour north of Alexandra and, with water permits expiring in the next five years, farmers want reliable irrigation for the future. . . 

Crown Irrigation provides funding for Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora Irrigation Scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (Crown Irrigation) has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. The South Canterbury area and particularly the greater Opihi catchment has long suffered from water shortages and drought, and numerous water reticulation and supply options have been considered over the years. . . 

New irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new grant funding of over $1.1 million for two irrigation projects in South Canterbury and Central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. . . 

Agricultural Aviation Recognises Outstanding Performance:

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association is pleased to confirm the winners of two awards presented at the Aviation Leadership Gala Awards Dinner in Hamilton on Tuesday 25 July.

‘These awards recognise operational excellence and outstanding industry leadership in agricultural aviation,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA). . . 

Biosecurity heroes recognised at Parliament:

Biosecurity heroes from across the country were recognised in Wellington tonight with the announcement of the 2017 New Zealand Biosecurity Award recipients.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the winners of these inaugural awards have shown a real commitment to protecting New Zealand.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister and crucial in protecting our economy and way of life. These awards recognise that it is a shared responsibility for all New Zealanders, and celebrate the efforts of people who are doing their bit for biosecurity every day. . . 

Extra boost for Bay of Plenty farmers:

Flood-hit farmers in the Bay of Plenty region will have a further opportunity to apply for a grant to help with clean up and recovery, say Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

The $100,000 Primary Industries Flood Recovery Fund is part of a package of additional support totalling $295,000 for farms and orchards who suffered damage following the floods. 

“The Government is committed to ensuring communities in the Bay of Plenty have the support they need to recover from the April floods,” says Mrs Tolley. .  .

Zespri wins top award for US trade:

Zespri won the Supreme Award as well as Exporter of the Year at the AmCham-DHL Awards in Auckland last night, recognising the investment made to grow kiwifruit sales across the United States.

Zespri Chief Operating Officer Simon Limmer says the company is growing strongly across North America, with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood appoints new directors:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of two new directors, Jen Crawford and Ben Bateman, bringing the total of Ngāi Tahu directors on the board to four out of six.

Ms Crawford has 20 years’ national and international legal experience in project consenting and planning, along with governance experience in the Canterbury region. She has previously worked in leading law firms in New Zealand and the UK, including a partnership at Anderson Lloyd. . . 

Seafood industry congratulates its stars:

New Zealand’s seafood stars have been recognised at the industry’s annual conference in Wellington today.

Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand Tim Pankhurst said the conference, titled Oceans of Innovation, was a celebration of the exciting developments in the industry over the past few years, most of which were not well known.

“Some of the recipients of the Seafood Stars Awards played a significant part in the world-leading, cutting edge technology that is making a real difference to the way commercial fishing targets what it needs and is lessening its environmental footprint,” said Pankhurst. . . 

One stop source for New Zealand seafood information launched:

A one-stop source for information on New Zealand seafood was launched at the New Zealand Seafood Industry conference in Wellington today.

OpenSeas is a third-party verified, broad-based transparency initiative designed to enable customers of New Zealand seafood, primarily international customers, a single, comprehensive source of information about the environmental, social and production credentials of the New Zealand seafood industry. . . 

Commercial fishing industry worth more than $4 billion to NZ economy – BERL:

A report from economic researchers, BERL shows New Zealand’s commercial fishing industry is worth $4.18 billion.

Chief Executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Dr Jeremy Helson, says the report confirms the importance of commercial fishing to New Zealand.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries says exports alone are expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2025. Add the contribution to the domestic market through jobs, investment in infrastructure and the sectors supporting the industry and you have a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy,” said Helson. . . 

Name Change for New Zealand’s Top Performing Sector:

The apple and pear industry has a new name, New Zealand Apples and Pears Incorporated, a change from Pipfruit New Zealand.

The unanimous decision was made at the industry’s annual general meeting held in Napier today.

New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive, Alan Pollard, said the new name tells exactly what the industry is “apples and pears” and takes advantage of the strong global reputation of “brand New Zealand”. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk on track for August 2018 production start:

Southland farmers are expressing significant interest in becoming Mataura Valley Milk shareholders and the company expects to fill its supplier requirements, general manager Bernard May says.

The company is striving to be the ‘World’s Best Nutritional Business’ manufacturing and producing premium infant milk formula mainly for export from its purpose-built nutrition plant at McNab, near Gore, Southland. . . 

Update on China Infant Formula Registration Process:

Synlait Milk Limited  and The a2 Milk Company Limited  are confident with the progress of their application to export a2 Platinum® infant formula to China from 1 January 2018.

The CFDA requires manufacturers of infant formula to register brands and recipes with them in order to import products from 1 January 2018. . . 

 


Whose job is it to make jobless job-ready?

18/07/2017

The Opposition’s anti-immigration policies are based on the view that New Zealanders should come first for jobs.

They do under current policy, if they are ready and willing to work.

But what happens when they’re not?

Whose job is it to make the jobless job-ready?

When unemployment is as low as it is (4.9% in the March quarter), too many of those without jobs don’t have what it takes to take on even low skilled or unskilled jobs.

There are plenty of jobs which don’t require specialised skills but none don’t need people with at least basic numeracy and literacy, who turn up on time ready, willing and able to work, and continue to work willingly and ably for the required number of hours.

Not all businesses have the human and financial resources to deal with people who aren’t work-ready.

But the Warehouse is giving some young unemployed people a chance:

The Warehouse’s Red Shirts programme offers unskilled 16 to 24-year-olds the training they need to get a job.

It’s a three-week unpaid programme supported by the Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry, which chooses who will go on the programme, pays for participants’ shoes and trousers, bought at cost price from The Warehouse.

“At the end of the programme their eyes are sparkling, their posture is up, they are able to hold a conversation with you,” The Warehouse’s Shari French told Newshub.

“It’s incredible, the self-esteem and the growth we see is amazing.” . . .

The programme teaches workplace safety, customer service and confidence.

“It’s absolutely essential we give them that before they turn 20, before they go onto a benefit,” Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Newshub.

So far 250 young people have been through the course, with 70 percent of them getting jobs within three months and 50 of them working at The Warehouse.

The programme will now be rolled out to more Warehouse stores around the country and will take in a further 1000 young people.

Few if any small to medium businesses could do this without putting too much pressure on other staff but the Warehouse is showing that some bigger business could.

It’s also a reminder that sorting out social problems isn’t only up to the government and its agencies.

But it’s not an argument against immigration when too many employers can’t find locals ready, willing and able to work.


Cabinet changes

18/12/2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Rural round-up

28/11/2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


Rural round-up

24/11/2016

SPCA the voice of reason in farm animal welfare debate – Jon Morgan:

To many North Island farmers it must seem like yesterday that they were watching their animals struggle to deal with facial eczema. But now the warnings are here again.

With NIWA’s seasonal weather outlook signalling warm, wet conditions across the island, farmers will be doubly cautious. So far, there’s been an increase in demand – and prices – for rams that have been bred to be FE tolerant.

No farmer likes to see their stock suffer and no farmer likes to lose money, which is what facial eczema means. . . 

Avocado crops thrive under different systems – Anne Boswell:

The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley.

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play. . .

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . .

Great white butterfly eradication success:

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

“This is the first eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world and is another impressive example of New Zealand’s innovation and skill in removing pests,” Ms Barry says.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy.

“They were first seen in Nelson in 2010 and the DOC-led joint agency eradication effort ran for three and a half years. It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated,” Mr Guy says.

Biosecurity 2025 direction statement launched :

The newly launched Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement will shape the long-term future of biosecurity in New Zealand, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The long term plan was launched today at the 2016 Biosecurity Forum in Auckland and follows widespread public consultation earlier this year.

“Biosecurity 2025 will guide New Zealand’s biosecurity system over the next decade. It provides a shared direction to ensure we can cope with increased challenges such as increasing trade, more complex markets and supply chains, and rising tourist numbers. . . 

Masterclass had lessons for all sectors:

Despite being the only winegrower in the Rabobank Master Class this year, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane says there’s been plenty to learn from the other sectors.
McFarlane, of the Indevin Group in Marlborough, says one issue that everyone is focused on is sustainability.

“We are very fortunate in the wine industry in New Zealand that the economy of the industry is in a strong phase with good growth prospects,” McFarlane told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit at Cockatoo Island in Sydney yesterday. . . 

Showing the boys how it’s done:

Helen Slattery is the rural contracting sector’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

A Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) board member and partner in the Matamata firm Slattery Contracting, Slattery has penetrated the ‘glass ceiling’ to be the industry’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

The qualification covers core management skills including scheduling infrastructure works project resources, health safety and environment, monitoring project quality assurance and documenting infrastructure works projects. . . .

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

 


Home should be safe

13/09/2016

Sweeping reforms to our laws will build a better system for combatting abuse and will reduce harm, say Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

The Government is proposing a broad overhaul of changes to family violence legislation, stemming from the comprehensive review of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act.

“New Zealand’s rate of family violence is horrendous. It has a devastating impact on individuals and communities, and a profound impact that can span generations and lifetimes,” Ms Adams says.

“Our suite of changes are directed to earlier and more effective interventions. We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse and re-abuse.

“This is about redesigning the way the entire system prevents and responds to family violence. The reforms are an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence.

“For many, family violence is an ingrained, intergenerational pattern of behaviour. There are no easy fixes. Our reforms make extensive changes across the Domestic Violence Act, Care of Children Act, Sentencing Act, Bail Act, Crimes Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Evidence Act.”

Changes include:

  • getting help to those in need without them having to go to court
  • ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared
  • putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
  • creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
  • making it easier to apply for a Protection Orders, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • providing for supervised handovers and aligning Care of Children orders to the family violence regime
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

“These changes are the beginning of a new integrated system but on their own have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year,” Ms Adams says.

The package makes changes to both civil and criminal laws, and provides system level changes to support new ways of working. It will cost $132 million over four years.

“Legislation is part of but not the whole change required. These legislative reforms are designed to support and drive the change underpinning the wider work programme overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence. The work is about comprehensive and coordinated system change with a focus on early intervention and prevention,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Social agencies and NGOs I’ve been speaking with are desperate for a system-wide change so we can make a real shift in the rate of family violence.”

“Laws alone cannot solve New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence. But they are a cornerstone element in how we respond to confronting family violence. It sets up the system, holds perpetrators to account, and puts a stake in the ground,” Ms Adams says.

The full pack of reforms are set out in the Cabinet papers and are available atwww.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/reducing-family-and-sexual-violence/safer-sooner

In a speech announcing the changes Prime Minister John Key said:

For most children, New Zealand is a great place to grow up.

We have a high quality education system, easy access to the outdoors and a strong culture of participation.

Most children can rely on the adults in their house, family and whanau for nurture, encouragement and support.

This helps those children to grow, flourish and be ready as adults to take advantage of all the opportunities that today’s world offers.

But we know that, unfortunately, that does not describe the growing-up that every child experiences.

For most New Zealanders, home is a sanctuary.

But for some, home can sometimes be the opposite.

It can be a place of fear, anxiety and danger. . . 

Today I want to focus on how we intend to address the harm in our society caused by repeated family violence.

This is usually, though not exclusively, perpetrated by men on their partners or former partners, and on one or more of their children.

Family violence isn’t only a problem for women and children, although it is less common, men can be victims too.

The issue isn’t one of gender or age. Violence is violence and it’s unacceptable no matter who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.

All New Zealanders wish family violence did not happen.

Many wish that those involved might just fix it themselves.

Some families do manage to improve their circumstances, but some do not.

They need help to stop the violence and repression so they can lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

Obviously, the most important reason to help is to protect victims from the pain, fear and consequences of living in a violent household.

The sooner we stop it, the better the chance of lives being saved and of injuries being avoided; and the better the chance of adults and children living with the confidence, security and opportunities that most New Zealanders take for granted.

In addition, the greater the reduction in family violence now, the greater the chance of it not blighting another generation.

New Zealanders generally resist government interference in their private lives, and I get that.

But let me say straight up that in households where anyone is being assaulted, threatened, intimidated, belittled or deprived, the perpetrator has no right to expect privacy so they can go on being a bully.

If they won’t stop that behaviour, and the victims can’t stop it, then we must ensure that someone else stops it.

Home should be the safest place for children and family the people who make and keep it that way but there are far too many children for whom home isn’t a sanctuary which is why the state and its agencies must step in.

We know the effects of this type of offending are cumulative and profound.

Children subjected to family violence, and those who witness it, are at risk of serious problems with their physical and mental health, poor educational and job outcomes, drug and alcohol abuse, and homelessness.

None of this will surprise any of you here today.

This audience knows that police respond to 110,000 family violence call-outs a year.

And you know that kids are present at nearly two-thirds of these incidents.

You also know that, tragically, nearly half of all homicides are acts of family violence.

We are all aware of terrible cases where a woman has predicted, “my ex is going to kill me”, and he has.

Victims, mostly women, are often trapped because their spouses or partners have isolated them, cut them off from support and finances, and undermined their confidence.

It’s easy to think this is someone else’s problem.

But it is not someone else’s problem if you are a New Zealander who cares.

That’s why Ministers have been working together to come up with a different and better approach to family violence to get different and better results.

Everyone knows there is no single answer and the Government cannot be all of the solution.

However, we have a key role.

We have resources when victims often do not.

And we have the ability to make laws laid down by Parliament and enforced by police.

That is quite different to the laws laid down by some guy in his own home, and enforced by him.

Today I am announcing an overhaul of the family violence prevention system.

Our new approach will revolve around intervening sooner, and more effectively.

That is because the sooner we can identify problems and get victims and perpetrators the help that they need to change their lives for the better, the fewer serious assaults there will be.

We have already started with a new Integrated Safety Response pilot that is running in Christchurch, and soon to get underway in the Waikato.

This has brought in the widest range of agencies to work together, share information, and assess and plan responses for every family violence notification to police.

It involves daily case triage, specialist high-risk case management, and help for perpetrators to get the services they need to change their behaviour.

We know we have developed a better way of working on behalf of the people who need us most.

It’s early days but we also know that at least one life has been saved.

The feedback so far gives us hope that with the dedication of those in the sector, and a new way of working together, we can reduce family violence across New Zealand.

That is our aim.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has been carrying out a legislative review over the past two years that has led to the changes I am outlining today.

We will create a legislative regime that is built on best practice and ensures high-risk domestic abuse can be recognised, recorded and responded to properly. . . 

 

These changes are by no means the end of creating the effective, prevention-focused system that we aspire to — but they will provide its essential building blocks.

It will take time for services to be redesigned to appropriately meet the needs of the range of victims and perpetrators of family violence, and for the necessary capacity to be built.

We also need to ensure these services are integrated with existing initiatives like children’s teams.

These changes have the potential to significantly reduce family violence.

The increase in protection orders alone is expected to lead to 1200 fewer violent offences each year.

The increased imprisonment of violent offenders is expected to prevent a further 1100 violent offences per year.

These will be significant gains.

We know that half of all young people exposed to family violence will themselves be on a benefit before they turn 19.

We know that boys who witness family violence are twice as likely to grow up to abuse their own partners and children.

We know the cost of such violence to individuals, families, neighbourhoods and our country.

So we also know that every step we take to reduce this level of harm is worthwhile.

I want to personally make a couple more points, very plainly.

First, I want to say to victims: you are not alone.

You deserve and are entitled to a life free from fear, and your children deserve and are entitled to that too. Help is available.

Secondly, to the perpetrators of this misery I say this: recognise what is going on in your home and take responsibility for it.

A good father, a good step-father and a good man does not hit, intimidate or control his spouse, partner, ex-partner or her children. The same goes for women who are abusers.

You do not create a better family by hitting them, belittling them, or by making them live in fear of you.

You do not own your spouse, your partner, your ex-partner, your children or your step-children.

If you act in a violent and controlling way, you can change that behaviour.

Own the problem.

Nothing will get better until you do.

Ask for help. There is no shame in that.

This audience knows that family violence is not restricted to the poorest communities, or only to violence by men against women.

A quarter of women who live in a home that earns over $100,000 a year have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner.

Around one in four women with a university education have been assaulted.

20 per cent of all adults experience violence at the hands of their partner at some point in their lifetime.

Kids from abusive homes are three times more likely to end up in violent juvenile offending and three times more likely to try to take their own lives.

Just as the effects of family violence are widely felt, so is the challenge of reducing family violence widely shared — by the Government, the police, social agencies, families and by everyone who knows that violence is occurring, including those who are inflicting it.

None of us should be deterred by the difficulty of the problem. Rather we should be motivated by the positive difference we can make. . . 

 

So, increasing support in practical ways for those who need a hand has been a consistent theme of this Government and has been well supported by New Zealanders since we were first elected.

If this focus has surprised some commentators, it should not have.

In 2007, I stood up in the Burnside Rugby Clubrooms in Christchurch and made a speech about defining the sort of country I wanted New Zealand to be.

At the heart of that speech was the belief that every New Zealander deserves a fair chance in life.

A belief that all kids should have the kind of start that will enable them to make the most of their potential, and the most of the opportunities out there in the world today.

That does not mean that kids need to have everything.

No kid needs everything.

But they all need love, care and encouragement in order to flourish, and those can only be provided in homes where children feel safe and secure, because they are safe and secure.

Ministers in this Government are united in condemning abuse in the home.

All kinds of abuse.

Nothing justifies it. Nothing excuses it.

Succeeding in reducing family violence will save lives, and transform lives.

For some, it will feel like a new life.

There is so much to be gained.

This Government intends being part of the solution. I am sure you do too.

We have moved a long way from the bad old days when violence in the home was only a domestic but there are still homes which aren’t safe and families who live in fear of at least one of their family members.

Changing the law won’t make a difference by itself but it is part of the chain of change which must happen to help everyone whose homes aren’t the safe havens they should be.

 


Five pathways to poverty

13/06/2016

In the annual Sir John Graham lecture in 2011, Iain Duncan-Smith identified five pathways to poverty: family breakdown; poor education; debt; addiction, and welfare dependency and worklessness.

These pathways to poverty feed on each other in powerful ways, and can push families into damaging, downward spirals from which it is almost impossible to retrieve themselves.

Let’s have a look at a few of these. Take family breakdown—evidence is that those growing up in a broken home are:
– 75 percent more likely to fail at school;
– 70 percent more likely to become addicted to drugs; and
– 50 percent more likely to have an alcohol problem.

When it came to addiction we found that almost one third of young people who have been excluded from school have been involved with substance abuse. And so often these pathways had a knock-on effect on further destructive behaviour, particularly criminal activity. We found that 70 percent of young offenders were from lone parent families, and we estimated that something like half of the UK’s prison population were
problem drug users.

And, even more interesting, we found that as many as half of all young people going through the youth justice system had been in government care or had substantial involvement with social services.

When the government looked after them, the government failed them.
Even more, in some senses, than their own families had failed them. . .

The radical overhaul of child protection and care announced by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley aims to make sure that children whose families fail them will not be failed by those charged to look after them.

But what about the parents who should be looking after them?

Lance O”Sullivan, Northland GP and New Zealander of the Year, says this in his autobiography. He argues that if children are fed and their health problems addressed they will be more likely to do better at school and there’s a greater chance of them being able to break out of the cycle of poverty.

He says we cannot hold children responsible for their parents’ failings, and he’s right.

But that begs the question of what is done for the adults?

If they are on benefits or low wages they will be getting money for their children.

It’s not fair on the children not to help them, but is it fair on the taxpayer to pay twice – first to the parents and then when they fail, whether or not that failure is through circumstances beyond their control, to pay again to ensure they are well fed and healthy?

That is a difficult question to which there are no simple answers and the simplest of all – more money to perpetuate what hasn’t worked in the past and isn’t working now,  – won’t work in the future.

That is merely treating the symptoms, not addressing the causes.

As we looked at these issues more carefully we unearthed the immense costs of this breakdown. We put the costs of educational underachievement at £18 billion per annum;27 the costs of family breakdown at over £20 billion per annum and rising,28 and the cost of crime—so often a product of these pathways to poverty—at some £60 billion per annum.29 Almost £100 billion, every year, spent on simply treating the symptoms of social breakdown because we never got to the causes.

These eye-watering figures were a result, at least in part, of the damaging culture I spoke about before. A culture of short-termism had set in which was more focussed on chasing headlines than on changing lives. So, instead of investing in fundamental changes to the system—changes which may have taken a number of years to bear fruit—governments resorted to reactive but eye-catching tweaks around the edges.

These tweaks were expensive and often ineffective, but because they were funded by debt it was possible to push the burden of the cost of them further down the line, onto the next generation.

Tax credits

A prime example of this is the system of tax credits introduced by the previous Government, ostensibly with the goal of making work pay. More often than not these tax credits made things more confusing for claimants, and they created perverse incentives which encouraged work at just sixteen hours—no more and no less.30 But they played another role as well. Because there was a child element, paid in and out of work, tax credits became a useful tool for tweaking child poverty rates. Add a few more pounds to tax credits at the annual budget and you could triumphantly announce that you had pulled thousands of children out of poverty, as incomes would suddenly jump just above the poverty line. But had this changed anyone’s life? Had it made it any more likely that these children would go on to succeed in school, hold down a job, or form a stable and loving relationship?

In the case of a family troubled by addiction you may only have made things worse, with more money simply fuelling the family’s addiction problems. I know of too many households with addiction that get enough money, but the money only makes the situation worse because it drives them deeper into their problem and the children have to make do with even less. Because you haven’t made a permanent change in those parents’ lives, you’ll find that before long they will have cycled back below the poverty line, and you will be back where you started. Even more subtly, this policy had a longer-term effect, creating what a friend of mine, Frank Field, from the Labour Party, referred to as the “couple penalty.”31 This is where you earn more through benefits if you live apart than if you live together as a family. In essence, government money, far from being ambivalent, has actually ended up incentivising families to break up, with all the attendant consequences for children that I have already mentioned.

Perhaps worse, it has also created an intention to criminal behaviour. Families who— realising they would be better off apart—declare themselves as apart, even if they are together. This is a criminal act and they do that for a while until they realise just how serious that is and they either change their declaration, or they do actually break apart. It can’t be right that a system like ours drives people to that kind of behaviour. . . 

Welfare that was designed with the good intention of helping people, usually but not always women, out of abusive relationships, can have the perverse result of incentivising solo parenting.

This isn’t an argument for no welfare.

But the right to receive help must come with the responsibility for people, if necessary with support and time, to do what they can for themselves and their children.

 


Quote of the day

16/06/2015

“The government currently invests $331 million each year in this sector, and we need a structured plan to ensure this funding is making a difference for our most vulnerable Kiwis, and that it is being invested in the right places,” says Mrs Tolley.

“At the moment there is little evidence of the effectiveness, or not, of funding in this sector, because up until now most contracts have focused on the numbers of clients receiving services, rather than the effect that the service has on improving the lives of vulnerable people.

“We need to address this so that future contracts are built around positive results and evidence of what is working.”  –  Anne Tolley

Hat tip: Lindsay Mitchell


Too high but falling

23/01/2015

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed latest child abuse statistics showing that the number of children abused in the year ended June 2014 fell by 2,306 or 12 percent on the previous year.

“Let there be no doubt that our child abuse figures remain appallingly high but it is pleasing to see the numbers going down for the first time in 10 years,” says Mrs Tolley.

During the year to June 2014, 16,289 children had 19,623 findings of abuse substantiated compared to 18,595 children with 22,984 findings of abuse in the previous year. 

Of the 146,657 notifications made to Child, Youth and Family in 2014, 54,065 reports required further action involving 43,590 children.  This compared to 148,659 notifications in 2013 where 61,877 reports required further action in relation to 48,527 children.  A drop of 4,937 children.

In 2014, there were 9,499 children who were emotionally abused, 3,178 children who were physically abused and 1,294 children who were sexually abused.  In 2013 the corresponding figures were 11,386 children emotionally abused, 3,181 physically abused and 1,423 sexually abused.

“Good progress is being achieved in implementing the Children’s Action Plan.   With 30 specific measures designed to prevent abuse and neglect, it will make a real difference in reducing child abuse in this country.

“New Zealanders are becoming increasingly intolerant of abuse and neglect in their communities, and the more people willing to report their concerns, the better chance we’ll have to keep our children safe and protected.” says Mrs Tolley.

The number of people on benefits is also declining.

Could there be a link between that and the decline in child abuse?
While New Zealand's child abuse statistics are still far too high, we're making significant progress in preventing abuse and neglect.<br /><br />
ntnl.org.nz/1zxtVU7

 


Declining benefit numbers best way to counter poverty

19/01/2015

Benefit numbers continue to decline, about which Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says:

There were 309,145 people on benefit at the end of the December 2014 quarter.

“Compared with last year there are more than 12,700 fewer people on welfare. This is the lowest December quarter since 2008 and the third consecutive quarter (June, September, December) with such record lows.” Mrs Tolley says.

Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit have decreased by over 5,500 since last year and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased.

Performance is strong around the country with only two regions, Wellington and Taranaki, registering a slight increase compared with the same period in 2013.

“Sole parents continue to move off the benefit and into work, confirming that welfare reforms have been successful.

“There are more than 5,300 fewer people on the Sole Parent Support benefit compared to last year, a drop of 6.8 per cent, and every region around the country recorded a reduction.

“Both Canterbury and Nelson’s Sole Parent Support numbers declined by more than 9 per cent, while Waikato and East Coast reduced by more than 7 per cent,” Mrs Tolley says.

“This Government’s welfare reforms are continuing to support New Zealanders into work. The reductions we’re now seeing will mean fewer people on benefit in the years to come which means we’re going to see healthier, more prosperous households.” Mrs Tolley says.

Benefit numbers are now back to levels recorded before the Global Financial Crisis.

That’s still too high but the downward trend is encouraging.

Moving people from benefits and work is one of the best ways to reduce poverty and the poor health, education, and other social and financial outcomes which go with it.


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